Thursday, June 29, 2006

All Things Considered

Mom's Cancer continues to get excellent media coverage and the latest is an interview on NPR (America's National Public Radio network) show "All Things Considered" (which, as I understand it, is a network flagship show analogous to CBC's "As it Happens").

NPR's page about the interview, including a link where you can hear it, is here.

He appeared with Miriam Engleberg, who coincidentally has also recently released a graphic novel about her own breast cancer, Cancer made me a shallower person. (What a great title!) This means that she and Brian have appeared, in print or in person, together in a couple of venues, as reviewers double up on the books for articles. Their art styles probably couldn't be much more different; yet from what he says, she sounds like an amazing person and they get along like gangbusters.

Brian comments on his blog that he's a little sorry NPR chose to run the panels it did from Mom's Cancer for the web story, noting they're not really representative of the book. It's true, they're not; the book overall is less angry than these particular panels. But it's a powerful excerpt with some stunning samples of Brian's art, and the interview has apparently generated a lot of web action, which is, of course, a Good Thing.

I went to a citizenship ceremony today. Due to the nature of my work I get to go as part of my job (bonus!) and I usually know one or two of the families getting their citizenship at any one. Today was a special day - two co-workers and their families were getting their Canadian citizenship, including one who I consider a close friend - the Indian woman I introduced to Canadian gardening. She, her husband, and her two beautiful daughters became citizens today and I just about burst with happiness that they have chosen - in a family with roots in India and branches in the US, Germany, and New Zealand - to make Canada their permanent home.

It's funny - citizenship ceremonies are so fundamental to the principles our countries are built on, both in the US and Canada, and so few people ever attend one. I suppose most people don't even know that - in Canada at least - they're public events and anyone can attend. Those who do probably never "had any reason" to attend one. That's 'cause the reason you should, or you'll be glad you did, isn't obvious.

Even if you don't know one single person reciting that oath, you'll find it an incredibly moving experience. It makes you think - focus on - things we rarely do in our busy lives. What does my country mean? Who are these people who want to come here and join us? And why did they choose us?

Between those thoughts, and watching the new citizens cross the stage and get their certificates and cards and little flag pins - especially the families - especially the people proudly wearing their ethnic dress, bringing their beautiful cultures to your country - especially the children, the innumerable shades of pink and brown and braids and cornrows and silky ponytails - you'll think, "this is my country's future. This is our future, right here, in front of me, now."

And that's a Good Thing, too.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dancing with my shelf...

Husband is a good cat-dad.

Tonight he finished his latest project - a shelf, in our big, sunny, glassed-in porch, for the kitties. Enjoy photos of Mojo and Veronica:

and Veronica by herself:

checking it out.

This is gonna be a big hit this summer for our indoor kids.

Incidentally, this is just another example of how full and enjoyable the life of an indoor cat can be with some effort and attention on the part of its human companions.

When we were considering getting Veronica, our first cat, one friend in particular vociferously criticized our decision to make her an indoor cat. We were "denying the cat's nature", he said. He waved off our arguments about the dangers of loss, disease, traffic, heat, cold, dogs, wild animals, sadistic humans, and all the other terrible dangers an outdoor cat is at the mercy of. "A life indoors for a cat is no life at all," he scoffed.

Today, Veronica is nine and Mojo is eight; both are happy and healthy and live in a house full of stimulation, including cat tunnels and shelves and windows and toys and stairs to run up and down; both go outside on harnesses and enjoy the fresh air; both live as full and content lives as I suppose a cat could.

And our friend has a cat of his own. An indoor cat.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kid Sis!

Happy Birthday, Kid Sis!!

Now go read her weblog.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good help is hard to find

We took Veronica to the Vet today for her annual checkup and vaccinations.

Our Vet, Dr. Sewell, is awesome -- but she's going to have to do something about the receptionist. The service is lousy.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Heil Kitler!

Since we can't piss on the old bastard's grave, the second-best tribute to one of history's most vile characters is to mock him. Any way we can, any time we're able. As often as possible.

Can we involve photos of cats? Hell's kitchen! Even better, then.

That's why sites like this one - Cats Who Look Like Hitler - are so very, very important, my friends.

All heil der Katzenführer!

Warmest thanks to Brian Fies for pointing me to this while noting, "I thought of you when I saw it. You may choose to be flattered or not."

Oh, I am. I am.


Monday, June 19, 2006

This is what a refugee looks like.

Victor HugoSigmund FreudJoseph ConradPiet MondrianAlbert EinsteinMarc ChagallVladimir NabokovAnne FrankMadeleine AlbrightAdrienneClarksonRigobertoMenchú Michaëlle   JeanUnidentified African Women

Tomorrow, June 20, 2006, is World Refugee Day.
Think about the issues. You have 20,800,000 reasons to.


(From top left: Victor Hugo - Sigmund Freud - Joseph Conrad - Piet Mondrian - Albert Einstein - Marc Chagall - Vladimir Nabokov - Anne Frank - Madeleine Albright - Adrienne Clarkson - Rigoberto Menchú - Michaëlle Jean - Unidentified African Women)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Funniest. Cat. Video. Ever.

- ronnie

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If you can't be with the one you love... the one you're with.

Taken around the corner from my house. If you're not a footie fan and the flag isn't familiar, here's a better, similar image:

Edit: then there's this guy, who cuts right to the chase and links cheering for foreign countries in the world cup (where Canada didn't even qualify) to the recruitment of Canadian youth by Islamic terrorist cells. Now that's an impressive segue.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reach for the sky, cat...

This is my current laptop wallpaper.

It's insurance.

I figure that any day when I see one ridiculous photoshopped image of a kitten that makes me laugh out loud isn't a complete loss.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yankee Ingenuity!

My good friend Mike Peterson forwarded an article today that reminded me of why - my recent rant about a handful of surly Yankee pundits notwithstanding - I love Americans - Mike himself, for sending this, for starters - and America.

After all, is there a city that sounds more... American to the foreign ear than Des Moines, Iowa? And this... this... is their flood plan. We can only hope it fulfilled its intended purpose of "[taking] some of the load off of the pipe downstream".

There's simply no way I can 'set up' this link. You just plain have to see it for yourself.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Grace under Pressure

CBC's "The Current" website now features weekly "best of" collections in podcast format. (Don't let the name fool you. You don't need an iPod, or any portable MP3 player, to play podcasts - they're just MP3 files you can play on any computer with an MP3 player, such as RealAudio or Windows Media Player, installed.)

One must-hear episode features an hour-long interview with James Loney, one of the two Canadian Christian Peacemakers held hostage in Iraq along with a Briton and an American for 117 days until three were freed by British Special Forces troops. (American Tom Fox, tragically, was murdered by his captors before the rescue.)

The interview is the most fascinating thing I've listened to in a very long time. Loney discusses his captors, his confinement, the hostages' ambivalence over whether they should try to escape - especially if they could not all attempt it at once (I was astonished to hear that they retrieved a nail from the bottom of a pair of cheap sneakers their captors gave them and used it to unlock their handcuffs nightly; this meant that Loney and Harmeet Sooden could have attempted escape, but Tom Fox and Norman Kember, who were also chained to fixtures in the room, could not have), and seeing glimpses of a television newscast that led them to the terrible suspicion that Tom Fox had been killed.

Loney also talks about his feelings about the soldiers who rescued and brought them home (he describes the soldiers on the Hercules aircraft who took them to the UAE as "these beautiful people" who "invited us on to the flight deck" and who he feared would be "mad at us... these meddling peacemakers" they had to risk their lives to rescue and care for), how his Christian faith influenced his behavior and decisions during the ordeal, and how he is now working on behalf of five Muslim men being currently held in Canada as potential terrorist threats on "security certificates" who wrote a statement during his confinement begging his captors for his release.

Loney's partner, Dan Hunt, was also in the studio and talks movingly about the stress of having to become "invisible", lest James' sexual orientation put him at even greater jeopardy than he was already in, and about how he found out that James was free.

There's much more in the podcast itself. It's an amazing listen. Check it out.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Shadenfreude, USA

I am behind on many things, including updating the r.a.c.s. pet gallery, mostly because of last weekend's arrest of 17 suspects in a terrorist plot in Toronto. We all had a role to play in that distressing drama, and mine was to handle local media and try to put things into perspective to ward off a feared backlash. There was none, really, of course, other than the unfortunate vandalism of a Toronto mosque. That there wasn't didn't really surprise me. As a nation, we're exceptionally good at putting things - even very upsetting and distressing things - into perspective and not overreacting. In fact, given that the week before we'd heard testimony at a public hearing that there are indeed terrorist elements in Canada, the arrests are oddly reassuring - proof that the system is working, rather than that it is broken. We'd be fools to think they are not here; what is comforting is that we are watching, and catching them.

One of the most disappointing, if not totally unexpected, responses has been the shadenfreude coming out of a certain corner of the American media - a viewpoint being given ample voice in the mainstream press. Vincent Carroll in the Rocky Mountain News smugly points out the glaringly obvious - that terrorists won't excuse Canada because we're "nice". Thank God we had him to point that out to us, because Canadians had been stumbling around with the erroneous notion that fanatical religious zealots were swayed into random acts of kindness by niceness.

Clifford May, a syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard, comes right out and says in a widely-published column that we deserved it for the sins of being "democratic, liberal, multicultural, diverse and tolerant".

And this nasty editorial by Johan Goldberg in the LATimes pretty much hits all the bases - we're nice, we respect the United Nations, and we're foolishly multicultural and tolerant.

There are plenty of other examples out there, especially if you count the frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing loony bloggers.

In fact, most of the authors I'm referring to are gleefully pointing to Canada's official multiculturalism policy and our mosaic theory (as opposed to the 'melting pot' assimilation model) as being the cause of this problem, as if - inexplicably - they think we are at greater risk than the US, and the chickens are - ha ha! - finally coming home to roost for those disgusting socialist pinko Canadians in the form of this plot.

They're wrong, of course. The official policy, and unofficial casual practice, of multiculturalism and day-to-day embracing of diversity is why Canadian Muslims feel "Canadian" as well as "Muslim"; it's why Canadian Muslim leaders were comfortable very shortly after 9/11 with issuing a formal fatwa against terrorism, along with statements declaring that it was every Canadian Muslim's civic and religous duty as a Muslim to report terrorist activity or rhetoric if they knew of it; and it's why I still feel our chances of having such plots reported by people inside the community is better here than in countries where Muslims feel excluded, scrutinized, suspect, other.

I'm embarrassed for these ignorant authors and their unseemly gloating. They seem to have forgotten where their at-risk airplanes, any one of which could have been another flying bomb, landed and their people were taken in on September 11, 2001. They're also forgetting that any illusions that we had that we are not involved immediately and in a hands-on fashion in the war on terror were discussed at length and put away forever when Canadian youth started coming home from Afghanistan in boxes.

We're all in this together. It would be nice if the baser numbers of our alleged best friends treated us so.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Techno-colours, Gromit - ex -NASA!

I can't believe I forgot to show you my birthday pressie! My birthday was back in April (bonne fête à moi etc etc) and Husband got me the coolest gift - techno colours for my CI processor!

How cool are these colours? I've gotten so many comments* on them!

Honey, if you're gonna be a cyborg in the 21st century, be an OUT and PROUD cyborg in the 21st century. Mmm-hmm.

Tomorrow is Bark in the Park and we'd planned to take the kitties for the Blessing of the Animals; but it's pouring today and expected to be as bad tomorrow, so we'll have to see.

Because let's face it; the only thing worse than a pagan cat who's getting the blessing of some foreign whack monotheistic god-cult is a wet pagan cat who's getting the blessing of some foreign whack monotheistic god-cult...


*complimentary, of course. And nervous. And that one lady who left the queue and ran out the exit at Wendy's with her hand over her mouth in shock and horror.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

"The important thing is to keep moving..."

Hola, gatos y gatas!

I mentioned before that I had re-started working out at the gym after getting my implant. It took me a year to work up my nerve, but on Tuesday I took my first formal class - a "step class", a combination of cardio/aerobic and weight/strength training.

I used to be really surprisingly good at a similar aerobic/kickboxing class I took until I went deaf, considering that I am generally pretty unathletic. But I found back then that to my surprise I just flew through the steps, working out my repressed desire to be a dancer!!

This time, however, there were a couple of pretty significant challenges, as I expected.

Less problematic was the fact that I couldn't really follow the instructor's shouted directions over the music; that wasn't hard to get around. I just watched the people around me and followed them. (Fortunately I was born with an extremely dominant "don't give a damn what other people think" gene.)

More problematic were balance issues. While I don't have trouble with balance in my everyday life, the deafness and surgery has played havoc with my balance in more complex situations. I had to skip some bits of the workout that involved more complicated steps and kicks, settling for substituting simpler moves instead. And I can't - I discovered - stand on one leg for stretching exercises for more than a brief fraction of a second at a time.

Overall, I still got a darned good workout, but I must've looked quite a mess. The instructor ( a very sweet, solicitous, flaming fellow who had welcomed me before the class) came over afterwords and said in a kind voice, "You did very well. The important thing is to keep moving." I almost laughed out loud at this damning with faint praise. Bless him. I will be back next week, perhaps just a little better coordinated.

This weekend is Bark in the Park, an annual fundraiser for the local SPCA that I participate in annually and really enjoy. Lucky for you guys I haven't figured out how to hit you up for $ponsorship$ or donation$ over the 'net - yet - or I'd be harassing you, too...