This, That and the Other – Canadian Arts, Crafts

In order of descending stardom – here are some excellent Canadian Artists and Craftsmen:

For Better or For Worse
There are a few comic strips I have followed regularly for years and years. Some people turn to Self-Help Books for advice – I’ve always looked to the Funnies. One of these is For Better or Worse by Canadian Lynn Johnston. The strip started in 1979, and Lynn used the unusual format of letting her characters age. I haven’t checked in with this comic for a few years, so was surprised to discover that Lynn has gone into semi-retirement. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised – she is a bit older than I am… She does have a website and it keeps the characters and story lines alive for a new generation to enjoy. I was saddened by the news that Lynn, and her real life husband Rod, have divorced. When a marriage survives all those years of raising children, it should have a happy ever after, yes?

Yarn Harlot
One blog that I follow is called the Yarn Harlot. The writer, Stephanie Pearl McPhee, is a rather famous Canadian knitter, and writer of books about knitting. She wrote a post about adding heels to knitted tube socks. While I am not likely to ever knit a pair of socks, I liked the thought that I could knit a tube, and then add bumps to it afterwards. I’ve knitted mitts, and adding a thumb in the right spot was hard. It would have been much easier to knit a tube, then add the thumb where my thumb actually wanted one…

Travel Photographer
A Canadian Photographer by the name of Ken Kaminesky has some amazing photographs on his blog. While some artists paint so realistically that their work looks like photos, Ken’s photos look like an artist painted them. They are all wonderful.

One Deer, Two Deer, Three Deer…

The Deer put on quite a show while the Granddaughter (Wild Child) was here visiting. Thirty-six of them marched back and forth behind our yard, staying just far enough away to render the paint ball gun ineffective. Not that the Car Guy would have shown the Wild Child how to use the Paint Gun. She has a wicked throwing arm – she doesn’t need another tool in her arsenal when it comes to keeping her brother and cousins in line.

Wild Child, a song by Enya, paints a very pleasant picture of how you can interpret the term.

Well of Lost Thoughts 2011 – Authors

When I find ideas that speak to me, but I’m not ready to blog about them,  I save them on my Fueled by Chocolate ‘Well of Lost Thoughts’ Page. Here are just a few of the ones I have ‘rescued’ from there to share with you.

For more posts is this series, click on Lost Thoughts.

Stuart McLean
I just finished reading “Extreme Vinyl Cafe” by Stuart McLean. I love these stories about Dave and Morley – you’ll want to read the one about how Dave got to know the inside of the trunk of his car while looking for an escaped pet rat…

Robert Fulghum
Robert Fulghum is one of my very favourite authors. (Not a Canadian, unfortunately, but no one is perfect…) One of his essays last  month discusses Fulghum’s Tool Rule:  “Unpredictable complexity that replaces reliable simplicity is not progress.” He gives the following examples of simplicity that would be hard to improve on:
A Wheelbarrow
A pencil made of wood and graphite, with an eraser on the end.
A paper clip.
A clothes pin.
A claw hammer.
A pocket knife with two blades.
A classic mouse trap.
A shovel.
An axe.
A broom.
Can you think of other examples?

Rare Birds
Last night we watched a Movie called Rare Birds. Filmed in Newfoundland and Labrador, it stars William Hurt, Molly Parker, and Andy Jones. Mary Walsh has a cameo appearance. If, after watching the movie, you want to see this part of the world  for yourself, head over to the Newfoundland and Labrador website (which tells you what kind of Rare Birds you might actually see!) to plan your trip. Don’t forget that Icebergs and Whales can sometimes be seen off the coast of this dramatic land.

TED Talks
TED is a  nonprofit program dedicated to spreading Ideas. Themes include Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Science, Culture, Arts and Global Issues. To date, almost 900 talks have been filmed, and are available for viewing at the TED website. Try Sir Ken Robinson speaking on how Schools Kill Creativity then move onto his Bring on the Learning Revolution.

My just about favourite TV show was Top Gear. We got it here on BBC Canada. Yes, it was about cars, but it is a British Show, so it was nothing like anything made in the USA. We used to watch it when we lived in the UK, and were happy to find that we get it here in Canada too. One of the three presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, apparently lives in the Cotswolds, in or near Chipping Norton. We have toured through that area on several occasions and it remains right near the top of  my list of best places in the world to visit. I love all the old place names – Chipping Norton, Chipping Campden, Morton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water.

Top Gear Guest
Last night it was a Comedian by the name of Michael McIntyre. He did a short monologue about overtaking a Porsche on the motorway while driving his old British Leyland Princess. Of course, it might not seem quite so funny  if your ear isn’t tuned to the British accent, and you don’t know what the Loser Lane is…

Harley Owners Group
With the addition of a Harley to the Car Guys fleet, came the absolute need to join the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.). The HOG Magazine arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, and one article was of particular interest – Sky to Sea. It tells the story of a couple, Bob and Candace, who had planned to ride across Canada. These plans ended when Candace died from cancer. Bob eventually decided to undertake the journey alone, and his blog, Sky to Sea, chronicles the trip. Very interesting blog, even if you don’t ride a motorcycle.

Well of Lost Thoughts 2010 – Letter C

When I find ideas that speak to me, but I’m not ready to blog about them,  I save them on my Fueled by Chocolate ‘Well of Lost Thoughts’ Page.  Here are a few more thoughts that I’ve lumped together simply because they all start with the letter ‘C’!

For more posts is this series, click on Lost Thoughts.

The letter ‘C’ can be dangerous. It is the first letter of many words that represent things that can harm or kill people.

Cigarettes: According to the  CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), fewer American Students and Adults are smoking each year. In 1965, 42 percent of the population were smokers, compared to 20 percent in 2009. Worldwide, though, one in three adults are smokers (The World Bank Group). Smokers have a greater incidence of developing many maladies, such as: cancers of the mouth, throat and lung; pulmonary diseases;  heart disease and stroke; and cataracts. It is estimated that smokers die 10 to 15 years younger than non-smokers, and of course, a smokers last few years on earth might not be very pleasant.

Cell Phones:  The number of cell phone users continues to rise. In 1995, 11 percent of the American population were wireless subscribers (CTIA). By 2010, this had increased to 93 percent. Cell phone use has not yet been linked to any medical malady, though many people are concerned that electromagnetic radiation might pose some danger to the contents of the users head. Cell phones do, however pose other risks, not the least of which is the risk of accidents when cell phones are combined with driving. People aren’t particularly good at talking and driving.

Note that Cigarettes and Cell Phones have a few things in common. They both come in rectangular packages that fit in the palm of your hand. They both annoy the people who are standing near the user. They both can be addictive, and careless use can be hazardous to health.

Coke, of the Cola variety: In 1988 the average American consumer drank 275 8-ounce drinks of Coke per year. In 2008, consumption had risen to 412 drinks per year. (The PBH Network). The increase in consumption of soft drinks has been accompanied by the decrease in consumption of milk. Milk consumption per capita peaked in 1945 at 45 gallons per person. By 2001 it was just under 23 gallons. (United States Department of Agriculture). Nutrition experts are concerned that children are using soft drinks instead of milk as the beverage of choice. As one expert observed,

Make no bones about it, soft drinks are taking over. If the soda industry has its way, kids will be pouring Coke over their Count Chocula.

Nutritionally, coke contains nothing of value. What it does contain – sugar, caffeine, and phosphoric acid – can have adverse health implications for both children and adults. Milk, on the other hand,  has most of the nutrients that your body needs to carry out its daily functions.

Coke, the drug variety: In 2008, almost 15 percent of the American population had tried cocaine at least once. (National Institute on Drug Abuse). The number of regular cocaine users, however, has steadily declined since 1985. The dangers of this drug, and all the other ones like it, don’t bear repeating here.

Cars: Apparently 95% of American households own cars. Cars in themselves aren’t all that dangerous, but once someone gets behind the wheel, all manner of things can happen- accidents and pollution are the first ones that come to mind.

Cancer, Cardiac arrest, Celiac disease – there are hundreds, if not thousands of medical conditions that start with the letter ‘C’ – but I’ve run out of enthusiasm for tracking down the statistics!

As if these strikes against the letter aren’t enough, think about how difficult the letter ‘C’ can be to pronounce!

Think about these words: cease, coin, chic, indict, and discrepancy. In this string of terms, C sounds like S, K, Sh, and in one case it’s silent. Even within one word this letter doesn’t always maintain the same sound.
The fickle nature of this letter did not please everyone. As American English grew in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin campaigned to remove C from the alphabet altogether, though his efforts did not gain much traction.
– From The Curious Chronicle of the Letter C

Movember – The Month of Moustaches

My Spousal Unit, The Car Guy,  joined a team last week. The membership fee was quite steep – he had to remove his moustache. He started growing his moustache about the time our youngest daughter was born, 34 years ago. So it was emotionally a big deal. Actually it wasn’t such a big deal when you think about it. It is not like the moustache was composed of the original hair he sprouted 34 years ago. And in a few weeks it should be almost back to normal.

The moustache shaving and/or growing of, is all part of the fund raising event called Movember.   Movember’s primary campaign objective is:

To raise awareness of men’s health issues, specifically cancers affecting men. We want everyone to know that most cancers are highly curable if caught in the early stages- including prostate and testicular cancer.  Movember aims to increase early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment, as this will ultimately reduce the number of deaths from cancer.

Not all the participants in Movember have a moustache to take off. Some will be growing a moustache where one did not exist before. My Spousal Unit, for reasons known only to him, decided to also remove all the hair off his head. This was an action he immediately regretted, for his head was suddenly very cold. November isn’t a very warm month in our part of the world.

I say “remove” because he didn’t choose the route of shaving. Our youngest daughter (The Bead Maker) has a pair of electric clippers, and he asked her to use the clippers to shear him down to baldness. It isn’t the first time she has done this for him – or rather to him. She performed the same task on him, and much of her wedding party, after dinner on her Wedding Day. Her wedding party included a number of people like herself who are cancer survivors, so in solidarity many of them shaved their heads to raise money for Cancer Research.  The “After”  Wedding photo is not one you normally see…

I’m glad to see men proactively talking about prostate and testicular cancer – or any cancer for that matter. We have found that our family is not unique in having a cancer story to tell. But we didn’t know about other people’s cancer stories until we started telling ours. These shared stories made us all stronger. Growing these moustaches not only raises awareness, it brings out stories about the men who have been touched by Prostate Cancer. And that is a good thing, as Martha would say…

See Spot. See Spot Run – Old Words, New Meanings

In the early goings of Grade 1, my teacher hung up a large piece of heavy construction paper with the words “Books I Have Read” printed across the top. The paper was ruled off in boxes, with the top row listing each student’s name, and the left column listing the names of all the books. Once a student had successfully read a book, a piece of colored paper, with the book’s name printed on it, was glued in the appropriate box under the student’s name – glued with that clear LePage’s mucilage in the bell shaped bottles with the pink rubbery tops.

Dick, Jane and Spot © Addison Wesley

The books came from the Dick and Jane series. Though the words weren’t overly difficult and the stories not particularly exciting, the illustrations were warm and friendly.

We learned to read using both whole word recognition, and phonics. Both techniques have been employed over the years, sometimes one more than the other. Today, however, the material that is available in the early years of reading is far more varied and interesting than what we had. Teachers likely have more sophisticated methods of keeping track of the progress of a child’s reading too! Instead of a construction paper chart on the wall, there is likely some computer generated report that looks much more professional!

With the advent of computers, a whole bunch of new words have entered our vocabulary (RAM, megahetrz, gigabytes). And old words have gained new meanings. The sentence from the Dick and Jane reader that said “See Spot. See Spot Run. Run Spot run.”  showed up many years later in this slightly altered sentence –


If a person is not somewhat fluent in “computer” it is entirely possible for them to read a sentence, understand all the words, and have no idea what it actually means. As in:

Who is General Protection Fault and why is he reading my disk?

Back up my hard drive?  How do I put it in reverse?