Tuesday, 31 July 2012
These people are driving us crazy! I'm talking about this organization called "Political Opinions." They call us at least once every day - always a recorded message, asking us to take a brief political survey, and then we qualify for a "free" Bahamas cruise. Right. A long time ago (well, maybe 12 years ago) we got taken in by one of these things. We signed up for a lovely Florida vacation - 3 days in Fort Lauderdale and 3 days in Orlando, and a "free" Bahamas cruise. We had been planning a trip to Florida that year anyway, and decided - why not, if it's free and we can save money. Well, we got all that they offered. 3 days in a run down Fort Lauderdale motel. Then an overnight cruise to the Bahamas on what must be the oldest cruise ship still floating with a swimming pool even the crew called the "swimming puddle" because it was so tiny. Then 3 more days in a nice Orlando motel. To get that we had to put up with time share tours, etc. We were promised discounted Disney tickets - but to get them had to agree to more time share tours. We said thank, but no thanks. In the end, all the free stuff ended up costing us more than we would have paid if we hadn't gone "free." Live and learn. But this "Political Opinions" is shifty. I checked them out. They're an American firm. They do a "political opinion" survey so that they can get around the requirements of the "Do Not Call" list on both sides of the border and then they move into the sales pitch to get you to pay for the "free" Bahamas cruise. They're a complete scam. The next time they call and I answer I want to have a bit of fun with them, lead them on, enjoy myself a bit - all quite politely, of course. I do highly recommend going to the Bahamas. On that trip we took, the few hours we actually spent in the Bahamas was really, really nice. I'd like to go back. But in a more legitimate way next time. But my advice is definitely to take care when "Political Opinions" calls.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
I've only ever eaten at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant once. It was last year, and I believe it was the Chick-Fil-A on General Booth Boulevard in Virginia Beach. We stopped there while on vacation after a day at the Virginia Aquarium. To be perfectly honest, although I can picture the inside of the restaurant I remember nothing about the meal, which probably means that it wasn't a memorable meal. That's not a bad thing. It just means that the meal was neither very, very good nor very, very bad. It was - well - chicken, I guess. So why mention it now, after almost a year since our visit? Well, I keep reading about the "Chick-Fil-A controversy." The owner of Chick-Fil-A - Dan Cathy - happens to be a very devout and evangelical Christian. I first discovered that last year when, on our visit, we found out that the restaurant was closed on Sundays. I can respect that. Personally, I shop on Sundays and do all sorts of other things beside leading worship, but if that's important to someone, I respect their decision - and even more now that I've read that Chick-Fil-A maintained the Sunday closing even after being asked to lift it in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics. They lost a lot of potential business by doing that. So, I respect that. The controversy now is over same sex marriage. Dan Cathy is an evangelical Christian - stress on "evangelical." He doesn't believe in same sex marriage and he's quite open about that and he supports a number of conservative, family values, anti-same sex marriage groups. Now, a boycott is being called for. That I have no problem with. Dan Cathy has every right to stand for what he believes in, as long as he's not breaking the law or supporting groups that are breaking the law - and he's not. Those who disagree with him have every right to boycott his restaurants - and, apparently, they are, and they're trying to convince others to do the same. Fair game. Now comes the problem. The mayors of both Boston and Chicago have stated that Chick-Fil-A is not welcome in their cities. Wait a minute. Chick-Fil-A is doing nothing illegal. They're advocating for a position they have every right to advocate for, but they're good corporate citizens as far as I can see; they obey the laws. They may support anti- same sex marriage groups, but in anything I've read they've not been accused of discriminating against homosexuals, either by refusing service or by refusing employment. So I have real problems with mayors trying to keep them out of their cities - especially in Chicago, since same sex marriage isn't legal in Illinois to begin with. Whether Chick-Fil-A can make a go of it in Boston and Chicago should be up to the citizens of Boston and Chicago, who will decide whether or not to eat there. That's called free enterprise and a free market. But Chick-Fil-A shouldn't be kept out just because the mayors of the cities don't like either Dan Cathy's religion or Dan Cathy's politics. That's getting into some dangerous territory in my opinion.
Friday, 27 July 2012
I watched a little bit of the Opening Ceremonies tonight. Just a little bit. Some of it was well done. Rowan Atkinson was funny, the children's choir that sang "God Save The Queen" sang a verse I didn't know. I feel some excitement for the countries that could only send 2 or 3 athletes. It must be exciting for those athletes to be there. I like Paul McCartney and I like "Hey Jude" but he went on way too long, to the point where I was wondering if he was ever planning to end. The part with the Queen jumping from a helicopter was just plain silly. But - let the Games begin. Truth be told, I'm not huge on the Olympics. Oh I'll probably watch some of them, but I'm not huge on them. First, politics has taken over the Olympic games. Probably since at least the Nazi games of 1936 in Berlin. And whatever happened to competing for the sake of competing. Now athletes (at least Canadians, and probably others) get a certain amount of money for gold, a certain amount for silver, etc. I always thought the Olympics should be open to professional athletes, but I had hoped athletes would still compete for the sake of competing. The money isn't huge by pro standards, but somehow it seems wrong. And there are way too many events. Come on. Badminton? Table Tennis? These are games, not sports. So why not the Olympic chess tournament. Or Snakes and Ladders? And I have problems with "judged" events. If you have to outscore, outrun, outhit, out jump, etc. I can see that. Your success is objectively measured. But judged events don't seem right either. Yeah. I include some biggies in that. Diving, gymnastics. They're beautiful, but why not ballroom dancing? I know - Olympic Idol! That would be a hit. The audience could vote on who wins gold, silver and bronze! (I shouldn't have said that. It will give the IOC ideas!) Where and how Beach Volleyball fits in I have no idea! Now, I don't completely discount the Olympics. I will - as I said - be watching. And some of the events are quite exciting. I like the swimming competition and a lot of the track events. Rowing is interesting. And I conceded a few days ago that there a Canadian Olympic gymnast I'll be watching out for. No doubt the modern Olympics have come a long way from their humble beginning in Athens in 1896. Probably not exactly what Pierre de Coubertin had in mind to be honest. No doubt they're not exactly what the ancient Greeks had in mind, either. However, they are what they are, and they're with us for the next couple of weeks. Once again - let the Games begin!
Thursday, 26 July 2012
So World War II almost came to Canadian shores. Really. I've heard the story of a Japanese submarine shelling a lighthouse on Vancouver Island in 1942, and I'm also aware that some people have argued that the attack was a fake - that it was actually done by the U.S. Navy to bolster Canadian enthusiasm for the War. Who knows. I know that German U-boats operated in the Gulf Of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River and did a lot of damage, including sinking the civilian passenger ferry SS Caribou on its way to Port Aux Basques. But this story today was fascinating. Searchers looking for the bodies of 3 men discovered something else: what they believe is a sunken German U-boat. What's really interesting is that it was found in the Churchill River - about 100 kilometres from the Ocean. Why and how a submarine would be there is anybody's guess. I mean, there's not really much in Labrador even today, although it is true that there was an air force base used by the United States in Goose Bay during the war. So was the crew of the U-boat there to attack the base? Sabotage it? Were they going to be sent into Canada (and possibly the US) to engage in sabotage? Surely they were there for a reason. Intriguing. Of course, right now they don't even know for sure if it is a submarine. They just think it's a submarine. And they have no idea if any crew are on it - although one would expect so. Germany is saying that if there are crew on board then the submarine should be treated as a war grave and left alone. I have no argument with that. One does wonder, though - what was it doing there in the first place?
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
There's been nothing of great note in either the news or in my life today. This is just something I want to talk about. They keep popping up from time to time. These folks who say Barack Obama shouldn't be allowed to be President because (they claim) he wasn't born in the United States. The theory - so to speak - has him born in Kenya. To state the obvious, this is happening because Barack Obama is black. If he were white, nobody would care. They also don't like his politics. They say he's a socialist - which is a bit of a joke, because in any other democratic country on earth he'd probably be just a little to the right of centre, but seriousness has nothing to do with this. Obama is black. He shouldn't be president. In my opinion, that's what it comes down to. There are some pretty well known people out there involved with this. One is Donald Trump. (Please note that I said well known, not credible!) Now there's a sheriff in Arizona who claims to have uncovered "evidence" to support the birther claims - I think maybe he's just looking to boost his profile so he can get an invitation on to the next "Celebrity Apprentice." Here's the deal. People wanted proof that Obama was born in the United States, so he provided a "Certificate of Live Birth" issued by the State of Hawaii. Then that wasn't enough. People wanted a long form birth certificate. So that was finally produced. Officials from the State of Hawaii have said that it's legitimate. That's not enough. The reality is that there's a certain group of people who will not accept anything. I find it quite convincing that two Honolulu daily newspapers carried birth announcements of the birth of a son to Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama in Honolulu on August 4, 1961. The birthers apparently want us to believe that Obama's father planted these two birth announcements in Honolulu newspapers so that his baby son in Kenya could move to the United States and be fraudulently elected as President almost 50 years later. Of course, that makes perfect sense. The whole thing is a racist embarrassment on the United States. Obama hasn't been a great president. Mind you, he's been hampered by a Republican Congress that doesn't want to work with him. But setting that aside, it's a shame that certain segments of society who don't want him as president choose to lie and attack him on anything but policy. It's not setting up a pleasant presidential election this fall. Not at all.
The Bluefire Jellyfish is usually found in the North Sea and the Irish Sea, off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland. There's also a small population off the coast of Japan. Where they aren't found is in the waters off North America, which makes it very interesting that one was found recently in the Bay of Fundy, off the coast of New Brunswick. No one is really sure how it got there. Some think it may just have drifted on an east-west current all the way across the Atlantic, and some think it might have hitched a ride in some ballast water of a ship making the crossing. However it made it, this is the first Bluefin Jellyfish ever found in North American waters. Apparently the Bluefin Jellyfish has a very painful sting - which I can believe, since I have some personal experience of having been stung by a jellyfish last summer in Virginia Beach. It wasn't a Bluefin, obviously, but the sting hurt. This particular Bluefin is about 18 inches across and the species is so little known that they don't even know what to feed it. Apparently, sadly, it's also not expected to live much longer, since the normal lifespan of these creatures is simply one season. So very soon North America may once again have no Bluefin Jellyfish.
Monday, 23 July 2012
God bless them. That's about all I can say. Westboro Baptist Church (that vile and hate-filled community that dares to call itself a "church") has been at it again. This time they were trying to picket the funeral of a US soldier who was killed in Afghanistan last month. Now, I abhor the very concept of picketing a funeral. I don't care what the reason is. I might at least be able to understand the motivation if Westboro Baptist Church picketed such things because they opposed war or something like that. But that's not their motive. They believe that every dead US solider is another sign of God's judgment on America - because of the growing acceptance of homosexuality. After all, in their warped way of looking at things, "God hates fags." (The quote is from them, not me.) In fact, according to them, God hates a lot of things and a lot of people; pretty much everybody except those who belong to Westboro Baptist Church. Surprise! The Westboro protest was simply going to be a hate-filled spewing of venom against mostly homosexuals. The theology I won't even get into. It's too warped to do that here. But I applaud this group of people (it eventually turned into the thousands) who gathered to block the Westboro leaders from even getting near the funeral, and giving the family the opportunity to grieve in peace. The only thing better would be if the media would stop giving Westboro this kind of attention. Although in this case the attention went to those who stood up to them. They deserve credit!
Sunday, 22 July 2012
We have had almost no rain in South Niagara this year. And it's becoming a problem. Lawns are brown, flowers are dying, and on a few occasions as we walk through town my daughter has pointed out that it looks like fall because there are so many leaves on the ground. It's not fall, of course. It's just that there's so little water that the leaves on the trees are dying. I had hoped that the drought had ended (at least temporarily) today. We spent most of our day in Toronto, and just before we were leaving a torrential downpour hit. We got soaked just running to the car. On the way home there were more torrential downpours (along with massive thunder and lightning) as we drove along the north shore of Lake Ontario and again along the south shore of Lake Ontario. The rain was so bad there was little visibility and traffic was crawling, but we didn't mind. We all knew that we needed a big storm. In fact, the last time I remember driving in rain so hard was abut 20 years ago when we were on vacation in Washington, D.C. The rain that day got so heavy we had to finally give up and get off the highway - only to discover when it stopped that we had parked in the parking lot of the Pentagon! Well, it wasn't that bad today, but it was pretty bad. And then we exited the QEW and headed south. And everything cleared up. As we neared home the one thing we noticed was that there was no water on the road. Not a puddle, not a drop. Everything in our world is still dry as a bone. And more leaves will fall.
Saturday, 21 July 2012
I've never before heard of Nathan Gafuik, but all of a sudden he's my favourite Olympic athlete; a guy I'm going to be rooting for in London when the Olympic Games open next weekend. Who is he? He's a member of the Canadian men's gymnastics team. Now gymnastics is not really my thing. I remember actually hating gymnastics when I was in high school. It was a part of gym class, and I was terrible at it - and I hated it. Despised it even. Oh, now that I'm an adult, able to watch but not compete in it, I can appreciate the athleticism and sheer beauty of gymnastics, but it's still not at the top of my list of events that I'm really into. So why is Nathan Gafuik now my favourite Olympic athelete? Simply put, it's because he has Addison's Disease. You see, my wife also has Addison's Disease. It's quite under control now, thank God, but almost 4 years ago it was undiagnosed and it led to complications and she almost died because of it, and ended up spending almost two months in the hospital because of it. So I'm quite aware of the challenges that go along with having this disease. Addison's Disease basically means that a person's adrenal glands have shut down. They don't produce many of the hormones that the human body needs to survive, and specifically they don't produce cortisol, which is a significant hormone that helps the body cope with stress. A person with Addison's Disease has to be on hormone replacements and steroids for the rest of their lives just to survive. Only about 1 in 100,000 people have it, so it's also a pretty rare disease, and it's hard to diagnose because it mimics other diseases. So I know from my wife's own experiences that Nathan Gafuik has had to overcome a lot of obstacles to be in the Olympics. I know nothing of the world of gymnastics. Gafuik competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but didn't come close to winning a medal, and my impression is that Gafuik is not considered a medal contender in London either, but he really is an example of the Olympic motto that it isn't winning that matters; it's competing. I'll be watching for his events, and I wish him well.
Friday, 20 July 2012
Who knew that the United States had banned Kinder Eggs? There was a bizarre incident at the border a few days ago as an American couple travelling back home from Vancouver were stopped at the border, held for questioning for two hours and threatened with thousands of dollars of fines. Their crime? They were bringing 6 Kinder Eggs into the United States - and they're banned in the U.S. because the small toys inside them, so the US Government says, could pose a choking hazard to small children. So could bullets, I suppose, but no one is banning them in the U.S. I raise the comparison because of a horrific shooting last night in Colorado, when a lone gunman opened fire inside a movie theatre during a midnight screening of the new Batman movie. The last I heard, 12 people had been killed and 59 people had been injured - including a 4 month old baby and a 6 year old child. Let's not even worry, for the moment, why people are bringing their babies and small children to midnight screenings. It's a valid question in my mind, but it's not my point right now. I am not jumping on the high horse of "how superior Canada is because we have gun control." Such things happen here too. The now notorious Montreal Massacre, and the Toronto shooting I wrote about just a few days ago prove that. The recent mass shooting in Norway also shows this doesn't just happen in the U.S. And yet gun violence is - from all the statistics I've seen - far more prevalent in the U.S. than anywhere else in the Western world. But anti-gun control people there will point to the recent Toronto shooting and the shooting in Norway and say - "look. Gun control didn't make a difference there" and they'll blithely ignore the insane statistics on gun violence in their country. Gun control doesn't stop idiots from getting guns and using them - but having no gun control sure makes it easier for the idiots to get the guns and use them. But don't worry. America is safe. There's not a Kinder Egg to be found. People from California to Maine will be able to sleep easy knowing that.
As a minister in the United Church of Canada I became aware just today of a situation that's causing a bit of conversation. We have 15 candidates for Moderator of the United Church at this summer's General Council - and only 2 of them are women! That might be a little bit strange, but I don't really consider it a huge issue. It did get me thinking about the place of women in both church and society and it reminded me of something I read a long time ago but had forgotten: Sir John A. Macdonald (Canada's first Prime Minister) was also the leader of the first government in the world that tried to grant women the right to vote! That's an interesting historical note. From different sources I've seen a couple of different stories. One is that the bill was introduced in 1883, failed and was re-introduced in 1884 and failed again. The other is that the bill was introduced in 1885 and failed. Either way, it failed. Interestingly, the bill would have applied only to unmarried women; married women, I suppose, being subject to their husbands in the morality of the day. Either way, while Macdonald was the first to try, he wasn't the first to succeed. In Canada, Ontario gave unmarried women the right to vote in municipality elections in 1884 and it was Manitoba that first granted the full franchise to all women in 1916. Federally, some women were given the right to vote in 1917; this was extended to all women in 1918. So which country was the first to grant women the right to vote? Apparently it was New Zealand under the leadership of Prime Minister John Ballance in 1893. (Both Ballance and Macdonald died in office, but I'm sure that wasn't related to their work on women's suffrage!) It wasn't until 1971 (!) that Switzerland gave women the right to vote in national elections. Somehow that surprises me. I wish the women (and the men) nominated for Moderator of the United Church God's blessing.
Sir John A. Macdonald Sir John Ballance
(b 1815 - d 1891) (b 1839 - d 1893)
Prime Minister of Canada Prime Minister of New Zealand
Sir John A. Macdonald Sir John Ballance
(b 1815 - d 1891) (b 1839 - d 1893)
Prime Minister of Canada Prime Minister of New Zealand
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Nelson Mandela turned 94 years old today. There are very few people I would say this about (in fact I don't think there's anyone else alive in the world today that I'd say this about) but Nelson Mandela is a great man. He is the epitome and textbook definition of greatness. Here was a man who was imprisoned for 30 years and who, upon his release, could have set himself to taking revenge against those who had oppressed him and his people for even longer than that. A lot of people would have thought he was justified to do so. A lot of people in his position would have done so (and, in fact, have done so - think Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.) One word from Mandela and he could have sparked a bloody revolution. Instead, he embraced reconciliation and democracy. He was elected President, and I can still remember the reports of how stunning it was to see white army officers who had imprisoned and harassed and oppressed him for decades standing at attention and saluting him after he was sworn in. I remember the flypast of jets by the South African Air Force in his honour. And the most amazing thing of all - he served one term, and he stepped down. He had no lust for power; no need to hang on to power. His refusal to sanction violence and revenge and his commitment to democracy make him a very rare character - not just in Africa but everywhere. Too many Western leaders seem to be more interested in subverting the democratic process than embracing it. They could learn from Mandela. The United Nations has declared July 18 to be Nelson Mandela International Day (or just Mandela Day.) The website for Mandela Day says "The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. 'Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.' Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of 'service to one’s fellow human.'" I can't say that I did very much. I did however, preach at a nursing home service this afternoon on 2 Corinthians 5, and focused on verse 18: "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation," using Mandela as my prime example of the ministry of reconciliation. He is, indeed, a great man.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
This did not have much to do with God, except that I'm sure God was weeping at the sheer brutality of it all and at how much pain is present in this situation. I'm talking about the horrific shooting last night in Toronto. 2 people dead (one a 15 year old girl) and 23 people wounded (one a 22 month old toddler.) What do you say in response to something like that? What can you say? If there's anything to take solace from, it's that the 23 people wounded are all expected to recover - but that's little comfort to the families of the two who died. This was a gang shooting of some sort, which means that the police are now worried that there will be a wave of retaliation shootings as the rival gang takes revenge. This happened around the area of Morningside and Lawrence Avenues - which isn't really very far from where I grew up. I lived pretty close to McCowan Road and Lawrence Avenue. Morningside wasn't a short stroll, but it wouldn't have been that far either. I haven't lived in Toronto since 1994. Strangely enough, I have little nostalgia for the city. It's changed a lot since I was there, and anytime I am back in any of the neighbourhoods I used to live in it doesn't seem the same; there's no sense of home; little to remind me that I grew up there. I'm not complaining about that or blaming anyone or anything. It's just that times change. In a strange sort of way I feel a little bit like a person without a hometown. Home is wherever I happen to be living at any given time. And that's fine with me. I have absolutely zero desire to ever live in Toronto again. Last night's shooting just reinforces that. It makes me sad for the families that are in mourning now. It makes me angry that such a thing could happen. And it makes me despair a bit - what can be done to put an end to such nonsense? In Canada we like to think we're immune to this sort of thing. We hear of mass shootings in the United States and we think - "thank goodness we live here." Well, perhaps they don't happen as often, but they do happen. We found that out last night.
Monday, 16 July 2012
My daughter and her girlfriend came running into the house tonight, followed by my wife, clutching at her face just below her left eye! What happened? They had discovered a yellow jacket nest built under our backyard slide! Funny thing is that I've been thinking lately that we hadn't seen any yellowjackets this year. They're usually around - and noticeably. They're a type of wasp and they make real pests of themselves. I thought that perhaps the dry weather had discouraged them and they were just absent this year. But now I know different. They're nasty little critters; aggressive and vicious. They're not like bees. Bees just try to stay out of your way. If you don't bother them they generally won't bother you. But yellowjackets? They seem to go after anything that gets near them, and they can sting over and over again. I bundled up pretty good (except for my face - I had nothing to wear to protect that!) and went out armed with Raid Wasp and Hornet Killer spray. It seems to have done the trick. The last time I checked the nest it was quiet. My wife seems to be having no ill effects from the sting, so it looks like we'll have a happy enough ending. Nasty little critters for sure, though.
Friday, 13 July 2012
One wonders how traditions get started. I think tradition is important. Some people would like to throw tradition out the window in favour of simply embracing a brave, new world, but I think that leaves us with precious little connection to things that have proven valuable and important and meaningful over the years. Still, some traditions baffle me. Today is Friday the 13th, and one of the more baffling traditions in my part of the world is the regular Friday the 13th biker trip to Port Dover, Ontario. It seems, from pictures I've seen and things I've heard to be a pleasant enough little town, with some pretty scenery and not really much else of note about it. No one really famous ever seems to have hailed from Port Dover. It's about 100 km west of where I live. I've never, ever been to Port Dover, basically because there doesn't seem to be any particular reason to go there. Unless you're a biker, and it's Friday the 13th. Apparently this all started on Friday, November 13, 1981 when a group of friends with bikes got together in Port Dover and the thing just inexplicably grew until now literally thousands of bikers go there every Friday the 13th. Apparently it doesn't take much to start a tradition - which says something about either traditions or bikers. These aren't nasty bikers, of course. They're basic, average people with motorcycles. Businesses in Port Dover love this for the money it brings in to town; I suspect that residents who don't own businesses find it a bit of a hassle, and may even try to escape when they see this date approaching. Apparently today about 140,000 people showed up. Here's a look at Port Dover's main street at 11:47 this morning:
Here are a few links, just for interest sake:
Thursday, 12 July 2012
No. This is not a special new recipe that we've come up with - although if it were it sounds as though it would be quite yummy! Actually, this was a real spinach surprise. It's surprising how your palate prepares for certain foods at certain times. We had planned all day that we would have broccoli for dinner. For me, that's fine. I like broccoli. My taste buds were primed and ready. Now, I will be honest. We're talking frozen veggies at this point, just because that's what we had available. But - broccoli is broccoli, in my books anyway. So we opened the bag of frozen broccoli (clearly marked) and what did we get - frozen spinach! In one sense, that was OK. I like spinach too. I'm usually fine with spinach. But my taste buds were primed and ready for broccoli. Somehow the spinach just didn't do the trick. I suggested we take the bag back to the store. My wife, though, said no. We only paid 99 cents for it - and we do like spinach, after all. Personally, while kind, I think she's being too generous on this one. But then I was talking to a friend who told me her experience of having opened a bag of frozen green beans and found that the beans had a coating of pubic hair on them! How she knew it was pubic hair I didn't ask. Somehow and for some reason I simply didn't want to get too far into that subject. It did put our experience into perspective though - and I decided that maybe my wife was right. It may not have been broccoli, but it was spinach. And it had no pubic hair on it. I figure that has to be a bonus!
Monday, 9 July 2012
I come across them every now and then, usually in our compost bin. Slimy, wriggling little white worms - fly larvae, attracted to whatever it is that happens to be decomposing in the compost. They're kind of creepy to look at; harmless I suppose but not pleasant to think about, especially because you tend to associate them with death and decomposition. When I was in Chicago recently, my wife sent me a major gross-out message because she had found maggots crawling out of a garbage bag. Since we don't put compost in our garbage bags I can't imagine what they were doing there - unless somebody made a mistake! But once again we see that everything God has made has a purpose. Maggots are potentially quite useful for medical purposes. It sounds like something from the middle ages, but a man in Scarborough (my place of birth) recently had his leg saved after it was expected to be amputated because a quick thinking nurse got the idea of maggot treatment. So maggots were acquired (apparently there is actually a company in California that specializes in medical maggots) and repeatedly applied to the man's infected leg, where they rapidly proceeded to eat all the dead flesh so that the infection wouldn't progress anymore. Apparently this isn't common treatment in Canada, but it does happen. The next time I happen to come across maggots in the compost I'll try my best not to be too grossed out, and to remind myself that even these icky little creatures can serve a very useful purpose.
Sunday, 8 July 2012
So animal stories get to me. I admit it. This one is quite amazing. A baby golden eagle was found after a huge wildfire struck a forest in Utah. It seems that as the fire approached the nest, the baby eagle (not yet able to fly) must have jumped from the nest to escape. It still got badly burned - its feathers charred, and burns on its feet and neck. Its rescuers said that when they found it there were dead squirrels and rabbits around it, which they think meant that its parents had tried to feed it, but the baby must have been too badly burned to eat, because they reported later that there was absolutely no food in its system and it was badly dehydrated. The amazing thing is that the little guy has survived and made an amazing comeback! Those who are caring for it are even hopeful that they'll be able to return the eagle to the wild in about a year, when they hope that it will have gone through a molt and grown new feathers that will allow it to fly. I guess if they discover that it can't fly, it will mean life in a zoo or aviary somewhere. But you have to read a story like that and feel good about the baby eagle and about its parents that apparently struggled as hard as they could to help him, and about all the people who are working hard to nurse it back to health. Here's a look at the little guy in recovery:
Friday, 6 July 2012
I'm quite guilty of not keeping this blog up todate. It's really the first time I've missed an extended period since I started it. Things just got too busy in Chicago over the last little while, and I've actually missed a few significant things. The Book of Revelation weather last Sunday, the death of Andy Griffith. Definitely things I would have noted. I return tonight, however - with a topic of the utmost importance: the state of ginger ale! When I was a kid I remember a television commercial for Canada Dry Ginger Ale that featured a bunch of celebrities saying the line "Canada Dry Ginger Ale - It's Not Too Sweet!" The only one I can remember specifically was Howard Cosell, but there were a number of others who appeared as well. I never really understood what that meant. I mean, isn't ginger ale - well - ginger ale? (This, of course, comes from a guy who knows that all colas are NOT equal!) Anyway, tonight at the closing dinner for this D. Min. program I had ginger ale with my dinner - but it was Vernor's and not Canada Dry. I now understand exactly, without any doubt or hesitation, what that TV commercial meant. Vernor's Ginger Ale is sweet - too sweet; even sickly sweet. The person sitting beside me had picked up a Canada Dry. I didn't even notice Canada Dry. Oh, how I yearned for that Canada Dry. Sweet ginger ale just does not work for me.
Sunday, 1 July 2012
This is my third year in Chicago (and the final residency I'll do here) so I was determined to get to Wrigley Field to see a Cubs game. I mean, you can't come to Chicago 3 years in a row and not get to Wrigley Field. So today was it. Well, I actually ordered the ticket about 3 months ago. Aisle 517, Row 3, Seat 1. Upper Deck Reserved Infield Unobstructed it was described as. And so it was. That description was very accurate. In terms of the game itself, the Cubs beat the Houston Astros 3-2, but that's secondary to what I'm writing about here. This is about Wrigley Field. It was built in 1914 to be the home field of the Chicago Whales of the Federal League - a short-lived attempt to start a third major league (as if two weren't enough!) The Federal League didn't last and in 1916 it became home field for the Cubs, and it has been ever since. It's the oldest active ball park in the National League and the second oldest in baseball (Fenway Park in Boston is older.) It was known as Weegham Park from 1914-1920, and as Cubs Park from 1920-1926. It has a seating capacity of 41,009, but today's attendance was only 37,906 (which would have been 37,905 if I hadn't been there.) It's named after former Cubs owner William Wrigley, Jr. - of chewing gum fame. So those are the facts. But facts don't do Wrigley Field justice. It's the ball park itself beyond the facts. It's the sign that greets you from the street as you arrive (pictured below), it's the ivy covered outfield fence, it's the slightly irregular outfield itself, it's the old-fashioned scoreboard, it's the bleacher seats - located on top of buildings across the street from the outfield! The whole thing is an adventure and an experience. Not to mention, of course, that it's the home park of the Chicago Cubs, who haven't won a World Series since 1909. That's a 103 year old drought that doesn't look like it will be broken this year - since, notwithstanding today's win, the Cubs sit in last place. If you're going to spend any time in Chicago, make sure you get to Wrigley Field - if not for a game, at least for a tour. It's worth it!