Sunday, 30 November 2014

Broken Systems

The medical system here in Quebec is broken and it has been for a long time.  I had some hope that the new health minister, being a doctor himself, would work to change things but it's getting worse, not better.

For example, in Montreal a new "super-hospital" is being constructed in order to consolidate several other hospitals to supposedly save money in the long run.  However a few weeks ago it was decided to change the plans: instead of the super-hospital having its own dialysis ward, the  existing units would be spread among other regional hospitals.  This move has the potential of leaving hundreds of dialysis patients without access to necessary equipment.

And then there's the plight of the mother of a dear friend of mine.  She recently posted this to Facebook:

"My mother suffered a heart attack Friday.  She was sent to the hospital which treats cardiac cases, Hotel Dieu.  Unfortunately, Mom must have daily dialysis, but Hotel Dieu has NO DIALYSIS MACHINE!  She has to wait about 48 hours to receive the materials needed to perform the dialysis manually.  It took a huge blow-up from both my sister and me for the nephrologist (who was coming from St. Luke Hospital as Hotel Dieu is unfamiliar with her specific case) to order what they need for the dialysis, and they transferred it by TAXI.  They did not even want her personal machine to be brought from home, because the machine would likely be stolen if left unattended."

This is merely one example of dozens that have played out in recent years.  Many patients can't get access to surgery, equipment, or specialist care within a reasonable amount of time.  Doctors are hobbled by patient quotas and salary caps.  People are being turned away from hospitals if their home address is not in the correct neighbourhood.  Nurses and doctors alike are overworked: one suburban hospital has only ONE doctor available at night for 500 beds.

And now the provincial government wants to invoke austerity measures that include cuts to health services. Yesterday there was a huge citizen protest through the downtown streets.  You can't cut what is already pared down to the bone.

Don't get sick.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Unfair Comparisons

This morning on my husband's LinkedIn feed there was an image that claimed the cultural divide had been emphasized due to the fact that while over 700 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty over the last six years, the White House only deigned to send representatives to the funeral of a black man who was shot by a cop.

That correlation is blatantly incorrect.

The cultural divide has existed for centuries.  Many of the black people that live in America today are the descendants of slaves.  Moreover, historically they've been relegated to second-class status: they tend to be poorer, less educated, have fewer opportunities, and therefore are more prone to criminal activity.  Those that do manage to rise out of poverty face never-ending scrutiny.

All families usually give their kids "the sex talk" when they get old enough.  But black families have the added burden of teaching their kids how NOT to catch the attention of a police officer.

Let's do the math.  Approximately 700 officers over 6 years works out to be one death every three to four days.  On the other hand, current statistics suggest that one black person dies at the hands of a cop EVERY DAY.  See what's wrong here?

As for the White House not sending reps to civil funerals, there's a reason for that.  Most law enforcement agencies are managed directly by the municipality, county, or state; the federal government is not legally obliged to go to the expense of sending a rep out every few days.  If it were a military officer or someone who worked directly for the government, that would be a different story.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the President chose to send representatives to the funeral of Michael Brown Jr. was to show solidarity with the community, especially after all the unrest there.  After all, the President is a black man.  He probably understands very well.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Holiday Poetry

Soon it'll be time to send our Christmas cards.  My mother used to send cute little poems along with her cards and so I've taken up her tradition.  Often I'm inspired by authors or popular songs.  In previous years I've composed a sonnet in the style of Shakespeare, and I re-wrote the lyrics for the song "Sleigh Ride". This year I've written to the tune of "Happy".

I might sound crazy but I've gotta say
There are few hours we can take a break
These are times of chaos but we need our space
Hyper aware, forced to share everything, by the way:

Because I'm wired
Clap along if you feel like ranting on Facebook rocks
Because I'm wired
Clap along if your Twitter feed doesn't like Firefox
Because I'm wired
Clap along if that blog of yours gets the views you like
Because I'm wired
Clap along if you feel like posting to Pinterest all night

Here comes bad news, hubby's out of work
So we're sending applications, trying not to shirk
We got the answers, thought we'd be just fine
But the more we do, seems we waste our time
Here's why:

Because we're wired
Clap along if the companies never respond to mail
Because we're wired
Clap along if interviewers' tests are designed to fail
Because we're wired
Clap along if your profile's always the first that's nixed
Because we're wired
Clap along if the system is broken and can't be fixed

Hire us now
Can't no-one
Hire us now
Frustration's too high
Hire us now
Can't no-one
Hire us now
I said,

Because we're wired
Clap along if that application portal swallows your info whole
Because we're wired
Clap along if to get work these days you gotta sell your soul
Because we're wired
Clap along if the holidays approach with a sense of dread
Because we're wired
Clap along if you're checking your LinkedIn while in bed.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Fear and Hatred

"Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering." -- Yoda

The horrible recent events in Ferguson Missouri and here at home has caused me to wonder about the future of humans.

We hear about violence against women on a regular basis.  Many women, particularly Muslim women, who try to leave an abusive relationship risk being attacked, raped, disfigured, and even killed.  Girls are attacked or even killed for wanting to go to school or otherwise not adhering to "tradition".

Religious institutions are firebombed.  Churches and cemeteries are vandalized.  Schools and youth camps are invaded.  Authority figures commit heinous acts and are able to get away with it.  Many societies are controlled by the ultra-rich.

There even are entire countries that have essentially been at war for generations: Israel and Lebanon, North and South Korea, amid others.  Outside-brokered ceasefires have only been temporary.  It seems that the only way it's going to stop is when one or both sides have been completely obliterated.

It has been said that it's human nature to distrust that which is different - physical appearance, sexual orientation, belief system, whatever it might be.  Perhaps it's a basic survival instinct that stems from the ancient past when humans were tribal nomads.   Or it could be derived from the historical fact that more advanced cultures almost always conquer weaker ones.

Unfortunately this still leads to mistrust, fear, and often to outright hostility even if it's not justified.  Great strides have been made in education and tolerance, but it hasn't been nearly enough because hatred runs too deeply despite the calls for it to stop.

I pride myself in that I have friends of diverse backgrounds, ethnic origins, and beliefs.   If we can get along, why can't others?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


For a long time I've been having trouble with back pain and numbness in my fingers - especially after lifting heavy shopping bags or performing tasks like sewing that require me to lean over and pinch my fingers together.  I attributed it to poor posture and the fact that I spend much of my time seated in front of a computer.

However recently there was a more alarming development: numbness in the skin across my shoulders that spread up to my neck and face.  It feels almost like the way one does after the jaw has been numbed for dental work.

So I went to a doctor to get a referral to a neurologist, who scheduled me for a procedure called an electromyogram.  Electrodes are placed on particular muscle groups and the patient is asked to flex their muscles voluntarily.  A computer analyzes the signals and determines if the muscles and associated nerves are working properly.

Even without such a test I can take an educated guess and say that my spine is out of kilter.  Just feeling my backbone shows that there's part of it that doesn't seem quite straight.  That implies a herniated disk or pinched nerve, both of which could cause the symptoms I'm experiencing.

As to how my spine got that way, the possibilities are numerous.  18 years ago I was a passenger in a car that was hit from behind and I was flung forward against my seat-belt.  As previously mentioned, I've spent most of my life using computers.  But whatever the reason I hope that the cause can be pinpointed and some sort of treatment is available.

I'm certainly not taking the same chance that a friend of mine took. She waited over 6 months to see a doctor about her numbness, which by that time had spread over her entire body, limited her motion, and was threatening her livelihood.  It turned out she had a herniated disk which required surgery to rectify, followed by months of rehab.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Man Piaba

I've been posting about serious subjects all week, so it's time for something lighthearted.  One of my favourite songs by the Calypso artist Harry Belafonte is called Man Piaba.  Recorded in 1954 for the album "Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites", its meaning has been debated ever since.

When I was a lad of three-foot-three
Certain questions occurred to me,
So I asked me father quite seriously
To tell me the story 'bout the bird and bee.
He stammered and he stuttered pathetically
And this is what he said to me.

He said, "The woman piaba and the man piaba
and the Ton Ton pull baka lemon grass,
The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmm,
And the famous granny scratch scratch."

It was clear as mud but it covered the ground
And the confusion made the brain go 'round.
I went and ask a good friend of mine,
Known to the world as Albert Einstein.
He said, "Son,
From the beginning of time and creativity
There existed the force of relativity
Pi R square and a minus ten means a routine only when
The solar system in one light year
Make the Hayden planetarium disappear
So if Mount Everest doesn't move
I am positive that it will prove:

That the woman piaba and the man piaba
And the Ton Ton pull baka lemon grass,
The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmm,
And the famous granny scratch scratch."

It was clear as mud but it covered the ground
And the confusion made the brain go 'round.
I grabbed a boat and went abroad
In Baden Baden I asked Sigmund Freud
He said, "Son,
From your sad face remove the grouch
Put the body down upon the couch
I can see from your frustration a neurotic sublimation
Hey love and hate is psychosomatic
Your Rorschach shows that you're a peripatetic
It all started with a broken sibling,
In the words of the famous Rudyard Kipling:

That the woman piaba and the man piaba
And the Ton Ton pull baka lemon grass,
The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmm,
And the famous granny scratch scratch.

Well I traveled far and I traveled wide
And I don't even have me self a bride
All the great men upon this earth
Have confused me since my birth.
I've been over land and been over sea
Trying to find the answer 'bout the bird and bee
But now that I am ninety three
I don't give a damn you see:

If the woman piaba and the man piaba
And the Ton Ton pull baka lemon grass,
The lily root, gully root, belly root, uhmm,
And the famous granny scratch scratch!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Above the Law

In 1990 a young man crossing the street in front of his high school was hit and killed by a speeding police car.  The officer was sentenced to 45 days for dangerous driving.

In 2011 a mentally ill homeless man was causing a disturbance.  Unable to calm him down, police officers fatally shot him, also killing an innocent bystander who was on his way to work.  No charges were laid.

And last February, an officer in an unmarked car was speeding at 122 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone and broadsided a car at an intersection, killing a 5 year old boy.  No charges have been laid.

When police officers are involved in a fatality, another police force is called in to investigate.  But how impartial is this method?  Given past events it appears that few police officers are held accountable for incidents that, had they been perpetrated by regular citizens, would have resulted in serious jail time.

How can the public truly trust and respect a police force that itself seems to be above the law?  Whenever something wrong occurs they hide behind their badges and unions until the problem goes away.  This is not how the police should behave, which makes them unworthy for the job for which they supposedly swore an oath "to protect and serve".

Some jurisdictions have ordered their policemen to wear cameras that record their actions.  As a result, use of excessive force has lessened considerably.  Anyone will behave better if they know they're being watched; ask any child.  Unfortunately that doesn't stop some officers from harassing bystanders who record incidents on their cellphones.

If police officers faced the same consequences that citizens did, you can bet the system would change in a hurry.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Behind the Screen

So you're looking for a job through various media such as newspapers, online searches, job-search sites.  How can you know if what you see is really what you'll be getting?

The web site of company X claims that they "develop web applications, marketing and advertising tools" but anecdotes from people in the know say that in reality the company manages online porn sites.  Another web site advertises company Y as being a great place to "maximize your potential" and "nurture your professional growth".  However online reviews from current and former employees complain of rampant nepotism and blame-shuffling from the upper management.

The Internet is a good place to hide your true self.  Reel the fish in with a good lure and then cast the net when it's too late.

An astute writer on LinkedIn whom I've been following has stressed that instead of submitting your credentials online where they'll disappear into the Black Hole Recruiting Portal, you need to send directly to a hiring manager.  Of course, corporate web sites almost never list relevant personnel which means that the job-seeker must do all the work to find the right person to contact.  Even then there's no guarantee that an application will even be acknowledged.

It has been clear for years that the system is broken and employers often miss people who would otherwise be a good fit for their company if not for screening software and overwhelmed managers.

Lately I've been heavily tempted to forget about the computer and do it the old-fashioned way: print out multiple copies of my resume and personally hand them out to the local businesses.  Maybe that would be more effective.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I See Montreal... Really?

My city has just spearheaded a citizen's campaign called I See Montreal/Je Vois Montreal to get people's opinions of how great the city once was and to find ways to make it so once again.  All they really need to do is ask people who grew up through the 1960s and the 1970s and they'll understand.

Some of these suggestions will require intervention at the provincial level - which probably won't happen any time soon.

1. Lessen the language restrictions.  Since 1977 and the draconian Bill 101 that limits the expression of English, people and businesses of all stripes have been leaving in droves.  More recently, companies have stopped selling their products in Quebec rather than go to the expense of making French versions of their packaging and/or web sites.

2. Make Montreal officially bilingual.  This city is supposed to be the economic engine of the province of Quebec, but it can't be that if everyone is forced to conduct business in French.  Not to mention we're also a tourist city, and people won't visit if they can't get served in the language in which they feel most comfortable.  Police, transport workers, hospital staff, and others who are foremost in dealing with the public should be able to speak both languages.

3. Revamp the taxation process and redistribution of funds.  Quebec is the highest-taxed jurisdiction in Canada and yet that revenue seems to go nowhere.  The provincial capital region gets most of the perks and successive governments have wasted time and money on frivolities while Montreal's infrastructure is crumbling.

4. Restructure the medical system.  Too large a percentage of the population doesn't have a family doctor and wait times for specialists are excessive.  Enrollments for medical schools are limited, and many graduates are forced to spend a year out of their home region.  The CLSC system was designed to take the load off hospital ERs but their services are not available 24/7, and they should be.

Just my two cents.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Loss of a Giant

Glen A. Larson, one of the great television producers of the 1970s to the 1990s died on Friday.  He was responsible for creating and/or producing some of the most loved and influential programs of my generation: The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I., Knight Rider to name a few.

Those who knew him recognized his unique type of creativity, although it garnered him an unfortunate reputation for stealing concepts from blockbuster films of the day and using them in his own shows.  Instead I choose to believe that he adapted existing concepts in a more unorthodox way that wasn't always appreciated by critics or audiences.  The show Automan was a prime example: although it was clearly inspired by Tron, Larson went so far as getting the producers of Tron to act as consultants on Automan to make it appear that he wasn't plagiarizing them.

Many of Larson's productions were also noteworthy in that they combined science-fiction elements with action and adventure but had limited violence.  This formula had varying success, with some shows only lasting one season, but all of them have loyal fans to this day.  A select few were revived for 21st century audiences, and it's my opinion that other Larson works deserve the same treatment.

Had I the chance to speak with Mr. Larson I would have thanked him for his worlds of imagination that inspired me during my teenage years.  And if not for that, I wouldn't be privileged to know actor Chuck Wagner and writer/producer Larry Brody today.

Rest in peace.

Friday, 14 November 2014


In Halifax Nova Scotia, a 15 year old girl remains nameless because of a publication ban on the details of a "High Profile Child Pornography Case".  This girl was gotten drunk and was violated, and a picture of the lewd act was spread all over her school and her community.  Unable to cope with the resulting bullying and emotional fallout, she committed suicide.  Only then did the authorities take notice.

Now the young man who took that disgusting photo and distributed it, causing the girl and her family so much grief, has been sentenced to a "conditional discharge".  That means that as long as he meets the requirements laid out by a judge, which includes meeting regularly with a court officer, submitting his DNA to a sex-offender registry, and writing an apology to the girl's parents, he goes free.

In other words, nothing.  A slap on the wrist for destroying a girl's life.

The system was supposed to protect her.  Just like it was supposed to protect so many other young people who have been assaulted, shamed, and bullied.  Too many of them end up dying, either by the hands of their tormentors or by their own hands before they are taken seriously.  This is the horrendous result of a society that has been historically patriarchal and misogynistic.

It's little wonder that few victims come forward, because they know that more than likely they will not be believed and/or will suffer reprisals.  Instead they write in journals, post heartbreaking videos on YouTube, or rally around Twitter hash-tags like #BeenRapedNeverReported.  In most cases they remain nameless because they are afraid that the system will treat them as such.

That Halifax girl does have a name: Rehtaeh Parsons.  And there are other names: Amanda Todd, Megan Meier, Cora Delille, Lewis Thelwall... young people whose tormentors were either given only light sentences or not charged at all.

Something has to change.

Here's another excellent blog on the subject.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Credit Where it's Due

People who know me know that I'm not Christian.  My ancestors were mostly varieties of Protestant but I was brought up in a secular manner.  Over the years I've attended many different services from Anglican to Catholic as I tried to understand religious people and their beliefs.

One of the major Christian prayers is the Hail Mary, which gives blessing to her for bearing Jesus into the world.  However I recently discovered the following text online, apparently propaganda for a movement that is attempting to remove Mary from her position.

"I know you don't like to hear this... but she can't hear your prayers. She's not God, she can't be everywhere at once.  God says He DOES NOT give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8) ... that includes Mary.  He will never give her a higher position than Him or anything even close to His glory and magnificence.  Satan is trying his best to stop God from receiving His deserved worship, and redirecting it to Mary.  This is a very wicked thing to do.  Worship the creator not creation (Romans 1:25).  I used to pray to Mary, then I started to read the Bible, that's when I found out my family was teaching me lies.  I stopped praying to Mary, and confessed my sins of idolatry to God.  Will you do the same?"

From a non-Christian perspective I think this is an unfair interpretation.  God approached Mary to bear His son Jesus, and she went through many trials before and after doing so.  She deserves rightful credit, so acknowledge her and bless her.  Doesn't the Christian Rosary include prayers to both Mary and God?  Nobody said she had to be worshiped above God.

What these people are trying to do is downplay Mary's importance, probably because she is a woman.  Even Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the Resurrection - and wife of Jesus by some accounts - was for a time described as a repentant harlot.

The Bible contains stories about strong women who ran businesses and became influential in their community and in politics.  Why then, does there seem to be an effort to rub them out?  We should be praising them.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Accommodation Gone Amok

Earlier this year in the town of Rotherham, England, it was discovered that a group of Pakistani Muslim men was kidnapping and raping young girls.  Babies that resulted from these rapes were taken away and were never seen again.  The police did nothing.  Angry parents who tried to get their children back from these gangs were themselves arrested.  One investigator into the crimes had her office ransacked, her case data stolen, and was told by a colleague to "never refer to that again".

What is wrong with this picture?

Many countries have gone too far with trying to accommodate immigrants.  Police forces and service workers alike are muzzled, activists are arrested, and people are walking on eggshells for fear of doing or saying something that might offend someone - particularly those of the Muslim faith.  YouTuber Pat Condell has said, "It's kind of the irrational cult-like response you would expect from people who've been trained to think and behave this way against their better judgment."

Even in my hometown the debate has raged for a long time.  When a congregation of Hasidic Jews complained that their young men were being "corrupted" by the sight of women using the gym next door, the gym changed its windows.  When a young Sikh man insisted on wearing his ceremonial kirpan dagger to school, the case went to court and it was eventually decided to allow Sikh students to have a kirpan on their person if it was sealed and secured.  This caused a public uproar and some parents withdrew their children from that school in protest.

More and more I find myself agreeing with Mr. Condell.  If you come to our country and practise your religion, that's fine as long as it's within the privacy of your own home or temple/synagogue/mosque/church.  Don't force your beliefs on us, and don't get offended when we insist that you conform to our laws.  If you don't like it, you shouldn't have come here in the first place.  We should not have to bend to your whims.  When in Rome, etc.

Monday, 10 November 2014

No Two Ways

Let me start by saying that I have nothing against LBGT people.  I have friends who are members of these groups.  However there is one point that I have an issue with.

Recently I saw a lifestyle story about a transgender person who was proud of being able to breastfeed "his" baby.  I'm sorry but that is taking things way too far.

If a person is uncomfortable with the gender in which they were born and chooses to change it, that's fine.  They can change their name and identity, adopt the lifestyle of the gender that they prefer, and even undergo reassignment surgery if they are able.

But it has to be a one-way trip.  Women who choose to live as men shouldn't suddenly decide to have a baby and then breastfeed it just because they want to or because they've retained their female parts.  You wanted to be a man, so live like one.

Same goes for the opposite.  A man who wants to live as a woman shouldn't father a child just because s/he can.  This is the consequence of living as a woman.

All this stuff does is twist the very concepts of sex and gender into something unrecognizable.  I can't help but be reminded of the song "Those Were the Days".

And you knew who you were then
Girls were girls and men were men
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again
Didn't need no welfare state
Everybody pulled his weight
Gee, our old La Salle ran great.
Those were the days.

Saturday, 8 November 2014


I have amazing friends who've often inspired my blog and Twitter posts.

Yesterday was a friend's birthday and she noted: "Don't think me ungrateful, but when people close to you don't even acknowledge your birthday, you know where you stand in their lives.  My birthday was awesome even though there were a few people whom I really care about that didn't even mention it.  It's hard not to feel hurt.  I sometimes expect others to acknowledge me the way I do them.  Birthdays are very important to me, and I try to acknowledge others' birthdays in a special way."

My own father hasn't acknowledged my birthday for four years.  But I forgive him.  Why?  Three reasons:
1. He has a track record of putting his own interests above me.
2. He hasn't been the same person since my mother died.
3. He's getting elderly and his memory isn't all there any more.

My parents weren't great parents, although they did what they believed was their best.  When I was young I was frequently dropped off at another relative's house while they went on vacations.  On my sixteenth birthday they went out on their sailboat for the day, leaving me to plan my own celebration.  What kind of parents do that?

I phone and Email my father on a regular basis, especially on his birthday and on holidays.  He doesn't Email me as much as he used to, and the only times he phones me are if he needs something or if it's bad news.  Is it too much for me to ask that he calls or comes to visit his granddaughter once in a while?

I don't forget him but it still hurts to be forgotten.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Follow the Law

The state of Washington recently passed an initiative that, among other things, makes sure that anyone buying a gun in Washington State passes the same background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter whom they buy it from.

Although I don't live in the U.S. I still see this as a good thing.  It keeps more firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.  I personally don't like guns but I don't have a problem with people carrying them as long as it's required for their lawful employment and/or they're members of the military.

You have to register your car before you can drive.  You need to register to vote, to get married, to keep pets.  Background checks are often required to rent an apartment or work at certain companies.  What's the matter with background checks and registration for owning a firearm?

A friend of mine who lives in WA strenuously disagrees with the initiative, saying that it was "bought not won" and he now despises Microsoft for its financial backing of it.  On top of that, he wrote:

"I won't be following this joke of a law just like a lot of other folks I know.  It makes zero sense and takes nothing from the criminals, making myself and others one.  So, I'll be a criminal then until a nice fat lawsuit destroys this infringement on my rights.  I refuse to comply nor will I buy anything now in such a way that can be tracked.  Tired of liberals that think they can tell me what to do.  They can go live with [Michael] Bloomberg and let him protect them when the need comes.  I sure won't, I'll be only protecting my family and those I care about. The rest of you anti-gunners can go straight to hell and let [Bill] Gates and [Steve] Ballmer and the other anti-freedomers here in WA who have private armies, protect you. If they will."

Being a law-abiding citizen means that you FOLLOW THE LAW even if you might not agree with it.  So, my friend has admitted that he condones not complying with the law, and he condones acquiring and possessing non-registered firearms, and even seems to encourage such.  He's branded himself as a criminal through his own actions, not through the law itself as he claimed.

I feel sorry for him.  And I feel sorry for his family who will suffer because of his extremist attitude.  I'm also sorry that I might have to stop speaking to him, because he and I have known each other for a long time.  I wish I knew what happened to change him so much.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Thursday Treat: One Bowl Apple Cake

Fall is the best time of the year for apples, which are an extremely versatile fruit that lends itself well to many recipes.  I picked this one up recently because it looked so easy to make.  It turns out moist and rich.

One Bowl Apple Cake

To make this you will need:

One large mixing bowl
One 9" by 13" dish OR two 9" round cake pans
Measuring cups and spoons

2 eggs
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 medium-sized sweet apples, peeled and sliced
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and oil.
Add the apples to mixture in bowl, coating them well to keep the apples from browning.
Mix together the baking soda and flour and add to the ingredients in the bowl.
Mix well (best with a fork) until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients.
Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" or two 9" round pans.
Bake for approximately 55 minutes.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Too Much Politics

I'll never understand the United States political system.  A friend of mine pointed out this morning that today's midterms in the U.S. cost $4 billion dollars of campaign money (that we know of).

Imagine what half that money could do to help the U.S.' unemployed, or people on the verge of homelessness, or if it was poured into primary school education.  What a novel idea!  Pay teachers.  Stock food banks. Solar and wind energy installations.  Better mental health support.

So many options.  Just pick one or two.

But of course that will never happen.  It seems that many people who tend to go higher in politics are sociopaths, because all they do is pad their own pockets at the expense of their constituents.  They make all kinds of promises in order to get elected and then backpedal.

For those politicians who are actually honest, or who attempt to do good and hold others accountable, the system is made to break them.  Take a look at President Obama: almost everything he has tried to do has been blocked by the opposing party.  The stress has caused him to obviously age ten years for the six years he has been in power so far, and his family has come under fire through no fault of their own.

Its not quite as bad in Canada, but there are times I wonder.  Especially in Quebec when most politicians are more concerned with the survival of the French language instead of addressing the real issues.

If we could take the politics out of politics, maybe things will improve.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Too Early for Christmas?

"I never eat December snowflakes, I always wait till January."
"They sure look ripe to me!"  -- Lucy and Linus Van Pelt

Two weeks ago, the local Home Depot had started to put up its Christmas Aisle, right next to the Halloween decorations.  Sears had begun to put its decorations up at least a week before that.  Now Halloween is barely over and the sales have started everywhere for wrapping paper, cards, and ornaments.

Make it stop!

I do understand that Christmas is the most profitable time of year for most retailers.  But please, let us enjoy the fall holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween, and even Remembrance Day, before inundating us with gaudy fiber-optic trees, battery-operated puppies that bark the tune to "Jingle Bells", and terrible jazzed-up cover versions of traditional holiday carols.  If this keeps up we're going to end up with celebrating Christmas in September.

At least wait until after American Thanksgiving or something.

Until then, I don't want to hear about it.