Category Archives: Opinions with an Accent

Fire Alarm leaves students out in the cold

Yesterday, a faulty sensor triggered a fire alarm at Elgin Court Public School. Without knowledge that it was a faulty sensor, the staff and students performed the fire drill as they have practiced before. The building was evacuated quickly and safely and no one re-entered the building until the fire department had gone through the school to confirm that there was no actual fire. With the close proximity of the fire hall, the whole evacuation to all clear was concluded in ten minutes.

On any other day this would pass with little to no notice or debate but due to the cold weather yesterday, parents and passers by were horrified to see children stood in the bitter cold without jackets in the minus 12 temperatures.

School perform a number of fire drills each semester as well as other drills such as lock downs. These drills are usually carried out within the first month or so of the semester and in dry weather. In some schools planned fire drills have been postponed due to rain. It is doubtful that any school in South West Ontario has ever planned for a fire drill in such cold conditions. It was a unique situation and one that was unforeseeable. No one could have predicted a fire alarm on such a cold day. Perhaps schools in Alberta plan for this but here in St. Thomas, they don’t.

Questions have been loudly asked as to why the students were outside without their coats and why their teachers were wearing theirs. Why weren’t the students taken into a nearby building for warmth and why did the teachers not give their jackets to the students.

During a fire drill, everyone practices to leave the building instantly, not stopping to collect personal items such as jackets or bags. Can you imagine the outcry if a student was injured because his or her teacher let them run to their locker or cubby to grab their jacket? The source of the fire alarm is unknown so staff and students had to follow procedure and evacuate the building as quickly as possible. If it was a planned fire drill the staff would have made certain that the students had time to grab their jackets and gloves, or not held the fire drill on such a cold day.

While students travel from room to room for their various classes, staff members often do not move out of their room. This would mean that their jackets would be hanging up in their room. Should the teachers not have put their coats on because the students did not have theirs? It doesn’t make sense for that to happen, the coat is there, it isn’t affecting the time it takes to evacuate the school. Most people would put their jacket on without a second thought.

Once outside though, the teachers were wearing their jackets while the students were not. It has been asked why the teacher didn’t give their jacket to a student although the answer is obvious. Which students should get the jacket and which unfortunately don’t? No matter what students were chosen, the others would still be cold. Imagine a parent whose child wasn’t given the jacket? Not only is that child outside without a jacket but the teacher chose to give their jacket to another child. How unfair is that? No matter what decision the teacher made, it would have been criticized and offended someone. By choosing not to share their jacket, no student felt left out or like a teachers pet.

While waiting for the all clear to be give, the school population stood outside on the sidewalk and other designated areas. Why not take the students to someone place warm while they wait? Couldn’t they have been taken to Shoppers Drug Mart until the all clear was given? Every single class trip is accompanied by at least two adults if not more. There are not enough staff in Elgin Court for each class to have two supervising adults while the class walked to a warm building. What would have been said if a student had been lost while walking to and from a warm building, Shoppers for example, and the fire alarm was discovered to be a faulty sensor? It was unknown how long the fire alarm would last, ten minutes or an hour, and it is pretty obvious that if informed that it would take longer, the administrative staff would have had to have made a decision for the safety of the students. As it was, within ten minutes the students were back into their classrooms, warming up.

This was probably a once in a lifetime situation, a perfect storm if you will, and one that could not have been predicted or planned for. The staff of Elgin Court Public School followed their procedures correctly and while students were cold, they stayed safe. It wasn’t a nice experience for the students, or staff, but it was one that was carried out the right way.

*Writers note: I have two children at Elgin Court who also had to stand outside in the cold.

The first step on the fat to fit journey

It kind of sneaks up on you, that lazy, bloated, standing up is almost too much effort type of feeling. Spending the work day sat behind a desk doesn’t exactly help, walking to the printer usually being the only exercise available. Pants start to get a little tight, shirts and jackets seem to fit tighter than before. Your get up and go has not only gotten up and gone but is no where to be seen. Perhaps it is my age, after all I am an incredibly young 43! Perhaps it is my job, computer based! Perhaps it is my home life, watching TV while working on the computer or playing Call of Duty: Goats! Perhaps it is the love of a good woman and the great food she likes to cook! Whatever the reason, it’s time to make a change.

I have known for some time that I was over weight, out of shape and not eating the right foods. I managed to get away with it for years because I am tall and don’t look fat but I am sure that on the “magical” body fat scale I would be considered obese. I have tried joining gyms, note the plural having joined GoodLife, YMCA, Golds and Bodyworks to varying degrees of success. Part of the problem being that at the time of memberships I had undiagnosed ADHD which meant that I was quickly board of lifting weights and walking on a treadmill. Don’t know if it would make a difference now that I am aware of my “craziness” and am medicated but I really don’t want to spend more money in an attempt to find out.

In my distant youth I played tennis at the club level, often spending ten or more hours at the club playing anyone and everyone. I could play again but I am rather competitive so I would want to play the best I could which would mean playing more and thus less time with my family. Not good. I have never been able to run any sort of distance, I believe my best 100 metre time was measured by hour glass rather than stop watch. Strange that I had no problem playing tennis for hours on end but run more than a few foot and I was hopeless.

And on top of all that, I have always been a picky eater. Don’t laugh but until I moved to Canada at the ripe old age of 28, I had yet to discover my love for……….wait for it……. curry, salad, mushrooms, even pizza. Healthy eating is going to be a challenge.

As I mentioned, I was aware that I was starting to drift into the “fat bastard” zone but unwilling to do anything other than give lip service to the issue. Of course that changed with a visit to my local family doctor who mentioned a few things. My heart rate is often elevated, I have palpitations, my good cholesterol is bad (Next on TLC, “When Good Cholesterol Goes Bad”) and I am overweight. She gave me six months, not to live but to get my body in order otherwise she would prescribe more meds for me. I already take a couple of meds a day for my mental health issues (bi-polar and ADHD, just like male pattern baldness but without the toupee) and have no wish to sound like a Smarties tube when I move.

Why am I writing and sharing this with you, oh wonderful reader? Because I need to be kept honest, I worry that left to my own devices I will slip back into my normal sat on the couch exercise regime while eating chocolate. I also don’t want anyone else to think that they are the only ones who have to modify their lives in order to have better health. There are lots of people who decide for one reason or another to change their lives and become healthier, and I am joining them. I am unsure what type of exercise I will be par-taking in, walking seems to be the obvious choice right now. I am unsure as to what foods to eat, what meals to make, what drinks to drink but luckily the woman whom I am related to by marriage knows her way around a kitchen and will look after that.

My goals are straight forward and clear. I want to be able to run around with my kids and not get tired. I want to be able to zip up a jacket without having to breath in first. I want to have my facial features described with only one chin. I want to be fitter, healthier, happier. I also want to be good at Call of Duty: Goats and find a blonde bombshell who has an open minded twin sister and whose father owns a brewery but I am getting ahead of myself. Thanks for reading and if you are in the same boat, I wish you good luck in your attempts.

Blowing up education

genius1

How long ago were you in school? Do you remember the subjects you took? Do you remember taking certain courses with a view to a career? Are you still in that career? Is there anything you learnt in the classroom that you have used since leaving education?

The work environment has changed dramatically over the past few years, and decades, but the educational curriculum seems to have failed adapting to it. While reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm, chapter by chapter, and looking beneath the words at the political messages and meanings is a great exercise if you plan to become a literary or movie critic, for many, it just ruins the pleasure of reading.

Quadratic equations have been the bane of students of years but how many have used an equation since walking out of the classroom for the last time? Litmus paper is a cool way to understand acidity or alkalinity but can you name three occasions in your everyday life that required you to dip paper into a solution for this reason?

These examples are all great theoretical tools but many students will never require them once they leave school so isn’t it time education began to focus on a more reality based curriculum? Something that prepares all children for adult life. This is not to say that schools should no longer explain how to make your very own volcano, rather they just need to incorporate some real life lessons as well.

Every student leaving a school must understand the basics of emergency medical aid, such as:

How to perform CPR
What to do if someone may be having a heart attack
How to help someone who is choking
How to save someone who is drowning
How to treat bleeding
How to treat a burn
How to deliver a baby anywhere
How to carry someone heavier than yourself
And perhaps most importantly, when someone should be taken to the emergency ward, have an ambulance called or dealt with alone.

True, the chances of having to do any of the above is slim, but it could save a life and that in itself makes it worth while.

Rewiring a plug, changing a light bulb. Even if you leave school with the highest marks possible and head to university to become a scientist you will still need to change a light bulb once in your life. These are life skills that everyone should have.

Recognize and know the difference between a Philips head, flat head and Robertson (Square) screwdriver
Different types of hammers including pin, claw and sledge
What saws cut what materials
Understand what is and isn’t needed when buying a power tool
Be able to fix a running toilet
Be able to hang a picture level
Understand how a car engine works
To be able to construction a simple wooden project

Unless a student leaves school and instantly becomes a millionaire (it could happen) they will have to deal with the day to day financial issues that everyone faces.

Be able to calculate sales tax
Be able to understand a mortgage
Be able to understand credit cards
Be able to balance a weekly/monthly budget
Be able to understand and file taxes

While not everyone has the opportunity to travel the world, it doesn’t mean that students should not be knowledgeable about the world we live in. Being able to point to a map and identify numerous countries will help in the understanding of everyday situations like watching the news. To avoid irrational prejadices, a good grasp of religions would also open the eyes of those students.

A responsible attitude to health and fitness not only benefits the student but also the community they live in. Understanding enough about fitness and health to be able to compile their own fitness plan is important as well as a firm knowledge of sex and sexuality that is based on fact rather than anything watched on the internet.

No matter if attending university or working, everyone has to live somewhere and they will need to eat. Rather than relying on fast food it would be beneficial to:

Be able to create a weekly shopping list within a budget
Be able to create at least eight different meals (not egg on toast)
Understand common cooking phrases and processes
To recognize common cooking utensils
Be able to read a nutritional label

Some schools may actually cover some of the topics mentioned here but without the emphasis that these will be the needed skills to live, the lessons are possibly lost in the textbooks and homework that pours over students.

Finally, not every student finds school to be the learning experience that most others do. Perhaps they learn best by doing rather than reading, perhaps they can’t get their heads around math and science but have a driving passion to build cars. Schools must learn to recognize this early and to be able to tailor educational plans for these students to take advantage of their skills and passions rather than trying to force them into a one size fits all education.

If you build it

Mike Rowe speaking to Congress

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools kill creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution

Khan Academy

http://Fwww.khanacademy.org

It isn’t important until it happens to you.

It is human nature to not appreciate or try to understand something until it affects you or someone close to you. It is understandable that with so many things vying for your attention, those that do not directly apply to you will not be the first to catch your eye. So it is with me and autism. My 9 yd old son, Rhys, was recently diagnosed and while a school friend has an autistic son and often posts about him, it is only now that it is different for me.

Unlike previous generations, thanks to the mighty Google-machine, research can be done while sat on the sofa watching sports and while not all information online is completely accurate or even makes sense, with enough cross referencing and opinions from respected websites and people, you can begin to draw your own opinions and conclusions. Even without being focused on it, I knew that Jenny McCarthy, famous for once being a Playboy model and dating Jim Carrey, claimed that her son ‘got’ autism from getting vaccinations and that changing his diet ‘cured him’. Having a basic high school education, I had quickly drawn my own conclusions about what miss McCarthy was saying and disregarded it just as quickly.

It is pretty common to look for others with the same condition when something like this happens, and I am nothing if not pretty common. Again, letting my fingers do the walking I soon came up with a pretty impressive list of such famous people with autism as actress Daryl Hannah, singer Courtney Love (perhaps not the best example I could find), director Tim Burton (Have you seen his movies?). Satoshi Tajiri created Pokemon although I am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Adam Young of Owl City is Autistic. I don’t know what kind of music Owl City makes but I am pretty sure it isn’t my kind. Dan Akroyd, fellow Canadian and musician, actor, funny man, Blues Brother and anything else you can think of. There seems to also be quite a few mass murderers but let’s gloss over that quickly.

In hindsight, it is believed that the following people also had some sort of autism. Vincent Van Gogh, Painter, Emily Dickenson, Poet, Isaac Newton, Physicist, Mozart, Composer, Hans Christian Anderson, Author, Mark Twain, Author, Richard Strauss, Composer, Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor, Albert Einstein, Physicist, Nikola Tesla, Scientist, Inventor, Electrical Engineer, Futurist, Jane Austen, Author, George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, Henry Ford, Industrialist. Never before has so many commas been used to describe so many geniuses! Of course in hindsight, watching Grown Ups should have been avoided.

So autism doesn’t so much define someone as become part of who they are and often helps them succeed and with the right support there should be nothing that is unattainable for someone with it. OK. That’s good.

But enough about my little freak (Dad, I am not crazy! I have autism!) of nature (just kidding) and back to the main plot. Today’s generation has access to information and the ability to learn and become an expert in nearly anything. Skunk Baxter, a guitarist with the Doobie Brothers, didn’t drink or party when touring so he read instead, and in doing so became one of the worlds top experts in missile defense. I kid you not, so whoever said that playing in a band wasn’t rocket science…….. There should be no obstacle to learning whatever you need to learn about a subject such as mental health. I am not going to become an expert as I have far too many distractions in my life but I am going to try and learn all I can in order to help my big lovable monkey have the happiest life possible.

I guess the moral of this story is to not wait until something becomes personal before getting involved. While no one can be expected to know everything about everything, if we all find something linked to us, no matter how tenuous the link, and learnt about it, who knows what we might achieve!

How to welcome Autism into the family.

My 9yr old son was recently diagnosed as being on the Autism Scale. This isn’t really news but it does put things into a different light.

My wife and I tried for 3 1/2 years to have a baby and when it finally worked, my son Rhys (pronounced Reese) Dante was the result. From an early age he was a little different although as he was our first child and with no small relatives to compare to, it was difficult to really put your finger on it. No separation anxiety when left at day care, obsessions with things. We put it down to it being ‘just Rhys’. I have to admit that my wife noticed things long before I did, partially denial perhaps and partially because I thought what he was doing was normal based upon my own childhood.

At an early age Rhys was already looking at the world differently, when asked what sound a dog made, rather than saying ‘woof’ he mimicked the sound instead. He had difficulty realising that boys and girls were different. As he has grown older he has proven that if he becomes obsessed with something, he will learn all he can about it and doesn’t seem to forget about it later on. We have accepted that if Rhys states something, there usually isn’t much point arguing because he is probably right. Luckily this only applies to the Titanic, James Bond and cars at the moment but I fear that will be just the tip of the iceberg. Rhys is also incredibly polite, ordering food at a restaurant, or even at our favorite Subways is always fun. His order will be sprinkled with ‘I would like’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. He charms everyone with his politeness and puts his brother to shame, even though his brother isn’t far behind in the ‘please’ stakes.

In the past few years though it has become clear that Rhys was not like his brother, or his classmates. He had a lot of bowel problems but didn’t appear upset or even take much notice if there was a rare accident. He is incredibly good humored but can explode into a screaming, shouting rage in an instant. Lately he has taken to mimicking the sound of the horn from the Dukes of Hazard car, the General Lee. He does it loudly for no reason.

He is oblivious to social skills and picking up on those unspoken signals. He doesn’t ‘get’ what is inappropriate to talk about, or when it is time to stop talking or change the subject. I think this may be why he gets picked up at school. We have only had a couple of reports about this from the school which shows that he doesn’t get upset by it. It might also be that for a 9 year old he is rather large. Large as in 1 inch under 5 ft tall and 140 pounds. He is a big kid and yet 98% of the time is gentle and sweet. Due to his size AND is lack of social skills, he does tend to stand out in a crowd which can make him a target. He doesn’t hit back if hit, why should he? Unless it is his brother, he doesn’t like to hit people.

It is important to realise that just because Rhys, or any other kid for that matter, is on the Autism Scale, it doesn’t mean that he will be the same as every other autistic kid. Rhys can maintain eye contact, loves to hug (and attempt to squeeze the life out of you) and is not withdrawn into himself. The therapist who diagnosed him compared him to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Rhys will be able to live on his own, he will probably have girl friends, maybe get married. Autism will not affect his life like that.

We have been honest with him from the start. We explained that he might have Autism and why we were going to see a specialist, we went over everything. My wife and I will not lie to him, or his brother, about anything believing that it is better to hear from us than get a disjointed, perhaps incorrect version of the truth from someone else.

Since his diagnosis I see Rhys in a different light, no longer the disbehaving child who freaks out just because he doesn’t like peas, no longer the incredibly bright student whose report cards are well below his potential because he doesn’t make an effort to write. Now that there is an official diagnosis his school will be able to support him in the best way they can, knowing what they are dealing with and how to encourage him.

Rhys has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen, distractingly beautiful. He is easy to love but not as easy to live in the same house as. He is compassionate, utterly adores babies, will give you his last penny if you need it, and is learning, slowly, about how to act in and around other people.

I worry that just because he seems like every other 9 year old that when he does do something he has little control over, or says the wrong thing, there may be people who judge him or act harshly towards him. I understand that I feel very protective towards him as would any parent be, but it doesn’t stop me worrying that because he has a mental condition rather than a physical one, strangers will expect him to be like all other children.

Perhaps next time you see a child who is not acting as you would expect, think about the possible reasons before jumping to a conclusion.

Stop ‘Fitching’ about your customers

A 2006 interview with Mike Jefferies, CEO for Abercrombie and Fitch, revealed that rather than try to appeal to all possible customers, A & F were looking to be more exclusive, clothing only for the ‘sexy’ people. As such, the clothing sizes offered by A & F would reflect this philosophy by only going from zero to size 8, or as listed on their website, XS to L. The A & F website features pictures of half naked men with six packs, no body hair, and some overly expensive clothing. Disturbingly though, clicking on women’s clothing presented a picture of what appeared to be a young teenage girl. Their dream clientele seem to be men who spend more time in the mirror grooming than women and girls who have to save up all their pocket money for a month to buy a A & F t-shirt.

At worst this attitude is offensive and politically incorrect, and at best it is simply a dumb thing to say. Since it was during an interview that this was said, it wasn’t a mere slip of the tongue at a cocktail party or anything like that. This was someone knowing exactly what they are saying. Of course, since this interview recently came to light, there has been more back tracking than Theseus after he slew the Minotaur. Explanations of words taken out of context are on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

As with a lot of ‘fashionable’ brands, an A & F t-shirt will contain large references to the brand, in essence making customers walking billboards who are paying for the privilege of promoting A & F. Now, one of the freedoms granted to Canadians, I believe under the Magna Carta which was written in 1215, is the freedom to spend their hard earned money at any store in the mall they want, so if someone wants to wear a T-shirt that has the word Abercrombie on it in 5 inch letters, they can.

The backlash over these 7 year old, incidentally the target age for A & F’s new ‘sexy fitch’ line of clothing*, comments has been loud and widespread. Ellen DeGeneres talked about it, and there has even been a campaign to hand out A & F clothing to homeless people. The outcry is justified. Declaring that, if someone doesn’t fit into a clothing size means that, they are not cool or sexy, is just plain wrong and totally sends the wrong message to children, and adults as well. Body image is so important the last thing anyone needs to hear is that you can’t be sexy if you don’t have a body like a 12 year old boy.

While decrying the company is understandable, it should be taken for what it truly is, a fashion company who wants to be known as clothing worn by sexy cool people, and that to be sexy or cool you cannot look like a normal person, so only men who look like store mannequins or women who look like never hit puberty apply. In internet parlance this is known as trolling, getting a reaction and being noticed by making outlandish and offensive claims and by a huge coincidence, the CEO of A & F has a, diplomatically described, unique face.

In all honesty, the appeal of A & F apparel is very limited already for most shoppers, so this public display of ignorance, all be it seven years ago, should not really impact their sales. If you are a regular purchaser of A & F clothing, you obviously feel that you are both cool and sexy. For the rest of the clothing consumers of Canada, they will still shop at Walmart, Gap, Old Navy, H & M and all the other stores at the mall, you know, the ones that don’t claim that sexy is only restricted to the thin and hairless.

* No not really

Educating the Education System

When I attend school, back in the last century, my class mates and I considered it good when our regular teacher was away and we had a supply teacher in our class. It would often mean that rather than learning something we would sit in front of a 27 inch television with a grainy picture and watch a movie. Sometimes it would be a James Bond movie, I remember watching The Land That Time Forgot, movies that really had no educational value or relevance to the subject we were supposed to be learning about. As students, this was a fun class. It meant no homework, not reading a textbook, not having to answer questions.

Now that I so much older and I have my own children in the educational system I feel totally different about these type of days. In fact, there is quite a bit that I find questionable about schools. Even if a movie is relevent to the subject being taught, is it really teaching if students are told to watch a movie and then have to answer questions about it. For example, in a physical education class, what educational value is there in watching A League Of Their Own? Bad acting? Period music? Madonna being Madonna?

Personally speaking, I never found my driving talents improve after watching Bullett or Ronin, no matter how much I thought it had. There is a story that I actually read in an issue of Playboy (yes, I really did read the articles) about Mario Lemieux and how he learned to speak English by watching English language television programs. This is obviously the exception rather than the rule otherwise a whole generation of children would be speaking Spanish, even only to call for their backpack or to stop a fox stealing something. So if the learning value of watching a movie or television program is limited, why is it so often used in schools?

From the regular teacher’s point of view, it is obviously a lot simpler to have the supply teacher play a movie rather than writing out a lesson plan, especially if it is a subject that the regular teacher is able to teach from memory. That is not to suggest that teachers are lazy, it is difficult to deal with the everyday teaching duties without adding more on top of it. Incase anyone has any doubt, teachers are also human and often would like to have a home life with a family and even children. It is impossible to play ball, or help with a childs homework while marking essays or coming up with a test for the next day. The career of teaching can incredibly abrasive on those who choose to partake in it. Young teachers can quickly being to feel old as the amount of work needed outside of the school building overwhelms them.

New teachers are often the ones with the most passion for education and learning, the ones with new ideas, who are able to bring a new approach to teaching. Enthusiasm is infectious and students in a class cannot help but become more engaged. It is most regrettable in the current educational system, when student enrollment decline and teachers are laid off, it is those with the least amount of time in the school board who are let go first, and so those with the most passion and enthusiasm are the ones who lose their jobs leaving teachers who have perhaps become slightly jaded or tired in front of the students. Not all teachers fall into this category but there are few who can maintain their passion throughout their career.

Not all students are academically inclined and they are the ones who will suffer most from a lack of enthusiasm in the classroom. To involve these students and engage their interests, teachers often have to find alternative ways to teach the lesson rather than reading from textbooks or watching a movie, ways that may not have been taught in teachers college in ten or twenty years ago.

The profession of teaching is an important one. It is one of the oldest professions, and the one which is perhaps the most valuable for the future. More than the ability to learn by rote or repetition, infecting students with the thirst for knowledge and learning will help them will be what helps them as they leave the educational system. By failing to engage every single student in a class, the system, through the teachers, is letting some students down and leaving them behind. This is unlikely to change, no matter how many movies are shown.

The Canadian Government’s $46 billion new toys that don’t work

top-gun-maverickWhen you were young there was always money as a birthday present. No matter if it was in a piggy bank, a real bank or a jar, you were concious of that money and felt the urge to spend it. Of course, even at an early age you weren’t looking for last years toy. No, you wanted the latest and greatest. Now imagine that instead of a child, you are a grown up who, with a number of other grown ups, have decided that you have some money burning a hole in your pocket. Do you spend it on the tried and tested, but old, version or go wild and buy the new version of something? What if the money in your piggy bank is over $40 billion? What do you buy a government who has everything? How about the latest fighter plane? Doesn’t that sound like a good idea, or rather didn’t it?

First flown in 2006, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the new fighter plane that sports the latest technology. It apparently looked so good in the shop window that the Canadian government ordered 65 of them, at a total cost of $46 billion. That is billion with a ‘B’. So what does $46 billion get you? Apparently a long wait as the F-35 is yet to be put into service due to numerous technical issues.

Admittedly on paper the F-35 looks like something any countries air force would want. It comes in three flavours, the (A) is the plain vanilla varient while the (B) can take off on a short runway and land vertically and the (C) is designed for carrier based work. It is the latest and greatest so can you blame the Canadian government for spending the equivalent of $1300 for every person in Canada on 65 planes?

The alternative, and there is always an alternative, was to purchase more of the Boeing F-18 planes that the Canadian Air Force already flies. With 103 planes already, adding 65 more would seem to make sense, rather than 65 planes that are untested and are actually grounded at the moment. Did I say 65? What I meant to say was over 220 planes, for the equivalent $6 billion. Now obviously the F-18 was first flown in 1995 so it is much older technology, but technology that has been tried and tested and is being used all over the world right now. Compare this to the possible introduction into use for the F-35 in 2016, fingers crossed.

I am sure the government weighed the pros and cons of both planes before deciding which to purchase. After all, the F-35 is a one seater while the F-18 is built for two. That is more money spent on training the second occupant, so the F-35 is the winner here or is it? After all, the F-18 is already in use so the training will be perfected while the F-35 isn’t even in use yet so training is going to be a lot more expensive for a while as the air force learns all the nuances of the plane.

Engine wise, the F-35 has one engine as compared to the two of the F-18. In the culture of bigger is better, surely a bigger engine is better than two puny ones? Perhaps it is but the F-18 can fly on one engine, it is doubtful that if the F-35 ever gets into the sky it will be able to fly with no engines.

After that it is all small advantages to one or the other. So obviously the reason why the Canadian government decided on these planes with the go faster strips that apparently stop it from flying is that they have a specific use in mind, perhaps a conflict that Canada is embroiled in? Well, on the Canadian Forces operations page (http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/operations/index-eng.asp) these are the operations currently underway by Canadian Forces.

 

Operation Location Description Personnel
ARTEMIS At sea The Canadian Forces’ (CF) participation in maritime security and counter-terrorism operations in the Arabian Sea region with the multinational coalition task force CTF 150. 250
ATTENTION Afghanistan Canada’s participation in the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A), which delivers training and professional development support to the national security forces of Afghanistan: the Afghan National Army (ANA), the Afghan Air Force (AAF), and the Afghan National Police (ANP). 925
BOXTOP Canada -CFS Alert & 8 Wing Trenton A biannual replenishment operation for the world’s most northern permanently inhabited location, CFS Alert, Nunavut. Due to its remote location and inaccessibility, CFS Alert must be resupplied by air, which is currently done by personnel and aircraft from 8 Wing Trenton. N/A
CALUMET Egypt -Sinai Peninsula Canada’s contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai Peninsula. 28
CARIBBE Caribbean Basin and East Pacific Ocean A Canada Command counter narcotics operation, is Canada’s contribution to an ongoing U.S.-led, multi-national effort to stop drug trafficking in the waters of the Caribbean Basin and East Pacific. N/A
CROCODILE Democratic Republic of the Congo Canada’s support to the U.N. peace-support mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 9
DRIFTNET North Pacific Ocean, Canada Operation DRIFTNET is a Canadian Forces domestic operation in support of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to halt the destructive effects of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing on the high seas. N/A
FOUNDATION United States -Tampa, Florida Canada’s liaison team at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command. 7
GLADIUS Israel and Syria Canada’s contribution to UNDOF, the U.N. mission on the border between Israel and Syria. 3
HAMLET Haiti -Port-au-Prince Canada’s participation in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. 5
JADE Israel, Syria, Lebanon Canadian military observers serving with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, the U.N.’s oldest peace-support mission. 8
KOBOLD Kosovo -Pristina The Canadian team serving with KFOR, the NATO force in Kosovo. 5
LAMA Canada – Wide Op LAMA is the code name for Canadian Forces’ support to civil authorities for hurricane recovery efforts anywhere in Canada. Under Op LAMA, the CF may provide support to all three levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal. N/A
Mali Mali, Africa Following a request from the French Government, the Canadian Government committed one RCAF CC-177 transport aircraft, in a non-combat role, to transport equipment into the Malian capital of Bamako. N/A
METRIC At sea Canada’s participation in international efforts to enhance security in the eastern Mediterranean region, specifically the Middle East and North Africa. N/A
PALACI Canada – Rogers Pass, British Columbia The Canadian Forces assistance to Parks Canada to prevent large avalanches through Rogers Pass, protecting travellers and keeping Trans-Canada Highway 1 and CP rail links between British Columbia and the rest of Canada clear. N/A
POSEIDON Canada -West Coast Canadian Forces’ support to Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP for counter-illegal migrant operations on the West Coast is named Op POSEIDON. N/A
PROTEUS Jerusalem The Canadian team working with the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator to build security capacity in the Palestinian Authority. 18
SOPRANO Republic of South Sudan Canada’s participation in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. 14
SATURN Sudan -Darfur Canada’s support to the U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur. 6
SCULPTURE Sierra Leone -Freetown Canada’s participation in the British-led military advisory and training mission in Sierra Leone. 10
SNOWGOOSE Cyprus Canada’s contribution to UNFICYP, the U.N. force in Cyprus. 1

None of these operations appear to require armed fighter planes but perhaps there is a plane to use them to stop illegal fishing?

It is difficult to image a scenario where Canada is drawn into a shooting war where our neighbours to the south are not involved. The much larger United States air force probably won’t need help from it’s much smaller Canadian counterpart unless perhaps attacked by aliens on July 4th.

It is always good to have the latest toys, the ones that have gadgets that the previous toy didn’t have but if given the choice between having last years model now, or waiting an unknown number of years for the new one, even five year olds with a toonie clutched in their hand would pick up the older model and try to open it before paying for it!

Why the Zombie fest must not be put to death.

Zombies-Run

This year will be the first year to feature a Zombie fest in St. Thomas.

For those unacquainted with the Zombie phenomenon, George A. Romero movie, Night of the Living Dead, was released in 1968 and since then, the world has gone zombie mad. Since then there has been over 600 hundred Zombie movies, including the recent release, Warm Bodies, as well as the Brad Pitt adaptation of the Max Brooks best seller, World War Z. Zombies have not been kept just on the silver screen though. The current hit TV show, The Walking Dead, is all about the undead. In literature, Zombie or the undead or the reanimation of the dead has been around since the H.P. Lovecroft novel, Herbert West: Re-animator which was made into a very enjoyable movie in the 1980s. Even the classics have been bitten by the Zombie bug, with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies recently released.

The director responsible for bringing the Lord of the Rings to the big screen made the New Zealand horror comedy Brain Dead before he moved onto Hobbits. Danny Boyle, the director of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony was at the helm for 28 days later. Horror movies in general are big business, just look at the horrific Twilight series featuring Vampires and Werewolves. Numerous movies are released each year showing the demand and public enjoyment of this genre.

There is also possibly the most famous music video in the world, Thriller, by Michael Jackson which features dancing Zombies.

This large public love for the undead has inspired the popular trend of Zombie Walks which involves fans of the genre dressing up as, Zombies. An important note to make is that those who partake in Zombie walks portray the traditional Zombies, or the shuffling undead, rather than the recently discovered Zombies that can run as fast as you.

While the festival promises to bring visitors, and their wallets, to St. Thomas, there are some who believe that claim that the event will be glorifying violence and will be repulsive, that the festival will portray St. Thomas in a negative light. The two who are against the festival are both church leaders who believe that they not alone in the negative view of the proposed festival. From comments made to the St. Thomas Times Journal, it appears that both leaders see the Zombie festival as something other than fun.

It is a shame that there is negativity before the event. With the Iron Horse festival being cancelled, St. Thomas needs to have more events to draw visitors to the city, not less. As the culture changes, so must the attractions. There must be more thinking outside the box in order to attract people, and their hard earned dollars, to the city. While it is always nice to have events that have been running for twenty or thirty years, to always rely on them is to ignore other potential streams of tourism.

Why not use the Lion’s Father’s Day care show, the bi-annual Air Show, the Festival of Lights and the Fire Muster as the backbone of attractions that appeal to a wide range of people? Why not take advantage of more locations other than Pinafore Park? It is simply too easy to poo-poo an idea for a new event. While anyone can be negative, it takes a lot more effort to be positive. If someone is going to suggest an event shouldn’t run, perhaps they should come up with a replacement event that will be on the same level.

Talking of the lovely, but perhaps slightly over-used, Pinafore Park, why hasn’t anyone tried to have a Gilbert & Sullivan festival in St. Thomas? After all, since it is claimed that the park is named after the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera, H.M.S. Pinafore, St. Thomas would seem to be the natural place for it.

Now is not the time to beat down new ideas, rather now is the time to help raise them up and search for other unique ways of attracting visitors.

Responsibility in the face of tragedy

fire-microphone

The United States has had one of the rougher weeks in its history. First a cowardly attack in Boston killed and maimed those watching runners finish the Boston Marathon and then yesterday (17th April) a fire at a fertilizer factory in Texas caused a huge explosion that has killed an unknown number of people and damaged a large part of the town of West.

As with all horrific events such as these, in the first few hours, information is sparse, vague and often incorrect. Any information is repeatedly reported on news channels and websites, and if there is video of the event, it is continually looped, repeating ad nauseum. With the advent of cell phone cameras, there always seems to be at least one person using their cell phone to record the events that are happening. News channels, such as CNN and the BBC, appeal for eye witness accounts, pictures but especially videos.

If a video clip is only ten seconds long, and the news piece playing the clip is a minute long, the video will be looped, meaning that you will see the event happening six times as the reporter is talking. This happened in both Boston and West. Seemingly words are no longer enough to convey the true horror of the tragedy, in this age of one minute You Tube viral videos and culture of ‘sound bites’ viewers are shown shocking video continually, in much the same way that Alex DeLarge is subjected to horrifying scenes in the movie A Clockwork Orange.

Scenes of blood covered survivors do not enhance the news reporting, rather the effect is almost the opposite. By seeing such video clips over and over, will viewers eventually become used to it, or perhaps anesthetized to its intended effect?

With competition for advertising dollars seemingly first and foremost in the minds of the news media owners and producers, the rush to get the information out first is paramount. Everyone wants to be known for reporting the breaking news, the result of the investigation, or the capture of a suspect and during such events as those that happened this week, the urgency to get to the finish line can blur the distinction between rumour and truth. Descriptions of suspects are circulated when there are indeed no suspects yet.

The New York Post printed a photograph on their front page of video capture of two men who they claimed were the target of a manhunt and that they were suspects. The only problem is that neither man are or were suspects. They are both carrying backpacks, which seems to be the one and only reason that the New York Post claimed that they were persons of interest. Users of internet forums allegedly quickly found the Facebook account of one of the men, possibly opening up the possibility of misguided retaliation.

While it is horrific when someone is killed, interviewing the grand mother of the person cannot be claimed to be news, reporting, or anything else other than gruesome grandstanding. After the tragic loss of a family member, why does the news media expect that the relatives will speak to them? It is heartbreaking enough without seeing an adult unable to speak because of the tears falling down their face. It is not news reporting, it is simply the next step into the world where nothing is off limits in the battle to supply the news the quickest.

Preventing the death of another child

no more bullyingThe heart breaking news of the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons this week brought a sick tale of alledged gang rape and the bullying that began afterwards. What made an already sad loss of life even worse was the lack of apparent investigation and no prosecution by either the school involved or the police. The police claimed that lack of evidence was the reason why any investigation did not progress anywhere.

Despite these claims, the online vigilantes Anonymous, the group responsible for hacking various governmental and other websites, say that they found evidence of the crime, along with the the name of the alledged attacker and numerous witnesses. This investigation apparently took less than two hours and was completed without any hacking at all. Theoretically, their actions were ones that any law enforcement organization could have done.

This development raises so many questions, from the abilities of the school to detect and deter bullying, to the police’s ability to investigate a crime and looking for digital evidence, to the help of a vigilante internet group who some consider a terrorist organization and others consider heroes.

It can be difficult to believe that a school where an alledged crime was committed did not investigate to the fullest of their abilities. In most schools, due to the current environment, there is a security system with multiple cameras placed around the building(s). Even if an incident occurs out of sight of the cameras, the surveillance system could still capture students moving to or from the incident. Also a school is always a hot bed of gossip, even with the staff, and it can be incredibly difficult to think that the rumours were not enough to spur a detailed investigation. Bullying is a giant hot topic right now and even if the school did not investigate the original attack, the following bullying, both verbal and online should have been looked at both seriously and in depth. Text messages on a cell phone is evidence of bullying. That in itself is enough to spur both a school and a police investigation and intervention.

According to the website of the school board that Rehtaeh’s school belonged:

What can I expect from the school?

  • School staff will investigate your concerns.
  • An adult your child trusts will support your child and help to solve the problem.
  • The principal or other school staff will meet with you and your child.
  • If more help is needed, the school will involve others, such as a Safe Schools Consultant or the School Administration Supervisor.

Did this happen and if so, how much effort was made?

From the law enforcement viewpoint, they would be relying heavily on information provided from the school and therefore would have limited options. There should have been at least interviews and some kind of investigation into the bullying at least but without the cooperation of the school, how successful could law enforcement be?

The final, and probably most contentious issue, is the help being offered by Anonymous, a group who have taken down governmental websites but also the websites of hate groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church. A group that are, just as their name suggests, anonymous and are affiliated to no nation, who practice their own form of justice throughout the online world. No matter the view of the group and their activities, an offer to help law enforcement to re-open the investigation and at least punish those who hounded Rehtaeh Parsons is one that should not and cannot be ignored. If a convicted felon can be a witness or evidence against another criminal, there should be no pause in taking the help offered by this group.

If the light of such a tragic event, there has to be no stop unturned in finding the perpetrators and punishing them to the maximum of the law. Those who committed the alledged rape have to be treated as adults and tried for the crime as well as some form of manslaughter. There can be no safe habour for these people. Those who became involved in the subsequent bullying must also be prosecuted as they contributed to the loss of a seventeen year old girl. There are too many children who feel that they have no other choice but to end their life. This is a crisis that is seemingly ignored by the adult world unless something tragic such as a suicide occurs.

The Canadian Safe Schools network was created to help resolve the bullying situation but is clearly not making an impact on the subject. They have visions and guidelines and a pretty website but offer no hard facts as to the number of incidents of bullying reported or students prosecuted. Bill 13 in Ontario was introduced to curb bullying but it can only be as strong as the schools, school boards, and local communities choose to be. Bullying in school should result in expulsion, not a three day suspension, not a five day break from school, but a swift exit from the school as well as any other school in the school board. Expulsions take a lot of effort from the school to provide the information and evidence and even then it can be appealed by the parents which might block the expulsion. Every children have to be offered an opportunity for education but those who have been proved to have bullied, a normal school is the wrong place for them. There has to be an alternative education system setup where students who bully must attend.

One death from bullying is too many. A death from being the victim of a hideous attack and subsequent harassment is so much more than too many. It should never happen. Children have to be protected, not by banning dodgeball or playgrounds but by being proactive against bullying and harassment. Punish those involved in it, not just with actions by the school and the school board but with prosecution by the law, by shaming and punishing, by making the punishment for bullying so great that no one would consider being involved in bullying for fear that it would affect the rest of their lives.

If convicted of a sex crime, the offender must be placed on the sex offender register, and live with that. There has to be something similar for bullying, a way of making those who bully pay for the rest of their lives. Anything than prevents the loss of another young life.

http://thestthomasblog.com/blogging/nathan/lets-delete-cyberbullying/

The death of the DJ

Needle on the record

It used to be that listening to the radio was a learning experience as well as a musical one. The voice on the other side of the radio speaker would play the songs, take requests, and talk about the music. A perfect example of this is Casey Kasem whose Shaggy-type voice (he voiced Shaggy in the Scooby Doo cartoons) not only told listeners what number a particular song was at but something about the band behind it. Perhaps it would be where the band started out, or other hits they had. It was unintrusive, informative and enjoyable. Re-runs of Casey’s American Top 40 shows from the 70s and 80s can be found playing around the world. DJ’s (disc jockeys before they became abbreviated) were well loved friends of the listeners. They cultivated a bond with their knowledge and the music they played.

It seems that modern music has moved dramatically away from this and rather than having a friend to listen to, it seems to be the group of drunk idiots in the corner of the bar who are talking too loud and who seem to think that they are more important than anything else. When did hosting a radio show require more than one person? As music has moved from LPs and singles to CDs and finally digital, the physical amount of work required by a DJ has reduced dramatically. It can be difficult to turn the dial (old radios used to have dials rather than buttons and digital receivers) and find a radio show that doesn’t have two or three ‘cool’ people talking about themselves, cracking jokes, pulling pranks and seemingly doing everything but focusing on the music.

Perhaps one of the reasons why radio shows all appear to be cut from the same cloth is that most radio stations are owned by just a handful of media companies. Astral Media, Corus Entertainment, Rogers Media and Bell Media are four of the biggest and between them own well over 100 FM radio stations. These media giants aren’t interested in traditions, rather the bottom line. Someone, probably a highly paid consultant, came across a format that appeared to be popular and which would attract those almighty advertising dollars. It was obviously successful as the format can be found all over the country. It is such a well like format that not only are the radio shows similar in style but the names of the radio stations follow a trend that can only be described as lazy.

If you turn to 103.2 in London, you get Bob FM. If you turn to 103.7 in Brockville, you get a different Bob FM. There are other Bobs in Kawartha Lakes, Ottawa, and Winnipeg. Bell Media obviously like the name Bob FM, or Bob is the boss at Bell? Strangely enough, Bell are not the only ones to name a radio station after someone. Dave has his radio station owned by Corus Entertainment, and Rogers Media like Jack as he has four stations. Do companies lose IQ points the more stations they own?

Even if there isn’t someone with a cool, one syllable name hanging around the station, there are still tried and trusted titles that appear in more than one place. The Wolf, the Bear, the Fox and the Big Dog all must be pets of someone. The Farm must be owned by someone who loves nature, as must the owners of the River, the Peak, the Mountain and the Ocean. There must have been a comic book lying around when someone decided on names like Boom, Kool and Sonic, and when laziness just overtakes the naming process, resort to lazy spelling and name half your stations some form of EZ Rock.

If the branding power behind radio stations are this unimaginative, it is small wonder that the shows they play are just as unimaginative. If you are forced to listen to a station five days a week you will soon notice trends in the music that is played in-between the witty banter from the stars, or rather the so-called DJs. Some stations are actually so lazy that they have been known to play the same artist at the same time every day, singing a different song. There is clearly something wrong when you can set your watch by the sound of Meatloaf.

It is sad to say that this trend towards packaged glitz rather than music and substance is only a mirror of what has happened elsewhere. On August 1st, 1981, the first song played on a brand new television music channel named MTV was The Buggles ‘Video killed the radio star’. It is rather ironic that three decades later, that song has come true. It is truly sad that a channel called Music TV now seemingly shows more reality TV than that TLC (The Learning Channel remember?). Traditional radio may soon follow the original radio stars, leaving only paper thin characters playing a role rather than playing the hits.

The real cost of ADHD

The real cost of ADHDAttention deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder (adhd) and it’s more common relative, Attention deficit Disorder (ADD) are being diagnosed in children at an unprecedented rate. There is a fear that while many do have adhd or ADD to a greater or lesser degree, the diagnosis is being used as a catch-all for other disorders that perhaps are not so clearly defined. While most sufferers of ADD or ADHD will out-grow the symptoms, a significant number will carry them throughout their lives.

There is an effect on the sufferer of these disorders. Problems in education or work, relationships and friendships can suffer, how others perceive a sufferer, and how the sufferers perceive themselves can all be touched by ADD or ADHD. It’s impact is hard to quantify as it often seems to affect different people in different ways. One person may be great with being on time, and getting things done but suffer when the job at hand is boring or doesn’t tax the mind, while another might be great at simple jobs but find it impossible to arrive at work on time.

As well as the emotional and physical effects, there is the obvious, and also the not so obvious, financial impacts.

Those with ADHD or ADD have less impulse control, and therefore are more likely to come home from the mall with something unexpected, and often expensive and un-needed. With millions of goods just a keyboard click away on the internet, credits card bills can quickly mount up. There is also the distraction and ignorance factor. It can be difficult to impossible to keep a house clean when house work is viewed as boring but playing games on the internet is not. It isn’t avoiding the work, it is simply that it is hard to keep on track with doing the everyday boring things that don’t tax the mind or keep the brain occupied. To a non sufferer, it appears to be a case of laziness, or lack of pride in appearance. It can be incredibly hard to explain.

There is the obvious financial costs associated with any disorder or illness whose treatment involves prescribed medicines. There is a shortage of ADD and ADHD drugs as the demand increases and even with a good health care plan, these drugs are expensive. ADD and ADHD drugs are also on the controlled substances list as they can be abused, and have a fairly high street value. Luckily, responsible pharmacists keep close track of the prescriptions to make sure that ‘extra’ meds aren’t being sold rather than used by the person they were prescribed for.

The not so obvious financial costs arise from the distraction and ignorance that comes with the disorders. Camping in the back yard is great fun, putting up the tent, air mattresses and other camping gear are wonderful to have but as soon as it is time to bring down the tent and put away the camping gear, the enjoyment factor disappears. Thus the camping gear is left out to fend for itself, leading to ruined gear and tents. Next year, more gear will be bought and the cycle begins again. It isn’t an intentional thing, rather simply the inevitable for someone with ADD or ADHD.

Ideally, for every adult with a diagnosis or ADD or ADHD, there would be a support person assigned. Not to nurse maid or clean up after the sufferer, but to point out what needs to be dealt with next, to help organise tasks, to keep the person on track and to provide support when needed. This, more than pharmaceuticals, would help those with the disorders stay out of the red financially, and that is something everyone can appreciate.

Scouting around

Nathan as a cubIt is a popular trend among parents to organize their children’s free time so that they are constantly occupied. Sports teams, music or dance lessons, even play dates which are often planned days or weeks in advance. This can cause stress and limited free time to relax and wind down, and that is just the parents.

Participation in organized sports can be expensive and sometimes involve travel. It isn’t like taking the kids to the local park to kick a soccer ball around. With so much time taken up by each game, parents sometimes have to decide which games to have their kids take part in or even which the parents can attend.

It is a shame that there can’t be just one organization that allows children to experience a number of different activities while helping them become valuable members of society as they learn about teamwork, social responsibility and friendship. Somewhere that children could learn about astronomy, recycling, climate change, fishing, cooking, camping, carpentry, entertaining, swimming, first aid and so much more. It would be even better if this organization held events and went camping.

Welcome to scouting which does all of the above and so much more. Since the publication of Scouting for Boys, the origins of scouting, in 1908, the Scouts and Girl Guides have provided opportunities for children to learn skills, make friends and travel and camp. Meeting just once a week, the Scouts and Girl Guides make the most of the time.

In St. Thomas alone there are four Scout troops. The 7th, 10th, 13th and 18th as well as troops in Sparta, Sheddon and Aylmer.

Children love to learn and achieve and Scouting provides numerous badges to award such achievements. It isn’t just the challenge that are fun though, learning responsibilities and how to treat others is also a large part of Scouting. Having adventures gives children confidence and allows them to discover things about themselves they would never otherwise have realised.

Any organization that has existed for over 100 years must be doing something right.

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon was a Scout, as was the man who holds the record for the highest free fall ever, Felix Baumgartner. Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford, Bill Gates, George Takei, Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame, Paul McCartney and Jaime Oliver were all Scouts.

While playing hockey, soccer, or dance are great, they focus only on one thing, Scouts on the other hand provides plenty of variety and helps children grow up to be respectable, honourable and perhaps even famous adults.

Dear Women, here’s what you need to know about sex!

Couple in loveI recently read an article on the Huffington Post by a lady named Trina Read (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/trina-read/sex-tips-for-men_b_2876178.html) which was entitled “Dear Men, Here’s What You Need to Know About Sex”. I like to read these things as it always amazes me how wrong I am doing everything. I learn something new every single time I read one of these articles that suggest things that men should be doing to make their wife happier in bed. And I thought whispering those three magic words, “Shoe shopping tomorrow?” was enough to get all the loving I needed!

According to the article, sex for women has a beginning  a middle and an end. This must be like men are from mars etc., as women are apparently expecting the Lord of the Rings while men are thinking more like an article in Sports Illustrated! It is fine if both participants understand the plot they are supposed to follow but then, further down in the article it says don’t do the same things all the time. So don’t try to recreate War and Peace under the covers? This is one of the reasons why men seem confused by women all the time.

Shockingly enough, it is claimed that women don’t have an on/off switch for sex. Apparently they are too busy multitasking to to be able to focus on sex. Why isn’t it the same for men? Do we handle multitasking better? Is it because during coitus we are usually trying desperately to focus on other things? Or perhaps men feel that sex is more important than wondering if the toilet paper is facing the right way or if there is enough milk for breakfast? Priority should be happiness and making your wife happy, isn’t that more important than anything else? Perhaps women don’t subscribe to this train of thought, that men should not rank very highly on their list of things to do?

Four things we men should be doing is talking, kissing, touching and playfulness as apparently a stolen hour away from the children should be spent discussing our inner feelings, discovering that your wife hasn’t shaved her legs this week/month and tickling each other. There is nothing more guaranteed to make a man reach for the little blue pill than a woman laughing at his pride and joy!

I am no Warren Beatty but I am a man of the world and while Trina Read points out that there are at least 101 positions for intercourse, in my experience, trying to drunkenly convince a loved one to bend this way and that is often more difficult than it is to spell Karma Sutra! You try to suggest a new position and you get questioned about which dirty movie you saw the position in!

Lastly men are supposed to cuddle, no matter what, which is great if your wife likes to cuddle but what if she doesn’t? Should men get all upset because they are not being emotionally supported after sex?

I am no sex-o-logist and I don’t even play a doctor on television but there are a few things that are obvious, even to men.

Women might want a beginning  a middle and a end but men often just want to get it done. Spare five minutes while the kids are at a friends house? Push your man against a wall and have some fun! You don’t need to buy him chocolates first or ask how he is feeling. Simple, quick, perhaps messy but no emotional minefield to worry about.

It would be lovely to live in television world where people always have the time, the place, and the willingness to do it but in my life at least, the kids take up so much energy that it takes all my strength to get into bed without standing on Lego and closing my eyes. Yes you can make time but you need time to do that and sometimes, we just don’t have it.

Here are a couple of quickie suggestions (suggestions that are quick, not the other thing):

Men don’t expect adult movie type of action in the bed room, but at least yawn or something so we know you are still awake!
A relationship needs intimacy and fun in equal amounts. Often, more intimacy means more fun!
To men, a woman’s body is a beautiful, amazing thing. A work of art, something to stir the imagination and the loins. That is, unless it happens to be wearing a Disney character adorn pajamas. Winnie the Pooh and all other animated characters have never turned a man on. Well at least not to my knowledge.
Sometimes, men need to have nookie to help them sleep, and to deny them this would be cruel!

I cannot claim to be perfect, I know I am not, but I have been married for erm, over ten years (I think) to the same woman. I must be doing something right, perhaps letting her sleep as much as she wants? Everyone is different, and every relationship is different, so regardless what other people believe to be important for your sex life, only you know what is really right for each other. Don’t get hung up on advice columns, if what you have works for you, why would you want to change it?

Revamping Sex Education with P0rn

Do-Not-DisturbWarning. While not resorting to crude wording, there will be multiple references to both male and female sexual organs, acts of sex and other possibly icky things. Read on at your peril!

For most of us, sex education in school thankfully a distant memory. There truly was nothing stimulating about a teacher, who was probably old enough to be your mother/father, discussing the ins and outs (pun intended) of sexual reproduction. To be fair, it is probably quite difficult to craft a lesson using words such as penis, vagina, sperm, egg and babies anything but dry, slighty embarrassing for all, and nothing that couldn’t be found in a textbook. At various points during lessons, boys will laugh, snigger, ooh and aah (usually while watching child birth) and girls will blush slightly and whisper with friends. In the interest of full disclosure, all I remember about my sex ed. class was something to do with twelve and a half minutes and sitting on the top deck of a double decker bus. I think I may have missed something.

POrnography will not be such a distant memory for a lot of readers. After all, the internet has made it widely available and is able to cater to the most diverse of peccadilloes. Those familiar with internet memes and ‘rules’ know that Rule 34 is the cardinal rule, “If it exists, there is pr0n of it”. It is safe to say that pr0n does not focus too much on the reproductive cycle, spending more time on things that often happen outside the of a woman’s body. If you sit down and actually think about it, pr0n is a great advertisement on how to avoid pregnancy. There are very few, if any, pr0n movies that show an ejaculation inside of a vagina.

pornography also mis-represents the act of sex so much that it is perhaps distorting a generations opinion on exactly what sex is and how it should be performed. A viewer of a movie, without prior knowledge of sex might think that sex should be always include different acts, not all inside of a woman’s body, and some inside of a woman’s body that are guaranteed not to make babies, before ejaculating anywhere but in the vagina. The viewer would probably be quite confused as to conception actually takes place.

Sex education should include p0rnograhy movies to highlight that it is entertainment, designed to titilate, rather than represent the actual act of sex or love making. Girls should realise that breast implants are not compulsory (although the average size of a p0rn stars breasts are a 34B) and no pubic hair is a choice, not a must. How to put this delicately. Girls should also know that the acts of “looking for love in all the wrong places” is not always necessary and that for some women, it is unwelcome and unwanted. Finally, a cure of acne or greasy skin is not to apply copious amounts of male ejaculate to the face. Besides, it apparently stings quite a lot if some gets in their eyes!

Boys, who will make rude comments and joke, have to learn that the average size of the male member is 5.5 inches and not something that resembles a baseball bat. That women don’t automatically want to have something shoved into a space normally reserved as garbage chute. Perhaps most importantly, the act of sex or lovemaking does not have to be a three hour performance with enough changes of position to make the writers of the Karma Sutra consider putting out a sequel.

P0rn is not a real life documentary. Several takes are used, forced perspective such as large men and petite women can make things like bigger than they actually are. Both male and female bodies are not always tanned, smooth, wrinkle free and exhibit evidence of long hours at the gym. It is a movie, a fictional representation of something, with all the boring, slow, unattractive parts cut out. In many ways a p0rn movie is like the highlight reel from a football game. All the catches, runs and tackles but none of the fumbles or dropped balls (yes, pun intended number 2).

What it can be though is the perfect example of what real life sex is not, and while perhaps being titillating, probably inappropriate and the sheer antithesis of current sex ed. it is perhaps time to use it, in the correct setting, to keep the next generation from growing up with a distorted view of the bedroom.

Boobs

boobsIt seems that since the Oscars there has been an increased focus on boobs. Part of it may be the now infamous “We saw your boobs” song that Seth MacFarlene sang, or perhaps it was the red carpet where plenty of side boob and see through dresses were, for once, ignored in favour of Anne Hathaway‘s nipples apparently making her dress all pointy.

No matter the reason, boobs seem to be back in season, as if they were ever out of season. A walk through the checkout of a local store will allow you to see countless cleavage shots as the gossip magazines try to out do each other with sensationalism. Even the popular main stream, I nearly said respectable by mistake, women’s magazines seem to focus on breasts just a little too much on their covers. Take the latest issue of Cosmopolition, I wouldn’t suggest buying it, where Miley Cyrus, is bra-less and pushing her lady lumps together. Is this something that encourages women to buy women’s magazines?

Apparent news websites, such as the Huffington Post, seem to always have at least one feature, and photo gallery, of women wearing see through dresses, having a wardrobe malfunction, side boob or even women who have had breast augmentation. Of course the traditional values of the CBC is reflected on their website where there is no mention of boobs, unless you count the fawning article about Justin Beiber turning 19.

Do we, the general public, both girls and boys, men and women, need to be inundated with womanly parts all over the media? How many times had a movie featured an actress who drops her top at the drop of a hat? Do you remember a movie called Swordfish? Don’t worry if you can’t, I wish I could forget it! A 2001 movie starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, and for an additional one million dollars, five seconds of Halle Berry‘s uncovered boobs. In terms of the plot of the movie, is was pointless, un-needed and a simple publicity stunt. Nothing against the lovely Halle Berry but for one million extra dollars, her boobs could have at least sung a song or danced the bossa nova!

I am not against breasts, well not half as much as I would like to be but that is between my wife and me…… literally. They aren’t the be all and end all of a woman though. They should not be a selling point for a movie, a television show, a magazine, a website, or anything else. I am not going to buy a magazine because of a well endowered lady on the front cover. Why would I? Apart from the fact that the internet seems to have unlimited breasts for free, unless I am going to buy a magazine such as Playboy, only for the articles I can assure you, what difference does it make to have a lady on the cover? It seems that the more manly of magazines, especially bike, car and gun ones, seem to always feature ladies, if not in pictorials then in the advertisement. Yes, I want to buy an automatic weapon because of a bikini clad lady, covered in mud, smiling at me from the pages of a glossy magazine. Not.

Boobs can be distracting, in the same way that a nice pair of legs can. The same way that a sharp dressed man, or a six pack of abs can catch the eye of the ladies. It is natural, it is how our species works. We are attracted by attributes of the opposite sex and we then have babies and it all starts again.

No matter the shape, size, colour, or perkiness (I think that is a word and if not, it should be), or the scars of surgery, the breasts of a woman are just that, part of the woman and as should be respected as you respect the woman herself. To give men a freudian shiver, imagine if they were your mums boobs!

Of course, man boobs or moobs as they are more commonly called are something else completely and not something that should be spoken off in polite company!

Do Cell Phones Belong In Schools?

Cell PhoneIn 1973, the first cell phone call was made. It was a Motorola phone but it took another ten years for the first publicly released cell phone to hit the stores, another Motorola product, the DynaTEC. It was a bargain at a price of just $3,995!

Cell phones the size of Coke bottles were the norm until the Motorola MicroTAC, which had the revolutionary flip down mouth piece in 1989. Motorola lead the industry through the 80s and most of the 90s, releasing the first flip or clamshell phone in 1996.

Until 1998, cell phones had been either beige or black, and while sizes had decreased, the phones were bland. In 1998, Nokia released a range of cell phones available in colours such as red, blue or green. Style had finally reached the cell phone market.

Blackberry’s first product was released in 1999, and was not an actual phone, rather a 2 way pager that had a QWERTY keyboard. It wouldn’t be for another 3 years that a true Blackberry cell phone would be released. Coincidentally, 2002 was also the year that Sanyo debuted their SCP-5300 which boasted a first for the cell phone industry, a built in camera.

five years later, the first iPhone was released.

It is important to understand that while cell phones have been on sale for 30 years, their popularity has really taken off in the last ten years. With the diversity of choice as well as the lower prices and more options such as texting, social media and of course better cameras, cell phones have become an essential part of many people’s lives.

Cell phones are such an essential item that most high school students seem to have them, and this has begun to cause serious issues for the schools. The features that convince students to buy cell phones, or have them bought for them, are the ones that are causing the most trouble.

With the ability to quickly contact multiple friends with one click, cell phones can become a tool for bullying, spreading rumours, organizing altercations, school pranks or illegal activities such as drug deals. Phones ringing in class cause a distraction to all within the class room.

In extreme cases, if the school is in a lockdown, students could contact parents, who rush to the school, and impede the actions of the authorities attempting to control the situation. Even worse, if there was an explosive device, cell phone use might even set off an explosion.

Perhaps the most troubling potential, is the possibility of covert pictures being taken. If a picture is taken in a school changing room, and the subject is under 18, the image could be described as lewd or lascivious. Messaging that picture to friends could be enough to be grounds for charging the student with distribution of a lewd imagery. In extreme cases, could a student be placed on the sex offender register?

All this does raise some questions such as:

If a staff member suspects that a cell phone contains evidence of a crime, cheating or bullying, it is legal to search it? If so, what would the search be restricted to? Email? Text messages? Photographs?

Is there ever a reason that a student should have a cell phone on their person in school?

If a school administrator confiscates a cell phone and it becomes broken or stolen, who is responsible?

If there is a school trip to a different city, should students carry cell phones incase of emergency or even if a student were to get lost?

There are many more questions than answers. School boards have guidelines, rules and regulations, however most simply rely on the individual schools to enforce them. School boards have policies that are common sense but perhaps for today’s schools, it is no longer enough.

Want to be discovered? Comment on Twitter about someone’s size

Discover me on Twitter!During a business show on Fox TV, Monday the 11th, the focus of this normally, work related, programme shifted away from the ups and downs of the stock market to something quite different. The talk was about the singer Adele, and her size.

It was apparently ‘inspired‘ by a tweet from a student studying to be a computer engineer and who also dances.

Carlton, A.K.A. @cSwiggz posted:

“Can Adele lose some weight please? It’s not healthy. And little kids might follow”

It should be pointed out that Carlton is studying computer engineering and not nutrition or medicine. It should also be noted that visitors to Carlton’s twitter page will find photographs of an empty pizza box, an apparently empty bottle of cherry Fanta and multiple copies of videos of Carlton dancing, including one where he is dancing outside of a Western Union.

A quick flick through his twitter feed reveals that he wants to be famous and that “I’m going to be the next Justin Timberlake” as well as “My dream is to sing with a band like Coldplay or Muse one day. Yes”.

Therefore it is an incredible coincidence that a random tweet from a random person, with no apparent connections to Fox TV, Adele or anyone else, made it not only onto a television show, but one that doesn’t even focus on celebrity. It has to be a complete coincidence that Carlton, who admits that he wants to be famous, and who has posted several dance videos, suddenly gets national exposure.

This must be how a modern day fairly tale occurs. How else did this magical circumstance just happen to occur?

Previous Posts on similar subjects:

Stop using the word curvy

Adele in a corset? Outrageous

Teaching Sign language in our schools

Sign Language

The St Thomas Blog in sign language (ASL)

“Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.” – Helen Keller

Each year over one thousand babies will be born without hearing, joining a growing population of 3,500,000 people with some form of hearing impairment, 350,000 of which will be totally deaf. That number will rise as younger generations are exposed to louder music with much more regularity. The birth of personal music players, Walkman, CD players, mp3 players, have all increased both the opportunities to listen to music through headphones, but have also increased the decibel level of that music. Modern music players, such as those built into cell phones, have technology aimed at preventing hearing loss from loud music but it may be too late to save a generations hearing. The hosts of the popular children’s television show Blues Clues, incorporated sign language into the episodes, signing the words sorry, thanks, hello, goodbye and others as they talked. Babies and young children watching Blues Clues associate the signs with the words, thus teaching them the basics of sign language.

In Ontario, to graduate high school you must have one credit in French as a Second Language, making it a compulsory subject, although you can choose to use a substitute credit instead. French isn’t the only language taught in schools. Spanish, Italian, Polish, there are many language options, with their availability often based upon demand, and the staff to teach it. If a student is deaf, he or she will often be assigned an EA (Educational Assistant) to help translate classes.

Out of a population of about 33 million Canadians, 25 million speak primarily one language, either French or English, with 2 million accounting for other languages. This means that 6 million have the ability to speak at least two languages fluently.

With a growing population of hearing impaired Canadians, sign language will become a necessary form of communication for hundreds of thousands, so shouldn’t it be an option to be taken in all schools? While French should remain compulsory as long as the requirements for graduation need it, many students could choose sign language rather than Spanish or another language often offered. While the ability to speak French is useful when you live in a country that has French speakers but American Sign Language is used throughout North America.

In North America there are more profoundly deaf people than there are who speak French, shouldn’t children be taught a way to communicate with those people?