Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All Good Things . . .


                                                                             


Must come to an end.   After more than 250 posts, I don't want to start  repeating myself or posting photos of the flowers in my garden or the muffins I've baked.   I've enjoyed this venue for my literary expression and will leave it up for a couple of weeks before taking it down.   At some point it may appear in book form on Amazon along with the books I've written.

I'll see you out there . . . somewhere  . . . in the literary universe.  It's a wrap.





Saturday, November 15, 2014

STAND UP

From a prompt from my Writers' Group:

                                                               



People say you should stand up for what you believe in.   I like that sentiment.  It sounds virtuous . . . noble even.  Your actions can move mountains or at least persuade powerful people.   You hope.  History is replete with examples of those who stood up and loudly proclaimed their principles.  It didn't always end with praise and tribute.   Galileo comes to mind; his view of the solar system was unacceptable and somehow a threat to the establishment.

We don't  imprison people  for their beliefs and opinions in this country with a few exceptions such as if you are deemed to be trying to incite others to share your belief and accompanying hatred.  Instead, a person can suffer economically and be marginalized but our social safety net should keep them from destitution.

There exists something called slap suits.  Large corporations with money to burn, start civil suits against private individuals who have protested publicly and legally against their plans or actions.   That the civil action has no chance of success is irrelevant.   It's purpose is to intimidate the legally unsophisticated person  and cause sufficient concern about the ensuing costs that protests and complaints will cease.   

 An opinion can be an expensive possession.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A SIMPLE GESTURE

From a prompt from my Writers' Group:





These days everything has to be spectacular, even grandiose, to be noticed, Amy thought, as she found her way around the round table to the ivory place card with her name on it.   Weddings like these used to be for celebrities but now anyone with a sufficient outlay of  funds could spend their day like a celebrity or even royalty.

Eighty thousand dollars would not be an outlandish estimate for this celebration, she decided, which was hosted by her sister and  husband for their only daughter, her niece.  No detail was omitted:  the exquisite centrepieces on each table, the crystal champagne flutes, the silver ice bucket at each table with a bottle of Dom Perignon nestled in the depths.   For the toast to the happy couple, Amy assumed.

The wedding was the pinnacle of months of planning and celebrations which Amy, living several provinces away, had missed.  The engagement party, the bridal showers, the rehearsal dinner, the bachelorette getaway to Las Vegas.   As a favourite aunt, Amy had been invited to them all.

When it came to consideration of a suitable wedding gift, Amy decided that a simple gesture in the form of a large cheque might be welcome when the bills started to arrive.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Not my circus, not my monkeys

                                                                           




I have written before about idioms--those little sayings that somehow arise from nowhere and enter our lexicon for a short or long period of time.   They confound English Language Learners as the literal meaning has nothing to do with the message they are, by shorthand, conveying.   Some are more obtuse than others.



And now to the title of this post regarding a new idiom which has entered popular usage, at least among some.  The person quoting it was talking about some drama happening at the restaurant where she works part time.  It appears that she has learned at a young age not to take on the burdens of others and not to get involved with conflicts that don't involve her and that she can't solve.   It may well be that the antagonists don't really want the problem solve but, as it often the case, revel in the excitement.


There's a good lesson and I have already quoted it to myself on more than one occasion.  Besides, I like the sound of it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PERSEVERENCE

                                                                               


An animal that exemplifies perseverance has to be the Pacific salmon.  Maybe a close contender would be a leaf-cutter ant trudging for kilometres with a burden many times its size.    Driven by some primal directive to return to the stream where it was hatched to spawn, the salmon suffers, endures and in more cases than you might think succeeds.   After spawning, it dies.   Hardly seems fair.

For humans, there is no guarantee that perseverance will achieve the goal.  On the other hand, not much can be achieved without it.   As hockey great Wayne Gretsky once said, "The harder I try, the luckier I get." 

Here are some interesting quotes that encourage perseverance to the point of stubbornness.  I like the ones by Confucius.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” 

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

Or Thomas Edison, of the thousand attempts to invent a lightbulb:

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Here's something to inspire students who don't get 'A's:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
― Calvin Coolidge
t

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Try to do something . . .


                                                                     
                                                                             



If you've read very many of my posts you know I have a special interest in the future health of the bees of the world,  especially since researching and writing When Bees Die.   So I always follow up on posts I come across on that subject.   On David Suzuki's site  (he's a well known Canadian environmentalist) is an article on this subject.  More government plans to introduce chemicals that are detrimental to bees and probably not too good for the rest of us.

I had to admire the easy way I could register my complaint with the government.   There's a ready made letter (which I could amend should I so choose) and I only needed to add my name and e-mail before pressing the 'send' button.   That's a smart way to do it.   Lots of people care but there are many causes and demands on our time.  

Asking people to sit down and handwrite a letter, find an envelope and a stamp and walk to the mail box likely deters a large percentage at some step in the process.    A couple of months ago I somehow had the time to call a large charity that I support from time to time with the suggestion that they explore other ways to make life easier for potential donors.  (It was suggested to me by a family member that I was on another one of my tilting at windmills exercises).   Nevertheless,  quite a few charities have had themselves listed as potential bills on my bank's website.   Donating is a matter of a couple of clicks.   I didn't get the impression after my telephone call, that I had been taken seriously.

But it wasn't just the greater expenditure of time and effort that concerned me.   It seemed to me that a charity should be run in a business-like manner.   They owe it to their donors.  And that includes staying current with technology and newer methods of paying bills and making donations. If not, it makes me wonder about the charity's overall efficiency and thoughtfulness in administering donations.   It's a little like seeing an overflowing inbox on someone's desk.   Somehow, you're not impressed.















If you support the cause of our declining bee population and are Canadian, take a look at the Suzuki Foundation website.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mass Extinctions


                                                                         
                                                                         


Mass extinctions of many species have happened before.   Five times, actually.   At the end of Permian era, 299 to 251 million years ago before the continents were formed, mass extinction led to  95% of all species being wiped out. In this situation it was naturally caused by extreme climate fluctuations.  You can get a little more detail here. The process of extinction took millions of years;  nothing happened overnight.

Species naturally come and go.  Some scientists have postulated that we are in a period of accelerated extinctions.  In the past mammals became extinct at a rate of less than two species per million years.   But in the past 500 years, 80 mammals out of 5570 species of mammals have gone extinct.  And that's a conservative estimate.   The fact that it can be attributed to humans and that it has happened so quickly is especially disconcerting.    Professor Anthony Barnosky, writing in the Huffington Post, tries to present a hopeful outlook.  Perhaps because, if we decide it's hopeless, no efforts will be made.  But it is critical.

Climate change, destruction of tropical rain forests, the market for trinkets made out of ivory and aphrodisiacs made out of rhinoceros horn are matters we may feel we have little or no control over and that other people are responsible.

One of Professor Barnosky's suggestions is to simply get out and enjoy nature; you'll come to value it.     For further reading, his book, Dodging Extinction is out this month.   As a review states, "Read this book and you will demand change."