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Hey folks, just contemplating on the gradual change in the weather here. Summer has had her last gasp and now the parade of crisp mornings and cool afternoons has begun. Autumn is my favourite season, especially once we’ve had a killing frost or two, as it cleans the damn mosquitoes right up.
Now begins the ritual of trying to ascertain whether it too cold for to go out in shorts or not each morning. My reasoning is thus – we here in Alberta have the potential for a very long winter season from October to March most years and that, dear friends, is entirely to long a spell to exclusively wearing pants.
I do have limits, usually -5 centigrade is the lowest I’ll go before I shelf the shorts and bring up the long pants for the winter. The other wardrobe factor, of course is the hated closed toe shoes (we won’t mention the socks either :P). We hates them and will put off the transition for as long as safely possible. The Birkenstocks stay on till there is more than a centimetre of snow that stays on the ground (stuff that falls and melts doesn’t count:) ), till then, the sweet freedom of sandals reign supreme.
Other concerns include getting the back to school work schedule down, making time for piano and voice practice and getting the yard and car ready for the long dark cold ahead. This year though, I think we’re going to add lights to our backyard fence that will really brighten the winter nights. :) It should be all good, and as an added benefit more light to see the frozen dog poo that needs collecting. :)
That was the quotable bit from a conversation I had with a female student I happened to be teaching at an elementary school this week. We were walking in from recess and Jaina brought this to my attention. I couldn’t detect any hate or malice in her statement, as she had just been playing convivially with Dakota (Male to Trans) minutes before. I told her that she had every right to feel uncomfortable as the situation she described was not appropriate in terms of what was happening in the bathroom… Jaina was surprised that a teacher agreed with her and her feelings of discomfort. I was going to suggest that she remind Dakota to shut the door but the conversation ended as we entered the school.
I hope that by listening to Jaina and supporting her statement she will talk with her teacher and her Dakota to sort that issue out.
The conversation caught me by surprise (as with most occurrences while teaching behaviour classes) and in the moment I had to negotiate between the child’s feelings and the official school board policy on gender and washrooms.
Review of the policy in question came down to these points –
Indicators of this best practice in action (pg.9)
• Students are able to access washrooms that are congruent with their gender identity.
• A student who objects to sharing a washroom or change-room with a student who is trans or gender-diverse is offered an alternative facility (this scenario also applies when a parent or other caregiver objects to shared washroom or change-room facilities on behalf of their child).
I certainly hope that Jaina’s concerns are heard and action is taken as traditionally the concerns of girls, and females in general, are all to often thrown under the bus.
I know what you’re thinking. “Fascinating subject Arb, do tell us more!”
Okay, perhaps not as gripping the other newsy bits we we have around here but none the less a subject that shouldn’t be casually swept aside. Living in Alberta means that for three to five months of the year, snow will be on the ground. The lovely first fall of snow marks the official end of mosquito season and the transition to having ‘exposed flesh stick uncomfortably to metal season’. Some might balk at all the freezing rain, sleet and snow – but really – it isn’t that bad.
One of the civic expectations of snowy Edmontonian existence is keeping the public sidewalk in front of your place of residence clear of snow and ice. Our civic authorities mandate that from the time of the last snow event forty-eight hours are given in which to clear your walks in order to make them safe for people to walk on.
Seems workable to me and thus after each snow I make my rounds with my trusty shovel and ice-scraper. My goal is to get down to the concrete to ensure a safe and solid footing for all those who would come to see me, or merely have to sojourn past my property. For my work to be done, my walks need to pass the inappropriate winter footwear test. If I can confidently make my way in my sandals –
Then, and only then, my job is done. :)
It takes some time and work, let me assure you. Many factors are working against you in the valiant quest for clean sidewalks it is here my arch nemesis must be named.
A glossy, slippery, unchippable horror that can only be bested by the most potent weapon in my winter arsenal.
Glorious sidewalk-salt. That being said, one must consider the bitter-salty implications of using this dread weapon on icy sidewalks. Salt is not conducive to the growing and maintenance of grass or anything else organic for that matter.
The battle for clean sidewalks is necessarily a delicate balance. A fateful alchemy of dedication, perseverance, and Na Cl. It is a fine line that must be walked during snow-season in Alberta.
Canada has sent CF-18’s to participate in the bombing of ISIS. I think this is a very bad idea and I need to tell you a story from my childhood to illustrate why.
This whole sending planes overseas to bomb people reminds me of one Christmas I had the pleasure of spending in Hawaii. Oh let me assure you gentle readers, it was a very merry Mele Kalikimaka for my Mom and I. We saw many wonderful sights, swam on many beaches, drove around for the first couple of days in a standard car that my dear Mum couldn’t reliably drive (which I nearly fell out of on the highway), turned my back on the ocean and was promptly slammed by a monster-wave that sent me cartwheeling underwater up a thirty-foot sandy incline losing my glasses and nearly my life in the process. Like I said, good times. But there was a side story that went along with our little Hawaii get-away and it involves attempting to acquire a certain toy that I reeeeeeeealy wanted.
You see, back at the time I happened to be young and had a certain proclivity toward the latest and greatest toys available at the time – Transformers. Specifically for some reason lost to me now I wanted to get Soundwave – an evil Decepticon robot that could transform into a tape deck. Witness (If you’re really curious, you can see Soundwave in action on youtube):
As I recall, our dynamic mother and son team spent a good deal of time on our vacation looking for the authentic Soundwave toy. Now being that Tranformers were all shiny and new back then, they had not made it to the Big Island yet; and if they did the branded toys were snapped up by savvy Hawaiian shoppers before the likes of our pasty Canadian tourists had even thought about buying them.
What was available were many imitation toys that mimicked the brand name toy precisely. The knock-offs where everywhere in the Hawaiian toy stores. And yes, in retrospect, I’m completely embarrassed at how spoiled I was for dragging my mother to so many malls in Hawaii looking for Mr.Soundwave – only child – I had no choice in the matter :)
Anyhow, we eventually had to settle on getting the very good Soundwave knock-off. It was under the Christmas lamp and promptly opened and played with on that sunny tropical Christmas morning. I remember though, that as much fun as I had with said toy it just wasn’t quite right. It was almost everything I wanted, yet there was a keen edge of disappointment because we had to settle for something wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It was a gift that involved a settlement – the best we could do at the time.
I’m sure we’ve all been in that situation in one form or another. We’ve all wanted “X” soooo bad for so long but then “Y” comes along and we jump at the opportunity to get what we almost wanted because we figure it will do and make us just as happy.
Hint: Settling doesn’t make us as happy.
So why is Canada going in with the Royal Canadian Air Force, when we know that bombing is not the solution to the ISIS problem?
“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobani,” said Idris Nassan, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish fighters desperately trying to defend the important strategic redoubt from the advancing militants. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”
He said Isis had adapted its tactics to military strikes from the air. “Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”
Hmm…consider the words of US Army officer who sees a slightly different picture.
“For example, what would happen if the President took Mr. Kristol’s advice and bombed targets “for a few weeks” and then waited just to “see what happens”? The first few iterations of air sorties would have a good chance of taking out numerous ISIS vehicles and personnel. But in short order ISIS would adjust its methods of operation to disguise vehicle movements, reposition troops and embed command and control centers more deeply into civilian areas, becoming indistinguishable from the civil population.
Now, despite having successfully destroyed a few targets, we would have pushed the enemy deeper underground, hardened his resolve, and seen his troops burrow in like ticks among the innocent residents of the cities he occupies. Further targeting from the air becomes next to impossible without killing noncombatants or sending in ground troops to flush the fighters out. Unless the President will entertain deepening American engagement by deploying ground combat units to root ISIS members out of their dug-in positions, house-by-house – decidedly not recommended – those successful bombing runs will have led to dismal failure.”
So our goal is stop the massacre of innocents and the spread of radical islamic notions. It would seem that given our tactics, neither of those goals would be accomplished. So here we are at that fateful time do we get the knock off toy – we have to do something to stop ISIS – and get not quite the result we’re looking for or do we wait for what we authentically want and commit to to bring that ideal to fruition?
Here is a strategy I think that Canada could actually play a role in; specifically point 3,4, and especially 5. Canada’s role in the world used to be synonymous with Peacekeeping as opposed to the murderous imperialistic role that our current PM thinks is a-fucking-okay.
“To protect American and allied interests in and around ISIS, the United States would design and lead an aggressive regional diplomatic campaign to first isolate, and over time defeat this group of thugs; the military would play a supporting role. To accomplish this objective, the United States would isolate ISIS economically, financially, and geographically, while eroding its support from within.
To accomplish this strategic objective, the U.S. should:
1) Work with the states around and near ISIS territory for the purpose of closing the borders leading into and out of ISIS areas including those in Syria as well as Iraq, thus depriving the jihadists of materiel that could support military operations;
2) use aggressive border control to pin ISIS to its current positions;
3) at the same time, separate ISIS from its external financial and material support;
4) conduct a social media campaign that truthfully exposes the grotesque nature of ISIS ideology in ++terms that would-be jihadists can understand;
5) conduct a sustained humanitarian aid effort to ensure the people currently under ISIS bondage will survive; and
6) institute a coalition-supported “no-go zone” between ISIS territory and that of friendly nations. If ISIS vehicles or ground personnel venture into this zone, they will be destroyed.
In short, we would make it clear to the world and the potential recruits that ISIS has fatally overstepped its capabilities. Faced with the stark reality that they have isolated themselves physically, diplomatically, and morally from the rest of their own region, unable to repair broken equipment, provide fuel for their vehicles, unable to replace expended ammunition, and incapable of performing even the basic functions of a state, it will be clear to all both inside and outside the blockade: ISIS is a regime of losers whose singular accomplishment has been butchering the defenseless, and the impoverishment of the civil populations under its domination.”
Jesus-fuck! Isn’t it nice when someone with a whit of sense speaks clearly to the issue at hand. Full marks go out to this individual and his thoughtful take on what needs to be with ISIS. For a handy compare and contrast lets hear our twit of a PM on why Canada should go bomb people…
“If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world…and we should since so many of our challenges are global…being a free rider means you are not taken seriously. Left unchecked, this terrorist threat can only grow and grow quickly.”
Ah, so not participating in breeding more terror and terrorists in Iraq mean that you are “free rider” and are not going to be taken seriously. All I can say is:
Is France not being taken seriously for not contributing to the airstrikes that will serve only to push our goal further way? But wait, there is more apparently bombing people in Iraq is all about saving Canadian Families…
“As a Government, we know our ultimate responsibility… Is to protect Canadians, and to defend our citizens from those who would do harm to us and to our families.”
*sigh* Ratchet up fear and we’ll our darnedest overseas to protect the homeland. You’d think by now we would understand this most basic of propaganda principles. Baa..sorry for the tangent folks, but Steven Harper and the rest of his merry conservative crew of the RCN Clueless forced me to scribe about their relentless vapidity.
So, back on message – Let’s not be disappointed Christmas morning with a knockoff toy, but rather let us have Canada act in the way she knows best – humanitarian aid and assistance – and get the real toy and the real results that will bring us the ending we are anxiously hoping and expecting.
One day, I’m at the horse rescue and another volunteer invites me to come to a different horse-establishment to meet her horse. Of course I said yes! So we made a date, and I met up with her and her horse, and as we’re fussing over her horse and giving him treats, she asks me, have you ever thought of starting to ride again. I (as cheerfully as I can manage) say “nope, I’m too fat.”
We carry on pampering her horse, and the owner of the barn stops by to chat. “So,” she asks, quite innocently like there was no ulterior motive in getting me to visit, “Have you ever considered starting to ride again?”
I do my little nope too fat, shrug, self-deprecating laugh thing.
The barn owner looks me up and down, and says, “We have a couple lesson horses who could handle youno problem. Email me if you’d like to have a lesson sometime!”
I emailed her as soon as I got home, and lessons started the week after singing lessons ended for the summer!
A few observations upon getting back in the saddle after eighteen years on the ground:
- Everything is still there mentally, but the balance and fitness to do what I remember, has left the building
- Riding, especially posting trot, is way more exercise than I remember
- Horses are still very silly, unpredictable animals
- Falling off hurts about the same amount as ever
I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on to my introverts card as the membership committee takes a dim view of many of the activities I quite deeply enjoy doing. One of the renegade activities I partake in is running a role playing campaign in a fantasy world that involves a talking animals, hordes of zombies and a mysterious blue toxin that grants super powers when ingested.
On top of the horde and the blue toxin throw in chickens that talk with Russian accents, possums with ninja like abilities and wolverines that tend to end up without underwear and often on fire.
Oh, the motley crew that inhabits the world I’ve constructed.
If you’re wondering, the protagonists of this tale are mutated animals, just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, only with much less pizza and much more profanity. Our group gathers every Sunday evening at my house, they come bearing paper, pencils, dice and munchies. The living room is colonized and the flat surfaces are fought over for the prime dice rolling/note taking places(not mentioning places with access to TIO’s heavenly veggie/chip dip). We start the game once everyone settles down, this can take anywhere from fifteen minuets to an hour as our group has a couple of extroverts that like to well, be extroverted.
I hate to admit it, as it goes against much of the fiber of my being, but I usually don’t plan the stories that unfold over the course of the evening. I mean, I did at one time make copious notes with tables and charts and what not; a carefully crafted plot line for my players to follow and discover. But what I often found happening is that my damn players often would do the most amazingly
stupid creative things and take directions\actions I had not even remotely planned on them doing.
For instance, when battling an augmented human that had the ability to change into a fire form our intrepid Wolverine decided the best course of action would be to engage in close quarters combat – imagine giving a bonfire a loving hug – in the midst of performing a ‘stealthy reconnoiter’ of an auto mechanics shop. Another character, the ninja possum mentioned earlier, decided the best course of action would be to hotwire a car near this melee and promptly gun it in reverse through the bay door and down a embankment. You see, said possum had an electronics skill, but not a driving skill, thus hilarity ensued.
You really can’t plan for shit like this. It is like this most nights, our group wildly careens across (and often through) the story arcs I set before them haphazardly fighting, problem solving and running amok/away. The little preparation I do undertake mostly involves thinking about the broadest of themes, and where I would like them to end up, by hook or by crook, by the end of the evening. It was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning for me as I would offer choice A, B, or C and they as a group, would consistently choose “Q”.
Leaving much of the planning behind seemed like the best option and I haven’t looked back. I worry about consistency sometimes as our intrepid animal heroes have crossed into several different worlds/timelines as our story has unfolded. Keeping track of who is which side and for what reason is difficult and times and I get confused – but I buy myself sometime to get things straight by having some straight up combat for my players to tackle while I refocus my story telling chops. It usually works out fairly well, and everyone has fun as a result.
Being a story teller is definitely not on the top ten list of activities introverts are supposed to enjoy, but in some weird way it works for me, and I am happy to be the weaver of a narrative that allows my group to have as much fun as they do.
Maintaining the drive and energy of a campaign is difficult sometimes, and one of the best ways to avoid storytelling burn out is to hand off the reigns to someone else every second week and let them run a different story. My character in the second campaign we run isa dragon hatchling, ostensibly named “Pookie”, and let me assure you Pookie has a great deal of fun cavorting and generally causing higgildy-piggildty in his travels across the story arcs that someone else has to manufacture and maintain. :)
Anyone else from my fair readership that indulges in the deeply introvert-transgressive practice of role playing or story telling?