Sunday, December 24, 2006

...and to all a good night.

According to this shot snagged from Norad's live Santa-Tracking website, Santa has just finished visiting Canadian troops, among others, in Afghanistan.

Let's hope he brought them a peaceful night and some hope for a light at the end of the tunnel in the New Year.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Bigot of the Year

It was a squeaker in a year that brought us Mel Gibson's drunken anti-semitic ramblings and Michael Edwards' racist meltdown, but Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode managed to slip in just before the New Year to snatch the prize.

In a letter sent to several constituents, Goode warns that "if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."

The letter actually gets worse from there.

Goode is standing firmly by his remarks.

Merry Christmas, Congressman Goode. I hope Santa brings some peace for your misguided, ignorant soul.


Monday, December 18, 2006


Christmas package arrived from home today!

I'm amazed as Sis told me they only mailed it a few days ago. It took me only 2 1/2 hours to completely open it (winks at Sis) and was worth every minute.

This is always a high point of the season for me. Not only is it a link to my family back home, but they always tuck in goodies that are much harder to get "on the Mainland" than on the Island.

Purity Foods is a company established in 1924 in Newfoundland. For all Newfoundlanders and expats, their candies, biscuits, crackers, cookies, breads, syrups and other goodies are the taste of home.

In the bags on the left are Purity Kisses, big yummy gobs of toffee (think saltwater toffee, but flavoured differently) that come in rum and butter, butterscotch, molasses, and, oddly, banana and coconut flavours (do you suppose the latter two have their roots in the Caribbean rum/fish trade out of Newfoundland?). On the right are Jam Jams, delicious moist gingery, molassesy cookie sandwiches with strawberry jam in between. Purity Foods are "homely" in the original sense of the word, old-fashioned and plain and comforting and home-like, with echoes of our English and Irish heritage, and they are a Christmas treat indeed.

Plus there was also a card and gifts for us and for the kitties from their Newfoundland canine cousins, and a letter from Spike to the Ronniecats (man, his spelling is worse than Mojo's, but he is an entertaining author).

Earlier this week I got a card and photos and a letter from my older brother, whose story is complicated and who I don't write about often and who is a post all his own. From him and his wife and his two beautiful children, grown adults now. I'm so proud of him.

Merry Christmas, family. Merry Christmas to all who are far from home and who wait for the package, the card, the letter, that reassures you we are still, after all, family, and not very far apart at all.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Funny Boy

Husband and I have two Godchildren, a neice and a nephew. After becoming their Godparents we decided it would be nice to start them on a collection of something.

We signed them up for a numbered series of special edition Aitkens Pewter Christmas tree ornaments. Each year, they get the same number ornament in that year's series. By the time they're grown, they'll have a whole tree full of these beautiful ornaments. And because Aitkens is a venerable New Brunswick company, they'll have a lot of home on their Christmas tree, no matter where life takes them.

It's always fun to see what the theme or design of the ornament is each Christmas. Husband came home the other night and said "I picked up the Christmas ornaments from Aitken's."

"Oh, good!" I said. "What are they this year?"

"Forty-four dollars," he replied.

Funny boy.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Silent Night

Ultra-cool. CSI:NY's Christmas episode (aptly titled Silent Night) has a storyline built around a murder in a deaf family, and guest-stars Marlee Matlin.

I have come to love Matlin's work (with the exception of the ridiculous scene in an episode of "Seinfeld" where she is supposed to have mis-lip-read "swept" for "slept" - a mistake the newest lip-reader could not make) because it is consistently so genuinely reflective of the way real deaf people communicate, interact and behave. Whether that's due to Matlin herself insisting on authenticity or whether it's due to good judgment in the people she chooses to work with, the result is very satisfying to a deaf viewer.

Tonight's CSI was no exception. (Warning: major plot spoilers follow.)

The selective uses of silent scenes was particularly effective, I would guess, in bringing a hearing audience's understanding of the character's world to life. The special effects showing how a sound wave from a shotgun blast would rush through a home and be picked up by a deaf person in another room as a vibration, were interesting and intriguing; the scene where Matlin's character identifies the type of murder weapon by feeling the vibrations of many different firearms in the same setting as the original crime is inspired.

The turning of the plot around cochlear implants, and their controversial status among the deaf, was brilliant, if superficially handled (superficially because the deaf family's plot was one of two murders the team was solving in the episode). And the scene where Matlin snatches the CI processor from the ear of a bad guy and throws it out a car window in a hostage situation, rendering her captor deaf, was a brilliant stroke which brought cheers from viewers in the ronniecat household. Clearly, the episode was written by someone who not only understands the technology, but saw the dramatic potential in it.

I also love watching sign in any context. Matlin signs beautifully (as did the actor who played her husband) and has an incredibly expressive face, so important to ASL. She's a joy to watch.

Compare this to "Sue Thomas, FB Eye", a series based on a real person of the same name who is a deaf FBI agent. Or, as many deaf people I know refer to it, "the breakthrough series starring a deaf person playing a deaf lead character who was shown to magically read lips perfectly and speak almost perfectly and who, after the first episode, rarely showed any evidence of being deaf. Whatsoever."

Anyway, nice treat there for CSI fans, CI wearers and deaf peeps, all of which I am. Throw in Gary Sinese, a good murder mystery and a Very Special Christmas Episode and I'm in ho-ho-heaven.

(Incidentally, Matlin's breakthrough movie, Children of a Lesser God, was filmed in Saint John, NB, and my ASL teacher was an extra in it as a little guy. :) )



Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tempest in a Sea-Tac

Unwelcome as the annual office party, prickly as a clove-studded orange, as mildly nauseating as a little too much eggnog, the annual tempest in a teapot has erupted somewhere over the "war on Christmas". This time a Rabbi threatened to sue Seattle-Tacoma International Airport unless a menorah display was erected next to the airport's largest Christmas tree. Faced with the terrifying spectre of benign expression of multiple faiths , the airport authorities jerked their knees in the direction of the graveyard-shift maintenance crews, who were ordered to take down all eight of the airport's Christmas trees overnight. (The Port Authority's belated rationale: if they put up a menorah they might have to put up displays from other religions as well, something the staff didn't have time for during the busy holiday season. Damn those pushy Hindus and their multi-armed holiday statue displays, those Buddhists with their chubby December decorations and the Muslims, with their ban on iconograpy, the worst of all!)

So everyone was unhappy, and with good cause, as I can think of current wars in the Middle East which have been handled with more forethought and tact.

Rabbi Mark Gellman gets the tone just about right in his column on the holiday fiasco. How much fuss we could save ourselves if we stopped trivializing important issues!

The good news? Sanity prevails, long after the Rabbi and the Port Authority managed to get everybody mad at them in particular, and Jews and pig-headed beaurocrats in general. The airport will put its trees back, the Rabbi won't sue, and next year the Jewish community will be consulted on the holiday display. Which suggests that a menorah may in fact go up. Expect a staff-drowning avalanche of other religous imagery and display to follow. Or not.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Official Start of the RonnieChristmas Season...


Monday, December 04, 2006

Cookin' with gas

What a day... as my cat Mojo has reported in his own completely inimitable style, today in one day we switched from oil heat to joining the natural gas grid.

We've discussed and planned for this move for many months... We needed to switch to an alternative heat form eventually anyway; we're on the water table and our oil tank is no longer an acceptable environmental risk. Electricity wasn't an option - in this big old house? Completely impractical and fabulou$ly expen$ive. We'd love to go much greener but just don't have that much spare money lying around in piles to invest in it right now (although technology like solar panels is something we're pretty much planning to add over time in future).

Pluses included the fact that natural gas is better, environmentally, and it's produced and refined locally in Atlantic Canada (our gas comes from the Sable Island project).

So, big day; Husband didn't get much sleep last night (I did, I worked Saturday - again - and I'm exhausted), but the guys did a crackerjack job and they made it all happen beautifully in one day. Nice warm air gushing out of the vents all over the house as I type.



Sunday, December 03, 2006

LA Times looks north, takes right turn at Albuquerque

Yes, yes, we know we're not worthy and we should be grateful they deigned to notice at all what their largest trading partner is up to, but the LA Times posted a real howler in a brief report about Stéphane Dion's election.

"The Liberal Party unexpectedly chose former Environment Minister Stephane Dion as its new leader, overlooking his political shortcomings — a heavy French accent and unpopularity in his home province of Quebec — that could undermine the party in an election expected next year."

"A heavy French accent"? A political shortcoming in Canada? In the same sentence in which they acknowledge the importance of Québec?

Hey, International Editor - it's the Right Honourable Jean Chretien on line 2. He'd like to know why you never heard of him.



Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Liberal Party of Canada chooses a new leader

Moments ago, the Liberal Party of Canada elected Stéphane Dion as their new leader, making him the Leader of the Official Opposition and the next Prime Minister of my country as soon as we can send the nasty gang of Neo-con dinosaurs currently occupying Cabinet packing with the electorate's footprints firmly in their socially-regressive arses.

I like Dion, have always liked him, but then I've always had a soft spot for unabashedly federalist francophone Quebécois. Beyond that, he comes across as a smart, thoughtful, fundamentally decent guy; he is strong on environmental issues (he was Minister of the Environment under Paul Martin); and he has experience and a history with the Party notably lacking in some other candidates.

But even if I didn't like Dion, I would be hugely relieved that the Party stepped back from what at one time seemed to be the unstoppable train wreck of electing a wooden academic who's lived outside the country for the best part of the past 30 years, who, as a Harvard University Professor, supported the invasion of Iraq, and whose most notable traits are his tendency to speak condescendingly during interviews ("parse the sentence, Avi") and his obvious Messiah Complex.

Whatever placed the blinkers around the eyes of the delegates who supported him, Michael Ignatieff is absolutely, positively unelectable in almost all of Canada. Try selling this guy in Newfoundland, in Cape Breton, in Calgary, in most of Ontario.

Now let's get our s#$t together and take back our country.