PS. Theme changes

I may be updating this site and changing themes sometime soon. I’ve been exploring alternative looks for this blog and, although I have not decided on a particular one yet, am interested in switching to a layout that has some features this one lacks. If you see changes to the look and layout, it’s because I’m experimenting. It may abruptly change to look radically different, too. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Plus the host service I use plans to migrate content to a new server, but has not identified a date for that. I expect it to happen in 2021, but that’s all I know. The move promises faster page and post loading when completed.

That may result in a short downtime, as may any theme changes I make. Please be patient and return later to see the results. Thanks for your patience.

Fixing Collingwood’s Streets

Door to DoorWhile our council has been obsessed with the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (aka the SVJI) and lavishing all our tax dollars and their time promoting its often redundant or irrelevant recommendations, most of our residents have been focused on things that actually matter. Such as the sad condition of our decaying streets and crumbling sidewalks. This is, of course, being made worse daily by the increase in traffic from visitors and the growing number of people moving here from the GTA. And there are more delivery trucks and vans on the road because more people are ordering goods online. But nothing is being done about it by our council. Nothing is even planned.

Nor has anything been done to make our streets safer and quieter. Well-known and well-used methods of traffic safety and traffic calming used across North America are simply ignored. Most residents can point to a local intersection where stop signs are needed, especially at intersections used by school children daily, but our council appears ignorant of them.*

Same with the long-overdue traffic light at Third and High Streets. Council heard about it then waffled. Rudderless and unfocused, council drifted away from the problem, too focused on the SVJI to even contemplate anything else..

What about red-light cameras? Stand near any traffic light on First Street and you will count numerous cars that run red and yellow lights every day. Dozens of them, every day. You’ll also see a lot of vehicles travelling well above the posted speed limits. This is a community safety hazard. But it’s being ignored. Same with the cars that block the sidewalk at Starbucks trying to get into line. It’s a safety issue for pedestrians that is simply ignored by a council unable to get its head out of the box of SVJI pettiness.

Where are the bicycle lanes? Not simply lines painted in streets, but protected, reserved spaces for cyclists? We know white lines alone are pointless because the town painted them on Ontario Street but ignores the cars parking over them every day. Cycling has also increased here, too,  and it’s become increasingly dangerous because of the higher volume of vehicles, especially trucks and buses. But what has our council done to make it safer? Right; nothing. 

Continue reading “Fixing Collingwood’s Streets”

The Cancer Diaries, Part 27

I didn’t really expect the hormones to be so disruptive of my daily activities, but there are times when the “hot flashes” interrupt everything. They tire me out, sometimes making even simple tasks a chore, making my breathing more difficult. And, of course, they wake me at random times during the night, during which I throw off the bedcovers as I toss and turn until I cool down again. And along with the covers any cat or dog who was sleeping against me. Then I flap about to pull them back up when the heat has passed and I cool down.

Uninterrupted sleep is a fondly remembered dream of the past. And I still have the rest of the year on Lupron.

I can only hope it proves to be less disruptive in the warm weather when there isn’t such a jarring difference between the room temperature and mine. We turn the thermostat down at night to 16C or 61F; I’m pretty sure that my hot flashes are in the same temperature range as a blast furnace. I am becoming a believer in spontaneous human combustion.

Sometimes I know they’re coming, these surges of heat and sweat. They well up at a modest pace; a creeping ivy of warmth that climbs my trunk to my limbs and unfurls itself in a swelter. Other times they arrive unannounced, rising abruptly from some mysterious magma within, a lightning strike to make me immediately uncomfortable. I become feverish, my clothes clinging damp and uncomfortable. More sultry than torrid.

There seems no rhyme nor reason to guide me as to why or when either happens. Sometimes they’re just annoyances, other times they’re weakening, making it difficult to breathe and walk.
Continue reading “The Cancer Diaries, Part 27”

Council Rewards Its Friend. Again.

Our council has found yet another way to reward its friend, despite the recommendations in the report from the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (aka the SVJI) warning about “apparent” conflicts of interest with friends. Page 7 of the full SVJI report states (emphasis added):

Councillors and staff should avoid providing or appearing to provide preferential treatment to close friends and family. They should not conduct municipal business or encourage the municipality to contract with individuals with whom they have a close relationship.

Recommendation 42 states (emphasis added):

The Code of Conduct should state that Council members cannot use their position to “influence the decision of another person to the private advantage” of the Council member, his or her family and/or “immediate relatives” as defined in these recommendations, friends, business associates, or staff at the Town of Collingwood.

Four recommendations warn about doing town business with friends. Yet a recent story in CollingwoodToday noted a new bylaw that will certainly benefit the company of a close friend of many at the table. It would require,

…the insurance policy for fire department response fees to be paid to the municipality either by the insurance company or by the owner. If it is not paid, the town would add the amount to the property owner’s tax bill.

Fire Marque was contracted by the town to chase after insurance payments on behalf of the municipality. The salesman who sells Fire Marque’s services to municipalities is our former mayor, Chris Carrier.

Continue reading “Council Rewards Its Friend. Again.”

Are Creationists Gaining More Sway?

A recent survey by Research Co. and Glacier Media shows a deeply disturbing trend in Canadians: we seem to be getting increasingly stupid. While this survey didn’t get the media coverage that other current events received (and hasn’t even been hinted at in local media, but no surprises there), I think it is one of the most troubling surveys of the last decade. The survey showed that,

… more than half of Canadians (57%) believe that human beings evolved from less advanced forms of life over millions of years, while 26% think that God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

That’s an appallingly low figure for belief in established science. Fifty-seven percent is a full nine points lower than a similar survey that was done in 2018 and four points less than one done in 2019. Is something causing Canadians to become less educated and less aware of science? Or just more stupid? Is our educational system failing Canadians? 

What’s even scarier is the parallel upswing in the number of Canadians who think creationism should be taught in schools:

…44% of Canadians think creationism – the belief that the universe and life originated from specific acts of divine creation – should be part of the school curriculum in their province, while 34% disagree and 23% are undecided.

That would be like teaching astrology as a signifier of human behaviour alongside psychology; reflexology* alongside medicine, or numerology in math classes. And yet a gobsmacking number of Canadians think creationism belongs in a science class. That should be headline news and a wake-up call for anyone involved in education. Are the Talibangelists winning a greater foothold on public policy? 

Continue reading “Are Creationists Gaining More Sway?”

An Example Our Mayor Should Follow

In a recent story in the Quinte News (March 31, 2021) the headline told us, “Belleville Councillor Ryan Williams has resigned from Belleville City Council.”

Williams was elected the federal Conservative candidate for the Bay of Quinte riding for the next federal election, and instead of staying on in council taking the town’s paycheque and benefits, he has resigned his seat.

In his media release, Williams said it was because that was the right thing to do for his community:

I have decided to resign instead of taking a leave of absence with the best intentions of being the fairest to the people of Belleville who deserve to have a seat filled and the elected person actively working on bettering the city.

Continue reading “An Example Our Mayor Should Follow”

The COVID-19 Vaccination Screw Up

Vaccines!For a long time during this pandemic, Susan and I were in the “not eligible” age bracket for the COVID-19 vaccination (65-79 years old) here in Ontario. Why our age group was left out I have never been able to uncover. Maybe some politicians felt we were more expendable than other groups. But late last week, the provincial government finally announced it had expanded eligibility to our group. Whoopee! So we immediately went online to book a slot.

The Ontario government site, however, directed us to book through the local Simcoe-Muskoka health unit (SMHU). So we went to its website and dutifully entered our information with email and mobile phone contacts. Then we waited.

And waited.

Of course, we didn’t expect to get an appointment right away, but we expected at least an acknowledgement that we were in the queue. Something to let us know the system was working. But we heard nothing.

After five days of not hearing anything, I went back to the SMHU website to see if anything had changed, or if there was some problem. I could find nothing to explain the silence. But now it had a notice saying to “CLICK HERE to book online through the Province of Ontario’s online booking system…”

Sigh. It seemed we had to start all over. So I dutifully clicked and went to the province’s booking site to enter the information again. The province’s site is not designed to register a couple, just individuals, so we could only hope that if we did get one person’s appointment, we’d be able to book the other’s at least the same day. One wonders why the government didn’t take couples into account and make it easier for seniors.

(And by the way: if you go to our town’s own website looking for information about vaccinations, booking appointments, and eligible age groups… forget it. It’s a waste of time. They have nothing substantial; just links to other — hopefully more informed — sites.)

Continue reading “The COVID-19 Vaccination Screw Up”

Does Collingwood Mislead its Citizens?

The town’s “engage” page  for the upcoming “public” (virtual) meeting about the Saunderson Vindictive Judicial Inquiry (aka the SVJI) contains a deception (emphasis added):

“The original estimated budget for the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry was $1.6 million. To date, the Town has processed and paid over $7 million. The costs will continue to be tallied through the completion of all associated bills and will be posted to the Town’s website.”

But the town’s own accounting of the costs to date that was made public late last year is actually much higher: $8,098,547.40. You can read the document here.  As long ago as last November, the town admitted it had already paid more than $7.7 million for the SVJI costs.  So how did that total become merely “over $7 million” on the eve of a “public” meeting about the costs when the town already admitted it was well over $8 million, and we all know it’s likely over $10 million?

Someone isn’t being honest about the costs, but then has this council ever been honest about them? Methinks not.

So the town now will censorfact-check” public comments when they don’t fit with the official storyline, but the town itself can get away with publishing deceptive figures? It seems no one in town hall has to “fact-check” what gets published on the town’s website. How very Stalinist of our council.

Continue reading “Does Collingwood Mislead its Citizens?”

Musings on Poets and Poetry

Best PoemsFor me, reading the American literary critic, Harold Bloom, is often like wading in molasses. Intellectual molasses, to be sure, but slow going nonetheless. His writing is thick with difficult ideas and difficult words. Bloom’s historical reach, his knowledge and his understanding of the tapestry of literature far outstrip mine, so I find myself scuttling to the Net or other books on my shelf for collateral references, for critical commentary, and often to the dictionary.

Bloom’s commentaries and essays are a challenge to me because his terms of reference are so much greater than my own. Hence my appreciation of them: he makes me work, and work hard to keep apace with his quick mind. Well, perhaps not apace, more like a few kilometers back, but at least following more or less in his tracks.

Shakespeare: The Invention of the HumanI first encountered Bloom’s writing several years ago through his 1995 book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, in which he argues that the Bard “invented human attributes that we think are very much our own inventions” as well as creating our language in which to talk about ourselves. Bloom goes through each of the plays, exploring and explaining them to make his point. It’s a brilliant analysis that ranges through not only Shakespeare’s works, but other parts of the “Western canon” to underscore his ideas. I often turn to Bloom’s essay on a play before I read it to get perspective and milestones to look for within Shakespeare’s words. 

A couple of years ago, I ordered his book, The Best Poems of the English Language, an anthology of poets from Chaucer to Frost. When it came, I stayed up into the wee hours reading it, then looking through my other anthologies to compare their selection of poets and poems. I was looking through it again recently as I was downsizing my library.

I have a lot of books of poetry, and most I intend to keep despite the pressure to relieve the congestion on my bookshelves. Yes, I still read poetry, perhaps not as much as I did in those younger years when I fancied I could write it, too (back in the Paleolithic of my late teens and early 20s). But I am as easily moved by poetry as I ever was, and also find it as baffling, inexplicable, contentious, beautiful, tasteless, passionate, tedious, exciting, and relevant as I ever did. However, I freely admit that what poems moved me in the past may not do so today, or at least not in the same way. I now appreciate poets who in my past I either never knew, or found leaden and incomprehensible, and wonder at my immaturity for liking those I did way back when.*

While the scope of his “Best Poems” covers an enormous, almost unwieldy, number of poets, Bloom decided to stop at those born before 1900 (to his credit, Bloom does not limit his selection to only English poets, but includes several American poets he exalts, too, but, inexcusably, he includes no Canadian poets). Although this still includes many 20th-century poets, it also means some of the century’s greatest modern poets, and some of those I consider among the best poets in the language, are missing from his collection simply for their misfortune of being born after 1899. Yes, that’s right” no Dylan Thomas!

So for me, the term “the best poems” is a marketing term; hyperbolic at best, inaccurate at worst. 

Continue reading “Musings on Poets and Poetry”