Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today the World!

I was reminded today of how when we were going to high school our teachers kept telling us that it was our generation that would change the world. It seemed like a daunting task at the time. In the years directly following high school it seemed nothing short of impossible. Today I woke up to check my Facebook before work and saw a birthday notification for my friend Sara, who is working for a non-profit in Africa. She is turning 23 today! I was reminded just how many of us under the age of 25 (and even more under the age of 30) are really changing the world, just like we were told we would!

That's all for now... I'm off to change the world!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How Silence Will Kill Canada


I don't often express my political or religious views on the internet, but there comes a point in politics when something needs to be said. There comes a point when silence is more harmful than polarizing yourself. When it comes to politics in general I like to think I fall somewhere into the moderate zone within the Canadian political spectrum. Maybe I am a bit to the left, but Canadian politics tends to center a bit more to the left than the USA for example.

Right now we have a Conservative Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper. Would I vote for the Conservative Party? Maybe. I look at a number of factors before determining who I will vote for. I look at who the party leader is and what they stand for. I look at who the local MP would be and what they stand for, and what they have done to contribute to the community. I look at the Party Platform. I read the newspaper, listen to the radio, and watch the TV to see what is being said. I try to attend at least one forum in the community. I look at what each party has to say about specific topics that I think are important. Then I make the best choice. So if I felt voting Conservative was the best choice, then yes, I would vote Conservative. Would I vote Conservative right now? No. Nothing is more appalling than the Harper Government. (And it is called the Harper Government, not the Canadian Government, even by members of the Conservative Party.)

Each time I read a news story about what Harper has most recently brought to the table, I get visions of marching Nazis. This is no exaggeration. Adolf Hitler was well liked when he first came to power in Germany, but then he went off the deep end and people were afraid to oppose him because of what would happen to them if they did. I see this sort of thing starting to happen in Canada already. Harper was popular... popular enough to win a majority government after 2 terms of Prime Minister in a minority. Since the last election however, his supporters have dropped drastically because they see that what is happening now is not what they had envisioned. That is because he is taking away the rights of citizens at every turn. He is ignoring environmental concerns and the rights of indigenous peoples. He is doing his best to quell protesters or discredit them. He is selling land and resource rights to the highest bidder (i.e. China) ... and all of this is happening behind closed doors. We, as Canadians, should all be terribly afraid, but we must also speak our minds about what is happening. If we don't speak now, we may find that later on it is too late. We may lose that right or also find ourselves discredited. Silence is no longer an option. We have 3 more years with Harper at the helm. Most importantly we need to remember his current deeds when the next election comes around. No doubt he will do his best to make us happier closer to Election Day or use more slander campaigns against his opponents. Remember the things that are happening now when you next go to the polling station. I for one am terrified at the very thought of another term of the Harper Government!

Part of our problem in the political scene right now is the lack of inspiring leaders. I'll be honest with you that in the last election I would've voted for Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois, if I had lived in Quebec. He was the most inspiring of all party leaders in that election. (As unfortunate as that is to say.) Don't get me wrong, Layton was inspiring... but I knew deep down that he was not going to be the party leader much longer. Something just seemed wrong. Ignatieff rubbed me the wrong way as well, and while Mr. Rae is slightly more inspiring, he has a long way to go! Elizabeth May had some excellent things to say, and was second most inspiring after Duceppe, but the truth is Canada is just not ready for the Green Party to be in charge. The Green Party isn't ready for the Green Party to be in charge either. So since having the Green Party or the Bloc in power is not something that is likely to be a reality now or in the near future we must look to the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDPs. None of them have very inspiring leaders. What I want to urge right now is that both Mr. Rae and Mr. Mulcair really put themselves out there. Voice your opinions. Don't try to be that guy that everyone likes. Canadians need someone with a clear ideology, someone inspiring. If you are playing it safe then Harper could well get another term. I know, I know you don't want to lose supporters, but you can't gain any either if we don't know what you stand for! To Mr. Mulcair in particular... I will not vote for you because I don't know what you stand for. You may not be an amazing orator, but your opinions are important so speak up! Unless you stick your neck out and make some powerful statements about some of the issues you are just as guilty of killing Canada as Mr. Harper. Speak now, because Canadians are ready to listen!

Silence is not something that any of us can afford.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Lesson in Fact Checking

In the wake of the American elections there have been a slew of political posts. Some of them are good. Some are bad. Some are really ignorant. I admit, everyone has the right to their views. I will keep mine out of this because it is an American election, not a Canadian election. However, I would like to point out the importance of checking your facts before posting a political message. Just today this message appeared on my Facebook stream:



Right away my brain was going, "Well what about peaceful Christian countries? Are there any of those?" And because I wasn't sure I checked my facts!

Here is some of the data from the 2012 Global Peace Index:

Country
2012 GPI rank
Iceland
1
Denmark
2
New Zealand
2
Canada
4
Japan
5
Austria
6
Ireland
6
Slovenia
8
Finland
9
Switzerland
10
Belgium
11
Qatar
12
Czech Republic
13
Sweden
14
Germany
15

Note Qatar, a country that according to the CIA World Factbook is 77.5% Muslim. Where is the United States? I scrolled down, and down, and down and then I saw it:

United States
88

Not only was the United States number 88 on the list but you should see some of the countries that have a better peace ranking than it. (Some are Muslim countries, but others are just... well... surprising!) Take a look!

Korea, South
42


United Arab Emirates
46
Kuwait
47

Oman
59

Serbia
64
Bosnia and Herzegovina
65

Cuba
70

There were also a ton of very poor African countries, but this was just a taste!

So for the list of peaceful Muslim countries? You might want to add:

1. Qatar
2. United Arab Emirates
3. Kuwait
4. Oman

Especially if you are comparing them to the USA. I was curious still... how do these countries compare to the USA in other ways?

I went to aneki.com and did their country comparison for Qatar and the USA:

Country
 
Qatar 
 
United States
Leader

Emir: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani  

President: Barack Obama  
Population
1,951,591313,847,465
Life Expectancy
78.090 years78.490 years
Human Development Index
0.8990.95
GDP per capita
$104,300 US$49,000 US
Literacy Rate
89%99%
Corruption Perception Index
6.57.3
Percentage of Women in Parliament
0%16.6%
Unemployment Rate
0.400%9.000%
Death Penalty
LegalLegal

Political System
emirateConstitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Religions
Muslim 77.5%, Christian 8.5%, other 14% (2004 census)Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)
Languages
Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second languageEnglish 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
note: Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii
Exports
liquefied natural gas (LNG), petroleum products, fertilizers, steelagricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0% (2003)
External Debt
$125,300,000,000 $$14,710,000,000,000 US
Exchange Rate
Qatari rials (QAR) per US dollar - 3.64 (2008 est.), 3.64 (2007), 3.64 (2006), 3.64 (2005), 3.64 (2004)
Military Budget as percentage of GDP
10.000%4.060%
Location
Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi ArabiaNorth America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico

I also compared the USA and Oman for good measure:

Country
 
United States 
 
Oman
Leader

President: Barack Obama  

Sultan, prime minister, foreign minister: Qaboos Bin Said Al Said  
Population
313,847,4653,090,150
Life Expectancy
78.490 years74.470 years
Human Development Index
0.950.839
GDP per capita
$49,000 US$26,900 US
Literacy Rate
99%81.4%
Corruption Perception Index
7.35.5
Percentage of Women in Parliament
16.6%9.1%
Unemployment Rate
9.000%15.000%
Death Penalty
LegalLegal
Political System
Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic traditionmonarchy
Religions
Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu) 25%
Languages
English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
note: Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii
Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Exports
agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0% (2003)petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles
External Debt
$14,710,000,000,000 $$9,054,000,000 US
Exchange Rate

Omani rials (OMR) per US dollar - 0.3845 (2008 est.), 0.3845 (2007), 0.3845 (2006), 0.3845 (2005), 0.3845 (2004)
Military Budget as percentage of GDP
4.060%11.400%
Location
North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and MexicoMiddle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE



So you will see, if you check your facts it would stop a lot of the hate and prevent a lot of wars between countries around the world. When it comes down to it the facts show we are not that different!

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Moon Over Eggy

No, that doesn't mean I'm PMSing! Moon Over Eggy is another name for Eggy in a Basket or Eggy in a Blanket. 

In this case I was attempting to make this:


What I actually made was this:



I have a few theories of why, and some tips for anyone who wants to try themselves.

1.Capsicum (bell peppers) are very expensive in Thailand so I made the slices thin to make more egg flowers. Thicker slices would be more ideal to containing the egg. Alternatively, a smaller sized egg.

2. My griddle has bumps in it. A flat surface would work better.

3. I had seen tomato put in the bottom to prevent leaks out the bottom. This only perpetuated the problem with the capsicum slices being too thin.

4. Thai eggs are free-range. As a result they have a thick shell but very soft yolks that often lose their shape. I guess you can't have everything!

5. I cooked the bell peppers a bit before adding the egg to prevent the bottom from leaking. This seemed quite effective. It was over flowing that was the problem.

Luckily, I am resourceful and saved dinner:


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm Sick of the Fear

Should it be a crime to cover your face during a riot?

by CBC Community Team Posted: May 8, 2012 11:49 AM


It may soon be a crime to cover your face with a mask or other means during a riot.

Should wearing a mask during a riot be a crime?(Andrew Burton/Associated Press)Bill-309, proposed by Alberta Conservative MP Blake Richards, would provide for penalties of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000 for rioters who wear a mask or disguise.

The bill was introduced as a private member's bill in October 2011, but it reached the House justice committee on Tuesday.  (Click here for full article.)

_ _ _

So today I was reading the article above on the CBC website. The truth is I am very angry. I am angry at the government. The Canadian government is a sell out, and from what I have been seeing worldwide as of the last few years it is not the only one. Now, it is hard for me to admit, but I know I am not alone in this. I have been afraid of the Canadian government for some time now. I have also been afraid of the American government for some time. I am not American, but the American government and the choices it makes largely affects Canadians and the choices our government makes. So I am afraid and fear makes me angry.

I have participated in a grand total of 2 peaceful protests in my life. Both were small scale events. I have never participated in a riot. The reason I probably don't participate in more peaceful protests is because the bigger the event the more chance of a handful of people taking things too far. That's how riots occur. Riots are not something that is usually planned. Protests are planned. Protests are organized. Riots happen when people are afraid and angry and a group mindset takes over.

There are a number of things to blame for the start of riots. The first one is fear. FEAR creates ANGER. When people are afraid of their government, when their rights are infringed upon and they feel threatened or unsafe, then they do stupid things in a fight or flight manner. If they're fighters then things get violent. That's how riots form. Not everyone involved in a riot is necessarily a fighter by nature (and quite honestly you can have flight instincts sometimes and fight instincts other times. Survival 101) but in the case of a large group being present it is easy to feel you will be lost in the crown and not be accountable for your actions. That sort of mindset can cause you to act in ways you wouldn't otherwise.

The government is giving us a lot to be afraid of right now. We are afraid of the economy and the financial stability of our families. We are afraid of the police because they are given so much power by the government and media. We are afraid of guns in our schools and terrorists at our borders. We are afraid of the food we eat because it is making us fat or filled with all sorts of questionable chemicals. We are afraid of the nuclear meltdown in Japan and the radiation reaching North America. We are afraid of being different, because deep down Canada was built on a patriarchal system where being a young, white, heterosexual man is still the best thing you can be. We are afraid to let our children play outside or go trick or treating. We are afraid of being murdered walking home at night. We are afraid of gangs, drugs, and violence. We are afraid to voice our opinions. We are afraid of being persecuted even if we live honest, decent lives. Public servants are afraid of losing their jobs if they take a stand. We are afraid of our government. We are afraid of our institutions. We are afraid of being true to ourselves and being hurt. We are afraid of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is because we are afraid of all these things (and many more) that we sit with our heads down and our mouths shut and ignore what happens on Parliament hill. That is exactly what our government wants. That is exactly how we got a Conservative majority after Stephen Harper went being closed doors and passed all those bills limiting our freedom. That is exactly why no other party has the power to challenge him. We are not demanding accountability from our government. We need to start now!

I stopped watching the news on TV. I stopped reading the paper, or even magazines. Media makes me feel more afraid. It is full of sensational headlines that create fear among us when really our country is a lot more stable and successful than in the past. We just don't notice because we are sucked into our TVs and computers and other technology. We don't notice because we are bombarded with negative self images and negative views of the world from the moment we get up each day. We self-hate. We live in fear. We let fear run our lives. We allow ourselves to be passive, when really we should be fighting for our freedom and the freedom of our children. Sometimes though, we don't even realize how much fear we are living in. We don't realize most of the illness we go through is because of the stress we are under everyday. We feel dependent on our government. We cling to it like a safety net. It's like clinging to a tattered umbrella because you didn't know how to mend your parachute.

So please. Wake up! Be courageous! Question! Don't let our freedom be taken away.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Breakfast Egg Tarts

Today I was feeling a bit adventurous so I decided to make something out of the ordinary for breakfast. These are not exactly quiches as you can see. The secret is the deli meat crusts. I used two types of chicken, but ham might be a more conventional choice.



Preheat oven to 350 F

Ingredients:
12 + pieces of sliced deli meat
4 large eggs
4 tbsp flavoured cream cheese (I used tomato and herb)
3 tbsp dethawed frozen spinach
shredded hashbrowns to garnish
1 tbsp maple syrup
spices: cayenne, pepper, and garlic to taste

1. Spray a muffin tin with PAM. Place a piece of deli meat in the bottom of each hole.
2. Mix together eggs, cream cheese, and spinach in a glass bowl. Use a small scoop to divide the egg mixture equally among the tins.
3. Mix together syrup and spices. Garnish egg tarts with shredded hashbrowns. Drizzle syrup mixture over the top.
4. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with fresh fruit or slices of toast and some coffee. Extras can be refrigerated or frozen.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The New Death and others, A Review

Hello again, everyone! Now that you have read my ridiculous writing you can read something more interesting. In this review I will do my best to get you to read something further! I assume that in your very title as "readers," you enjoy reading. That aside, this electronic book should not be a tough sell. The title you should look for is The New Death and others by James Hutchings. You can find it in a variety of electronic formats at Smashwords, for a very affordable price. I suggest you snap up this work while it is still a bargain! If someone discovers James Hutchings's talent we may soon by paying outrageous prices to get his works in hardcover. I'm sure he would be most delighted if his work took off like that, as any writer might be! Best of luck, James. I can see you going big if you keep on writing.

Unfortunately the annoying links appearing on the body of this journal entry will likely detract from my pitch. I believe they are a hint that I should go Pro with my account. Let me say before we start that the only link that is legitimate is the one I will include at the very bottom of this entry, taking you to The New Death on Smashwords. Unless you are more interested in shopping than book reviews and good writing that will be the only link you need click on.

The New Death and others is a collection of poems and short fiction of a similar theme. The theme is one of death, and life, woven within a sort of dark commentary on our world. It is the perfect fusion of old and new practices in literature from its very virtual form, to each and every savory word. The world Hutchings creates in The New Death is quite different from our own, filled with strange mythologies and characters. Upon further reading, one becomes aware that the world Hutchings paints is maybe not as different from our own as we had first thought. Everything James Hutchings writes is both humorous and entertaining. It also has a great philosophical depth, and dark humor, which may remind the reader of Douglas Adams's The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Certainly, if Hutchings continues writing he may soon find his name beside that of Adams or perhaps Tolkien, revered among Science Fiction and Fantasy fans alike. This work will appeal to more than just Sci-Fi and Fantasy lovers, but to anyone who enjoys quality fiction, and engaging their minds in deep thought.

Get lost in the world of The New Death, the insistent imagery will softly lull you until you are enchanted into continuing to read. You will find everyday objects and creatures personified, the Moon, cats, and a great many others. Mythical beasts live among everyday man, if any of Hutchings's characters could truly be considered "everyday." There is very little of the ordinary, and much of the extraordinary. Meet gargoyles, demons, and even Death. Discover ancient gods and goddesses, given new life here, and perhaps some new ones you have not heard of outside of these electronic pages. See the characters and stories of Judeo-Christian mythology take on a startling, new form. History meets mythology, and mythology exposes reality in The New Death. The fierce imagery and provoking ideas will inhabit your mind, bringing about hours of philosophical musing. Your quest for excellent, modern literature ends here, but the journey is yet to begin. Dive into the pages, but first make sure you have lots of time. Once you read the first sentence you won't want to stop!

You can purchase your copy at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/92126 for only $0.99 USD!

Of Dreaming and Big News

Well kiddies, we interrupt your regularly scheduled program...

... Well actually that's a lie. I write what I want when I want. As for the 30-day challenge. I don't know if I lost interest because I hadn't had any dreams lately or because I didn't have time to write a novel at present, but I have decided I will continue the challenge in the way I see fit. I will pick and choose the order to continue. Right now, however, I have woken up from a lovely nap and I had such a vivid dream I thought I'd share it. Also, I have some more treats for you, my excellent readership! Tonight I will post a second entry, a book review for a new sensation. Everyone in the e-reader community needs to get their hands on this title before it gets discovered! But more of that to come...

... Of Dreaming!

It was another frustrating day in the dump of an apartment I had come to call most loosely, "home." Myself, along with the fellow from apartment 3 were trying our best to chisel sweet potato patties out the malfunctioning main freezer. The whole bottom of the freezer had turned into a single, enormous ice block,  with the patties trapped inside. We had unplugged the freezer but if we let the thing completely unfreeze before extracting the patties they would somewhat loose their shape and become a hideous orange glob. We managed to wrestle the first half free before I had to leave for my first day at my new job.

As I walked into the bizarre building I would soon be calling my summer workplace, I stepped to the ordering booth beside the elevator. Already the calls were pouring in. My work cell was buzzing off the hook with people ordering their breakfast. They were highly demanding too. Most of them weren't interested in the standard fair like cereal or toast, (although I did have one toast order) instead looking for things a bit off the beaten track in the breakfast world, like lemon meringue pie. I typed my first order into the digital order box, uncertain what would happen next, then stepped onto the elevator.

My supervisor was waiting inside the elevator, a strange box made of bamboo, glass, and other unusual items. For instance the box seemed to defy physics by having room for a small dining room lounge. This was not the patron's elevator so that meant this must be our staffroom. Other workers smiled at me curiously. "Ah, there you are!" said my supervisor and she smiled, "These others are Chris, Arianna, James, Colby, and of course you already know Matt."

"Nice to meet you." I said.

"Well, I am sure you have a ton for questions! Here's how most of it works. You will be working floors 7 through 9 today. You are in luck all your orders are on floor 9 for the first batch. Matt will show you the ropes. The food will be on the trolleys as you exit the elevators... oh do come sit!" She yanked me down into a nearby chair.

"Do I have time?"

"Yes, yes! Eat a croissant!"

I bit into one of the croissants from the basket in the center of the table. Someone was pouring me a cup of coffee as well. I felt sort of confused. Then again, my boss was an eccentric, old bastard. I could work anywhere in the world I chose with him. He would find me work suited to my skills, but in return he owned my soul 365 days a year. I had spent the last year teaching in some remote jungle-canopy schoolhouse. Next year, I hoped to go to Africa. He had found a job for me caring for newborns in some orphanage. Right now, though, I was in North America for the summer and he still owned me. At least soon I would have enough money to move out of my dump apartment.

"I must admit I am rather disappointed," my supervisor intoned, breaking my thoughts, "You have barely said a word. I am wondering if you don't like us. You haven't told us a single story about yourself!"

"Oh, ummm... sorry. I didn't mean to... it's just that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment." I looked around at the confusion of the elevator/staffroom. Actually, it was more like a tearoom. I am a naturally shy person and it was becoming very clear to me my supervisor was not. She was probably a big gossip. I would have to be careful what stories I did tell her in the future.

"Of course! Not to worry! Well, soon enough we will be the best of friends. I wouldn't be surprised if you end up living with me!" she laughed. It was a joking tone, but underneath it I felt that she was actually serious. I felt certain this might have been a common occurance that other employees had lived with her for periods of varying lengths. I hoped I would not succumb to this torture... ever. I was aware, however, that somewhere inside she was already weakening my willpower and good reason, like a spider, waiting for its pray.

"Well now! This is floor 9! Off you go and good luck!" she pushed me out of my seat.

I stepped out of the elevator and onto floor nine. It looked almost like a hallway in a hospital, rather than a guesthouse. I remembered then that I was supposed to grab some trolley. I didn't remember seeing any but I turned around. The entire interior of the elevator had changed. There was no staffroom, and only my supervisor and another unfamiliar man. Both were standing, as people do on elevators. Now, however, the elevator was full of tea trolleys with various foods and there were tables along the edges with coffee machines, plates of toast, and other food items. I gawked at it all. Matt was standing beside me waiting, but said nothing. I had no idea which trolley was mine so I consulted an electronic list next to the elevator to see what I needed. Before I had much time to skim it my supervisor pushed a trolley towards me, "This one is yours. You still need to grab a toast and 2 coffees, but this is the only one with lemon meringue pie."

I quickly grabbed the other items and stepped off the elevator again to where Matt was waiting. My supervisor waved a cheery goodbye as the elevator door closed. This was going to be an eventful day!