Saturday, December 30, 2006

Save Some Money and the Environment, too!

If the idea of the title appeals to your conscience and your pocketbook, read on.
The January 2007 issue of "Wired" magazine has quite an interesting section dealing with how to 'live green'. A one-column part of it is an article titled, "Turn Your Gray Water Green". It caught my eye because it suggests a way for the ordinary Joe to contribute to saving the environment at the same time as saving on the water bill. If you live in a house, you probably spend money every spring to fall watering your garden. There's no doubt you spend money for the water to wash your laundry, but what you do with that water after the final rinse is the crux of this pithy little piece.
The author of these words of wisdom, Bob Parks, cites gray-water-recycling pioneer Art Ludwig as the guru who has determined that "most plants love the extra nutrients from the rinse cycle". He goes on to detail the simple steps you'll need to follow in order to water your trees, shrubs, and flowers without paying for more water. He adds one caveat, however, for those who might get a little too enthusiastic, saying that, "using wash water directly on veggies is dicey".
The only problem I have with this article is that Parks finishes his money-saving advice with a sentence I think should be at the very beginning, instead of stuck on like an afterthought at the end. He suggests the reader switch to a liquid detergent like Alfakleen or Ecover. Both are manufacturers of bio-degradable cleaning products, but whereas Alfakleen's site lists "7 locations within the United States and Canada", Ecover's site boasts an "Ecover Worldwide" link. Follow it and you'll find yourself looking at a list that names 20 countries and then ends with the words "other countries". Follow this link and you'll find an interesting proposition, if you're of an entrepreneurial mind. The good folks at Ecover first apologize for not having distributors in countries other than the 20 listed, and then invite the reader to send an e-mail if they're interested in becoming a distributor.
A little time spent browsing the site offers more than one golden nugget. Their dishwashing detergent, for instance, now comes with highest accolades from "Consumer Reports" an independent, non-profit magazine that has twice scored Ecover's product in the top three ranking. The September 2006 issue ranked Ecover Dishwasher Powder above the chemical giant Palmolive, effectively putting to rest all claims that "cleaning with a conscience means giving up effectiveness". I especially love that sentence since it is one I have so often had to listen to when I talk to people about switching to environmentally-friendly products.
Explore the site a little further and you'll find a full listing of the ingredients used in their products. Try finding the same for the Palmolive dishwashing products. You'll see the actress who played Marie on the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond". You'll see their claims that using their product will give you "deep cleaning action for a sparkling shine", but you won't see any open honesty about what you're feeding your family when you load Palmolive into your dishwasher. Face it, what goes on those dishes stays on those dishes. Even if each washing leaves only a miniscule amount, adding up all those "miniscules" will end up with a small avalanche of yet more chemicals coursing through your kids' growing bodies. Palmolive is unable to say anything about bio-degradability because they'd contravene the prohibition against false advertising. Ecover, on the other hand, is able to state their powder boasts "quick and complete biodegradability". They even tell you about the testing that has been conducted on their product. To make their halo shine just that little bit more, they make their wrapper of 100% recyclable polypropylene and their carton of 9% recycled cardboard. It doesn't get much better than that.
I've gone on long enough about Ecover products, I'm sure, but I can't resist one last, little suggestion. Since this is the time of year for making resolutions, how about adding this one to your list? Resolve to take better care of your kids and yourself today by switching to environmentally-friendly products, and thereby take better care of the future, too - yours, your kids', and the whole planet's.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It's Christmas morning and I'm the only one awake in the house. My eyes popped open at five o'clock, and I've been doing my best ever since not to awaken anyone else, but my patience is entirely at an end. Lying there, trying to be quiet until the morning light finally comes to claim the day is beyond me. My daughters are both grown and there are no grandchildren yet to bounce out of bed and get the whole household up. I remember the years when my girls did do that while I sit down here and they sleep peacefully upstairs.
My body is trying to claim that it wants more sleep but my mind is scornful of the whole idea of lying abed on a Christmas morning. There are too many wonderful Christmas mornings past crowding into my memory, all demanding my attention, and I have a smile to give each one of them. There is too much magic in the very air I breathe on this Christmas morning to be still in bed, whether everyone else is or not.
As I sit here waiting for the others to rise and share the magic with me, I think of how very, very blessed I am and I am pleased to remember each effort I made to share some of my good fortune this Christmas - the donations I made to Good Will and to the Sally Ann, the money I gave to the Food Bank, the volunteering I did in a multiple-exceptionality class, helping the students there to create some works of Christmas art. Even being able to do such sharing is a blessing in itself.
I would like to wish a blessing for everyone else this morning, too. I wish for you a day when peace surrounds you and your family is close by to wrap you in a soft blanket of love. I wish for you a day when the sun will plant gentle kisses on your cheeks and the kind acts of others will warm your soul. For each and every one of you, I wish a day when your own fondest wishes will be granted and your God will smile upon you.
May peace be with you, all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nice to See You Leaving, Aloysius

Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic is stepping down after 16 years on the job as archbishop of Toronto. One of his parishioners at St Mike's cathedral told a Toronto Sun reporter that she regarded Ambrozic as a "wise elder". I say either she has incredibly low standards or she's just plain stupid. The man is a moron.
He became a bishop in 1976 and I first learned of his existence shortly after when I was present with hundreds of other teachers to hear him address a gathering of Catholic primary grade teachers. The majority of people in that room were female and he began immediately to berate those of us who were married for being at work. He felt we should be at home playing mommy. I'm sure the catch-phrase "barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen" brings special joy to that old idiot's heart. He came out that day with an announcement that I remember verbatim because I was flabbergasted to hear him give vent to such open misogyny. He raised his voice to better drive home his point and told us, "Menstruation is the weeping of an unfulfilled womb."
Stupid old man. Decades ago I would have said I hope for better from your successor Edmonton Archbishop Thomas Collins. Now, I hold no particular hope at all for any intelligence from him. You Aloysius; John Paul II; Benedict, and all your brothers in clerical idiocy have taught me better.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why Kill Bugs Needlessly?

I have always been loathe to kill insects. I am not, however, strictly black-and-white in my approach, as some are. I would do my damnedest to achieve mass destruction if they were in entirely the wrong place at the wrong time, like roaches that have invaded a kitchen. For me, that becomes a matter of hygiene, a concern for the humans also using the kitchen. Unfortunately, though, there are far too many times when my species will kill the wee creatures indiscriminately, using as their justification the statement, "It's just a bug." The assumption of vast intellectual superiority to the members of the six-legged world is made by most, who declare that insects are not conscious.
Being a big fan of the dictionary, I have looked up the word conscious to be sure I understand what it is they so vehemently declare insects to be lacking. It tells me that to be conscious means to be "aware of one's own existence, and surroundings; to have fully active mental faculties". To pronounce insects unaware of themselves and their surroundings is a huge pronouncement to make, indeed, because it begs the question, how do we know such a thing? It is only one more example of the incredible arrogance with which so many humans treat the other species with whom they share the earth.
I was pleased to find out this week that this is not just a mountain I am making out of a molehill. There are some rather illustrious types who are sitting with me on my side of the fly swatter. They include the likes of Nicholas Strausfeld a neurobiologist at the University of Arizona at Tucson, and Christof Koch, a neuroscientist at Caltech. According to the article "Consciousness in a ... Cockroach?", in the January 2000 issue of "Discover" magazine, Strausfeld and his students have probed the brains of cockroaches, water bugs, velvet worms, brine shrimp and other invertebrates and found to their satisfaction indication of higher cognitive functions in insects. Says Koch, "Most people say, 'For heaven's sake, a bug isn't conscious.' But how do we know? We're not sure anymore. (emphasis my own)"
As I said, I was intrigued reading about the experiments Strausfeld conducts, but I didn't need to know about them in order to have a great respect for the life that each one of these creatures is. Simply because they are alive, they are special, and deserving of respect. That is a belief I have spent many years teaching, to my own children and to every one of the young people who were in my classrooms. The latter sometimes had some interesting results.
One year when I taught kindergarten, some ants got into our room. I saw several boys gathered about the back of the room one Monday, and they were all quite involved in what was going on there. It included some pretty lively "stepping" so I went to investigate. I found them jostling each other to be the one who stepped on the most ants. I stopped them and took them to our storytime rug to sit and talk with me. I asked them if the ants were alive. They all agreed they were. I asked them if they could kill the ants. They all agreed they could. Then I asked them which one of them could restore a life after having destroyed it. Silence was their answer. I asked them to explain to me how the ants were harming them. I challenged them to give me a good reason for killing the ants, a reason better than simply their ability to do so. None of them could give me a reason. I did not try to tell them that they should never kill again. I only asked them to think carefully, very carefully before they did kill again.
The result that arose from this situation became apparent a month or so later. It was snacktime and one of the little ones involved in the ant episode was seated with his best buddy, munching on his treat and declaring loudly to his friend that he had been unhappy on the weekend. "Killing, killing, killing," he said, "the killing never stopped." Wondering what this could be about, I made a note to myself to let his mom know what I had heard when she came to pick him up.
At home time, his mother came right over to me before I could say a word and said, "I think I have to thank you for some interesting developments at our house on the weekend." Puzzled, I asked for details and she told me that they had found ants in their kitchen. When she and her husband began stomping on them, their son stormed up to his room and refused to come out until they had promised him that they would look into a way of ridding themselves of the unwanted guests that did not include wholesale insecticide. They went to a store that dealt in eco-friendly products and were advised to spray a vinegar solution liberally around the entrance the ants had used. They were also told to search for the anthill and leave an open jar of honey close to it on the same day as they sprayed the vinegar.
The mother told me that she and her husband had been angry at first about their son's reaction and that they had both agreed she should admonish me for my part in it when she came to pick up her son that day. She went on to tell me that they had changed their minds after listening to his explanation about how "being alive is very important, you know, even to a bug". His words had made them see the situation and the ants in a different light. Then she added that their first instinct had been to rush out and buy a can of Raid, but that she was glad they had ended up instead using something that would do no harm to them or their son.
The second classroom scene that arose from my encouraging kids to rethink already entrenched assumptions of the right to kill "lower" life forms happened at the other end of the age range in the school, when I was teaching grade eight. It was a rainy day and the kids were inside during recess. I was walking up and down the lower hall on recess duty until the bell rang. When I came back upstairs to my room, it was to find a number of the kids clustered around a window that was just being closed by one of the boys. I asked what had transpired to bring them all together there and he told me, "We saw a spider on the floor and (a classmate) said he was going to step on it. I reminded him what you say about respecting life and then I got a piece of paper. I picked up the spider on it and put him outside on the window ledge. I saved him for you."
That boy's little speech brought tears to my eyes. I thanked him profusely for saving a life and told him he hadn't just done it for me. I told him his action had been for himself, too, and that I was sure he would always remember it and feel good about what he had done. I know I felt good getting to see in both cases that my words had reached receptive minds.
If I were still in that grade eight classroom, I would still be teaching a respect for life, even down to its six-legged forms, but now I would add a quote from a neuroscientist. I would tell them how Christof Koch says, "I don't kill bugs needlessly anymore."

Friday, December 15, 2006

What Offal Conceit!

OK, I just have to opine about this. There's nothing guaranteed to raise my hackles faster than someone who thinks they're better than everyone else.
It seems that Victoria Beckham and Katie Homes got a little carried away at a recent photo shoot for a Harper's Bazaar cover. The production crew was admonished not to look either of them in the eye.
Do these two have delusions of grandeur, or simply a total lack of connection to reality? Let's just get right down to brass tacks here, folks. The two may not have noticed, but if they think they're better than everyone else, then they have lost sight of one very important fact. They need to have regular bowel movements, just like the rest of humanity, and if they think there's any rising above that fact of their less-than-godhood, let them see how long they can go without one before their dignity flies straight out the window while they strain at the stool.
They say death is the great leveler. I don't think you have to wait for the grim reaper to ring the reality bell. All you have to do is go to the bathroom. We all do, including the self-styled-superior Holmes and Beckham.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So What?

Big news from the Vatican! No, no, they haven't found an answer to the problem of war, or a way to feed the hungry, nor have they found an attitude of openness and equality toward all (read *women *non-catholics * homosexuals) but they have found a white marble sarcophagus beneath the altar of Rome's second largest basilica, St. Paul Outside-the-Walls. They believe it to be the final resting place of that old misogynist, "Saint" Paul.
Big, hairy deal. When they've done something more worthwhile with their money than paying archaeologists, like funding the distribution of condoms to fight the spread of AIDS in Africa, get back to me, OK? Until then, who gives a good goddamn whose bones are inside the tomb?

I have blogged before about the idea of each one of us needing to take action against societal evils; about the ideal of standing up for a worthy cause even when "there is no general enthusiasm, no great idealistic upsurge", in the words of theologian Dorothee Solle. I have just finished doing so again, in my looking askance at the OHS for their sale of the Frederick Banting homestead. While I understand that many would roll their eyes at me and dismiss me as being "too serious" (I have been told that more than once) I see every cause as a potential great one, since everything is so intertwined on our little blue planet that you never know when the mere beginning of one will turn out to be the very heart of more than one other. I see every cause, therefore, as worthy of honesty and integrity, of genuine caring involvement.
Having read my entry about Sophie Scholl and her valiant struggle to be heard in her denouncing of the evil behemoth that was Hitler's Nazism, a reader has told me about the Austrian farmer Franz Jagerstatter, who refused to fight for Hitler. In 1938, when the Nazis overran Austria, Jagerstatter took up his stance of refusing to co-operate with the Nazis. The story is told that when he was greeted with the omnipresent "Heil Hitler!" he would respond with "Pfui Hitler!".
In 1943 he was called to fight, receiving notice of his draft. He refused to report for duty, even though he was admonished to take up his duty of "obeying the authorities". This excuse is used by so many as a shelter behind which to hide from the onerous effort required to make a difference in their world. To him it was an abhorrent idea when the authorities were the Nazis. He was imprisoned, and after a military trial, he was beheaded on August 9, 1943.
Jagerstatter is another of the people I think every high school student should learn about. Since he was Catholic, I also think he is a man who should be fast-tracked to canonization - way, way ahead of the late John Paul, the I'm-Holier-than-Everyone pontiff that the church seems to be in such a hurry to make a saint.
John Paul and his gem-encrusted robes did nothing to make the world a better place. The Nazi war machine continued to roll on after '43, but it wasn't because Jagerstatter didn't try. He set an example that speaks to the ideal of caring for the downtrodden far more than any pontiff I know of has ever done. This simple farmer stood up for the right even when there was no general enthusiasm, even when the price tag for doing so would be his very life. John Paul never faced such daunting danger.
We should give honour where it is due, to people like Franz Jagerstatter and Frederick Banting. We should see in them an example of how to reach out to others and for others, and we should follow the blueprint they helped to create for the ending of terrorism in this world. We should respect them as a light against the darkness that threatens soon to engulf us all. If there is any hope for our species, it is in such people as these.

How Much Is Banting's Memory Worth?

The Ontario Historical Society has made quite an interesting decision. Prompted by their mandate to preserve history for future generations, they have decided to sell the homestead of Sir Frederick Grant Banting.
Banting was a surgeon practising in London, Ontario, in 1920 when he first visualized a technique for isolating the anti-diabetic component of the pancreas. By summer's end, in 1921, Banting and his colleague Charles Best had developed a process whereby insulin could be isolated. Their breakthrough meant a reprieve was in sight for the countless sufferers under the previously implacable death sentence imposed by a diagnosis of diabetes. Banting was not receiving a salary for his research work and had to be bankrolled by his family. He was totally dedicated to this search for an answer to the problem of the disease. Surely, this is a man who deserves the recognition and honour of his homeland.
The 1999 bequest of the property to the Society by Banting's nephew Edward Banting indicated a wish that the property continue to be maintained as the homestead where the co-discoverer of insulin was born and raised. In their press release, dated December 1, 2006, the OHS assures readers that it has "endeavored to ensure that the wishes of Edward Knight Banting's bequest to the OHS were honoured". Banting's nephew must have felt safe in believing an Historical society would be just the people to trust with the carrying out of his wish. Sadly, they haven't come through, according to Banting's grandnephew who says that with the sale "what we had hoped for that property has now been all but dashed".
Those hopes had been for the newly created Banting Legacy Foundation, headed up by grandnephew Bob, to restore the property and turn the farmhouse and surrounding acres into an education centre and camp for diabetic youth. The offer made by the town of New Tecumseth had been for it to purchase the Banting homestead and its 40 hectares for $1 million. Next would have been the sale of 12 of the 40 hectares to Mattamy Homes, currently developing a subdivision bordering on the southern property line of the farm.
Mattamy's plans were to use the land to build a school and park lands, and also to donate $200,000. to the Banting Legacy Foundation. That would bring everyone full-circle back to the carrying out of Edward's wishes and the going forward with the camp which would have delighted the gentle-hearted Frederick.
The OHS press release states that the offer made by the town of New Tecumseth was unacceptable to the Society, not because they failed to indicate acknowledgment of the nephew's wishes, but because it was "less remunerative than another offer received". They do not disclose the fact of the other offer coming with a rumoured $2.2 million payment from Solmar Development.
The OHS further states that the town's offer "was silent on the matter of conservation and protection of the homestead and its buildings" and that this "remains an issue of some concern to the OHS". You can get a better idea of just how concerned the good folks at OHS really are about this issue when you look at the following facts. Edward Banting has not been dead a full decade and so the property has not been in OHS hands for a full decade and yet OHSF president Chris Oslund insists the OHS has spent "considerable funds" on the property during the last decade. Oslund also claims the OHSF has laid out $35,000. to repair the porch and its roof. Toronto Sun reporter Mark Bonokoski writes in his Wednesday December 13 column, that he saw it last month to be "rotted and tarp-covered." That's one damn expensive tarp, Mr. Oslund. The cost for the five-tonne commemorative rock and plaque at the site was paid by nephew Edward, so it would seem that the OHS has a very, very different understanding of "considerable funds" than the rest of us do.
Selling the entire property out to a development company should certainly clear up any lingering concerns the OHS may have over the protection of the homestead, don't you think? Picture it. Just a year or so down the road, the fully refurbished Banting homestead could still be standing there, right on the very spot that Sir Frederick himself left it, but with perhaps one or two tiny differences. The housing development wrapped all around the Banting Theme Park and the mall abutting it won't make any great difference, will it? The nightly search lights blazoning its existence across the celestial advertisement board will only add to the dignity Edward sought to preserve, don't you agree?
The booths selling tiny commemorative test-tube and pancreas replicas that say "Made in China" on the bottom will be just in the tradition of the great doctor himself, I am sure. He is said to have loved little children, so I can not but imagine the delighted shrieks of little kiddies riding happily around in the pancreas-car thrill ride would gladden his spirit.
Surely the very best part of all of this will be the $2+ million nestled warm and snug in the pockets of the not-for-profit OHS directors. Maybe they'll come out to Banting Land for a little visit and buy a silver Islet of Langerhans on a keychain, or a chocolate covered lab-dog candy, made peanut-free, of course, to ensure safeguarding the best interests of the public who trust the OHS to look after their heritage.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Calling Peter MacKay

I wanted to bring you this update from the Guluwalk site, so you can add your voice to the chorus singing in Peter MacKay's ears.

"On Friday, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that Canada will contribute $1.5 million to support the northern Uganda peace process between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army being held in Juba, South Sudan. With this contribution, Canada becomes the largest bilateral supporter of these critical peace talks. (emphasis my own)
"It is very important for Canada that every effort be made to bring an end to a 20-year-long conflict that has led to the abduction of some 30,000 children, the widespread use of child soldiers, and the displacement of close to 2-million people," said Minister MacKay. "Canada urges both sides to reach a comprehensive peace agreement that will pave the way to greater freedom, human rights and rule of law for all
."
The contribution will help support the work of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team, which is responsible for overseeing compliance with the ceasefire. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will manage Canada’s contribution to the peace process.
This is a significant contribution from Canada and a clear commitment to peace, along with a clear indication that your voice is making an impact in Ottawa
."

Send an email, a letter or call Minister MacKay’s office and thank him for his support of peace in northern Uganda and ask him to continue to make the children of northern Uganda a priority for Canada:

Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 992-6022
E-Mail: Mackay.P@parl.gc.ca

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Phony Pony or a Big, Bad Bug?


Well, if you're the kind of parent who's looking for yet another something to keep the kids out of your hair, Hasbro Toys has come up with an answer, in the form of "Butterscotch". Be aware though, that the product is pitched directly at girls, so you're on your own if you need something for a boy.
This new addition to Hasbro's "Furreal Friends" is a pony that stands three feet high at the shoulder. If Mom or Dad pony up for the six "D" cell batteries required this fake equine can perform its endlessly repetitive tricks, including chomping on a carrot (fake one only), whinnying, turning its head in response to its name, and bearing the weight of your progeny, to a max of 80 pounds or approximately 36 kilos.
The part in all of this that goes zooming right over my head is why any parent would want to dump such a travesty on their kid. Where is there any connection to reality in this expensive sumpter? Where is there any concern for the environment in its endless appetite for batteries? Where is there any learning or imagination potential in this extravagance?
If, on the other hand, you're interested in fostering intelligence in you child, and you're willing to invest some time in them, there are so many wonderful toys available. I've written about others like The World's Biggest Piano Mat, and I've found another one to add to the collection. This one is for budding entomologists, or absolutely every kid who has ever looked in wonder or curiosity at an insect.
When my daughters were little, Santa brought them each a "bug house" one Christmas. Those houses were basically cylinders of fine gauge wire with solid bases and removable lids of bright orange. They were tucked away until spring and then they began housing residents. We played host to a variety of multi-legged guests, including several caterpillars that were given names and bade joyful farewells after they emerged from the cocoons they built in the temporary lodgings and flew away.
This year's latest version of the bug house comes from "LittleKids" and unlike the mind-numbing pony, it's a triple award winner. The "Big Bad Booming Bugs Electronic Observation Station" has won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, Parent's Choice and The National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval.
The bug de jour is placed inside the bug dome where a 3x magnifying lens allows your little scientist to see every detail of their guest. A microphone enables them to hear every sound made by the bugs, and if you put on the headphones, you'll hear leaf chomping like you've NEVER heard before.
The Station comes with a couple of drawbacks; one being in the form of the wait for spring. If you just can't wait that long, head off to the local pet store to purchase a grasshopper or two. You won't get the variety offered by the great outdoors, but it's a start. You also need to power this purchase with batteries, but in this case only two AA's will do the trick. Still, if the batteries on this one run out, you can still use it for viewing all the splendour that six-footed nature provides. If the batteries on the other travesty on nature run out, all you can do is sit and stare at a fake.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Racist Revealed

Is it just me or is anyone else growing weary of all the crocodile tears flowing from Michael Richards? After his now infamous explosion on stage in response to a couple of hecklers, when he projectile-vomited the n-word all over the audience, he is being defended by the likes of his old pal Jerry Seinfeld and his new comrade-in-bigotry, Mel Gibson. Richards himself has uttered a couple of those non-apologies to try to cover up his tracks. Said Richards during his act of contrition aired by Letterman, "The rage - the rage did go all over the place. It went to everybody in the room. But you can't - you know it's - I don't - I know blacks could feel - I'm not a racist.
He knows blacks could feel? What the hell kind of a statement is that? Set the hounds on a coon and it will climb the nearest tree in an attempt at throw them off its trail. Richards did the same by trying to take all of us up the tree with him. "Why the rage is in any of us, why the trash takes place, whether or not it's between me and a couple of hecklers in the audience or between this country and another nation."
Richards can't take me up that tree with him. The "rage" is not in me. I am not a racist. He is. Why doesn't he just admit it? The hounds caught up with him on that stage. They treed him good and proper.
"Between this country and another nation"? That's another one of those WTF statements. Simply put, Richards is a racist, a dyed-in-the-wool bigot who has been publicly found out and is now trying desperately to find a way down from the tree he has blundered up.
Even when a person is pushed to anger, they will only explode in ways that are natural to themselves. In that same nightclub situation, a person who was not a racist might well have been pissed at the hecklers. They might have sworn at them and told them to shut the fuck up, if the "rage" took them that far, but the n-word would never have come out of their mouth. For such a thing to happen, it has to be a part of a person's vocabulary, of their very way of thinking. Then it will indeed explode from them, like it did from Richards.
For Seinfeld to attempt defense of Richards is understandable, I suppose, in the way that an old association can leave you feeling obliged to throw a lifejacket when you see an acquaintance going under for the third time, even if you don't really care. For Mel Gibson to defend him is just to give proof to the old adage of misery loving company.
What I'd really like to know is why the Grand Wizard of the KKK hasn't come forward and defended him. I bet they have secretly offered him membership, but Richards just doesn't want to mention it right now. Turning up to give his other apology on the Reverend Jackson's show in his new robe and hood might not have been the best way to get people believing his supposed remorse over that racist tirade.

Christmas Cheer

I just have to include this one with the other ideas for gift-giving that I have written about lately, because this one just froths over with good cheer.
The employees at the Steam Whistle Brewery here in Toronto, "good beer folks" that they are, have announced their intent to send one week's worth of staff beer rations to the Canadian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The company followed up with its declaration that it will match that gift. Afghanistan being a Muslim country, alcoholic beverages are not in ready supply, but the troops are allowed the pleasure of imbibing three times a year and one of those times is Christmas.
The gift of a little cool cheer will soon be making its way over to our troops, carrying with it heartfelt wishes for their well-being and safe return home.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Doing Your Do-Do Dooty

I've expressed myself before on these two topics - trying to cut down on garbage in landfills; and how dog owners handle the poop-&-scoop problem. Today, I can get them both together in the same little bag.
"Oops...I Pooped" tie-top bags are now available from MotleyChew. The bags are biodegradable so they'll break down into nontoxic substances when they get dumped in the landfill. They are dark black so as to effectively conceal their noxious contents, sparing us non-dogophiles that particular visual treat when we see you out walking the pooch. They pose no threat to your wallet, ringing in at the cash register for $10.00 per package of 88 bags.
Come on, dog owners, you know you want them!