Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mr. Perry We Are A Foreign Country

With thanks to a friend who wrote about this on her blog We Move To Canada. "Does Mr. Perry Know Something We Don't Know?"

Presidential candidate Rick Perry, speaking in Iowa on Tuesday, made the following comment.

Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.

Later, the audience reacted again to Mr. Perry's assertion that buying so much energy from foreign countries is "not good policy, it's not good politics, and frankly it's un-American."

Ok, so.... Does Mr. Perry not realize that Canada is a foreign source?

The second comment regarding it being “un-American” to purchase oil from foreign countries confirms that he truly believes that Canada is not a foreign country.

Mr. Perry also said that within 1 year of his election he is going to “seal the border”. Mr. Perry, there are two borders, but since you believe that Canada is not a foreign country, I’m sure you only meant the border with the US and Mexico. Go ahead and seal the border if you like, but there will be no more foreign oil coming from Canada.

Is it just me, or do other people find the Republicans ignorant and frightening?

Mr. Perry, I guess that geography is not your strong point, but a Presidential candidate should be aware of the world outside your own country’s borders.

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Official. My Children Are Anchor Babies.

The first new edition of the American Heritage Dictionary in 10 years contained 10,000 new words. The term “anchor baby” is included. The original definition did not include any indication that the phrase is a slur and offensive, as it does for other words. (The online edition only has just been changed to note that the phrase is offensive, but did not change the definition).

The current definition the dictionary gives for anchor baby is:

“A child born to a non-citizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child's birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother's or other relatives' chances of securing eventual citizenship."

A more appropriate definition would be:

"Slang, a pejorative description of a child born in the United States to parents who are both without legal status", implying that the parents intend to leverage the child’s citizenship to “anchor” their own presence in the U.S.”

I have 2 issues with the current definition.

1. "Non-citizen mother" includes all non-citizen mothers, whether in the US legally or not, and ignores the citizenship of the father.

2. "in a country" means all countries use the term anchor baby. The phrase anchor baby is not used much outside the U.S.

When my children were born I was not yet eligible for US citizenship, but I was a legal immigrant with a green card. So my children were born to a non-citizen mother. Therefore, according to the definition in the dictionary, my children are anchor babies. Their father is a US citizen, but again no mention is made in this definition of the nationality of the father.

Several bills have been introduced from time to time in Congress which seek to nullify the US citizenship of “anchor babies”. Unsure whether these bills would survive legal challenges, some legislators have proposed a change to the Constitution to deny and/or retroactively strip “anchor babies” of US citizenship. It all comes down to semantics. If a definition in the dictionary uses “non-citizen” mother, instead of “parents without legal status”, it’s likely future legislation will mirror the definition in the dictionary.

As a result, my childrens' US citizenship status is now at risk.

I believe that all children born in the US, or any country, should be granted citizenship as a birthright, regardless of the immigration status of the parents. The immigration system in the US is inhumane and does not work, but this is not an effective way to fix it. Having said that, this post is about my viewpoint as a legal immigrant living in the US.

The problem I had living in the US was that the anti-immigrant hysteria in the States caused “legal immigrants” to be penalized simply because they are not US citizens.

There is no sense of security living in a country where the basic rules are subject to change. Are my children going to be stripped retroactively of their US citizenship? My US driving licence was suspended in Florida,(read more here) and I was left without a licence for 30 days, simply because the clerk didn't understand my green card was proof that I was living in the country legally.

The DMV clerk who revoked my driving licence was like most Americans who do not understand the difference between "legal" immigrant and "illegal" immigrant and believe "non-citizen" means they are in the country illegally.

Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University said that skilled immigrants are leaving the US.

If immigrants feel unsafe living in the US they will return to their home countries, and it will be America’s loss.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

65 tons of snow trucked in to Florida park

In Canada when we get a lot of snow sometimes we truck it out of the neighbourhood.

In this park in Tampa Bay Florida 65 tons of snow is trucked in for their annual "Snowfest".

This is very popular with Floridian kids and there are long lines to try it.

Most Floridian kids have never seen a snowfall, so this "snowfall" gives them a chance to experience it for a few hours until it melts in the heat.

Winter in Florida is just, different!

My Florida born kids love snow.

Unlike kids raised in Ontario, most kids growing up in Florida have never seen a snowfall and are fascinated with it.

We have had a couple of light snow flurries during the last couple of weeks.

Last night we had the first real snowfall that stayed on the ground. It's a wet, heavy snow. The temperature is hovering around freezing, so it's destined to melt before too long.

For now, we're just enjoying it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cleanup At Centre Ice

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto.

Maple Leaf Gardens is much loved by Torontonians. The art deco building was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs until 1999, when they relocated to the larger Air Canada Centre. Maple Leaf Gardens has often been referred to as a “shrine to hockey”. I’m not even a big hockey fan, but I attended a few games there as a child, as did my father when he was a child, and even I have a fond attachment to the building.

Maple Leaf Gardens has an amazing history. Built in the depression era funded by selling shares to Torontonians, the building was constructed in just 5 months and 2 weeks.

Since 1999 the building was stood vacant with an uncertain future.

Yesterday Loblaws opened a supermarket there. This may sound an unlikely use for such a building, but the supermarket has been tastefully done and Loblaws has done much to preserve the history of Maple Leaf Gardens. Centre ice is now located on aisle 25 and is marked by a large red dot. While the old rink may be gone, Ryerson University is building a new rink on the top floor.

It may seen strange to see such an iconic sports arena turned into a supermarket, but if it saves the building from being demolished then it is worth it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

US Police Beat Shopper Unconscious

Courtesy Daily Mail. The man body slammed to the ground at a Walmart outside Phoenix, Arizona, was trying to save his 8-year-old grandson from a being trampled after the boy was knocked down during an uncontrollable stampede at a video game display.

Police slammed Jerald Allen Newman, 54, face-first into the concrete floor when a security guard reported that he stuffed two video games in his pants. Mr Newman's wife says he was just trying to free his hands to help his grandson.

Apparently the cop kicked Mr. Newman’s legs out from under him and slammed him so hard into the concrete floor that the man was bloodied and knocked unconscious.

Does anybody else believe that since Mr. Newman had not left the store he had not technically stolen anything yet?

Mr. Newman said he was trying to protect his 8-year old grandson, who was also treated in hospital for injuries sustained by the crowds and had intended to pay for the videos when he left the store.

Why would a thief stand for hours in line to steal a 50% off video game? Obviously he intended to purchase this and was trying to protect his grandson. The police acted too soon and too aggressively.

Read more here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eldest Boy is Driving - Scary!

Eldest boy is 16. Yesterday after school he passed his written driving test for a G1 licence. This is the first step towards a full licence.

In Ontario we have a graduated driver licence system. The first step to a full Ontario driver licence is a G1 licence. You must pass a written test and be at least 16 years old. You must hold a G1 licence for a minimum of 12 months before you can take the road test (or 8 months if you take a Ministry approved driver education course). You must have a fully licenced driver (usually a parent) in the front seat whenever you are driving.

The next step is the G2 driver licence. The G2 road test is taken 12 months after the G1 road test. For the first 6 months a G2 driver can only have 1 teenager 19 or under in the car. After 6 months you may not have more than 3 passengers, 19 and under, in the car between midnight and 5 am.

Since it's inception the Graduated Licensing System has reduced death and injury among teenaged drivers.

Hubby is taking eldest boy out to drive. Just a little scary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A French Canadian what?

I decided to replace my laptop. Found one I liked at our local Staples, got it home, and noticed that the keyboard was very different to the one I was used to in the US.

In Canada we are told it is mandatory to sell the French Canadian keyboard. In order to get the extra French keys in, the manufacturers have made the two keys one uses the most very small. You can see that the enter and shift keys are half the size. I tried typing, but could not reach those keys on the new keyboard.

I’ve returned my laptop to Staples, and will go to Walmart in Buffalo to get an English keyboard. I think it would have been better all around if the politically correct people had allowed us a choice between a French keyboard and an English keyboard, rather than making everyone suffer (both French and English) with tiny keys that one has to use frequently.

Just my two cents.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

US Halloween costume dehumanizes both legal and illegal immgrants

During our last Halloween in the US, this costume was very popular. I think it blurs the lines even further between illegal and legal, the “illegal alien” even has a “green card”. The immigrant is criminalized by the orange jumpsuit worn by inmates in US prisons. Complete the costume by the extra-terrestrial mask. The ad jokingly states "He didn't just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy". Much to my disappointment this costume was even available in several of my favourite stores.

Thankfully no trick or treater turned up on my doorstep wearing this costume. I would have been so upset. This is just more confirmation that, even as a legal immigrant, I was unwelcome in the US and would never belong there.

Alien is a word used by the U.S. government to describe a foreign-born person who is not a US citizen. People who enter the United States legally are also known as “aliens”, and a green card (which is no longer green) is an “Alien Registration Card”.

Webster’s definition of the word “alien” includes the U.S. governments interpretation, but goes on to include other, darker, meanings for the word such as “a non-terrestrial being” “strange”, “hostile”, “not of planet earth”. Encyclopaedia Britannica states “in early times the tendency was to look upon the alien as an enemy and to treat him as a criminal or an outlaw”.

Legal or illegal, I think the word “alien” is very offensive and dehumanizing. I was an immigrant in the US. I was from Canada, not another planet. The last time I renewed my green card, the agent asked another agent to “send the next alien in”. I have a name, please use it.

Life for immigrants, legal or illegal, is getting very tough in the US.

My US citizen husband is an immigrant to Canada. He has not had to put up with any of this nonsense, but has been made to feel very welcome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Frost On The Ground

I took this photo a couple of days ago.

I love the colourful plants of autumn, contrasted by the frost on the ground.

Cold weather is coming!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Don't Miss Hurricanes

Satellite showing Hurricane Rina (courtesy CNN) updated Oct 25 7:26 am.

It's that time of year again. August to October are the worst times for Gulf hurricanes. It's really hard to predict where a hurricane will go once it has passed Cuba and Cancun (which act a bit like a ball going through a pinball machine which sets the hurricane's direction in the Gulf). The Gulf of Mexico is still warm and a hurricane will strengthen in the open water of the Gulf.

Hurricane Rina is currently a Category 2 hurricane with sustained windspeeds of 100 mph. Definitely a concern once it enters the Gulf of Mexico.

I don't miss hurricanes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn in St. George's Park

St George's Park is a lovely park in the older part of town, within an easy walk of downtown. The area has many lovely century homes. This is the part of Guelph I lived in as a child, so I know this park very well.

I was driving by the park last week when I had to take a photo, since the trees were so beautiful.

The Real Clearwater

A couple of weeks ago we drove up to Owen Sound. It is about 2 hours north of here. It is on Georgian Bay which is a large bay on Lake Huron which is one of the great lakes. Many people have cottages here. It's a beautiful area.

The water is so clear that it's a little difficult to see where the shore ends and the water begins.

No, those aren't our shadows, they're trees ;)

When we lived in Florida we lived near a town called Clearwater. The water wasn't really clear, but I think it was because the waves stirred the sand into the water.

The water at Owen Sound is very clear. Last winter we drove up here, and there were large blocks of ice on top of the water, and they were actually blue.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

100 Year Old Runner Breaks Record

One-hundred-year-old Fauja Singh (centre) takes part in the Toronto Waterfront marathon on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS).

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Turbaned Tornado

Photo: Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail.

Tomorrow is the Toronto Marathon. Fauja Singh intends to compete, and complete, the marathon. Remarkable, given he is 100 years old!

They call him the Turbaned Tornado.

He speaks no English, only his native Punjabi. But at the venerable age of 100, runner Fauja Singh’s message of offering only your best is eloquent in any language.

Fauja -- the name means soldier -- is a former farmer who began running at 80 after the passing of his wife and son. At 89, he became an everyman-type racer. On Thursday, he ran eight world record times for his age group in less than five hours at Scarborough’s Birchmount Stadium track, from distances as short as 100 metres to as long as 5,000 metres. He’s hoping to add a ninth for the Guinness World Record book, as the first centenarian to run the entire 42.195-km distance in Sunday’s Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon. The times, witnessed by officials of Ontario Masters Athletics, will be sent to the governing International Association of Athletics Federations for ratification.Very inspirational. Read more here…..

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving.

This is the first Canadian Thanksgiving my family has celebrated. Last year we had just moved into our home, and nothing was unpacked.

To our Usian friends, Canadian Thanksgiving is the 2nd Monday in October. It is much earlier than American Thanksgiving because the harvest season ends earlier here. Well, I wonder a bit about the harvest season ending earlier here, since we are experiencing 27C (80F) weather, sunshine, and we are all wearing shorts and t-shirts. A lot has changed, climate-wise, since I've been gone.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Our Canadian Anniversary Today

I can hardly believe it was one year ago today that my family moved to Canada.

We are very happy here.

How have we changed in a year?

As I was an immigrant in the US, I didn't fit in there. I feel good living in Canada because I belong here.

Hubby is still very happy about the move and has settled in very well. He has had none of the immigrant issues I had living in the US. Canadians are more welcoming to immigrants.

Eldest boy now in 11th grade, and loves his school. He did not want to move to Canada at all. He kept asking why do we have to move. Around the end of the last school year he felt more settled, has many friends at school, and said that he enjoyed living in Canada. He is looking at 3 Canadian Universities.

Middle boy just started high school (Grade 9). He loves to go to the shopping mall with his friends on Fridays for lunch. He loves the extra freedom in school. He said it felt good that the school trusts the students.

Youngest just started Grade 8. Still has recess twice a day. He has made many good friends and is happy here.

We are going to celebrate by eating at Swiss Chalet tonight ;) Where else?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Canadiana Begging Bear Returns

He's a well known and much loved figure in Guelph.

The Canadiana Begging Bear is a bronze statue at the Donald Forster Sculpture Park on Gordon Street, one block from the university.

He is often dressed up. Mysteriously. It has become a Guelph tradition to dress him up by stealth and Guelphites love to see what he is wearing. Once I saw him wearing a tuxedo with a can of beer in his outstretched paw.

Last Spring he was vandalized, knocked over and damaged. It cost $11,300 to repair him, and he was gone for Gordon Street for many months. He was missed.

Last Saturday he was returned to the park. I'm looking forward to see what he is wearing next.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Misty Morning Farmhouse

Misty Morning Farmhouse, courtesy of D.J. England on Flickr. To see more of D.J. England’s photos, please click here.

This photograph was taken on 24th September 2011 in Arkell, Ontario, Canada. Arkell is a small town near Guelph, and just down the road from our house. Hubby and I love to go for country drives and see beautiful old stone farmhouses like this one. I love the way the mist swirls around in this photo.

One of the things I like about living in Guelph is how close we are to the country. The part of Florida we lived in, Tampa Bay, had beautiful beaches, but is one of the most densely populated areas of Florida. Apart from the beaches there were very few open spaces.

Another thing I like about Guelph is there is always something going on. On October 14 – 16 there is the Twenty-sixth Annual Guelph Studio Tour 2011 where the work of several local artists will be exhibited.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall is Here

Autumn, originally uploaded by ICT_photo.

Today hubby and I went for a drive along some country roads. We do that sometimes when we want a change of scene from work. The leaves are beginning to change. Mainly yellows and light oranges.

Tonight temperatures are expected to drop to a low of 5C (41F). If we get a few cool nights like this I expect we will soon have some reds in the mix, in time for Thanksgiving next Monday.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Demand For Meat Drops in the Netherlands

Photo from De Vegetarische Slager vegetarian butcher website.

Here is a very interesting story I read recently about a butcher store in the Netherlands, courtesy of VegNewsDaily.

"The Vegetarian Butcher, a chain of faux-meat stores, is taking off in the Netherlands as Dutch citizens cut back on meat consumption. By Hilary Pollack

A chain of vegetarian butcher shops is rapidly expanding in the Netherlands, where the demand for meat alternatives is rising as 87 percent of citizens no longer eat meat on a daily basis and two-thirds of the population sees meat as a luxury, rather than a necessity. 

The Vegetarian Butcher—or De Vegetarische Slager in Dutch—has grown from one storefront to 30 in less than a year, offering faux chicken, bacon, gyros, sausage, and more to the masses. Founded by Niko Koffeman and organic farmer Jaap Korteweg, the company aims to provide sustainable meat alternatives with superior flavor and texture. Koffeman estimates that 80 percent of the shop’s clients are vegans and vegetarians, but the company hopes to convert people who want to reduce or completely omit meat from their diets. “Animal cruelty is one reason, but also a growing concern for sustainability,” Koffeman says. “After all, meat production is highly inefficient.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cheering The Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die

Prescription bottle photo from Flicker.

CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer’s hypothetical question about whether an uninsured 30-year-old working man in coma should be treated prompted one of the most boisterous moments of audience participation in the CNN/Tea Party Express.

“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…”

The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”Read more here.....

That’s what freedom is all about. Taking your own risk.”.......

Freedom, to me, is knowing that everyone has access to health care. That no one goes without. That people don’t die because they cannot afford health care. Freedom to me, personally, is freedom from worry that my family cannot afford medical treatment if they get sick. Freedom to know that I won’t lose my house, or be bankrupt due to the exorbitant cost of medical procedures. When I tally up the cost of higher taxes in Canada, and compare them to my average health insurance premium, together with co-pays, deductibles, and paying for everything else my insurance didn’t cover, my family is much better off financially paying slightly higher taxes in Canada and being fully covered.

Our family had health insurance in the US, so we were under the radar of the number of uninsured in the US. Add to the 50 million uninsured people in America the “under insured”. Our family were, not by choice, underinsured. We chose to have health insurance, but could no longer afford full coverage.

I don’t know where Wolf Blitzer got the idea that health insurance premiums are just $200 per month.

In just a few years our health insurance premiums went from affordable offering us a reasonable amount of coverage, to a 4 figure sum every month (comparable to our mortgage), with a $10,000 per occurrence per family member deductable. Every year we had to drop more and more benefits, because we could not afford the premiums. We were underinsured heading towards uninsured through no choice of our own. This is not freedom to choose.

A few years ago my youngest fell off his bike and broke his arm. It was a simple break, reset, and cast. Cost us $8,000. $8,000 for a simple broken arm! Another child I know had a more complicated break, and it cost his family $17,000. They could not afford physiotherapy on top of this, so the child’s arm may be permanently damaged. Another family had twin 8 year old boys. One boy had moderate asthma, but she could not afford the expensive preventative asthma medication. One night he was rushed to the ER with a bad asthma attack, and he died. These are just people I know, these situations are repeated all over the US.

People are not uninsured by choice. They are uninsured because they cannot afford the insurance, the co-pays, the deductibles, the prescription medication to prevent controllable illness becoming life threatening.

I asked someone once what he thought about universal healthcare. He said “I don’t want to pay anything towards healthcare in case I don’t need it, because then I would be paying for someone else’s healthcare”. It seems many Americans hate the idea of paying a few dollars towards helping someone else who may be sick or injured.

As for the nostalgic thought that Ron Paul has; “just let the patient’s church pay for it”, this is wistful thinking on several counts. Not everyone has a church. Churches don’t have the kind of money to pay for expensive medical procedures. Here’s the best one, I can I can only imagine how doctors’ offices and hospitals are going to react when they are told to send the bill to a church. The patient will be told to come back when they have several thousand dollars or adequate health insurance.

Health insurance companies and medical professionals make obscene profits. Americans have been brainwashed to believe that universal healthcare is bad.

Any civilized country has access to universal health care. You want a healthy population, otherwise illness can spread. It doesn’t matter, in a pandemic, if you have healthcare. You may still get sick from the person who couldn’t afford preventative treatment.

So, cheering for uninsured people to die. This is not freedom, and this is not compassionate.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Golf Course Open Until Snow Flies

I saw this sign yesterday at a local golf course.

Summer's definitely over when you start seeing signs like this one.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Did the US execute an innocent man?

Follows is an excellent article written about the execution of a potentially innocent man in Georgia, US, Troy Davis.

There was enough doubt in this case to warrant a new trial. Unfortunately, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act 1996, (passed after the Oklahoma City Bombing), bars death row inmates from later presenting evidence they could have presented at the original trial. This Act bars them from having a new trial. So, if that evidence was not available at the original trial – tough luck. Potentially innocent? It doesn’t matter. Several world leaders, Amnesty International, and even the Pope intervene – so what! We are the United States and human rights don’t apply to us, and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt no longer matters.

"I Am Troy Davis: Why I’m Afraid To Be An American And You Should Be Too [OPINION] Written by Travon Free on September 22, 2011 7:23 am

I am afraid to live in this country. The United States of America. Afraid to live in a country where the new norm is thinking with our hearts or our gut and painting the rational minded individual as unpatriotic and liberal. Afraid to live in a country where intelligence and science have taken a back seat to what people “feel” is right, not what they know to be true or actually is true for that matter.

I’m afraid to live in a country where facts have become taboo and are no longer valid arguing points in shaping the society we all share and everyone’s opinion matters. I’m afraid to live in a country where now the fringe individuals who we use to consider lost in the fray or even “crazy” now have a seat at the table and are considered just another voice on the issues."

Read more of this interesting opinion here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Piping Summer Evening in Guelph

Enjoy this video clip of the Guelph Pipe Band performing at McCrae House from youtube.

During the summer months Guelphites can enjoy “Piping Evenings with the Guelph Pipe Band”. The Guelph Pipe Band (established in 1922) performed on the grounds of John McCrae House.

John McCrae was a Lt Colonel in the Canadian Army during WW1, and the author of the poem Flanders Fields. Because of this poem the poppy became of symbol of rememberance. He was born and raised right here on Guelph in a beautiful stone house just steps away from the Speed River.

Last night was the last “summer evening” that the Pipers would be playing at McCrae House this year. It was a little chilly, and there was a refreshment stand with a pot of, dare I say, “piping” hot tea ;) I know, I know, but I couldn't resist it.

Hubby and I brought some folding chairs, and enjoyed the show. It was nice to see so many families there.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

6 Year Old Watched 9/11 Live In School Classroom

10 years ago eldest boy was in first grade and had just turned 6 when 9/11 happened. It was a strange enough day for us adults.  Parents were withdrawing their children from school. We had decided to leave him in school because we wanted his day to be normal as possible.

We didn’t know that his first grade teacher turned the classroom tv on that morning, and stood by and sobbed while these young children watched everything live on CNN.  No explanation or re-assurance was given by the teacher. I’m sure these children were all frightened.

When I picked him up at the end of the day I could tell by his face that something was wrong. He had spent 6 hours in front of the classroom tv watching live tv coverage of planes crashing into buildings, people falling and bouncing off the buildings, and the buildings crashing. He didn't know the news was replaying the same news footage repeatedly and thought many planes flew into many buildings. He was almost hysterical in the car on the way home from school because he thought a plane was going to crash into our car or our home and we would be killed. He had no idea how far away Florida was from New York. He was in such a state nothing I said to him would re-assure him that he was safe.

He suffered from nightmares for several weeks after that. Today he says he wished he hadn’t watched 9/11 live at so young an age.

When I asked the teacher why she allowed these children to watch live and uncensored coverage of the event, she said that “this was history in the making and as an American student he needs to know about it”. She said it was her duty as a patriotic American to allow her class to watch it live on tv.

I wish, as a parent, my 6 year old child had not been exposed to live and uncensored news coverage of the event without my knowledge or consent. I think it's unhealthy to expose such a young child to this.

Is It Time To Move On From 9/11?

Photo by Melissa Lyttle, St Petersburg Times.

Above photo is the installation of a permanent 9/11 memorial by the front door of Pinellas Park High School, in Pinellas Park, Florida.

Is it time to move on from 9/11? Is it healthy to continually focus on it?

Other nations have experienced terrorism, and they know that continual re-living of events is the goal of the terrorists. The “ism” is the act, and the “terror” is the residual fear caused by the act. It is like picking away at a scab instead of allowing it to heal.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To School Today, Yay!

Kids are back to school today.

Summer is over.

Weather has turned cooler.

Hopefully there are a few warm days left, but at least the humidity has gone.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hot Waffle Ice Cream Bar

The Original, Freshly Baked, Ice Cream Waffle.

Of course, no visit to the Ex would be complete without a sampling of their famous Ice Cream Waffle. I loved these as a child. The waffles are freshly made and hot, served with a freshly cut slab of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Let's Go To The Ex

Princes' Gates entrance to CNE with Midway in background.

Last week we went to the Canadian National Exhibition, or CNE.

To our Usian friends, this is like a state fair. The Ex, as it’s affectionately known, has been around since 1879. It started originally as an agricultural fair and grew from there. To those of you who are familiar with Toronto’s nickname of “hogtown”, the nickname came from the CNE since "market" livestock was often sent from the CNE to the meat processing plants in Toronto.

The Ex takes place for 18 days, starting around mid-August and ending on Labour day. When I was a child we always went, and it was an exciting end to our summer vacations. Today there are bigger and better theme parks for the kids to go to, but the Ex still has a lot of charm.

3 boys had lots of fun. We bought them a Midway pass, so they rode everything.

We had so much fun we stayed until closing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Canada Is Poorer Today

Jack Layton 1950 - 2011

Jack Layton, leader of the opposition, died today. He was an amazing politician.

Here is a letter Mr. Layton wrote to Canadians dated Saturday, August 20th. It is full of inspiration for others, a testament to the selflessness of this man.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Toronto Island Fun

Boys playing at a Hanlon Point beach. It’s fun to kick your shoes off and skip pebbles across the water.

Yesterday we took the boys to the Toronto Islands. I loved this place as a kid. They are the only islands in this part of Lake Ontario, and they provide Torontonians with a quiet spot away from the city (no cars allowed). It’s hard to believe you are still in Toronto. And the best part, you get a fantastic view of the city from the Islands, and also from the ferry.

There are 3 parts to Toronto Islands. Hanlans Point, Centre Island, and Wards Island. We took the ferry to Hanlans Point, and walked the entire Island to Wards Island to get the ferry back to the city. It took us 5 hours, but we weren’t in a hurry.

We also took Sophie (our Schnauzer) with us. We weren’t sure how she was going to react to the noises of the city and the ferry ride (she was ok on the ferry), but she loved the Islands. A nice lady on a bike with a couple of dogs threw her a dog biscuit. By the time she got home last night she was exhausted.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's That Time Of Year Again!

Photo: NOAA National Hurricane Center. Latest track of Tropical Storm Emily.

From June 1st to November 1st it’s hurricane season in Florida.

Up until end of July, hurricanes tend to cross the Atlantic and swerve out to sea, or hit the east coast of Florida or the Carolinas. From August onwards hurricanes tend to go to the Gulf of Mexico.

Hot water is very conducive to hurricane formation. The late summer hurricanes are more powerful since they are fuelled by hot water in the Atlantic and, more particularly, the Gulf of Mexico. By August the Gulf is particularly hot.

As former west coast of Florida residents, August to October are the months when we would watch and wait to see if we would be hit this year. Floridians become weather experts, and we spend a lot of time watching for weather updates.

This map shows the current formation of Hurricane Emily. Florida is in the cone, so now we turn to the National Hurricane Center at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). There are regular updates every hours, and every Floridian knows exactly when to check in for the latest updates.

I always think of the Caribbean as a buffer zone for storms. Like a pinball machine, where the storm hits as it passes through the Caribbean will determine whether or not it will be a Gulf storm that could hit the west coast of Florida, or an Atlantic storm, hitting the East coast of Florida.

Currently at Tropical Storm status, with current wind speeds at 40 mph (64 kph). Best outlook, Emily does not strengthen and brings much needed rain to the area.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ontario Hotter Than Florida

Photo courtesy of under creative commons license. To see more photos by vasofoto, click here.

Today it will be hotter in Ontario than Florida.

Today in Florida the current temperature will be 90F (32C). With humidity it will feel like 111F (44C).

Today in Ontario the temperature will be 95F (35C). With humidity it will feel like 116F (47C). Today's temperatures are the hottest ever on record for Ontario.
Read more here.

Thunderstorm anyone?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Well, I poisoned our dog

I was concerned that Sophie wasn’t eating.

Recently I had put some pumpkin on her food for added fibre (vet suggested). I ran out of pumpkin and she was not in a hurry to eat her food without the pumpkin. I put a handful of raisins in her food and she ate it all. Then I had a gut feeling that the raisins may not be good for her so I checked on the internet. Sure enough, extremely poisonous for dogs and could cause acute renal failure. Why couldn't I have had that gut feeling before I gave her the raisins?!

I was so angry with myself. We have been so careful what we feed her, so the time I don't check before feeding her I give her something really dangerous.

I took her to the vet right away, and he induced vomiting. Yesterday she went back to have bloodwork drawn to make sure her kidneys were ok and she was free of raisin toxins, and it seems she is in good health.

It's well known we should not give chocolate to our dogs, but not many people know that raisins, grapes, and onions are extremely dangerous to dogs. 

Here are some human food items that are poisonous to dogs. Read list here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Last Launch Of Space Shuttle

Our view of a previous shuttle takeoff from our Florida backyard.

Last shuttle launch. Unbelievable!

It has been part of Florida for so long. My boys would watch takeoff on tv, then run into the backyard to watch it in the sky. Several neighbours were in their backyards watching it too. We even saw a night launch once – super cool. We were all accustomed to the double-boom noise that shook the windows when it arrived back in Florida at the end of its mission.

End of an era.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day

Coast to coast grin, courtesy Huffington Post.

To our Usian friends, Canada Day is similar to July 4th.

1st July 1867 is the date Canada became a country.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grade 8 Graduation in Ontario

Today is the last day of school before the summer holidays.

End of 8th grade is different in Ontario. By the way, it’s called Grade 8, and not 8th grade here.

In Florida, completing 8th grade was the same as completing any other grade with the exception of 12th grade. In Ontario they make a very big deal. Grade 8 graduation here is a formal event.

Last night middle boy graduated from Grade 8 with distinction (good grades). The graduation ceremony took place at the local high school. Youngest boy played the trumpet in the school band. Afterwards the “grads” went back to their elementary school for their 8th grade “prom”. Wow! Very fancy. The “dance”, otherwise known as (hanging out with my friends and eating the food) ended at 10:30 pm.

As these Ontario kids have attended an elementary school from Jr Kindergarten to Grade 8 (instead of middle school), grade 8 graduation is quite a right of passage. They are leaving behind their care-free days of elementary school, leaving behind recess twice a day, and entering the more serious arena of more homework, university entrance exams, and semester finals.

Middle boy had fun!

We have grass

We moved in in October, then winter came. Then a wet spring came and the grass was delayed for 6 weeks. Yesterday, we got grass. Yay!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I don’t miss the extreme tropical heat

June, 2010 thermometer reading from our car. Photo isn’t the greatest, but it was taken around the middle of June last year Florida, showing 106 degrees F (42C).

Before we moved to Canada hubby and I were sure each year was hotter than the one before. I would call it the 16 weeks of summer. Summer, and hurricane season, officially starts on June 1st, and it would be beginning of October before the weather became bearable again. As summer progressed, the temperature would get even hotter.

The last few years we lived in Florida it seemed the extremely hot weather would start earlier and earlier. And remember, in Florida it doesn’t cool down too much at night either.

Well, today the St. Petersburg Times has confirmed what we suspected. My friends told me that much of May set a record for consistently being in the 90s. St. Petersburg Times reported today that last night’s overnight temperature dropped only to humid 83 degrees (29F), making it the hottest overnight record in 121 years of record keeping. Read more about it here.

Today in Guelph it is nice and sunny and 75 degrees (24C).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Canadian real estate commercial

I love this commercial. It's part of the "How Realtors Help" series running here in Ontario.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Another critter

Photo Courtesy: The Toronto Star

This cute raccoon is relaxing in Owen Sound, Ontario.

City critters

Photo Courtesy: The Toronto Star

Penelope, the chipmunk, who lives in a backyard in Mississauga, Ontario, is so tame that she doesn't mind the camera while she eats.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dog pops balloons

Loved this story and wanted to share with you. This is Bunk, who is enjoying his 2nd birthday.

Read about
Bunk and watch video here.

I'm back!

Feeling better, after a bout of strep throat, followed by bronchitis that lasted nearly two weeks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Legal immigrants lose on health care in US

Samuel Goncalves, 23, has lung cancer, and was placed on a stripped-down health plan by the state in 2009 only because he is a "legal immigrant" and not "American". 

Copayments for treatment were unaffordable under the stripped-down plan.

The Massachusetts health care insurance reform law, enacted in 2006, mandates that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a state-government-regulated minimum level of healthcare insurance coverage. Key provisions of the law were the subsidies that were available to those with low income.

In 2009 state lawmakers dropped at least 26,000 Legal immigrants from the program in order to save $130 million to balance the budget. Legal immigrants pay taxes the same as US citizens do, and should have the same rights and benefits as US citizens. Many Legal immigrants will become US citizens. Dropping legal immigrants from this program illustrates how marginalized they are becoming in the US.

This week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the “state’s exclusion of thousands of legal immigrants from subsidized health coverage probably violates protections in the state constitution”. Legal immigrants may get health care back, but the outcome is not clear, and the state is still fighting against restoring health care to Legal immigrants.

Most disturbing are some of the comments. Many refer to the fact they are “native born” Americans. Several said “legal immigrants should go back to where they came from”.

I truly believe more and more Americans want Legal immigrants to go back to where they came from, and those who mention they are “native born” Americans do not believe that “naturalized” Americans are as American as they are.

The following comments are shocking, and prove that if you are not born in the USA you will never belong.

Valentine78 wrote:
I was born in the country as was my husband. I am 50 - my husband is 57. We have three children. I am presently unemployed and my COBRA payment is $1,557.00/MONTH. Please spare me the sob stories about immigrants (legal or illegal)whining about how high their co-pays are.

Fidd wrote:
Because he's an immigrant we have to pick up the tab. Sorry about his condition but there are natural born Americans also paying high co-payments. Evidently he's is also on the dole collecting other Massachusetts benefits for immigrants. Massacusetts can't get anything straight, except corruption.

doggman wrote:
Don't wait for "your turn" on my dime. Get out!

j33dow wrote:
Leave OUR country and go back to you native land. We owe you NOTHING!!!

alsharp456 wrote:
not trying to be a racist but these immigrants are really starting to get on my last nerve,and the americans who hire and falsify documents to save millions rather then pay an american a living wage,we need to not let anymore immigrants over here we have enough there are no more jobs sorry go home and stop having unprotected sex and bringing babies in to poverty

BillSaysVoteThemOutNow wrote:
"These are *LEGAL* immigrants."So what. They are just more leeches who come here and never, or for a short-term, paid into the system. They just continue to bleed the system for "real Americans" so our health care suffers and our retirement age has to be raised so they can "follow their dream".To hell with them.

Sadly, I came to believe that it did not matter that I was a "legal" immigrant, and later a "naturalized" American - there were many who viewed me as "not really American" and voiced that I didn't really belong in the US.


Samuel's medical coverage was dropped only because he was a legal immigrant, as as a direct result, he died.