Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yep, Still Here...

Apologies for abandoning everyone this week. It's been an odd few days here on the Rock.

I'm sure the hurricane Igor business has been beaten to death in the media, so I won't go on about it. The early effect were evident on Monday night as I got out from my regular showing up by the geriatric crowd at basketball. The wind had whipped up and it was raining heavily. This continued into Tuesday morning and the schools and many businesses remained closed. Many thought this a bit drastic as we had seen higher winds here before. By Tuesday afternoon, though, other places were closing down as the winds increased and came at us from the north. This is unusual as they normally hit us from the west or south. It was plain to see on a radar map that the hurricane was swirling past us on the east spinning counter0clockwise and battering us from the north.

Photo courtesy of Zach Goudie of the CBC

We didn't fare too bad as only our birch tree snapped off and fell away from the house (not as dramatic as the photo above). We lost a small section of gutter from the shed and an end cap from one of the gutters on the house. We lost Internet service for about a day and are still trying to make the wireless connection work from my work computer to the house computer. Our cable was also out for about 24 hours. All of this, though, is minor inconvenience compared to the damage felt in other parts of the province.

Some areas are still without power and water and are effectively cut off from the rest of the island due to washed out roads and bridges. The Prime Minister toured some of the damaged areas yesterday and has promised assistance from the armed forces. There are lots of photos of the destruction here so I won't bother posting them. I'll throw up a few links to news stories on the CBC and Telegram web sites and you can visit them if you choose.

Instead, I will post carefree and happy doggy photos from our recent visit to the fundraising 'greyhound picnic' held recently here in St. John's by the Newfoundland branch of GPAC (Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada). The silent auction, tickets sales for prizes, hot dog and hamburger sales and the bake sale all contributed to making over $3400 for the agency. Nothing quite like 34 greyhounds in a room, silently walking about sniffing each other's gear. Things livened up when someone started a sing-along for the dogs and the yodelling began. Our crazy dog was actually scared by all the noise and buried his face into my leg. Sean purchased a Rapala fishing rod and a case of beer in the silent auction (I of course, as any conscientious parent would do, confiscated the beer).

I hope to find some time this weekend to visit and comment at the blogs of my friends.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Awards Lead to Truths & Lies

I was going to bring out the tux to present a couple of awards but realized I've been wearing it a lot recently and left it at the cleaners last week. You'll have to make do with me as I am...warts and all (don't ask).

I'd like to thank Bernard S. Jansen, one of my favourite Aussies, for bestowing upon me the Versatile Blogger Award. He can be found lurking at his blog How to Get Published. I am now a two-time winner of this award (if you really care and must know all my sordid truths, you can link to my previous list of truths here) but I will present the ground rules just in case you missed them the last time...

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.

  2. Share seven things about yourself.

  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.

  4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

Hmmm...what 7 things can I share about myself that have not already been inflicted upon revealed to the faithful readers of Land's Edge? I shall give it the old college try...and most of it will be true...

  • I occasionally worked shirtless in the basement of my downtown Vancouver office building as I sawed through rock and drill core samples for a mining company.

  • I once fell off a donkey while visiting the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

  • Also while living in Vancouver...a fellow YMCA-dweller and myself went to a nearby drinking establishment for a beer and discovered it was a gay bar. I refused to leave until I had finished my beer.

  • I badly sprained my ankle when I was 20 while rock climbing in Victoria, BC.

  • I believe in ghosts.

  • I dropped out of university with poor grades at the end of my third year, but returned to college three years later and maintained an 'A' average for a two year program.

  • I played the violin for three years as a child but can't read sheet music.

Now, I'm supposed to pass this along to 15 people (which is about the size of many of the small villages here in Newfoundland). I'm thinking that since I live in a small shed with no electricity or plumbing, and hence have no friends, I can't pass this along at all...however, if you are a follower of Land's Edge I automatically consider you a friend and you can consider yourself tagged with this fine award. Yes, I want to hear your truths...

Moving on, the other award bestowed upon me was the "Creative Writer" blogger award. This gem was passsed along to me by the very talented Erin Cole (via that Bernard guy in Oz). Erin, or as I prefer to call her 'The Grand Mistress of Horror' is beginning to take in submissions for the 2010 edition of the 13 Days of Horror at her blog, Listen to the voices. I wish to thank her for the honour and will do my best to lie. A lot.

With accepting this sparkling award, I am expected to:

  1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link to them.

  2. Add the award to your blog.
  3. Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and one truth. (Another variant: Tell six truths and one outrageous lie. YOU get to guess which variant I chose – and which statements are true, as well as which are lies.)

  4. Nominate six creative liars/writers and post links to them.
    Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.

I'm thinking that since I spilled so many true things about myself earlier it will be easier to make up six lies about myself and give only one truth...

  • As a young man I was an avid paintball competitor.
  • As a young man I was hit in the eye with a projectile and temporarily blinded.
  • I have been dragged out to ballroom dancing classes several times by my wife.
  • I was once arrested for disturbing the peace.
  • I got my first fez at the tender age of 13.
  • I wore a white suit and pink shirt to my high school grad dance.
  • I once ballooned up to 250 lbs in weight.

So there's the selection, ladies and gents. Which is the truth in that list? This award blog thingy has gotten a bit long-winded (yeah, I know...big surprise) so I'll finish up here.

I'm supposed to pass this along to somebody...hmmm...same lack of friends in my life is again a problem. My dad once told me that when I was a boy he had to tie a pork chop around my neck with a string just to get the neighbourhood dogs to play with me...

But you know what? I'll pick one of my longest blog followers, Natalie L. Sin. of Written by Sin, as the recipient of the fine "Creative Writer-Liar Thingy" because I know that she'll make up some cool stuff. Some of it may even be readable by kids...well, maybe not...)

I'll post some doggy pictures during the week from our recent visit to the anual Greyhound Picnic here in St. John's. Oooo, Aaaaaah!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Vote for Batman

I figured the comic seemed an appropriate way to lead into a story about politics. Even at the municipal level, politics takes a bit of humour to be palatable. I normally steer clear of hot-button topics such as religion and politics because there are so many people with such diverse opinions it's safer not to get into it. The whole system of having two parties where one takes a stand and the other automatically, good or bad, takes the opposite opinion seems absurd. Just once it would be refreshing to hear the opposition say. Well done, chaps...good job on that military spending or whatever the issue. I guess a guy can dream.

Anyhow, six sentences in and I'm sidetracked already...

Al is straying into the taboo territory of politics, so be warned!
It's nearly time in many municipalities of Canada for the local elections for Mayor and city councillors. I was glancing at the London Free Press online today (occasionally I stray from reading the obituaries) and found a story about some of the 'odd characters' running against the incumbent Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. She has been mayor for nearly 10 years and is seeking a fourth term that will make her the longest-running mayor in the city's history. There is a field as thick as nana's porridge this time out with 15 people running for the mayor's seat. The experts feel, though, that only one other person really has a chance of beating her. That is Joe Fontana, one-time federal Minister of Labour under the Liberal government of Paul Martin a few years ago.

Anyway, I've sidetracked myself again...see, it's the politics!

I wanted to present a list of the other escapees hopefuls for the mayor's office. This is ripped from the Sept. 15th story in the London Free Press and you can link to the full story here. I will give you the thumbnail sketches they present:
On a muggy August morning, London mayoral candidate Jonas Richard White arrived at The Free Press building looking to talk.

Wearing designer glasses, a blue blazer and Buddhist beads, the 34-year-old political unknown sat down and began a conversation that quickly veered into the bizarre -- his status as a possible international agent.

"(Someone) outed me as a Dutch spy," he said. "Yes, I am, my friend, and I don't want to die. Am I a spy? Am I a triple-double agent? I don't know anymore."

Though White altered his tone minutes later -- "Of course I'm not a Dutch spy" -- he also raised other unexpected topics, including his 2007 arrest for possession and production of marijuana.

Is White, who says he's bi-polar, collects disability and drives a Range Rover, a legitimate candidate for mayor?

Most would say no.

Tom Ha, the entertaining, self-styled former millionaire who leaves his Mercedes at home in favour of a beat-up bicycle. He decided to run for mayor, then dropped into Ward 4, re-joined the mayor's race, went back to Ward 4 and finally re-entered the mayor's race.

Tomasz Winnicki, a white supremacist who once boasted of being London's "biggest hater." He's bristled at Free Press suggestions he's "controversial" and told radio host Jeff McArthur he's "simply advocating for white people, the white Europeans who created this country."

Zak Young, who in an Aug. 29 Facebook video suggests his use of a drug -- ketamine, described on Wikipedia as an anesthetic -- could be a reason for voting for him: "It is illegal but personally my entire campaign is about (expletive) the government. . . . If you want somebody who's going to say '(expletive) the government, (expletive) taxes, (expletive) the government taking your money' then you probably do want to vote for me." In a video a day later, he claimed he'd stopped using the drug.

Aaron Broughm, who's said it's time for London to have a man as mayor -- a declaration that, according to Free Press calculations, could alienate about 50% of the electorate.

There are also a few well-prepared candidates for whom winning appears unlikely, such as Cynthia Etheridge and software-developer Eric Southern.

Southern in particular is interesting. He's running to highlight London's need to invest in cutting-edge technology, such as gigabyte-fibre infrastructure, to make the city more attractive to business. There's also the entertaining Ivan Kasiurak, the bow-tied perennial candidate who has a protege, Dan Lenart, in the race, too.
I guess the bottom line is that you don't have to actually be from London to appreciate the absurdity of long-shots with no political experience running for mayor of a city of nearly 400,000 people. As the political expert replied when asked about the people running..."That's a psychologist's question more than a political-science question." Pretty much anyone with $200 and can fill out the paperwork can run for office. Something everyone should consider if their present full or part-time writing gigs don't work out for them. I think I'll read a few more comics to get me more in the mood for politics...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bastketball & Court

Last night was the first evening of basketball with the geezers. Yes, the insanity has begun again. Surprisingly there were no injuries. Knock on wood. We had a number of young military guys playing tonight (in order to rent the gym at the base we have to allow members of the forces to play if they wish). They force us to play at a faster speed, which I suppose is good. Then again, it's all fun and games until someone slips a disc or has a massive coronary right there on the court.

The geezer on the left is pretty much reflective of the crowd I play ball with. I may look a bit like them, but I'm just a babe when it comes to age. The military aside, I think that I'm second youngest at nearly 48 years old. It's sad, I shouldn't hurt so much at my age.

I took one ibuprofen before the game (preemptive strike) and 2 more after my shower later on. Between the pills and the single malt I'm almost not feeling any pain at all. Of course I was beer, not scotch.

A criminal trial started yesterday in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Grand Falls-Windsor. The case may hold interest to both Canadians and Americans as it involves a woman from Pennsylvania charged with criminal negligence in the shooting death of her husband four years ago today in a popular hunting area in central Newfoundland. In the dim light after sunset, she thought her approaching husband was a black bear and shot him.
The case had caught our attention at the time as we had only been living here for two weeks. The RCMP had investigated and allowed the woman to return home but the man's father pressed for charges to be laid and she was extradited here last May to await her court date. There has been some suspicion about the case as the woman apparently received a hefty life insurance payout after the fact.
The testimony yesterday was mainly from the guide who took them hunting. It sounds like many rules were broken, such as hunting after sunset and the hunters not wearing orange blazing to make them more identifiable, and perhaps the guide is a bit accountable here as well. For those wanting to follow along, there is decent reporting coming from CBC and the local Telegram newspaper out of St. John's.
(Apologies for the formatting here...I have more paragraphs on my screen when looking at the story, but when I hit 'publish' blogger lumps them together for some reason. $%&*ing technology...or maybe it's just operator error!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spiders Creep Me Out

Karen Schindler at Miscellaneous Yammering had a cute post yesterday about removing insects from one's home without harm to the wee beasties. The 'without harm' is important if one is attempting to adhere to one's Buddhist principles.

The wolf spider and the'll have to link to her post here to find out which was released safely into the wilds and which encountered the business end of a vacuum cleaner.

I'm reminded of an incident as a teenager. I woke up in bed one night and felt a tickling on the hairs of my right leg (get your minds out of the gutter). I flung the sheets aside and shrieked like a little girl leaped from the bed, flinging on the light. On the sheet was an enormous wolf spider. I got a slipper and tried to smack it but missed and it flew through the air and fell behind the bed which was fitted into an alcove in the wall and could not be removed. It was a bit unnerving going back to bed after that.

I try to safely remove wildlife from the house and share a few of those Buddhist principles but had I caught the beastie, he would have met a punishment similar to that which Garfield metes out below. I hope that it's readable; I had to dig it out from the Davidson comic archives. I didn't use this one in June's post that tried to explain me through comics strips I had collected from newspapers over the years.

I'm kinda feeling itchy all of a sudden. Spider Karma.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

That's For Another Day

Wow! It's Wednesday already? I guess that I got caught up in all the sunshine this weekend and lost track of time. We had a rare and unprecedented streak of warm weather (I should clarify...warm here is 24C, 78F) and everyone dragged their pale bodies out for a bit of sunshine prior to the temperatures dropping below freezing.

I made a stop into Costco on Sunday to buy some of those large pork chops for a family BBQ to celebrate V's birthday. You know the pork chops they sell. The ones about the size of a brick. I was dismayed to see boxes of halloween candies and decorations already on sale, even before school had started (starts today here). I thought there was some unwritten law that halloween could not be pimped out until after Labour Day. Similar to that rule about wearing white...

If I was dismayed at seeing the halloween stuff on sale, you can imagine my horror at seeing the aisle-full of schtuff for Christmas on sale...that's correct, Christmas items on sale Sept. 3. Christmas trees, wrapping paper and bows, cards, candy...

I don't know about everyone else, but it's difficult to get in the Christmas spirit before the kids have returned to school and it's 24C outside (unless you live in Australia). I'm thinkin' we'll all be sick of the commercialism and hearing about the 'season' by mid-October. About the same time they start to replace the muzak with Christmas carols over the intercom system. Shouldn't there be laws in place about this sort of thing?

As I read over my rant of the previous two paragraphs, I notice that I used the word 'Christmas' five times instead of the more PC expression 'holiday'. But that's a conversation for another day...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Beginnings

You may recall a few weeks ago I mentioned having our son do a bit of yard work for us. He was appointed the task of weeding a small section of the garden that was completely over grown. To make his task easier, he broke out the 'whipper snipper' or 'Weedeater' or whatever you call the gadget in your part of the world and chopped the weeds off from the base (yes, they were that big). He attacked the job with the teeth-gritting destructiveness that only a 14 year old boy possesses and managed to also slice through most of our clematis at its base. After a few days it started to wilt and eventually most of the vines browned and dried out on the trellis.

Over the past few days, though, the vine has shown its first and probably only flower of the season. The first photo above shows the sole flower of the season while in the second photo V has displayed a bit of camera wizardry (at least to this technological dinosaur) and taken a B & W shot with only the flower showing in colour. Magic.

The flower, of course, represents a new beginning and I would be totally remiss if I did not mention the start of a new online publication this week by my friend KV Taylor. The Red Penny Papers is an electronic journal published quarterly and features sensationalist and fantastical fiction stories. Issue One features stories by Corrine Duyvis, Cate Gardner, John Cash, NK Kingston and episode one of the serial "Black Medicine Thunder and the Sons of Chaos," by Aaron Polson. You can link to that issue here. Drop by and read the stories and let Katey know what you think.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dog Days of Summer E-chap Released

"When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it." ~Bernard Baily

That quote popped up as one of the quotes of the day on my igoogle home page. It's very true but does not apply to two people today: Michael J. Solender and Sam Adamson who are, in fact, sharing the incredible glare of the spotlight.

Michael released his E-chapbook today at his blog not from here, are you? The 80 stories included were entries in his Dog Days of Summer Contest during the summer. The stories had to contain the words 'summer' and 'heat' and had to be exactly 101 words in length.

Contest winner was Sam Adamson for his story The Pit of Hades. You can find him lurking at his blog Future; Nostalgic. Take a moment and read Michael's funny interview with Sam at The Not. And then pour a glass or mug or whatever of your favourite bevvy and sit and read the wonderful stories in the Dog Days of Summer chap. My story, Escaping the Heat, can be found on page 48 of this fine publication.