Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bloggerstock: Photo Inspired

I'm so pleased, this month, to be hosting K. Syrah!  I don't read many social commentary blogs (they're a little too biased for me), but K. has one I've been gladly following for a long time, now.  Be sure to check it out.  I'm certain her bit of writing from our photo inspired topic (how cool is that) will make you want to visit.  Now, on to the post.

I’m K. Syrah, I blog at Shoes Never Worn, and this is a story about a Dad and his little girl. 
            He watched her grow up, in tiny shoes, and tiny socks, with floral dresses and mismatched little caps on golden curls. He remembered tying her hair up into little pigtails, combing the ringlets and ticking her under her arms until she squealed and giggled with delight.
            He lifted her up, propping her on his shoulders when the Christmas parade came into town, just so she could see over the heads of the on-lookers. Her little gently hands wrapped around his forehead as she laughed she pointed and gawked at the fat man in red, with his wavy white beard.
            Then came the day when she didn’t need him to do her hair, to tie her shoes, or to put a little bow in her sundress.
            She stopped reaching for his hand, and she crossed the road on her own. First looking over her shoulder to see if it was okay, then later, looking straight ahead, because she knew it was okay.
            Her little hands were swinging freely at her side, and he watched her grow up tall until the day came that all fathers dread; the day their little girl thrusts her hip to the side, with a stubborn hand on her belt loop, looks at him with defiant eyes.
            “As long as you live under this roof, young lady, you’ll obey our rules!”
            Then, she wasn’t under his roof anymore and she drifted even further; across the country, to a college dorm room. She’s talking to boys, saying, doing and acting like she can cross the road without him over her shoulder.
            But she’s just a kid, in tiny shoes, and golden curls.

You can check out my post at co-founder Alex Weisman's blog!  And, of course, you can sign up to participate in the next Bloggerstock through the home site.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If You're Canadian

I was up 'till 2:30 last night watching the National Leaders English Debate (as any of you who follow me on Twitter know full well...).  If you're American you might want to skip this post.  Because, you know, it's international politics so it really doesn't matter.

In case you don't have over two hours to watch the debate's entirety here are the general impressions.  If you're Canadian, though, I do recommend viewing it.  And then voting.  Because you live in a democratic country and you better appreciate that.  Just watch a news clip on Libyan rebels for a little perspective.

The Bloc Quebecois: Duceppe treated this debate exactly as one should expect of a Blog Quebecois leader.  Quite frankly, it got boring.  He referred, at least twice, to Quebec as a nation.  None of the other leaders were stupid enough to point out that he was  sorely mistaken.  The poor guy is a little misinformed.  Not in good taste for a party leader.  I, however, am an unpaid semi-anon blogger with no influence in Quebec so I don't mind saying that, in actuality, provincial referendums have defeated sovereignty  twice.  Grow up, suck it up, and learn to contribute to the actual country you help govern.

I'm not anti-Quebec.  I've lived there and I have struggled to try and form some degree of pride in our dual-heritage.  My redneck friends aren't helping and neither are the separatists.  It's extremists that make me want to swear off French.  A shame and something that's not going to do Canada a bit of good.

Oh, and taking a question about immigration and using it to yell at Layton about bill 101?  Not classy.  In the end I just want to laugh at Duceppe's obvious agitation, singular agenda and pronunciation of "ghetto," (geeto) and "ship."  I'm sure he's owning in today's French language debate.

The New Democratic Party:  Jack Layton was clearly upset at references throughout the debate to the fact that the next government will be either Liberal or Conservative (even if, more then likely, a minority).  I can understand that it gets frustrating being the head of a party that never even gets the title of official opposition.  However, Layton needs to realize his party is unproven.  His flippant idealism has to be accepted because it's never been tried nationally.  Somehow he managed to avoid straight-up saying that the NDP really isn't all that concerned about the deficit or tax cuts.  The NDP wants to promise ready medicare solutions, open immigration policies and an environmental agenda.

Layton also went out of his way to slam the Liberal leader for supporting certain initiatives brought through by the Conservatives.  Look.  Nothing wrong with that.  If it's something they can support then, for crying out loud, support it.

NDP's economics freak me out.  Jack Layton will appeal to the buy-now pay-laters.  People without foresight.  In short, the NDP will win a few seats thanks to socialist votes.  I think high-spending socialism is something Canada has taken to far already.  Layton, however, is also the most engaging of the four leaders.  The one that I can most easily imagine buying his grandkids ice cream.  He was well spoken, at least.

The Liberal Party:  This is where the politics gets serious.  We're down to the two top parties in Canada's history and the Liberals want their lead back.

There is really no argument that the three participating opposition leaders pounded away on Steven Harper throughout.  Ignattief contributed his share in attempting to paint the Conservative party as one full of scandal.  Expected, I suppose, given the historic coalition and the contempt of parliament against the current minority.

The Liberal leader did, however, bring some valid points to the table.  He is fairly adamant that something must be done to remedy Canada's falling reputation on the international stage.  He was the only leader who pointed out that an American justice system doesn't work.  He was also the main voice for initiative in healthcare that begins with education and Canadian effort.

Ignattief readily stated that he's fond of the idea of raising corporate taxes.  He figures this will fund extensive moves in post-secondary education, in child-care, in green initiative and in international policiy...  For a start.  Certainly strong promises.

The Conservative Party:  Harper certainly took attack after attack in this debate.  Not surprising.  He has been governing the country for five years so everything can be blamed on him.  Opposition mostly had to do with a lack of releasing certain financial reports, a plan to buy fighter jets and the traditional conservative tendency to avoid international spending and meeting environmental targets.

Harper was steadfast and brought replies to the table that focussed on his party's commitment to easing the deficit and lowering taxes in a bid to improve the economy.  In my opinion Harper was the only leader who willingly laid out strong economical intent.  He also stated several times that we're in the throes of an election "that Canadians didn't want."  He's actually being ballsy enough to say he wants a majority so he can get things done.

Harper may hurt himself with an endless focus on tax cuts.  What do Canadians really want?  He's refusing to make promises in regards to the international stage and the environment.  Healthcare is a major debate that I did not hear any definite conclusion to from Harper.  Medical coverage is something embraced by all Canadians that is not going anywhere.

Harper doesn't have all the answers.  He certainly doesn't have all the election promises.  But if they country wants a stodgy follow-through on solid economic effort he may be in the right place.

I don't actually like politics.  They will not be making a regular appearance on my blog.  I will, however, be voting.  If you're Canadian then I expect that you will be too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Debt: A Crisis I Can't Make Sense Of.

There are several many things in life, in our society, that I don't even pretend to understand.  Our disrespect for our elders.  Our tendency to be workaholics.  Our willingness to cheapen so many experiences.  Our fear of death.  Even the ones I engage in I don't understand.

But this post is about debt.  I just don't get it.  We're a society driven by the stuff.  When I Google "Average debt in the Canadian household," the front page is full of articles on how Canada's average debt surpassed $100,000 this February.  One.  Hundred.  Thousand.  Dollars.  On average!  Americans are in even worse shape.

Why are we okay with this?

Back in the day if you wanted more land you went out and grew some wheat and if your crop succeeded you expanded.  If you didn't have a crop and you needed a new jacket you went out and harvested someone else's until you got paid and then you bought what you needed.  I'm sorry, but doesn't that make sense?

The worst part is we're not even over our heads in order to put food on our tables.  We're buying homes that are significantly larger then they were just a decade ago.  We're charging brand-new clothes and restaurant meals on credit cards that have interest rates to the tune of 20%.  Twenty.  Percent.  Is that annoying?  I can quit spelling it out like that.

I don't mean to be down on anyone who lost their job because of the downturn and can't find other work.  Or any American with unexpected medical expenses.  Or the single Mom, or someone reeling from a nasty divorce.  Or the student who got in over their head.  But where do we draw the line?

Some debt makes sense.  A mortgage on a basic home, for example (take into consideration, first, housing prices).  Also certain small business loans.  Let me put a disclaimer here:  I am not a gambler by nature and I will never treat my finances like I am.  Low risk, low reward.

I'm also not an economics expert.  I almost definitely make less money then you.  I don't fully understand credit scores or RRSPs.  I do have the advantage of not having to pay for a degree at a prestigious school.  I live in a small home with a room mate.  I drive a car from 1998 that I work on myself and sometimes I buy clothes from a thrift store.

But I live very comfortably.  Admittedly, I don't have children and I live in a low-cost part of the country (read: rural).  I prioritize.  I get a thrill out of saving.  I also travel extensively, but cheaply.  I choose to go through periods without steady employment.  I volunteer.  I market farm.

I know, I have the luxury.  I live in a prosperous society.  But I could live for years on what my fellow countrymen owe, on average.

I work and then I buy the things I want.

Doesn't that make sense?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

If Evil Lady is the Look You're Going for...

We all know someone who thinks they're rocking this hairstyle right now.  Yup, I'm talking about the two-tone-blonde-black whatever you want to call it.  I'm actually not sure what "look" it's supposed to convey so if you're in the know please fill me in.  Is it punk, emo, trashy fashionista?

 If you have this hair you can make plenty of excuses to over-ride my opinion.  I'll actually nullify it for you.  Here: First of all, I know a hair student who currently has a  frizz bouffant in white-blonde that features black bangs.  Hair students clearly know more about hair then I do.  Me with my boring brunette curls.  Clearly leaving my hair healthy and the close to the way it grows out of my head can't be very cutting edge.  Then there's also the selection of decent looking celebs who've tried this out.  Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Shakira...

Even though I'm pretty low-maintenance I don't really care if you want to experiment with your image.  Whatever.  turn your  hair purple.  Defy gravity with the assistance of products called things like "hair glue."  Dye it white-blonde or black or flaming red.  Cover yourself with ink or poke holes in your tongue.  I really don't care, life can use a little variation.  But, quite frankly, this particular two-tone comes across as the opposite of class.  It's not evoking a rebellious image.  Ditto edgy, unique or young.  

Maybe I'm the only one who consistently makes a connection between this "look" and this particular literary character.  Probably not, though.  Which makes me wonder, what kind of world do we live in when Cruella De Vil is a trend-setter?
She gave my sister nightmares for about eight years