The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

May 30, 2008

My own little 9-11


But on Friday morning, I was on the 30th floor of our city's third-tallest building, wowed by the view from downtown and feeling very out-of-place and in awe of the elevation from the core of our city.

I try to avoid downtown if I can, and I certainly make every effort NOT to have to scale tall buildings in a single bound. Not that I'm afraid of heights...I just usually have no cause or business being there.

So I felt out of my element to begin with.

But there I was, waiting for a lawyer who kept me sitting there for 15 minutes at least, blown away by the view from 30 floors up near our most famous intersection, Portage and Main.

It was panoramic and mind-numbing and the pix I yanked off the Web below don't do it justice, but I didn't have my camera. Suffice to say the view, really, left me in awe.

But then, as I'm just taking in the view from 117 metres above Portage Avenue (admittedly, as I said, not even close to the height of New York's former Twin Towers), something happened that brought back images of this.

I'm trying not to over-dramatize this. I know it's a stretch. And there was certainly no purposeful intent, as those pictures we all dread, above, show in gruesome detail.

No, as I was standing in front of the huge window that showed most of the southeast side of our city, I was shocked and bewildered and amazed to see this fleet of jets do a fly-past a mere 50 or 100 or 200 metres away.

These are Canada's precision military flying team, the Snowbirds.

They weren't flying upside down as the pic above illustrates, but they did whizz past me in formation, as part of a 50th anniversary salute to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command
The Snowbirds have, over the years, wowed the world. But they've also had fatal collisions.

And while I was there waiting for that lawyer to tell me what I already knew, it occurred to me how fully possible it was, should any of their wing tips touch, that one of those fighter jets could have crashed right into that building.

And blown me to smithereens.

Eek. My own little 9-11.

I guess life's kinda like that, huh, GWB?

May 29, 2008


We break into our coverage of mundane, inconsequential news items such as the Iraq war, the occupation of Afghanistan, the dire situation in Darfur and other minor events to bring you this news flash of far more importance.

Winners to be announced at Long Island at Press Conference
One of the hottest TV shows in history to open, brings millions to box office with Fab Four LOOK A LIKES

Port Washington, NY -- Town of North Hempstead officials and a local radio station will join with LOOK A LIKES of the popular Sex and the City television program.

The LOOK A LIKES that recently won a contest in which 4 local Long Island women were chosen from thousands of residents from the tri-state area.

The LOOK A LIKES winners will be announced in a ceremony and a press conference on Friday May 30th, 2008 at 11:30am at Harbor Links club at 1 Fairway Drive off West Shore Road in Port Washington.

The 4 women that resemble Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda will be treated like royalty with free designer shoes, manicures, cosmos etc.

The blockbuster movie opens the same day and is expected to be one of the most popular movie openings in recent history. These women have gotten instant fame and now because of the movie are becoming rockstars.

To set up interview with the ''Sex and the City'' Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda LOOK A LIKES call 516-312-6573.

Is THIS really what we're becoming? I'm so glad I'm not a publicist...and that I don't watch Enterpainment Tonight or its ilk.

May 28, 2008


With the wonders of computer technology and the demands of my job, if I'm not out covering a game live at night, I'm often attending a team's practice during the day and writing stories about athletes.

And I'm often writing those stories from home, especially now that I've got a wireless router and can plop my laptop down anywhere to write and then to file my stuff into the paper.

I'd say, on average, I'm in the office once or twice a week.

Now no one's trying to pretend that journalism requires the kind of wordsmithing or creativity of poetry or the sustained and sustainable flair that novelists or the best magazine writers possess.

It's pretty much just the facts, Ma'am, but hopefully spun in a way that tells readers something about the people they want to hear about -- in my case, mostly professional athletes that fly or flop on the teams they care about.

This is all to say that ANY kind of writing, professional or not, can be helped or hindered by the environment in which that writing is done.

And if that environment is about as conducive to creativity as a dark cave, well, then you have to surround yourself with objects and things that are yours, that are part of you, to get those juices flowing.

In a workplace environment, it's not the easiest thing to do. There are privacy issues, for one. And you wouldn't want to insult any other employees in this politically correct milieu.

On a recent Saturday, I had to work in the office during the day. Hardly anyone was there, so I felt safe taking a few pictures.

Here, for example, is my view in my newsroom as I'm sitting down at my workstation following a recent reorganization of our workplace.

I'm right next to the water thingy. Well, this means I can tease all the women who have to bend over to fill up their water glasses or mugs, for one thing

(Eds note: RELAX! I said tease, not ogle or otherwise! Although some other males envy my location...)

But it also means that it seems I'm always the one lifting those heavy refill containers so all those water drinkers don't have to. The women at the front reception desk order me to.

This kibitzing around, all in good fun, helps me get through the day in between writing, answering the phone, doing phone interviews, etc. when I DO have to be in the office.

It's a good diversion throughout the day that helps me focus.

But so in the absence of nice lighting, quiet if I want it, aloneness, and with a newsroom's hustle-bustle going on around me, I make other little additions and substractions to my environment.

And I do it almost entirely for laughs.

Like this...

I haven't until now known much about her, but I traded some item I can't remember to a news reporter several months ago in return for her doll (above).

This doll has handcuffs on. And when you press her tummy, she says "I'll never telllll...I'LL never telllll!"

Movie buffs will know those words were uttered by the character Elisabeth (played by Brittany Murphy, whose tummy, ahem, I'd like to press up against) in the psycho horror flick Don't Say a Word (2001, starring Michael Douglas).

Here's a link to that short clip, so you can hear it and see it yourself:

The woman who once owned this doll now wants it back, but I refuse to hand it over. So every time she passes by my desk, she presses the doll's tummy, whines and wales, and I get to tease her some more.

Whatever. Elisabeth's doll has found a home sitting there sitting on my hard drive smiling, her arms open although handcuffed, on my computer.

When I need a break or when things are especially tense in the office or quiet or there's a lull or I just want to be mischievous or when this woman passes by, I'll press the doll's tummy.

"I'll never tellll! I'LL never tellll!"

Everyone looks up, momentarily wondering what the heck that sound was.

Then they snicker, shake their heads, we make a few jokes and break the silence and then everyone buries their faces back into what they were doing.

Then there are my mini-footballs, of course. I've written about them before. There they are, below.

The blue one, on the right, was used so much it's starting to fall apart.

So the business weanies, who work over to my left, gave me another one, even though they're the ones who always whine when I throw the ball at them as they're conducting an interview or writing.

I realize this is just negative attention-getting manoeuvring so I toss the ball at them anyway.

And whenever someone passes my desk, they know to watch for a surprise throw...I've even tossed the ball to our publisher and to our editor, the two highest-ranking managers in the building.

But for the most part, this is a fun thing, a tension-buster. I'll surprise pretty much anyone, any time, but the important thing is to do it at the right time.

Newspapers are deadline-driven places, especially now with the need to get news stories on to the Web immediately. I have, ahem, thrown the ball and knocked over someone's water bottle.

My bad.

But for the most part, everyone from Diane the receptionist person to Larry the business writer to Dave the Web Guy laugh, although they steal things from me to get me back.

Finally, probably like most of you, I have a collection of old coffee mugs that have dirt and grime inside them that I use to hold pens, pencils, .44 magnums and other accoutrements of the trade.

Pardon me. I need to have a nap now.

May 25, 2008



As a kid growing up in Western Canada, the world was my oyster. And I mean the natural world...what I could see in front of me, what I discovered exploring, the wonder of all things.

And part of that natural curiosity about the natural world wasn't fuelled by Darwin and his Theory of Evolution, although I was aware of it and his pictures and all the magazine articles I collected.

No, a big part of my belief system about the nature of things around me was through Life Magazine and Life Books about the planetary system, through the Audubon Society and their books...

...And by what I watched religiously on TV. And, as a young kid growing up in the '60s, that I took as gospel.

Over the years, I came to understand that everything I saw and everything I read wasn't necessarily to be believed.

But just this week, thanks to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. documentary program called Fifth Estate, I found out just how duped I and millions of other people were back then and still are now, to this day, in 2008.

And the dupers are some of the most loved and what should have been trustworthy sources anywhere, so-called naturalists supposedly trying to enlighten us about the other species around us.

I feel betrayed, angry, stupid, sad and a whole bunch of other things.

My buddy Homo Escapeons, whose knowledge of the wild world far exceeds my own, has blogged about this before, but I didn't understand the scope and breadth of the scam that I had believed for so long.

And the made-for-TV fiction begins with this guy, who refused the CBC's requests for comment, on camera, in 1986 on allegations all that film footage he shot of so-called "wild animals" was all just staged with trained bears, lions, etc.

Its name: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

The CBC investigation found numerous examples of staged episodes, where the show's host, Marlin Perkins, the main man at the St. Louis Zoo, set out on so-called adventures in the wild including trapping bears and other feats.

Unfortunately, the CBC disclosed, all of these episodes featured trained animals, totally misleading and false scripts purporting to represent these things happening naturally in the wild and other falsehoods.

Believe it or not, this show has recently been resurrected by Mutual of Omaha. Now, it's running in high definition TV on major so-called "nature" channels across North America and presumably around the world.

Perkins, by the way, died 22 years ago.

Next on the list of "It's not quite the way we're showing it" is David Attenborough, but at least in the CBC interview he came clean. First, he totally dissed the Mutual of Omaha and Walt Disney fantasies. Good on him.

Then he did point out, honestly, that it is nearly impossible for any nature series to catch some images and video of things in the wild.

And he did concede that in at least one show he's done, on polar bears, they showed the birth of a polar bear cub from a zoo, not from the Arctic Circle...

...Although his narrative seemed to suggest the video was showing the birth of a wild cub in its natural environment.

His brother, we should point out, was the star misguided naturalist/businessman from Jurassic Park.

But the worst offender of all, near as I can determine because I grew up loving him and his show, was Walt Disney.

I've never been to Disneyland or Disneyworld or whatever, although my kids have. That magical, wonderful place where all your dreams could come true...

I watched that show religiously, every Sunday, waiting to be mesmerized, waiting to be brought into another realm I could never hope to visit, and the nature programs were always my faves...

But as has been documented previously by others and in much more detail in the CBC documentary I watched on Sunday, it was all a pile of sh*t, built on a deck of cards.

This was Walt's Way, it turned out. And perhaps no episode was MORE cruel and wrong than the one about lemmings jumping to their deaths in a mass suicide. No, they were swept over that cliff by boards forcing them over.

Why would Walt tell us that? What could be the point of telling us lies? But he did. And I believed him.

The CBC documentary, Fifth Estate, went well beyond these old historic truths, however.

It delved into how there are all these spiffy companies out there now, still, who have wild animals for rent who'll do what movie producers want.

This sh*t, even in today's politically correct world, is still happening. As the documentary showed, nobody will watch nature shows unless there are "money shots," the predators tearing apart the prey, the mating, the births.

And it's all artificially produced on camera, just for our benefit, and to the definite detriment of the animals involved.

And we want to see it because the world is so wacky now that we WANT that connection with the real, natural world, we want to escape all the non-reality shows that show us at our worst.

So we go goo-goo, ga-ga over movies that have chimpanzees in them or gorillas or bears or whatever, all tamed and trained to do things we think are totally cute.

A big part of the CBC documentary was how a lot of those chimps and other animals end up in safari game farms or in other more squalid places where they live out their lives in their own feces in 6 x 6 cages.

It's incredible and it's ridiculous and it goes on everywhere and every day and in every way, including the circuses and carnivals featuring elephants and tigers and you name it. It's abhorrent.

But if we go to see them or we watch them on TV, there's a market for it. There's incentive for companies to keep these animals and to train them to do what they're not supposed to do, just for our entertainment.

Wildlife is part of our sanity. But now it's no more sane than any other big-budget movie production or TV script. There's nothing REAL about it. Except the creepy reality that we're fuelling the exploitation of it.

May 22, 2008

More Blarney about Male/Female Brains

After many monumental moments of highly technical research and hypothesizing...

I have emerged with groundbreaking new theories in my continuing quest to explore and decipher the differences between the male and female brains.

My primary research guinea pigs, in this case, were these two brains (although it is debatable whether the subject on the right HAS a brain).

And the context of my incredibly technical experimentation techniques, which you would almost certainly not understand, involve a study into a dilemma every parent faces:

Their children want to get their drivers' licences. So they can use your car and get into untold trouble.

As a refresher, and to bring tardy or forgetful readers up to speed on my previous discoveries, I have previously released these advanced revelations in publications around the world.

Or at least in previous posts on my blog. Go look for them if you want, I don't know how to do the fancy link thingy that would bring you directly to them.


After exhaustive medical and psychological examinations, the illustration below sums up the most intensive analyses of what we currently know about the male and female brains:

However, to advance our knowledge, it was useful to compare male and female brains in an actual situational challenge that indeed did require some brain power and decision-making.

The question to be answered: How would each approach this landmark event? And how would each of them do?

In Canada, teenagers can legally acquire their drivers' licences at age 16.

My daughter did this a few years ago and my son, who is now 16, has begun his driver education course in the classroom.

This was immediately seized upon by yours truly, Within Without (PhD, F.O.S., Psych 101 in college).

I set out to use it as a comparative if not stressful opportunity to measure the brain capacity of both offspring when faced with a similar task.

More really neat and informative new facts on male and female brains are below.

But first we need to introduce you to the study subjects and pose the question:

Which of these two would you most likely trust to accomplish this task, get their drivers' licences and become good drivers?



OK, back to my serious theorizing now.

Based on the pictures above of my daughter and son, my guess is that most of the millions of readers of this blog are likely to draw the conclusion that the female brain would be more mature and do a better job.

It's an established fact, outlined in my previous discoveries and postulations, that males of all species tend to think less about less important things and more about more important things.

However, as my most recent observations (below) seem to suggest, while males are more reckless and act with unthinking abandon, females can at times get distracted themselves by the process, rather than the end result.



Note, for example, the "ability to drive stick shift" lobe in the male brain, a new discovery.
Contrast that with the "sense of direction nuclei" and "irrational thoughts" sections in the female brain.
These differences can be somewhat explained by my latest studies of the younger female child, as below:

These significant differences between the male and female brains are super complex and more research is needed.

However, it's fair to say that by and large, these differences can lead to the following stereotypes towards either gender by the other gender.
I call it my Love Makes the World Go Round Reality (LMWGRR).

So...what does this all mean in terms of my study when it comes to first my daughter, and now my son, obtaining their drivers' licences and then battling with each other to use my car?

This graph explains it, kind of. Or maybe not.

What I know is I wasn't afraid when my daughter got her driver's licence, even though she DID get involved in a fender-bender weeks after she obtained her licence.
And now I AM afraid, VERY afraid, that my son is attempting to get his licence. However, this fear is not backed up by my groundbreaking research.