Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Scrooge

We are not doing Halloween this year.

There, I've said it for all to see and now will have to follow through (I'm a brown-noser that way).

When our boys were young, Halloween was a big deal. There were Halloween parties at school, costume parties at the rec center and the annual neighborhood haunted house to visit. We'd put a flying witch on the door, carved pumpkins on the steps and ghosts in the front window. Costumes were different every year and usually made up from whatever was around (no pre-made store-bought stuff).

The number of trick or treaters has been slowly dwindling over the years. Twenty to thirty years ago, we'd get well over one hundred children coming to the door. Sometimes we'd run out of treats and have to recycle some of the candies from our boys when they got home. Ten years ago, we'd still get around eighty to one hundred. Last year, only twelve children came and half of them were neighbours and their friends from across the street. We ended up eating the leftover candies - not such a good thing for the waistline.

It's rather sad, but I understand why parents aren't taking or letting their children out for Halloween any more. In the last decade, there seem to be more reports of tainted treats, random attacks and vandalism (not in our neighborhood, mind you - except for teens smashing pumpkins at the end of the night) - enough to scare any parent of young children. I'm not sure these are so much real threats to the average neighborhood as they are sensationalized, isolated incidents. At any rate, the trend seems to be towards events at shopping centers and malls. Mom and dad dress the tykes up and take them to the nearest mall where the merchants hand out (supposedly) safe treats in a safe, fluorescent environment. Everyone stays clean, warm and dry. No more creepy shadows. No more spooky, strange houses. No more bumps in the night.

We've shelled out treats for Halloween ever since we moved into our first house almost thirty-five years ago. Well, no more. We can't compete with the malls and shopping centers and we don't need leftover candy.

So tonight, we're leaving the front porch light off, ordering take-out and watching the hockey game on TV.

Any ghosts or goblins that might happen to knock on our door will have to float on down the street because we're not answering.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another If the world could vote . . .

Here's another poll with very similar results to the one I previously posted, but with a larger number of respondents:

If The World Could Vote

I know the results are meaningless in regard to the actual outcome, but I think they show something meaningful in another sense.

I've been reading comments from (mostly) Americans in various forums and blogs that discount the results. The comments range from accusing respondents of wanting to elect a "terrorist" to destroy the U.S.; to "ulterior motives" because everyone hates Americans; to it's not their country so it's none of their business.

My opinion is that these and similar polls, blogs and articles are evidence of a general feeling of frustration - and okay, anger - by those outside the U.S. that Americans don't really care about what happens in the rest of the world unless it's of direct consequence to the U.S. The feeling is that the U.S. tends do anything it bloody hell wants, regardless of what others might say or the world context as long as it's in the best interest of the U.S.

I think these polls are an attempt for people outside the U.S to say, "Hey! Your decision on November 4 affects more than the citizens of your own country" and this is what we think!

So, maybe not such a meaningless poll. I guess it depends on how you read the results.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If the World Could Vote in the US Election

I know it doesn't mean a darn thing, but I voted at The World For. It made me feel better - sort of.

If you want to cast your "mean nothing" vote, you can do it on this ballot:

Thursday, October 23, 2008


If I had one wish for my life's journey it would be to inspire someone, anyone - whether my children or complete strangers - at least once in a lifetime.

I looked up the following poem by Walt Whitman after reading this post on Berry Blog (Charlie is a former teacher). I remember only two teachers in my life who inspired such depth of feeling.

O Captain My Captain

O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

Oh, to be remembered like this.

New Look

I've finally changed to a 3-column layout.

I've been meaning to try it for some time, but the previous customizations seemed too time-consuming and I was too lazy. The other day, I found a quick, easy customization using Blogger's "Layout" functionality. The instructions are clear and simple, and for those of you who are intimidated by tech talk, you don't need to understand html.

If you've always wanted a 3-column blog, try it. It's at Three Column Blogger and has fixes for the more popular Blogger templates.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Completely frivolous and the not so

For a change of pace from all the election news I've been following and to indulge in my favourite pastime of procrastination, here's a Blogthings query (thanks to Joy from Babble On).

What's Your Name's Hidden Meaning?

What Ellen Means

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

... and the not so frivolous

Despite feeling tired of all the political commentary and election news, I am still following the U.S. election.

The Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama was certainly a day-brightener. His Meet the Press interview set out his reasoning in a clear, logical and classy way. If I were a U.S. citizen, I'd be voting Obama/Biden.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Even though I've been back for awhile, it's taken some time to get back to blogging. It seems like so much has happened both in the world and on the home front that I've been feeling overwhelmed. I even stopped reading my favourite blogs and forums. I forgot how blogging can be therapeutic at times like this.

So here are some odds 'n sods that have been on my mind lately.

I seldom post anything political on this blog, but came across the following video on Tamarika's blog, Mining Nuggets. It's a piece by Keith Olberman talking about Sarah Palin and pretty accurately encapsulates my thoughts and feelings about the Governor of Alaska:

I've been following both the Canadian and American election campaigns.

The Canadian election was called on September 7th and, thankfully, we get to vote next week on October 14th. We've had to put up with just over a month of political campaign rhetoric and we're already talking about voter fatigue.

Yet, I wonder if it's so much about voter fatigue due to the Canadian election as it is about having had to endure the seemingly never-ending U.S. election campaigns - from party politics to primaries to party conventions (and why do they have conventions anyway when the nominee has already been chosen?) to VP nominations to Presidential debates to VP debates, ad infinitum. How can the American public stand it?

Canadians really can't avoid any of it. We're constantly inundated by the media telling us about the latest Dem v. Rep polls, the mud-slinging, Sarah Palin's latest gaffs, McCain's age, Obama's supposed links to terrorists (thanks to Palin), etc. And to be truthful, even though we can't vote in the U.S., the choice Americans make at the polls affects us greatly. And so we watch and listen. With bated breath - long after we've voted and know the results in Canada - we await the U.S. outcome in November.

A few weeks prior to the free-fall that's overtaken the world economy, George Dubya said, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong. ... Job creation is strong. Real after-tax wages are on the rise. Inflation is low." I laughed then, thinking, what universe is he living in? I'm closer to crying now. Being self-employed, dh and I don't have company pensions or benefit packages. We must rely on our investments and self-contributed retirement savings plans that are, by and large, dictated by world stock markets. And we all know how well those are doing. At this rate, if we "ride it out" as the pundits say, retirement is fading further into the horizon, or on the bright side, looming - oh - another ten years away?

With all the doom and gloom, it's good to have Joy at Babble On around to discuss Dancing With The Stars and feed my addiction to all things dance-y. I've also started watching the first season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Tonight is the first performance show for the top 20. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Q is for

Quietly contemplating

Quixotic causes

And the

Quintessence of life.

Or in short:
Quietly questioning.