Friday, July 31, 2009

never miss the water


this has been a busy week and a particularly crazy day is going on right now.

I'm working at getting everything cleared off my desk because I start my vacation this afternoon. When I arrived at work this morning, we couldn't access our network files - not good.

Fortunately, it was resolved mid-morning so I'm now just in the home stretch of my last-day scramble. Should be able to leave on time so it's not totally horrible.

In lieu of a proper post, I'm going to leave you with a live version of one of my favourite Chaka songs, enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

waiting for squirrels

waiting for squirrels
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Just got back from running an errand on campus and cannot get over how hot the midday sun is today. We're in the midst of a humid spell and I'd love nothing more than some lungs full of fresh cool air.

I think the weather is getting to the dogs too. They have access to the air conditioned house, lots of shade in the yard, water and ice cubes but they both seem a little off the past two days.

Sammy woke up in the middle of the night, whimpering to go outside. when I got up to let him out, he ran outside when I stepped onto the deck (to turn the motion sensor lights on). He was a little skittish though and every time the bug zapper zapped, he jumped. Eventually he was able to do his thing but it seemed, well let's just say different, like he was a little upset (his tummy). He then ran back into the house and normally, he likes to do a little "hey I just pooped" dance before doing that.

When we came back into the house, he ate a little of the kibble which was leftover in his bowl and then settled back to sleep. Shortly after we woke up, he barfed the kibble up (on Mark's side of the bed). On the weekend, he got a hold of one of Mark's work gloves and I think he ate part of the thumb so that could be what's got him out of sorts, could be the humidity too.

Gracie seems to be faring a bit better although since we had the carpet cleaned, she's full of piss and vinegar. I still haven't put the room back entirely so there is a little more room for her to play in and she's taking full advantage of it, chasing Sam, at top speed, wanting to wrestle with either Mark or I (and getting us to play along).

Btw, the carpets turned out well. I'm pretty impressed and wondering why I've not done it before!

Monday, July 27, 2009

take it!

I've mentioned here before that Mark and I are fans of American Idol. Our favourite part of the show is the early auditions. This past season, I was really happy to see Alexis Cohen, one of our favourites from last season, return and try again.

We loved her attitude and spirit and spunk and mostly, her reaction to being dismissed. I was saddened this morning, to read that she'd been killed in an accident over the weekend. My condolences go out to her family and friends.

Friday, July 24, 2009

bad news

new patio lanterns
Originally uploaded by Julep67
I'd like to swat the nose of the news with a newspaper right now and say "bad! bad news!"

Lots of weird stuff has been happening in our sleepy little town recently. Over the weekend, a woman and her two daughters mysteriously drowned in the swimming pool of a hotel in Gananoque.

Yesterday, we learned that members of a Montreal family have been charged with the murder of 3 of their daughters and a 4th relative. At the end of June, a car was found in the Kingston Mills lock and no one could figure out how it got there (our theories of it being King Kong or Godzilla placing the car in the canal aside). It's now looking like it's some disgusting honour killing and I'm quite frankly sickened by it.

Canal-death charges stun Montreal neighbours

Neighbours of the Shafia family in Montreal's Saint-LĂ©onard borough say they are shocked to hear of the murder charges against the father, mother and eldest son.

Police in Kingston, Ont., announced Thursday that Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Mohammad Yehya, and their 18-year-old son, Hamid Mohammad Shafia, have each been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and four counts of conspiracy to murder.

The family's three teenaged sisters and their older relative, believed to be Mohammad Shafia's first wife, were found dead in a car at the bottom of a Rideau Canal lock near Kingston in June.

Neighbours said the three accused have appeared in a state of grief over the past three weeks.

Police haven't profferred a motive for the alleged murders, but a downstairs neighbour, Joyce Gilbert, described the family as patriarchal. She said, for example, that she saw the women and girls outside all winter shovelling snow.

A month or two before the deaths, Gilbert said, the eldest daughter, Zainab Shafia, ran away from home for at least a week.

"Because she wanted to have this boyfriend, and the family didn't want, because [he] wasn't the same, um, them they are Afghanistan, and he was Pakistan, I think," Gilbert said.

Zainab Shafia, 19, along with her sisters, Sahar Shafia, 17, Geeti Shafia, 13, and a female relative, Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, were found dead in the family's black Nissan Sentra when the vehicle was discovered under water in a Rideau Canal lock on June 30.

Other neighbours described the Shafia girls as being shy, quiet and traditional, but Alexia Maturi, a 12-year-old friend from the neighbourhood, remembered them differently. She said she only played with the girls when they were away from their house and their parents.

"They introduced me to new games at the park, and we like, we just shared.... They were like me: just outgoing, friendly, fun to play with. They were like a normal girl," Maturi said.

Another neighbour, who wished to not be named, said whenever a man came by the house, the Shafia girls would turn away or go indoors.

Community member in shock

The owner of an Afghan supermarket in the Montreal suburb of Brossard, who attended the funerals of the three teens and their relative, said he was shocked to hear of the murder charges.

Noor Mehri said he didn't know the family directly, but felt obliged to attend the funeral, held at an Islamic cemetery in suburban Laval on July 5.

Mehri said during the burial, the father collapsed and paramedics had to take him away.

"He was [lying] on the floor. At that time I don't know what problem he has, ambulance come and take him away.... He was not OK," Mehri said.

Mehri said he found the story peculiar when he heard the four females had been discovered dead underwater in the family car, but he said he never suspected it was anything other than a tragic accident.

- - - - - - - - -

This story also made my lunch turn into a ball in my stomach. What exactly is blasphemy anyway? I agree with one of the comments I read after this article where the writer asked, if I'm an agnostic and you say "god bless you" to me when I sneeze, is that blasphemy?

As a person of Irish descent, I've always wanted to visit Ireland. At the moment, I'm now not so sure that I still feel the same way. Shame on you Ireland!

Irish law makes it illegal to speak blasphemy

If you visit Ireland after October, you'd better watch what you say about God.

A blasphemous slip of the tongue could cost you 25,000 euros under revamped legislation that will soon be signed into law.

Blasphemy is an act of challenging or offending a religious belief.

In recent years, western countries such as England have been taking blasphemy laws off the books, or changing their focus so that they cover hate-related crimes in general. Ireland has taken a different approach, updating its legislation but maintaining a focus on religion.

In Ireland, it has been a crime to publish blasphemous material since 1961, although nobody has ever been convicted. The Seanad, the Irish senate and upper level of parliament, passed the Defamation Bill in July that makes uttering blasphemy a crime as well.

The bill was originally proposed in 2006. It worked its way through parliament and received final approval on July 10 this year, when it passed by a slim margin of 23-22.

Lorraine Weinrib, a law professor at the University of Toronto, says the bill is a modern update of blasphemy laws.

"I don't see this as a new thing as much as an old thing that hasn't quite disappeared in Ireland," she says.

"Unlike the old blasphemy laws which only protected the dominant religion [Roman Catholicism] … this one seems to protect all religions, so it kind of has a modern equality bent to it," Weinrib adds.

But blasphemy laws can have an impact on freedom of expression, Weinrib says.

"They create a crime where one of the basic elements of the crime is subjective outrage of particular people. So there's really no objective measure, and this can cause a disruption in the modern understanding of the relationship between religion and the public space of a liberal democracy."

Even so, Weinrib points out that under Ireland's new legislation, in order to be found guilty, there has to be proof that the offender intended to cause outrage with a statement that is abusive or insulting. The statement also has to produce a violent reaction.

The bill states that a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if:

* He or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.
* He or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

The bill puts the onus on a defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.

"I think we're talking about central issues — for example, a depiction of Christ as a homosexual … many religious people find this outrageous and their reaction is intense," says Weinrib. "The intent of the outrage still needs to be proven in this case."

Ireland is not alone in having laws that take aim at blasphemy.

Canada lists blasphemous libel as a crime under the Criminal Code, which carries a penalty of up to two years in jail. But the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees free speech rights that supersede the blasphemy law.

The Canadian code says, "No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject."

Many countries have abolished their blasphemy laws in recent years. In Britain, the Church of England (and by default, Christianity) was protected from blasphemy up until last year when the government reviewed the law. The U.K. voted to abolish blasphemy laws on Jan. 10, 2008.

In the United States, blasphemy has never been considered a crime.

In countries where Islam is the state religion, blasphemy is still considered a serious offence. In countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the penalty for blasphemous crimes can be execution.

A number of Islamic countries have been pursuing an international anti-blasphemy resolution at the United Nations that would restrict any speech that is offensive to any religion. But that approach assumes everyone is religious, Weinrib says, and issues can crop up when two religious groups have contradictory points of view.

Here are some significant historical events involving blasphemy:

* March 12, 2009 Judges in Afghanistan reduce a death sentence to a 20-year jail term for student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, who had been convicted of blasphemy.
* Jan. 31, 2008 In Afghanistan, student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh is sentenced to death for downloading a report from the internet that was viewed as blasphemous.
* Jan. 10, 2008 The United Kingdom abolishes blasphemy laws.
* Nov. 27, 2007 Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher in Sudan, is charged with blasphemy after letting her students name a teddy bear "Muhammad." She received a 15-day jail sentence.
* Dec. 12, 2006 Ireland's justice minister, Michael McDowell, introduces the Defamation Bill, to replace legislation that has been in place since 1961.
* Sept. 30, 2005 Controversial cartoons of Muhammad in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten cause an uproar among Muslims, who found the material to be blasphemous. An investigation was undertaken but it was stopped because a judge found publishing the material could not be considered a criminal offence under the Danish Criminal Code.
* June 2003 Two Afghan journalists from the Aftab News are sentenced to death for blasphemy by a Taliban-influenced court for publishing an article titled, "Holy Fascism."
* 2001 British Labour MP Frank Dobson suggests getting rid of the common-law offence of blasphemy, but is opposed by Church of England officials.
* 1949 In a speech about freedom under the law Judge Alfred Thompson 'Tom' Denning says, "The offence of blasphemy is now a dead letter."
* 1935 Rev. Victor Rahard is found guilty of the charge of blasphemous libel. It would be the last time a Crown prosecuted someone for blasphemous libel in Canada.
* 1921 The last person in Britain to be sent to prison for committing blasphemy is John William Gott, who compared Jesus to a circus clown. His sentence was nine months of hard labour.
* 1843 The last time a public prosecution was held in Scotland for a blasphemy crime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Originally uploaded by Julep67
How cute is Sam? Pretty cute huh?

Boy howdy but it feels like time has been speeding up lately. We've been busy for the past few weeks, getting ready for a big party we're having at our place next month, while we are on holidays. The idea is to get as much stuff done before our vacation actually starts as is humanly possible so we won't have to do much while we're off work.

Fortunately, the to do list is constantly shrinking and I've not had to add too much to it as we go along. I'd say that it is managed chaos but it's not actually chaotic which is nice. Mostly, we're trying to get the house sorted out.

It's sort of funny how much "extra" cleaning I'm doing as we get ready for the party. I'm doing the kind of stuff that normally only happens in the spring. Mark's been doing stellar stuff in the yard too. It looks great, really great, better I think than either of us imagined that it could look. We're enjoying it, a lot. The yard I mean, not so much the cleaning.

Funnily, one of the things I'm most excited about is our carpets. I've actually only arranged for the living room / hallway to get done but it should look great when it's done. It's something I've had on my "to do" list since we moved into the house. Remnants of doggie accidents have made it more urgent. It's going to be interesting to see how it turns out!

Friday, July 17, 2009

iced gracie

iced gracie
Originally uploaded by Julep67
. how much would I love to be home, on the deck, with Gracie and her bowl of ice cubes right now? Well, lots.

. she was not impressed with me when I left for work this morning

. I've been spending parts of my morning (before heading out to work) on the deck with the dogs

. they love it when you're with them, they aren't so happy when you go

. if only they understood how I much I can empathize with what they're feeling because I feel the same way too

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sam in pre-bark mode

Sam in pre-bark mode
Originally uploaded by Julep67
. Sam can go from zero to bat-shit crazy barking in the blink of the eye

. other times, he's on a slow boil and I can tell when he's going to get loose and bark

. he doesn't bark for the sake of barking

. Sam barks with purpose, usually to let folks walking on the sidewalk in front of our house know that they don't have his permission to be on his sidewalk

. Sam also barks at our asshole next door neighbours

. I think he knows that we don't like them any more than he does

. his fur is starting to grow back. he is looking a little bit less like a baby lamb every day

. our office barbecue yesterday was fun. the weather was gorgeous, I laughed a lot, it was a nice break from the usual Wednesday afternoon stuff

. I was saddened to hear about this this morning. Going through the process for an international adoption is difficult at the best of times. What's going to happen to the 500 families and potential adopted children, who are now in limbo?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

summer stuff

I love summer, I'm particularly loving this summer.

It's not too hot, not too cold.

Not too dry, not too wet.

Berries are great, doggies are awesome.

Barbecues are plentiful and we're having one this afternoon with work folks.

A good time should be had by all and I have it on good authority that seedless watermelon is being served.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

status update on the peanut

icy gracie
Originally uploaded by Julep67
. I have many names for our Miss Gracie: Gracie, Princess Grace of my Heart, Peanut, Peanut Butter, Princess Peanut

. happily, I can report that she's much better today, almost too much better

. too much because she's wrestling like crazy with Sam and I'd like to see taking it easy but you can't always tell her what to do

. she's still on her meds (every night with dinner) on the advice of the vet but I may take her off it on the weekend

. things are awesome at the moment, the weather is lovely, work is going well, life is good

. I really can't complain about anything because when I put it into perspective (and I do try hard to do this) and compare our lives with those of folks who live in war-torn places bitching about money or having a dirty house or whatever thing I'm moaning about seems pretty petty

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

knot my problem

knot my problem
Originally uploaded by Julep67
. I'm slightly over tired tonight

. it's not surprising

. we were shaken out of bed on Sunday night by a massive thunder storm

. last night, we both slept with one ear open, listening for Gracie

. poor Gracie hurt herself and had to go to the vet last night

. still not 100% sure what is wrong, seems like some soft tissue damage, the vet thought that nothing was broken

. she's on a daily dose of some pain medication and if the problem doesn't go away from the pain meds and her resting a bit (she's been very good about taking it easy), she'll have to get some blood work done and have x-rays

. she seems a bit better now, had a bad spell earlier this evening but I think the meds I gave her with her dinner have kicked in

. I hate it when the dogs are sick because I feel so helpless

. I hope we all get a good night's sleep tonight and feel better in the morning

Monday, July 06, 2009

how I spent my summer vacation - part 1

This isn't going to be a multi-part post but I have just completed part 1 of my summer vacation. I went back to work this morning after a week's holiday. Technically, because of Canada Day, I only needed to book off 4 days. I'm taking two weeks at the beginning of August (hence the part one of two).

Last week, we got a tonne of stuff done around the house. I have had a list of stuff that I've wanted to do for ages which I'm now slowly getting through. Mark has a similar list and he's just plowing through his. Amongst other stuff, we were able to:

. get my tooth filled (well the dentist did it but...)
. replace the front steps to our house (Mark and Andy did a kick-ass job on them)
. totally re-organize our front closet (you can actually see the floor in there)
. packed away our winter coats for the season (yeah, I'm late on this)
. finally wash all of the hats, scarves and mitts we wore last winter and put them away
. de-clutter our two spare bedrooms (I sent a van load of stuff to the charity/thrift store and another load of broken junk to the dump)
. move all of the boxes (which have been on the floor for 3 years) out of my office and into the basement (my long term project will be, next winter, to go through 2 boxes every weekend until everything is sorted or chucked or donated)

I was also able to get lots of much needed cleaning done around the house. It was super nice around here on the weekend and I was actually able to open the house up (and turn off the A/C) and air it out. The dogs have been having a great time playing in the newly de-cluttered bedrooms. Every time I see one of them running out of one of these rooms, they are doing that double-time tail wag which means that they think they are getting away with something.

Last week, I did not spend much time in front of my computer so I wasn't always keeping as up to date on news stories as I would normally be. I did, however, celebrate the victory (finally) of Al Franken in his senate race in Minnesota. He's such an amazing guy, I'm really happy for him, his family, and the people of Minnesota!