Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011

Let’s review some of the top news stories that we’ve had from 2011 so far shall we? We were barely over a week into the New Year when that horrific shooting incident in Tucson Arizona happened. Then there was the toppling of the autocracies in Tunisia and Egypt; following that, we have had the devastation of the earthquake in New Zealand and now the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan. Currently, we’re living through the ongoing Libyan crisis which has turned into an all out war with NATO getting involved and three-star Canadian general, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard running NATO's Libya operations.
While here in Canada we have had the minority government Tories under fire for the Bev Oda affair and the Conservative Party of Canada’s in-and-out election financing scheme. On March 25th Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government was defeated in a non-confidence vote, setting the stage for a federal election in early May. Not that it was a big shock, or anything, what with all of the recent attack ads and political posturing being done by the federal parties, it had all but assured Canadians that we were going to be going back to the polls for another federal election and sooner rather than later.
In Saskatchewan, we’ve got a provincial election to look forward to in the fall, too. Then there’s the Wikileaks ethical debate and, oh yeah, I almost forgot, there’s also the story that the media is so infatuated with that they’re calling it “Royal Wedding Fever”, or something, but I think it’s mostly the media that have contracted that virus; that one, and a severe case of CharlieSheenitis. But I digress.
So, now, out of all of this news, and so much more happening in the world, what do you think was the number one story that people were looking up on so far this year? You’ll never believe it. Well, unfortunately, you probably will. It’s THE LEAKY LIDS ON TIM HORTON’S COFFEE CUPS!! Seriously people? Are you kidding me?! All of this stuff going on in the world and some story about leaky coffee cup lids is your 2011 number one hot-button issue? Say it ain’t so!
Maclean’s did an article in the March 7th edition of the magazine on Tim Horton’s coffee cups and their inferior leaky lids and it was disturbing enough then that they did a full two-page spread on a coffee cup story in our national news magazine but only a couple of issues later Maclean’s revealed that “our original story is the most read article on this year.” I know Timmy’s is a Canadian icon and all but c’mon.
Now I could understand if everyone’s getting upset about all of those damn throw away cups and lids littering up the streets, the highways and the countryside, especially during the 25th edition of Tim Horton’s “Roll up the Rim”; or maybe you’re getting concerned about the millions of litres of gas that’s being burned up in the drive-through line-ups regardless of the $1.20+/litre gas prices but “this stupid lid is dribbling on my shirt” is actually your number one concern? Really?
I think we need a little restructuring of our priorities here people. It seems like we could use a little more focus on some very serious issues confronting our world at this time, don’t you think?
A Chinese man, Liu Xianbin, was just sentenced to 10 years in prison for urging democratic reform of China’s one-party state. Think about that…ten years! Hundreds upon hundreds of people have recently become martyrs for democratic reform in the Middle East. Giving up their lives for something that so many Canadians take for granted--Democracy.
Here in Saskatchewan we are headed for not one, but two, major elections in the coming year. With national voter turnout hovering around an embarrassing 50% of eligible voters I implore you to go out and vote. It is a privilege to be able to vote not a right. Sacrifices have been made for that privilege.
And don’t give me any of that “it’s only one vote” or “why bother, it doesn’t matter anyway” and “those politicians are all the same” garbage either. It is only one vote but it does matter and, no, they’re not all the same.
In the grand scheme of things it’s not whether your chosen politician or political party wins, it’s the fact that you actually get a say in the whole process at all that counts. If you can take the time out of your busy life to wait in the drive-through line or stand in the way-too long lineup to buy a coffee with a leaky lid and read online about how it’s adversely affected your life then you can surely take the time to get to the polls and embrace your role in our democratic process and country.
“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”- Robert Hutchins (1899-1977).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 21, 2011

I found it quite coincidental that the very week that The Citizen’s “Salute to Agriculture” supplement was going to be hitting the news stands, and your mail boxes, there happened to be an article in the March 21st edition of Maclean’s magazine regarding farmland investments and how it could affect farming and agriculture in the future.
The article states that due to rising food prices, the expanding global population and the worldwide lack of farmland means that Canadian farmland is one hot commodity. Some predict that one day farmland will be as precious as gold or even better because, unlike gold, farmland generates ongoing income. So investors are lining up to buy agricultural land in Canada, and in particular Saskatchewan, where farmland remains cheap compared to other parts of the world.
According to Statistics Canada, Alberta’s land prices nearly doubled from 2000 to 2009. While this could bode well for current land owners in Alberta and its neighboring provinces, too, it might ultimately impact on how farming is done and may even affect the world food supply.
There are already corporate farms such as the Assiniboia Capital Corporation which controls more than 110,000 acres in Saskatchewan and has approximately 500 investors. The corporation’s investors look at the dividend yield from the land rental and the predicted capital gain from a future land sale to be as worthy as blue-chip stock.
Not everyone is happy with this new trend. Critics contend that farmers will lose control if they don’t own their own land and this might mean that more profitable crops, such as those used to make biofuels, are prioritized over food production, which is currently the case in other parts of the globe. Also, farmers already have a hard enough time making a living and there is fear that the investors will take away more of their profits.
“Farm land is food land,” Says Kevin Wipf, executive director of the National Farmers’ Union, “to have it bought up to be rented back to those who grow our food is not ideal for the world’s food system.”
Throughout the world rich governments and corporations are buying up the rights to millions of acres of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies. The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neocolonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.
The South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics has secured a large piece of farmland in Madagascar to grow maize and crops for biofuels. Libya has secured 250,000 hectares of Ukrainian farmland and China has begun to explore land deals in Southeast Asia. Oil-rich Arab investors are looking into land in Sudan, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Cambodia and Thailand.
In a world where approximately 852 million people are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty and 2 billion people lack food security intermittently, due to varying degrees of poverty, I am not wholly convinced that the world, with its already strained food supply, would be best served by placing a great deal of land and power into the hands of profit driven corporations and land starved countries.
“The fight to save family farms isn’t just about farmers. It’s about making sure that there is a safe and healthy food supply for all of us. It’s about jobs, from Main Street to Wall Street.”- Farm Aid President-Willie Nelson. Yes, THAT Willie Nelson.
In My Humble Opinion’s-Salute to Agriculture
March 16, 2011

Although I wasn’t raised on a farm, I, like almost every other person residing in Saskatchewan, have very close ties to farming and agriculture. Currently, I am employed at Seed Hawk, the global leader in precision seeding systems, which is located just north of Langbank. Both sets of my grandparents were Saskatchewan farmers and consequently my Dad and Mom were both born on farms and early in their married life they made a living from farming.
In fact, my Mom’s parents and some of her brothers farmed in the Kipling/Bender/Inchkeith districts during the 1920s and early 1930s. Paul Toth currently farms the land that my Grandfather and Uncles last farmed in this area before moving on to greener pastures.
I married a farmer’s daughter and both her parents and grandparents were farmers, too. Some of my sisters married farmers which allowed me the opportunity to enjoy first-hand experience of working on the farm while I stayed with them throughout many a summer break during, and shortly after, my high school years. I really enjoyed a lot of the facets of farming and I treasure the fond memories of those few seasons that I was able to embrace the farming life in my late teens.
Was every aspect of farming life enjoyable? Well, in a word…no. Not to me anyway. My too-keen sense of smell made chicken watering, feeding and egg gathering a hated chore. Shoveling out barley bins in the heat of a hot July day, coupled with my intense hatred of rats which, while hidden, were only a floorboard away from running up my pant leg, was another one of the “I could take a pass on this crap” activities and don’t even get me started on that whole annual chicken butchering fiasco. Yechh!
But, as with all things, you have to take the bad with the good I guess. I can remember cruising up and down the field in an air-conditioned tractor cab doing the summer-fallowing, pulling a “big” sixteen feet of cultivator, and listening to Murray McLaughlin’s “Farmer Song” while eating a cucumber sandwich. Now that wasn’t all that bad.
I learned how to drive in an old ’48 Ford ½ ton truck burning up and down ditchless dirt roads and driving through stubble fields. Driving the grain truck throughout harvest time, though, created some of the fondest memories of my all too brief brush with farming. Unloading the combine hopper “on the go” into the old, aptly named International Harvester grain truck, took precision driving, communication from combine operator to truck operator, mostly with hand signals at that time, and teamwork to get the job done quickly without losing a kernel of grain.
Early mornings spent greasing and preparing the equipment for the long day ahead, enjoying shared meals in the field and the satisfaction of taking off that last swath of a quarter section produced feelings that are beyond description; as are the tastes of a cold beer or a cup of coffee with a freshly baked piece of pie at day’s end.
Everyone is touched by agriculture whether you are a farmer, or you work for a farm implement manufacturer, or an agri-business dealer, or you work at the local grocery store; you are affected by farming. We all have to eat and who else puts that food on our tables?
I am thankful for my farm experiences and I have great admiration and appreciation for all of the hard-working people in the farming trade, as well as for the thousands and thousands of people who work in the many aspects of the agricultural related businesses that contribute to the practice of farming.
“I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman’s cares.”-George Washington (1732-1799).
“Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans upon his hoe and gazes on the ground, the emptiness of ages in his face, and on his back the burden of the world.”- Edwin Markham (1852-1940).
March 11, 2011

I received a friend request on Facebook the other day, which isn’t totally out of the ordinary, but it was the opening salutation that caught my eye. “Hey Hubbard” it said. I didn’t have a clue as to the identity of this person, who was sending the request, but we both had some mutual “likes” so I accepted the invitation. Right away it became obvious to me that whoever had sent the request just wanted some traffic on their websites and I wasn’t interested, so, no harm, no foul, I deleted them from my friend list, but that opening salutation really bugged me.
Being addressed only by my last name has been a pet peeve of mine for years and years. I think it started way back when in school when certain teachers would address me only by my last name, and to me, it showed a lack of respect.
Since my very first day of elementary school I bristled at the autocratic rules of the school system and I always felt that respect had to be earned, not just given to someone in authority. Now, I wish I had not felt this way, it caused me too much anguish as I rebelled all the way through school, and it probably cost me some higher education, too, but I couldn’t help it. It must have been the position of the moon and stars when I was born, or maybe it was something my Mom ate while she was carrying me, but whatever the reason, I was born that way; or is it this way? Whatever. I grew up living John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song”-“I fight Authority. Authority always wins!”
I remember attending high school in Kipling and one particular teacher never ever addressed any of his students by their first name. With a school filled with so many students who shared last names like Daku, Doka, Kish or Szakacs how were the students supposed to know which one he was addressing? To me, by only using someone’s last name, he seemed to be taking away some part of their person. Imagine, if you will, walking into the Kipling School gymnasium, full of Baby Boomer kids in 1970, and yelling out “Hey Daku!” and seeing twenty or thirty, or more, heads turn. See what I mean?
I have eight brothers and sisters so being addressed as an individual person, not just a Hubbard, seemed very important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of being a Hubbard, we even have our own nursery rhyme and everything, and how many people can say that, but I am an individual, too.
Having said all of that, it’s kind of ironic, then, that my older brother got his first nick-name because a teacher misheard his last name.
Ol’ Mrs. Peale: “You there! New kid. What’s your name?”
Gord: “Gordon Hubbard.”
Ol’ Mrs. Peale: “What!?”
Gord: “HUBBARD.”
Ol’ Mrs. Peale: “Well, Howard, what’s the answer to number twelve?”
And so it began. From that day, in Gord’s first grade seven Literature class at Lindale School in Moose Jaw, until he walked out the door for the final time in June of 1970, his friends and peers always called him “Howard” or “Howie.”
Today, my kids and their peers address each other by their last names like it’s a term of endearment. Things change. They all seem fine with it. Me? I’m still old school and I just can’t stop myself from cringing every time someone addresses me by starting off with, “Hey, Hubbard!”
“Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith.”-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935).
March 6, 2011

I’ll start off with a correction from last week’s column. I stated that it was the Pat Simmons rink that will be representing Saskatchewan at the Tim Horton’s Brier in London Ontario but, in fact, Pat Simmons throws the skips’ stones for the Steve Laycock rink which is representing Saskatchewan at this year’s Brier. Steve Laycock is a former Saskatchewan, Canadian and World Junior Champion (2003) and was named that tournament’s All-Star Skip and his University of Saskatchewan team won the 2006 Canadian University Curling Championship as well. He also played lead on Pat Simmons’ Provincial Curling Championship teams in 2007 and 2008.
The structure of the team is a little confusing to me though, kind of like that old Abbott and Costello routine about baseball-“Who’s on first?”; with the third throwing last and the last throwing third and who knows what’s happening with one and two. Regardless of who throws which rocks when--Go Team Saskatchewan!
Continuing on with the curling theme, I’ve been watching some of the Tim Horton’s Brier and it seems to me that things are a little different today than they used to be. Gone are the old style curlers of bygone days that looked like everybody’s Uncle Joe. You know, smoke hanging out of one side of their mouth and a broom straw out of the other side and a beer belly concealing a good portion of the front of their pants. Now a lot of the curlers, especially the front end sweepers, are built like martial arts fighters or body builders.
I know I shouldn’t be making such generalizations but it just stands to reason with today’s fitness options available to the players, and the fact that they play about nine months of the year, that you’d have to be in pretty good shape to play this game at that level.
Curling isn’t the only sport where there have been vast improvements in the fitness conditions of the athletes. Take baseball and ol’ Babe Ruth for example. Hot dogs, beer and tobacco were his choice of performance enhancing substances and The Babe played at the top of his game for twenty-plus years, hitting balls out of ballparks at record numbers.
Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford drank, smoked and caroused into the wee hours of the New York nightclub scene while winning most of the World Series for the Yankees in the 1950s.
Then take a look at Barry Bonds who increased his hat and uniform size by about seven sizes from when he entered the league in 1986, as a rookie, to his retirement in 2007 and still steadfastly refuses to admit that he “knowingly” took anything other than booster juice, or something, despite all the hard evidence to the contrary. “Seriously, you know, I don’t have a clue about how that hypodermic needle got lodged into my buttock. I must have sat on it or something.”
Then again, pay someone 15.8 million dollars a year to play a game (Bonds last contract with the San Francisco Giants) and anyone would just about do anything, say anything, eat anything or inject anything to make sure they could play the game. Good old greed is a hell of a motivator.
I am not in any way implying that these new-age curlers are doing anything more than hitting the gym hard, eating right and slurping down protein shakes but, like all things, the game has evolved over time and competitive athletes are always looking for an edge.
"I never asked Greg (Anderson). When he said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, whatever.”
Source: Bonds’ Grand Jury Testimony, Dec. 4, 2003.
February 28, 2011

Congratulations to the new Canadian Women’s Curling Champions, the Amber Holland rink, from Kronau Saskatchewan! This is the first Saskatchewan team to win the Scottie’s Tournament of Hearts since Sandra Schmirler’s rink last won it in 1997. Congratulations also go out to Braeden Moskowy’s rink from Regina and Trish Paulsen’s rink from Saskatoon who captured the Canadian junior men's and women's titles earlier this month in Calgary. That’s three Saskatchewan curling teams representing Canada at the World Championships; not bad for a bunch of “Gappers”, eh? Here’s hoping Pat Simmons rink will do well at the Tim Horton’s Brier in London, Ontario, next week, and make it a complete Saskatchewan sweep. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Yes, you read it right…”Gappers”. Listen to this: the Urban Dictionary actually states that a “Gapper” is: “A derogatory term for a person originally from Saskatchewan, which is “The Gap” between Alberta and Manitoba.” Haw, haw, haw. Very funny. But you know what? We can take it. We’re humble folk who don’t have a problem laughing at ourselves. Most of the time we’ll even initiate it and we’re modest in victory and gracious in defeat.
We are quite used to watching the national news, sports and weather networks pass us over. You’ll see the national weather service person working the map from BC to the Maritimes, going over the weather systems in each province, and they’ll mumble out the current temperatures in Regina or Saskatoon, as they quickly gloss over our rectangle shaped province with barely a glance, and quickly move on to much more important geographical areas than Saskatchewan.
Watching TSN’s (the Toronto Sports Network??) coverage of last week’s Scottie’s tournament was further testament to the rest of the country’s attitude towards Saskatchewan. Amber Holland’s rink was cruising at 8 and 0 and hadn’t even been shown in prime time coverage! How many times did we have to watch Ontario and Team Canada? TSN’s commentators stated that “Team Saskatchewan flew under the radar”. Who’s radar? You start a tournament with eight straight wins and you’re under the radar? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Typical.
Remember the old schoolyard saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”? Well that’s not exactly true and, if I wasn’t raised properly, I might get sucked into this inter provincial name-calling thing and say something about that biker-wannabe, mullet sporting, Napoleon Complexed, almost football player, (he’s a field goal kicker…A FIELD GOAL KICKER!), Manitoba’s own Troy Westwood, who really got things going a few years ago when he had the audacity to call Saskatchewanians “banjo-pickin’ inbreds”, but, of course, I’m from Saskatchewan and I’m better than that.
So go ahead, the rest of Canada, poke fun if you want. We’ll just sit here on all that oil and gas and potash and lumber and diamonds and wheat and cattle and fresh water and uranium and gold and agricultural industries and championship athletes and wait for you to sidle up, like Maxwell Smart to an insulted arch-villain, and dust off our lapels and say, “I hope I wasn’t out of line with that whole Gappers thing”.
February 21, 2011

Recently our youngest daughter saw an original picture of a late 1960s model IBM 360 computer and thought it was a picture of a laundromat or something. It was hard for her to comprehend that her hand-held Blackberry has more computing capability than that room full of equipment. This discovery led us in to a whole conversation about how, not only computers, but technology as a whole, have changed in the twenty one years since she was born.
Before 1990 there was no internet. DVDs weren’t invented until 1995. No Facebook, no Twitter or You Tube, no Netflix. In fact, prior to 1990, very few households even had a personal computer in their home. The odd computer geek might have had a Commodore 64 or an Apple II kicking around, but it’s not even close to what it is today.
She listened with astonished wonder at how in the early 1980s we used to have to rent a whole VCR machine, along with the tapes, when we wanted to rent a movie; carrying the huge contraption home in the silver suitcase that looked like you were about to board an Apollo rocket or sell plutonium to the Russians or something. Now VCRs are pretty much obsolete. Walkmans and Discmans have given way to iPods. Any song, TV show or movie ever produced is available now with the touch of the keypad.
Back in the 1960s some visionaries did foresee a future where computers would dominate our personal lives. Take this excerpt from the November 1968 edition of Mechanix Illustrated-“The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. Sensors in kitchen appliances, climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A repairman will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.
Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities. Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs. The machine tallies up its own services and submits a bill, just as it does with other utilities.”
Unlike other predictions from the 1960s like flying cars, personal jetpacks or time travel, and with the exception of the part about the repairman showing up before something breaks down, the above description is pretty close to today’s reality, isn’t it?
Today computers are winning at Jeopardy and social networks are involved in the downfall of tyrannical rulers. Whether you like it or not, Wikileaks is changing our world because everyone, including governments, terrorists, anarchists or loveniks, has to be accountable and transparent or some computer hacker is going to expose their every thought or action and only history will tell us whether that will be a good thing or bad thing.
“I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they're interested in.”
Bill Gates (1955- ).
February 13, 2011

As I was preparing for the most recent “sleep-over” visit, from our nearly two-year-old grandson, I did a little inventory check of our fridge and pantry supplies to see what we had for kiddy food in the house. One thing about getting older is that there is a slow, evolutionary, and mostly undetected, transformation of the food stuffs in one’s household as our children grow from toddler to adolescent to young adult to “out of the house.”
Mac and cheese, wieners, ice cream, Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Pizza Pops, Spagettios, non-diet puddings, and the like, have been replaced with Bran Buds with psyllium, probiotic yogurt, spinach salads, and fibre, fibre, fibre. See a theme developing here?
Now, I know it’s been a while since my wife and I were chasing toddlers and changing diapers on a regular basis but there are some things that you never forget. Making sure one is on a “regular” schedule, if you catch my drift, in your mid-fifties, is one thing, but I think that one just might want to hold back some of the sharing of these kinds of foods, with the grandkids, unless you’re really adventurous or you don’t have a sense of smell or a gag reflex or anything.
I recall an interesting “what not to feed your baby” story, from too long ago, when one of our kids was about a year old and our babysitter had fed him some French Onion Soup. I guess it wasn’t too bad going in but what came out...yikes! What a mess that was. I think the neighbors could even smell it! And, yoi, his poor little bottom was red! I think we went through a couple of tubes of Zincofax that time. Sorry, was that maybe a bit too much information?
As a grandparent of an active two-year old, I had to chuckle at the TV ad about the grandma who comes to the door, after the children’s parents had been telling the two grandkids to take it easy on the ol’ girl while she’s babysitting them, and she’s taken some supplements, or something magical, and then presto, bango, she can now suddenly keep up with the lil buggers. Hah! Good luck with that! I don’t know if there really is a supplement that will work that fast, or that good, but what I do know is that after a full day of grandparenting I certainly don’t need a sleeping pill to fall asleep at night!
But that’s okay; I’ll take the physical challenges and the mess in the odd lumpy diaper, too, in trade for “Grandchildren Time” any day of the week. What did that old bumper sticker say about Grandchildren? “Grandkids-If I knew it was going to be this much fun I’d of had them first.” And I like this one, too-“Grandparents-so easy to operate even a child can do it.” Kind of gives you a view from both sides, doesn’t it?
As we are entering into the Family Day long weekend I am, once again, reminded of how fleeting life really is and how precious our families are to us. Life does go by in a hurry so cherish the time you have together and whether you’re a Grandparent or a Grandchild, a Mom, a Dad, a brother, sister or cousin, aunt or an uncle, make sure you share a little family time this weekend.
"On the seventh day God rested. His grandchildren must have been out of town." ~ Gene Perret.
February 4, 2011

If you thought that Valentine’s Day was purely the invention of florists, greeting card companies, chocolate makers and fine jewelry manufacturers throughout the world you’d be wrong. These people only exploit the holiday. They didn’t create it.
Saint Valentine's Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD. Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269 and Valentine of Terni, who became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), about AD 197.
Saint Valentine’s Day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of “courtly love” flourished. The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules (1382). He wrote: For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make. (“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”).
The earliest surviving valentine is a 15th century “rondeau” written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines.”
By the early 19th century paper valentines became so popular in England that they were assembled in factories. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts. Such gifts typically include roses and chocolates packed in a red satin heart-shaped box. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine's Day as an occasion for giving jewelry.
By the mid 2000’s approximately 14 billion dollars was spent in the United States alone on Valentine’s Day. The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine's Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards. An estimated 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010.
So what’s with the history lesson, you ask? Is this just one more cynic’s view that another holiday has become one of commercialism’s victims? Is it just a way to justify not spending a lot of money on your special valentine for the occasion? Perhaps, to some degree, maybe, but it’s also to point out that the reason for the holiday has always been the celebration of affection. If you need a special day of the year to do so, and many of us seem to, you can show your affection in many ways. Ways that may or may not cost you a lot of money, but remember it’s really the spirit of the day that needs to be honoured.
So remember the words of Dr. Gilda Carle, a relationship expert, who said, “Jewelry wears thin. Flowers die. But cards get kept and gestures remembered. Ultimately, what is important, what people remember isn’t the expense but the expression, and its meaningfulness.”

The honey's sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.
From a collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784).
January 30, 2011

I was putzin’ around the kitchen, the other morning, when the light coming into the room through the windows looked so familiar that a flood of memories rushed back to me. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a certain feel and look to the day, you know, like how it “looks” like a Saturday. Sometimes the familiarity is so real I can almost smell Mom’s cinnamon buns baking in the oven.
As I was growing up in a world filled with uncertainties, certain things did happen at certain times, like, Saturday was cinnamon bun baking day as much as Sunday was fried chicken day and Monday was laundry day. That’s just the way it was and that was that. So it’s no wonder that there is a memory trigger built in to the smells and sights and sounds of everyday life.
There is also a familiarity in the light coming through the living room windows on a week day, too. To me, there’s a kind of guilty pleasure in lying on the couch reading a book with a “Tuesday light” coming in through the windows. In my life, the only time you saw that particular kind of daylight was when you were sick at home or you were “sick” at home, if you know what I mean.
I’m not sure about you, but I could be a pretty good actor, way back when, on the day that a book report was due and I’d forgotten, or ignored it completely, or there was a Social Studies test and I hadn’t brought my textbook home. I had always suffered from earaches and tender tonsils so it was pretty hard for Mom or Dad to call me on “the boy who cried wolf” thing. Besides, sorry Ma, but you always had a real soft spot when one of your youngins was hurting, whether it was real or imagined.
If you were really sick or just pretend sick you got to spend the day in Mom’s weekday world. Just Mom and me. And that sure didn’t happen very often in a house where there were nine siblings.
I can still see Mom sitting in her chair darning socks, or something, while Adrienne Clarkson and Paul Soles chatted away as Take 30 played on the TV. I’d lie in my make-shift bed on the couch, still wearing my pajamas, sipping ginger ale while Mom drank some warmed up coffee or a cup of tea while we watched “The Edge of Night” together in that particular afternoon light.
About the only time I didn’t completely enjoy those stolen moments was when school was let out and I could see the kids gathering together for the after-school street hockey game in front of our house and I knew I couldn’t join in.
I guess this most recent bout of nostalgia and “woe is me” moment has been triggered by the fact that my sick days have just passed the one-hundredth day mark and the novelty of being at home, while a “Tuesday light” is filling my living room, has completely worn off. I really should heed the following words.
“I enjoy convalescence. It is the part that makes the illness worthwhile.” ~ George Bernard Shaw- (1856-1950).
January 17, 2011
I have been closely following the news in the aftermath of the horrendous shooting incident on the 8th of January in Tucson Arizona, which killed six and left thirteen wounded. The attack, once again, fuelled the ongoing debate of gun ownership and gun control in the United States and some of their citizens’ staunch defense of their rights to the Second Amendment of the American Bill of Rights which states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Given the fact that the original documents were written well over two hundred years ago, my personal view on the matter would be that to “bear arms”, by using today’s types of firearms, hardly compares to the “bear arms” with the kind of firearms the American forefathers were referring to back in the1700s. Methinks the Tucson shooter wouldn’t have done as much damage had he been wielding a musket or a flintlock pistol.
The political and domestic climate, that Americans were living in during the late 1700s, cannot come close in comparison to today’s world, so the Gun Lobbyists’ claims that it’s their “right to bear arms”, (for self-defense purposes only, mind you), hardly applies to today’s standards.
While I’m not exactly anti-gun, and let’s face it, how many prairie boys do you know who didn’t own a .22 rifle, I do have a hard time understanding how the diehard gun lobbyists feel that semi-automatic handguns, with thirty-shot-holding clips, and sub-machine guns are weapons of self defense. And I have an even more difficult time understanding the argument that it is exactly “these types of attacks” which prompt people to “load up” in case they too are caught up in a firefight rather than accepting the argument that “these types of attacks” would be lessened if fewer people had these types of weapons available to them.
Many Canadians tend to take a “holier than thou” stance regarding our neighbors to the south but we Canadians are not nearly as different as we like to think we are and we are greatly affected by what goes on in the Excited States of America. That said, I don’t think Canadians are even close to the Americans when it comes to gun loving. To that end I did a little research regarding guns, the pro-gun lobby, the anti-gun lobby and some statistics, myths and truths regarding firearms in our world today. I will share some of my findings with you now.
• Population of the United States-305,689,000.
• The latest estimation of the number of firearms in the United States-275,000,000.
• Guns per 100 American residents-90. (Number of guns divided by number of residents; this number is not a representation of the percentage of people who possess guns).
• "The level of gun ownership world-wide is directly related to murder and suicide rates and specifically to the level of death by gunfire." International Correlation between gun ownership and rates of homicide and suicide.' Professor Martin Killias, May 1993.
• A government study found that the United States has by far the highest rate of gun deaths, (murders, suicides and accidents) among the world's 36 richest nations- 10.2 per 100,000. Canada-2.4 per 100,000.
• MYTH: Keeping guns in the home increases personal protection. TRUTH: Self defense is not a good argument against gun control. Two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that keeping a gun in the home makes it 2.7 times more likely that someone will be a victim of homicide and 4.8 times more likely that someone will commit suicide.
• MYTH: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" is a good argument against gun control. TRUTH: This pro-gun argument makes about as much sense as claiming that "glasses don't see, eyes see". Glasses are a tool, which help people to see just as guns are a tool that help people kill and injure others. A study done by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence reported that a victim is about 5 times more likely to survive if an attacker is armed with a knife rather than a gun.
• MYTH: If you outlaw guns only the outlaws will have guns. TRUTH: If you outlaw guns, very few criminals will have guns. In America, guns start out legal then they enter the black market one way or the other. Nations with very strict gun control laws such as the UK, Australia, and Japan have much lower gun crime rates than the US.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent activist and clergyman in the African-American civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. King was shot and killed by an assassin’s bullet on Thursday, April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. I am writing this article on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and thought it apropos to quote him at the conclusion of this article. The quotation is from a sermon that was delivered in Montgomery, Alabama, at Christmas, 1957. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote it whi1e in jail for committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott. Oh how little we have learned.
“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies -- or else? The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." –Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968).
January 9, 2011

So it turns out that I definitely have a herniated disc in my back, which is going to require surgery to repair. Oh for joy! I, of course, have been put on the surgery “waiting list” and have been given the standard timeframe of six-to-eight weeks until the surgery can be done.
I am not wholly convinced that our medical profession has a firm grip as to the concept of time though. It’s kind of like “dog years” or something; you know, for every “human year” it’s seven “dog years”. I am sure there must be a multiplier or mathematical formula that calculates “wait times” to “regular time”, like, take the “wait time” figure (six-to-eight weeks), multiply it by a factor of 1.5 and you’ll get a more accurate measurement of nine-to-twelve weeks. If I’m lucky.
Six-to-eight weeks must be the pat answer for any procedure but you have to start somewhere, I suppose, and they have to give you some sort of number, don’t they? “
“So, we’ll do your back surgery in say…six-to-eight weeks. Howz that sound?”
“So, we’ll replace that hip for ya in say…six-to-eight weeks. Howz that sound?”
“So, we’ll remove that earwax buildup in say…six-to-eight weeks. Howz that sound?”
Yes, okay, you’re right. I’m sorry about that. I guess I’m getting a little frustrated and a little more cynical after four and a half months of enduring this discomfort with no immediate relief in site.
Speaking of which, (my discomfort, that is), as I shift from chair-to-couch-to-bed-to-chair-to-couch…trying to find a comfortable position, and feeling little or no relief, I sometimes find myself wondering about whom I could possibly wish this discomfort on; should I be able to do such a thing.
I am sure you have often heard the phrase, “I wouldn’t wish this pain and discomfort on anyone!”, but let us, just for the sake of argument, say that would be possible, then who would I pick? Although I don’t consider myself to be a vengeful person, I must admit that I have, a time or two, mulled over a list of possible candidates.
The easy choices of course would be Graham James or Carla Homolka, Peter Whitmore or Willy Picton et al, but they deserve a fate far worse than mere discomfort and pain and eventually they will have a greater power than me to answer to in that regard.
So I tapped into my personal memory banks and thought back on who would have affected my life in such a way that I would bless them with this level of pain and discomfort. It turned out to be a surprisingly small list.
In fact, I have to venture back over forty years for my first victim. I know it was a long time ago but, given the following facts, I am sure you will understand how the event has remained with me so long.
Who, then, would be the likeliest candidate? Travel back in time with me now to Lindale School in Moose Jaw when I was in the seventh grade, too many years ago. To set the stage let us remember that, back in the day, students would repeat a failed grade as many times as it took until they could pass up to the next grade, which could result in quite a disparity in ages and physical stature of students in the same class. Some students would not even be entering puberty, (me), while others were already shaving and holding a driver’s license, ( my first candidate), whom we shall call Bull. Get the picture?
Thankfully, he wasn’t as violent as he could have been but, regardless, the day he chose me as his latest victim for one of his infamous “Atomic Wedgies”, I think I would have preferred a punch in the nose. He tore the elastic waist-band, and remaining remnants of my underwear, completely off of me, leaving me in embarrassing commando mode for the rest of the day, and yes, it did leave a mark, both physically and emotionally. If, Dear Bull, you are still alive today may you live in my pain.
That’s it, you ask?! A wedgie in grade seven is all you can come up with? Fifty plus years of life and you want to avenge a seventh grade wedgie?! I told you I wasn’t a vengeful person and I’m blessed/cursed with an above average long-term memory. Let’s just say that being bullied or being a bully in elementary school can, and will, affect you for the rest of your life.
Now I’ve used up all of my allotted space on just one candidate. Fortunately and unfortunately, I’ll have…maybe six…maybe fifteen weeks to refine that list of possible candidates.
“Between the wish and the thing life lies waiting.- Author Unknown.
January 3rd, 2011

Happy New Year!
Have you resolved to stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Is this going to be the year? Or do you even bother with them at all? You know, avoiding setting yourself up for disappointment and everything?
Some experts say that setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with your resolutions. Thanks for the expert advice. If it were that easy we wouldn’t need life coaches or motivational speakers and Oprah would weigh 130lbs all the time!
Whoops. Now I’ve gone and broken one of my new New Year’s resolutions already. I was going to be a lot more positive this year and try to cut back on the sarcasm. I guess I lost my focus there. But what the heck, you’re supposed to go with your strengths, too, aren’t you? Oh well, it was way down on my list anyway.
What’s the New Year’s Resolution protocol then? Once you break one are they all cancelled? Or do you just keep going down the line? What’s the optimum number?
Maybe I’ll just follow the experts’ advice then. A reasonable goal, eh? Perhaps I should work on that nasty old procrastination. I should resolve to start these articles before the morning that they are due. Yes, now there’s a good start. Oh-oh. Whoops again. I’ll have to put that one off ‘til next year because this article’s already due today and I just got started. Damn. Scratch that one off the list, too.
Okay, here’s one that’ll fly. I’m going to resolve to dig out those old Tony Robbin’s motivational tapes from the 1990’s and get a little of my focus back. Thank goodness I haven’t gotten to last year’s resolution about finally cleaning out those closets and storage spaces and throwing away all that old junk that’s been accumulating for years. See how procrastination can be your friend, too? Now if I can just find a cassette player I’ll be set.
Better still, maybe I should go by the old adage, “Those who can’t do…teach.”, or, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say”, you know, that kind of thing. That’d take the pressure off don’t you think? Hmmm, I think I’m onto something here. Just like Tony, I too could become an expert! Why not? I can preach to others about how to set reasonable goals and stay focused. I’ve always been pretty good at telling others what to do anyway. And who knows, it may even help me be more positive myself. Yup, I can hardly wait to get started on that. I’m going to get to it just as soon as the World Junior Hockey tournament is over.

“Resolve to renew all your old resolves,
And add a few that are new,
Resolve to keep them as long as you can
What more can a poor man do?”-Author Unknown.
December 13, 2010

Have you seen the Leon’s ads about what kids have to say about different Christmas themes? If you like listening to cute little children with lisps mispronouncing words while talking about Santa and his Elves, and really, who doesn’t, then you have to keep an eye out for them. They are so cute.
Kids aren’t the only ones who say the darndest things when it comes to the theme of Christmas. Please enjoy the following quotations regarding the Happy Holidays.
There has been only one Christmas -- the rest are anniversaries. ~W. J. Cameron.
I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph. ~Shirley Temple.
Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde.
I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.” ~Bernard Manning.
I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” ~Harlan Miller.
Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.” ~Victor Borge.
In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' ~Dave Barry.
Christmas is a race to see which gives out first - your money or your feet.~
Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his present remembered. ~Phyllis Diller.
There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.~Erma Bombeck.
Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit. ~Kin Hubbard.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their lock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~LUKE 2:8-14.~ After reciting the above verses in a scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, Linus then tells Charlie, “That’s the meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.”
December 6, 2010

Once again, that 365 day window of opportunity is closing in on us real fast, isn’t it? Christmas is coming. And, just like every other year it has seemed to have caught us by surprise. How many times have you already heard, “I can’t believe there’s only ________ days ‘til Christmas?!”
Oh, of course you’ll have that 1.7% percent of the population, you know, the keeners who’ve gotten all their Christmas shopping done during Agribition, or something, or they’ve picked up stuff throughout the year at flea markets and craft shows and whatnot, “Oh isn’t this cute? Auntie Jean would love one of these for Christmas”, says one of the 1.7% at a May Long Weekend yard sale, (insert eye roll here), but let me tell you, these people are the exception to the rule.
The remaining 98.3% of us are still waiting for just the right moment when all the stars are aligned and the bank account is at its zenith and then we’ll zoom around in a fit of panic to get all the shopping, baking, decorating, cleaning, card writing…done before the big day.
But thank goodness Christmas is coming because all of my old stuff is…well…getting old! Some of my stuff is actually months old already! I know! And it’s taking up waaayyy too much room, too. These ten rooms, two porches, basement, yard shed and garage, that my wife and I share, are all getting full. And we don’t even have as much stuff as a lot of other people. In comparison, we seem to be lagging way behind in our stuff accumulation.
And therein lies the kicker, though, doesn’t it? If I’m running out of room for my old stuff already, what the heck am I going to do with a bunch of new stuff? We’ve put off that yard/garage sale for over ten years, now, so I doubt that’ll happen any time soon. Not that we were really interested in getting rid of the old stuff anyway, what with its sentimental value and all, so the other alternative would be some outside storage units.
Is it really surprising, then, that one of the fastest growing industries in North America is the building and rental of storage units? Have you been to Regina lately? There’s another bunch of storage units going up near Emerald Park, and if you really pay attention, look at the number of storage units on the north side of #1 Highway/Victoria Avenue on the way in. People keep accumulating stuff at such an alarming rate that there is just never enough room for it all.
And, yes, I am saying much of the above with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I don’t really need any new stuff. I haven’t even touched some of my old stuff and if I needed more stuff I’m very capable of buying it myself. I’m already suffering enough from “Boomer’s Guilt” regarding my carbon footprint and my excessive accumulation of stuff, but, then again, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?
So here’s a thought…if you’re not one of the aforementioned keeners and you’re having a tough time deciding what to give that someone who has everything, (and nowhere to store it), give his/her something to someone else. Give it to World Vision or the Red Cross or the local Food Bank or to a needy family that could actually use some new stuff.
At first, your gift recipient may be a little disappointed that they won’t actually be receiving any new stuff themselves but point out to them that you’re going to save them money in the long run and that by giving their something to someone else they won’t ever have to pay for its storage.
November 29, 2010

I had delayed writing this article anticipating that I would be writing about a ‘Rider victory in the 2010 Grey Cup. Alas, it was not meant to be…again. At least this time the ‘Riders didn’t lose a game that they had already won and now maybe everyone can stop talking about the “thirteenth man” and the “too-many-men penalty” in the 2009 Grey Cup. Regardless, this loss doesn’t feel too good either. But Rider Nation is still loud and proud and all we can do is tip our hats to the Alouettes for winning their second straight Grey Cup and vow that we shall return.
That said, I can’t really submit a one paragraph article now can I? So…what to talk about then? How about William and Kate’s engagement? Oh, you haven’t heard? Great Britain’s Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, first son of Prince Charles and the late Lady Di, announced his engagement to Kate Middleton, a “commoner”, no less, the first “commoner” betrothed to a future British king in 350 years. Whatyamean, “who cares”? That’s what my initial reaction was, too. But wait.
According to our national news magazine, Maclean’s, the Queen and the subsequent heirs to the British throne, are still Canada’s head of state and, I quote, “while such an arrangement strikes some as antiquated or unnecessary, it has proven to be a great benefit to this country.” So we Canadians had better care about who’s marrying whom when it comes to the Royal Family.
But even if I were to buy into the fact that some person born into the right family at the right time, and by no other means than by chance or perhaps Devine Intervention, some choose to call it, will become a much more worthy and important human than many other humans on the planet and that he/she may, one day, become our Head of State, I would still think that the international news media’s hyping of THE ENGAGEMENT is over the top.
Again, our national news magazine, Maclean’s, devoted 52 pages, that’s right, 52 pages out of 106 total pages, or 49% of the whole November 29th issue of the magazine, to Royals’ Coverage! Wow!? And that’s just for the engagement. Page one of their coverage states, “The courtship, the ring, the families and the romance that has captivated the world.” I think that they may have forgotten the most important word in that statement. The word “media”. Add the word “media” right at the end of the above statement and, to me, it would then be more accurate. Because, I don’t know about you, but I’m not nearly as “captivated” as I am told I’m supposed to be.
Perhaps the “media” should be reminded of how their over-the-top intense coverage of “The Royals” factored directly into the premature death of Prince William’s mother Lady Diana. But they don’t care. They’ve got magazines, papers and TV advertisements to sell. The London Times reported that a single picture of a bikini-clad Kate might fetch upwards of $50,000.00! And a television news outlet actually hired a lip reader to monitor Kate’s conversations while she was attending Prince William’s graduation ceremony from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst a few years ago! Seriously? A lip reader?
Once again it’s the old chicken ‘n egg scenario, isn’t it? Which came first, the public’s fanatical obsession with the Royal Family fuelling the need for all of the intense media coverage or the intense media coverage creating the public’s fanatical obsession with the Royal Family? Either way the media monster is alive and well and hungrier than ever and at whatever the cost.
“Sometimes I think they should set up an asylum for people like that…a whole slew of paparazzi defending their positions.”-Robin Wright Penn (1966- ).
November 21, 2010

Remember when the first big snowfall of the year would bring a smile to your face? You’d be all excited about getting street hockey going again and dig out the toboggan and run to the one hill in town to jostle with every other kid for your turn to slide down the run and you could hardly wait to get to the schoolyard to tramp out the “Fox and Goose” paths in the fresh snow for the first game of the year and everyone would be flopping on their backs and making snow angels. Those were the days, weren’t they? Aw, innocent youth.
Today, I am not sure how I would describe my facial expression when I wake up to the first big snow dump of the year. I think smiling would be one of the last ones on the list. Unless it was one of those rueful smiles one can get when a joke is played on them or when you lose to the other team in the last seconds of a game. Yes, I’m smiling, but it’s not a happy smile.
This year, we got the bonus round, too, remember? We got the first big dump of snow before Halloween and then it completely went away. Not now. Not this last dump. This is a keeper. This one’s gonna last. This year we experienced double the pleasure, or misery, as it were.
I suppose if I were an avid snowmobiler or owned a ski-lodge or my livelihood depended on snow removal, or something, I could get excited about the large amounts of snow. But I’m not, so I don’t. Get excited, that is.
I really wish I could muster up the excitement of my youth and welcome the winter. And I don’t really want to bring all of you down with me, too, but misery loves company, you know, and I just can’t seem to get excited about facing twenty-four more weeks of winter. I’m sorry. I’m usually “a cup’s half-full” kinda guy. I usually try to find the good in everything. But I’ve lost my Canadian zest for winter. There…I’ve said it.
Maybe it’s because we have experienced this twice already this year. I was so disappointed when that big dump came so early. Then I was optimistic when it all went away only to be disappointed again a couple of weeks later when it was back again. On-again and off-again like a high-school romance.
Now, to me, winter means shoveling your way to the car to see if it’ll even start. Then, you take your life in your hands as you push through bumper-deep snow while trying not to hit the other idiots out on the road attempting to get to work, too. And you’re kicking yourself for not putting up those damn Christmas lights right after the snow went away the first time! And then there’s the yin and yang of the snow removal crews. Happy that they’re finally getting the snow from the streets all cleared away but angered by the fact that they choose to do it at 7:00 am on a Sunday morning! Right in front of your house!
Heading into this winter, maybe I’m a little more sensitive than I have been in past winters. Maybe it’s because I’ve become a sort of prisoner in my own house this time ‘round, what with my immobility and all, and I can’t embrace it. Maybe it’s because we have gotten an “Instant Winter” this year. Ol’ Mother Nature isn’t messing around this time as she has given us two feet of snow and minus twenty something right off the bat making next spring look even further away!
But, then again, it is what it is, so I’ve got very few choices don’t I? Either I can miserably suffer through the long winter months impatiently waiting for spring or I can face the fact that if I am to live in the best country in the world I have to take the good with the bad and do it with a smile on my face, rueful or otherwise.
“Some snowy winter Sundays, when there’s a little boredom, you should always carry a gun. Not to shoot yourself, but to know exactly that you’re always making a choice.”-Lina Wertmuller-(1928- ).


Here's a reprise of a little Christmas poem I threw together for you. Three Kings, shepherds and a babe in the manger. The E...