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I will be volunteering on Saturday at the Kids Need to Read booth at Space City Con in Houston. I’m reblogging this post to confirm how much I beleive in the importance of the work this organization does! See you at the Con!

Bohemian Geeky Girl

When my daughter was three she could sing the entire “Red Dwarf” theme song. She quotes “Monty Python” skits on a regular basis, she dressed as “Firefly’s” Kaylee at our “Firefly Fundraiser” party and she thinks Abed on “Community” is the coolest guy on TV. When she was six, she didn’t want to dress as a princess for Halloween, she went as Count Olaf as played by Jim Carry in “A Series of Unfortunate Events“… eye tattoo on the ankle, side burns and everything! At ten, she has serious conversations about God and the sanctity of all life. Her social studies project this year is “How Hunger Games Could Become a Reality”. Other kids are doing their projects on dolphins and lions. Pretty cool huh? We think so. Apparently however, the kids at school do not.

My little K is ostracized, excluded and bullied because…

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My Top Ten Tear Jerkers: I Always Cry When…

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Boromir dies. Yes, yes, I admit it. There are just some movie scenes that never fail to move me. Watching Lord of the Rings again for the umpteenth time was a perfect choice for hunkering down on a rainy day.

People (and by “people” I mean my family) tease me for crying at movies. I’m sure there are many others out there who know what it’s like when they have to take tissues to a movie that they KNOW in advance will make the waters fall.

“Whatever happens… I must… not… cry!”

So what do we do? We don’t like being made fun of, we feel silly that a fictional story will affect us so we practically break our necks trying to hold it in. Then what happens? We choke, our chests hurt, we turn purple and then we screw up our faces and make new wrinkles in our foreheads.

I was reading somewhere recently that people who cry at sad stories aren’t just sympathetic, they are empathic.  Sympathy is a cognitive understanding of why someone might be feeling the way they feel, empathy is the ability to actually feel what others feel.  Why should we be made to feel embarrassed about this? If more people were empathic the world would be a better place. Better yet, if ALL people were empathic there would be utopia! There would be no question over public health care, there would be no animal abuse, there would be no sexual assault, there would be no bullying , there would be no war… the list is endless. So movie cryers unite!

Here you go, my top ten teary scenes for a rainy day, watch and cry unabashedly! :

10. Star Trek: Generations (when the Enterprise crashes)

9.  Spiderman 2 (when he stops the train and is carried and unmasked by the people)

8. Bridge to Tarabithia

7. Titanic (the scene where the mother is telling her children stories in bed)

sorry, couldn’t find clips of this but I’m sure you know the one!

6. Harry Potter (when Hedwig is killed)

5.Lord of the Rings (Boromir defends the Hobbits to the death and says he would have followed Aragorn to the end)

4. Up

3. Star Trek The Wrath of Khan (Death of Spock)

2. Dumbo (baby of mine)

And my number one heart wrenching story is :

  1. The Iron Giant

(ok, just watching this for the POST made me cry…)

I also have to give honorable mention to “Marly and Me” which I have only watched once because it’s just too damn sad, and “Ol Yeller” which I will NEVER watch because I know it would probably kill me.

He’s Baaaaaack! JR Ewing; He’s Back and He’s Bad!

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1980. Where were you when JR was shot? Oh ya! Glued to the TV and waiting all through the summer to find out the answer to TV’s first trendsetting cliff hanger!

English: Larry Hagman attending the "Nigh...

English: Larry Hagman attending the “Night of 100 Stars” for the 82nd Academy Awards viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA on March 7, 2010 – Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was sitting at the theatre one hot day in Houston, patiently watching the ads that I pay for, when the music hit me. “I KNOW that music! OH MY GOD! It’s DALLAS!” I nearly jumped out of my seat with a standing ovation at the end of the ad. I don’t THINK I was the only person applauding, but I have to admit I was so damn excited that I really didn’t pay any attention to what other patrons were doing. Maybe what they were ACTUALLY doing was looking at me like I’d just tipped out of my rocker….

I’ll admit it. I was in Jr. High (1980) the year JR was shot by an unknown assailant.  My entire family had to be home to tune in every week to watch JR and Bobby in their eternal struggle of good vs evil. My dad found a cartoon in the newspaper: The unmasking of “Darth Vader”, guess who was the face under the black mask of evil? JR Ewing of course! HA! We stuck that one on our fridge.  I wore my “I Shot JR” button every day that summer, and even the Queen of England waited with bated breath for the season opener that would answer that question.  90 million American viewers tuned in along with her to have the answer. This record was beaten only by the last episode of M.A.S.H in 1983. Internationally, DALLAS still holds the record for most watched episode with 360 MILLION viewers tuned in. That’s TV history, baby! So was I excited to learn that it was coming back on the air? YOU BET I WAS!

Initially, It worried me that the old characters, JR (Larry Hagman), Bobby (Patrick Duffy), and Sue Ellen (Linda Grey) would only be used as a bridge to the next generation then would fade out quickly as the show progressed. I mean really and truly, DALLAS just wouldn’t be DALLAS without JR and Larry Hagman’s BRILLIANT portrayal of evil incarnate. (I just love how the older he gets, the crazier his eyebrows get. It’s hard to believe he’s the same guy who played the lovable astronaut in “I Dream of Jeanie” so many years ago.) It seems after three episodes however, that my fears were (hopefully) unfounded. It seems the story line is evolveing in such a way that the Ewing first generation will be sticking around for a while. They are integral to the plot… which is of course, battling royally over the rights to Southfork, and oil. (I mean what else would it be about? It is Texas after all!)

The original cast of Dallas. Clockwise from to...

The original cast of Dallas. Clockwise from top right are: Larry Hagman (in cowboy hat), Linda Gray, Jim Davis, Charlene Tilton, Victoria Principal, Patrick Duffy, and Barbara Bel Geddes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was also worried that this new generation wouldn’t be able to measure up. Well, it seems those fears are unfounded as well. John Ross (Josh Henderson of “Desperate Housewives” and a real Dallas(ian) ) is just as devious as a chip off the old block. He soon finds out though, that he still needs more lessons in deviousness and taking on dear old dad in a battle concerning oil just may be a fatal mistake. I can’t help but feel that JR is rather proud of his son’s attempt to cut him out of billions of barrels of oil, though so watch and learn John Ross, watch and learn! Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe… Desperate Housewives… again) is just as soft and left-wing as old Bobby, even if he isn’t “of the blood”, a fact his cousin so loves to keep reminding him. Different than Bobby though, his need to prove himself as Ewing, gives him a sharper edge that Bobby never had.

Bobby’s new wife, Ann (Brenda Strong… Desperate Housewives… Wisteria Lane moves to Southfork) , is an interesting addition to the family. Texan to the core I wouldn’t be surprised to bump into Ann in Wal-Mart purchasing pink rifles as Christmas presents. (As a Canuck now living in Texas, I have a culturally more informed perspective than I used to….) It’s wide open for the return of Pamela (Victoria Principal) however, as all we know about her character is that she abandoned Bobby and young Christopher for who knows where… just anywhere JR wasn’t I’m sure.  Pamela’s brother, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), however makes an appearance and the scene between himself, JR and Bobby is priceless.  Three old buggers who swear they will be dancing on each other’s graves. They’ll be fighting in hell when the time comes, probably arguing over who has the rights to the brimstone.

Now I look forward to Wednesdays. Never thought I’d say that….

The Rose Labyrinth Book Review

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The Rose Labyrinth

Cover of "Rose Labyrinth"

Cover of Rose Labyrinth

So, looking for a good summer read I came across The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie at my local “Friends of the Library” bookstore.

It LOOKS really cool, comes in an extra cover slip with the book on one side and a booklet of clues on the other side. It starts off really well with a “DaVinci Code” feel to it, with a focus on symbology and historical figures as part of the mystery, not to mention the Christianity vs Paganism vs Science overtones.

Pulling a George R.R. Martin, she kills off “the main character” after the reader becomes invested in him. The downfall to this technique occurs however when it also happens to be the strongest character, which it is in the case of “The Rose Labyrinth”. While his death is a catalyst for the story, it becomes a fluffy Harlequin Romancy thing after that. The two main characters are sickeningly “gorgeous”, there  is a whole “princess who needs to be rescued by the prince” aspect to it, when the “new” beautiful and  frail, main character, Lucy, has a heart transplant and falls in love with her handsome, seriously sensitive, and knight in shining armor, doctor. (Professional ethics be damned!) The extra characters such as their friends and family are just plain cardboard. The father has a depth of 0 and I kind of cringed every time he came on the scene. He didn’t seem to serve any purpose at all except to maybe add more protective testosterone to the cheesy mix.

I was hoping that the mystery part of it and the clue booklet would help make up for the syrupy romance but was sadly disappointed. I actually attempted to work at the clues but I really don’t think there is any way an average reader could figure any of them out even with access to the internet. I couldn’t do it and I’ve got an armchair interest in symbols, symbology, anthropology and the like. I eventually tired of even trying and just decided to discover the answers along with the characters and sometimes even that was a pretty far stretch. They seemed to have a general knowledge of stuff they really shouldn’t know unless they were anthropologists or something of that nature. Lucy is some kind of documentary film maker, so maybe that is supposed to explain it…

The author makes an attempt at some type of spiritual / mystical depth as Lucy has some connection to the mystery through her new heart, there are a couple of incidences of visions into previous time periods but these are so glossed over that it just makes the whole thing confusing.

In short, the book is a great concept and it could have been epic as a “DaVinci Code / Mists of Avalon” mix.  Hardie should have just done away with the extra pretty packaging and the unsolvable booklet of clues and concentrated on writing the story with depth.

Indiana Jones Doesn’t Like Snakes Either, reclaiming the term “girly”

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It’s fairly easy to deal with bears. They don’t hide under your lawn chair and they’re big (especially Grizzlies) so most of the time you see them coming. You blow your bear whistle, or your air siren, or you bang your pots and pans together and you can be mostly sure that they will lumber away.

Some years ago I ran a ten-mile leg of the Jasper /Banff relay race through the Rocky Mountains at 3 am in the in the morning. There were bears in the ditch on the side of the road. I didn’t see them that time, because it was dark, but I knew they were there. There is nothing that will help you shave minutes off your time like bears in the dark.

Hiking in Banff or Waterton National Park is a blast. I sure miss it.

This is one of my favorite hiking photos… skinny dipping in a glacial fed mountain lake at the top of Smuts Pass. (See the snow?)

One of the funnest things about hiking in the Rockies is glaciating. Glaciating is when you slide down the side of the mountain on a glacier in your hiking boots.

(This is my husband. National Geographic documentaries… the photographer does it too and carries the camera equipment at the same time…)

The first time I did this I was wearing sneakers, that was a little more scary because you don’t get the ankle support you should have and you feel every little rock on the bottom of your feet. It also increases the fear factor if you are watching an avalanche occurring on the mountain across the valley on your way down.

Probably the coolest thing I ever did was hike the West Coast Trail. The West Coast Trail is a fifty mile back packing trail on the west side of Vancouver Island. It’s roughly a week-long survival trek through rain forest,

climbing through knee reaching mud and over waste high roots in old growth rainforest,

going up and down mile high cliffs on slightly rotting step ladders,

(this is an example of one ladder, most often there is a series of five or six or ten or twenty of these ladders in a row… it’s possible to spend two days just climbing ladders…)

crossing ravines on slippery logs,

pulling yourself and others across deep chasms and inlets in little suspension cable cars,

skirting deathly surge channels on itty bitty ledges, (This photo was taken on the other side. I think I’d never been so scared in my life.)

and the bonus, is that you do it with 50-60 pounds of extra weight on your back!

One day I had an encounter with a cougar. Now THAT was scary.  You DON’T see cougars because they hide really well in the trees. You can hear them though… snarling at you as you run away.

A few years ago I was proud to earn a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. (Sorry, not sure where that photo is.) I love to beat the shit out of a punching bag, and sparring with a partner is not only great exercise, it’s loads of fun! Thank goodness I’ve never had to use those skills in a REAL fight. That would certainly be scary, but it’s a little bit reassuring  to know that if I was ever attacked in the Wal Mart parking lot, that I might be an inconvenient enough victim that  said “bad guy” might reconsider his actions.

After having done all of these scary / possibly crazy things in my younger days, I have to admit there are two things that really give me the creeps. One is stepping on squishy mud at the bottom of a lake. Who knows what icky, yucky things might be lurking in that muck? The other is Water Moccasin snakes. Unlike bears, they are sneaky and hide in places, like maybe that yucky mud in the lake. Water Moccasins are not your usual “ignore it and they will ignore you” type of snake. They are highly aggressive, they will chase you down the pathway until they get you. They might even curl up at the bottom of the slide in your swimming pool during a drought year. That’s what happened to my friend’s daughter before she realized it was there and couldn’t stop her descent down the slippery slide. She eventually stopped struggling and resigned  herself to being bitten, which she was and nearly lost her leg.

Nope, I don’t much like snakes,  then again, neither does Indiana Jones… but I’ll bet HE was never called “girly”.

The Avengers Didn’t Pass the Bechdel Test. Oh well!

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Yes, I know, I know. It didn’t pass the Bechdel test…. BUT IT STILL ROCKS!

The Avengers Poster

For a movie or television program to pass the Bechdel test there are three basic criteria which must be met.

  1. It includes at least two women
  2. Who have at least one conversation
  3. About something other than a man or men

The Avengers has two women all right, but they don’t converse together once during the whole movie so therefore they don’t even have the opportunity to discuss a man… let alone what lip products or doctors they may share in common to get that full pouty look. Photo from The Avengers

Not passing the Bechdel test however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a good piece of entertainment. Neither is the Bechdel test an accurate assessment of a high level of feminist content. What the test DOES measures is a lack of female oriented story lines over all. The overwhelming LACK of movies that pass the test demonstrates that the entertainment industry revolves primarily around men and men’s lives and men’s stories.

( What if the Male Avengers posed like the Female one?)

Many, many GREAT movies do not pass the Bechdel test. This includes Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter just as examples. Both of these are GREAT movies, but again examples of the appalling lack of “herstory”. This problem doesn’t go unrecognized however. Take a look at this interview with Joss Whedon and various cast members regarding published in a prominent magazine and posted by Feminist Frequency: The Avengers and the Smurfette

That being said, The Avengers was still a fantastic piece of work. Walking into it, I wondered to myself how Joss Whedon was going to carry this off. In my opinion, Iron Man was the best of the series of other wise fairly bland movies. Tony Stark played by Robert Downey is by far the strongest and most developed character of the group. I really expected this movie to be dominated by the big metal hero. Not so! I was very pleasantly surprised at how well balanced the show was between all of the characters. Each one had their time in the limelight and it was done very smoothly. No indication of the placating father who might give the same treat to all of the kids just so they wouldn’t argue over who was the favorite.

The humor was of course what made the show uniquely Whedonesque. It’s what he does best! What I also LOVED about this movie is that every geek’s fantasy fight between characters was dealt with. Who would win if Hulk battled Thor? Who would win if Thor went up against Iron Man? We got to see it all and again it was done with such finesse that no one’s favorite came up with the short end of the stick. Very diplomatically dealt with Mr. Whedon!  I also loved how it was really the Hulk who, like T Rex, came in and saved the day. I love how it’s this character, which represents that dark side of what we are, is also our secret weapon.

My one complaint is the lack of Black Widow’s fire power, those two tiny little pistols against those massive sky swimming, mechanoid, turtle ships? Seriously?  Couldn’t they have given her something a little bigger? (Sigh , just another case of women having to do twice the work for the same recognition.)

The Liebster Award

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For ME? (blink, blink, blink in Bug in Bunny fashion)

I would like to thank my new online friend Fatima of stacksandranges.com for this award! I know my friend from Stacks and Ranges follows a number of blogs so I’m quite flattered that she would choose my blog to award.

As a new blogger, one of the things I have really enjoyed in this quest for online verbosity is meeting other bloggers with similar interests.

Apparently the Liebster Award is a way of supporting other new bloggers with fewer followers, in recognition of their efforts and to promote and circulate their little known, but great work. Part of the award is to “pay it forward” by passing the award to five other “smaller” blogs, and linking them to your own blog.

As a newbie, I really don’t know how to tell how many followers a blog has so I’m just going to “go for it” and post my list of favorites and assume they have less than 200 followers.

1. First on my list is my dear friend Jen who writes Pardon my Chemobrain . Her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer not long after they were married and this is a record of her daily roller coaster ride. She is the physical embodiment of love, strength and determination. You ROCK Jen, really and truely!

2. The next is my online friend Steve Steve Taylor-Bryant whom I “met” through twitter. Steve is a writer and a fellow “geek”. His blog contains personal stories of inspiration as well as reviews on the latest geeky news, particularly when it comes to his absolute favorite, Dr. Who. Steve knows more about the good Doctor than anybody else I’ve ever come across.

3. Next is Cynthia Beard Cynthia’s blog was recommended to my by a friend on Facebook. I don’t know how many followers Cynthia has now, but her blog is wonderfully insightful and she writes with a personal depth that I admire.

4. Next is my friend Tracy who writes Trailer Park Karma Tracy is one of those rare online breeds who is a paid writer. It’s not an easy way to make a living that’s for sure. I admire Tracy for her ability to always pull through adversity with grace and dignity.

5. The last blog I want to award is Minimalist Living . I have never had contact with the owner of this blog but in a day and age where over consumerism is at the bottom of ALL of our ills I really believe in what this blog has to say. I don’t know how many followers it has, but not enough in my opinion.

And that’s all folks!

Canadians ARE Different. 10 ways Canadians Differ from Americans

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For years Canadians have been concerned that proximity to our big brother, and exposure to American media and entertainment, has eroded Canadian culture. As a Canadian living in the U.S. I would like to put those fears to rest. After living in Texas for eleven years, I have noticed many differences in the cultural, political and economic arenas.

1. Political differences:  For Canadians, Communism and Socialism are two different animals. Communism is simply another system of economics and politics and not an invention of the nameless one who dwells in that place that’s even hotter than Houston. One day, my then ten-year old son had a friend come over to “hang out”. They were engaged in some kind of video game in which there was a communist system in place. My son asked “What is Communism?” his friend answered simply… “Evil”. Needless to say we had a quick and intensive lesson in social studies, forms of government and world history.) During President Obama’s presidential campaign, there was a flaming, fear filled, email circulating that described in point form what he stood for and how that was communist. I laughed at each point scrolled past and declared at the end, “He’s not a Communist! He’s Canadian!”

Royal Bank of Canada's previous logo (the crow...

Royal Bank of Canada’s previous logo (the crown was removed). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2.Economic differences: The banking system is another area which Canadians and Americans differ. I don’t know how many times my family has sent cheques (note the French spelling) and / or money orders drawn on the Royal Bank of Canada that American bank tellers will turn their noses up at, then charge half the cheque total in service fees to deposit. Yes…. Even money orders… technically already paid for and considered CASH are subjected to huge processing fees.  When I relay this information to my father, who was an employee of the Royal Bank of Canada for more than 30 years, (one of the largest and richest banks in the world) he exclaims with incredulity “The Royal Bank could eat those little buggers for breakfast!” Canadians can make deposits through the automated banking system as well as take money out. It’s very handy. Envelopes are provided and we just slip them in like you do your cash at the grocery store self -check out. Also when we sign the back of a cheque, the tellers really don’t care that it’s right on the line.  Sometimes Canadian cheques don’t even have lines. Anywhere will do. Canadians are such slackers.

3.  Canadians earn less and are taxed more. Yes, this sucks, but this it’s to be expected in a large country with a  smaller population that has more social programs in place. (note: SOCIAL programs, NOT Communist)  One of the benefits of this however, is that our school systems update their playground equipment to meet safety standards every three years. This is done over summer vacation and believe it or not, requires no fundraising event to do so.  Schools only do fundraising for fun, extra activities like if the kids want to spend a little more on a field trip or more decorations for prom or something. (As an aside, three field trips a year are MANDATORY, more are encouraged.  The school system in which my kids are currently enrolled, the students are lucky if they get one.) As a result of getting paid less, having higher cost of living, and getting taxed more, Canadians have a lot less disposable income. Because we have less disposable income Canadians eat out less. Because Canadians eat out less, the restaurant business is more competitive, more restaurants go out of business and therefore…Canadians are skinnier.

4. Public health care, that certainly is a hot potato, isn’t it? One day my neighbor said to me, “I’d be supportive of public health care, but I like the freedom to just call my doctor and see him whenever I want.” Stunned by this statement, I had to explain to her that yes, Canadians call their doctors and make appointments and there is no difference. Not only that but after experiencing emergency hospital visits in both countries, again, there is no difference in the wait time. I’ve had to wait hours in both systems. The misrepresentations with regard to public health care is pure propaganda circulated, I’m quite certain, by those who stand to lose the most money. Who would that be pray tell? Why, the health insurance companies of course!

5. On a lighter note, Canadians in general are a little more easy going, for one thing we love to laugh at ourselves and we laugh even louder watching our American cousins laugh at us.

After living in the US for so many years when I return home I DO hear that we sound like the McKenzie brothers, we DO have a tendency to apologize for everything even if we aren’t at fault. (I catch myself apologizing at the grocery store all the time when other shoppers bang into my cart when walking on what would be for them, the “wrong” side of the isle.) Americans are generally more outspoken than Canadians. If an American thinks you’re odd, they are more apt to let you know. If a Canadian thinks you’re odd, they’ll say, “Isn’t that….Interesting!” and sit a little further away from you on the bus.

6. Canadian humor is definitely different; I think Americans might call us “weird”. I wonder sometimes if this has something to do with our closer ties to Britain. Canadians are a strange combination of dry and wacky.

7. Canadians say “eh?” and Americans say “huh?” Personally I’ve never been one to say “eh?” very often, but boy when I visit home I sure hear it a lot! My daughter especially loves to point it out when relatives come to visit. In the south, pretty much everybody says “y’all “ or “all y’all”. I love explaining to my Canadian family and friends that “y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural. I have found actually that these terms can be very handy at times, especially at parties or while addressing large groups.

8. This one is a no brainer. Canadians are hockey fans and Americans are football fans.

While Canadians also love football (I remember my parents bundling up in parkas with thermoses of hot coffee to go to a CFL football game,) but our PASSION is hockey. Canadian hockey moms rival American football moms  with regard to dedication (5 am hockey practice) however, I have never heard a hockey mom say she was going to keep her son back from starting school an extra year so that he’s bigger for the sport. Twice I had football moms ask me if I was going to hold my son back an extra year from kindergarten so that he’d be bigger for football when  he was in high school. . Now THAT’S dedication!

9. Canada is “multicultural” and America is a “melting pot”: I remember my grade 12 social studies teacher going over this with us in school. At the time I thought “ho hum, whatever that means”.  When immigrants come to Canada they keep a lot of their traditions and customs. This, some Canadians argue may not necessarily be a good thing. Again, there is a fear of erosion of the culture that can be considered “Canadian”. I remember several years ago a controversy over a Sikh man who joined the Mounted Police and was permitted to wear a turban over the traditional Mounties hat. A turban was made for him in the Mountie colors but people were still not too happy about this.  I suspect this would have been a non-issue in the US. Of course I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that an immigrant in the US would have been expected to conform to the uniform that was provided without any “buts” about it.

Pierre Trudeau speaking at a fundraising meeti...

Pierre Trudeau speaking at a fundraising meeting for the Liberal Party at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal, Québec. Cropped version of File:Pierre_Elliot_Trudeau.jpg Français : Pierre Elliott Trudeau lors d’une campagne de fonds pour le parti Libéral du Canada à l’hôtel Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth à Montréal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1977 the Parliament of Canada under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau passed the Human Rights Act. “The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.” (In 2005 Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same sex marriage.) The Human Rights Act may be at the apex of discussion and dissention in certain areas concerning the preservation of cultural heritage; however I believe it is a big step in the right direction with regards to basic morality and overall human rights. It’s not perfect, but nothing ever is.

10. Both Americans and Canadians are very proud of their respective countries. Canadians used to be quieter and more subtle in their pride but at the same time fiercely loyal. I have noticed in the last few years that Canadians are “showing the love” in more obvious ways. I see a lot more flags flying now when I visit home. Canadian television programing is becoming more obvious in displaying signs of pride and I also notice a lot more Canadians voicing that pride both in words and actions. I view this as a good thing. Canada is a country worth shouting about! The social programs (not communist), and government policies regarding human rights demonstrates the generosity of the hearts of her people, and shines as an example to all.  America is the Land of the Free and the Brave, and Canada is the Land of Love and Tolerance.  What a formidable couple we make.

Top Five Weirdest Music Videos of All Time

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While visiting family in Calgary, I got into a pissing contest with my 14-year-old nephew over the age-old generational argument, music. Only this competition had a bit of a twist that we never had with our parents or them with their parents. This friendly sparring was over the question “what was the “weirdest” music video you’ve ever seen?” My nephew came up with one that was just downright creepy, and the other was what I told him was well, boring. When it comes to “weird” videos,  you can’t compete with a child of the ‘80’s because quite simply, we invented them.

Number 5

The first video I presented to him was one that actually I consider not only strange, but one of the coolest videos of all time:

“Just” by Radiohead.

My nephew’s reaction was the same as mine when I first saw this, “Oh man! What did he say?” I remember watching this over and over trying to lip read and then finally giving up and coming up with my own theories regarding world destruction and possible alien invasion.

Number 4

The second video I found for him was…

Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  (Sorry, this one you’ll have to watch an ad for)

I actually actively disliked this video at the time because it was so creepifying, but now that the ‘80’s are over I’m kind of fond of it for nostalgic reasons… except for the cake part, that’s still  creepifying. My nephew had to agree that it was pretty darn weird but then he came up with something that almost rivaled in the strange and bizarre:

It was time to break out my “ace in the hole”…

Number 3

 

Queen, “I Want to Break Free

My nephew’s reaction? “Ok, THAT was really weird! If I was to try to explain this video to someone, I wouldn’t even be able to do it!”

Can it get any better than a Betty Rubble wig, and Madonna boobs? What is with the Jersey Cow people all in a big pile? I really don’t know, but I honestly and truly LOVE Freddy Mercury and even though this is on my list of all time weirdest videos, it’s also on my list of favorites!

My nephew pretty much conceded defeat after this but I have a couple more that I have since posted to him on Facebook.

Number 2

Didn’t you Kill my Brother?” by Alexei Sayle

I love the dancing suits.

Yes, these videos are all pretty smeggin’ weird, but NOTHING can top what is up next. Nope, it wasn’t even made in the ‘80’s. Are you ready for it? Brace yourself…..

THE NUMBER 1 WEIRDEST MUSIC VIDEO OF ALL TIME…

Well, if you can top that, I’d sure like to see it!

Browncoats Rule, Prevent Bullying in School

Standard

When my daughter was three she could sing the entire “Red Dwarf” theme song. She quotes “Monty Python” skits on a regular basis, she dressed as “Firefly’s” Kaylee at our “Firefly Fundraiser” party and she thinks Abed on “Community” is the coolest guy on TV. When she was six, she didn’t want to dress as a princess for Halloween, she went as Count Olaf as played by Jim Carry in “A Series of Unfortunate Events“… eye tattoo on the ankle, side burns and everything! At ten, she has serious conversations about God and the sanctity of all life. Her social studies project this year is “How Hunger Games Could Become a Reality”. Other kids are doing their projects on dolphins and lions. Pretty cool huh? We think so. Apparently however, the kids at school do not.

My little K is ostracized, excluded and bullied because she’s “weird”. Kids are mean, we all know that. My now 14-year-old son went through very similar difficulties at the same age. He really was the proverbial square peg in the round hole. Eventually he became so severely depressed I quit my job and homeschooled him for two years. This was NOT easy let me tell you! He was angry, depressed, with extremely low self-esteem and he was just plain sick of schooling in any form. It took some real perseverance and creativity to help free him from that negative place.

When I started homeschooling it was so stressful that I needed a doctor visit to help me figure out how to cope with the situation. I explained my situation to the nurse. She sat me down and listened, then told her own story. Her son was much like mine, commit suicide when he was 13. She wished that she had the resources to quit her job and take care of him the way I was able to do so with my son. A week after my visit I discovered a letter from this nurse in my mailbox. It was a copy of a poem she’d written after her son’s death

Just Believe

Believe in yourself, you have so much to offer.

God sure knew what he was doing, when he

first opened your eyes.

He makes no mistakes. he’s got your heart in His hands, that started beating with your very first cry.

You’re an original, there’s no one in the world even like you

no matter how hard you try to be part of the crowd.

So just believe in yourself, and the rest

will surely follow. Believe in God,

He can see through those clouds.

Sometimes life can be so hard to understand.

People aren’t’ always what they seem to be.

Be proud of who you are, God will take you by the hand.

Be for real, don’t give in, just believe.

MV

That poem, printed on blue sky, cloudy paper and now faded, is still hanging from my desk beside my computer where I look at it every day.

Today my son is going on 15, he’s tall, has long blond hair in community of short haired kids and he’s comfortable enough in his own skin that he calls himself a “Brony” .”Bronies” are a fringe community of young men who are fans of the television show “My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic”. It’s true! Google it! C has the confidence to wear a girls large “My Little Pony 20% cooler” T-shirt to school and I am so proud! I firmly believe that the time I was able to spend with him homeschooling and building his esteem away from the school environment was the turning point in his life. Before this he had the fast pass to Juvie. Lets just say that the police department knew who he was and where he lived.

We are blessed. Most parents don’t have the option of quitting their jobs to pull their kids out of a toxic situation. Most parents have to send their kids on the bus every day and worry how they are getting along all day until they come home off the bus withdrawn or in tears. Most parents have to watch as their kid dissolves into a puddle of loneliness, depression, anger, and self-loathing and they don’t have the resources to pull them back out again. Bullying, ostracizing, and exclusivity kills the spirit and leads to violence that kids make either against themselves in such forms as “cutting”, and suicide, or against others with guns, knives and murder.

Last week I had the privilege to meet with Denise Gary from the organization “Kids Need to Read” program. Other Browncoats out there may recognize this as the reading charity sponsored and supported by our Big Damn Hero, Nathan Fillion. “Kids Need to Read” supplies books and reading programs to disadvantaged schools all over the U.S. One of those reading programs is called “Peace Packages” . The aim of the Peace Packages is to help our children develop problem solving skills, teach them peaceful conflict resolution, and help teach them that there are alternatives to aggression. Bullying isn’t natural behavior in children, it’s learned. If kids can be taught to be intolerant, exclusive and aggressive, then they can also be taught to be tolerant, inclusive and peaceful problem solvers.

I am an online, Amazon merchant. I started this small business as a homeschooling project with my son, but now that he’s back in the public school system I’ve decided to stick with it and build it into a “real” business. I’ve decided to donate a portion of my sales income to Kids Need to Read and I’ve specifically asked that my donations are put towards providing schools with Peace Packages. My goal is to be able to provide one peace package a month.

Also, our community has several Browncoats that like to meet at our house regularly for “Firefly” showings. I plan to discuss with them putting out a “Gorram cuss pot”. Maybe every time one of the characters swears in Chinese we can drop a quarter into the pot and donate it towards a Kids Need to Read, Peace Package. They don’t know about this idea yet, but I’m sure they will say “Shiny!”