DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Waiting for Aqua Pura

For the second day the well drillers are working to install a drilled well for my house. They will have to drill somewhere below 300 feet, I understand. Most of this distance in through Precambrian Shield granite. For 30 years I have pumped water from my beloved river. It's water is lovely, cold, flavourful, crystal clear, sparkling and soft. I love the water from the river. But over they years I have had problems with my pumping arrangement from time to time which has seen me having to haul water until I got inspired to repair the pump or motor. It is amazing how much inconvenience a person can put up with before tackling an annoying task. In recent years, the periods of time without water have become more frequent. I am now at an age when rural plumbing is really annoying. I have taken advantage of a government program to fund a drilled well. This program is designed to help old people to stay in their own home. I had to admit I was old and qualified to finally make an application. This is in the form of a forgivable loan. I will now have water from deep in the terra firma. It will be hard water with minerals in it like iron and hopefully no sulfur smell or taste. I shall miss the river water but I guess from time to time I could go to the river and fetch some just for drinking or washing my hair in it softness. I will now have a more dependable source of water at the house. I guess that is good and makes it worth while.

(click on photo to enlarge)

Bouffard Well Drilling equipment hard at work beside the house.

The Temagami River near where I used to pump water the four hundred feet to the house.

In a day or so I will have the luxury of a shower. No more washing my dirty parts in a glass of water. :) If I am lucky my sore left shoulder will heal. (It is painful from lifing pails of water. )

I trust I will continue to be a careful user of water. If not I may have to get a new septic system.

Spare me that other rural plumbing problem.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm Back!

I just got back from the South, southern Ontario that is. It seems I had to travel 250 miles south to find new fallen snow. The Toronto area had six inches of snow after I got there, while back home the snow was rapidly disappearing. Such is the weather in March in these parts.

I had planned to stay a week to help my friend Lynne celebrate her birthday. We did have a few days together when I learned that the other female in my life needed me. Heidi my long legged bitch needed me to return to care for her. It turned out my son's plans changed and he had to spend the weekend away with his kids while they played hockey. Heidi ,the Great Dane, was waiting for me. I had cut my visit short. Duty called.

It seem like it will be quite a while before life around the pool and in the hot tub begins.

Farewell to Lynne's suburban home for a while. By the time I return she will have had a visit to Barbados. I, on the other hand, will get to experience the sights, sounds and smell of Spring emerging in the North Wood.

I shall not be without distractions. Canada is going to have an election on May 2. Yesterday the Opposition defeated the government with "a vote of no confidence". Prime Minister Harper visited Governor General David Johnston today and it was agreed there should be an election.

The vote of no confidence was the result of the government being found in contempt of parliament because it failed to present the necessary financial information to parliament for it to fulfill it's responsibilities. This is the first time in the history of the British Commonwealth of Nations that a government has been found in contempt of parliament.

It was not for one thing but for three. The government, in it's contemptuous and secretitive way of operating refused to deliver to parliament the cost estimates of the proposed acquisition of new and expensive F-35 jet aircraft from the US, the cost of the Conservatives anti-crime legislation and finally, their failure to tell parliament the amount of the corporate tax deductions suggested. It seems the Conservatives would rather there be little or no debate on this expensive legislation.

Canada should not be purchasing, without tender, (if at all,) expensive fighter aircraft. In my opinion to satisfy the Americans, and to pretend that Canada can be a big time military player in the World. Canada has no enemies that would require this high tech air power unless those in power expect Canada to always join the US in their military adventures. These billions could be used to more important government programs if not to lower the deficit.

Similarly, Canada does not have a crime problem. The Conservatives, for ideological ,not rational reasons, believe we should be arresting more people, keeping them in jail longer and building more jails. Sound familiar. They want to make Canada more like the US in this area. If keeping more of a nation's population in jail, and longer, makes a country more crime free, the United States would be the most crime free country in the World. Well we know this approach is a failure. Any professional in the field would gladly tell the Conservative this reality if they were interested in a rational approach, rather than appealing to the right wing supporters of their party.

This is no time to be giving Corporate Tax breaks while increasing the deficit and national debt after a decade of deficit free government, under the Liberals, before the Conservatives came to power. Tax breaks and expensive unnecessary expenditures in the face of deficit financing makes no sense.

I could rant on. . . and on. Harper has been described as Nixonian. He has also been called paranoid. Need I say more?

At last we can have another chance to vote against the Conservative government. It has not been one that I have admired at all. (I guess you have realized that by now.)

It is not their economic programs that offends me the most. I am more offended with their style of leadership. Prime Minister Harper is a control freak. Nothing is said or happens without his approval. He is a very secretive person who wants to control everything. He is mean spirited toward members of parliament and arrogant toward the Canadian people. He acts as if he has had a clear mandate to govern when he has always only had a minority government. The four other parties , to the left of the Conservatives politically, represent the majority of Canadians. A minority government needs to work closely with the opposition parties to properly govern. Openness and cooperation is called for. Two things that are out of character of Harper and his style of leadership.

Most offensive to me is the way the Harper's Government has failed to go to the aid of Canadians in trouble in other countries upholding their rights. The most glaring was the way the government failed to speak up of Omar Khadr, the child "soldier" prosecuted and persecuted by the United States. In the eight years the Americans imprisoned him both governments refused to honour the UN Protocol on Child Soldiers, the international agreement on the rights of the child, and the Constitutions of their countries. He was tortured and even prevented from having any schooling because he was treated as an adult prisoner and the US had no responsibility to educate any adult as they would a child. All those years, in spite of several Canadian court decisions that ruled against the Conservative government, Harper's government did little or nothing. In the end, they were in contempt of a Supreme Court decision which came too late. Omar plead guilty in a plea bargain to crimes he, as a child, really was not guilty of in order to avoid a truly draconian sentencing in the US. Next year, Omar Khadr will be returned to Canada to finish out his sentence. In spite of him being a Canadian citizen the Conservatives would love to find a way to prevent him from returning. If for no other reason it would be nice to have another party in charge of the government on his return.

There were other cases against Muslim Canadians, citizens and residents that the government failed to support. It took the federal courts to get them to finally do something. I could go on with other issues such as having little or no environmental program to protect the environment or counter climate change, but I have said enough.

Sadly, with four political parties to their left, the Conservatives could end up in power after the election, once again. Hopefully, at worst, it will be another minority government. A majority government would see more ideological conservative programs out of step with the Canadian ethos.

A lot of things can happen in six weeks. Hopefully, the opposition parties can make their case and defeat this Conservative government. If not, for me, the pain will continue.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It is hard for me to get very excited about St. Patrick's Day. I have tried to resist feelings of dislike of the Irish all my life. I am not quite sure why but here are some reasons.

My grandmother was English. She was a kind gentle soft spoken woman but she had little use for the Irish. She was a Methodist who took the pledge when she was 16 and never drank in her life. She was a proper moral woman. Her view of the the Irish was that they were Catholic, shiftless, carousers. In short, they know how to have a good time. For her, the fact, that they could confess their sins, be forgiven and continue their bad behaviour was not a respected view of Christian morality.

I am old enough to remember the Orange Day Parade in Toronto., when it was know as Toronto the Good. This was the protestant alternative to the Catholic St. Patrick's Day parade. I guess I picked up some of the attitude when Toronto was an English protestant parochial city.

I learned that the American and the French Canadians liked the Irish because they shared a dislike of the English. Irish orphans were taken in by French Canadian families and allowed to keep their names. This is why today their are French Canadians with Irish last names.

While the Americans embraced the Irish it was the hard working thrifty Scots the left an historic impression on Canada as the Hudson's Bay Company Agents were most often Scots, Hence, Northern Ontario Cree to this day play Scottish tunes on the fiddle. Many evfen have Scottish names. And, of course, the Scots settled Nova Scotia, particularly Cape Breton, where you can attend a Gaelic College even today. That is why whenever Canada has a ceremonial occasion they have a piper in a kilt, often more than one. And,there are, every Summer Highland Games across the country.

I learned of the Fenian Raiders in school. These Irish Catholic terrorist attacked Canada from bases in the US.

One cannot but be impressed with the "troubles" in Northern Ireland between the Catholic Irish and Protestant Irish (who mostly were lowland scots who settled in Northern Ireland.) From an English point of view the Catholic Irish are just trouble makers or even terrorists.

I went to school in Boston, a most Irish city. It had a long history of corrupt Irish politicians and Irish Gangsters, sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. The most notious Irish American mobster is "Whitey" Bulger, who has been on the run for years. His brother, William Bulger was a leading Democratic politician. Such is the Irish influence in Boston. Among his many crimes Whitey Bulger tried to smuggle arms to the Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland. (Should I mention the Kennedys and the Fitzgeralds? No you can explore their Boston roots yourself.)

Well those are some of the things that have continued to influence my thinking of the Irish. Recenly, I have felt sorry for them. There is the dreadful Catholic Church sex scandal in this most Catholic of all countries and there is their economic collapse with the end of Ireland as the
"Celtic Tiger." Irish culture has been shaken to the core.

Of course, I know prejudicial feeling is wrong what ever the group. One has to resist such judgements.

Not all my feelings are negative. I do love and and appreciate Irish literature and history and know of the wonderful beauty of the Irish countryside. I am well aware of how badly the English treated the Irish at one time. Swift wrote. A Modest Proposal, to expose this historically bad relationship. To purge myself of these feelings, I think I need to visit Ireland soon. Here is a website of some lovely picture of Ireland.

To all who love and appreciate the Irish, that fun loving lot, Happy St. Patrick' Day. Enjoy your green beer. I will toast with a cola or milk. ( Did I mention my grandmother was a teatotaler
:) )

A Toast

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

'Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!'
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Π Day 3.14

Today is International Pi Day. (It almost got by me.) Pi is a mathematical constant that makes possible the calculation of the area of a circle, the volumn of a cylindar , the volumn and suface of a sphere and their derivatives. How life and would be so different without Pi.

The famous Greek mathematician, Archimedes is credited with discovering Pi.

Pi is an approximation. Here is Pi worked out to 2000 places after the decimal point.


If you do not believe me, work it out for yourself! It seem it is a number that is never exact no matter how far you calculate it. Those that care about such things are forever using computers to try to complete the calculations.

This is a good day to think about this mathematical constant 3.14 or 22/7ths and how usefull it is. It is a good day to talk to children about the wonders and mysteries of numbers and mathematics.

Think also of it as a religious sign. Those who think the Universe is one of order and a design with a possible Designer (God) might point to this as a "proof" that we live in an orderly Universe. The mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, a devote Hindu , espresss it this way, "An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents God." This is what is know as the argument from design for the existence of God. I am unconvinced but it has been put forward through the ages. That does not mean I do not find mathematical order in the Universe excitingly mysterious.

I am fascinated with "magical" numbers. The one that I believe shapes our mind, or is an aspect of our mind that shapes our reality, is 3. How often do we see things in threes. There is the Christian Trinity, Marxist, dialectic, Freudian, Id, ego, superego. It seems we most easily make sense of our world or remember things most easily if we group them in threes. You may have your favourite number. Three works for me and my analytical mind.

Happy Pi Day!

Still Some Snow

I always believe that Winter ends around here beginning tomorrow, March 15. I don't think it will fail this year. Starting tomorrow the day time temperatures, promise to be above freezing.

Here are some pictures of the last of the snow.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Looking up the road toward my house. In a day to two the road will be bare gravel once again.

Heidi was eager to jump up on the snow bank to get a better view.

Snow drifts by the road.

Lovely weather for a walk.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Make This the End of Winter!

In spite of it being another mild Winter with less snow than normal, I am tired of Winter and wish it were over. I must be getting old.

This is normally a nice time to enjoy the Winter season. The weather is mild enough that one can be outside enjoying activities ( ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, Winter camping, snowshoeing, etc) without having to fight the cold. In fact, on a sunny day one can get sunburned from the warming sun and the glare from the snow. I think I need to get myself together and get out and enjoy the weather. I could be suffering from cabin fever!

We were supposed to have rain that would wash away much of the last of the snow. Instead, the percipitation came in the form of snow, the wet sticky kind. Not a lot, normally, but in a Winter drought it was a good amount.

This is looking toward town just after the plow passed. For a road that only has three homes beyond mine and where there is little traffic, we do get good service at having the road cleared of snow.

This is the road during the snow storm. It is looking up the road toward the bush. My neighbour's house a quarter of a mile away is not visible.

I have been reluctant to post much lately. Let's blame it on the weather and my mood. There certainly are a lot of issues to rant about both in the US and Canada., not to mention the rest of the depressing suffering world. It just seems too much trouble to put my thoughts together.

Yesterday, something caught my eye and imagination. It is fascinating how one's exploration of the Internet leads one on. It began by noticing a CNN article on unpublished photos of Hitler by Eva Braun.

I decided I would like to see them and went to the site they were on. While there I notice another series of photo of Hitler's lovers over the years. This was a fascinating group of women. I visited some sites on them , in particular on Eva Braun and her family. My over all suprise is that almost half of the women Hitler was involved with died a violent death. Most by suicide. His young niece, with whom he had an infatuation may have been killed by Hitler. Not a nice guy. . .well we know that all by now.

One of Hitlers lovers was Unity Mitford, ( this video is one of five about her relationship with Hitler) an English minor noble woman. She tried to kill herself and failed. She may have had a child by Hitler, which she gave up for adoption. I how fascinating is that as a footnote to history.) She came from a fascinating British family which was both famous and infamous, for writings and politics. There were six sisters and a brother in the family. North Americans of my age may remembered Jessica Mitford, who moved to the United States and wrote a book on the funeral business."The American Way of Death". Several of the sisters were writers, not quite as famous as the Bronte sisters but all fascinating.

What interested me was the politics of the family. Two of the sisters, Unity being one of them, and the brother, were fascists and admired Hitler. Jessica was a communist. She shared a bedroom with Unity a young woman. Apparently, they have a line drawn down the middle of the room with memorablilia of Lenin and company on one side and Hitler, et. al. on the other. It must have been an arena of interesting debate.
If you want to read a little on this fascinating family and group of sisters you could start here and here. Here is a interesting essay of the sisters.

Of course, you could google each of the sisters. Don't you just love the easy access to material on the Internet that would have required hours searching through a library.

What really peaked my interest was that the father of the family, David Freeman-Mitford, Second Baron of Redesdale, owned gold property North of where I live in the Timmins-Kirkland Lake area goldfield. He visited this area often.

Now if you enjoy ironies in history how about this one. Unity, their daughter who became a party girl with Hitler was conceived in Swastika, Ontario. It is a small town near Kirkland Lake on the Northern Ontario Railroad line. It had it name long before the Nazi's adopted it and to this day are proud of it. They resisted changing it during the war.
I just love discovering these little footnotes to history. It enlives the dreary days of Winter.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

My Get Away

Last Week I escaped to the big city. I decided to go south to Mississauga and spend my birthday with my friend Lynne. Yes it was my birthday. Happy birthday to me! But a lot of family and friends all ready knew this. It seems at some point I have entered my birth date on some sites on the computer, mainly Facebook, which I hardly use, and this social site alerts your "friends" on the site, of you big day whether or not you want them to.

It is getting harder to sneak around and keep some information about yourself , to yourself.

I thank all of you who left a comment on the occasion of my birthday. It is nice to be remembered and noticed. I wonder though,. . . . . . . .will Facebook still be reminding people of my birthday 40 years from now when I have died and am hopefully in blessed Oblivion. What will happen to all the stuff we have on the computer? Will it have eternal life when we no longer do. Humm! It seems it would be appropriate that postings on a computer should have a natural ending to their existence.

I had a lovely time; all too short. Lynne is always good company. There is always lots of talk, some Scrabble, TV ( including the frustration of trying to operate her complex system when we want to watch a movie on it) and food.

Going out for dinner is a real treat for me. We did this twice. Once to a local pub on the way to a movie, "The Tourist" and to actually celebrate my birthday a fancier place a little further way, La Castile. After a meal in the dining area we went to the bar and lounge complete with a lovely lounge singer, Rhonda Silver, at the piano. She played our requests and we danced a little. It has been a long time since I did this sort of thing. There was a time when I fancied myself an urban man about town. I wish now I had all the money I spent back then wining and dining the ladies. This night was my night to be wined (a solft drink for me) and dined. It was thoroughly enjoyable. At the end of the evening Ms. Silver gave me a copy of her disc of some of her original songs as a birthday present. (pictured below) I suspect we will return sometime.

Books: The Shack, Around the Rock in a Bad Mood and my new disc. Twelve Pieces of Silver.

I tried once again traveling to Toronto on the overnight bus. This takes the shortest time, (just over 6 hours) getting into Toronto about 7:AM. It has lots of stops along the way on the 250 mile trip. The first time I used the bus I found I could not sleep on it but I thought I would give it another try. This time I think I slept part of the way which made the time go faster. I prefer traveling on the train where I can pass the time reading and even talking to other passengers.
The overnight bus does give you an extra day at the other end if you are not too tired to enjoy it.

I came back on the train, joining the morning rush hour crowd on the GO (Government of Ontario) Train which passed just by Lynne's neighbourhood. It efficiently gets one to Union Station in Toronto. It always makes me think of the movie Silver Streak where the train comes crashing thought the wall of the station's great hall. )That was Union Station playing the part of a Chicago Station)

At Union Station I got the Ontario Northland Railroad's Northlander. This is the train that goes due north in Ontario. North Bay is about half way. It goes on to Cochrane, where one can get the Polar Bear Express to Moosonee on James Bay. Someday I am must go there to see Ontario's ocean coast and this four hundred year old outpost settlement.

I borrowed a couple of books from Lynne to read on the train (pictured above) ; The Shack and Around the Rock in a Bad Mood. The Shack caught my eye since it features an encounter with "God" in a Shack. I have spend all my life trying to know God in one way or another. It has yet to reveal itself to me in other than momentary fragments. In this book, God is a heavy set Black Woman. What a surprise! The other parts of the Triune Mystery are equally as surprising. It is an interesting and touching read. The author, Wm. Paul Young, is just as interesting and complex as this religious book. He is well to the right of any of my religious convictions. I would enjoy a personal conversation with him.

The other book is a self published book, Lynne purchased it from a man at her door who was the author. It is an interesting real life adventure of kayaking around The Rock, the Island of Newfoundland, part of our tenth province. I love these wonderful paddling adventures that are still possible in Canada, where we still have some truly wild places.

It was good to get home after stopping to collect Heidi who was spending a few days at Parker's house. Now that my birthday is over, I know Spring is just around the corner. My mother always said so. And mothers don't lie! She was kept in the hospital for two weeks when I was born (it was what they did back then. I think they thought women were frail and needed this rest). So when she came home with me it was March in Toronto, the beginning of Spring there. Winter, here, will make me wait for April. In any case, the melt will be on soon.