Archive for February, 2020

Here’s the first page of Edy the Elephant from my book of short stories “Alphabet Animals…Life lessons for all ages”. You can order it on the net thru amazon, BN or lulu dot com. I suggest lulu as they ship the quickest and are the publishers. (and I get the most royalties!)

Edy was the smallest elephant in the herd. And also the quietest. Mom would always be trying to encourage her to speak up. But Edy was OK with just being in the background. She watched and learned. It had been like that since Edy was the smallest and youngest of Mom’s babies. She had an extraordinarily large gathering, three baby elephants and all had survived the rigours of life in Africa. They were the largest land mammals, but another land mammal, at least some very ignorant ones, had decided that elephant tusks would make for pretty jewellery and other dust collecting ornaments. Things had improved recently with intervention of wonderful groups like the World Wildlife Fund and International Ecotourism Society, but it was still a dangerous world for elephants.

Edy, at 7 years old (or young) had learned well enough, at least enough to stay alive. And sadly that was saying a lot. Survival was always something the herd understood. And that instinct passed almost genetically, by some kind of weird osmosis to each new generation. Edy understood she just had to survive. There was not a whole lot of laying in the hammock kind of time, if you know what I mean. One of the survival things the elephants always did, was their annual migration to find more food. That’s the trouble with being an elephant. You just eat so much food!

During one migration across a river, Edy was late getting to the riverbank. Now being late in a migration has an entirely different context than being late for dinner, or being late for your bus. People will wait and there will be another bus. But a migration is another thing altogether. There is only one. It is timed to coincide with position of the moon, with generations of instinct, with impending change in food supply. Lots of things determine when the migration happens. Including the whim of the head bull. And if you’re not there to join, you will be on your own. Protection of the herd is gone. You are just another single animal trying to survive. This time, Edy was late.

What had held her up was nothing significant. She had found herself down by the local stream just bathing and splashing around. She was having so much fun that she just plumb forgot that today was migration day! Silly really, when you consider that survival was the foremost thing in all elephants minds. Smelling the roses so to speak or just having fun were not things they commonly indulged in. But kids will be kids, no matter in what part of the world or what species you may be talking about. Edy, after all, was just a kid.

So you can picture her surprise when she came back to where the herd had been, after her afternoon of splashing and having fun, and found nobody! I mean absolutely nobody. Mom gone. Brothers gone. All her buddies gone. The entire herd had cleared out. She gave her head a shake.
“How could this happen? How could I not have heard?” she mused.

As noted in the opening paragraph, “Alphabet Animals” by Hilary A. Amolins can be ordered thru the net. Just google it with my name or go to lulu.com to place your order. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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This current spate of rail blockades and eco activist protest is cause for grave concern about the future of Canada. At a time when strong and immediate response was required, our government vacillates and continues to pursue policy that is harmful to our future. Hell, to our present! We have a dilettante for a Prime Minister. He simply fails to grasp the most fundamental precepts of what makes a country successful. He pursues a climate change agenda that has so disrupted this country, it is now working counter to its supposed objectives! He has publicly avowed to reconcile with the first nations, yet his actions have instead made for a worsening of indigenous present and future. Indigenous groups who stood to benefit hugely from energy projects in the west, are now left holding an empty feed bag with which they cannot even provide sustenance to their horses. The world wonders incredulously at how we have squandered opportuinity. $150 billion in energy projects lost. Future of several indigenous groups at risk. Thousands of jobs disappeared. Liberal eco activist urbanites protest what exactly? Do they have any idea how their support of some radical elements in the indigenous community have gone against the majority indigenous support of energy projects? They follow a naiev teenage activist as their guru, a little girl with not a clue about economics. What happened in Quebec in the 1990’s with separation a threat, seems like such a quaint memory. The looming crisis in this nation will make us pine for those halcyon days where Quebec separation was the only threat to national unity. There are so many threats today, one does not see any solution on the horizon, only a worsening of times. What once seemed like such a marvelous country of opportunity has been reduced to a shell of apologies for ancient wrongs, to a society where simpletons chart its course. The humorous anecdotes about Canadians apologizing for trivial slights in the normal course of a day has become a national tragedy and frankly a disgrace. We pander to the tiniest minority interest groups as if they express some kind of important national sentiment. New immigrants must wonder what exactly attracted them to Canada in the first place. We are a rudderless ship without a captain adrift in a sea with no land in sight. We truly live in very disturbing times.

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I have lost faith in the ability of my government. Not only are they incapable of enforcing the laws of this land, they continue to waste taxpayer monies in the most outrageous ways. The most recent example is a $100,000 grant given to a local winery so that the winery can build 5 vacation rental cabins for tourism! At a time when we have an acute affordability problem here in Prince Edward County, the Liberal government decides that taxpayer dollars should be given to a private enterprise so that they can make more money! The grant is under some kind of tourism program which has at its core mission the enhancement of the tourism experience. We have people still accessing food banks while their neighbors down the road live in $1 million homes! I have a fairly successful vacation rental business, and the idea of applying for government funding to build rental cabins is so distasteful and unreal, it boggles my mind that any business would deign this to be an honorable way to get capital. I mean think about it. The wineries here cater to very successful tourists who can afford to come here and pay around $200 per night to stay in vacation rental units. And that is on the low end. There are rental properties that easily command upwards of $400 per night! And our MP Neil Ellis and his colleagues in the Liberal government thought it a good idea to make money available to private business so that they can build more rental units to accommodate rich tourists! Harwood Estate Winery is the name of the business that got this grant and I say “Shame on you”! I spoke with members of the local veterans Legion who have been trying to get some federal funding so that they can fix their roof and do other necessary building repairs. They have been turned down and are left scratching and clawing thru fund raising efforts to try and get money for these necessary repairs. Everybody who works at the Legion is a volunteer. The people who carved out this nation and allowed business like Harwood to establish and grow in security and comfort cannot get money to fix the Legion roof while you accept $100,000 from the government so that tourists can stay in comfort at your winery while they spend their leisure time here in the County. This is such a misapplication of taxpayer money that it disgusts me. And out local tourism office is making congratulatory comments about this successful receipt of my tax dollars! Is it any wonder that local people view the tourism industry with such disgust? Instead of allocating this money to relieve the burden that local hard working blue collar folk have to endure, you have given it to private business so they can add to their profit margins. Hey Harwood Estate winery, how about approaching the Consecon Legion and offering to pay for their necessary building repairs! Surely some of that $100,000 grant could be used in that way to help enhance the tourism experience. As for Neil Ellis MP and your colleagues in the Liberal government be thankful that your opponents in parliament are in such disarray. Otherwise you would be facing a non confidence motion. What happened to this great country of ours??

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With indigenous radicals and others now blocking rail lines from coast to coast, it is time to address this question. What is Canada? And I don’t like what it presently is tolerating. It has always been a difficult thing, to tie our country into some kind of a workable whole. With so many indigenous tribes trying to stay alive and prosper and with so many immigrant influences it seems nigh impossible to find one answer to this question. What is Canada? We are a country in constant state of flux. And depending on where you live in this vast territory, that also defines who you are. Yet throughout it’s history, our people have somehow found a way to make it work. Be it coming together to fight fascism in the Second World War or building a coast to coast railroad, somehow the nation has stayed unified. So it is especially troubling that a handful of law breakers in some indigenous communities have now handcuffed the Canadian economy with their rail line blockades. Is this Canada? Do we really tolerate such wanton disregard for the well being of others? Yes, we have a colonial past that disregarded many indigenous peoples, but we certainly did not slaughter them like other nations have done. This nation has always tried to find a collective and democratic way to include all people in its growth. We have failed on many occasions, but still we strive to maintain a collaborative approach to nation building. Have we erred in choosing this path? I think not. Wanton disregard for other cultural identities and a conscious effort to quash them is not the kind of society I wish to live in. But this action by dissidents and professional protesters is causing Canadians to seriously ponder why we are allowing a tiny minority to so adversely affect our well being. We have law enforcement agencies that can justify the use of violence to enforce the law. But in our uber conscious efforts to not insult nor alienate others, we fail to act. This entire Trans Mountain LNG pipeline building has now been co-opted by fringe groups who tack all kinds of issues onto a very simple problem. Even though the building of the pipeline has been agreed to by all indigenous groups along its path, we find ourselves still having to answer questions that have nothing to do with the building of this pipeline. That a handful of hereditary chiefs can incite cross country protest and disruption is absurd and dangerous. Issues that have been tacked onto this pipeline building will not be solved by taking over rail lines. The concerns about the pipeline were addressed in years of consultation and discussion with those indigenous groups. They agreed to its building! It is time the nation forces this problem onto the indigenous communities wherein the dissidents live. Get your people under control or else law enforcement from outside your communities will take action. The builders of TMX negotiated in good faith with all the indigenous groups, found solutions whereby they benefit and agree with the building of said pipeline. That some hereditary chiefs still oppose it is a problem for your individual communities to resolve. Things like universal access to clean water and decent housing for all indigenous peoples cannot be solved by such protest that hurts all of Canada. It is the responsibility of Tyendinaga Mohawk band council to get their radicals under control or else the OPP should have carte blanche to go in and use force to remove them from the rail line. We do not accept that Canada is a nation where dissidents can openly violate the law. We welcome different points of view, but not when those views violate the rights of 99% of the population. Unless the government and OPP get this solved now, and I mean today, there will be a surge in anarchist sentiment amongst otherwise law abiding citizens. If they can get away with it, then why not I? Surely our government can see there are times when force needs to be applied. Why else do we have police forces and armies? Is it not to protect the citizenry, the economy and to stamp out illegal activity? Is it not to enforce law and order? This is not a call to violent counter action, it is an observation. Frustration is mounting amongst law abiding citizens who rightly cannot comprehend how such flagrant disregard for law and order is tolerated by those who govern us. So in the case of the Tyendinaga radicals it is the responsibility of band leaders to rein in these protesters and take responsibility for the illegal actions of their citizens. Either those leaders force action now, or they lose their right to govern as do our leaders in Ottawa if they continue to avoid application of the tools at their disposal. Otherwise it may be time for a change in government in both Ottawa and the indigenous territories.

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Engage with people who make you happy. Interact with those who listen and give reasoned responses to your opinions. Run with the crowd that pushes you to explore your limits. Seek out those who reinforce your moral and ethical point of view, assuming that you have already arrived at a well balanced and internally satisfying place.

Review articles and watch programming that gives a balanced view. Don’t avoid contrarian writing but ensure it is not the only viewpoint you see. You grow by testing your assumptions. Does it make you reflect and ponder your choice?

Spend time in places that encourage positive interaction. Frequent establishments with staff who understand the importance of great customer service. Would you return again? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found a good place.

If the hours fit into your schedule, then you’ve found a good time. Be open to modifying your rhythms but if radical change makes you unhappy then it’s not worth it. Places and people who have reliable and consistent operating times are people and places worth cultivating.

Does your action enhance your life or the lives of those around you? Does a point of view make you think further on a topic? Have you made time for more leisure activity as a result of your decision? Are you more fulfilled because of what you did or said? Does your activity avoid hurting others? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found your why.

Can I do this without compromising time and life and wallets of others? Do I have to travel excessive distance? Does it hurt me physically? Emotionally? Can I reuse whatever I need to purchase?

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I walked into the bar around 9:00pm. Looking to enjoy a social evening, escaping from the bitter cold of a mid February Canadian winter’s night. The cold that causes your joints to seize, movements slow down as the body defensively works to maintain its energy. Walking down the hall toward the entrance, my joints felt pretty good. Warming up. Door opens. Good tunes were playing. Enough people and a space at the bar. I order a beer, a tasty Pale Ale from Wellington. Good conversation starts with the lady next to me. Well traveled, a recent immigrant to this island we call ‘The County’. But as the evening rolls along, her intake of doubles begins to impact her ability to maintain a friendly chat. She starts to annoy me. And that is saying something, for me to be annoyed by an attractive woman in a bar! So how do I tactfully steer her away from any thought of meeting me outside of this venue? I really have no interest in engaging with her in anything but a friendly bar chat. She asks me what I am doing tomorrow. So I respond:

“Oh, likely working around the house. Doing some reading. A chores kind of day since it will be quite cold.”

“What about the morning?” she pursues, not recognizing my disinterest.

“I imagine I shall be writing”

There is a several second awkward silence as she digests this. And then a personal attack begins. She accuses me of having “problems”.

“I’m simply trying to live in the moment” say I. “It is a challenging thing to do, but tomorrow is quite in the future and making plans would detract from what has thus far been an enjoyable evening here.”

By now, the alcohol has impaired her ability to react in a civil manner, and the negative karma that follows, makes me a little sad. I’m so close to saying:

“Not everybody at a bar is looking for some kind of follow up. Or thinking about tomorrow.”

But I manage to keep a friendly demeanor. She drops off her bar stool and goes elsewhere in the bar. Staggers to another location. Even the barkeep is visibly annoyed by this drunk’s behavior. Difficult when your rhythms are not in synch with those around you. Nobody likes a negative drunk. This lush had steered my evening from a casual enjoyable, to irritatingly silly.

I pay my tab, leave a generous tip and wish the barkeep well. Exit the bar, back into that cold night. Every step on the hard icy snow is amplified. Look both ways and cross the street. Ah well, throw away the dark emotions and make room for light. Time to start a new moment.

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This advertisement for a consulting group called fractal analytics just blew me away! Worth every penny of whatever Mumbai paid them!

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Joe Warmington of The Toronto Sun says it best.

TYENDINAGA TOWNSHIP — This is all about the ghost of Dudley George.
It may be 25-years since the Indigenous protester was shot and killed by the OPP at Ipperwash, but the fallout lingers.
With so many politicians and senior police officers admonished for that tragedy, no one in authority was ever able to easily handle a First Nations protest situation again.
We saw that at Caledonia where the police were outmatched in efforts to protect local citizens who had their homes overrun by violent offenders. We are seeing it now with the rail blockade here.
OPP officers feel powerless and people feel sorry for them. Everybody knows they are damned if they do — or don’t.
The disrupters operating under Six Nations and Mohawk Warrior flags know it, too.
Police have warned them to leave their bonfire, tents, snowplow, camping trailer and signs behind and allow Canadian commerce to get rolling again. When they don’t oblige, people wonder why police fail to take action.
George’s death is why it has been taking so long.
George was shot and killed in 1995 by the OPP during the Ipperwash Crisis — a land-claim dispute in Ipperwash Provincial Park, located on the southern shore of Lake Huron.
No one wants to see anybody else hurt or killed. Or, to get blamed.
As a result, authorities have their hands tied during disruptions caused by Indigenous protesters.
Make no mistake about this blockade which is billed as some sort of noble effort in solidarity with protesters opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory in northern B.C.
It’s just a nasty power play designed to drain the coffers of corporations while badly disrupting regular people’s lives. It’s working.
So far, 225 VIA trains have been cancelled, affecting 35,000 passengers. CN has 150 trains blocked and is now talking about layoffs and permanent route cancellations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Africa said “we recognize the important democratic right — and we will always defend it — of peaceful protests” which is why he’s “encouraging all parties to dialogue to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
While we understand his fear of old ghosts, it’s long past the time for dialogue. And grounding a country to a halt is not peaceful either.
The truth is the Tyendinaga part of this protest should not have been permitted for more than a few hours.
Elected Mohawk Chief Donald Maracle has no involvement in the grievance. And the Toronto Sun has learned that the land the dozen protesters have taken over on Wyman Rd., just off Hwy. 2, is not on Mohawk Territory at all.
“It’s all on Tyendinaga Township and CN land,” the OPP said Wednesday. “The Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory land does not began until 500 metres south of here.”
That means this is not a First Nations protest — and it never was.
It means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford, the OPP, the RCMP and CN Police don’t have to think about George and can legally remove protesters from the railway. It also means the self-appointed security that keeps aggressively enforcing boundaries of where media can go, has no business doing so.
To some, George is considered a victim of police brutality. A quarter of a century later, it’s now families traveling with their kids, or companies trying to ship goods to market, that are being victimized.
It’s time to get these trains moving again.

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“You can’t come here on our land and evict us off our land. You don’t have the authority to do that,” Kanenhariyo, a member of the Mohawks, whose English name is Seth LeFort, told officials. 

This quote got me thinking about the regular shutdowns the Mohawks force on the rest of Canadian society when they block rail transit going East to West. This current standoff east of Belleville Ontario is just the latest in a long string of native protests whereby they ‘occupy’ the rail line and completely shut down movement of people and goods. Why do we as a nation tolerate such abuse? Why does it take days and days to get a court order prohibiting such blockades? Why are the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) so apprehensive about forcibly applying the law?

“Via Rail said it has canceled 157 trips on the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor by 8 a.m. Tuesday, forcing at least 24,500 passengers to change their travel plans
CN said the shut-down is also affecting shipments ranging from propane to feedstock, and has disrupted the only rail link between Eastern and Western Canada and the U.S. Midwest.” (Jorge Barrera, CBC)

Since this is the only east west rail corridor why don’t we just build a new line to entirely avoid the Tyendinaga territory? Sure it would be a costly endeavor but how many tens of millions of dollars has this latest blockade cost our economy? And the US economy considering it also feeds the US Midwest. I recall seeing a stat that estimated each day of the blockade cost $18 million!! That being the case we are well over $100 million in cost to OUR economy! Build a new line, expropriate land if necessary, put an end to this endless parade of rail blockades! Enough already. I tire of our pandering and kid glove treatment of first nations. Is our collective history going to be an ongoing cavalcade of apologies and meekness in the face of boldness by natives? Time to make a bold move ourselves. Build a new line and let the natives live peacefully on their reserve. Put an end to this ridiculous hijacking of our economy!

One final note which makes me think this first nation just enjoys protest for the sake of protest. The sign held by one of the Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters demonstrates they have a profound ignorance about what they are protesting. Supposedly they are in solidarity with their native cousins in BC, who are holding up construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline which will send liquid natural gas (LNG) to the coast for shipment around the world. The Tyendinaga sign? “A green future does not come from black oil” The pipeline which Wet’suwet’en object to is a liquid natural gas pipeline folks! If you are going to disrupt Canada’s movement of people and goods, then at least get your facts right. 

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Dead calm

I walk the road and dead calm surrounds me

Stop every few minutes to confirm

No cars, no wind, no voices, nothing

but dead calm.

The cold morning strikes my face

I cup my hands trying to breathe warm air

It is the only sound I hear

Steady inhalation – exhalation, foggy mist escaping.

My boots crunch the icy settled snow

Marking progress down the road

Leaves that decided to stay for winter

hang lifeless and silent on the branch

I look out across the lake

eyes straining to detect some movement, any sound

It’s a meditative kind of scene

frozen in time and space

Dead calm.

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