N.S. teacher's union to teachers: don't fill out sexual orientation on survey

As an update to my previous post, Halifax school board wants to know all teachers' sexual orientation, the Nova Scotia Teacher's union has told teachers to consider leaving several sections blank on the school board's workplace identification survey.

Canadian Press reporter Alison Auld reports:

While the union can't offer direct advice about filling out the survey, spokesman Grant MacLean warned of the risks in completing sections that ask respondents to identify themselves as homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, and then list their name and employee number.

"We are not advising teachers to complete those sections," he said. "Teachers are very, very concerned about the protection of their privacy.

MacLean said several teachers have indicated they won't complete the document, citing fears the information could be used against them in light of a recent human rights commission decision that found the board discriminated against a gay physical education teacher.

One gay teacher said he would leave the bulk of the survey blank and angrily criticized school administrators for not giving employees the opportunity to fill it out anonymously.

Officials with the board defended the move, saying they are merely trying to get a better picture of the diverse groups of people that make up the workforce and to create an accurate, up-to-date database of staff.

Gilles Marchildon of Egale Canada, a gay rights organization, said the board's decision to proceed with the survey in the aftermath of the Willow case might be ill-timed. But, he added, officials could be trying to understand the diversity in their school district.

"Is this a genuine attempt to make changes in welcoming people or is it prying into people's personal lives?" the group's executive director said from Ottawa. "We're still evaluating that."

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Pussycat Dolls aren't going to be dolls


After a letter-writing campaign initiated by the grassroots organization Dads & Daughters, toymaking company Hasbro has reversed its decision to make and market 'Pussycat Dolls' dolls.

Dads & Daughters started the campaign after it learned that Hasbro would be making dolls in the image of the racy music group, and planned to market them to girls as young as six years old. In case you've never seen the group, this is one of their promotional photos:

and this was what the dolls were to look like:

Hasbro released this statement:

“Hasbro and Interscope [record label] have jointly agreed that Hasbro will not move forward with the line of dolls based on the recording group, The Pussycat Dolls. Interscope’s current creative direction and images for the recording group are focused on a much older target than we had anticipated at the time of our original discussions, thereby making a doll line inappropriate for Hasbro.”

Score one for a grassroots organization convincing a company not to sell sex to kids!

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Halifax school board wants to know all teachers' sexual orientation

Outrageous. The Halifax Regional School Board apparently wants to understand the diversity of its workforce, and it plans to ask teachers to list their sexual orientation in an upcoming survey.

"The survey, which will be distributed Thursday, contains the question, "Are you heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian?"

The school board expects its teachers to sign the survey once it's completed. However, respondents have the option of refusing to answer some questions."

Board spokeswoman Shaune MacKinlay says: "We understand that there could be some reluctance on some people's part to do this."

No, really?! This coming just weeks after the same school board was ordered by the Human Rights Board to apologize to a teacher who was discriminated against by her principal, another teacher, and the school board after she was labelled a lesbian.

The school board has refused to collect the information anonymously.

Sexual orientation is none of the school board's business. I hope no one answers that question on the survey.

Update: The Nova Scotia Teacher's union has told teachers to consider not filling out several sections of the survey.

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Bush as a role model

Some comparisons, in light of the ongoing battle between Stephen Harper and the media:

Excerpts from The PM is Copying Bush's Media Tactics by Linda McQuaig

"Despite being the longest-serving member of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas almost never gets to ask George Bush a question.

That's because Bush controls who asks the questions and he doesn't like the kind of tough, doubting questions that she asks. Given a rare chance recently, she pointedly asked him: If the Iraq war wasn't about oil, what was it about?

Harper now accuses Ottawa reporters of taking on the role of opposition. In fact, they have simply been asking questions, including questions the Prime Minister might prefer not to answer. This is essential. Although elected with a weak minority, Harper is taking the country in some radical directions. Who will hold him to account? The Liberals are leaderless and the NDP seem more focused on stealing ground from the Liberals than challenging Harper.

What this country needs is a whole press gallery full of doubting Helen Thomases."

Via Politique Canadienne

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Memorial University no longer "of Newfoundland"


Arrrggghhh, this pisses me off. The Memorial University of Newfoundland (my alma matter) has created a new logo for their marketing campaigns, which doesn't include the province name!

It seems so silly to simply promote "Memorial University" - Newfoundlanders will know where it is, but most people across Canada (and certainly internationally) will have no idea where the school is, or who it is a memorial to. Add that to the fact that there are about a half dozen other Memorial Universities in North America (Florida Memorial University, Lincoln Memorial University, etc.)... this just doesn't seem to be an effective branding strategy.

The old logo:
The new logo:

While the official name of the university remains "Memorial University of Newfoundland", this logo will be used to promote the school. I don't like the new logo all that much, but I realize that graphics change, and it's not that big a deal to me. I really think "Newfoundland" should remain in the logo and marketing materials though.

Edit: My suggestion for changes to the logo - just add "of Newfoundland" to the bottom of the logo, in the same grey lettering, like this:

The university's name is a subject of debate for some people too, from what I understand. Some advocate adding "and Labrador" to reflect the province's recent name change, while others think it should remain simply "Memorial University of Newfoundland", because the school was named as a memorial to those who died serving Newfoundland in WWI and WWII, before entering Canada.

If you would like to voice your opinion on the new logo, you can email the university president Axel Meisen at munpres@mun.ca, and the university's marketing and communications group at marcomm@mun.ca.

Update: Read Memorial University no longer "of Newfoundland", Part II (June 5, 2006)

Cove Blogger has written a great post about the new logo, along with some background information on the name change issue.

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How I feel about exercise...

"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged."

The quote in the title is from Cardinal Richelieu, and according to security expert Bruce Schneier, the Cardinal truly understood the value (and dangers) of surveillance.

Here is an excerpt from a Wired News article by Bruce Schneier about the value of privacy:
(by the way, his blog Schneier on Security is great, check it out)

"Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect. ... We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?") and "Absolute power corrupts absolutely... Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance."

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide."

That's one of the best arguments against surveillance that I've read in a long time. It's simple, but true.

Thanks to Erin R. for posting about this on her blog, The (Mis)Adventures of a Gringa (soon to be) in Costa Rica!

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The Pandog

Because it's soooo cute.

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Stephen Harper's Theme Song

Oh goodness....

The paranoia is just... sad.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the national media are biased against him so he will avoid them from now on. (Canadian Press)

My personal choice for Stephen Harper's theme song:

They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!

music clip on Amazon.ca / lyrics)

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Living in a "nanny-state"

The blog Crawl Across The Ocean has an excellent post about right wing people who complain that they are living in a "nanny-state". For fun, Declan has converted some of the arguments against government action to reduce greenhouse gasses into conversations between a nanny and a child (or a parent and a child).

It's quite funny. Check out the post, "Getting Climate Change Appeasers to Eat Their Vegetables".

As a teaser, here are a few 'conversations'...

"I support reducing emissions, I just don't like the Kyoto Accord"

"Mommy, I support eating vegetables, it's just these ones on my plate I wont eat"
"Did you have some other vegetable in mind that I could serve and you would eat?"

"Emissions went up while the Liberals were in power so none of their programs worked so we should cancel them all"

"Mom, I don't think the central heating is working"
"Why not?"
"Well, I turned it on hours ago and it's still not as hot as it was back in the summer"
"Huh, I'll go check the furnace"

And my personal favourite:

Instead of mandatory emissions targets, we should consider voluntary targets as an alternative.

"Eat those vegetables kiddo!"
"But I don't wanna!"
"Well, you have to, unless you have a better idea"
"I know, how about instead of you making me eat my vegetables, you set a target for how many vegetables you want me to eat"
"And then?"
"And then I ignore your target and do whatever I feel like. It will be a system of voluntary vegetable consumption targets"
"OK, kiddo, sounds good. I set a target of 10 carrots for you to eat"
"That's seems like a reasonable target, nanny, but I don't feel like it today. Can I go out and play now?"
"OK kiddo, but put some sunscreen on, it's hot out there!".

Some of the best 'conversations' are in the post though - check it out!

(via Accidental Deliberations)

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Vietnam vs. Iraq

I recently stumbled across information about a movie coming to U.S. theatres in June called "Sir! No Sir!". It's a documentary about the anti-war movement during Vietnam - not about the protests of average citizens, but of enlisted soldiers.

We've all heard of the Vietnam "draft dodgers". Some say they're cowards, some say they're heroes for standing up (or standing down, as it were), to protest what they believed to be an unjust war. This documentary tries to show draft dodgers in a way most of us haven't seen them before; as citizens who believed that the only way to end the war was not to participate in it. It also tells the stories of soldiers who did not desert the army, but protested from within.

The film makes obvious parallels to Iraq, and the Not Your Soldier campaign calls upon Americans not join the army, as 'the war machine' cannot run its war in Iraq without soldiers.

Link (in case the player doesn't work for you). Official site.

Now, I know statistics can be skewed, and in some cases, even made up, but I had never heard these numbers before, so I'll post them, and let people debate what they will.

In the first 3 years in Iraq, 2,314 soldiers were killed.

In the first 3 years in Vietnam, 1,864 soldiers were killed.

502,926 soldiers deserted the army and refused to fight in Vietnam.

For the cost of the Iraq war, 6 million Americans could have been sent to college for free.

In addition to those killed, 20,000 soldiers have lost limbs so far in the Iraq war.

To watch the Flash presentation Not Your Soldier, click here.

First read about on MoxieGrrrl's blog

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Morning funnies

*gasp* Gay men can climb?!

Watch this video clip; it's hilarious (and only 15 seconds)! (via TaylorOwen.com)

Link (in case the player doesn't work for you)


Oh, for the love of technology!!
I think almost everyone can relate to this:

"Ok, so maybe it's my own fault machines hate me. I just attacked my laptop with a ruler, Trying to force the DVD out. No luck, the disc was stuck like a thumb in a coke bottle. But with the help of the ruler, a small screw fell out. I have no idea where it came from, might have been my own head. Now, the computer works better than ever. It ejected the disc and I have no trouble with it. Lesson learned: When stuck, try violence."
(via Letters to Marc Jacobs)


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(click to enlarge)

Quotes of the day

"Well, can you... blow up the world?"
Tick: "Egad. I hope not. That's where I keep all my stuff."

-- The Tick

"I'm betting that I'm just abnormal enough to survive."

-- The Tick

Tee hee hee.

(via towniebastard)

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Things that make me mad

1. The fact that immigrants with tons of education in their own country have such a hard time getting their degrees recognized or upgraded, and finding work in their field

When I worked at Future Shop in B.C. I saw this all the time. Many of my co-workers had been accountants, engineers or medical professionals overseas, but because their degrees were not recognized in Canada, they were working in retail to make ends meet. I can only imagine how frustrating this must have been for them!

Check out these great ads from the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (scroll down to the bottom of the page) (via Chandrasutra)

"This is a great resume - but can you work a softee machine?"

2. Companies are still trying to dump toxic waste into the environment

Do they think that if they dump it underwater, it will just go away?! Out of sight, out of mind? A company in Newfoundland is seeking the approval of Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to dispose of toxic waste in two central Newfoundland ponds.
(The picture is of Kent's Pond in St. John's - not a proposed dump site)

3. Denial of global warming

Businesses are trying to downplay the impact of carbon dioxide on global warming by saying 'It can't be bad - we breathe it out!'

In these videos, they whine 'But we neeeeed those fuels!'

Heaven forbid we reduce our energy use by trading in SUVs for fuel-efficient cars, using compact fluorescent lightbulbs instead of incandescents, and drying laundry on a clothesline on nice days instead of using the dryer. No one's asking us to give up everything that uses energy. It just seems like common sense to use less energy when possible, and try to produce less waste.

Click here for more 'crazy' but simple ways you can help to save the planet.

(via CathiefromCanada)

4. The unhealthy images the media shows us every day

I missed Turn Beauty Inside Out day on May 17th, but better late than never! The campaign:
"...celebrat[es] Inner Beauty - the beauty of conviction, caring and action. Girls and boys (not to speak of women and men) need a definition of beauty that focuses on who they are and what they do, not on how they look."
Some disturbing statistics:
  • 80% of 10-year-old American girls diet. The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner

  • Between elementary and high school, the percentage of girls in the U.S. who are "happy with the way I am" drops from 60% to 29%.

  • Between 1996 and 1998 [only two years!], teenage cosmetic surgeries nearly doubled from 13,699 to 24,623, according to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.

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New Brunswick Blogroll

Well, I've taken a cue from Stephen (creator of the Newfoundland and Labrador BlogRoll) and started a New Brunswick BlogRoll, so if there are any NBers out there, visit the site to join.

Soon, I'll try to figure out how to put blogrolls in a scroll on the sidebar, so they won't take up so much room!

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A 'feel good' long weekend post

For a lovely story, devoid of complaining about politics, movie critiques, or the state of customer service (all frequent topics in the blogosphere), check this out:

Make sure to view the photolog of the rescue!

(via The Mind Boggles)

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Thank God It's... Mickey?

Life update: Still sick. Even more tired.

Thoughts: The world is one weird place. Evidence - The Mickey Mouse gas mask.

Apparently, these gas masks were produced in 1942, to protect children in case of a chemical attack on the United States. They were designed as a cartoon character so that wearing gas masks would be less scary and more like a game, with the hope that children would carry their masks with them and wear them often, improving their chances of surviving in an attack.

(via The Disney Blog)

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Sleeping next to a bear

The other day, Hubby asked me if I write about him on my blog. I replied, "No, not really. I've mentioned you once or twice, but that's about it."

So... sorry honey, but in my defence, I didn't write this, I'm just quoting it.

For the past week, I haven't slept. Here's my routine. We get into bed. I give a sigh of relief, "Thank God I made it through another -"

And then the fiance is snoring.

I'm not sure what annoys me more. The fact that he can fall asleep in 12 seconds or the fact that as soon as he falls asleep he's snoring. Either way, I want to hurt him.

I've tried to be nice, you know, hitting him on his back as opposed to slapping him in the face. I've begged him - "Please dear god, let me fall asleep first."

I've made him do the nasal spray thing and I swear, I. am. this. close. to. buying. him. those. hideous. nose. strips. But I'm not that cruel. Not yet anyway.

(from ninepounddictator)

In Hubby's defence, he's not a constant snorer, but I'm a light sleeper, and I've been sick this week, making sleep ever so much more elusive.

*sigh* I'm starting to understand how Sween's Lovely Wife must feel.

(But I still love my Hubby - he's a gem to put up with me!)

Can Harper stand the heat?

CTV reports that Stephen Harper may snub the annual press gallery dinner.

Somehow, that doesn't surprise me. Perhaps Harper is worried about a made-in-Canada version of Stephen Colbert's biting speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And after all, it's easier to ban the media or cherry-pick questions than to be forced to listen to their criticism.

Given how uncomfortable the PM looked when the Trailer Park Boys talked to him on the East Coast Music Awards, I'd love to see how he'd react to the press gallery speeches, now that he's on the hot seat.

"The prime minister may snub the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner this fall, a move he's considering in order to register his displeasure with an ongoing disagreement his office has with Parliament Hill journalists over the way his press conferences ought to be conducted."

"...many Conservative MPs and nearly all cabinet ministers are expected not to attend the dinner to show solidarity with their boss." (CTV News)

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Emergencies, and Superman to the rescue!

Can you swim? This Google Maps hack shows you the floodline of your city/province/state/country if the water level were to rise between 1 and 14 metres.

On a related note, even if you missed Emergency Preparedness Week, there's a lot of great information on the website. Learn how to make your family safe and self-sufficient for at least 72 hours following an emergency. (via Saskboy - who reported on this in a timely fashion!)

While we're on the subject of the environment and emergencies, check out these hilarious advertisements from Singapore, entitled "Atmospheric Pollution Affects Everyone" (click the link to see more ads).

An essay about the essential wrong-ness (I don't care if that's not a word) of manly cookie jars

"There's tons of inappropriate merchandising and tie-ins out there, but it's the ones that bring together tough guys and pussy-ish items that are my favorites. And ironically, as much as cookies kick ass, they just aren't 'tough'. I don't care how huge you are, or how deep your voice is-- you can't intimidate me saying, 'Gimme another snickerdoodle.' "

Vintage public domain cartoons to brighten your day, courtsey of Bibi's Box:
(via Drawn.ca)

And..... a little song to make you smile. (via Patrick C.)
Bright Eyes - The First Day of My Life

Link (in case the player doesn't work for you)

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Lyrics of the day

Staring at the blank page before you

Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

-- Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield --

Hey it's me, what a big surprise

Calling you up from a restaurant
'Round the bend

-- Bad Timing, Blue Rodeo --

A GREAT use of the police force's time

A high school student has been charged with trafficking in an incident involving a single joint.

The guy shouldn't have brought pot onto school grounds, but calling the police to charge him with trafficking is a bit much. In my opinion, suspending or expelling him would have supported the school's zero-tolerance policy. Save the trafficking charges for people who are distributing quantities of drugs, not just passing a joint.

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The praise for Stephen Colbert continues

Macleans has published an article about Stephen Colbert's now famous/infamous speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, stating that "with one speech, he went from popular late-night cable comedian to instant folk hero".

Much has been written about Colbert's performance, and I needn't repeat it all here. If you've been living under a rock and haven't seen the video yet, watch it or read the transcript. Bottom line: Colbert's speech was laden with satire, and attacked both the Bush administration and the mainstream media that has, until recently, done little to disclose the backroom activities of the government. Some people loved the speech; others hated it. The mainstream media largely ignored it, but the blogosphere was on fire with commentary.

The Macleans article examines the online reaction to Colbert's speech, and how the buzz promted mainstream media to report on the speech, if belatedly.

"Bloggers reacted with fury to mainstream journalists, whom they accused of burying the real story of the night: that a President notoriously resistant to criticism (and reporters who can be almost equally insulated) had been forced to sit and listen to harsh criticism in the form of comedy. Colbert's speech got broad exposure through new media channels: before Youtube.com pulled the speech for copyright reasons, it had been viewed more than 700,000 times.
[W]ith blogs, email and video-sharing sites, people were able to force the Colbert speech into the news. The New York Times finally wrote about the speech, focusing on bloggers and their passionate reaction to Colbert's routine. The online media had made a major story out of something that, according to the mainstream press, wasn't a story at all.
It might seem improbable that a comedy routine could be a political issue, but in a time when many people feel that reporters are, in Stoller's words, "pathologically weak and irresponsible, too frightened to point out that the emperor has no clothes," people may be looking to Colbert the way they looked to comics like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl in the '60s. To Colbert's fans, he's not just a guy who plays a fake journalist: he's the satirist who, one Saturday night, told the real journalists what they're doing wrong."

Read the rest of the story here.

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Did you lose your muffler, or do you just want some attention?

Thank Goodness! Fredericton police officers are going to crack down on noise pollution caused by people with obnoxiously loud vehicles. You know the ones - they're louder than an ambulance siren, you can hear them coming long before you see them, and the noise cuts off all conversation for couple of minutes.

I've never understood why people want their cars to sound so loud. Is it a testosterone thing? A grab for attention? I'd be embarassed if my muffler was falling off, so why do people actually spend money to make their cars sound like that? Maybe for some, it's a desperate plea: "look at my car, I'm really cool", but I have to laugh and feel embarassed for them when the car isn't even impressive. Often, they seem to be marginally souped up Civics or something like a Neon or a Protege with sad little flames painted on the doors. This weekend, I actually saw a black VW Beetle with orange flames on it.

While I'm glad that the police are going to start ticketing the owners of those cars, I have to wonder how effective the crackdown will be, given that the Motor Vehicle Act doesn't specify a set decibel limit; just 'excessive' or 'unusual' car exhaust noise. Nevertheless, the fine isn't small - $168 will put a dent in most people's wallets.

The evil side of me wants to be there to see a few people being ticketed for their noisy vehicles. :D

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I'm not ready to make nice

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I think we all feel like that sometimes. Lord knows the stubborn side of me has felt like that on more than one occasion!

In the case of the Dixie Chicks (those lyrics are from their song 'Not Ready To Make Nice'), they feel that way about the public backlash to their negative comments about U.S. President George Bush. No matter what you think of their politics, or of the fact that they aired their politics at a concert, lyrics like this can't help but make you wonder about the violence and hatred that some people can harbour, and teach to their children:

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don't mind sayin'
It's a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Sayin' that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over!?

Reading the lyrics just doesn't do the song justice. The passion evoked in this song is amazing, especially when they sing the words above. Check out the video:

Link (in case the player doesn't work for you)

CBS News has an interesting article about the album and the controversy surrounding the group. Many U.S. radio stations aren't playing music by the Dixie Chicks due to their political remarks, yet 'Not Ready To Make Nice' is one of the most downloaded country songs on the Internet, even reaching #1 on iTunes and Amazon.com's music section.

Amazon.com has a free streaming video of the Dixie Chicks performing the song 'The Long Way Around'. Their new album, Taking The Long Way, comes out on May 23rd.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting...

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I have sneezed about 27 times in the past 4 hours.

On the plus side, grape flavoured Dimetapp tastes really yummy.

'President' Al Gore on SNL

Funny! Watch it before NBC deletes it from YouTube. (via Grrrl Meets World)

* Update: NBC pulled it from YouTube, but you can watch the clip at Crooks & Liars.

On a related note, over 58,000 "thank you"s have been posted, thanking Stephen Colbert for his satirical speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.

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"The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard"

While getting ready for work this morning, I was listening to DJs on the radio discussing a book called I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard. They only covered the top 5, so I went searching for more of the list. The Guardian lists the top 25, including commentary about why each song is so depressing.

25. Sam Stone - John Prine (1972)
24. My Immortal - Evanescence (2002)
23. You don't Bring me Flowers - Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand (1978)
22. The River - Bruce Springsteen (1980)
21. Tell Laura I love her - Ray Peterson (1960)
20. All By Myself - Celine Dion (1996)
19. Woman's Prison - Loretta Lynn (2004)
18. Prayers for Rain - The Cure (1989)
17. The Freshmen - The Verve Pipe (1997)
16. The Rose - Bette Midler (1980)
15. Maggie's Dream - Don Williams (1984)
14. Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd (1979)
13. Brick - Ben Folds Five (1997)
12. Ruby, Don't Take your Love to Town - Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (1969)
11. One - Metallica (1988)
10. People Who Died - The Jim Carroll Band (1980)
9. Sister Morphine - Marianne Faithfull (1979)
8. Hurt - Nine Inch Nails (1994)
7. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday (1939)
6. DOA - Bloodrock (1971)
5. Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks (1974)
4. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler (1984)
3. Honey - Bobby Goldsboro (1968)
2. The Shortest Story - Harry Chapin (1976)
1. The Christmas Shoes - Newsong (2000)

The author, Tom Reynolds, even ran into some legal trouble for his comments in the first draft of the book, such as references to Whitney Houston's stints in rehab, Lou Reed's heroin addiction, and KISS performing badly on the Paul Lynda Variety Special. Puzzled by the legal department's requirement that he have evidence to back up every comment, he wrote this editorial.

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Everyone needs a laugh on Friday

*Updated (scroll down)

Air Canada's map of Canada
(originally on The Newfoundland Experiment, but I read about it on Feltham Rambles)

The pretty weapon every girl wants: shoes with a built-in stun gun (via Shiny Shiny)

'Sir Paul' & the seal hunt:

Grrrl Meets World wants you to caption this picture:

The American Answer (via insanitycase)

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: It was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping thirty tons of nerve gas on it.

Other interesting news:

And in weird, disturbing, sick news: PETA has officially gone insane.

They've released a comic for kids, to scare them into thinking their parents are murderers. Teaching kids to care about animals is all well and good, but this crosses the line. The artwork is disturbing, and I think it would give kids nightmares!

It's called:

Your Daddy KILLS Animals!

Ask your Daddy why he's hooked on killing!

The end of the comic warns children:
"Until your daddy learns it's not fun to kill, keep your doggies and kitties away from him. He's so hooked on killing defenseless animals, they could be next."

* Update: Tony commented that there's another PETA comic. Not to be accused of unfairly discriminating against men, PETA has also published a comic warning children:

Your Mommy KILLS Animals!

Ask your Mommy how many animals she killed to make her fur coat?

To me, one of the most disturbing things about these comics is the language. By using the words "Mommy" and "Daddy", it's clear that PETA is marketing them to very young children.

We live in a violent enough society as it is. Kids should feel safe and secure in their homes, but these comics teach young children to think of their parents as cold blooded killers. That's gotta do damage to a kid's psyche.

Here's a video of a PETA spokesman trying (badly) to defend the ad campaign.

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Won't you be my neighbour?

This is a pretty inspiring video clip.

It's a video of Fred Rogers ("Mister Rogers" to most of us) giving a speech to a U.S. Senate committee in 1969. It's amazing the kind of influence such a softspoken man could have, even before he became a household name. Watch until the end - it will make you smile.

Link (in case the player doesn't work for you)

Here's the description from YouTube:
"In 1969 the US Senate had a hearing on funding the newly developed Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The proposed endowment was $20 million, but President Nixon wanted it cut in half because of the spending going on in the Vietnam War. This is an video clip of the exchange between Mr. Rogers and Senator Pastore, head of the hearing. Senator Pastore starts out very abrasive and by the time Mr. Rogers is done talking, Senator Pastore's inner child has heard Mr. Rogers and agreed with him."

Found via A Family Runs Through It

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'The Birds'...

So far a couple of people (townie bastard & hpatey) have commented on RJ's post about the spring blogging lull. Well, I guess I fall into the group of people who haven't been updating their blogs frequently (or at least with substantial content ;). I have reasons - I'm writing a big report for work, I'm trying to have relatively computer-free weekends, and hell, it has been sunny out! All in all, I haven't had much interesting to report, and I haven't been browsing the web as much as I normally do.

This morning was eventful though. Last week we had a robin try, on a couple of occasions, to build a nest under our deck. Now, I like birds, but having birds regularly flying a few feet away from the sliding doors under our deck is not my idea of fun. I don't want to be under attack every time I go outside. So hubby & I went out twice to brush away the grass that the robin had started to collect. As an added deterrent, we put a radio tuned to the CBC on the deck, which seemed to have scared the bird away.

Until this morning.

It's like that Fred penner song, but for birds instead of cats: "The [bird] came back, he just couldn't stay awaaaaaay." And this time the Mommy bird brought a Daddy bird, and they got a good start on the nest before we noticed it (note: it was not completed, and there were definitely no eggs or baby birdies in it). So in the pouring rain, we went to check it out and remove it, praying that the birds wouldn't try to attack us. We must be great entertainment for our neighbors, all suited up in rain gear and sunglasses, rooting around under the deck and anxiously looking up into the sky for birds coming to peck our eyes out.

Feel evil.

Am going to have scary bird dreams for weeks.

Ahhh! Hubby just came in - the robin's back!! Anyone know how to keeps birds away?

Pilgrim's Progress

Am I young enough to believe in revolution?
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray?
And am I high enough on the chain of evolution,
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister?
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way.

I get lazy, and forget my obligations.

I'd go crazy, if I paid attention all the time.

And I want justice, but I'll settle for some mercy,

On this Holy Road through the universal mind.

I got lucky: I got everything I wanted.
I got happy: there wasn't nothing else to do.
And I'd be crazy not to wonder if I'm worthy,
Of the part I play in this dream that's coming true.

Am I young enough to believe in revolution?
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray?
And am I high enough on the chain of evolution,
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister?
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way.

Pilgrim's Progress' - Kris Kristofferson

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Fund free mammograms

The Breast Cancer Site is a great website that I visit regularly. I don't remember how or when I first heard about the site, but I've been visiting it for years. They sell pink ribbon products and other items to help fund free mammograms for underprivileged women in the United States.

You can also help fund mammograms very quickly and easily (and at no cost to you), simply by clicking on a banner once a day. For every click, site sponsors donate money to the (U.S.) National Breast Cancer Foundation. It only takes 10 seconds a day!

Please visit the Breast Cancer Site and click on the Fund Free Mammograms button.

During the month of May, in honour of Mother's Day, your clicks are worth double. In the first 9 days of May, site visitors have funded 73.9 mammograms!

You can also visit their 'sister sites': The Hunger Site, The Child Health Site, The Literacy Site, The Rainforest Site, and The Animal Rescue Site.

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Stop this crazy whirligig of fun - I'm dizzy.

Apartment Girl says it so much better than I could. "Just.... STOP TURNING.... for five minutes!!!"

I think many women - hell, probably many men too - go through a process of reflection in their twenties that largely concerns the questions:

  • Is this where I thought I'd be at this point in my life?
  • How can I make a difference?
  • What do I want to be when I grow up?! (even if you've graduated and have a job!)
I don't yet have answers to the questions running through my mind, but I'm getting there. And with such a good friend for love and advice, I'm set. :)

Update: A couple of posts in a similar vein from The View From Crazy - Are We Ever Happy? and The Sun Also Rises

Update: Got the quote in the post's title wrong. Damn.
Fixed now. Does anyone know what it's from?

For the Firefox fans...

This video is TOO funny!

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Emergencies and the media

Add ICE to your cell phone contacts

I read about this last summer, but I've never posted about it. It's a simple concept. If you're hurt, and someone assisting you opens your cell phone for an emergency contact, how will they know who to call? They won't know if "John" is your husband or a business associate. They could call "Mom", but some people might not want a parent to be the first contact in case of emergency.

The ICE (In Case of Emergency) campaign promotes one simple action: in your cell phone address book, label a contact as ICE, so emergency responders know who to contact. For instance, my address book says "Brad * ICE". If your contact's name is long, put ICE before their name, so that it's visible in your address book, and doesn't get cut off.

Of course, simply having an ICE contact isn't foolproof - Someone assisting you might not know how to use your phone, you may not have your cell phone on you in an emergency, and many people won't know what ICE means. But it only takes 30 seconds to do, and it's better than nothing, right?

Richard Dreyfuss campaigns against "shaped news"

The Oscar-winning star says an obsession with delivering instantaneous news and images provides too little context for audiences to reflect and understand what is happening in the world.
That creates what Dreyfuss calls "shaped news" -- a version of events according to how the mainstream media want audiences to see what happened, and a violation of journalism's core value of objectivity.
"Do the mainstream media ever tell their readers 'Don't believe everything we tell you?' No, they don't."
"Information from more than one source is good. I'm totally in favor of it, even if people send propaganda. In the aggregate you can find more truth than in one opinion."

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Greatest movies

I'm a big movie fan. I enjoy today's blockbusters and romantic comedies, and the occasional horror or foreign film, but on the whole, my tastes tend to sway towards the classics. There are a lot of movie musicals, epic dramas, and black & white films in my collection. Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and Carey Grant all have their own sections in my movie collection (and then there's my Disney movies, but we won't get into that right now).

I'm a bit of a list person. I like to have a grocery list when I'm shopping, a list of cleaning to-do (which never seems to end), and I have a list of "Books I Want to Read in my Lifetime", which is huge, but I'm making a substantial dent in (again, lots of classics - not too much that's been written in the past few decades). Anyways, I thought I'd see how I'm doing with the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest American films of all time.
Not too bad... 31 out of 100, and there are some on there that I don't really have the urge to watch anyways. I think I'll visit the library soon to borrow a few that I haven't seen yet. (And yes, I know, it's terrible that I've never seen 'The Godfather' or 'Jaws'!)

1. CITIZEN KANE (1941)
2. CASABLANCA (1942)

6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
7. THE GRADUATE (1967)
10. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)

14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
15. STAR WARS (1977)

16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
18. PSYCHO (1960)

19. CHINATOWN (1974)
22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
24. RAGING BULL (1980)
26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
31. ANNIE HALL (1977)
33. HIGH NOON (1952)

41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
42. REAR WINDOW (1954)
43. KING KONG (1933)
47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48. JAWS (1975)
53. AMADEUS (1984)
56. M*A*S*H (1970)
57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
58. FANTASIA (1940)


61. VERTIGO (1958)
62. TOOTSIE (1982)
63. STAGECOACH (1939)
66. NETWORK (1976)
69. SHANE (1953)
71. FORREST GUMP (1994)
72. BEN-HUR (1959)
74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)
76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)
78. ROCKY (1976)
79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
81. MODERN TIMES (1936)
82. GIANT (1956)
83. PLATOON (1986)
84. FARGO (1996)
85. DUCK SOUP (1933)
88. EASY RIDER (1969)
89. PATTON (1970)
90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927)
91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
93. THE APARTMENT (1960)
94. GOODFELLAS (1990)
95. PULP FICTION (1994)
96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
98. UNFORGIVEN (1992)

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The Saddest Thing I Own

I've been reading the entries to an online project called 'The Saddest Thing I Own'. People have really poured their hearts and souls into their stories, and I can't help but shed a tear over some of them.

It's hard to explain what I'm feeling right now.

I know what the saddest thing I own is. And I admire the people who have submitted entries to the project, because I'm not brave enough to share my story.

Update: Just realized that I forgot to link back to Space Monkey Pants, where I read about this site in the first place. D'oh!

C is for Cookie


But also a little bit disturbing. lol

link (in case the player doesn't work for you)

Brought to my attention by Townie Bastard.

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Random things of interest...

Obviously I have varied interests!

Activities to stimulate your brain (click here for more ideas and elaboration on the points below):
  • Stimulate your ears differently - listen to music you wouldn't normally listen to.
  • Learn about different people and lifestyles.
  • Walk backwards through your whole house.
  • Learn to juggle.
  • Attend churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, trade union meetings, places of worship and meditation that you never have.
  • Face your fears!
  • Try things that push the limits of your comfort zone.
  • Travel!
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