The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

May 24, 2007

Thoughts are...

And as such, this could take a while...

I'm disappearing into my closet for a spell, visiting all the strange and wondrous characters from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
If you're in Narnia, maybe I'll see you there.

May 22, 2007

Breaking Up is Hard to Do (If Kids are Involved)

There was a Statistics Canada report released this week about marriage breakups. I've taken a few days to even decide whether I wanted to open up this can of worms and blog about it.

I've decided I'm going to, but not to focus so much directly on its main finding: that men are more likely to suffer depression following a marriage breakup than women.

Who can know that? I expect that people, male or female, who are told by their partner that the marriage is over, are the ones most devastated by it. What other conclusion could there be?

Were they assuming that marriage breakups are always by mutual agreement? That there is no dumper and no dumpee? I think there usually is a dumper and dumpee. That's life. Shit happens.

If the study said that more women break up more marriages than men, by my logic, the findings would then stand to reason -- obviously more men, abandoned by their wives, would be depressed.

But the study didn't say that. It just said that men were more likely to be devastated by a marriage breakup than women. So I don't know what to do with that.

What I DO want to talk about here is the devastation I felt when I could no longer see my kids on a daily basis, another part of the study that was minimized in the Canadian Press story I found on the Web.

All it said was that this was a significant and less acknowledge factor for men in a marriage breakup: that aside from the wife and whatever they may feel about her, they miss their kids.

First, let me explain without going into sordid details: My ex ended our marriage. I'm glad now and have been for a long time. I've moved on, except for when it comes to our kids.

I didn't see my daughter bring home her first boyfriend. I wasn't there when she had her first period (I apologize, but I would have wanted to be there for that and to help however I could).

I could not be there to be the male influence I wanted my son to have on a daily basis. What did I miss with both of them? How much don't I know right now that I would have known?

My kids have lived with their mom for seven or so years now. I have my kids every second weekend but I talk to them quite a bit more often than that and see them more often.

They are beautiful young people, my kids.

They've grown a whole bunch since these pictures above were taken. My daughter's just finished her first year university and has my car tonight and will have it tomorrow night.
She is so strong and independent...but she still doesn't escape my wrath at times when she does something goofy.
My son struggles some in school and he needs reality checks from me fairly often and a kick in the butt from time to time, but he's a popular kid with a big heart and lofty goals.
This picture was from about three summers ago. Now my son towers over my daughter (she's barely 5 feet) and he's almost as tall as me.
I've done everything I could to try to stay in their lives and be a dad, and I think things have turned out about as well as they could given the circumstances that their parents are divorced.
It's hard, sometimes, to accept what has happened, still, from the perspective of my kids.
I get shivers sometimes when I hear the term "deadbeat dad" and I know that not all dads from broken marriages are "deadbeats" in that way. I know many are. But not all.
My buddy, Homo Escapeons, is the farthest thing from a Deadbeat Dad you could ever know. My brother in Ottawa, Doug, is the most caring father you could or would ever see.
In my most negative moments, I think of how I'm coughing up huge child support payments to a woman who initiated the end to our marriage and who takes my kids to Disneyland and other places.
On my buck, while I sit in my apartment. All I can do is hope my kids see the longing I have for them to be happy, and to do everything in my power to make that happen.
Just by being a dad, even if not a full-time, live-in dad.

Men more prone to depression after a divorce, study finds
TORONTO (CP) - The stereotype might be that a man relishes trading his wife for a fast car or a younger woman, but a new study finds that men appear to take separation harder than women.

While both men and women whose marriages have dissolved have a higher risk of being depressed than people who remained with their spouses, a Statistics Canada study found that men who had divorced or separated were six times more likely to report an episode of depression compared with men who remained married.

Women who had undergone marital breakups were 3.5 times more likely to have had bouts of depression than their counterparts who were still in relationships.

The survey found that 12 per cent of people who were no longer in a relationship reported a new episode of depression, while just three per cent of those who remained in a relationship had suffered new depression.

Michelle Rotermann, the author of the study, said she was surprised, and also not surprised, by the results.

"On the one hand we know depression in general tends to be more common among women, but there is also a lot of evidence that shows that men have fewer social supports and social support does seem to play a role," she said.

"Perhaps one of the reasons why men are more at risk of experiencing subsequent depression is because one of their main sources of social support is their partner, their spouse, and now she is no longer there," said Rotermann, an analyst at Statistics Canada.

Nineteen per cent of men who were no longer with their spouse found a decline in social support, while only six per cent of men who remained in a relationship found a drop. Among women the proportions were 11 per cent for those no longer in a relationship and five for those who were.

Jenni Tipper, a research associate with the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa, said "typically women are much better at building and maintaining social supports, which isn't often the case for men."

After a breakup, women tended to live in households with an income ranking far below that of their male counterparts. In fact, nearly 30 per cent of recently divorced or separated men actually experienced an improvement in the ranking of their adjusted household income, the study reported.

The study found that 34 per cent of men and three per cent of women were residing with at least one less child after the breakdown of their relationship.

Tipper said the study is a good reminder that the breakdown of a marriage is an extremely challenging transition for everybody involved.

"We sometimes tend to think that it's the woman who bears the brunt of a divorce outcome. And there is no question that women experience higher levels of economic strife," Tipper said.
"What we tend to forget in many instances, for the men in particular, they see children all but removed from their lives, which is a huge impact on your life."

May 21, 2007

Manitoba's Slithering Snakes


I can just imagine that being the reaction from Gautami, the ultra-intelligent teacher/poetess/blogger from Delhi, India, to this post on the Narcisse snake pits in Manitoba's Interlake area.

I can't remember how it all came about, but I promised Gautami I'd go up to Narcisse (about 90 minutes from Winnipeg) to take my own pictures and write a post about the pits.

And, well, I still haven't gone, due to work commitments and other matters. And I suspect the snakes have all dispersed by now to the nearby grasslands to consume mice and to mate.

Doh! You might want to include that I put the trip off when I had the opportunity to go...and then I forgot...and then, she reminded me...and then, oh, never mind.

This will simply have to do for the moment, seeing as I am again chained to my work for the next week. Sorry, Gautami. But I still want to see a post from you on cobras and their nemesis, the mongoose.


The snakes that inhabit Manitoba are called garter snakes. They're a hardy lot and, like every other living creature in the Great White North, they have to find winter shelter to survive.

So what they do every fall is they gather by the hundreds of thousands in what is called the Narcisse snake dens, where they hibernate beneath the frost over the winter.

In the spring, usually in the last part of April and early May, they emerge and go into a mating frenzy. I've been on hand at least twice or three times to see it.

While they're involved in this most copulous of activities, they're oblivious to threats around them.

That means people can visit the pit to watch them, and they do in big numbers -- 35,000 each year.

And this is more or less what they see:

It IS truly an amazing thing and is well worth seeing. It's especially neat for kids, who have a chance to see that all the bugaboos about snakes aren't true.
They're NOT slimy. They're NOT the devil. They're NOT all poisonous. They're an important part of the foodchain. They're very efficient animals that have been this way for millions of years.
When I was a kid, actually seeing a garter snake and then trying to catch it -- and succeeding -- was one of the most spectacular experiences of all, these reptiles are so incredible.

Anyway, Gautami, I DO apologize for not getting out there myself this was unavoidable. I had plans this weekend to go with my son to see if the snakes were still there.

But that never worked out either...the weather was cool and wet, and my son kept coming up with wanting to talk to his latest girlfriend on MSN.

Besides, I highly suspect they've all left the dens, as I said. I realize this isn't the same, but for this year, it will have to suffice. For now, I'm just going to slither back under my rock...

May 20, 2007

DISTINGUISHED by heart, distinguished by stupidity



And I agree entirely with President Carter about President Bush, who has harmed America -- and the world -- in the worst possible way. Carter had soul. Bush has no soul.

Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has called George Bush's presidency "the worst in history" while also condemning Tony Blair, the out-going British prime minister, for his close support for Bush's policies.

Carter's comments made in a series of interviews with US and international media which appeared on Saturday.
"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions.
"The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."
He also said that Bush has taken a "radical departure from all previous administration policies" with the Iraq war.

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered."

In a separate interview with the BBC, the British state broadcasting service, Carter also criticised Blair, the British prime minister.

Asked how he would judge Blair's support of Bush, the former president said: "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient."

"And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."
A major tragedy is right.
And Canada's lapdog prime minister, Stephen Harper, is supporting Bush. I feel a great sense of pride about President Carter. I feel a great sense of humiliation about us.

May 18, 2007

Women, Shopping and Other Disasters

And I certainly know, then, about an undisputed, scientifically observed and proven phenomenon.
It's called "Women and their Wanton Disregard for the Rules of the Shopping Cart Superhighway."

Now, before my legions of female readers get all up in arms, or what have you, this behaviour has now been recognized by the World Association of Male Grocery Shoppers.

It has been verified over a period of many years of intense study by the Psychiatrists for Safer Shopping Practices Society. It has been endorsed by every consumer group on the planet.

Women pose a public shopping hazard because they repeatedly stop their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle, blocking other consumers -- mostly males -- from getting past them.

Males are clearly at a disadvantage in such situations because as humans evolved, men were the hunters and women were the gatherers.

Grocery shopping, by and large, is a gathering activity, hitherto not a pastime or activity largely engaged in by men. And studies are showing just how this development is harmful to males.

The typical male simply wants to hunt down his quarry and drag the food back to the cave. Females, on the other hand, tend to be much more selective in their choice of foodstuffs.

This results in frequent stops and incredibly long investigations of each brand or type or price as part of their evolutionary role in gathering only the best produce for their clan to consume.

And over millions of years, human females developed the behaviour -- in a very subtle way -- to attempt to block out other competitors for that same food by simply getting in their way.

In the 21st century, at a time when roughly half of all male-female marriage relationships end in divorce, more males are finding themselves in supermarket aisles, trying to adapt and be gatherers.

For now, sociologists and psychologists say, there's little the male can do except quietly wait for 10 minutes until the female ahead of him realizes that she's not the only shopper in the store.

...And move her shopping cart over to the side so other shoppers -- yes, even us out-of-our-element males -- can get by.

Studies also seem to be indicating that males (read: your's truly) seem to have a penchant for always picking the slowest line at the cashier checkout, but findings are not conclusive as to why.

It's also believed that further research is required to determine why females always forget where they parked outside WalMart or other huge megastores.

And consumer scientists are also anxious to gather further evidence on whether females or males are more responsible for leaving their shopping carts standing in parking stalls.

May 16, 2007


I have two brothers and three sisters. And among us, we have four spouses. And among all of them, there are 14 offspring. And then there's our mom and dad. That's 26 people.
That's 25 birthdays every year I have to try to remember. And five Mother's Days. And seven Father's Days. The fact is, I don't even try to remember. I rely on other people to do that for me.
Like my sisters, who organize all the birthday celebrations, or pretend to. Well, they did a terrible job this past winter.
So last Saturday, we celebrated a winter's full of birthdays at my sister Shauna's sprawling acreage estate just outside city limits, on the eve of Mother's Day, another cause for celebration.
I won't tell you how much I spent on birthday cards alone. OK, it was $50. Many of those cards had cheques in them to my far too numerous nieces and nephews and daughter.
And my brother Doug, who lives in Ottawa, wasn't even here with his three kids. His birthday is Valentine's Day. I have to finally phone him this Sunday to wish him Happy Birthday.
Seeing as I'm a November baby, I was just one of the unwashed hangers-on that no one cared about except to be the sugar daddy. So all I did was write those cheques and take pictures of everyone else.

May 11, 2007



There is nothing more precious on our planet, I believe, and more important, than a loving, giving mom, the one true constant and ever-present beacon.

A mom who sticks up for you when the school principal says you're a jerk, who guides you with wisdom, who listens when you need to talk, who holds you while you cry.

Whose constant show of compassion teaches you that most beautiful of things, caring. Who kicks you in the butt when you need it (but gently), who lets you learn a lesson the hard way.

Who spoils you sometimes and makes you believe in yourself, but who questions you enough so you don't take anyone for granted. Who helps you develop a conscience and so much more.

Thanks Mom.

Thanks for letting me climb trees whenever I wanted.
Thanks for letting me live on the wild side and allowing me to return.
Thanks for letting me run away 100 times a week -- and always come back.
Thanks for always telling me, "Oh, dry up!" And letting me laugh about it.
Thanks for reining in my bad temper.
Thanks for not disowning me when I pulled Mrs. Davey's dress down.
Thanks for forcing me to pass typing in Grade 9.
Thanks for telling me I WOULD grow...and smiling with me when it happened.
Thanks for letting me fail Grade 10 French and NOT coming to my rescue.
Thanks for helping me survive those first few lost loves...and every one since.
Thanks for 100 million other moments and things that have made me me.

May 10, 2007


I have felt that way, at times, in recent weeks and months during the cold, hard winter, and it has sometimes affected my interest in blogging...and occasionally still does.
And many other things.

This past week, I was e-talking to someone I really care about, and I felt a sudden need to go on a walk rather than continuing to talk.

I guess, DOH!, I wanted to walk the walk instead of talk the talk.

The thing is, usually, I'm not the kind of person to just go for a walk. There's no purpose to it, least that's usually my line of thinking. What's the point? What can I see? What can I do?

Purpose. Even thinking that word got me to some contemplation.

It got me to thinking about being a kid and how I used to not need a reason to do anything in particular, I just did what my heart and my body said I wanted to do at that time.

I'd go out collecting insects in the neighborhood back lanes. I'd walk across Coronation Park to the Norwood Flood Bowl to see if anyone was there swimming in the pool or playing football or baseball.

In winter, I'd just grab my hockey stick and gloves and spongie and just head out onto the street, fully expecting -- and usually finding -- some of my friends playing street hockey.

But my life's not like that any more. It's become about hopping in my car and heading to this place or that, driving at 50 km/h (30 mph fer you Amuricans) to here, there and everywhere.

And having everything I drive past being, for all intents and purposes, nothing but a blur. Familiar, but a blur. Seen only from a car. Visited, but only if I drive there.

My need to explore has given way to my need to just get somewhere. From Point A to Point E, with none of the B,C and D between that I used to investigate and experience.

No life, no people, no meeting of strange faces or familiar faces, just life on a road map. So this past week, in sweltering 30 C (almost 90 F, for you Amuricans) temps, I changed all that.

And after recently spending $2,400 to fix up my 1996 Ford, and then having a water pump they installed start leaking, and having them fix it, and then having the &%#@ engine light come on right after that...

I decided that I was far too dependent on the vagaries of my automobile. In fact, I was a slave to it, and the luxuries it affords. But I'm also a victim of being too dependent on those lifeless luxuries.

So I went from this... what I hope will be more of this: walking around my neighborhood and other areas, to get out of my four-door and into the outdoors. To get back to what my true nature is, living.

There's existing and there's living. I have been existing. I'm naturally a bit of a loner and don't need a lot of people around all the time, although I'm far from anti-social.

But a big part of what's made me be that way is my contentment in being alone and doing things on my own, or with one other person, or with my kids.

And now that my kids are older and less dependent on me, my own past is becoming more of my future and part of what I know is my nature and how I can be happiest.

And spinning my wheels driving everywhere in a blur, unless it's to a destination that I want to be heading to, is not it. I don't want the blur, I want clarity and vision and real stuff.

So this past week -- and I apologize for the length of this -- I made an effort to get back to my roots.

I left my car with the "Check Engine" light in the *&^%$# parking stall and checked "out" instead. Walking, that is. Being a bipedal creature with the senses of smell, sight, hearing and witnessing.

With my camera.

I originally set out to take a picture every 100 steps of things I've known are all around me, but which I hadn't truly "seen" for a long time, if ever. Here are some of them.

One of the courtyards in my apartment complex, the grass finally greening, the trees at long last budding...

Kids playing soccer. I used to coach baseball and football...why not now, even though my kids are no longer involved?

These are some East Indian and Asian kids, mostly, playing cricket on a basketball court between my son's future high school (next year) and my daughter's former junior high.
There's a beautiful huge green space within a few minutes' walk of my apartment. I have rarely gone there, only when I can persuade my son to throw a football around.
There are beautiful wooded areas bordering my complex. My son has explored in there, but I haven't. What happened to that sense of seeking mystery? I hope to get it back.
I walked up to the main street where all of my "services" are located: my bank, my insurance agent, my convenience store, my supermarket...just to see them in that walking context.

The saying goes, it's time to stop and smell the roses. I know those aren't roses above, they're tulips or daffodils, those spring flowers that sprout up early and then disappear as quickly as they came up.
Still, I want to smell the roses anyway. And with gas prices going through the roof, my timing couldn't be better...

May 7, 2007

Air India and other disasters

How many times have we heard it now -- that our police, our justice officials, our "intelligence," knew something was coming down or could come down -- and they did nothing about it?

We are like helpless ants, living our lives and walking on the sidewalk, oblivious to the gigantic threat above our heads that could walk on us and squish us in a nano-second.

And that's what has happened, continually, if you think about it.

This is some of the left-over debris from the 1985 Air India terrorist attack on a plane in Canada that killed 329 passengers who were headed to India.

And the Canadian "intelligence" knew it was coming.

We all know what this is -- it's 9-11.

And how many warnings did the CIA and FBI and the rest of the American "intelligence" establishment get about that before it happened, if you're to believe reports?

If I recall, how many warnings were there about Columbine that were ignored or not properly heeded?

And how many warnings did West Virginia school officials receive before a South Korean guy killed more than 30 people last month?

Hell, Bush was warned about Katrina...what did he do? F*ck all.

Our governments tax us, they tell us what to do and that we'll be all right but they don't fix our roads or our health problems or stop selling us booze and smokes or prevent us from gambling.

It's more money for them.

They get us every which way -- but they don't protect us. How do they protect us?

They spend billions on wars and military assignments that are pointless and that we don't want and need, they allow us to pay through the nose for energy and gas and give us a piss-poor education system.

They DON'T do all those things they should. And they take our taxes for all that nothingness. And then the one thing you'd expect -- for them to protect us from all the shit -- they ignore it.

They talk tough, but they've got balls the size of peas. And we accept it. When AREN'T we going to any more?

Retired diplomat not surprised by new Air-India revelations
Canadian Press
May 7, 2007 at 2:02 PM EDT

OTTAWA — A retired Canadian diplomat says he's not surprised by claims that Ottawa had hard intelligence prior to the Air India bombing indicating the airline was about to come under terrorist attack.

But William Warden, who served as high commissioner to New Delhi at the time, told a public inquiry Monday that he does wonder why former colleague James Bartleman didn't share the information more widely with senior officials.

Bartleman, now Ontario's lieutenant-governor, startled the inquiry last week by declaring that he had seen an electronic intercept, just days before the June 1985 bombing, that suggested Air India could be targeted by terrorists that very weekend.

Warden told the commission that if Bartleman was right then there must be others who were aware of the intelligence 22 years ago and who can shed light on it now.

The more important point, he said, is that "if such a piece of information existed there must have been at least a dozen people, or half a dozen people at the very least, who would have seen such a piece — and some of whom would have been scurrying to do something about it."

"I still have that feeling of frustration that the government machinery did not seem able to get its act together and to really step in at an early stage . . . It may have served to take the wind out of the sails of some of these people."

--Globe and Mail

May 2, 2007

The First Annual Boy Bloggers' Spring Fashion Show, Part 1


And so, as we spring into spring here in the Great White North, we set out to offer a variety of tips over the next two posts to answer what every Blogger Boy worth their salt is wondering.

The answer most definitely is yes. We've scoured the earth for the latest in men's wear, we've sent our fashion floozies far and wide to answer one simple question.
How can the discerning male make his way as he sheds his long underwear for his bermuda shorts and knee-high socks? The answers await below.

No true man of the world can consider himself "in" if he doesn't have Perry Como slippers. The ones shown above are typical, comfortable and can be worn with or without socks.

Note the professional stance of the model below, showing the versatility and comfort factor, this time with socks (anklet socks, mind you; more on that later). These cost about $10. They're a steal.

Staying with home loungewear, it's a little known fact: plaid is back in.

And while it may be true that most males such as Homo Escapeons blog in their underwear, there are few out there who don't wander around the house in flannel PJ bottoms.

Here are two examples of what to look for.

If you can get little signs put on them for color contrast (as above; Toba is short for Manitoba), you'll be one of the swinginest guys on your block.


If Perry Como slippers are indispensable to the fashion-conscious male, runners -- the older and uglier the better -- are an absolute must. And if they have Nike swooshes on them, all the better.

Nike swooshes and other free advertising for massive corporations impress women and they show you are cool and have enough money to spend the extra cash to advertise free for the company.
This same rule applies to a staple of any spring wardrobe, the ultra-hip athletic shorts, whether you're a pro sportsman or a wussy weinie who couldn't catch or throw if your life depended on it.
You should have as many of these in your repertoire as possible.
With as many Nike swooshes as you can find.

NEXT: Sandal do's and don'ts, wearing baseball caps, going to work, how to pretend you're an athlete and more on socks