Friday, February 24, 2006

March Break, Yeah!!!

Finally March break is here... in the darkness of a cold/cool dank winter we can all take a break in the educational world. Why, many you ask, do we get a week off in the first week of March? Well one very good reason is that both students and teachers are much more likely to do grievous bodily harm to each other at this time of the year, so in lieu of hibernating the winter away, we all get a time out to go back to our corners to prepare for the final half of the year. ;o)
So it's a week of taking it easy, undoing the stress and preparing for what is to come, for both the students and the teachers. Soooo...
Have a very good, relaxing, and safe March Break, doing all the things you love!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sitting in the dark

The electricity went out last night on my side of the street, not the whole street, just our side of the street. (How come that always happens when the temprerature is -18 degrees celsius (0 degrees F) with a wind chill of -25 degrees(-13 degrees F)) We could look out of our cold dark house and see the lights in the houses across the street. Even the street lights were on.... but not on our side of the street.
We always take our modern convenience for granted until it stops working. Sitting there shivering in the dark reading by the flickering light of a candle, oh all right to the light of a propane camping lantern, made me think about how much we depend on our fragile technology. Makes me think of a quote from Carl Sagan, "Our society is exquisitly dependant on science and technology, yet very few of its members know anything about science and technology." How true it is. I know people who don't know how to connect their VCR to their TV. Look at how many people use a computer without having any idea of what is going on. Yet we all depend upon it for our very survival. How many of us could suvive without the technology?
A couple of years ago, we had an ice storm that shut down the electrical grid, in many places, for over a month in the dead of winter. People had to abandon their homes and go live in shelters. New Orlean's infra-structure is no more and the city has almost ceased to exist. Yet we still take it all for granted. Push a button, instant heat, light, and entertainment.
Makes you think when you're sitting there shivering in the dark. ;o)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

St. Valentine's Day

Happy St. Valentine's day to all of you love lorne people out there. Did you know that:

  • Approximately one billion Valentine cards are exchanged each year...the largest seasonal card-selling occasion of the year next to Christmas.
  • Most Valentine's Day cards (83%) are purchased by women. However, the number of cards purchased by men (currently 17%) is gradually rising, thought by some sources to be due to the fact that men often purchase two cards for their siginificant amusing one and the obligatory romantic one which they believe is expected of them.
  • Half of all consumers prefer to receive a humorous Valentine, followed by a romantic greeting (31%) and then a more risque form of card (8.2%). More than one-third of women (36%) and 26% of males prefer to receive a romantic Valentine. 13% of males prefer a more sexy Valentine, whereas only 3.5% of women prefer this variety of card.
  • February 14 is the most important holiday for florists, accounting for 32% of annual sales.
  • 73% of people who buy flowers to send on Valentine's Day are male...only 27% are female.
  • Approximately 110 million roses...the majority of them being red...will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period during the Valentine's Day celebrations.
  • 36% of males and 28% of females put off their Valentine's Day shopping until February 14 or the day before...64% of consumers will plan to do their shopping a week or more prior to the date.
  • Males tend to spend more money on Valentine's Day gifts than do females and are more likely to buy big-ticket items...the average amount spent being $95.00.
  • Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone on Valentine's Day in 1876.
  • The chief colors associated with Valentine's Day are pink, red and white. Pink is a delicate, almost innocent shade of red and is also connected with Saint Valentine, whose burial was said to have caused the pink almond tree to blossom. Red is a symbol of warmth and feeling...the color of the heart, while white represents purity and faith...a faith between two who love each other.
  • from :
For more St. Valentine facts for Canada see: The London Free Press

Sunday, February 12, 2006

To the Moon and Back

Watched the HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" last night. Boy that sure brings back some memories. I can remember watching the lift off's on TV with Walter Cronkite giving the commentary. It's funny, my generation grew up with the space program. We lived through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space shots. We watched John Glenn orbit the earth, the first space walk, Armstrong stepping out on the moon. It is probably the best thing that was done in the sixties. It made us all dream of one day being in space. (Star Trek was born in those years.) We were with the astronauts and it was something that every one of us could relate with. Yes it cost billions, and yes there was also the Vietnam War, racial injustice, and the Cold war but the whole world could dream of the stars. If we could go to the moon, we could do anything. I think just about everyone stared out at the moon in wonder when Armstong, Aldrin and Collins were there.
It cost billions, but it was money well spent. Too bad that they squandered the dream, billions are still being spent but to what end? There is still poverty, war, and all kinds of social ills and on top of it, we don't even have a common goal, a dream. :o(

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ah the weekend, finally

Ah the weekend has finally arrived... been a long week. Doctor's appointment (does anyone like doctor's appointments, it's almost up there with seeing the dentist), Génie en Herbe on Tuesday (for those who don't do secondary school or have kids, it's the French version of "Reach for the Top", there's a whole league with rules, competitions, and statistics, great fun, but it means that when there is a competition, we get home after a 13 hour day) and finally having to deal with having my credit card cloned by some thief.
It is really a pain, although the credit card company is ok about it and they don't bill you for what was ripped off. But finally we all pay for the thieves since the companies make us pay higher interest rates to cover the losses. You'd figure that someone would come up with a better system, something with a NIP that isn't stored on the card, but then again people get ripped off with their interact cards. Maybe with computer chips but it probably costs VISA less to leave things as they are than to spend the money to change it (see article). I know at least 4 people who have had it happen to them so watch out even though there is probably not much you can do about it.
Now on to the weekend. Finally we are getting nice cold dry sunny winter weather, I love it. It's much better than the damp, grey stuff we've been having since the start of winter. You know kind of mixed up weather that can't make up its mind whether it's fall or winter or a hybrid of the two. So I finally got to go skating on the Rideau Canal... great fun and exercise. To top it off tonight went to a nice Scottish pub for a pint of Guinness with a steak. A fine ending to the week and tomorrow should be pretty much the same. That's the life!!! :o)

Monday, February 06, 2006

I think the whole world has seen and heard about the cartoon issue. All I can say is that I find it extremely ironic that by protesting the "blasphemy" with violence, arson, and death threats, they are giving credibility to what would otherwise be an exercise in bad taste. Laughing at another man's religion may be in very bad taste but it certainly doesn't deserve the violence, hate and threats that it has engendered. Obviously religion just does not seem to have much of a sense of humour, I guess it comes from taking yourself too seriously.
In another twist of the weird, how do you like our new Prime Minister’s spanking new cabinet. Not too bad, for a new style politician, who is going to change the nature of politics. He named a turn-coat liberal to his cabinet (remember the big kafuffle about Belinda?) and he made one of his political cronies a senator (remember the TRIPLE “E” senate, efficient, equal and “tadah” ELECTED) and then named him to his cabinet without his ever seeing the inside of a ballot box. The more it changes the more it is the same old, same old… and they wonder why people are cynical about politics.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Democracy at work

What is democracy and when does democracy start to be coercive. I'm sure everyone has come across situations where the group decides what each member must do or not do. Everyone must march in lockstep and nobody can march to his/her own drummer. To justify this they use democracy to tell you what you must do (or not do) and god help you if you have a different opinion. You're not a team player, you're not following the party line, you are not right... you are a traitor; you are responsible for breaking up the team. It's all your fault.
No I'm not talking about a strike, nor am I talking about a major negotiation or an election. I'm talking about simple everyday situations that we meet whenever a group gathers. Has majority rule gone too far... I wonder? (I know that it's not politically correct to question this but I've never been PC)
Here's a hypothetical situation to illustrate the point... It is Christmas and in schools there are often Christmas parties at noon with your class. Some teachers don't want to do a party with the kids and that's fine, they are allowed to do what they want during their noon hour, it is their time. So they vote to stop all parties because they don't want any of the kids asking them why they're not doing something. In other words, everyone must do the same thing because they can't assume the consequences of their decision. So instead they bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator. We are not ordering them to do a party on their own time. They are completely free to not do one, yet they use "democracy" to stop others from "doing their thing" because they have trouble taking responsibility for their decisions. Here my illustration uses schools but I am sure that the same situation exists everywhere. (I'm even sure that among the "cols bleus" (municipal workers of Montréal that have a very militant union) there are reasonable workers that just want to get their job done to the best of their abilities and are high jacked by the hotheads of their union.)
It is ironic that in the name of democracy we force a rigid homogenization on people. People should be allowed to be different, to have their own way of doing things, to do things if they want to (or not)... in other words a nice big dose of "live and let live". If not, how do we tell the difference between a tyranny and a democracy?