Monday, June 05, 2017

Why I always appologize to birds

Related image

I guess I was about seven years old when I started hanging out with Judy Jenkins ( fake name in case old Judy is still around and reads this). She had an older brother Ron, about eighteen, with shifty eyes, who tried to touch me once or twice. If Ron is still around, he's getting on in years and is probably  serving time for child molesting, or perhaps he is still hanging around schoolyards, drooling, with his hand in his pocket.
Judy also had a little brother Murray, whose nose ran constantly and you could count the slime trails on his sleeves which he used for handkerchiefs. Kids used to beat Murray up a lot. I think I slapped him a few times myself because he constantly whined.
They lived in the house next door to me on Jackson Ave. Their mom was a widow and worked as a waitress. She wasn't home much because she had to work over-time just to keep food on the table. So her younger kids were frequently left under the supervision of Ron (Bad judgement call). Judy was a bit wild and that suited me fine. I was left unsupervised pretty much all the time.
We climbed trees together and  built flimsy, very shaky and dangerous tree houses. We went swimming in the Grand River with no one to watch over us. The current was strong in some areas and the industrial pollution made it smell bad. This was before the city council cracked down on polluters. Lord knows what kinds of poisons we absorbed into our bodies and swallowed. In other words, we had a ball.
 One day, while we were playing in the apple tree in Judy's back yard, we saw a baby bird fall from a nest right near the top of the tree. We must have shaken that tree so hard that we shook the poor thing loose from it's nest. We scrambled down the tree and went to examine the bird. We could tell right away that it was badly injured. There was blood on it. It was making little noises like, 'eeep, eeep'.
Judy said the most merciful thing we could do was put it out of it's misery. Before I could stop her she hefted a large rock over her head and smashed it down on the poor birdy. When she lifted the rock up to see if it was dead, it was still making little noises, like 'ep, ep'.
"It's still alive Judy," I yelled at her. I was pretty upset by now.
 Instead of giving the chick the 'coup de grace' with the rock, Judy said,"Let's bury it anyway."
I admit I went along with the plan and we dug a pretty deep hole in the sand box and dropped the wee thing in. As we started filling in the hole, I heard a final 'ep' and that sound haunted me for days. We placed the murder weapon on top as a grave marker and I went home and cried.
 But in the usual manner of children, we both recovered sufficiently to be curious as to what the bird looked like after a week in the ground and we dug it up. The smell made me gag but I looked anyway and from that experience I learned that all things born of the earth revert back to the earth. They break down into their basic elements and become part of the soil to nourish other living things like bugs and worms.
To this day, when a bird turns a beady, penetrating eye on me, I feel guilty and whisper, "I'm sorry."

I learned other lessons from my bird experience. One of which, was that all life experiences, good, bad or mediocre, must come to an end. My stay in this place has been wonderful. I thank anyone and everyone who has taken a moment to read my scribbles.  I very much appreciate it. But ....
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--"

And the time has come to take my leave of you. Because of  health problems and utter weariness and a broken heart, this experience has come to a close.
Like any self respecting Genie I will now dematerialize and scatter my molecules on this  beautiful, warm, summer evening's breeze and become one with the earth and the universe.
The Genie is no more.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Manchester shows some love

In Manchester, the entire street where the terrorist attack took place is filled with flowers and tributes. Why does it take a tragedy to make us express love??

I knew my mom was lying to me all those years

No automatic alt text available.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Angie the shepherd - re-grouping the EU - German style

"We must fight for our destiny as Europeans," says Mrs Merkel

Angela Merkel is "taking back control" - to borrow the wildly successful, emotive phrase coined by those in the UK campaigning to leave the EU last year. The German chancellor caused a storm this Sunday, particularly in the English-language press and Twittersphere, when she declared: "The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent."
But, contrary to the hysteria about "Iron Angie" signaling a slamming of European doors on Trump USA and Brexit UK, what I mean by her "taking back control" is this:
Like the UK's Leave campaigners, Angela Merkel is heading towards a vote. Though Germany isn't debating EU membership, it's in the run-up to an autumn general election.
Mrs Merkel is now on the campaign trail and not at all above injecting some populism into her politics.

Not on the same wavelength? Angela Merkel and Donald Trump

President Trump is hugely unpopular among German voters and his failure to commit to the Paris climate accord, at the G7, and to Nato's Article Five last week angered many Europeans.
Mrs Merkel's pointed comments about no longer being able to rely fully on allies were delivered to rapturous applause while on the campaign trail in the (conservatively) pumped arena of a Munich beer hall. Campaign Trail Merkel is also aware that German voters aren't just partial to a bit of Trump-thumping - but also to a full-on promotion of Europe.
Liberal Europeans have felt immensely frustrated at the constant Brussels bashing by nationalist politicians over the past couple of years. Resentment has built up, too, over Russia seemingly being able to do whatever it wants in Crimea, Syria and the cyber-sphere despite supposed international norms and standards. And despite sanctions upon sanctions.
And there's real anger and fear about Donald Trump the Unpredictable, a man many in Europe judge to be ignorant about world politics, world economy, climate change,  diplomacy and the workings of a democracy.
Germans believe more than ever now that Europe needs be assertive; to stick together and be strong together.  They are feeling more confident too and pro-EU, pro-Merkel and pro-Emmanuel Macron,the new French president . Enter Chancellor Merkel's emotive language à la "take back control', except what she actually says is, "Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands". The Bavarian beer hall loved it, as do many Germans, giving Mrs Merkel that edge over her political rivals.
Would Merkel, political old hand and consummate pragmatist,  like to be able to safeguard the stability and safety of Europe without relying on what she regards as an unpredictable US and an unreliable UK? -Absolutely.
She believes Europe must co-operate more on defense: pooling resources, spending military budgets more intelligently and bolstering itself as much as it can. But she knows full well that Europe can't go it alone. Certainly not Germany, with its post World War Two sensitivities about taking up arms. Guilt and remorse are powerful inhibitors.
Britain leaving the EU means the bloc only has one military power left - the French one - and one seat on the UN Security Council. NATO is now more important than ever for EU safety.
Europe relies, too, on British intelligence and co-operation in fighting terrorism.
Chancellor Merkel has been around the political block more than a few times, and she is not now biting the hand that feeds (bear in mind, too, America's huge importance for German business).
Donald Trump may not be so sure about Nato, but the US vice-president and the defence secretary say they are fully committed.
And at Nato, the G7 and when she visited Donald Trump in Washington in March, Angela Merkel was diplomatic at all times, leaving snubs and small shows of strength to France's keen-to-prove himself presidential newbie, Emmanuel Macron.
When Angela Merkel says Europe needs to be take its fate in its own hands, she means keeping transatlantic links open and strong, but being politically, emotionally and - if possible - militarily prepared if it all falls apart.
Rather than closing the door on the US, she hopes very much the US isn't turning its back on Europe. But who knows anymore. A relatively stable, if cautious, world, has become rife with instability, doubt, suspicion, confusion and heading down the slope to chaos . You wanna blame ISIS? Go ahead. I have other theories.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Great Manchester Run: Thousands take part amid heightened security

Applause at Greater Manchester run

Tens of thousands of runners pounded the streets during an emotional occasion for Manchester, days after the arena attack that killed 22 people.
Armed police were stationed among spectators at the Great Manchester Run, the latest large-scale event to take place since Monday's suicide bombing.
A huge round of applause for the emergency services followed a minute's silence for the victims and casualties.
Runners set off under the banner #RunForManchester.

Runners gather at the start of the Great Manchester Run

An armed police officer oversees the race

"I heart Manchester" signs were dotted around the city, while runners and spectators are wearing yellow ribbons and bee symbols in a show of solidarity.
Oasis hit Don't Look Back in Anger was played on the loudspeakers following the minute's silence, a song which was spontaneously performed by a crowd after a silence in St Ann's Square in central Manchester on Thursday.
Poet Tony Walsh, who performs as Longfella, also read out his inspirational verse "Do Something" to the crowds.

Early arrivals for the 10k race found more police than runners, their vans clustered around Portland Street and the start line.
But as the junior run got under way there was little sign of trepidation among the crowd. Kids were smiling, their parents nervous. For security reasons? No, because they feared getting beaten to the finish line by their 10-year-olds.
As more runners arrived in the city, many of them streaming off trams at St Peter's Square, some admitted to a level of anxiety about the events of Monday.
But their presence is a reassuring one, and the smiles on their faces are also etched on those competitors striding towards the start line.
Asked why he was running, one man - Brian Leigh, 47, from Sale - summed it perfectly, " I'm running because I'm proud to be Mancunian". ( Mancunian or Manc is the term for people who live in Manchester)
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) gave the go-ahead for Sunday's athletics event, with additional security measures in force.
It included Europe's largest 10km run and, for the first time, a half-marathon.
Insp Phil Spurgeon, of GMP, said he wanted to encourage everyone to see Manchester as "open for business" and thanked people for their support towards his officers and staff since Monday.
"Support has come in many forms, from hugs and kind words to boxes of pizzas being delivered to police stations," he said.
"Just today, a lady who wanted to do her 'bit' for Manchester has arranged for a delivery of 2,400 tea bags to be brought to us to be able to make a warm brew after patrols."

Armed police watch over runners close to the starting line during the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run

He added: "Regardless of the support that we're receiving it's so important that we remember the people who matter most in this - the people who have lost their lives and their loved ones, and the people who were injured.
"We're thinking about you all."
Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese said: "It was not whether it was going to happen but how we could make it happen.
"We're all here for one reason. It is an act of defiance, an act of solidarity. It's a community coming together to share grief and to say Manchester will not be beaten by terrorism.
"People really want to be here to stand up to be counted. Seeking strength in each other."
Great Manchester Run's event director, Charlie Mussett said: "Manchester's not the
same place this week as it was last week. The event is not the same event. It represents a whole other thing. We're here for each other and to show the world we are unbowed and unbroken"
"We're showing respect for victims and families and the horror that the city has seen and hoping to lift their spirits by a show of solidarity."
"I think it's incredibly emotional."

Runners take part in the Great Manchester Run
 The bee is the emblem of Manchester

Of the 116 people who received NHS inpatient care in the days immediately after the attack, 54 continue to be treated across eight hospitals. Nineteen are in critical condition. Twelve men remain in custody on suspicion of  being part of the terrorist plot. There appears to be a cell of terrorists operating in the city.

Two women decorate their faces with pink hearts close to the starting line

Athletics legend Brendan Foster, founder of the Greater Manchester Run said: "All of our feelings this morning have been about the 22 people who died, their families and that terrible atrocity.
"But today is about not doing what [the terrorists] want us to do, change our way of life, be frightened, the people of Manchester are saying this is our city, you're not going to take away our independence. We are providing the stage for that."
I am constantly amazed, delighted and proud at the way people can draw together, unite and bond in times of trouble. Tragedy brings out the best in and compassion and always patriotism.
Stay strong and proud Manchester. That is the way to defeat terrorism. Our thoughts and hearts are with you all.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump travel ban: US court upholds halt on executive order .... Brilliant!!

Protesters outside the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

A federal appeals court has refused to lift a temporary block on President Donald Trump's revised travel ban.The Virginia-based court said the president's broad immigration power was "not absolute" and the ban "intended to bar Muslims from this country".
The decision upheld a lower Maryland court ruling that found the ban violated constitutional rights. The order would have placed a temporary ban on people from six mainly Muslim countries and the refugee program. The case is likely to head to the Supreme Court.
The US government argues federal immigration laws grant the president broad powers to stop foreigners from entering the country. But Chief Judge Roger L Gregory, who wrote the majority opinion for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, said Mr Trump's powers have limits.
"It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation," said Judge Gregory. The court added the government's national security argument was a "secondary justification for an executive order rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country". The decision means citizens from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya can continue travelling to the US.
The 10-3 ruling is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for an order the president insists is needed to stop terrorists from entering the country. Two lower court rulings blocked the ban just hours before it was due to begin in March.
A Maryland judge ruled that the order was meant to be a ban on Muslims and violated the first amendment of the US constitution.  A federal judge in Hawaii also sided with opponents that the ban was discriminatory and cited "questionable evidence" in the government's argument that the ban was a matter of national security.
The Justice Department has appealed against the Hawaii decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments for the case on 15 May.
The Ninth Circuit Court is the same court which also refused to lift a block on Mr Trump's initial travel ban signed on 27 January.  That order took effect for seven days before a federal judge in Seattle halted it.
Instead of appealing the decision to the Supreme Court, he issued a revised version on 6 March. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a statement after Thursday's ruling calling it an "important victory for the rule of law".
"I will support challenges to this illegal and unconstitutional executive order as our own case against the travel ban continues in federal court here in Washington."
The controversial ban has prompted protests and debate across the US.
Hang in there and stay strong collective judiciary. The ban is wrong on many levels and sets a precedent that will affect and offend all nationalities and cultures of the world and give them negative feelings toward Americans. In turn , those attitudes will gradually affect all international dealings with America. Canada has always been a close friend and ally to the United States but we have noticed a cooling and distancing, among Canadians who were asked for their opinions on relations with our southern neighbors.  That attitude, if it becomes global, will take away the good fellowship and trust that has always been associated with the United States. Don't judge an entire culture and religion by a handful of sociopathic, remorseless radicals. And don't be led around by a xenophobic real estate salesman.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We can save the bees ...They can't save themselves

The bees are dying and we can't live without them
It’s become a serious and worldwide environmental issue now that we are losing the world’s bee population. Documentaries have been spreading awareness about this problem, but we are far from the solution. The documentaries state that 1/3 of what we eat comes from the hard work of bees, so how can we reverse this trend? There are  ways we can help save the bees.
It all starts with bees, they are the key of agriculture and yet we neglect them in the process. Imagine a world with no cherries, carrots, pears, watermelons, nuts, apples, potatoes, oranges, avocados (really?). The list goes on and on !

a world without bees
  1. Unfortunately, some of the causes of this mass extinction are rooted in the way humans practice agriculture. One of the main causes of deaths are the pesticides that we use to fertilize our crops. They are known to kill bee populations, but the industry has no interest in stopping the use of these chemicals. Plus, many of them are also detrimental to our own health !
  2. Some harmful parasites seem to be invading the beehives. The Varroa Destructor is a small mite that reproduces and feeds entirely off the bees and their larvae. Although beekeepers are trying to find organic and safe ways to get rid of the Varroa, once they penetrate the hive, there is usually no hope left for the honeybees.
  3. As humans we are also a great part of the problem. Our rural areas are becoming smaller, fields are disappearing and human activity causes a lot of stress to the bees. They often starve because their food is becoming scarce and of course they are suffering from global warming, specially the cold winters.
Together, all these problems create “colony collapse disorder”, the scientific term for the disappearing of the bee colonies. A terrifying example is China. They have totally lost their bee population and now hire people to pollinate their fruit trees and vegetables by hand ! Crazy isn’t it? If they relied only on the crops that do not require bee pollination, their diet would be reduced to corn, wheat and a few other wind pollinated crops.
We don't want to completely lose our bee population. So we  must plant, plant, plant and keep on planting flowers, herbs and flowering trees that bees are attracted to for  gathering their pollen.

  • Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, dandelions and wild lilac provide enticing spring blooms.
  • Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta in the summer.
  • For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod are late bloomers that will tempt foragers.

  • HERBS:
    Borage, catnip, dill, lemon balm, mint, lavender, sage, rosemary, basil, marjoram, and thyme ... Allow them to flower.

    • Blackberry
    • Hedge bindweed
    • Honeysuckle
    • Sweet pea
    • Foxglove
    • Rhododendron

    • hawthorn.
    • red bud.
    • all fruit trees.
    • shadbush.
    • tulip tree.
    • willow.
    • sorrel.
    There are others and they are mostly available at local nurseries. Also, that is a good place, if a botanist is available, to ask about planting a bee garden. Remember, seeds are very cheap and the bees are irreplaceable.