Best laid plans…

Anyone searching for Facebook Notes tips, they’re a few paragraphs down

tardis ornament bokehI woke this morning to a cat nibbling on my fingers. That’s not out of the ordinary, not with Lara in the apartment. She’s a lovely cat, just lacking a bit with social skills (with cats too). I wasn’t in a rush so I stayed in my cosy nightgown while I brushed my teeth and fed the cats and chatted with my Mom and made my breakfast. I’d just settled down at the computer when I decided to open my email and see if there was an update on my Amazon order. It wasn’t due until Tuesday but sometimes they come a bit early… like now when the package was two towns away… clicks refresh… and out for delivery.

This was 10am and I had plans to go shopping with a friend of mine in the late morning to early afternoon (we were kind of winging it). Obviously that needed to be delayed. But how long could it take? And so I waited… and waited… and waited… while my parcel information just sat there doing nothing.

At 3:30pm I’d long since changed my plans to shopping tomorrow instead and cancelled our afternoon walk. But I had three very ripe bananas in my fruit bowl and a good banana bread recipe in my Facebook notes. I got out one bowl and the loaf pan then decided to call up the recipe before going any further. Notes has gotten harder to find recently so I went to my profile page and down to my about section then started scrolling… and it wasn’t there. I checked again and again, still nothing. I searched all over my page on both my tablet and computer and it just. wasn’t. there. A Facebook search called up a group of people who like notes and some notes apps but not my specific notes. And I wanted those notes. My Nana’s buttercream frosting recipe was in there and she died in 2003 so it’s not like I can ask her to rewrite it. My favourite pancake recipe which the long forgotten site removed. My hot and sour soup recipe which was modified from a product recipe. They’re irreplaceable.

Finally I did a Google search and struck paydirt. After a few false starts I found this link which lets you click on “my notes”. I was overjoyed until I realized I could only read the first couple of lines; the “see more” link wasn’t working. There’s a save option but that really only worked two or three times. But if you click on “comment” it will open up the link so you can see the whole post.

My first attempt at saving was to directly copy and paste to OpenOffice. This led to a weirdly formatted document chock full of lines. So I opened WordPress and pasted in there, thus removing the formatting, then copied and pasted into Open Office. I had to add the correct formatting but at least it was legible.

It was over an hour later by the time I got all the recipes copied to my computer and I no longer wanted to bake anything. Actually I no longer wanted to even cook anything, which is why I had half an English muffin for dinner tonight. Mmm… dinner of champions!

And, while I was eating my dinner, I was messaging another friend and telling her that my package wasn’t here yet but they still had another hour left in their estimate. I flipped over to the parcel information just in time to see the page update to “delivered”. And there it was on my doormat, much too late for me to do anything today.

But tomorrow’s another day, the stores will still be there, the trail ready to be walked, the bananas waiting to be smushed. And maybe I’ll have helped someone retrieve their Facebook notes… helped save a memory. As for now, my tardis ornament is safely on the tree, I have a stack of scrapbooking pages waiting and new photo sleeves to place them in, and I’m all ready to relax.


remembrance day poppyEvery once in a while, when the stars align in exactly the wrong way, a war occurs. Of course it’s not that simple, nothing ever is. But it happens. And farmer’s fields and peaceful valleys and streams where children splashed and swam and quiet hamlets get ploughed into mud, trenches, and barbed wire.

Often, by then it’s too late to do anything else. There are marginalized citizens, either by religion or race, being (as Colin says) genocided. Often they’re pleading for intervention and yet… the ones who call the war are never the ones in battle. They’re never the ones who lie crying for their Mom while their life bleeds away and their guts mix with the mud. They don’t have to worry if the skinny teenager standing on the road ahead is innocent or covered in bombs and ready to kill them all. The ones in charge sleep in a comfortable bed every night and dine on a hot, well cooked meal every evening. The war they unleashed is an abstract in a place far away from their lives.

I remember being taught about World War I and the cavalry division. Cavalry had always played a huge role in the British Army so the commanders naturally placed them front and centre in the battlefield. Front and centre against tanks and machine guns. The cavalry didn’t stand a chance. The commanders soon realized this as the death toll climbed but they continued following the same plans because it had always worked before (against other calvary). Of course it wasn’t them or their children dying, it was the calvary and the foot soldiers so they continued.

The most frustrating part is every war starts out with a need for all parties to sit down and negotiate a treaty. They refuse and convince thousands of their people to die, ostensibly for their freedom. Eventually those same parties all sit down and negotiate a treaty… the exact same one they needed to negotiate before all those deaths. When you get right down to it, every single war is a needless war. They all boil down to one or more parties simply refusing to negotiate or refusing to negotiate fairly.

I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who. The Doctor, the main character, was a soldier in a huge, fictional war called the Time War and he gave a speech that I think is eminently suitable. I’ll pare out the parts that are specifically related to the show:

Ah. Ah, right. And when this war is over, when you have a homeland, what do you think it’s going to be like? Do you know? Have you thought about it? Have you given it any consideration? Because you’re very close to getting what you want. What’s it going to be like? Well? Oh, you don’t actually know, do you? Because, like every other tantruming child in history, you don’t actually know what you want. So, let me ask you a question about this brave new world of yours. When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and when it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one? Maybe you will win! But nobody wins for long. The wheel just keeps turning. So, come on. Break the cycle.

Because it’s not a game. This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought, right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die! You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn! How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does until what they were always going to have to do from the very beginning. Sit down and talk!

Of course I understand. I mean, do you call this a war? This funny little thing? This is not a war! I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine. And when I close my eyes I hear more screams than anyone could ever be able to count! And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where you put it? You hold it tight till it burns your hand, and you say this. No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will have to feel this pain. Not on my watch!

No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will have to feel this pain. Not on my watch! In other words “lest we forget”.

And so we were silent for two minutes yesterday in remembrance of World War I and II… and all the other wars. Silent so we wouldn’t forget. Silent because never again. And yet wars under a myriad of names are being waged all across this world. There are Muslims in concentration camps in China and children dying in camps in the United States. There’s an outright attack on the LGBTQ community happening through eastern Europe and Africa with Poland even declaring a third of the country LGBT free… as if every queer LGBTQ man, woman, and child is going to suddenly vanish. The Middle East is a hotbed of violence and, as always, everyone has their fingers poking in making it a hundred times worse.

We are all born the same way, birthed from a womb, whether it happens in a dirt floored hut or the private ward of a luxury hospital. We are all born innocent and ready to love and be loved. Everything else comes later. We’re born loving and taught to hate. If only there was a way we could teach all the children around the world to treat each other kindly, to accept each other’s differences, to listen and try to understand instead of resolving conflicts with fists, to hug consensually. It would make such a huge difference. Imagine those children as adults, having grown up learning fairness, kindness, and equity. Maybe someday it will happen but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

The wrong side of history…

Daddy Harold2

My grandfather

When I was a little girl, I loved hearing family stories and my grandparents loved telling them to me.

I heard all about how my great-great grandfather, who had itchy feet, travelled along the coast of Africa, trying to decide whether to stay there and mine before he settled on the coal mines in Nanaimo, British Columbia. And how his wife had to pack everything on her own and travel with two small girls, including taking a three week ocean trip where she needed to bring all their food and water as none was provided. They were simply given a space on the deck. Damn, I hope it didn’t rain!

And I heard about my great-grandmother who, by all accounts was a dour and serious woman, and how one morning everyone left to go fishing for the day and she got the notion to see if she was as flexible as she’d been as a teen. So she grabbed her ankles and hoisted them behind her head. She managed but wasn’t flexible enough to get them back down again. The family came home expecting to smell dinner and found her contorted, in the dark, on the kitchen floor.

Or the family favourite, which got trotted out every time the old song Grandfather Clock was sung around the campfire. A grandfather clock was bought when my grandfather was born, one he still had while I was growing up, and it worked beautifully right until he left to fight in WW2. Then it stopped completely. When the news came that the war was over and he was well and coming home his grandmother marched over to it, yelled, “Harold’s coming home you daft thing! Start working!” and gave it a good whack. It immediately began to work.

But my favourite story was when my great-great grandfather ploughed over an Indian.

My great-great grandparents came through the United States and what was then known as Indian Territory or Unclaimed Territory (even though it was patently obvious it had been claimed) to finally settle in Creston Valley in the foothills of British Columbia’s mountains. They were the first white settlers in that valley and they soon built their house and got to readying the ground for potatoes. And that was when the aforementioned event occured. My great-great grandfather was out ploughing the field when a young Native man crept up and tried to attack. All my great-great grandfather had to defend himself with was a plough. He was horrified as soon as he saw the young man bleeding on the ground and carried him into the house to nurse him back to health. The young man declared him to be his blood brother and my great-great grandparents began spending time in the Native village and learned their language. When it came time for my great-great grandmother to go to the hospital to deliver her astonishingly huge baby, she was taken, by canoe, to the ferry. My Mom remembers her grandmother speaking the Native language and her attempts at being taught. But she was only taught a few words before her grandmother passed away. Still, she remembered going to the Native reserve with her Dad to play with the kids while her Dad talked to the adults.

I knew the words reserve and reservation but I had no idea what they meant. To me they were just a different kind of housing, like some people live in subdivisions, some live in townhouse complexes, and some live in apartment buildings.

We learned about Native people in school. The different tribes throughout Canada, the homes they built, the food they ate, and whether they travelled by the seasons or stayed put. Nothing later than pre-colonial days, which left me feeling like Natives were pretty much extinct.

Then we went on a trip across Canada (one of several). My parents stopped off to visit one of my Dad’s friends and he had daughters around the same age as my next oldest sister and I. So we were given movie and popcorn money and sent off to enjoy the show. I went off with plenty of excitement, new people to talk to, and a movie to watch. This was going to be fun. Then the oldest girl opened her mouth and started ranting about Natives, or Indians as she called them. They were all drunks and lazy and stupid and worthless. They just hung around town causing trouble and hoping to get enough change for another drink. She ranted on and on while my sisters and I stared at each other in surprise. Nothing had set her off… nothing we’d said… nothing around us. It was bewildering and more than a bit creepy. Later on we told our parents what happened and my Mom looked sad. She explained that Native people didn’t have a history with alcohol so hadn’t built up any sort of tolerance and were more likely to be addicted. Later I realized that was only a small portion of the truth.

There is a picture tucked away in one of my Mom’s albums of my uncles dressed up for Hallowe’en. I can’t remember if they were both Indians or if one was an Indian and the other a cowboy. But my Nana was able to go to a store and buy a pattern to make that “costume”. Meanwhile actual Native children couldn’t wear their own clothes or speak their own language. I was taught Native history and Native youths weren’t learning it.

Technically it all started with Christopher Columbus getting lost and smacking into South America then going back and telling Europe about all the “free lands full of riches” he’d found but I’m going to start with our first prime minister. John A. MacDonald was a quick witted man. He also was a binge drinker who would drink himself senseless, with understandable reasons, namely the deaths of his wife and infant son and daughter. He also set up the framework for the biggest horror in Canadian history, residential schools. To quote:

“When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly impressed upon myself, as head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” 1879

To give you an idea of how callous the government was, they knew that around 50% of the Native children would die of disease and flat out didn’t care. As long as the remaining students were taught to be as white as possible, they would consider the schools to be a success.

At the best, the schools were boarding schools which taught English and other lessons. At worst the schools took physical, emotional, and sexual abuse to nightmarish levels, starting with being torn from family and carted to school in handcuffs at the age of three. In both scenarios the children were deposited back at home in their late teens with no memory of their language or culture and as strangers to their families. Many were suffering from severe trauma; if the abuse was nightmarish to read about then imagine how it would be for the child. And this went on for several generations. Genetics plays its part in alcoholism but several generations of systematic child abuse also plays a huge role.

Then there’s broken promises. Treaties for made for land (aka reservations) and those reservations were created. But, for the most part, they weren’t in good locations. They were in areas with soil too thin to grow crops, poor hunting, and more north than the natives had been. Those areas are remote with limited access to urban areas. The homes are in ill repair and often too small (and it’s not like there’s a Beaver Lumber around the corner to fix them up), the plumbing is out of date, the water is frequently unuseable, plus there’s little to do and the teens commit suicide at a horrific rate. But, you know, promises… some day in the future things will get better.

Right now there’s trouble in the Maritimes. Many years ago, back in the 1760’s, a treaty was drawn which allowed the Mi’kmaq to fish out of season (May to November). This was to permit them to fish for themselves and make a “moderate livelihood”. Now there’s a huge disagreement over what that means with Native fishermen saying it means they have the right to fish enough to earn a small amount, enough to support their families and have a bit left over, and the non-Native fishermen arguing that it means to fish for only what you need to survive. I, of course, went immediately to the dictionary which states:

Moderate (adjective): average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree.

I’m going to have to go with the Natives here, average in amount does not sound like hand to mouth sustenance.

Meanwhile utter chaos and violence has broken loose with fishermen destroying Native lobster pounds (huts which contain circulating fresh water to hold live lobsters) and setting fire to buildings. Non-Natives claim the Natives are going to fish the lobster to extinction even though the experts say that isn’t the case. Meanwhile the RCMP are, for the most part, standing back and watching the violence. Probably not a huge surprise considering they were created specifically to clear Natives out of the prairies but disappointing nonetheless. And government at all levels is lamenting that something needs to be done… all the while hoping it’s someone else’s responsibility.

And I just keep hoping that someone in power will shape up, accept some responsibility, and try to sort these issues out because we really screwed up and it’s time to make amends.

No. Just plain no…

I started shopping at Dollarama before Colin was in school and got a job there, which people joked was simply a way to fuel my shopping addiction. I certainly went home with at least one bag of purchases after every shift. The love affair has slowed down but hasn’t gone. I still shop there once or twice a month.

dollarama self checkout

I forgot to take a picture and pulled this off the internet

I was at our local shopping centre on Friday to meet with friends and buy my bus pass and decided to stop in at the Dollarama there. Thankfully it wasn’t busy and I quickly had an armload of goodies to buy (and of course I didn’t have a basket because I only went in for two things). I got to the front of the line then turned automatically to the cash counter and all the registers were quiet, there were no cashiers at all. What? Then a store employee caught my attention and directed me to a bank of self serve cash registers.

I stood there for a moment. I don’t like those machines and usually refuse to use them but I had that armload of goodies and there was already a line behind me. So I used the machine and left but I’m not going back to that location. So far there’s still cashiers at my current location but, then again, there was at the shopping centre last month. If they switch to only self serve, I’m not shopping there either. If they all switch over then, well, I’ll miss Dollarama but c’est la vie.

I remember in the 90’s, going to the bank and standing in the line for what felt like forever. Then they brought out automatic tellers and suddenly you could take out your money in a matter of minutes. Then came debit and you didn’t even need to take money out. And now tellers, which used to be a stable job, are becoming a thing of the past. I can see the same thing happening with cashiers. Why hire four employees to staff your cash registers when you can hire just one to supervise people at the self serve checkouts? That’s three wages you don’t have to pay.

Loblaws isn’t that bad but Walmart routinely tries to encourage me into their self service area. First by getting rid of their express lanes, they’re now a second self serve area, and second by having people urge me to go there. I always politely refuse. I saw a joke earlier with the tagline of, “No thanks, I don’t work here”. Maybe someday I’ll use that.

We’ve lost so many jobs already through cheaper wages overseas, automation, obsolescence, and computerization. We don’t need to let retail jobs slip away too. So many people’s jobs are at stake and all because of those tiny, little machines.