Sunday, November 30, 2014

DO YOU BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING?

           The other day an acquaintance of mine started up a conversation with me regarding the instant winter that Saskatchewan residents have been subjected to in the last couple of weeks. Our comments were of the usual variety about how the sharp drop in temperatures and the incessant high winds gave a January feel to the last days of November as we moaned and groaned about the start of what will surely be another long, long nasty winter. Although, to me, even a nice, mild, beautiful winter season will still be classified as nasty and too long, but I digress.
            We continued on and I said something about “so much for Global Warming, haw, haw”. To which his response was, “Pfttt, I don’t believe in Global Warming” anyway.” So, I’m like, “Really? You don’t think 7 billion humans and all of the by-products and processes required to sustain 7 billion humans on the planet isn’t causing some kind of adverse effects?” I was thinking that surely “Common Sense” will tell you that something’s going on but, then again, if “Common Sense” were so common everybody’d have it, don’t you think? Anyway, he said that of course there would be some kind of adverse effects but Global Warming isn’t one of them. According to him there’s just not enough evidence.
            So, I listened to his arguments with his list of “experts” and I nodded and smiled because I knew that it would be a complete waste of my time to argue with him about it. And him with me. Our minds were made up. Him on one side…me on the other.
He, of course, took my smiling and nodding to be condescension from a “left-leaning-wing-nut-holier-than-thou-tree-hugger”. I, on the other hand, took him to be a “right-wing-conspiracy-theorist-big-oil-loving-extremist”. And so, the lines were drawn.
            Call me what you will and I do refute some of the “left-leaning-wing-nut-holier-than-thou-tree-hugger” stuff…I’m not a nut…but I don’t think showing concern for the only planet human beings can currently live on as being alarmist or unrealistic. In fact, I think it’s the other way around. If humans are damaging the planet at the rate 97% of the climate scientists working directly in the field think it is then I think the human race is obligated to pay attention to the damage being done. Keep in mind human beings’ record for environmental responsibility being less than exemplar e.g. pollution of oceans, seas, rivers, air, soil…
            I had done a lot of researching and reading on the subject over time and I’m not afraid to tell you that some of his arguments got me rethinking my stance so I did some more researching and reading and that led me to a couple of conclusions. One: you could read about the subject of Global Warming and Climate Change for the rest of your life and still not cover all of the information written on the subject and Two: I’ll stick to my original conclusion…Global Warming is not a myth.
            But, hey, you don’t have to believe me. Find out for yourselves. I encourage it. Every resident of this planet should be as educated as they can be about the state of our environment. Take an honest look.
            My suggestion for a good start to your research would be to look online at:climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus.


“Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.” Ronald Reagan (1911-2004).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THIS DAY IN HISTORY


           I really like history so there’s a “This Day in History” calendar hanging on the wall at my work station and another one hanging on the wall in our office at home. The calendar is made by an American publication associated with the History Channel so it’s understandably centered on Americans and American history but they do throw in the odd tidbit of  historical information like the opening of Vatican’s City’s Sistine Chapel to the public in 1512; November 1st, 1512 to be exact.

            Last week, on the morning of November 13th, as usual I checked out the calendar to see what had happened in history on that particular day and I was a little surprised to see that day’s big historical news was that it was the day in 1955 when Whoopi Goldberg was born in New York City. Whoopee for Whoopi.

            I’m a big fan of Whoopi’s, by the way, and she has won an Academy Award and everything and she has been a major celebrity for years and years but, seriously folks, in all of the recorded history from time immemorial the most celebrated event that can be attributed to the 13th of November was the birth of Whoopi Goldberg?

 According to my research, recorded history begins with accounts of the ancient world around 4000 BC which coincides with the invention of writing. This does not include historical narratives of oral history or mythological traditions which would take human history back more than a few centuries further. Regardless, there has to be over four thousand November the 13ths throughout history and Whoopi comes out on top.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the events that Whoopi has overshadowed, shall we? Now, keep in mind that I’m not blaming Whoopi or in any way saying she isn’t an important person but a little perspective never hurts, does it?

In 1553 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and four others, including Lady Jane Grey are accused of high treason and sentenced to death under Queen “Bloody” Mary I. In 1775 during the American Revolutionary War the American forces under General Richard Montgomery capture Montreal. In 1956 the Supreme Court of the United States declares Alabama laws requiring segregated buses illegal, ending the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In 1974 Ronald DeFeo Jr. murders his entire family in Amityville, Long Island, in the house that would become known as The Amityville Horror. In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a march by thousands of Vietnam War veterans. These are but a few of the historical events that took place on the 13th of November.

Other notables sharing Whoopi’s birthday are King Edward III of England (1312), Dorothea Erxleben, (first female medical doctor-1715), Jiaqing, Emperor of China (1760), Robert Louis Stevenson (1850) and our own local celebrity actor Lloyd Warner(1963).

I am not so shocked that celebrities are trumping real history or news anymore. It seems to me that our infatuation with all things celebrity is escalating. There’s even a pop culture term for individuals who are “Famous for Being Famous”. Hello there Kim, Kloe, and Kourtney Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and anyone associated with the old Jersey Shore reality show.

I guess history will, once again, have to be the judge of the long-term effects on our society’s escalated pop-culture-celebrity-itis. Time will tell.

            “Celebrity doesn’t have anything to do with art or craft. It’s about being rich and thinking that you’re better than everybody else.”-Joseph Gordon-Levitt (1981-)

           

HELP ME


            Did you hear about the 18 year-old Alabama man who robbed four Subway sandwich shops in four days because he wanted his money back over the failed “Subway Diet”? His armed robbery skills and his excuse for carrying out the crimes just reek of stupid. I’m sorry. I don’t know the guy at all but, seriously, he might not qualify as the stupidest burglar of all time but he’s up there with the best of ‘em. Or is it the worst of them? Well, you know what I mean.

            If you’re new to the planet or just don’t watch television, or anything, the “Subway Diet” was a Subway fast food restaurant ad campaign that was marketed around university student Jared Fogle who had become obese, (62” waist size for his pants…yes, 62”), from his junk food addictions and decided to do something about it. So he switched to eating Subway’s sandwiches, which he must have felt was the healthiest choice of junk food, I guess, and he also reduced the portion sizes, eliminated the fattening condiments like mayonnaise and started walking a lot. The result was a huge loss of weight. Good for him.

            His college roommate wrote about Jared’s successful weight loss in the Indiana Daily Student News which then led to Jared’s story being included in a Men’s Health article called “Stupid Diets…that Work!” Jared soon became a long-time spokesperson for Subway restaurants and has kept his weight in check ever since.

            The Alabama robber should have read all of Subway’s literature on the “Subway Diet” because the diet comes with this disclaimer, “The Subway Diet, combined with a lot of walking, worked for Jared. We’re not saying this is for everyone. You should check with your doctor before starting any diet program. But it worked for Jared.”

            So, apparently, according to Zachary Terrance the 18 year-old man accused of the robberies, the first course of action after the Subway Diet let him down wasn’t to try to get a refund from the restaurant or maybe write to the Subway store or the corporate offices and complain or anything, his course of action was to grab a gun and demand his money back. At four different Subway locations. In four days. Without a mask on. In full view of the on-site cameras.

            After local police aired footage of the robberies and pictures of the culprit he was spotted at a local Wal Mart wearing the same bright orange running shoes that the robber wore and then the authorities were notified and Terrance was arrested while shopping for a holster for his gun. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Maybe he should have been shopping for other diet solutions or something. Just saying.

            Hopefully Zachary Terrance is young enough to get some help. He is obviously not the clearest of thinkers. I don’t know anything about the man but maybe he has mental health issues. If he can atone for his mistakes and get some sort of rehabilitation instead of sticking him in prison with the hardened criminals, making him a lifer no doubt, there’ll be hope for a better life for him and everyone else. He’s just lucky the gun didn’t go off during one of his capers. I’m sure the store’s clerks would agree.

            The above story may have been my long winded way of bringing up men’s mental health issues but as I am, once again, Movembering up, I thought this would be as good a time as any to shill my Movember website.

            Again, if you are unaware, Movember is a fundraising campaign to get men to grow their mustaches for the month of November in support of Men’s Health Issues like prostate and testicular cancer and men’s mental health problems. For more information or to donate to the cause you may visit my Movember website at: http://ca.movember.com/mospace/. Your assistance in raising awareness and addressing men’s health issues would be greatly appreciated.

“Unfortunately, we force people to break the law in order to get any kind of mental health treatment.” Pete Earley, Bestselling author and Mental Health Advocate, (1951-).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE.


Is there ever a good time to receive bad news? It always seems to come when you least expect it, doesn’t it? Then again, who sits around expecting bad news? So when it does come it always seems like...really? Now? Did this have to happen right now?
Case in point: on October 22nd I was watching the news about the killing of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while he was on ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa, the aftermath of the attack, the killer’s death and the whole upheaval on Parliament Hill when my cell phone rang. It was our youngest daughter, Emily, calling from her newly banged up car minutes after she had had an accident on the William R. Bennett Bridge in Kelowna, B.C.
Obviously distraught and in a bit of shock from the suddenness of the event and the damage to her car it took a few moments to calm her down and get her to assess the damage, first of all to her physical well being, and then the damage to her car. Was she okay? Was anyone else hurt? How bad is the car? Is it drivable? How did it happen? The standard set of questions, you know?
What a completely helpless feeling knowing that your overwhelmed and hurt child is two provinces away and you can’t hold her or reassure her with anything other than your voice over the phone. Thankfully, she wasn’t severely hurt in the ordeal, but still.
I am in no way trying to compare a fender bender to the death of a child but during the conversation with Emily my thoughts went to the parents and family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who would have received much worse news that same day. What would it be like to get that call? I cannot even imagine nor do I ever want to find out but one thing such a tragic event will do is put things into perspective pretty quickly. As bad as things may seem at certain times in your life they can often be so much worse.
Events alter life. Immediately. One minute you’re cruising along and an instant later everything has changed. Canada changed that day.
It was just two short days after Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed when he and another officer were struck by a car in the parking lot of a federal building in Saint-Jean-sur-Richilieu, Que. They were deliberately targeted only because they were members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Two Canadian Armed Forces members killed in one week on Canadian soil. As stated…it changed Canada. More innocence lost.
The two horrible deaths sparked an outpouring of grief and outrage while inspiring a wave of Canadian pride and a renewed sense of unity across Canada. While the families, friends and comrades of the fallen soldiers may take some solace that the soldiers’ are now viewed as heroes and their deaths have not been in vain the fact remains that both men were taken far too early in their lives.
There was a “gut-wrenching” irony, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper so aptly stated, to the fact that Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “He knew what he was protecting and he knew what he was preserving and he died protecting and preserving.”
There is never a good time for bad things to happen. At least that has been my experience in life. We are left to learn from tragedy, make the best of a bad situation and move forward with renewed hope that we have gained something from the experience.
It is not lost on me, either, that these events happened days before we are to gather together to honour the sacrifices of so many others who have served our country in the past. Remembrance Day is upon us and we shouldn’t have needed such a raw reminder that Canadians have much to be grateful for but every now and then it takes a nation’s tragedy to remind us of how fleeting life can be and how precious our way of life is and how worthy it is to protect. Lest We Forget.

“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life,”-Jodi Eareckson Tada (1949-).

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