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Log Cabin Chronicles | NOVEMBER 2017

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The internet and no communications
Posted 11.28.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Quebec's federation of municipal governments -- the FQM -- this week announced it's support of efforts to extend high-speed internet to all rural municipalities in the province. The FQM claims there are 244,000 households without real access.

Proud to be Canadian
Posted 11.22.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canadian patriotism is big in 2017. National celebrations on July 1, and the 150th projects and festivities have been inspirational, but just what do they mean to us, as patriotic Canadians?

West Quebec in provincial cabinet?
Posted 11.16.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Even on the federal level, Pontiac had, for years, the senior minister in Prime Minister Harper's government - - Harper's Quebec lieutenant, no less - - and is there one project in the Pontiac which was helped by "having a seat at the table"?

Critics! Methinks thou dost whine too much…
Posted 11.9.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Not only does Canada have a new Governor-General, an astronaut-scientist-engineer, but she's not shy. One of Mme Julie Payette's first speeches -- to a science forum -- has generated an uproar. Most GG's avoid controversy, and many conservatives are complaining.

She dared to question creationism and embrace evolution.

And that was just the beginning. She restated the science of climate change, lamented the quackery of cancer panaceas, and dismissed astrology as junk science.

The trouble with stories
Posted 11.2.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This is not about turning the profession of journalism into story-telling. Nor is it about the stories we continually tell ourselves to explain our actions, urges, mistakes, and achievements. No, this is about surrounding ourselves with stories, drowning in them - - and shouldn't that be a concern for us, coping with an evolving world?

Expropriate the old rail line?
Posted 10.28.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | However, the Municipality of Pontiac declined, and sold off the old rail line to the line's neighbours, effectively strangling the Route's access to the Ottawa Valley, and killing any chance of the municipality's own fledgling tourism businesses profit fro this popular tourist link.

Loony anthropology
Posted 10.19.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Following the last full moon, I watched it rise and sail eastward each evening - - until one night I was out before the moon. All the stars! All exceptionally clear and bright - - and everywhere! Perhaps there was less humidity on the air.

Quebec Day-care strike
Posted 9.25.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Four hundred educators in the Outaouais have been without a contract since March, 2015. There are 11,000 unionized workers in Quebec working with no or with expired contracts. Is this the way to run an economy? How can this be considered good government and good business management? How family-friendly is it to push day-care workers to strike?

NAFTA: Will Quebec's Pontiac region get milk - - or milked?
Posted 9.19.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Meanwhile Canada is re-negotiating the NAFTA pact with the US and Mexico, and this "revision" will directly harm - - or help - - the Pontiac. Is NAFTA not news because Canada's farm supply-management system is not high on Ottawa's priority list?

Is CBC radio out of the news business?
Posted 9.12.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Radio-heads will answer that there's a news minute or two at the top of every hour on our national broadcaster, and they're right. But if the fans call those few minutes "news reporting," are they actually listening?

NOT THE FAIR'S SIDESHOW -- he's our president, too
Posted 9.6.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In the old days, when farm fairs began, there were side shows with weirdos and wonders in which we'd find Trump-like buffoons, orange comb-over, all mouth, little Napoleons - - that sort of thing - - and we'd all marvel, laugh, and go home feeling smug and superior. Today, the real show has taken over centre stage and there's no going home to avoid it.

A challenge for anti-immigrants
Posted 8.2 4.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The spectacular media circus created by, largely, alt-Trump supporters in the US has caught our attention - - how could it not? But less attention, as usual, seems to be on events and issues closer to home. Specifically, in Quebec - - and not that our province has a worse record - - the mosque shootings in Quebec, the anti-Muslim cemetery campaign, and more recent demonstrations of anti-immigrant feelings by groups, like La Meute, "the pack", or individuals who put up large anti-immigrant banners outside the venues housing immigrants make it clear that we Canadians still carry old fears and prejudices.

America's Growing Neo-Fascists
Posted 8.16.17
FRED RYAN

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA | Again the leader of the "free world" is caught up in violence and racism -- the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally by America's growing neo-fascists was last week's top news.

Harm reduction, a safe injection site?
Posted 8.2.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It is good news that a safe injection site has been approved for Ottawa's Sandy Hill area, and that Ontario has offered funding. It's important to note that it will be part of an existing drug and alcohol treatment centre, one with a good record on all counts. The elephant in the room, and not a silent one, are community fears that such a service will attract more drug users and contribute to local criminality. Surveys have shown that this is unlikely.

A little R-e-s-p-e-c-t, or a lot
Posted 7.22.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Just back from a Zydeco festival in Louisiana, a musician friend was steamed up - - about garbage, not music. "When the music was over and everyone rolled up their blankets, the venue was 10 inches deep in trash! Wasn't our generation past all that?" (expletives omitted).

New proposal for the nuclear dump on Ontario's Ottawa River
Posted 6.23.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (non-government) announced a year ago their proposal to build a very large above-ground dump for nuclear wastes, near a fault-line, not far from the Ottawa River, up-stream from Aylmer, Gatineau and our nation's capital.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Our LCC home in Cobden, Ontario, is on Muskrat Lake, which feeds into the Ottawa River. We buy our daily drinking water from the Culligan plant in Pembroke, which is just down river from the proposed nuclear dump site at Chalk River.]

Apart from local newspapers, this project has received almost no attention, and even less from our political leaders. Isn't their silence unsettling?

We're all newspaper people
Posted 6.14.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Over the years we've all noticed that: Radio was killed off by cinema. Movies were then killed by TV. Television was wiped out by video cartridges. And VCRs were destroyed by DVDs. Vinyl succumbed to cassettes, which in turn were killed off by CDs. CDs themselves fell under multiple streaming sites. E-books have ended hard-copy books (which mysteriously increased 17 percent over e-book sales last year); flaming fake news has built social media, and now real news is hammering social media.

Go tax yourself!
Posted 6.2.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Arts are not a luxury, they are a necessity. Necessary for a whole life, living in a way that assists us translate all that life throws at us into our happiness index. The arts help us appreciate the multi-wealths surrounding us, and not merely count the years until our pensions kick in (one sorry approach to living! Life has to be more than accumulating junk and preparing for its final years).

In Canada, the monarchy's a good thing
Posted 5.23.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The old argument about Canada being -- or not -- a monarchy has indeed grown old. It's no longer a burning issue, except, probably, within the Monarchist League and in various republican grouplets. Yet it's still worth some thought.

Ontario's Chalk River Plant: nuke waste risk, with no gain
Posted 5.11.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It is strange, indeed, if any good can come from the flooding we've experienced almost everywhere in our region. There will be many individual stories of bravery and perseverance, certainly, but I am marvelling at the coincidence of these floods and a great decision that is facing us -- the decision on the proposal for a massive nuclear waste dump in Chalk River, upstream from much of Ontario and also West Quebec. This is our decision, not only that of a "panel of experts.

CANADA'S FIRST 150 YEARS!
Posted 5.3.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Wouldn't it be interesting to read readers' reflections on what Canada means to them, as we look back over our nation's first 150 years? It's a safe bet we'd prefer to remain Canadian and not "American", despite our admiration for America's achievements. Canadians admire Americans' openness, friendliness, and optimism.

Are governments enemies of democracy?
Posted 4.21.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In early April the CBC reported the closure of a reputable Mexican newspaper, El Norte, in Cuidad Juarez, opposite El Paso, Texas. The interview with the publisher focused on the assassination of one of the paper's reporters, a woman specializing in political stories, including government corruption.

Her murder was a message to journalists. She was the third Mexican journalist murdered in March alone. The CBC interview focused on the murder. Rightly so for two reasons -- one, to congratulate ourselves that no matter how inexplicable things might be at home, they are surely worse elsewhere. That's the Canadian mantra.

It's not "for families" at all
Posted 4.11.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When I was a young man, one fashionable idea was that the family is the key to any society's success. "Family units" were considered a community's building blocks -- social organization seem to grow from this format, therefore all energies should go to protecting and encouraging "the family."

Oh, the Chalk River nuclear plant -- what could go wrong?
Posted 3.30.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | An 18-foot high mound, the size of multiple football fields, all above ground - - not far from the once-mighty Ottawa River, the source of life for much of the Valley - - picture it. Of course it's covered tightly, under and over with a membrane. A high-tech membrane. There are pumps to suck out leaking - - what, you ask?

Here's the kicker - - this big mound will be filled with radioactive waste. What exactly, we can't tell

Ignore Trump, watch Ryan
Posted 3.22.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Reader Joanne Forsythe recent letter voiced her frustration with the media's wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump, and that's probably media of every stripe, shade, or ownership. "It's Trump, Trump, Trump!", she writes, expressing an anger many people share. Surely there's important news, not this man's idiocies!

In Canada: Broken promise -- or unexplained change?
Posted 3.1.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The latest big topic in our region has been the federal Liberals' plan to walk away from their promise to reform the Canadian electoral system.

Revolution is in the air
Posted 2.22.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Brexit vote in Britain, Trump's win in the US, the Hungarian and Polish extreme-right regimes, plus Putin's promotion of Great Russia nationalism, all point to a political lurch to the right underway in the world today. There are many explanations, and most may be correct within their frame of reference, but the fact that these nationalisms seem to be rising everywhere at the same time should indicate that there's even more at play here than a single, local explanation.

A new regime south of the border -- or not?
Posted 2.6.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Approaching the new regime in Washington, analyst Gwynne Dyer borrowed Rene Levesque's famous prescription: "OK, everybody, take a valium!"

Women marching
Posted 1.23.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The participation rate in the "women's march" in Washington, the day following the inauguration of Donald Trump, certainly upstaged the official celebration. It is not difficult to grasp why so many women -- and men -- came out for this protest; the response of Mr. Trump's press secretary to a question about the size of the women's march demonstrated in the clearest way why they were making a statement with their presence: "there were more people at Mr. Trump's inauguration than had ever come out -- but the press covered it up" or something to that effect. A bold-faced lie, which he later retreated from. Too many lies … was one element being protested.

PUTIN TURNS THE TABLES
Posted 1.16.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Two or three years ago it seemed that Russia had been backed into a corner by the West - - from the Sochi Olympics to NATO's forces stationed along Russia's borders, including the very-provocative NATO move to rotate warships continually through the Black Sea, along the coasts of Russia and Iran. NATO was negotiating for use of what used to be Russia's largest naval base in the south, Sevastopol in the Crimea.

CBC's new Canadian plan: more of the same?
Posted 12.30.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | CBC has proposed a new operating model -- semi-new, since the BBC & TeleSur have used it for years -- in which CBC no longer competes with private media for advertising dollars. Government funding (more) makes up for the missing advertising revenues. Sounds interesting, especially for the private media conglomerates who have long complained about competing with the national broadcaster.

No fear & loathing ‘round this old Christmas tree
Posted 12.22.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Since when did, "Have a safe Christmas!", become a seasonal greeting? Did you hear this as a kid? I didn't. Or if I did, it meant "don't drink too much", but today this so-called greeting encompasses the most horrendous threats.

Tabloid news reborn -- bigger, brighter, louder!
Posted 12.05.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The American election just demonstrated -- if there remained a doubt -- that people across this continent are getting their news in new ways. They once favoured "the tabs."

Fake news, but where?
Posted 11.25.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | A month after the American election, the extent and influence of "fake news" is slowly being uncovered. Fake news is now at the top of most pundits' lists of explanations. Unbeknownst to us in Snowflake Kingdom, the internet was jammed with "reports" of Hilary Clinton's mis-deeds: with no evidence, apart from multiple repetitions of the accusations, she was charged with corruption, bribery, money-laundering, foreign influence, and favouritism.

Creeping fascism to Canada's south
Posted 11.08.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | A lot of observers rolled their eyes when Donald Trump accused the US elections process of being "rigged." However, when the FBI "leaked" the bombshell, two weeks before the vote, that Ms. Clinton "may" be investigated for misuse of e-mails when she was Secretary of State -- resulting in a huge drop in voter support, just as she was putting distance between her candidacy and Trump's -- Trump''s claims all of sudden had some sense to them.

We need immigrants!
Posted 11.01.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There are few villages and towns across West Quebec which are not in decline. Given the exhaustion of our forest resources, the marginality of tourism, the lack of infrastructure (even the internet!), the flight of younger generations to the cities, given all this, is there any wonder that Outaouais towns are almost zombie-towns?

The political parade reaches West Quebec
Posted 10.16.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It's a screwy system we've let develop, where our so-called representatives and our so-called government leaders are not representative at all, and, in many cases, hardly leading anyone real at all. If they represent anything, our reps represent not us to the government, but they represent the government to us.Our system has morphed into a top-down governing process, rather than what we used to romantically call "grass roots" democracy.

Values that are Canadian?
Posted 10.08.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One of the candidates for leadership of the federal Conservatives has proposed screening immigrants and refugees for their acceptance of "Canadian values and principles". It is possible that this may not mean what it appears to say, and is a code-word for anti-immigrant prejudice.

What's wrong with Truth & Reconciliation?
Posted 09.23.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC |Canada's Truth & Reconciliation Commission has been judged a big success -- so far. It takes its place with similar successes in countries as varied as South Africa, Argentina, Chile, and, now, Canada. I am not aware of any such efforts elsewhere which have failed.

YOU ARE A TROUT
Posted 09.17.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Imagine for a moment or two a very different life. Imagine you are a trout, beautiful, quick, sleek and wary -- in every way -- and you live in a deep pond on a wide river not far north-west of Aylmer, Quebec. But the pool sits above a high falls and fierce rapids. You live your life in this great pool and you feel constantly the pull of the current as it rushes towards the falls.

Victories at Rio: stunning & incomplete
Posted 08.19.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Writing conclusions from the Olympics with the Games still underway is risky since everything can change with a single competition. Except one. The Games have already made an immense mark, and that is on the struggle for full equality for women. These Games have set that standard, as anyone viewing, say, the women's 100 m would easily see

Before the classrooms are humming again
Posted 08.05.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Excuse me for bringing this up in the heat of mid-summer, but about a month from now the kids across West Quebec will be heading back to their classrooms. Once the school year begins, it seems, there'll be too much going on and too much to get through to allow time for any reflection on our schools' activities. Allow me to raise one consideration: school trips.

Mohammed Ali, 1942-2016
Posted 06.10.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Ali deserves to be considered the sports icon of his time. Today, stars rate themselves by their salaries and little else. Ali's place in history is marked by his bravery, his principles, his still-unmatched skill in the ring -- and by his lip! Here's a guy who stimulated the careers of rappers everywhere with his lyrical and very edgy trash-talking. Ali, contrary to today's sports millionaires, used his career and his phenomenal successes not to push product but to push principles -- and good sense.

How to be wealthy
Posted 05.30.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This headline reads "be", not "become", wealthy. I have no unusual ideas on how to become wealthy; if I did, would I be writing this column every week? Which is something to consider when faced with all the self-help books promising wealth and success which fill book stores.

The hounds of capitalism
Posted 05.18.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | My puzzlement over such blind support for capitalism grows from my personal frustration with our economic system. Why would we want more of a system which must lie to us, apparently, to sell us their products (wall-to-wall advertising, deceptive packaging, hidden ingredients, phoney stats and testimonials).

Simplicities are us
Posted 04.23.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Speaking from fifty years in journalism and especially in editorial-writing, I am continually impressed with our predilection to go with the simplistic solution to any problem. As the problems become more complex and convoluted, as many political and social problems do, our desire for a simple answer grows stronger.

"Buy local" under threat -- by the USA
Posted 04.15.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Or, we might say that our ability to buy-local to support our home-town economy may also be under threat by Japan, Chile, or any of the dozen coastal nations signing on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Panama's alarm: Wake up, Canadians!
Posted 04.08.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The so-called Panama Papers have everyone talking about off-shore accounts and tax avoidance - again. A week earlier the same subject was in the news. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) was then in hot water because the Agency admitted giving soft rides to the wealthy. Tax avoidance and off-shore banking were the subjects then, too. The Panama disclosures add shell companies to that list. And the Panama disclosures identify hundreds of Canadians and Canadian companies using these devices to avoid paying their taxes in Canada.

Hydro-Québec for sale? No thanks
Posted 03.23.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Hydro-Québec may have its occasional scandal, fraud, or embarrassment, but it is a model across the continent for efficient delivery of energy under even the most extreme conditions. We can see how often Ottawa consumers are hit with black-outs and interruptions of service; we should be proud of Hydro Quebec's record.

Free University, or University for -- what?
Posted 03.17.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Since high school seniors are applying at this time of year, two recent events are worth noting about university education. First was the Ontario premier's proposal that university be free, essentially for students from low-income families. Finally!

Seeking a better view
Posted 03.10.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Some Asian cultures use the expression, "The Ten Thousand Things", to refer to the world or everything that presses in on us day after day. I recently found a nice line of poetry about this concept

America, example to the world?
Posted 02.27.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We seem to avoid meddling in foreign nations (most of the time), or we may be really good at camouflage, but anyone watching the American presidential primaries will have wondered what might happen if the likes of Trump or Ted Cruz end up in the White House, unleashing their macho rage-culture on the world. We may have to reconsider our hands-off attitude toward other governments.

Any good news?
Posted 02.23.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There is good news in the news; it's not as rare as we think. There's plenty -- read through this newspaper! But bad news gets our attention -- disasters, with warnings and scary items at the top of the list. Especially scary. Good news can be medical discoveries that'll save millions of lives, eventually, but this becomes invisible next to a gunman massacring school children -- because it's awful and it's today.

Cosmic weather
Posted 02.16.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | I'm convinced there's something like "emotional weather.". It's not weather at all — there are no clouds rolling in, no blizzards or sunny days, except as metaphors, and as for metaphors, "weather" will have to do.

Physician-assisted depression
Posted 02.11.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | However, there remains a big question, one raised last year by an American surgeon, who asked why are we opting for a longer life, without any thought of the quality of that long life? If life is painful and incapacitated, due to terminal illnesses, or cancer, what is the purpose in prolonging it?

Real change in Ottawa?
Posted 01.27.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | While we, and apparently much of Canada, are still happy with the results of last fall's federal election, it's worthwhile to consider that election in terms of Canada's electoral history. The most common view is that Mr Trudeau's convincing victory marks a significant shift in popular feeling and in the country's vision of its future.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Alex Liepmann is a brave, courageous, and strong young woman who has faced, and coped with, more than her share of challenges in the last half-decade. Here, she shares her story in the hope that perhaps it will help others deal with their own particular circumstances. My hat is off to this young athlete.

MY STORY: EATING DISORDER/DEPRESSION TRIGGER WARNING
Posted 01.25.16
ALEX LIEPMANN

I was in grade 7 and had turned 13 a couple of months earlier. I was still using MSN and was the biggest fan girl on Justin Bieber, but here I was starving myself, worrying about my weight when really a 12-13 year old girl should only be worrying about how's she's going marry Justin Bieber.

Promoting conflict to promote sales
Posted 01.19.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Obviously the incredible influence -- power -- of the NRA to prevent and derail legislation aimed at tightening gun possession laws is foreign to us in Canada. At least we think this.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS -- OR QUESTIONS
Posted 01.08.16
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | I had little success in convincing my granddaughters that New Year's resolutions are appropriate -- or helpful.

Time to end mandatory minimum sentences in the US


Posted 08.11.15
US SEN PATRICK LEAHY, DVT

For three decades, Congress turned to mandatory minimum sentences to answer every public safety concern. We send more people to prison than any other developed country in the world. This mass incarceration threatens our justice system's fiscal health, effectiveness, and even its legitimacy.

Are Quebec cities in the sports business?
Posted 06.12.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Simply, cities cannot afford such extravagance, and there is good reason to question whether any city should be in the business of building facilities for corporate-owned commercial sports franchises, no matter the popularity of the sport.

In Canada: Truth, first, then Reconciliation
Posted 06.05.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | So why refuse to call a spade a spade? Compensation claims? Does that explain, too, why the Catholic Church still refuses an apology for its role in the Residential Schools. Mr. Harper has apologized, at least, so why not our & quot;new& quot; Pope, the man who claims to be bringing a conscience back to Rome? He lectures the world on eliminating poverty and fixing climate change, fine, but the Church was one of the three principal players in the Schools and it does claim a general moral high road.

The future of the past
Posted 05.30.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We can remember the grand promises when we were in high school from experts studying the future -- flying cars, housework robots, world peace through better education, and, especially, the end of labour. Our leisure lives were supposed to steadily grow, leaving us with decisions not about careers but about filling up those leisure hours. With robots taking over manual labour and electronics providing all capabilities, the future indeed looked like a big vacation.

No spring this year? Or just for some of us?
Posted 05.25.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The year 2015 may be remembered as the year without a Spring. We went directly from never-ending winter to 30 plus degrees in early May. The daffodils barely had their beautiful heads up when the heat slumped them over. Lilacs are struggling with this Spring-squeezed year.


Posted 05.19.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Ottawa keeps calling itself senior-supportive, but aside from this propaganda, there isn't much for us to cheer about -- or to vote for once again.

Reclaiming human values
Posted 04.19.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With the wave of austerity sweeping today's right-wing governments, choices for public funding become more difficult and, thus, more in need of full discussion.

Is it far-fetched to ask why the mega-corporations (Big Oil, Big Pharma) should get public funding, and not have to fund-raise street by street like the Cancer Society?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

You and me and the news
Posted 04.11.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Personally, I can't resist a newspaper on the table, or a radio near news time. (TV I can avoid.) But I wish I could. And you know why: it's awful.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Personal train wrecks
Posted 04.05.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The disaster and tragedy at Lac Megantic, Quebec — the train wreck supreme — remains in our minds. Flames in the sky, billowing black clouds, night-time explosions, all framed by buildings which could have been any of our neighbourhoods (those near train tracks).
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Public art
Posted 03.17.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The great murals of the world attract thousands of tourists, and, for those in Mexico City, for example, visitors come from Europe, Asia, the US, and our own cities. Look at the guest books. These murals deserve their notoriety -- they are beautiful, awe inspiring, stimulating.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

More on wood
Posted 03.06.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What luxury, in the context of any other place in the world, to be able to burn hardwood for heat. In many countries burning up maple, oak, yellow birch, or beech would be unthinkably extravagant. How wasteful to just burn up such valuable woods. We must seem clueless to the rest of the world.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Plain old firewood?
Posted 03.04.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This winter's frigid temperatures remind us that the proper term is not "global warming," at least not around here. "Climate change" is the concept, even "runaway climate change." Sometimes cold, hot, usually fierce, always destructive -- that's climate change, and this winter our household had almost burned through our total wood supply by February first.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

The Barton Vermont-based Chronicle changes hands
Posted 02.25.15
CHRIS BRAITHWAITE

BARTON, VERMONT | To me the Chronicle will always be a novelty -- a shot in the dark, a crazy gamble undertaken with almost no money but all the energy a 30-year-old immigrant could summon in himself, his wife, and a handful of friends. Sitting on your [Canadian] hands?
Posted 02.16.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | National polls show the government inching past the divided opposition. How can this be? Obviously, my friends, despite their agreement, are remarkably insulated from what motivates so many other Canadians.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Dirtying whose nest?
Posted 02.05.15
LFRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Here's some more-than-local news: astronomers have found a solar system not terribly unlike our own, named Kepler 444, with five earth-similar planets. They don't believe there's life there, since these planets revolve too close to the star to accommodate life, as we know it. The news is that the scientists were able to assign an approximate age to this system -- and its age is exceptionally old, several billion years older than our own.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

What's this you're reading?
Posted 01.31.15
LILY RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | How many of us know what makes a newspaper work? We have reporters who go out and get the news. This news is edited, laid out, printed up, and delivered, right? And that makes a newspaper?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Pay your own way
Posted 01.20.15
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The revolutionary idea is that these costly institutions -- hospitals and CLSCs, schools and day-cares and so on -- should be obligated to earn their own way, just like you and I. This plan was proposed when Quebec City was studying the Hull and Gatineau hospitals; those geniuses, and they deserve this title, had decided that the two hospitals which were unable to work together an any file, should be given a brand new super-hospital for them to run jointly. Being in one building, they would have to, at least, talk to each other in the hallways.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Money isn't everything in Quebec, Premier Couillard
Posted 12.27.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Christmas Holiday season may not be the best time to raise the question of money -- although maybe it is, since this is exactly the season of money. Cartoonist Aislin of the Montreal Gazette noted last week that Christmas shows Canada's true colours -- not Jesus, not democracy, not personal liberties, not justice, but buying stuff. And then buying even more stuff.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Christmas in the Middle East
Posted 12.11.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | American sources estimate that their wars against Iraq and Afghanistan have cost roughly four trillion dollars -- so far. That is an immense amount of money, making these wars the most expensive in history -- not only among the least successful. Why that is the case, and where all this money has gone are hard to uncover -- they're deliberately well-concealed.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Am I the only misanthrope in the newsroom?
Posted 12.04.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This title refers to the media's universally awful coverage of last month's attacks on our soldiers in Canada. Is no one else revolted by the flood of platitudes, pomposities, clichés, repetitions, vacuous statements, emotional outbursts, and total lack of informative content which filled the national media, private or public, as it pretended to cover the week's terrible events and the subsequent outpouring of tears, angst, and even more platitudes?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Can "anti-collusion" be a smokescreen?
Posted 11.25.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Large corporations are using "anti-collusion" as a smoke screen to obscure their growing domination of our economy. Price-fixing is already a crime. Just use the legal system, as we already do. Why now kill local entrepreneurship and jobs?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Is this Quebec school board election our last?
Posted 11.20.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Liberals in Quebec are questioning free-standing school boards, and proposing to close many down and centralize school management. The Couillard Liberals' centralization mantra is very old news –- most of the health system restructuring in the last decades was designed to combat the problems of a top-heavy bureaucracy, too far from the people it is mandated to serve.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Law 'n order is not making Canadians any safer
Posted 11.10.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We are not safer under the Harper government than before. Despite this government's commitment to law-and-order jingoism, it seems that although we may indeed have more laws and stiffer regulations now, we are not safer. The attacks on soldiers here at home could be seen as a dramatic and tragic blow-back from this government's foolish commitment to heavy-handed military approaches to complicated problems.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Homegrown terrorists in Canada?
Posted 10.30.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Amid the sadness and shock of the recent attacks in Canada, there have been voices of reason and careful analysis, but they've been drowned by the media's single-minded focus on tears and breast-beating.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Can day care destroy Canada?
Posted 10.16.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Finally, a political party is awake. After years of talk, hand-wringing, and hypocritical concern for families, one federal party – the NDP -- has bitten the bullet and figured out how we can afford a national day-care program. Finally! Bravo!
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Bound for glory?
Posted 10.08.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We each, on average, have a little more than 1000 months of life to live. That's how much time we have to discover -- or create -- meaning in our lives.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

On dying and dignity
Posted 09.26.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canada's doctors proposed at the their annual convention this summer that euthanasia be left to individual doctors. Those who disagree with assisted suicide would not be required to assist their patients. Sounds good and democratic -- for doctors.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Anti-Valentines
Posted 09.17.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Since we are near the opposite side of the calendar from Valentines Day, it might be interesting to look at love and relationships without the candlelight and red lingerie of February 14.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

On Desiderata, that old poster
Posted 09.12.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Ages ago it seemed as though every apartment and dormitory room had a poster called "Desiderata." The poster, presumably, carried advice on how to lead a happy and fulfilling life. The advice was hardly Earth-shaking -- "Go placidly amid the noise and haste." -- "Do not feign affection." And the now-famous "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars." Yet every one of its ten suggestions is solid and realistic advice.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Re-making Ottawa?
Posted 09.04.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | "Attention servants of the Canadian State..." that's how the communique was supposed to begin, I'm certain.
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ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DOIN' IT
Posted 08.27.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It's a rare person today who criticizes "social media" as a basic tool of communication. Just look at any gaggle of teens in the mall, all tapping away on their phones as if they each were alone in the world; look at adults constantly checking their mail on a date, during supper, while driving. People sleep with their cell phones, and check them during the night.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Books -- reading one, holding one
Posted 08.13.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | To relax and pursue my personal interests, I pick up a small paperback, say one from the City Lights Poets series, not much bigger than my hand. I open at my bookmark, smile at the silence and speed of this procedure, and I read a few pages.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Gas prices at the pump
Posted 08.05.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When I was in high school with my first car, gas prices were less than a dollar a gallon. That's right, per gallon. And at time Canada was producing almost no oil.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

The Care and Feeding of Volunteers
Posted 06.24.14
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Individuals volunteer for different reasons. It's wise to understand each volunteer and what motivates him or her. Does he want to take over an organization, perhaps yours? Does she want to learn a particular skill that will be useful in finding a job? Does he just like to be around people who enjoy his interests, whether that be a special hobby or computers? Does she just want to get out of the house for a few hours every so often?

That swastika was more than graffiti
Posted 06.23.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When Councillor Mike Duggan, of Aylmer's Lucerne Ward, took out his tools and safety gear and removed the swastika graffiti on a sidewalk in town earlier this month, likely he was not criticizing the slow reaction of the city's Public Works Department.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Locally, we could be more creative
Posted 06.17.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Cultural events and shows are considered one of Montreal's main attractions, and its infrastructure keeps the millions, yes, millions of visitors, in the city for days. They spend more, visit more sites, expositions, view shows, tours -- all leaving substantial funds behind. Ottawa is another powerhouse cultural destination.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

The school calendar of years ago
Posted 06.12.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | As we unwind with the school year towards summer vacations, do we ever wonder why our schools have the schedules they do? Why two or three months off in a solid block during summer?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Why collect books in a digital age?
Posted 06.03.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | They add warmth to a room. On an exterior wall they add insulation. Sit close to them and notice the warmth -- compared to a blank wall or to a screen. There's warmth.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Could a musician save America?
Posted 05.10.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Any of our readers who travel often in the US, or follow American media, are aware that the United States is a fractured nation. The political arena seems toxic and the idiocies that come from many politicians and candidates are, frankly, unbelievable.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Economic optimism in Aylmer, Quebec
Posted 05.02.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | These business people attribute the up-tick to the last provincial election. Every one of them said they felt consumers and home-owners had put plans on hold as they waited for Mme. Marois and the PQ try for a majority government and, likely, another independence referendum.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Catching up to Quebec
Posted 04.21.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Of all the commentaries about the Quebec election -- and there are no end to them -- we learn a great deal about the parties, their strategies, and their missteps. What we don't see are comments on the people who made the difference here -- the voters.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Post-election -- You are white and I am black
Posted 04.11.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Close up, each of our contraries can be a division, a Berlin Wall, a conflict. We dis-learn about each other; we dis-learn how to speak to each other with respect and understanding.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

When the voting is over
Posted 04.03.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Everyone's talking about the Quebec election slated for Monday, April 7, 2014. So many opinions, and so many highly charged with emotion. But if we really want to help ourselves, the future for ourselves and our kids, we have to do it ourselves. And that means more than voting.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

No free lunch
Posted 03.31.14
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Do I need to remind you that there is no miracle diet? No magic facelift without surgery, no special machine that can reshape your body without exercise, no miracle cure to back pain or any other common ailment?

Nouveau Parti Quebecor, eh?
Posted 03.27.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Karl Peladeau's entry into the Quebec election campaign has been well dissected but one question has not been carefully studied -- the man's motive for this radical career change. Why has he jumped into politics, and why on the side of the PQ? What's in it for him -- this man who owns so influential a part of the Quebec economy, Quebecor (including the Sun newspapers)?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Damned if you don't
Posted 03.18.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There is a temptation to tell all the politicians to just Go to Hell in this provincial election. How? By not voting. Or by spoiling our ballots, which is supposed to indicate an unhappy electorate. If only politics was this simple and clean.There is a temptation to tell all the politicians to just Go to Hell in this provincial election. How? By not voting. Or by spoiling our ballots, which is supposed to indicate an unhappy electorate. If only politics was this simple and clean.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Focus, in hindsight
Posted 03.15.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | I am an unashamed admirer of the Olympic Games, both winter and summer. The massive expenses of both the Sochi and the Peking Games may dismay many people -- myself included -- but why are we surprised by such extravagance when every year we learn of multi-million dollar contracts to hockey and baseball players, or the huge amounts invested in sports training? Are these our nation's priorities?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Quebec Still Shortchanging Seniors
Posted 03.01.14
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Canada's health accord is expiring at the end of March. The accord is supposed to guarantee "universal health care" and a briefing note prepared for the minister last fall stated that the government is committed to "publicly-funded, universally accessible healthcare," but any private delivery of insured services should not bear any charges to patients. Those of us who live in Quebec know to what extent this promise has been broken over many years.

Student debt -- it's societal self-abuse
Posted 02.25.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | As economists try to make sense of Canada's stuck-in-the-mud resource economy, one interesting consideration is the dampening effect of over $15 billion taken out of the economy by outstanding student debt. Some $15 billion is owed to the federal government -- much more is owed to the provinces, the banks, family coffers, and to credit cards by the graduates, 15 percent who are unable to find work.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Canada's Conservative Party War against the Placenta
Posted 02.05.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With Canada's Parliament back in session, we've just been told that the Dirty Tricks Squad will re-introduce the "abortion debate" this term. Oh, these folks!
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Do I remember who I am? Do you?
Posted 01.28.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Last fall, in-laws visiting from British Columbia were struck by our Quebec license plates. "What does the slogan mean, 'je me souviens'?," they wanted to know.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

In Canada: Privatizing Public Service
Posted 01.17.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Internet has already hit [Canada's Post Office] hard, so increasing postage and parcel rates means business revenues decline even further. With the revenues down, run up the costs. Appoint a political guy to run the post office and pay him roughly $600,000 a year (with perks). Add a whole bunch of vice-presidents, all well-paid. Say, appoint twenty-two vice presidents.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Read too quick, talk too soon
Posted 12.16.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One of the key cautions in our era of click-n-send e-mails is to write your message, save it, take a break, review it, and only then hit the final "send." That is good advice for replying to anything and anyone -- including letters to the editor.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

A great Santa parade, but was it successful?
Posted 12.09.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Who came to see Santa during the recent parade in Aylmer? Tens of thousands, apparently! And although it is difficult to figure out how the organizers come up with attendance numbers, it is clear that the parade attracts thousands.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

In Quebec, a (Pontiac) Charter of Values, yes!
Posted 11.25.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Our local economy has effectively ceased to function. Most people work outside, and government payments (pensions, EI, welfare) make up a major source of Pontiac income. The Pontiac has been not merely de-industrialized, but de-economied.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

We cannot be against war
Posted 11.14.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Pacifists weren't evident at this year's Remembrance Day ceremony here, no white poppies in the sea of red. Yet in the most ordinary of circumstances, most of us are pacifists -- which parents wish to have our sons and daughters head off to a war? At best, we see those departures as necessary evils.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

And the little children shall lead them
Posted 11.10.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In the last several weeks of the recently completed campaign, I was surprised to have my granddaughter, who is in Grade Three, explain the election to me.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Winning could be losing
Posted 11.02.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In other countries and times, a disinterested population, coupled with some national decline or crisis, opens the door for The Strong Man to step in. A dictator.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Democracy doesn't end when the election is over
Posted 10.27.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We aren't picking a lottery number -- we hope -- but no candidate comes with a guarantee. Our homework gives us an inkling of what we might expect; real life throws so many unexpected curves that promises are only guidelines. That is why voting is just the beginning, not the end of our citizen opportunities and responsibilities.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Damage Control
Posted 10.19.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | While many of us watched the dramatic revelations of Quebec's Charbonneau corruption commission, we were relieved to learn that this cancer has not spread to Gatineau's political life. But then, a couple of weeks later, we learn that Radio Canada has found something worth examining in the relations between a major contractor -- and a local school board.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Magicians Everywhere
Posted 09.24.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Magic and magical thinking are topics that grow bigger, more widespread, the more thought and attention they're given. For example, politics is magic...
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Lousy government equals lousy voter attitude
Posted 09.17.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With a municipal election here in west Quebec this November -- plus elections for school board commissioners -- let's not look at the candidates, but at our role in an election, you and me. It's not a pretty picture.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

A good wife? A good husband? (500)
Posted 08.09.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Editorials are usually about current events, politics, topics of the day -- from a new streetlight to closing a school, bullying to illiteracy rates, high gas prices and the lack of recycling in your local mall, you name it --but always removed from our most personal concerns and certainly far from our personal lives. Editorials appeal, most often, to our brains rather than our feelings, to our community more than our bedrooms … and why is that?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Sound Management or Foolhardy Ideology?
Posted 08.09.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | More than a year ago, Japan's new prime minister, the conservative Shinzo Abe, announced his government was giving up on "austerity" measures because twenty years of austerity had not yielded any economic improvement. When Abe announced a 100 billion dollar spending plan to stimulate Japan's economy, the experts called the plan, "Abenomics," and waited for Japan to sink.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

We can do better
Posted 07.26.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We ask our youths to work very hard at school, to put in the long days and long weeks of college and university study, take part-time jobs -- and to also assume $20,000 to $45,000 in debt, in their twenties.Could we make it any more difficult for our kids to get a higher education?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Big, quiet change
Posted 07.18.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The difficulty with historical change is that the people within it usually are unaware that it's even happening. Once it's passed, historians and the media tell us all about it. Why don't they inform us while we are in the middle of it?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

In Canada today: More than just cronies
Posted 07.01.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Although most prime ministers have misused their power to appoint, Mr. Harper's blatant use of appointments to reward big donors, party workers, or his party's losing candidates seems, well, shameless.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Today's miracles and magical thinking
Posted 06.22.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It's a bit like fantasy, a bit like wishing, where self-contradictory statements, programs, and plans are taken to be accurate reflections of the way the world works.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

What we're learning about Canada's Senate
Posted 06.11.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | As the Senate expenses scandal ripples outward, and as surprising as | is the venality of the few senators who've been caught, it is what we | are learning about the Senate's operating rules that is most | informative. This is a genuine scandal. In any other jurisdiction, | this would be a criminal matter.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

What Canada Senate expenses scandal?
Posted 06.02.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We haven't forgotten, have we, that politics is all about what's under | the radar screen, not what's grabbing today's 3-minute media bite? How | else explain this government's record-breaking use of omnibus bills to | slide in innumerable measures that would, by definition, surely not | pass on their own. Or, at minimum, these secret-agenda items would | bring public wrath or a spotlight on the manipulations of this | toxically-secretive government.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

The [Quebec] Pontiac's reality options?
Posted 05.24.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We do have a sovereigntist government at the helm in Quebec City. | Pontiac being one big chrome-plated municipality or eighteen | independent fiefdoms won't mean much to us if we are thrown into | another independence referendum. Kiss investment | goodbye.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Alert! Alert!
Posted 05.09.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We all love kids, especially our own. We love grandkids. That is not | the issue. Just about everyone will do what they can to prevent harm | to any child. We do not have to prove we love kids by supporting every | call for hysteria, nor do we have to embrace fear as our guiding | emotion.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

April Moon Thoughts
Posted 04.23.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Late at night, when there's not much left of the daylight world to think about, it is interesting to consider that when we are looking at the moon, we are in fact looking at the sun. Looking at the sun is a no-no, while looking at the moon is a romantic and philosophic moment, although moonlight is no more than sunlight reflected. Can reflections make such a difference?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Boston Marathon: A Runner Reports Her Experience
Posted 04.17.13
DR. ALISON SEELY

BEACHBURG, ONTARIO | Dr. Alison Seely, a veterinarian from Beachburg, Ontario, had a close encounter with the terror explosion -- the bombs went off 50 meters behind her not long after she had crossed the finish line. Her husband, Dr. Kevin Mahoney, a chiropractor, was in Boston with her, although not at the finish line. [Full disclosure: Kevin is my son, Ali my daughter-in-law.)

The chainsaws of springtime
Posted 04.15.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With the air finally warming and the days nice and long, we're clearly in spring. And spring means one thing: chainsaws.
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Libraries and urban villages
Posted 04.02.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Debates about public libraries are not limited to Quebec’s Gastineau. We've seen them in Montreal, Seattle, Singapore, Berlin, Ottawa, and New York City. A major impetus is the digitization of printed material. It has been estimated that the entire collection of the federal Library of Parliament can now fit into a shoebox. Why, ask library critics, do we need massive, expensive buildings to house a shoebox?
Fred Ryans column archives: Click Here

Can you afford to raise a kid?
Posted 03.28.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Statistics tell us that it costs an average of a quarter million dollars to raise one child to the age of 17 (in the US). High-earners can spend a half-million. I don't know about you, but I have three grown kids and I know we didn't run through that much money.

Hydro-Québec "green-washes" its new fridge campaign
Posted 03.21.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | First, Hydro is asking us to discard our old appliances. How is that done? Dumped on the curb, or traded in to appliance shops? Where will the carcasses of all those old machines end up? What's "green" in dumping thousands of working appliances into landfills, before or after they've been stripped?

Talking too much
Posted 03.14.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | At a recent evening get-together, with people talking on all sides, several conversations at once, I had a startling revelation, to wit, that most people don't know what they are talking about.

New check-off boxes on our ballots?
Posted 03.05.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It amazes us to hear that in Russia and the old Soviet republics there are many people who want communism back, and that the Communist Parties do well in elections in many places. "Are they crazy?" we ask; "They want megalomaniacs back in power?" They do. But they wouldn't put it that way. Few people want mass murders or secret police, but a lot of people want guaranteed jobs, enforced low prices on food and staples, free education through university, even free telephone and bus services. They want the security that dictatorial regimes can provide.

Quebec is not a bilingual province
Posted 02.27.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It will come as a surprise to some of our readers, but our province is officially unilingual; its legal language is French, and only French. Many who write letters to the editor believe Canada is a bilingual country and they assume since Quebec is a province, it must also be bilingual. This is mistaken, and the mistake is a big one: Canada is not a bilingual country.

Where's the money gone?
Posted 02.16.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Where has the world's wealth gone? Since personal and family debt loads have never been higher, pensions are being cut -- or evaded by some corporations -- and Canada, once rated the number one country to live in the world by the United Nations, now can't afford to keep our scientists and researchers working, our health system functioning smoothly, schools teaching, infrastructure maintained -- we can't even fund a restoration of St Paul's Church!

Guns?
Posted 02.09.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There are so many guns in the US that some are bound to be pointed at us all. We wring out hands, shed tears for parents and teachers, and we tsk-tsk their culture of extreme-gun ownership. We can do little about all this, apart from a shared sorrow and our oh-so-Canadian indignation.

A lesson from the States?
Posted 01.26.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This picture is changing, says my nephew. This town does have the deserted downtown and the ostentatious suburbs, but few malls -- in fact there were none. None open.There were no small stores at all, but there was one massive Walmart.

Don't get stuck in idle
Posted 01.15.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Need proof that we live in interesting times? How about the Idle No More movement, the student anti-austerity protests last spring, the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring upheavals -- all just the start of a list.

Those New Year resolutions
Posted 01.10.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What a relief that the world didn't end. The media's analysts misinterpreted the Mayan calendar, or likely they exaggerated someone else's misinterpretation, similar to the Y2K crisis when the digital world was due to end. So we have a reprieve.

Quebec municipal corruption for decades. No one noticed?
Posted 12.26.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We're still in shock from the Charbonneau Commission's revelations. There's more to come, but what often happens is that we, the public, are overloaded with information and quickly grow jaded even with the worst scandals. As a public, our population seems to suffer collective Attention Deficit Disorder -- we continually want to hear about a new scandal, new horrors in Syria, new massacres in the States, new anything.

Pontiac's Easy Street?
Posted 12.15.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | As close as we are to Ottawa, no one could have missed hearing about Ottawa's big idea to build a casino of its own, right downtown where traffic is bad, parking terrible, light-rail construction chaos is starting, and the area is already over-built and crowded. And why a casino?

Atomic Anger
Posted 12.07.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Nuclear is the big dark horse. Atomic energy is the door to so much debate - and confusion. Shouldn't we cut through some of that confusion if we could by speaking more clearly?

A different Turkey, different Thanksgiving
Posted 10.23.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With the Quebec election only a month old and the US presidential election heating up, the conversation over wine, cheese, and smoked whitefish and salmon quickly turned to politics. This might alarm those who avoid mixing politics and family, but given the range of opinions, backgrounds, and experiences present, these conversations were enlightening.

Thank you, Deschenes!
Posted 10.02.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Say the word "democracy" and most of us think of voting every four years. That's the shopper's view, similar to choosing a brand of toothpaste or detergent in the store. What if democracy means music in a park, kids parading with banners and drums, and choices among chili-dogs, salmon burgers or a Mexican atole drink? Democracy is closer to what goes on in a park like that, than it is to voting once or picking out one of 100 identical toothpastes.

Quebec's political sanity
Posted 09.13.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Mme. Marois has a place in history as our first female premier. Will she be a footnote to history or an entire chapter? If she feeds her old guard, the geezers my age who want one more kick at the referendum can before they croak, her record may read, " . . . she stalled Quebec's future by immersing us in the quarrelling of another unwinable referendum"?

An automatic referendum on separation?
Posted 09.04.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We may get or avoid a referendum, but we don't get the projects which had caught our attention at the start. We are hostages.

This Quebec election is part of something old
Posted 08.21.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | As I get older, I'm surprised to find that some of my prejudices are getting stronger, not dying away.

Who needs another bridge? Not Ottawa
Posted 08.03.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Ottawa's mayor claims he is against another bridge because it will allow more people to move to Gatineau's cheaper housing and better family services, and Ottawa will lose even more tax base. Is Mayor Watson considering a wall around Ottawa to keep his ratepayers paying their taxes only to Ottawa?

"Ain't seen nothin' yet!"
Posted 07.25.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We're getting accustomed to reports of weather that would have been shocking twenty years ago. Two weeks ago Edmonton was hit with tornado-speed winds, hail, and flash flooding, with many drivers abandoning their cars on flooded highways. American reports of multiple tornados, floods, continent-sized drought and lightning-caused blackouts amid super-hot weather are almost routine.

The community of "us"
Posted 07.12.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With our excessive regard for individualism, do we pay as much attention to this reciprocity as it merits? Isn't our personal happiness connected to the genetic collectivity to which we each and all belong?

Je me souviens -- but can we go back there?
Posted 07.02.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | A drive home from work is a great place to think. My route has little traffic and less stress -- perfect. This isn't about relaxation.

Canada joins the petro-democracies
Posted 06.20.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There were plenty of crocodile tears shed in Canada during the last federal election about the weaknesses of a minority government. Although the country seemed to be doing just fine with its minority governments, we were assured minorities are the road to disaster.

Our moon and Venus
Posted 06.12.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Driving out into the rural areas earlier this month, I followed the graceful sliver of the moon drifting off to my left, while to the right was Venus, about to set and burning crystal-clear in the distant sky -- what is it that makes us smile at these celestial bodies, what seems so familiar about them, so home-like? What pulls our attention upward?

Do yourself a lifetime favour
Posted 06.03.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Is buying a painting extravagant? Is it any more self-indulgent than buying a boat, skidoo, patio set, even a microwave or a new outfit? If we bought only essentials we'd have a lot more money in the bank, but not much else.

Does shooting yourself in the foot feel that good?
Posted 05.19.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | On occasional trips through Eastern Ontario, I can't help noticing a few large signs put up by various "landowner associations." They carry short, loud messages like "Back off, government!"

Better Quebec education, more Quebec education
Posted 05.03.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Students across Quebec have changed the "national dialogue" within the province. Premier Charest and his party had sunk everything into their famous Plan Nord, yet, at the peak of the Premier's campaign to sell the Plan as the means of re-setting Quebec's future, thousands of students have all but knocked that plan off the public's radar.

Why wear a red tag of support?
Posted 04.17.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In my extended-and-blended family, two broad approaches to staying alive regularly surface during our multi-generational meals: to spend less, be more frugal in everything, and require less income, and the other, maybe the opposite, is to earn more. Earn more, live with more abandon, spend more, work more, spread wealth around so it comes back -- option two.

The Canadian Federal Budget or the Harper Rip-off Plan?
Posted 04.13.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The government isn't proposing that the present slow and inadequate regulatory process be revised and updated. No, the Harper solution is to close it down -- make it shorter, cheaper. This budget is for corporations; we merely pay the bills.

Rocks
Posted 04.10.12
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Although Air Canada attached "Heavy Baggage" tags to our luggage when we returned from three weeks in the west, the cab driver groaned as he lifted our suitcases into his trunk. "What've you got in here, lady," he asked, "rocks?"
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Data-mining (your name here)
Posted 03.27.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One advance in our high-tech world is to allow people in every check-out line to pull out their debit card for a pack of smokes, a scratch card, groceries, or merely for a liter of beer, and, of course, have to make two or three tries to get the card to work -- while the rest of the line-up glares.

I can get it cheaper
Posted 03.20.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | If it is OK for you to drive to Ottawa to pick up sporting gear, for example, would you also say it's OK for your boss, one morning, to tell you he can get someone else to do your job at a cheaper rate?

The Craft of Collaboration
Posted 03.15.12
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

The key is delegation, but this can be tricky. Too often we select close family and friends to be our primary helpers, which can be dangerous when tempers flare because they don't agree.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

OBESITY, THE NEW NORMAL?
Posted 03.06.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This is not a moral or ethical question. It's a health issue. It is not about telling someone how to live as much as being aware that obese people cost everyone, not just themselves, since we all pay their eventual health bills. The list of ailments which apparently grow from obesity is long and chilling. The current flood of diabetes, for example, is repeatedly said to be in large part due to obesity. Ditto for heart problems.

A Valentine's Day message -- for guys only
Posted 02.13.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Sigmund Freud asked that famous question -- to his life-long embarrassment -- and it's still heard in sports bars. If you were to scratch most guys, you'd find this question floating in their heads, although more likely, "what the heck does Carrie really want?" Or Ruth, Marie, Anik, someone personal.

You do not have to be a victim
Posted 02.07.12
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Why don't they resist? Often it's because the attacker has a knife or a gun. What would you do, or advise your children to do, if faced with a criminal brandishing a weapon and insisting that you obey him?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Clear the air, Mr. Prime Minister
Posted 02.03.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Prime Minister made headlines flutter over a week ago, accusing the opposition to that pipeline of being, basically, puppets of the US environmental movement and for interests in the US who do not want Alberta's tar sold to China

After the war came learning
Posted 01.29.12
ELISHA PORAT

The sights and sounds from the burning Golan Heights and the shelled enclave haunted me not only at night, but during the day as well. And even writing poems about memories of the war, to which I became addicted for a short time, didn't help. I walked around my house and the kibbutz like a sleepwalker -- until I took my friends' advice and went up to Jerusalem.
Elisha Porat writes on a kibbutz in Israel.

The War on Terror should come home
Posted 01.25.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Smoking is also big business, and tobacco corporations make millions from the drug, millions they can use to insulate their drug from criminal investigation. Imagine what the cocaine and heroin dealers could accomplish if they followed tobacco's political pressure tactics.

The real nitty-gritty of progress
Posted 01.15.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It's popular to insist that schools and colleges teach specific skills -- like plumbing, circuit-board design, or nursing. These can lead to a job, quickly. But when the job changes, grows obsolete, or becomes cheaper in China or Mexico, that skill-based education suddenly is a constriction. It is flexibility, vision, knowledge of history, and the ability to create absolutely new combinations that will see us through, and which will be our tools to use what the complex modern world throws at us. These skills help us grab the ball and run with it.

2011 -- One big year
Posted 12.27.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We are nearing the end of the first year in which our society is being remodeled: the Boomers are stepping aside.

Research -- with credentials?
Posted 12.14.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | "Privatize Hydro-Quebec" is a favourite idea of the Montreal Economic Institute. This think-tank argues that, to cut to the chase, hydro rates are too low in Quebec, but in corporate hands, the rates would go up and investors would earn more profit, making Quebec a more profitable place for investment.

Great logic, from this tank so generously funded by those very investors who want to save Quebec by charging us more.

Politics -- it's all about people
Posted 12.08.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There are people who believe politics are everywhere and in everything. Every club, team, movement, even every family, has its politics. And on an abstract level, they feel every view, belief, attitude, outlook, even jokes and art, have a political content, make a statement, or support a political theory.

Our complaints industry
Posted 11.28.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We've had a pleasant autumn, after a great summer -- so why all the complaining across our city? Councilors are exchanging accusations, the media is heaving barbs as if that's the only way to sell newspapers, and regular citizens are up in arms about every subject -- from stoplights and dog parks to the lack of doctors and crowded classrooms. Editorial-writers and talk-show hosts, we self-appointed complainers, are getting drowned out. What's going on?

It's holiday scam time -- be cranky, be uncooperative!
Posted 11.18.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Christmas also calls out the thieves and scam-artists -- those scum-bags who climb out of their gutters not to admire the lights but to rob the weakest and least-alert of our neighbours. Already we have had several letters and calls about scams hitting local people, seniors mostly, via the telephone or Internet.

How to make flu vaccinations difficult
Posted 11.10.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The elderly and the ill are supposed to arrange their own rides, to and from, and also to wait during the line up and then rest in observation after the shot? The elderly and infirm likely don't or can't drive; can they find a family member to spend the afternoon, or can they figure out the bus routes and transfers to take a city bus, or can they pay for a cab across the city?

Reunion Revelations
Posted 11.03.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

These biographies have provided a fascinating glimpse at what made the most significant impressions on these vulnerable kids, many of who came from dysfunctional families. Although their parents were rich and sent them to excellent universities, many described bouts with alcoholism or drugs, one or more divorces, and quite a few failed attempts to find a suitable profession.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

In Quebec, who's celebrating being an anglo?
Posted 11.02.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The francophone majority has plenty of public mouthpieces, from Quebec nationalists and political parties to cultural watchdogs like Imperatif français -- not to mention the entire Quebec government with its often nationalistic civil service.

Yes, Premier Charest, an inquiry
Posted 10.27.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Let me add another voice supporting a public inquiry into corruption in the construction industry in Quebec. Premier Charest announced one, but given his original insistence that an inquiry will never happen, his lack of details is not encouraging.

Farming regulations, climate change
Posted 10.13.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | In our densely populated world the only alternative to government regulation is self-regulation. The rant that "the only good government is no government" leads nowhere.

Getting what you paid for
Posted 10.06.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

It's not only in entertainment where we don't get what we think we're paying for. But it's unsettling to think that national institutions we ought to be able to trust are sometimes ripping us off.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Plenty new in Ottawa
Posted 10.03.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Aylmer, Quebec's MP Nycole Turmel takes up the challenge of Opposition leader as a new session of the House of Commons begins. Prime Minister Harper is a known commodity, but we will be watching Ms. Turmel. The massive job cuts (770 cut from Environment Canada alone) will affect Aylmer. And the game-changer is the Tory majority in both House and Senate.

Don't step aside, step back
Posted 09.07.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Although here in the Ottawa Valley we live in one of the most beautiful and peaceful areas of the world -- not dramatically breath-taking, but calm, pastoral and clean -- and although we are not crowded like even New England, nor are we subjected to the thrashing of tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, or major flooding, and although we are not subject to rampant corruption, drug wars, and criminality, the Pontiac often feels like an unhappy place.

Jack's legacy, our challenge
Posted 08.17.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The massive and very public grieving in Canada over NDP leader Jack Layton's death, and the very quick growth of a myth around him, tells us less about Jack than it tells us about ourselves.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

In Canada, ganging up on the NDP's Nycole Turmel
Posted 08.17.11
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | If the struggle for notice in the media had been her motivation, Nycole Turmel certainly knows how to work the system. The political/media uproar (otherwise known as a tempest in a teapot) over her past political affiliations is bringing her massive media exposure, at no financial cost.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Oslo: One week later (890)
Without much consideration for themselves, these campers jumped into their small motorboats, row boats, inflatable boats and began to charge towards the island -- some being shot at both on the way there and on the way back. Their stories were heart wrenching -- having to leave people behind because boats were becoming overloaded, having to decide who could possibly be saved and who could not.
Berit Lundh writes from Oslo, Norway

Conserve -- on drop at a time
Posted 07.10.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

It's easy to just throw your hands in the air and give up. Certainly nothing any of us can do individually is going to make a difference. But that's not true.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

New (school) year resolutions
A world-wide study published earlier this year (in Britain's Guardian, 31 March 2011) linked low education rates with poor health, poor nutrition, and low family income. These linkages were found in every country studied, differing only by the numbers -- rich and poor, developed and under-developed, north and south.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

PM Harper and Canada's Wheat Board(600)
Prime Minister Harper insists he will do away with the Canadian Wheat Board. He has tried on several occasions, only to have the board of directors of the cooperative thwart his plan.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The best newpaper prize of all(500)
For us at the Bulletin, a bigger weekend was the one before -- Quebec's community newspaper convention and awards gala. Always a big deal for newspaper people, the convention gets us out with our peers from Quebec City, Gaspé, the Far North, south to the eastern Townships, and all the cities -- English, French, Mohawk, Cree, Inuit, Greek, and Italian. What a pleasure to touch base with others who do the same sort of work as do we, week after week.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

How to make history(510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One of today's urban legends is that newspapers are dying. If you are holding one right now, does it feel dead?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Cats and Songbirds
Posted 05.20.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

A terrible myth persists. Many people claim that cats are the primary threat to the survival of songbirds.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Our fragmented lives
Posted 05.11.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I worry about today's children, all of whom seem to have earbuds in their ears, blasting loud music, or cellphones commanding their attention. Computers in their rooms are used for homework some of the time, but also for continual monitoring of Facebook and viewing YouTube videos.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Press freedom means what?(500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | As for readers and media-watchers, your obligation in protecting press freedom is to not just turn off.

This has been happening, big-time.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

If Canadian health care matters to you, you should vote! (500)
IN THE PONTIAC, QUEBEC | There is no better time to talk about health than during an election. While it may seem that politicians barely notice the daily challenges of their constituents, this year may be different. Once again, polls show health care is the top priority for the election.
Lily Ryan is the editor of the West Quebec Post.

When Grandchildren Come to Visit
Posted 04.15.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Gone are the days when grandparents lived in big houses with backyards, attics, and basements where children could discover forgotten treasures and play for hours.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Are the local police abusing their power?(500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Gatineau's police appear to be targeting the person of the mayor, Marc Bureau. Nothing illegal here; in fact, it was taken as a joke that the cops would ticket their mayor for jaywalking.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A useful election, a cost-efficient democracy (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Instead of bombs and rockets, should our jets in Libya be dropping the pundits, media experts, and Conservative politicians who claim this federal election is "useless"? Or onto the crowds of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Oman, Honduras, and China? Those peoples, bloodied and bandaged, would certainly be eager to learn why democratic elections are a big waste of time.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Lets make attack ads self-defeating – give them the boot (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Nasty attack ads by any Canadian political party are attempts to intimidate voters; they push us toward hating politics, politicians, and elections. This "politics of dirt" has been imported from the worst excesses of American political assassination, promoted day after day by the Fox TV network.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

How green is Quebec, or, Not a bill, a bill of goods from Hydro (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | First, Hydro is asking us to discard our old appliances. How is that done? Dumped on the curb, or traded in to appliance shops? Where will the carcasses of all those old machines end up?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ LIFELONG LEARNING
Posted 03.08.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Don't be lulled by some of the magazine articles that claim that just doing crossword puzzles or playing bridge will accomplish this, although both are certainly excellent ways to stay sharp. You have to learn something completely new to give your brain the workout that will help fend off strokes and memory loss. You have to learn something completely new to give your brain the workout that will help fend off strokes and memory loss.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

"Green bathing?" Who, me? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We've all heard of "green washing," where a company will redesign its labels and advertising to position its products as environmentally friendly -- green -- without actually changing the product. But how many of us have heard of "green bathing"? How many of us know that our lovely Aylmer is one of the worst examples of green bathing?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Will Quebec's Pontiac grab national Canadian headlines? Is Canada's Foreign Minister s head on the block? (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | How secure is Minister Cannon's toehold? Apart from his not living here, the complaints on the ground are that he is seldom in our riding, given his oh-so-important duties on the world stage (assuring the world that Canada does indeed support democracy in Tunisia and Egypt, for example), plus the continued stagnation of the local economy and its near-zero job creation.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canadian Cold and Canadian Taxes (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What do Japanese auto makers know about the realities of the road at minus 30? Or operating in the spray of a slushy, greasy roadway? Foreign designers are very intelligent, but they don't live our realities.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ RESOLUTIONS
Posted 01.25.11
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

The problem with resolutions is that we aim too high. Losing ten pounds, quitting smoking, de-cluttering your home, making new friends, are all long-term goals that are difficult to achieve quickly. That means there's no immediate reward to keep you on track.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

War on Drugs: Canada, USA, Mexico (460)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canada's Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon, recently brought the foreign ministers of the US and Mexico to Wakefield, Quebec, to talk tough about drugs. There's no other topic close to that subject for the three nations, even Haiti. The drug wars in Mexico are in danger of being lost, a Wikileaks document reveals a Mexican official admitting; there could soon be "autonomous areas" where the army doesn't go...
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Little in life is assured (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | "Unquestionable proof" is the grail of those who lobby for no change to our life styles. These people may or may not be supporters of the world's coal and oil industries; it doesn't matter. Nor does their commitment to personal freedom and against paternalistic government matter. What matters is that the evidence, in bits and pieces from all over the world, is pointing not only to a growing radical change in climate but to acceptance that much of this climate change is due to human activities, mostly burning fossil fuels in one form or another.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Stop promoting asbestos, Mr. Quebec Premier (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The energy our Quebec provincial government has recently put into promoting asbestos around the world is shameful. On only one account it is not, and that is the government's evident desire to help the communities where asbestos was once mined -- near the town of Asbestos.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A little muscle-flexing, please (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This very cabinet, in the middle of the country's worst modern deficit, has announced it will order new F-35 star wars jet fighters from the USA. They will cost more than $70 million each.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ JUDGE NOT
Posted 11.30.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

As the days get shorter and winter chill sets in, many people look forward to the holidays. But if your family is too far away for you to see them for Christmas, it can be easy to become depressed. Often, it seems everybody else is being invited to parties, while your friends are pre-occupied with their families or traveling south.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Canada's conspicuous [defense] consumption (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We expect the federal government to reduce it's list of F-35 fighter jets, valued at roughly $70 million each, by one. That $70 million would go to the Aylmer health co-op and a new emergency ward, as well as to attract doctors with a million-dollar lifetime commitment benefit payment. One jet fighter could buy our town seventy doctors. Or a small hospital and thirty new doctors.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canadian Newsman: We take privacy concerns seriously (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Should spectators at sporting events expect to sign releases before any photos of the game can be used? The courts so far have balanced responsibility of conveying information with that of protecting privacy.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Change defines us (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The speed of the wheels and gears of life surrounding us is something we often complain about, but it has created some unexpected consequences. One is that it has made us all elders.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Do you mistrust politicians -- or should politicians mistrust you? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Money is tight, certainly, but spending by councils has always been contentious and always has attracted close scrutiny. Why would it now turn the municipal world upside down? Do we citizens really have cause to mistrust our leaders?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Messing with street names has complications (510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | If we discover a street in Gatineau, Quebec, named after a mass-murderer, someone who practiced genocide and biological warfare (against First Nations peoples), aren't we obligated to get rid of that memorial?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Quebec's Gatineau is wealthy, why not the Pontiac? (650)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | September 2010 data from Statistics Canada indicates that Gatineau has the highest family incomes in Quebec. This is of interest to the Pontiac because right next door to Quebec's highest incomes is Quebec's poorest region -- us.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ JUDGE NOT
Posted 10.01.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

When my ex-husband and I first visited the Ottawa area, in anticipation of moving here for his new job at the now-closed Abitibi-Bowater mill, we met with other engineers and their wives who were eager to give us advice. Don't buy a house from a French Canadian, one woman warned. Some of their places are clean, but most of them are filthy.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Retirement, no quiet matter (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Governments are re-thinking mandatory retirement ages and looking at increasing salary deductions for very simple reasons -- first, the cupboard is getting bare...
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ LENDING A HAND
Posted 09.20.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Consider mini-visits. Sometimes all an isolated senior needs is to have someone come for ten or fifteen minutes, bringing along a special treat, like a loaf of fresh bread, some cookies, or a few flowers from your garden. Call before you head out to make sure it's a convenient time.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

A spectacular decision (510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canada has apparently undertaken to spend nine billion dollars on super state-of-the-art fighter jets, plus another nine billion for their maintenance over the contract. Isn't a controversial expenditure of this size, taken without mention during any political campaign and without specific agreement by the House of Commons, a serious affront to democracy?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Video gaming & life skills (510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Earlier this summer, Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin published a photograph of the Laflamme supermarket's interior in 1959. The store was busy, with numerous check-out clerks and bag-packers who carried bags to the customers' cars for tips. Where have those summer and after-school jobs gone? Where are today's kids and young adults who might have found part-time jobs like these?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ PRESERVING THE PAST
Posted 08.26.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Many seniors get involved with genealogy after they retire. But it's important to capture the memories of older family members while they're still able to communicate.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Speak some French, s.v.p.! (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Most important is our belief that bilingualism is one of our region's strongest assets. Outaouais' bilingualism has a natural flow as people switch between English and French.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Setting sights a little higher, pushing a little harder (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Quebec Summer Games are in full swing across our city, including here in Aylmer. This is a grand opportunity for all of us to catch great competitors in action, no matter their age -- and to get a glimpse of Quebec's future Olympians. Anyone who has the time should take in a few games, trails, races, and matches -- there may never be such a convenient chance.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Pulling ourselves up by our eyes and ears (610)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Pontiac's industry faces problems. Competition is a big one - -studio tours are everywhere, and the market for art and culture is immensely fragmented. These difficulties merit help from everyone, not just those directly involved--like most industries. There's a limit to artists' boot-strapping abilities. Apart from public attendance and purchases, help must include support from our mayors and councils.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ CAT TALK
Posted 07.20.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Have you ever had your wallet stolen? Or lost your cellphone? How about leaving your camera behind at a restaurant?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

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Wedding season, marriage for life? (515)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The pomp within a beautiful old Anglican church certainly impressed me with the sanctity of this sacrament. At the same time, I couldn't help but recall that only half of all marriages survive. The priest kept using the word "eternal" -- hadn't he read the statistics?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A long, happy life? (515)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We are bombarded with suggestions and directives on how to live healthier and longer. There are rules apparently for every aspect of our lives: from how much sleep we need to our all-important exercise and eating habits. The self-appointed (usually) experts tell us how much romance and intimacy we need, our stress levels, red wine, caffeine, vitamins, alcohol, and how much time we spend in our gardens, with our cameras or out fishing -- every thing we do seems to affect our life spans and health.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A long, happy life? (510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We are bombarded with suggestions and directives on how to live healthier and longer. There are rules apparently for every aspect of our lives: from how much sleep we need to our all-important exercise and eating habits. The self-appointed (usually) experts tell us how much romance and intimacy we need, our stress levels, red wine, caffeine, vitamins, alcohol, and how much time we spend in our gardens, with our cameras or out fishing -- every thing we do seems to affect our life spans and health.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ CAT TALK
Posted 06.16.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

You would never leave a burning candle or pot on the stove unattended, you change the batteries in your smoke alarms spring and fall, and you feel that having breakers in your electrical panel means a circuit would fail before it caused a fire. But you may not be as safe as you think.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

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Good news from the media (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | If newspapers, facing a hundred new sources of news, are going the way of the Gutenberg press, and if today's young people are plugged exclusively into e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, then Quebec’s recent community newspaper convention near Montreal didn't happen.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Graffiti: a crime or an asset? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One Quebec businessman told the Aylmer Bulletin that "if graffiti is a crime, it's up to the police to stop it. If the police can't, why should businesses -- the victims of this crime -- be forced to bear its burden?"
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Can things be too big to fail? (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What is the most "too big to fail" is our planet's climate. Since it covers everyone, its failure will damage everyone. Why is Ottawa mobilizing for banks and global corporations, but not for global climate?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Quebec: A have-not province? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Then another question jumped to mind: Where is my province's stimulus spending? Where are our billions of tax dollars being spent? Are they being siphoned off via the kick-backs and wheeling-dealing we've been reading about from Montreal and Quebec City?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

That generation and ours (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | "The Man" was a popular enemy, although everyone defined him in a different way. To many the Man was the corporate world of markets and bottom lines, suits and ties, long hours in cubicles.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Stereotypes, eh? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Because I'm as habitual a stereotyper as anyone -- jokes involving my Irish ancestors especially, plus other stereotypic inanities -- I can't shake my finger at anyone. But the extremes to which stereotypes are being pushed today merit our concern.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ CAT TALK
Posted 04.04.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

But the time comes when a dog is no longer practical. Dogs have to go outside, regardless of how treacherous the weather. They are more expensive to feed and need to be professionally groomed. Obviously, the ideal pet for a senior is a cat.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

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Listen very carefully to children (480)
IN THE PONTIAC, QUEBEC | "I told my mother that I didn't want to go to his apartment because I feared a fire," but it was only twenty years later when she remembered the real fire at her father's apartment. It was a fire in his pants and he asked his own daughter to pull down hers, and join him in bed.
Lily Ryan is the editor of the West Quebec Post.

Pontiac, Big-Hearted Quebec Country (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We are a land, a region, and a city of immigrants: all our families have come from somewhere else, at some point. Even aboriginal people were on the move, migrating. So why are many people upset with immigrants today?

This is a serious question, and Quebec has been at the forefront of the whole world in dealing with it and related questions.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ DOWNSIZING
Posted 04.01.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Moving out of the family home into an apartment always poses the same questions. Which things are you willing to part with? What will fit into smaller quarters?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

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Federal fear tactic too transparent to fool West Quebecers (440)
IN THE PONTIAC, QUEBEC | Mr. Harper would rather have Canadians locked up in their houses for fear of ‘crime,’ too busy watching TV to care about the business of our nation.
Lily Ryan is the editor of the West Quebec Post.

Man, you're not a feminist? (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When we get to complex rights, like equal opportunities for education and jobs, the collateral damage caused by poverty, racism, misogyny, and bigotry can be enormous. These mean that many women do not effectively have the same rights as most men, because they are unable to exercise those rights. Poverty, illiteracy, and racism affect men also -- all the more reason for men to support the International Women's Day, yes, and all the more reason why every man, especially every father and grand-father, should aspire to become a feminist.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Owning the podium (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | For a couple of hours every day during those two weeks, we forgot our problems and the troubles afflicting the world. We let men and women from China and Korea, France and Germany, the US and Russia, from all around the world, show us the rewards of single-minded focus and incredible daily hard work. The Games may be telling us that such focus and such effort could also help us solve those problems of the world that we were able to ignore so briefly and which are now making their way back into our awareness. If young men and women can put the daily difficulties of growing up aside while they work towards their goals, can't we adults do the same thing?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Sweet talk a future (570)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | A new game is sweeping Canada, at least rural Canada, a game without the special effects of X-boxes and video gaming, but a game with real consequences. It is the game of re-imagining our communities that have had their mills, plants, mines, and factories closed. The Pontiac is right up there with the best of these rural gamers.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

We can change the weather (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Is "government" or even "society" as bad as everyone says? One message we soak up with the air is that "government" is, at best, a necessary evil, and usually nothing but some form of extortion and self-aggrandizement by politicians, those who do the governing.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

SENIOR MUSINGS ~ HIGH COST OF HEALTH CARE
Posted 02.12.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I had no choice. In early 2006 I began looking for a new doctor, and phoned the CLSC for help. I was told my name would be put on a waiting list, and given priority because of my age and the fact that I take five prescription medicines for five different medical problems. They never called me back, although I continued to phone every few months to make sure I was still on the priority list.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

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SENIOR MUSINGS ~ NEW COLUMN
Posted 01.22.10
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I've managed on my own by installing a stair-lift to access the basement, which is not only ideal for anyone with mobility problems, but also enables me to carry things up and down the stairs without danger. Falls are the most common reason why seniors are hospitalized, so anything we can do to avoid falling is crucial.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

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The Female Heart Attack (a story for women (740)
On December 30th, as I went to work to open the Canadian Embassy here in Oslo, I was overwhelmed by acute earaches and a peculiar feeling in my chest. I'd had these earaches for a couple of months, on and off, and except for the fact that I'd never had an earache before, didn't give it much thought. This was more intense however, so I did what I had to do and went home.
Berit Lundh writes from Oslo, Norway

Quebec: First accommodating immigrants, now euthanasia (620)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Our province's public consultation on "reasonable accommodation" of immigrant minorities received a lot of criticism because it seemed to be little more than picking at a scab -- and because it gave a soapbox to a lot of hysterical people who only vented their fears. It seemed to promise something -- social accommodation of minority cultures -- that could never be guaranteed.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A lose-lose proposition (540)
You tell the BBB you already gave her the upgraded motherboard and reinstalled Windows without charge, and she has nothing to complain about. When she protests, providing screenshots showing the botched reinstall of Windows, you have your lawyer send her a letter threatening to sue if she writes about the experience.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

An expendable Canadian government (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Prime Minister Harper was sent to Ottawa by Calgary. He has encouraged the tar sands. His party all of sudden had enormous funds at its disposal -- they could afford a continual election campaign, and their attack ads outside any campaign testify to their cash reserves.


Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Speedway (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | They reach up to 200 km per hour," the police veteran said, and he has the experience to estimate speeds. "It's only a matter of time before we have a fatal pile up."


Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Not so funny (530)
Unfortunately, TV seems to rely much more on the lower levels. Even shows geared toward kids contain sexual overtones, and there doesn't seem to be a stand-up comic whose act doesn't contain four-letter words and references to sex, alcohol, or drugs.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Dogpatch -- it's everywhere (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | A friend refers to a crossroads on Highway 148 as "Pontiac's latest tourist attraction -- Dogpatch!" He thinks he's humourous, but driving up from the urban areas, which is the route most tourists take when coming to almost any spot in the Pontiac, his wisecrack isn't funny at all. This stretch of highway is no secret; it's in the Municipality of Pontiac, where Rue des Dominicains meets Highway 148
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Meditation on November 11 (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This year's Remembrance Day finds us -- Canada, Quebec, Gatineau, Aylmer -- in an unusual situation. We are a nation at war, not peacekeeping; we are fighting on behalf of our NATO allies, not for our own defensive interests; our military is finally awash with funding, judging from appearances.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Distrust is a dangerous drug (590)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Public distrust of politicians is headed over the edge. The current H1N1 vaccination effort is an example of how this distrust hurts everyone. Conspiracy theories and rumours of corruption have become subjects of conversation, like the weather, but when this distrust becomes so extreme that people fear the vaccine more than the flu itself, we've got problems.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Poor H1N1 vaccination planning (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We'd be justified in wondering if the H1N1 flu is as serious a threat as we're told. Obviously, if the health ministry officials aren't treating it as a major threat, why should the rest of us? Isn't it their job to assess these threats? Two clinic for the entire city does not indicate a major threat.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A goat named Bobbi (1160)
An 11-year-old boy in Kenya is the proud owner of a goat named after me. This initiative is called the Get Your Goat program, and is designed to provide destitute families in African countries with milk for the children as well as providing baby goats so other families can benefit as well.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Giant snake, tiny conscience (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The recent discovery of a giant of a snake (at least to us), dead in a ditch on Terry Fox Road, was a shocker. Living as we do on the edge of Quebec's vast boreal wilderness, not to mention Gatineau Park, we are used to animals wandering in among us -- bears, coyotes, raccoons, deer, maybe a moose, none are strange to us.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Don't worry, be happy. Really. (600)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It's so easy to lose sight of our own goals, or of even setting life goals for ourselves, so we seem to stagger from one crisis to the next (especially if we're dependent on the media's 'news' reporting); we can't stop running just to stand still, and yet when we are standing still we're too nervous or fear-struck to look around, to appreciate a sunset or hug a child. We're lost in each day's shuffle.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Must we seek another planet to call home? (610)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Who can we trust? Ourselves. The missing component in this puzzle is us, behaving like stewards of our back yards, of our farms and fields, forests, and oceans. We can become informed and committed. And one good start is to turn down cut-rate canned salmon, tuna, and "BC Smoked Salmon" from China.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Is the leading candidate the Apathy Party? (500)
IN THE PONTIAC, QUEBEC | However, the elephant in the room is this: only half of Pontiac's Liberal members bothered to vote on Sunday.
Lily Ryan is the editor of the West Quebec Post.

It's "New Politics" is it, Canada? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | This new form of campaigning has each party saying absolutely nothing about its own plans -- that's trivial and self-serving. Now, each party rejects the Vision Thing, projects, and platforms, and concentrates exclusively on attacking the other party and its leader. This refreshing change means we get the truth, finally. No more charades.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The essential early influence of music (500)
Research has shown that music is an elemental part of our consciousness, and existed in early man before speech.

Music teaches the brain how to integrate the right and left sides, helping us see things beyond the obvious. Certainly that's a significant element in innovation, which is one of the goals of higher education.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

What's so bad about an election, Canada? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We now have a party system that is largely regional, in which no party has an agenda that appeals to the entire country, and so each election results in a minority government. And we haven't had a minority leader with vision broad enough to unite the other parties.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Not the Bridges of Madison County
New bridges or hypocrisy & hot air?
(500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Imagine the letters to the editor and talk-show calls-every Ottawa commuter up on their hind legs lecturing us on being more accommodating, working together, and protecting the environment from the pollution of thousands of idling cars.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

(520)
IN THE PONTIAC, QUEBEC | Driving through Ottawa on a recent Saturday night, we noticed a hubbub of activity at the Parliament buildings. My daughter gleefully called for us to stop -- how could we drive by this festival? We stopped, not knowing what "festival" it would be.
Lily Ryan is the editor of the West Quebec Post.

Getting serious about saving…everything (620)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | So why if the present recession is so much like the Great Depression are we seeing virtually no creative and progressive thinking or experimentation? What we are getting from our leaders and thinkers are lame attempts to prop up the old order, the very order that generated the crash.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canada's National Capitol eyesores (505)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The bridges connecting Gatineau and Ottawa, apart from the new and small Champlain Bridge, would not be acceptable even in Espanola, Ontario, they are such embarrassments
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Are volunteers a dying breed? (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | These warnings are not empty. As our population ages, volunteers are aging and are retiring. As those who volunteer have noticed, it is often the same people who step up to the plate, time and time again. There comes a point when they tire (and when they tire of watching most of the population not contribute).
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Shopping is not a religion (510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The idea that Aylmer should have more parking lots, more stop lights, more malls is part of the thinking which has produced North America's urban sprawl nightmare. There are alternatives to more sprawl.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Doing the same thing again and again (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | One positive to have come out of the current economic troubles is the concept of behavioral economics. The economics profession has now noticed that we are not exclusively rational decision-makers in the marketplace. We often act against our clear best interests (buying lottery tickets) and let ourselves be talked into agreements that are based on vanity or greed, rather than on rationality.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Newspapers: Going electronic, or just going? (750)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Yes, the telephone and paper have yet to be exceeded by modern technology, although they are certainly being added-to. They're no longer the only game in the industry. Which is true for the newspaper industry itself. No new media has co-opted all of newspapers' benefits, but they have certainly added to our industry's reach and services.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

In Canada: Nasty does as nasty is (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | My wife and I were stunned by our first view of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attack ads on Canadian TV directed against Liberal Michael Ignatieff. The ad was sarcastic, personal, and nasty. There was nothing of policy, of issues, or of priorities. "This is the work of a bully," commented my spouse, and she captured in that word, "bully", the real message of the ad.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

We get the leaders we pick (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | During a recent dinner, a visiting sheep farmer assured me he never reads or watches the news. We were discussing politics and he dismissed his lack of information about events even in his own country.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

What do holidays mean? (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The interesting point is about our present day, about how well our holidays reflect reality. We can make a commercial event out of almost everything. Even Earth Day will likely become a festival in which many people make money and sell products, whether or not the Earth benefits. Making money and buying things seem to be our major motivations, as pathetic as that sounds.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Advice our mothers never gave us (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The old axiom for couples, parents or not, is that any disagreement in the evening must be worked out before going to sleep, together. This results in endless, churlish discussions and late nights, leading to a weary next day. You are both tired, so how are you going to reach any conclusion, agreement, or apology?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

I see your name everywhere(440 words)
It's every author's dream, to have his or her name mentioned by columnists, broadcasters, and in print media. The kind of media training that produces this level of results can cost a great deal, and is usually reserved for politicians, corporate CEOs, and high-level professionals.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

The (digital) price isn't right (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When we convert everything to its electronic format, we are doing this to pay less -- and we are getting less.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Breaking the rules(560 words)
Breaking the rules seems to start at an early age. Sadly, our schools reinforce this, by allowing students who plagiarize to face no penalties. Instead, they receive extra time to turn in work without any loss of marks.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

We're either going green or we're going somewhere else (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | With climate change, resource depletion, and the pollution of our environment, we have no choice at all -- either we change our wasteful ways or the planet will change them for us. The status quo isn't an option.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Think before landfills or incinerators (540)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Landfill or incinerator? Do we put our garbage into our air supply or into our water table? Should we drink our toxins or breathe them in? Each partisan of the garbage issue insists on our responses, but how can we answer such questions?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Writers: It takes skill to hold an audience(925 words)
Writers are, by nature, independent, and solitary. Some are sociable and meet friends frequently to exchange ideas and banter. But speaking in front of an audience is not usually something we relish. Speaking in public is at the top of most human fears, and many writers dread an invitation to give a reading or presentation.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Remove the gun from the 'Invisible Hand' (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The market's enthusiasm for profit will break down all borders of propriety, and when this expands into open, permissible greed, there's no stopping the market's embrace of the most outrageous adventures and investments, legalities be damned.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Somalia's pirates, Colombia's drug lords, Wall Street's swindlers (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When Bernard Madoff, the admitted swindler of 177 billion-plus dollars, a world record in fraud, walked into court wearing a bullet-proof flack jacket last week, a lot of investors must have kicked themselves for letting the opportunity pass to plug the bum. He was not previously wearing this protection.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Slicing the cake a different way(720 words)
The late Dr. Ursula Franklin, Professor Emerita at the University of Toronto and Senior Fellow at Massey College, once described the world as a giant cake which had, throughout history, been sliced vertically, by location, nationality, constituency, and community. The layers were stratified by class, caste, or custom, and individuals seldom moved more than one or two slices away, to a neighboring country or community.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Philosopher-kings (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff may even unintentionally have ambitions of being a philosopher-king, the iconic leader who combines intellect with action for no self-gain. There have been very few philosopher-kings in history -- more often the opposite. SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC |
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

On being a klutz (1150)
OSLO,NORWAY | At 61 I am a klutz and have been for as long as I can remember. My body is covered with dents and scars, I have deformed feet and wrists, knees and ankles that don't work so well, and I'm more than a few teeth short. But this past week has been brutal and I have graduated to the top of the class.
Berit Lundh is a Canadian living in Oslo, Norway.

Hi-speed Internet in Quebec, as in: the lack of (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What sense can we make of all today's talk about "investing in infrastructure,” "bringing Canada into the 21st Century," and "building a knowledge-based economy," when much of the area surrounding our national capital does not even have hi-speed internet?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Remembering Zhao Ziyang(1300 words)
President Obama's recent visit to Ottawa brought back memories of another visiting dignitary, China's former leader, Zhao Ziyang. When Ziyang visited Ottawa in January, 1984, Prime Minister Trudeau decided to host an elaborate Gala in his honor at the National Arts Centre.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Seniors, speak up . . . really, speak up (500)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Listen carefully, for example, at the next dinner party's conversation. How much of it is repeating the news of the day, which everyone has already heard. Conversation will detail the step-by-step causes of the latest airliner or bus disaster. Conversation will complain about the scams of bankers, the avarice of public sector unions, and the self-centeredness of movie stars, musicians, and national politicians.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The food on our tables (520)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Poor eating yields poor health which yields loss of wealth. And, eventually, even wisdom and happiness. We may lose it all anyway, but why rush the loss by eating as if it doesn't matter what we put in our mouths?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Get a firm grip on your pocketbooks, Canada (510)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | It may be that, living across the river from the nation's capital, we here in Aylmer, Quebec, receive more than we wish about all things political. The famous warm air, apparently, blows off in another direction, but all the analysis, pronouncements, and sound bites spread out like ripples in a pond, and, since we're nearest to the sinking stone, the sound-bite ripples are higher and faster here than elsewhere in the country.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Another flashy party, on our credit cards (565)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Genie Awards are coming to town! And although this glitzy soirée takes place in Ottawa on April 4, we citizens of Gatineau and West Quebec will be expected to participate. "Participate" means to contribute. Contribute cash. We'll be hit up to fund a huge, flashy party for an elite group -- in Ottawa!
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Focused lives, diffused lives (545)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | I've heard a radio skit in which Socrates is berated by his wife for not bringing in a decent living, for ignoring his family, for spending his time in the town agora "talking." Painters, writers, poets, the martial arts, every sport imaginable, they all require concentration for success, and although it doesn't guarantee success, hard work seems indispensable to it.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Daughter (610)
SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | I'm older now and this morning my youngest daughter called from Honduras, on a line full of static and breaks. She is on the first stage of a great journey, she says, and adds that it is also one of many stages on the only journey there is.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The Necessity of Art(1300 words)
I can't get the image out of my mind. A piece of ivory, function unknown, covered with finely detailed carving, that was part of an exhibit at the Museum of Civilization showing the daily life of the Copper Eskimos who populated the Bering Strait around 250 A.D.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

We are being so screwed, or 'With next year's first cup of coffee...' (500)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Here's a sobering thought for all of Canada's wage earners to begin the new year with: by the time we each have our first coffee on the first working day of the new year, Canada's 100 top-earning CEOs will have already banked what it will take each of us a full year to earn.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

How can small political parties do better? (470)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | The edges as sources of new things applies to biology and history, to cosmology as well as to mathematics. No surprise it applies to politics. But it doesn't mean that every off-centre party has new and positive ideas. Some have rotten ideas, like the neo-Nazis in Europe.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A national mother's salary (470)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Isn't this the time to introduce a national salary for mothers? Mothers are creating our next generation. Our kids deserve help. How better to get help to kids than through mothers? As income, it would be taxed back from wealthier families, and as income on the family level it will stimulate spending on the basics: food, shelter, clothing.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

You disagree with us, eh? (470)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | If you, dear reader, don't disagree with us at least once in a while, we aren't doing a good job. News is news, you might say, but is "news" that simple?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

On societal punishment (520)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Most Canadians believe people can change, and that if they show serious efforts toward rehabilitation and if this shows results, these reformed criminals should be given a second chance. Leaving someone to spend his life in a cell -- is that any better than the death penalty? -- may seem simple, easy, cheap, and safe. But our justice system is based on principles other than simplicity, ease, and expense.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Dion hurt the Liberals & Harper hurt Canada (530 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | While the Bloc is blowing its horn for having denied the Conservatives a majority, and most commentators agree, there is another side to this coin. The Bloc may claim it harmed the Conservatives, but the Conservatives crucially helped the Bloc.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Who wants a president, eh, Canada? (540 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Mr. Harper appeared to be the only one running for the Conservatives. No matter where the campaign bus stopped, it was always Stephen Harper who got off and made the speech. At every interview, it was Mr. Harper doing the talking. We heard he had a team, but...
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

This confusing economy thing (420 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | I am just as confused about the present financial crisis as everyone else, but there are a few things that strike me as particularly incomprehensible. First, we are not certain that the slippery slope we are on will in fact carry us down to the depths of another Great Depression. In fact, we are warned of this by the same gang who assured us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Europe was on its last legs, and that the market place will solve all problems.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Traffic circles are not election issues, this time (500 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Stoplights are a significant cause of stop-and-start automotive pollution. They cut traffic into chunks, which move down the avenues as blocks, rather than promoting a steady stream of traffic. Why go backwards to this simplistic technology? Because it's simplistic. Nobody gives a set of lights a second thought (bad idea), but a traffic circle does require alertness to other cars and pedestrians. We embrace telephones that download e-mail, but we can't figure out how to drive a traffic circle?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A cloud of smoke(480 words)
I'm convinced that advertising, especially on television (because the images are so realistic and the medium so invasive), has been a major factor in the current financial crisis. TV has become an addiction for the middle class. It's where they've come to feel "entitled" to the home much larger than they can afford, the cars that scale mountain-tops and go "zoom zoom," the fashions they see on soap operas and awards shows, and the huge engagement rings flaunted by stars on entertainment shows.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Censorship and/or Manipulation (500 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | A lot of censorship is brazen -- a freedom of information request comes back, whole pages blackened, without apology. But manipulation would be totally ineffective if it is too brazen, as when a US politician says different things to businessmen and evangelicals trying to get their votes. Canada has its censorships and has world records in some types of manipulation. Forget China and Somalia, they're crude. We're in contention for gold in media manipulation.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Criminal leaders, rich leaders, cautious leaders (500 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | There's news of an international movement to have George Bush's inner circle arrested as war criminals if they venture outside the USA, similar to what happened to the Chilean dictator, General Pinochet. The Americans include VP Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and others. Wouldn't that have interesting effects on future war-making?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canada's Old Boys Club holds a "debate?" (500 words)
It took two days for the Canadian election campaign to turn, take on water, roll over, and sink to the bottom. The refusal of two party "leaders" to allow the Green Party to participate in the televised debate deserves to be called anti-democratic. And how about petulant, arrogant, unfair, and stupid? They all work.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

What makes a great teacher?(800 words)
Why do you think China has risen so dramatically in economic clout? That country may have awful living and working conditions, but their educational standards are extremely high, and the population understands that a solid education is the key to improving their lives. So how about Canada?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Canada election campaign underway (550 words)
The ship of state is not a high-powered speedboat. It rarely lurches from one direction to its opposite; it's more like an oil tanker changing course inch by inch, starting its turn miles before its new destination. Who controls the helm is important, but looking only at the captain does not guarantee reaching a destination. An Obama is not going to radically change America's trajectory (any more than Kennedy was able to do, despite the world's expectations). A Harper majority will not mean we become the newest ten American states.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Time (540 words)
Last week I was introduced to a bird, a cockatiel, who is 72 years old. He was quite spry. He had all his feathers. I considered that a 72-year-old cockatiel has time to burn, as must those turtles who live to reach biblical ages; but length of life is a small part of the whole equation. What we do with our time is what counts.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canada isn't winning? Stop bitching (525 words)
Allow me my two cents on the Beijing Olympics. These Games have probably created the largest group of armchair quarterbacks since the term was coined.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Home builders are missing something (490 words)
More homes and more people do not mean, for the general public, better services or other advantages. More people means more traffic, more congestion all over, more kids for classroom space, more people seeking doctors and dentists, and so on. The fact that more houses bring big-box stores is hardly attractive.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Municipal political parties: the way to go? (510 words)
Before we rush into accepting political parties as a possible solution for our dissatisfaction with municipal government, we ought to look more carefully at both the results of political parties elsewhere and also look at the problem itself: inadequate funding from the higher governments combined with a tight restriction on what city governments can do to expand their revenue base.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canada's Postal Service(640 words)
It costs me 93 cents to send a letter to my sister in the US, but only 79 cents for her to reply. Furthermore, the US still has a lower rate for postcards, as well as Saturday delivery in most urban areas. US Post Offices are still open to the public, so you can have a parcel weighed by someone who actually knows what they're doing, unlike here, where minimally-trained clerks in drug stores usually only know how to handle standard-sized packages.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

An inferiority complex? Who? Us? (550 words)
We discovered this summer that Truro, Nova Scotia, has a 1000-acre forest right in the middle of the city...Are Nova Scotians a bunch of spendthrifts? Can't they recognize the value of a dollar? Don't they realize that streets have to be repaired, buses provided, water purified?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Whither modern medicine in the days of Peak Oil? (1200 words)
I think that medicine is going to have to abandon its fixation with the latest and the best and move from the constant search for the newest cutting edge technology and instead start to think about rehabilitating viable trailing edge technologies that have been shown to deliver good enough results at lower levels of waste and energy consumption.
Former Canadian James Barson MD writes from Australia.

This story has a story of its own(640 words)
I was standing in the aisle of the moving vehicle, holding on with one hand, the other clutching my purchases. There was no way I could write down the ideas that came tumbling, unbidden, into my head. As I came in the back door, my mother was startled to see me drop my coat and my parcels, race up the stairs to my bedroom, shouting, "I have to write something down."
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Death by police shooting (550 words)
The death of anyone by shooting is shocking. When the person with the gun is a police officer, our shock is magnified, and when the person shot turns out to have been unarmed, blinded by pepper spray, and was shot three times at close range, our shock turns to mortification.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Thinking Of Summer(525 words)
I just read that only seven percent of Canadians own a vacation property of any type. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Citizen's annual section describing summer camps for kids contains a huge assortment of day camps and more than a dozen overnight ones, offering experiences ranging from zoo-keeper, science, circus, radio, and leadership, to international languages, art, dance, theatre, and every sport a kid could want, from golf to soccer.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Which Canada to celebrate? (550 words)
What history of Canada will we follow? The history of the First Nations peoples? The history of the starving Irish and Scots, or the history of the railroad and oil barons? The history of Lords and Governors General or the history of the families who gave up sons and daughters to faraway wars, to the coal mines, or to shipping disasters on the Great Lakes?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

In Vermont: Nudity should not generate a big fuss, but it has (360 words)

Bethany Dunbar writes for the Barton Chroniclein Vermont.

Real costs, real life (550 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Last week, CBC radio in Ottawa reported that Canadians are spending 18 percent more for their daily purchases than are Americans. There's a positive note here because in the last quarter of last year, we spent 24 percent more than did Americans.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Let the consulations roll(500 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | There's no more beautiful place for a downtown. What urban planning law says a city's core has to be entirely cement and asphalt? Hull's core has the disadvantage of containing huge, indigestible lumps of government buildings which are empty every evening and weekend, except for the Maison du Citoyen. Big government buildings are a black hole for revitalization.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

This little steam train is our business(550 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | The "p'tit train" to Wakefield, Quebec -- the steam train running from Gatineau through Chelsea to Wakefield -- appears to be on the road to disappearing. If it is sold, as the owner says he intends to do, and if it is moved, as two potential buyers say they intend to do, its loss will hurt us all.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

It's time for the Stupidity Tax (730 words)
"Ford Stumble Signals Rising Risks" warned a recent headline in the Wall Street Journal. Then in the second line of the "stacked" headline the Businessman's Bible still favors: "Pickup, SUV Sales Take Surprisingly Steep Fall." Now who, we wonder, could possibly be surprised? Nobody around here has talked about anything but the price of gas for months. Hillary and old John have made it a major part of the presidential debate.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chroniclein Vermont.

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs quits. So? There's much more going on, eh?(600 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | We've heard a lot of alarmism about the bill that will open the door to censorship of movies, but that is only one of almost a dozen Conservative measures that will fundamentally alter our federal-provincial system and our social framework.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The PQ's so-called "national conversation"(600 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Every minority out of power in the world dreams of independence in some form or another. Thus, riding her wave of by-election victories, and getting a kick at Mario Dumont while he's down, Pauline Marois, head of the PQ, has announced she intends to bring all Quebec independence forces together for a "national conversation" with the goal of creating some sort of United Front. It would be led, of course, by the PQ, "comme formation politique majeure," in Ms. Marois' lovely words.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

In Canada, gas prices aren't all bad news, eh?(508 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | With sky-rocketing gasoline prices here in Canada, everyone is predicting the worst: $2 a litre this summer, and so on. We all want to know why, and the explanations include the war in Iraq, disturbances in Nigeria, a strike here, a storm there, and, the big reason, the oil-hungry economies of China, India, and Brazil.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

How did this happen -- again?(510 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | For example, the condemnation of six big homes in Gatineau sector because they were built on an unstable clay base. The question isn't why were they built there, but why was the builder given permission to cut down the trees and build there? Who issued the building permits, and why?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Blankety-blank citizens(510 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Decisions made in secrecy or "at a professional level" are the most open for manipulation and corruption. Most scandals in other levels of government are the result of secrecy that blew up, as it usually does. Secrecy can't succeed -- there are too many people in government, in residents' associations, and in the media. And the media still means a local newspaper.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Privacy vs Security in the 21st Century(505 words)
I was pressured into joining Facebook last fall. I was careful to post minimal information, no photo, and no comments. Still, I'm sorry I did this.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Fluoride in our water(710 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | At the last Gatineau city council meeting several citizens, including representatives from the Lakeview Terrace Residents' Association, raised the question of the city putting fluoride in our drinking water. Council is considering a city-wide fluoridation program for all municipal water.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Climate refugees and water hostages(505 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | As Europe finds itself struggling with a continual flood of migrants, the EU has released a study that predicts an entirely new form of refugee: climate migrants. These are people forced from their homes due to climate change. Where we might once have imagined "climate refugees" as the bleached Canadians on the southern beaches, that image has been pulled inside out.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Just a big, loud, intrusive, obnoxious, unconstitutional taxi (670 words)
Beyond the cloying clichés, there are some realities that really do make Vermont a better place to live. One of them is our state Supreme Court which, through close reading of the Vermont Constitution, seems determined to preserve civil liberties that the US Supreme Court seems no less determined to deny us.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Bad news at the Mall's back doors(500 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | It only takes a PD day and a sunny afternoon to bring the kids out to Aylmer's main mall. There are always a few hanging around the back doors, and I had assumed they were waiting for the cinema to open. It's just been pointed out to me that there's more going on there than that.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A small town newspaper publisher speaks out(570 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Why isn't it bigger? Why doesn't it have more from my area? These are the two most common questions we hear about the West Quebec Post. We also hear complaints that the Post doesn't arrive on time, or that it regularly ignores some events.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Better get serious about water(545 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | March 22 marked World Water Day. Given this winter's levels of snow, moisture hardly seems a problem. And given Canada's lakes and rivers, water may seem the least of our troubles. That conclusion is very shortsighted.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Imagine this snow in Vancouver(545 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | This has been a beautiful winter, far from the usual freeze and thaw cycle which leaves us with brown fields in many winters; the fresh snow has kept the street-sides sparking like mountains, not like piles of dirty laundry, which is usually the case at this time of year.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The best of times or the worst of times?(500 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | No matter which way we turn these days we hear complaints and laments. The environment is crashing, ice shelves melting, ocean currents dying, and the economy is on the edge of a major collapse; we're told all political leaders are crass and self-serving, that our youth are criminals, our lives move too fast and are too short, our work's never over -- and, besides, the whole world will end in 2012, according to the Mayan calendar.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

France has conservatives, Canada has neo-cons (510 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Our country is not the only nation with a self-proclaimed "new" government. France also elected a conservative leader, who labeled himself "new" although his program also stretched back to ideas popular before the last century.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Whose ‘Rights' are Right?(530 words)
If you're like most TV viewers, you were annoyed to miss many of your favorite programs during the prolonged strike of 10,500 US writers in the film and TV industry. The issue was a simple one. The writers wanted "a share of the burgeoning digital-media market, including compensation for Internet-delivered TV shows and movies."
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

A world without borders? (510 words)
Canadian guitarist Jesse Cook dedicated his latest CD to his new son with the wish that as he grows up he will face a world without borders, or something to that effect. A world without borders? It's easy to dismiss the idea, given our world of nationalisms and fanaticisms of all stripes, but the question that bothers me is: Do we really want a world without borders?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A senior's lament (715 words)
The biggest shock I get, and it's shocking every time, is to hear seniors say they don't keep up with the news, they don't read a paper or listen to radio news. In other words, they're saying, "I don't want to know what's going on around me."
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

For one million dollars an hour (760 words)
They say the three-day Montebello summit last summer with Harper, Bush, and Caldéron will reach $30 million in policing costs alone. That's ten million per day, or about a million dollars an hour. For security. How did they spend a million dollars in an hour? That's more than almost any of us will have to show for ourselves at the end of our entire careers.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Municipal Nightmares (545 words)
We're living the home owners' nightmare: our property taxes are too low to fund the work needed by the municipality, but our municipal councilors keep adding new projects, which cost even more money. There can be only one result: we pay more. We pay more taxes, as they inch upward, and the extra costs are added to our town's debt, which has to be paid off sooner or later.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Wellness – it can open doors (570 words)
"Wellness" is a disturbing word. Where did it come from? And why is it often used in the weirdest of senses, say in "Welcome to Wellville," or as the basis of extravagant claims, as in the ads in health magazines?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Charity begins right here at home(520 words)
Are there no families there who need this kind of assistance? Hardly! Entraide often has as many as twenty families across the entire region whose needs are urgent. Some have been displaced due to a fire or other natural disaster, are new immigrants who have few household possessions, or are temporarily homeless because of a family break-up or other problem.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

More public transportation? Yessiree! (600 words)
The developing world has developed buses that put our to shame in comfort, as well as safety and speed, at cheaper rates -- and they make money. All to say, we should use what we can from systems that work, since ours doesn't. Like feeder systems. With jitneys.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

So, Santa, you got some practical but boring stuff this year? (530 words)
I was mildly dissed recently at a family get-together for the practicality of my gifts. Last Christmas I gave every household in our blended family a flashlight, those new rechargeable one million candlepower dynamos. They're not bulky, are easily rechargeable, and give a tremendous light. They could also cause blindness.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Inter-generational climate abuse? (700 words)
AYLMER, QUEBEC | Last weekend's day of protest over our "new" government's very old tactics of denial, blaming others, and its invocation of various forms of economic self-righteousness, saw many Alymer residents at the demonstration in Ottawa. The protest was to send a message to John Baird, Canada's Anti-Environment Minister, as he departs for the Bali Conference on climate change. Given what is at stake for all of us, and given our government's made-somewhere-else position, more of us should have been at that demonstration.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Pets and Holidays(500 words)
I like to promote pet adoption at all times of the year except one. The holidays are not the time to bring a new pet into your household. TV commercials of the child discovering a puppy under the Christmas tree make me cringe. There is enough confusion and extra activity around the holidays without introducing a new pet.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

That little stone schoolhouse (530 words)
PORTAGE DU FORT, QC | Gloomy news -- business closures, loss of jobs, decline in forest resources, low farm-product prices, school drop-outs, illiteracy and uni-linguality, population out-flows, drop in tourism -- chronicles the march to the bottom here in Quebec's Pontiac region. Amid all this pessimism, signs of life are important.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Hockey, a cell phone tower, and no respect (550 words)
Two recent events in West Quebec are worth noting: one, Industry Canada's near-unilateral decision to approve a cell phone tower in Chelsea, against the neighbourhood's wishes, and, two, Shawville's hockey association insisting a Luskville lad must play his hockey with them, not with his buddies, or not play hockey at all.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Canadians a trillion in debt (500 words)
The daily newspapers recently reported that personal debt in Canada has passed the trillion dollar mark for the first time. A trillion divided by our population is not an alarming amount, but it is not the whole population, not every child and senior, who owes this debt. The number becomes alarming when we realize how few owe all this money. A lot of Canadians owe much more than they own.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The Mukasey Confirmation (400 words)
. A man who can't bring himself to declare that an ancient, notorious, and particularly obnoxious form of torture is against the law is about to take over our Department of Justice.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Back to school: Part Two(600 words)
I was shocked to discover how many of these wealthy kids described their families as dysfunctional and often alcoholic, and how many felt, as one wrote, "like a fish in a tree" during their high school years. Yet most of them survived and became contributing members of society. Their tales revealed both triumph and tragedy.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

On War Movies (520 words)
Post-war dramas are top sellers in movies, TV, and books. It may seem to some that all these movies and books are promoting a militaristic attitude, under the guise of supporting our troops in Afghanistan. The opposite may be true.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The Way of the Shock Jock (510 words)
Shock jocks may claim to be selling ideas, arguments, debate, and opinions, but they're really selling listeners to their advertisers. Listeners are product. The more listeners they can generate for their show, the happier their advertisers -- this is advertising. One way to get listeners -- and to get them to identify themselves as such -- is by rolling them back and forth on emotional rides. Emotional highs are pure adrenalin; they're wild and exciting.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Back to school: Part One(600 words)
The first thing I learned about education is that the best teaching happens when teachers are enthusiastic about the material. That can't happen if English teachers are forced to teach classics they hated when they were student ("Silas Marner" comes to mind.), or when Phys. Ed. teachers are assigned to teach English.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Mirroring back who we are, what we want in West Quebec (590 words)
We're hardest on those closest. What we say to family members, or even lovers, we'd never say to a fellow worker; we get worked up over a neighbour and his barking dog more than we ever do about the ravages underway in Darfur. We're hyper critical of things American, but never blink an eye over French and British political venialities.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power - All Fall Down? (400 words)
A nuclear plant isn't like an old pickup we can nurse over the back roads until the floorboards rust out or a wheel falls off. It's more like an airplane - with no safe compromise between being in prime working order and unfit to fly. Even a "minor," nonfatal nuclear mishap could have enormous economic consequences for the "Green Mountain State," the place with no billboards and clean air and placid cows turning out organic milk that we process into gourmet cheeses. How would "America's Chernobyl" look on a license plate?
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Rail-line dreamers (500 words)
Ottawa's recent "Transportation Summit" called by the city's new mayor was the stuff of dreams, and only dreams, unfortunately.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

"No comment" (515 words)
Stephen Harper's decision to kill the current parliament and keep MPs out for an additional month, after an entire summer off, should be unacceptable to his employers, the folks who pay his and the MPs' salaries.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

An East-West SPP (515 words)
The dust hasn't settled on the SPP meeting in nearby Montebello, QC, but the world according to Bush-Harper-Calderon is bending over backwards to assure us that the SPP agreements mean nothing to our daily lives, and that the protesters were exaggerating the threat of the secret deliberations. If we believe all this, maybe we should check out the sale on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A Greater US of A? (515 words)
Why all the secrecy, including official near-silence surrounding next week's meeting down the highway from us?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Missed communications (520 words)
Have you received your cheque for $9000? It looks pretty authentic, until you scrutinize it more carefully. Below the bogus cheque is "a very important communication for Barbara Graham" which repeats my name no less than ten times. On the back is an order form for a bunch of products.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

It ought to be a crime (480 words)
Urban life was reported to be safer from crime than small-town living, calculated as a crime-per-person. Toronto and Montreal are two of the safest cities in the world; in fact, several western cities are more dangerous than Hog Town: Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, and Edmonton, for example.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Coming to Canada (500 words)
I arrived in Canada forty years ago this month. Unlike so many Americans who arrived in the 60s as draft-dodgers, my immigration had nothing to do with the Vietnam War.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Why risk innocent lives? (340 words)
Every once in a while we come upon an account of a high-speed police chase that makes us wonder. This is one of those weeks.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Don't worry so much, be happy (600 words)
Here's something for your summer vacation. It doesn't take long, but appearing frivolous, it's a holiday matter. It's happiness. Certainly a holiday matter.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

It weren't me, babe (500 words)
Bluesfest was remarkable in the stars it attracted last week- Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Manu Chao, but even more remarkable is the rumour that Bob Dylan was sighted in Aylmer the day of his Ottawa show.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Meditating on Canada Day (560 words)
As we approach Canada Day it seems appropriate to do more than wave the flag and assure ourselves that our country is the best in the world. Canada is the best, but it shows a certain respect to our being Canadians to ask ourselves what being Canadian means or implies.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

On toddlers and hockey stars (525 words)
Every day of the working week I see women with groups of children out on the sidewalks or in local parks, most of them small, private daycare services in action. As sweet as the toddlers are, walking along holding hands or riding in home-made multiple-seat carriages, it is the women taking care of them that catch my attention.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

All the news that's fit to weep about (550 words)
Have we become a nation of blubberers? Are we unable to separate private grief from public accountability? Has news become blended into entertainment?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

If you're thinking about adopting a pet (570 words)
When you consider adopting a pet, look carefully at the front paws, as they often offer a clue as to how large the animal will be when he's fully grown. You should also look carefully to see that the pet's eyes are clear, their ears and bottom are clean, and there are no broken teeth or problems in the mouth.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

No idle matter, eh? (575 words)
Most drivers add about $75 a year to their fuel bill just for the pleasure of idling. Long-term costs for engine maintenance and repair increases the bill.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

On closing Pageant Park in Barton, Vermont (400 words)
This is more than a shame. It strikes us, in its own small way, as an outrage. If Barton is to stem its slow decline into commercial oblivion, it can hardly shrug off the loss of a park as beautiful as Pageant, on a lake as beautiful as Crystal.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Excess fat - it's everyone's business (500 words)
In the end, obesity is a social problem and one our community should take more seriously than it does. True, there is no magic bullet, no magic diet, no pill to solve this problem. But the solution is not complex either...
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

You bet your booty that I'm entitled. Now. (510 words)
Entitlement, let's be clear, means not that anyone's a crook, but that they believe they have every right to do what they're doing. In the Land of Entitlement no one is a crook, complainer, or lazy bum; everyone's entitled to their foible.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Quebec's Secessionist Musical Chairs (540 words)
The PQ has brought in the 'B' Team. Pauline Marois has been rejected twice by the party militants because, presumably, she didn't have the stuff to be party chief and lead the troops to the promised land. Suddenly she does.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The warm butter of a lingering kiss (515 words)
Vimy may mark Canada's "coming of age", but that cliché may also obscure a much-too-expensive loss of life for what was gained. Was a single hilltop worth the deaths of so many?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Sorry, I won't be back (460 words)
The last time I attempted to buy something at your cosmetics counter, I waited several minutes for the girl at the cash to finish her personal phone conversation. I won't be back.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Rethinking your local Idol contest (500 words)
There is an strong current of sexuality in Idol competitions - performers who strike a pose or wiggle their hips make points with the audience. Aren't eleven year-olds a little young for this?
Julie Murray writes for the Aylmer Bulletin and The West Quebec Post.

WWI, Vimy, and beyond (515 words)
Vimy may mark Canada's "coming of age", but that cliché may also obscure a much-too-expensive loss of life for what was gained. Was a single hilltop worth the deaths of so many?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Is it a Muslim thing, or what? (555 words)
With a young Canadian soccer player pulled from a game for wearing a hijab, and, during the election, having the Keeper of the Election Rule-Book deciding that women wearing a hijab must remove their veil to be identified before voting, the question of religious clothing and paraphernalia is still stuck in our collective craw. Or is it the fact that the gear is Muslim that bothers us so?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Fat kids sit more, die first (535 words)
For the first time in history - so says a report just issued by the Permanent Committee on Health of the Canadian Parliament -- children are expected to have a shorter life span than their parents. Take a moment to let that sink in.
Julie Murray writes for the Aylmer Bulletin and The West Quebec Post.

Who in the world is fighting carbon taxes? (500 words)
The auto industry, besides its own evident stupidity, sees us all as morons. They are claiming that carbon-tax surcharges on gas-guzzlers harm only local auto makers.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Daylight Savings Time all year 'round (510 words)
More than a billion people in seventy countries observe some form of Daylight Savings Time. But it isn't just most of Saskatchewan and part of British columbia that remain stubbornly on standard time.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

A little plastic, a big problem (460 words)
Even with recycling, plastics are still about 20 percent of everything going in our landfills. We are not yet fanatics about recycling, but fanaticism is what it will take. Fanatics, for example, reject the plastic packaging which makes up much of our garbage-- that's positive fanaticism.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Opinion: Don't kill Vermont's Bull the Moose (350 words)
Bull is a pet raised by David Lawrence inside the confines of the Nelson farm - not in the same pen where canned hunts take place. He is completely friendly and charming. Abandoned at birth, he needs to be left alone to enjoy jelly doughnuts and Budweiser with his caretaker.
Bethany Dunbar reports for the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Whose junk is this? (500 words)
There are outlets which take empty ink cartridges and dead batteries as well as computer components, but what about the other items that shouldn't be littering our landfill?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Cutting to the chase (1660)
"So, Doc," I said, "when do we want to do this? I'll have to let the office know that I will be off work for a couple of days."
Bob Gervais writes in London, Ontario.

How to make any election worth the effort (500 words)
Quebec Premier Jean Charest is to call a provincial election this week, and thus we begin the grand drama of a general election. This most important ceremony of our democracy will be played out with breast-beating by the contenders and with wildly optimistic predictions from the minor parties.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Quebec needs a Ministry of the Environment (550 words)
The environment may be a significant concern for Quebec voters -- poll after poll says so -- and it may be in the heart of every politician sitting in the National Assembly -- they tell us it is -- but if actions speak louder than words, governmental action on the environment is so silent it must be dead.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Are you prepared? (490 words)
Do all of our citizens know what to do in case of an emergency? Do you have an emergency kit in your house, along with water, food, and supplies to last at least three to six days?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

No more alphabet soup (490 words)
If we're all so good at communicating, why is it still such a problem?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Blue Cheese on Toast (590)
Posted 01.16.07
Bob Gervais

It was not a true-blue Blue Cheese, if you know what I mean. Not Un fromage bleu with all the associated pedigree that causes one to speak with a French accent like Charles Boyer.
Bob Gervais writes in London, Ontario.

Has the CBC's time run out? (555 words)
I never expected to reach this conclusion, but after thirty-plus years of rarely missing at least one newscast a day, today I still listen, but wonder, when the taped weather update symbolically sums up the news with a report of conditions eight hours ago, why I bothered turning on the radio.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The way I see it
Posted 01.09.07
Bob Gervais

"The way I see it" . . . Have you ever spoken that particular phrase? Do you know anyone who has? Well, I certainly have heard it said and I have no doubt uttered it.
Bob Gervais writes in London, Ontario.

Amateur Antics (529 words)
According to a recent report, YouTube hosts more than 100 million videos, with 65,000 new videos uploaded daily. These are completely uncensored and often record humiliating incidents without those being captured on video giving their consent.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Hey, QuebeckerÖthink you own your piece of land? (520 words)
Private ownership of property may be a bedrock concept of our society, but it sure doesn't stand in the way of what governments and big corporations see as their best interests. Changes to Quebec's mining act has virtually tossed private ownership out the window; such changes have been made across Canada.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A clear choice for Vermont Verizon (310 words)
Most of the world now communicates by cell phone, and large chunks of the Northeast Kingdom are decidedly backward, for better or worse, because the damn things don't work here.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Quebec, America, and Lucien Bouchard (520 words)
Former Premiere Lucien Bouchard of Quebec was either quoted out of context or he suffered a lapse of lucidity when he said, or is reported to have said, that Quebecers don't work hard enough to meet the demands of the globalized marketplace.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

The Doctor is (Not) in (535 words)
Posted 11.06.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I laughed that if I went to the clinic feeling great, after sitting that long in a straight chair in a waiting room full of coughing patients, I'd be able to tell him that I thought I had the flu, and complain about my bad back!
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Pesticide! A curse whose time has come (515 words)
I'm going to wade into water well over my head, and, as a typically dense anglo, make some suggestions for change to the French language.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Pay and pay again scams (500 words)
Posted 10.18.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I no longer use my VISA for most bills, so when I saw a charge from Chatelaine to renew my subscription, I was suspicious.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Follow the money (500 words)
The cardinal rule of investigative journalism - follow the money - is a powerful tool to figure out what's happening to our neighbourhoods and region. It leads to explanations where there were none before for bulldozing of a green space or even the high school drop-out rate.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Pay and pay again scams (500 words)
Posted 10.18.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I no longer use my VISA for most bills, so when I saw a charge from Chatelaine to renew my subscription, I was suspicious.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Goodbye Jim, and thanks (790 words)
I made the acquaintance of Jim Jeffords in 1974, when he was between jobs. That is to say that Jim Jeffords the politician had lost an election and been forced to resort to the career he had trained for at Harvard Law School.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

(500 words)
Posted 09.26.06
WAYNE LARSEN

MONTREAL, QC | I was one of the luckier Dawson parents. My son was in the cafeteria when the shooting began and he managed to get out right away. He called me with the news as he hurried over to the Examiner office, where he spent much of the afternoon helping with the coverage-monitoring Internet and radio reports while trying to track down friends who had also been there.

Less Stuff (585 words)
Most of all, we have to start living as though we really live here on the earth and aren't just passing through. We have to live here in a way that reflects how much we love where we live. Who is unaffected by a sunset? Or the green burst of spring? This planet is our home, all that we've got, our start and our finish.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Chance encounter: Lighting up with a witness to murder/suicide (800 words)
Posted 09.18.06
RUSSELL COOPER

MONTREAL, QC | I stood on the corner of de Maisonneuve and Atwater moments after the shootings at Dawson College and watched horrified people stream out of the school.
Russell Cooper, 29, was born in Sudbury, Ontario. He says he's a 'recovering musician and treeplanter'. "I'm now studying journalism," he adds, "but will probably one day be a recovering journalist, planting trees in a jazz bar."

Simon Teakettle: 1987 - 2006 (520 words)
Posted 08.29.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Simon gave me plenty of warning, declining dramatically in the past few months, preparing me to lose him. And to the end I respected what I knew were his wishes, to die at home, not at the office of the vet he hated.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

A matter of Degree (535 words)
Posted 08.23.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of my graduation from Columbia University. Most university graduates are proud of their accomplishment, and many list their degrees after their names. I'm proud of my B.A., and my diploma hangs in a frame on my office wall. But there's a myth about higher education that I'd like to dispel. Let me start with a story...
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Nothing to sneeze at (520 words)
Posted 07.03.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Just try to buy unscented products in the stores. A search through an entire row of deodorants and anti-perspirants reveals a stunning variety of scents, but few, if any unscented ones.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Stompin on the CBC (560 words)
Posted 07.03.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

CBC TV irritates viewers by failing to promote quality shows well enough in advance for us to plan to watch. What's even more odd (and irritating) is that programs are promoted heavily as frequent commercial messages within other CBC programs.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Good PR, it's everyone's business (480 words)
Posted 05.16.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

We've all encountered rude store clerks from time to time, as well as receptionists whose manner, on the phone or in person, appears to indicate that your inquiry is an unwanted interruption in their busy schedule. What do they consider more important than treating callers with respect?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

On Seniors and public transportation (530 words)
Posted 05.07.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Everybody loves spring, but seniors from Eastern Canada appreciate it this year more than ever. While others remark on how this year's milder winter was a pleasant change, the winter months were a nightmare for older people.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Gasoline prices, Big Oil, and conservation (840 words)
I see the Chairman of Exxon/Mobil pulling down nearly a billion dollars in compensation last year and all oil companies enjoying record astronomical profits, and something just doesn't compute.
Don Mayer is the Main Man at Small Dog Electronics in Waitsfield, Vermont.

Opinion: Another bad idea from you-know-who (380 words)
The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is just another example of the current U.S. administration trying to scare the people into giving up their independence and rights.
Bethany Dunbar reports for the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Byte me
Posted 04.11.06
Bob Gervais

In the "Computer Room" the temperature was kept at a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity of 35 percent. An impressive array of equipment sensed, sucked, belched, and blew to maintain the artificial environment necessary for the creature comfort of the computer and its associated pieces and parts.
Bob Gervais writes in British Columbia and Ontario.

Do not add. Do not deceive
Posted 04.05.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Sorry, folks, when it comes to real or made-up, there is no middle ground. Something is either true or it isn't.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Time to obfuscate, hesitate, and mumble (715 words)
Vermont has a record of preserving its mountains and ridge lines from development, and it's not clear why that stance should be thrown to the wind. As a society, we tend to be a little goofy on the subject of energy - a bit prone to fad and fashion.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Pardon my French
Posted 03.06.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

I have a confession to make. Although I've lived in Quebec for thirty-eight years, I still can't hold a conversation in French.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Taming The Wild Snollygosters (575 words)
I may not be the smartest goat in the barn but it seems to me that politicians are a lot like teenagers. If not properly supervised, they start running with the wrong crowd, they get into trouble.
Paul Graybeard Paine, a retired homebuilder, writes from Claremore, Oklahoma. His website is at http://pdpaine.us.

The fear factor (675 words)
The enormous significance that has been placed on our effort to identify, find and kill a handful of murderers; the very decision - slavishly copied by so much of our media - to call this effort a "war" has only increased their power over us.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Prostituting the press (680 words)
If we are prepared to violate the best traditions of our own democracy to win the war in Iraq, then what is the point of our being there?
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

Gambling fever, big government bucks
Posted 01.25.06
BARBARA FLORIO GRAHAM

Quebec's $1.5 billion in annual revenue (figures for 2003-2004), are a part of the $23 billion earned by government-run gambling across the country, which includes 60 permanent casinos as well as gambling machines and lottery ticket centres.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

And to all, a very Merry Christmas (980 words)
What a year it's been. It began with an almost-surprise 70th birthday party on December 23rd, in that I knew I was being taken out to dinner but didn't know who had been invited.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Fuel for thought (520 words)
As we head into winter, everyone is concerned about the rising cost of fuel. Whether to heat our homes, run our businesses, or power our vehicles, fossil fuels are vital to our existence. Higher fuel costs also inflate the price of everything we buy.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Two new Canadians: From atrocities to honours (500 words)
...it was October, they had no winter clothes, nowhere to live, knew nobody in Ottawa. For six weeks, including during the birth of her daughter, Gulshan didn't know if her parents and younger sisters had survived the purge.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

This spam's not in the can (600 words)
Somebody, somewhere, has decided that I need to refurbish, renew, and recreate my old, shopworn carcass. I really can be a handsome, sexy, rich man about town, or so they tell me. It's the sexy part that's most bothersome.
Paul Graybeard Paine, a retired homebuilder, writes from Claremore, Oklahoma. His website is at http://pdpaine.us.

Judging the judges (530 words)
In the end, it is judges who judge, who pass sentence, who decide upon appeals. We are all at their mercy. If they release someone, like repeat offenders who sometimes end up killing policemen or innocent civilians, or choose to keep someone like Robert Latimer in jail, we have little recourse.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Back to the (Internet) Dating Game (540 words)
I didn't want to spoil her pleasure by pointing out that a rose, a few compliments, a nice dinner (probably chalked up as a business expense), or a long-distance phone call were really inexpensive ways to get free sex.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Temptations abound (450 words)
We're all getting fatter, despite our best efforts. Could it be sabotage?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings.
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

America, for shame, for shame (380)
Do not prattle to me any more about being the Land of the free and the home of the brave. Do not try to con me with your drivel about being one nation under God. Do not snarl your disbelief that torture is a tool in your government's bag of tricks, and to expose it is treason.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Bigger doesn't mean better (480 words)
No, bigger isn't better. Who decided that the customer would prefer towels, toys and lamps to groceries when they went to a store supposedly devoted to selling food?
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Musings on a warm day in Spring (750 words)
Conversation turns to great loves, missed opportunities, plans for the future, and what should have been. All as unconceived as the slowly melting pattern of prints in the frozen mud we left behind in the lane.
David Lapp is a musician and businessman based in Lennoxville, Quebec.

There's a time bomb in our back yard (250)
COVENTRY, VT | They've created a potentially toxic time bomb in the Lake Memphremagog watershed and now they want to almost double it's size. On Thursday, at 7 p.m. in theTown Hall here, they'll be looking for faith-based approval to truck in 2500 tons of waste a day.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

'Tis the Season of Incredibly Bad Music (585 words)
One of the great innovations in seasonal festive music was the introduction of dogs singing. German shepherds. They didn't really sing; they barked in a sort of harmony.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Get rid of those plastic bags (550 words)
The problem is so profound that Bangladesh and Taiwan have prohibited their use altogether. Ireland has introduced a 15 cent tax on each bag, reducing their use by 95%.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Media concentration in Canada (600 words)
No one, apart from bankers and these corporations, sees much benefit in having our nation's sources of news controlled by a few large corporations. Even free-market evangelists stop short of approving a monopoly seizure of the media.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Chiropractic for animals: Does it work?
As a veterinarian, I find the term "side effects" has an ominous ring. We caution clients of the negative implications of drugs on liver and kidney function, appetite, thirst, urine production, attitude and alertness.
Dr. Alison Seely is a Veterninarian and a certified Animal Chiropractor. She practices in Ontario.

Bob Phillips, an exemplary Canadian (525 words)
Bob had battled cancer for two years, and seemed to be surviving until a heart attack turned the tables. He was 81 years old, and he lived a life as full and as rewarding as any of us would wish to have.

I don't want a pickle, I just want to ride my motorsickle (600 words)
Bruce Miller just wants to ride his motorcyle, especially in Quebec where he lives.

Trust us, we're from the government. We're here to help. Your papers please, Patriot. (800 words)
One of the guys finally levels with you: Someone in Caribou Coffee told them you were reading something "suspicious" and called the FBI.
Carol Henderson writes in North Carolina

A tribute to a good man, a good journalist (600 words)
Bob Phillips is a man of many parts: in the late '20s he was a copy boy at the Toronto Star, where his mastery of language made itself evident. This stood him in good stead later, as the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles across more than half a century. He served with the Canadian Army in northwest Europe, and after the war he joined the then Department of External Affairs, and was promptly posted to Moscow, 1947-49. On one occasion, Bob met and shook the hand of Joseph Stalin. On his return - as was the order of the day - he went to the National Defense College.

So what's the big deal about the Tomifobia Valley bike trail? (800)
Until two Sundays ago, I had never been on the completed trail to any great extent, certainly not since its completion. Now officially opened between Beebe and Ayer's Cliff, I decided to set out with the family to see what the fuss was all about. We set out on our leisurely way under sunny skies.
Ross Murray is editor and publisher of Quebec's weekly Stanstead Journal.

It's about the money, stupid (570 words)
I am so sorry for all the smokers in this country. They are the supreme patsies of the western world. Imagine paying eight dollars for twenty cigarettes. It's insane.
Art Mantell writes for The Low down to Hull and back News, an English language weekly newspaper in West Quebec.

A wake-up call for the beef industry (400 words)
There is one easy way to stop all this nonsense Ė to allow Canadians, Americans and everyone else who eats our beef to feel confident and reassured that it would not make people sick: not this week, not next week, not in five years from now. Stop feeding animals to animals. Cows and pigs and sheep and chickens are grazers. They eat grass and hay and grain.
Karen Macdonald is editor of The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, the English language weekly newspaper of Quebec City.

Hire a student this summer (585 words)
High school students may not have the slightest clue as to what they want to do as a career. Working for the summer at the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake in Quebec could influence a student or two to get into politics, or do the complete opposite.
Greg Horn writes for The Eastern Door, the weekly newspaper of the Mohawk Nation.

The American ambassador to Canada is mistaken (600 words)
Recently, the ambassador of the United States in Canada expressed his disappointment over our country's refusal to back the Americans in their attack on Iraq. His well-crafted speech to a luncheon of businesspeople was designed to make us feel bad, very bad.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Is that duct tape, or duck tape? (500 words)
Are we the gunslinger of our own Western mythology, imposing our unique sense of justice on a frontier peopled with fools and cowards and villains? Or are we the key player in a new era of international cooperation, where we must agree on what justice means before we can impose it on others?
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

A season of disorder
Whatever we call it, the winter blues affect almost all of us. Lack of light, lack of exercise, too much holiday food, and too many holiday bills are reasons for our seasonal disaffection, as the doctors call it. Not to forget colds and flus, sore throats and runny noses, slippery and sloppy streets, sidewalks to shovel, and plain old stress, we all suffer to varying degrees, and we had best not ignore the affliction. Whether it's severe or mild, it's there.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

Get rid of truck lineups at border (350)
For years, trucks have lined for kilometres down the autoroute waiting to be cleared at U.S. Customs for entry into the United States. For starters, this clogs up a full lane on a provincial highway, which makes no sense.
Ross Murray is editor and publisher of Quebec's weekly Stanstead Journal.

One vet's perspective (850)
And now we have a president with too big a focus on oil and big business, and a willingness to strike pre-emptively -- going against generations of tradition in this country.
John Parsons was a First Lieutenant in Viet Nam. He was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service.

The era of the Patriot Tipster (450)
The Bush Administration is busily tapping into that repressive predisposition that has been part of the American psyche since the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

Not a seat in the UN, but... (584 words)
The opening of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was a landmark occasion in international events. There is no other body quite like it in the entire UN at such a high level. It is the only one where Indigenous persons have equal status to other international experts.
Kenneth Deer edits The Eastern Door, the weekly newspaper of the Mohawk Nation

Neighboring towns being gouged
Everybody knows volunteer firefighters aren't entirely volunteers. They are paid for the time they spend fighting fires and responding to emergency situations. And rightfully so; it's tough, dangerous, often exhausting work that should be rewarded. Right, too, that the neighboring municipalities that use the services of these volunteers should pay their wages. But suddenly the Town of Stanstead is using these volunteers as pawns in what amounts to little more than price gouging.

Don't shoot the messenger
It is the job of the media to read between the 'the official lines', delivered by smooth-talking spin doctors and well-coached public officials. Even grassroots media are subjected to daily pressures from those who subtly massage the message and mislead the public. The approach may be as subtle as issuing gag orders preventing those in the know from revealing the bare facts before they have gone through the official blender. Or it could be through sanctioning whistle-blowers who alert the media to internal problems.
Sharon McCully is editor of the daily Record in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The PQ and media concentration
While concern grows over the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few corporations, the only government in Canada responsibile enough to grapple with the threat is our PQ government. The sole federal party to criticize this monopolization has been the NDP--but since the corporate media rarely cover the NDP, few know of this critique. From the Parti Quebecois view, "the rest of Canada" has taken a big valium.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

What's in a name? or Let's save Canada
A poll suggests that, in these nervous times, Quebeckers feel safer inside Canada than they would in an independent Quebec. But, though even the IRA understands that the world changed on September 11, we cannot count on the PQ to lay down their idea.

Canada deserves more freedom, not less
Whether the terrorists themselves manage to take away our rights or those rights are taken away, using the threat of terrorism as a pretext, we are nonetheless losing fundamental civil rights.
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

A problem with the media?
The defense used by the overweight media is that they print what people want to read, and their success proves this. Who can argue with success?
Fred Ryan is the publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, The West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.

What price liberty? (475)
Curtailment of certain basic freedoms, it will be argued in cleverest of Newspeak, is necessary -- that is the price of freedom. Are you ready to produce upon demand to any 'authority' figure -- cop, rent-a-cop, bus driver -- your national identification card?

Riding the rails again (1600 words)
In May, I took the opportunity to ride the AMTRAK system from Rutland, Vermont, to South Bend, Indiana, on the occasion of my daughter's college graduation...the price was right and I had the time. I hadn't ridden a real train since I was a kid, an adventure. It was a long ride, although no worse than driving, and considerably more interesting and restful.
Michael J. Badamo, the Old Woodchuck, writes in Montpelier, Vermont.

Quebec's Wired Family Program
Our separatist Quebec government has just spent $170 million dollars to lure 200,000 families onto the Information Highway. I wonder if the Pequistes realize that in cyberspace, most of the traffic signs are in English. And wherever did they find the money?

Sticking it to us with free stick-on patches (422 words)
If smokers can afford $5 or so for a pack of smokes a day (and that's small potatoes for anyone needing a patch to quit), they can cough up the dough for their own goods to kick it.
Ross Murray edits and publishes Quebec's award-winning Stanstead Journal.

Objectivity and independence (1100 words)
Put yourself between two bitterly opposed groups of people and write a story. If both sides like it, that's ok. If neither side likes it, that's better. But if one side likes it and the other hates it, you've got something fundamentally wrong.
Chris Braithwaite publishes the Barton Chronicle in Vermont.

A case for public executions
Satisfy public blood lust, raise money, and everybody wins. Well, almost everybody.
John Mahoney, editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

We have a dream, too (1400 words)
The Canadian government can learn from the U.S. civil-rights era when it comes to our treatment of First Nations
Matthew Coon Come is AFN National Chief in Canada. This opinion piece was first posted in the The Eastern Door, the weekly newspaper of the Mohawk Nation

To Nancy with Love, ENINEM (750)
Nancy Sheltra, R-Derby, is the lead sponsor on a bill that would "make it illegal to encourage, promote or sanction homosexual or bisexual conduct" in schools.
Jim Austin writes in southern Vermont.

Mohawks pass into another millennium (750 words)
They thought it would never happen. The colonizers that is. They thought that we would fade away, assimilate or just die out before the end of the last century. But we fooled them. We're still here, as feisty as ever.
Kenneth Deer edits The Eastern Door, the weekly newspaper of the Mohawk Nation

George Goodwin has a beef with Immigration Canada (450 words)
They charge too much, and make it too hard for wives to come to Canada.
George Goodwin

Quebec ID cards: a bad idea whose time has come (350 words)
First voluntary, then mandatory, then what?
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

'Net to crush newspapers (1300 words)
Then, who will watch the city council?
Joe Burns, Ph.D. is a university teacher and founder of HTML Goodies, a website.

Quebec budget includes family surfing subsidies (500 words)
The family that surfs together, stays together.
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

Big guy versus little guy
National food corporation tries to squash small Vermont maple producer.
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

Teaching English in Quebec
In the French school system, you really don't have to speak it to teach it, it seems.
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

Truly, 1 in a million (400 words)
This chiropractor maintains that chiropractic is safer than any medical alternativer, including over the counter pain killers.
Dr. Keith Mahoney practices in Kanata, Ontario.

Bilingual Quebecers have the edge and they want to keep it
Forget the sign law bickering, work on creating a bilingual province.
Robert Desautels writes from Hatley, Quebec.

Is digital photography the new expressive visual art?
A veteran photographer makes his case.
Rick Doble makes pictures and writes in North Carolina.

Journalism II
How not to make friends, influence people, get rich, or win ~ be a journalist.
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

Can a free press survive in the U.S.?
An inquiry into the question that, given the conflicting interests of the people, business interests, politicians, government agencies and the courts, is it possible to strike a socially acceptable balance and still have a fair and vigorous free press whose right to function is fully protected by the First Amendment?
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

Low water, deep time (1460 words)
Deep musings while looking over the waters of Lake Champlain.
Michael J. Badamo, the Old Woodchuck, writes in Montpelier, Vermont.

Why John Kennedy died (1200 words)
Letter from a pilot to his teenaged son who thinks he wants to fly.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of the Laurentian Web.

Quebec's in trouble (800 words)
Get your priorities straight, then do the right thing.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of the Laurentian Web.

Too Much Secrecy (450 words)
Trend to "work sessions" in local government violates the public's trust.

John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

KEEPERS

A Child's Primer On Kosovo. (600 words)
A veteran journalist has a fabulous go at the Balkans conflict.
Charles Paparella edits The Shore Journal in Maryland.

Milosevic is the new Hitler. (600 words)
A report from the Balkans.
Drazen Polic lives in Croatia.

Death, Mud, Shit & Tears (1000 words)
Eyewitness report from Albania refugee camp.
Nina Ziegler is a nurse from British Columbia.

This is not lunch at the Ritz (1000 words)
Canada has abandoned its tradional neutrality in taking part in the NATO war with Yugoslavia.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of the < a href="http://www.laurentian.com">Laurentian Web.

Samuel de Champlain (850 words)
"Vermont Was a Pretty Nice Place in 1609 But It Has Been Downhill Ever Since the European Riff-Raff Started Moving In"
Michael J. Badamo, the Old Woodchuck, writes in Montpelier, Vermont.

PART TWO
"Samuel de Champlain: A poor linguist, a rigid Roman Catholic, as alien to the Indian as a man from Mars. Perhaps they liked his style..."

Michael J. Badamo, the Old Woodchuck, writes in Montpelier, Vermont.

Health Spat (700 words)
Feds, Quebec still at it.
Peter Black, a CBC radio reporter, writes in Quebec City.

Why I Won't Buy Altoid Mints
It's the bad advertising/bad karma...

John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles Quebeckers Spoke (500 words)
The government had better listen.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of LaurentianWeb.

Charest, the accidental tourist (720 words)
It looks like four years in opposition for him.
Peter Black, a CBC radio reporter, writes in Quebec City.

Hucksterism and accumulated debt (750 words)
Quebec's Alice in Wonderland politics.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of LaurentianWeb.

Premier tears strip off reporter (700 words)
Quebec separatist very sensitive about separation.
Peter Black, a CBC radio reporter, writes in Quebec City.

Dumont looks not bad (1000 words)
Minority party leader offers sound vision of Quebec's future.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of LaurentianWeb.

Doing the Quebec numbers (700 words)
Just how many seats do Quebec Liberals need?
Peter Black, a CBC radio reporter, writes in Quebec City.

Bike path compromise needed (700 words)
Veteran cyclist travels Quebec's Tomifobia Nature Trail and sees both sides of the controversy.
Barbara Verity is a free-lance writer based in Lennoxville, Quebec.

Confidence, man (630 words)
Something for everyone to believe in.
Peter Black, a CBC radio reporter, writes in Quebec City.

Is Jean Charest Ready? II (900 words)
Part Two of the Quebec Lib's not-ready web site.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of LaurentianWeb.

Is Jean Charest Ready? (950 words)
Not if you look at his website, he's not.
Christopher Goodfellow is editor of LaurentianWeb.

Animal Chiropractic (1000 words)
This vet adjusts horses and dogs, too.
Dr. Alison Seely is a veterinarian based in Pembroke, Ontario.

Nailing a liar (1000 words)
Feeling good about one of them feeling bad.
Peter Scowen is a Toronto-based newspaperman.

Here's some beef (600 words)
Jean Charest wants to do the tax cut thing.
Peter Black, a CBC radio reporter, writes in Quebec City.

Letter from Norway (800 words)
A Canadian ex-pat looks at home from afar.
Berit Lundh works for the Canadian Embassy in Norway.

The referendum myth (960 words)
How many times do we have to do it?
Peter Scowen is a Montreal writer.

A bike trail doesn't run through it.
Bad feelings in Fool's Hollow.
John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

A Dream Dying (450 words)
The death of the bilingual Canadian dream.
Karen MacDonald publishes the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.

The Interim Saviour (900 words)
Taking bets on another Bourassa.
Peter Scowen edits Montreal's Hour magazine.

Trade with Cuba? Never...
The U.S. has it's favorite dictators.
Peter Scowen edits Montreal's Hour magazine.

Modern Vermont Governors
The Old Woodchuck examines six of them.
Some are found wanting.
Michael J. Badamo edits The Watchmanin Montpelier, Vermont.

Who gets to immigrate to Canada? (600 words)
Surely not just the young and educated.
Leo Gervais edits the Monitor and Westmount Examiner, weekly newspapers published in Montreal.

Wrong scapegoat, guys
French cops absolve photographers in Di's demise.
By John Mahoney, Editor, Log Cabin Chronicles.

Bubba seeks Bambi
The Quebec roadhunter on the move, slowly.
By John Mahoney.

stop sign Quebec moves against English-only web sites
Separatists claim web pages violate the law.
By John Mahoney.

Quebec cracks down on business cards
Don't hand out English cards unless specifically asked.
Pequistes say that's a no-no.
By John Mahoney.

Bring on the clones (450 words)
Separation delayed is not necessarily separation denied.
In which the editor sees hope for Quebec's separatists in the Cloning Game. Baaa, baaa...
By John Mahoney.

Call a cop? Naaah. Call the garbageman (600 words)
Quebec's Tiny Brains have doubled the cost of so-called police protection and you still never see them when you need them. The garbageman, however, is always on time.
By John Mahoney.

Remembering Chicago 1968
It's been 28 years since I returned from the last Democratic convention in Chicago but I still remember the heat and the hate.
By John Mahoney.

Health & Health Care
from a Chiropractic Perspective

A series of thoughtful and informative articles.

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