Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Commonwealth Games..good show!

Did you know that in the Commonwealth games offers full inclusion for atheletes with disabilities? In that way Chantal Petitclerc's gold and the seven other medals won by our disabled atheletes have been counted in the Canadian total. They are truly world class atheletes and regular atheletes would be hard pressed to do as much in those conditions. Finally these atheletes are given the recognition that they deserve.
I was listening to a report on CBC Radio about the Paraolympics at Torino and the reporter was saying what a shame it was that there were hardly any spectators or media at the events. I find that so sad, these atheletes have overcome so many hurdles and all they get is an afterthought. The Olympic Governing Committee should take a page from the Commonwealth Games. Include these superbe atheletes so that they get the recognition that they deserve. Let them have their place in the sun. How hard can it be? If there is a will they can surely find a way.
Finally bravo to the Canadian Team for having chosen Chantal Peticlerc to be the flag bearer for the team... I am sure, that for her, it was as great an honour and pleasure as winning her gold medal. After all, this was a gesture from her peers, recognizing her talent and perseverence.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Of seals and cod fish!!!

Don't you wish that international stars that are in need of an infusion of publicity would stay away from the "save the animals " thing. Bardot's back in Ottawa to shake a finger at we Canadians saying naughty, naughty, because of the seal hunt. There are about 5 million of the critters, and the population has been going way up since the 70's. They are far from being an endangered species. I wonder why McCartney and Bardot haven't shed any tears for the poor common cod fish, whose population has been decimated by overfishing. Certain nations of the EU being amoung the worst offenders... Could it be because the cod fish are not cute, are not photogenic ? Where were they when Canada was trying to control the EU fishing fleets that were scooping up all the cod they could, making a recovery of the population almost impossible. What about all the little lambs or calves being slaughtered in Europe to make lamb chops or veal parmesan?
Can we all spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E-S???

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Of priorities and the public good

I think that this rant deserves a post all by itself. As I have said before I am a teacher in the public school system and as such have been told that the system costs too much and that we must do more with less, that we must find creative solutions. There is no money. So our students work on old beat up computers that have been donated and don't work half the time. There is no money... we are trying to find the $25000 it would cost to equipe a new computer lab but it is going to take some kind of miraculous finances to accomplish this. What services will we cut to do it?
In the mean time, our elected commisioners of the school board have voted themselves $65000 worth of new P5 laptop computers ($48000 for computers and $17000 for IT support such as WIFI and broadband internet at home). The students are using recycled computers and they are spending the equivalent of two new computer labs to "save paper and mailing costs". (But let's be fair, in fours years when they are obsolete, they'll be changed and the old ones then given to the schools... how's that for generous. )
We are always being told that there is no money, that we must cut costs. I just wonder sometimes what percentage of the billions in the education budget is really spent DIRECTLY on the students. (By directly I mean, money that goes into the classes, that the students profit from, either in equipement or direct services) I would not be surprised if it was less than 1%. Since the students are at the end of the line there isn't much left when everyone above have taken their slice. Then society wonders why so many students drop out and don't finish high school. The budget should be reversed... the students get what they need and whatever is left over can be used for other things. Gee what an inovative thought, the education budget actually being used for the education of students.

Luv that new car smell...

Last post car died... put it out of its misery. Got a new car, don't you just love that new car smell? That folks is the smell of hard earned cash going, going, gone... Bought a Subaru, cuz the last Toyata kind of soured me on Toyota's in general and Corollas in particular. I know they are good cars but I got the only lemon they ever built. (By the way I forgot one other defect in my last post... when we put gas in the Corolla's tank the revs would yoyo so you had to keep your foot on the gas or she'd die. Ever try to keep your foot on the gas, work the clutch and brake and pull out of a service station? After 2km the occilattions would fade and away you'd go until the next time. :o( ) The Impreza drives like a charm and I'm really happy since I no longer have to worry if I'll get home again.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cars and things...

Last night the f***ing transmission/clutch of my Toyota Corolla gave out... The thing started to whine, grind and finally jolt. Acrid smoke started to come out from under the car. The only good thing is that I wasn't far from home and finally limped into the driveway. The language I used about the situation would have blistered the paint off the barn at 100 meters. (This is one advantage of being bilingual, it gives you so much more material for creative swearing) This car must have been made on a Friday at 4pm just before a long weekend... after a year changed the bearings on the transmission, after 2.5 years changed the linking arm for the wipers (took them over a week to get the part since this happens so rarely), the anti-theft stopped working, the A/C died when its bearings seized, the check motor light kept coming on despite changing just about every part in the pollution control system... the motor takes about a gallon of oil between oil changes and sounds like a farm tractor, the suspension always makes the ride interesting, and finally the transmission/clutch gave up the ghost with a screeching whine and a crunch... We've always had Toyota and never had any problems. We ran the cars into the 270000 km's and still they ran, yet this one was one big pain in the kiester. One thing is sure, I'm not pouring more money into the thing... to paraphrase Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch... "it is dead, defunct, passed away, this is a dead car... it is not sleeping, it is DEAD". So I guess I'll soon be paying car payments again but it won't be to Toyota.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


We spent the March Break in "le Vieux Québec". For those of you that are not from Québec, "la Vielle Ville" is the old part of Québec City near the St. Lawrence River. It dates back to the the 17th and 18th century and has been largely restored. It is one of the first UNESCO hertitage sites in North America. It is the cradle of French America and most francophones have ancestors that come from there. This is where it all started.
As I walked along the snowy cobbled streets, that have a distinctly European flavour, I reflected upon what it must have been like to live there 300-350 years ago. You would have left a nice safe civilized country, sailed for at least a month across the stormy Atlantic, to end up in a place where nothing was the same. You had more freedom, but life was probably much harsher than back in France. Chances were that you would never see your family or homeland again. Yet people made a place for themselves and created a French culture in this strange land. They set out and explored a continent, going from Hudson's Bay to the far west all the way down to Louisiana and New Orleans.
This is where my roots are, and I can feel that even if I have spent most of my life elsewhere. It is a strange feeling, this feeling of being home. I was an airforce brat and as such lived all over the place but when I came to study in Québec, as I got off the bus, the feeling struck me, I was home. This place was home. It is a feeling that I have never had elsewhere. I know it sounds strange but that feeling has stayed with me all my life and though I have lived longer elsewhere than here, Québec is still my home, my roots.