Thursday, August 31, 2017

Parents' Obligations

Parenting is one of the most important responsibilities we will ever take upon us ~ and yet, what training do we receive for this awesome task? In school, we were taught algebra, history and English...but NOT 'How to Raise Happy and Responsibile Children'. Our lack of preparation is reflected in the condition of our children ~ who often sulk and glare at us and fail to carry out the responsibilites we give them. For many parents, it's easier “to give in!”
What has this taught them???
It always intrigued me as a teacher, having taught several grades from 2 to 8, I could distinguish those children who came from homes where respect and discipline were fully exercised. In preparing my Grade 8 students for High School (due to Grade 9 staff teachers' observations that their incoming students were lacking in grammar construction, in vocabulary and mathematical procedures) concentration was on the development of these skills when under my tutorage in Grade 8. Delighted I was, knowing that following their June graduations, they were entering High School well prepared.
Being a parent myself, I learned long ago that if you plan to have children,
it is your responsibility to prepare them for adulthood!

If you want children to 'keep their feet on the ground', put some responsibility on their shoulders.
Treat a child as though he already is the person he's capable of becoming.
Your job as a parent, is NOT to be's to help your kids become healthy, functioning adults.
It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves...that will make them successful human beings.
(The foregoing quotes by Abigail Van Buren, Haim Ginotti, Denis Waitley,
Dr. Laura and Ann Landers)

Fall Registration...
Comparing the Costs of Staying Home and Going Away for School
(Excerpts from a recent publication in a local newspaper)
As a parent with a teenager heading to post-secondary school, you've begun tricky conversations of whether they will live in residence, off-campus or stay at home. Either way, you can expect a crop of new or addtional expenses. Set realistic expectations now by working together to create a budget and to develop financial goals that will get them on the road to healthy money management.”
If Staying at Home: Talk about household expenses! Sharing information with your teen around how much it costs to run the household, will be helpful in future expenses for when they live on their own.
Save for Later: Living at home while in school is an opportunity for them to save for their future. This will encourage your teen to put money aside on a regular basis to give them a head start when it's time to move out.

Living Away at School: Prepare for the new routine and location! Work together to identify local transportation, grocery stores and other amenities. If they're living with roommates, suggest they decide in advnace how costs will be shared so there aren't any surprises.

Plan for the Unexpected: Students who live away are likely on a tighter budget. Whether it's a late-night pizzi or taxi home; having a plan to pay for contingencies will be 'key'.

Look for Creative Ways to Stretch Dollars and Offset Costs: For example, redeem rewards points with credit or loyalty card for practical merchandise like a coffee maker, gift cards for groceries or clothes... even a train ticket or a gas card for trips back home. Students should not expect parents to pay all.
By developing a rewards-based attitude towards saving,
you'll encourage them to be mindful of their spending ~ and disciplined about debt.
It is also important they understand all factors that impact the cost of borrowing money
should they need to...whether by using a credit card for daily spending
or taking out a loan for tuition.

Talk to your bank about how credit cards work...and ask about an automatic savings plan to help them stay 'on track' with their spending. Find more information at

Parenting Truth ~ (also referred to as 'tough love')
If you protect your children from mistakes or rescue them from the consequences...
you delay them from learning the lessons they need to learn.
Sometimes, loving your child means...'setting limits', giving consequences
and saying No! And never back off from these decisions.
(Author Unknown)

Don't be your kids' emergency matter how well-meaning
or how great your relationship is! (Who is in control?)

Gifting Car to a Grandchild More Complicated Than I Imagined!”
(writes Don Crossley...a Guest Contributor to The Burlington Post)

We recently purchased a newer car and at the same time, decided to 'gift' our older car, a 2007 model, to our grandson, Aidan, who is 18 years of age and a very careful driver. We soon learned this was not going to be as easy as we thought. First of all, I cannot 'gift' this car directly to our grandson Aidan, but must first 'gift' it to our daughter, (Aidan's mother) who can then decide when to 'gift' it to her son.

Then we learned that the car required a full safety check before the transfer of ownership could take place and we needed to bring that document with us to Service Ontario. We then had to complete the necessary documentation obtained online...and that had to be sworn before a commissioner for oaths.
There is a commssioner at city hall, and we had this done.
Our daughter then arranged insurance coverage on the vehicle
and obrtained a copy of the necessary pink slip proving that coverage was in place.
Then the current licence plates were removed from the vehicle and taken with us to Service Ontario. Bright and early last Saturday morning, our daughter, Laurel and I visited the local Service Ontario office on Fairview Street. We arrived before 9 a.m. only to find a line up of people in front of us waiting for the office to open. It certainly is one very busy place!

Aidan arrived later that day with a big smile on his face to attach the new licence plates...and since his mother has him named as an 'occasional driver' on her insurance, he was able to drive the vehicle home. We hope they have many more years of enjoyment with this car!

Just a reminder to any parent or grandparent wanting to 'gift' their vehicle
to their son or daughter, to first go to the Service Ontario website...and then ensure
they follow each of the steps outlined, in order to allow for proper change of ownership.

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 26.2017

Discovered this today (August 31):  "What's happening to our young people?  They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents, their morals are decaying!"  This quote could have appeared in yesterday's newspaper...but it's actually from the Greek philosopher, Plato.  If parents, today, are struggling with teens, they are not alone!  Many parents have had/are having similar experiences. Adolescence is a time when children want more independence and question...or challenge authority...some more so than others. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Knowledge to Inspire Us ~ Part 2

Advice from Audrey Hepburn
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others.
For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you are not alone.”

Did You Know?

Annual Eagle Ride Motorcycle Event: 'Liberty for Youth' holds its seventh annual Eagle Ride on August 26 at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum...10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event raises money for the non-profit's mentoring program and post-secondary scholarships for youth. It goes 'rain or shine'. For information, visit

McMaster Ranks No. 3 in Canada ~ 66 in World: McMaster University is the third-best university in Canada and No. 66 in the world...according to an annual international ranking recently released. “This is an outstanding result for McMaster,” president Patrick Deane said in a post on Mac's Daily News website. “Our faculty, students, and staff should take full credit for these rankings...which look at six indicators, including the number of staff and alumni receiving Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals...and the number of articles published in Nature and Science journals.
Other Canadian universities that made the international list include
the University of Toronto, the University of Brirish Columbia and McGill University.

Female Firefighters: The Hamilton Fire Department is accepting applications for the 3rd annual Camp FFIT (Female Firefighters in Training). Young women ages 16 to 19 are invited to apply. The camp provides an opportunity for women to explore the fire service as a career. The cost is $50 and subsidies are available for those who qualify. For details, visit

For Better or Worse” Cartoon: Teen-age son stands dejectedly against a tree...(Nobody likes me. Nobody really likes me.) Still leaning against the tree...(Sure, they pretend to like me, but when it comes to choosing a friend, nobody wants to choose me.) And then he ponders, (They only like me if I do something dumb or act silly...or take a dare or something.) Then he shouts out of frustration, (Why do I hafta be a clown?!! Why can't I just be boring an' ordinary like everyone else?!!)

My Newspapers Are My Friends: Ruth Miller of Ancaster submitted these words to “Readers Write”
in The Spectator:
I love newspapers. They are my friends. When I get up in the morning, they are in my mailbox waiting for me. So I go on my morning walk around the neighbourhood, then I settle down with my coffee and my newspapers. The Spec is first and I read left to right until I am finished. Then I circle features, comment page, letters, Jeff Mahoney, Paul Wilson. Then the classifieds ~ lives, anniversaries, graduations and births. I look forward to the weekend reads in The Spec, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, New York Times and the Ancaster News. But the comics are the first...everything I need to know about life is in the funny papers.

Paul Benedetti ~ I enjoy his take on life. Seems that last year I walked my granddaughter to kindergarten...this morning she drove off with my car. Rabbi Baskin is a good read at the end of the day. His writings direct and guide me to help live more deeply.
So you can take my TV, but keep your hands off my newspapers!

Inspiring Comments by Trudeau: Andrea Rado was encouraged to read that Prime Minister Trudeau continues to be an advocate for welcoming newcomers to Canada. He emphasized that migrants must seek asylum legally and respect the law. He referred to the pressure placed on existing sources due to 6,500 refugees arriving in Quebec by the end of June...with up to 12,000 expected by the end of the year. With the majority of those arriving in Montreal from the U.S. being of Haitian descent, the Trump administration's plan to end the program granting Haitians temporary protected status is being blamed. The end to this program could send as many as 60,000 Haitians back to their birthplace.

Trudeau states, “As a nation with one of the highest standards of living in the world, it is our duty as global citizens to offer aid to those who are asking for assistance. A Commitment to creating an environment of respect and inclusivity for newcomers is the responsibility of Canadians nationwide.”
It's inspiring to know that in spite of xenophobic political climate south of the border,
our prime minister is committed still, to making this a priority.

Hamilton Psychiatrist Completes Lake Tahoe Swim: (written by Natalie Paddon...The Spec)
It was 'gruelling' and 'long', but psychiatrist Marilyn Korzekwa finished her swim across Lake Tahoe in the time she expected. The 60-year-old completed the arduous journey in 17 hours ~ reaching shore around 1:30 p.m. after having set out at 8:30 the night before. “I haven't swum that far in a lake since Lake Ontario in 1984. It was a long 34 kilometres.” Dr. Korzekwa (the first Canadian to complete the Tahoe crossing) immersed herself in the marathon swim to raise money for Sashbear Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps families whose loved ones struggle with mental illness.
The biggest challenges the swimmer faced were the swells,
which she described as 'smooth waves' that made the journey difficult.
A second motion sickness pill 'saved the swim' for Korzekwa. “I felt like quitting, but I remember that things change from hour to hour...and if you push through, often it goes away. Life is like that!

Raven's Run 8 Miles Every Day on South Beach for 42 Years: Laura Lee Huttonbach noticed on her regular South Beach runs (in Miami) that she would always pass by an older man with long wavy hair, a salt-and-pepper beard, and jet black running shorts. They'd cordially wave at each other on afternoon runs back then in 2011, He was Robert 'Raven' Kraft, the legendary runner who has run 8 miles on the Beach every single day...rain or shine...for 42 years. Bare-chested and always clad in a black headband and a pair of New Balance sneakers, 'Raven' is the subject of Huttenbach's new book, “Running With Raven.” She explores Raven's life as a songwriter, runner, storyteller and South Beach icon.
Raven said he has run every day starting Jan. 1, 1975....hasn't missed a day since!
Huttenbach said whe was fascinated with Raven's worldview, which is shaped by his appetite for the news and conversations with people who come from all over the world to run with him.

Human behaviour flows from 3 main sources:
desire, emotion and knowledge. (Plato)

Between Friends (Cartoon): Blonde sipping coffee with Brunette neighbour, says, “Women of a certain age implies an old woman...but what the heck does 'old' mean?” She continues, “I mean, everything's relative ...50 is older than 40...40 is older than 30...30 is older than 20. How can you get around the fact that you'll ALWAYS be older than someone else? Brunette confidently states, “50 is younger than 60...60 is younger than 70...and 70 is.....”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr: August 24, 2017

My response to cartoon re Blonde and women's ages,
I'm not old ~ I've just been young a long time!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nafta! Why Canada Needs to Care About It

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
came into effect ~ creating one of the world's largest free-trade zones
and laying the foundations for strong economic growth and rising prosperity
for Canada, United States and Mexico.

Since then, NAFTA has demonstrated how 'free trade' increases wealth and competitiveness and delivering benefits to families, farmers, workers, manufacturers and consumers.

An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Canadians are currently working in the United States under a fast-track process called 'the non-immigrant NAFTA professional visa'...or TN visa. This TN permit is only for Canadian and Mexican citizens.
Likewise, Silicon Valley is making plans to move foreign-born workers
to Canada...provided that: U.S.must first, on a work-visa program,
try to hire U.S. born employees.
For example, an employee could fly from The Bay Area to Vancouver.

According to Howard Elliott (The Hamilton Spectator), “What the U.S. wants is better access for its agricultural exports ~ including dairy products, wine and grain...also freer trade in telecommunications and on-line purchases; new rules on currency manipulation and an over-haul of the dispute-settlement system. Americans want more access to Canada's dairy production...and its related industries.
Recently, a 6-box cartoon represented President Trumps's NAFTA view:

Quote from John F. Kerry: NAFTA recognizes the reality of today
in economy-globilization and technology.
Our future is not in competing at the low-level wage job;
it is creating 'high-wage' technology jobs based on our skills and productivity.

The 'prompt' for me to write this article today
was a delightful 5-part colour cartoon on The Spec's Opinion Page
Visualize the sequence of these scenes.
Pic 1: A Beaver peers upward to a high sturdy tree...and considers...???
Pic 2: Using his sharp teeth, chips fly from the trunk as he gnaws and fashions a baseball bat.
Pic 3: VOILA! Only the trunk base remains...and Beaver smilingly admires his handiwork.
Pic 4: Carrying the bat in his mouth, Beaver presents it to the American-dressed politician.
Pic 5: With a scowl of contempt on the nattily-dressed heavy-set politican's face,
Beaver sits humbly in front of him...
said politician hefts the bat...and with strength in arms and hands,
aims to smash the trembling Beaver's head!

'Tis said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...July 31, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Balcony Flowers ~ Summer Saga of '17

April Showers,” tis said, “Bring May Flowers.”
So, it was, I purchased 2 magnificent hanging baskets of geraniums
at Terra with dusty pink flowers,
 the other in pale pink blooms;
luscious verdant foliage surrounded these colourful geraniums.
In early May, I stowed my 'Hibiscus Bush' outside on my 3rd floor balcony...
pruned its lengthy stalks to instill new growth...and Voila!
My Summer's Enjoyment!

Several months ago, I blogged articles about a couple hibiscus plants, that after 2 summers, two pesty squirrels (Blackie & Gray) had attacked and destroyed them....digging in the soil and chewing leaves. Although, cute in appearance, they were an absolute nuisance! Even, ripping through window screens to enter my searching or places to nest. The following summer, I settled for artificial flowers which the same squirrels attacked. My residence is a yellow brick building...however, with sharp claws, they scale up and down the walls quickly with reach and search destinations.

I like squirrels,” stated Gabby Douglas, “they're so adventurous.”

Ruth Reichi discovered the truth: “I don't have my own garden; we're on shale and in the woods. And if I did have a garden, the deer and chipmunks and squirrels would eat everything anyway.”

And Donald Hall comments, “I'm happy to feed the squirrels...tree rats with the agility of point guards ~ but in fair weather, they frighten my finches. They leap from snowbank to porch to feeder...and stuff their cheek pouches with chickadee feed.”

Without flowers on my balcony for several summers, I relented...and a year ago in August...and bought an “On Sale: Patio Hibiscus!” which bore 75 gigantic coral-red blooms. Over this past winter, I stored it inside...then this past late April, moved it again to my balcony...pruned its limbs...watered it and my hanging baskets every two days. Great Enjoyment for morning coffee...reading the daily newspaper and novels...watching activity along the “Bike Path”.
Was he one of my frequent squirrel visitors of a few years ago?
Or an offspring?
His habits the same: digging out the soils from my hibiscus plant and hanging baskets. One morning I discovered a couple of long limbs (each about 2 feet in length), completely chewed off my hibiscus...and leaves fully devoured. Many times I've swept up the soil, returning it to the plants.
Yet, 'Blackie', continuing his visitations, concentrated on the far hanging basket.

With several small wooden boxes (in which mandarin oranges are shipped), I surrounded the spaces below the acrylic panels to hopefully deter his entries. NO PROBLEM FOR HIM: he just climbed the brick wall higher...then jumped from place to place to gain access to the far hanging basket. I shoo-ed him away many times. Much soil was spilled over the edge, landing on my “Vega” statue who faces her “Vega Constellation” in the night sky...but also all over my balcony floor...which nightly I swept.

Vicious Attacks!
He perpetually climbed the wall to reach that far basket. Determined, he was, to be in that pot... chewing leaves (more than half now destroyed) and shoving out the soil. Due to height of the basket, I was unable to view the full damage...the flowers within, told me they were dead....thanks to his mischieveness! As a last resort, I purchased 'moth balls' to insert into the soil of all plants; however, this did not deter his activity. Clapping my hands, he'd escape the basket...jump to the balcony floor...speedily run to the far end of the balcony...climb the wall and scurry to the ground! Repeatedly, he continued his arrival to the plant! Clapping my hands, he'd hop out and run, viciously back and forth from the far end...back hurriedly to his basket...from where I chased him again. Finally, I resorted to my broom, batting him with the bristle ends...he'd escape to the floor, run to the end, then back again and again to regain access to his hide-place.

Subjected to my attacks on him...and dashing back, he jumped to my lap, biting and scratching my right hand, I swatted him away...and he jumped to climb the wall to His Nest! A gouge on the top side of my hand bled and a scratch on the lower end of my middle finger also bled.. For several minutes, blood receded from my hand...went inside to run water on the bite and scratch...the gouge on top side of my hand stung badly (like a bee sting)... while warm water touched the injured area. On my return to my balcony chair, he again ran along the wall above the table to reach his destination. When batting my broom bristles at him as he poked his head above the basket rim, he arose from 'his nest' with a hairless baby squirrel in his SHE ran, dropping the about 3-inch long nude baby on the balcony floor, SHE jumped to retrieve it...and scampered off the balcony.
Have not seen HER since!

Today, my Doctor saw me by appointment:
I had some concern about possible 'rabies' from the severe bite, although only about 1/8th inch wide.
By law, she had to report 'any animal bite to a human'...and send to a government agency.
She indicated that quite possibly, due to the excess bleeding on the gouge, any insertion from the squirrel's mouth would depart with the bleeding. Fortunately, there was no swelling ~ and soreness had disappeared by the following day... the area was slightly tender upon touch. The determining statement was: “I assaulted the squirrel for attacking my flowers. He attacked me for interfering with his plans!”
Consultation between the agency and my doctor
clarified that no vaccine would be necessary.

It's now 3 days squirrel visitation!
However, my beautiful hanging baskets are nearly void of flowers!
Next year, again, I'll probably resort to none...or artificials.
Hopefully the squirrel breeding season is over for '17.

Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel.
Huge portions of what is loosely termed 'squirrel brain'
are given over to one thought: Food or Nest!”
(Kate DiCamillo)

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same...
states a loveable squirrel clasping a yellow daisy.
(Elbert Hubbard)

In an animal cartoon, Squirrel comments,
I don't wear skinny jeans...'caus my nuts don't fit!”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 4, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Society Conflicts

Awaiting my doctor's appointment a few weeks ago...among a few others in the reception area...a man sat with his daughter (about 8 years old). Father was constantly rapt with his Cell Telephone, reading and texting. Young daughter tried to converse with him ~ Dad was too busy to respond to her. She tried 2 or 3 times to gain his attention ~ but 'No Way' did he have time for her. When, leaving her chair and trying to pick up a magazine, he ordered, “SIT DOWN!”
To what is our Society becoming?

Daily occurrences are saddled with “me, me,me and my CT”
Ignorance of signs denoting “DANGER” at the local waterfalls in our
 escarpment areas...even ignorance of fencing...some visitors choose not to obey.
I fully agree with fines levied against those who ignore the signs (although to me the fine should be greater than $130.) In a few letters to “Readers Write” daily in The Spec, I strongly endorse that when rescues involving our skilled firemen and service people, said persons should pay the full amount of the rescue costs incurred.
A recent bulletin from Niagara Falls, N.Y. reports:
Too many on-river are getting too close to falls! An American police marine unit that patrols the Upper Niagara River says too many boaters and people on personal watercraft are getting too close to the brink of Niagara Falls. People put their lives at risk when they ignore buoys and warning signs on the river. This summer there have been 10 incidents involving the venturing of boaters into dangerous waters! Some were stopped near Goat Island close to the brink.

Speed Limits on our highways are frequently ignored.
...and the list is endless!

Many months ago, I wrote about Road Rage...centered around a women who passed me with excessive speed on the four-lane Walkers Line near the QEW (2 lanes running in each direction). Sharply, she cut in front of me, forcing me to stop! She had a BIG BEEF about my driving interfering with her over-the-speed-limit she was executing in rush hour. She was livid! Banging on my side window, she angrily stated she was going to report me to the police...copied down my licence plate number...and then returned haughtily to her vehicle...she'd left her driver-side door open in her haste to make accusations...of course, traffic had to slow down to veer around her opened-door vehicle.

Are We Living in the Fast Lane of Today's Society?
Leaving farm life behind to further my education...moving to Toronto, so many years ago, seemed that 'this' was the fast lane! What an adjustment! Soon, it became 'the norm'! Yet, over the years where I've lived and worked, I've seen many changes. Today's Society alarms me! Technology may be the cause which to many of us is a big change...and we endorse this while still keeping our life and family principles in place.

Years ago, contractions were intoduced into our vocabulary as shortcuts: you'd, isn't, where's, etc.
These past 2 years, new words were invented and now in usage: e.g. adventus, brood patch, bug-eyes, Chi-town, garden apartment, Linus blanket, scritch, spooge, throat sing...and numerous more.

A recent cartoon illustrated 'Teenager Language':
Buh...ull...tex'ya...and so many other words understood by them.
A World of Their Own” reminds me of their communication.
Often I see teens hanging out near malls, parks...and fill their idle time
with other 'techies'...There are jobs available (however few of interest to them).
Community Services welcome assistance for those in need
and I'm certain that during the school year, these rendered services
give students 'credits' toward their year's achievement!
Donna Clarini from Hamilton states and offers a solution: “All the problems with young people today stem from not serving in compulsory military service. Discipline, hard work and respect are missing”.

.A Beef of mine is the usage of 'Alphabet and Numerals':
The alphabet are letters from a, b, c, to z;
The numerals are 0 (zero), 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
You have heard of the “400 series of highways” in referencing them:
the 400 is easy; and the 401 is not 4 oh 1, the 403 is not 4 O 3, nor is 4O7 correct!
They should be: Four Zero One...Four Zero Three...and Four Zero 7
Most Ontarions get these wrong!
In watching sports games, half of the announcers calling the game(s) will get it right (using baseball as an example)...3 Balls and Zero strikes...yet others state, re the count of 'balls and strikes' against batters: 2 and O. Even Dr. Phil gets it correct! Why are Canadians so lazy???
Because, like sheep, we follow others who err!

Positives and Negatives
Your positive actions combined with positive thinking results in success.
(Jenn Proske)
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.
(Hans Selye)

The Smart Ass
One day, a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old...and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. To everyone's amazement, he quieted down.

A few shovels later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw! With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing....he would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off...and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was stunned with amazement as the donkey stepped up over the well ledge and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you...all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to 'shake it off and take a step up.' Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stooping...never giving up! Shake it off...and take a step up!

The donkey, later came back and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.
The gash from the bite infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

MORAL: When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass,
it always comes back to bite you
(Thank you, Tom for submitting the foregoing parable)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 11, 2017
Comments appreciated: or

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Canadians' DNA

Previously unknown to me,
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid...defined as a nucleic acid that contains the genetic code.
Figuratively, basic nature or qualities; one's makeup, constitution, essence, etc.

Dr. Dave Davis, a Dundas resident... retired physician, writer and speaker,
asks in a recent article,“What Makes Us Canadians?” and states,
We are bound together by common threads: Politeness. Diversity. Respect.”
(The following are excerpts from his writing)

It was a young woman who made me start asking the question, 'What makes a Canadian?' She and her daughters were visitors to a place in the North End. Standing in the doorway, her hands in the pockets of one of those puffy quilted coats...gray coloured. Thinking Thailand or Vietnam, I asked, 'Where are you from?' 'Locke Street,' she replied (or something close to it). After I rephrased the qusestion, she told me her country origin ~ South China as it turned out. Later on the drive back home, coffee in hand, I reflected on the woman's response, thinking...What makes us Canadian?

There are countless stories like this: A Canadian conversation between two guys at the grocery store, complaining about the Leafs, the national of their turbans was a bright blue. Syrian women joining a cooking class downtown Hamilton, learning to prepare 'Canadian' and their own recipes with local produce, creating a sort of Arab-Canadian fusion. There is strength in diversity. This is Canada, home of newcomers and original peoples...of bilingualism and beavers...of loonies and liberal policies (small L of course)...of multiculturalism and multiple complaints about our favourite sports teams...the home of immigrants, my parents for one, my wife's parents for another.

For the last several weeks, I've been asking people what they thought our distinguishing national traits are. The common answer, no surpirse, was politeness...a national feature if there ever was one. And once in U.S. where I think I don't have an accent, someone will say, 'You're a Canadian, aren't you?' Why? I say PRAWcess like a U.S. native, swallow those 'eh's', don't wear my Jays T-shirt. I am totally incognito, the invisible Canadian, but I still get spotted. Maybe it's in subtle things, like compromise. Figuring out what the other person thinks or feels. Respecting the other guy. Holding the door open to the 7-11 for the mother with her three young kids.

Unlike the nations of the yesterday, where people found common ties in their appearance...the fair freckled skin of the Scot, the broad serene face of the Finn...we are a nation of tomorrow, a fabric bound together by common threads. Politeness for one. Diversity for another. Respect for the other guy yet another...a kind of shared, common value as strong as the railroad that runs across our country.

We are, above all, a nation of the future. It's in our DNA. Oh, I got one other answer to the question, 'What Makes a Canadian?' contributed by my grandson, 10 years old, going on 25. 'Luck,' he said. For emphasis, 'Canadians are lucky.' He and the lady from Locke Street have it just right.
Canadians are the living demonstration of an idea
stronger than mortal genes and their short-lived expression.”

Canadian With a Mission ~ Pushing Limits

Cardinal Newman Teacher Riding Across Canada for Mental Health
(Excerpts from an article by Nicole O'Reilly)
Jim Zvonar is spending the summer seeing Canada from the seat of his bicycle ~ a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that is the fulfillment of a dream that began in his 20's. The trip is part of a 50th birthday celebration for the Catholic Secondary School physics teacher, whose birthday was July 30, but also has a purpose: to raise awareness and money for mental health.. At the writing of this article, he started in British Columbia...and made it to Northern Ontario.

Mental illness has touched his family deeply, first with the suicides of his uncle and cousin while Zvonar was in his teens...and the more recent death of his brother-in-law, who he knew since a boy.
Suicide and mental illness are difficult subjects to talk about,
but Zvonar said he wants to help reduce stigma and encourage others,
especially young people, to seek help early on.
Zvonar was hoping to raise at least One Dollar for Every Kilometre, so about $7,500. The money is going to the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton (SPCCH), to help fund youth-based mental health initiatives in local schools. “Over the past three years, the council has funded such programs in 36 schools in the Hamilton area,” said SPCCH chair Sid Stacey.“Jim is extremely passionate about helping to equip and empower youth, to recognize early warning signs and connect with the care and supports required to achieve positive mental health,” said Stacey.

Jim Zvonar's Purpose: “I'd like to provide inspiration for others to 'push thier limits and reach for their dreams.' I want them to take the leap and not be scared or hesitant about the unknown.”
The trip along the Trans Canada Highway will end
when he ceremoniously dips the tire of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean
at Cape Spear near St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Girl on the Train (in Morocco) Inspired Me
(Excerpts from a writing by Hughena Matheson who lives in Burlington)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has caused me embarrassment. On the international stage, he switches between English and French with such ease that people assume all Canadians speak both official languages fluently. I do not...and I am embarrassed about this.

Recently I travelled by train from Fes to Rabat. When a young Moroccan woman noticed my Maple Leaf pin, she greeted me in French. I replied in English...and effortly, she switched languages. She is fluent in Arabic and French (Morocco's official languages), also 'English and Spanish. In Morocco, as in Europe, being multilingual seems normal. However, in North America, where most people have the advantage of speaking English, there is not the same need or eagerness to learn other languages.
The girl on the train should inspire us...especially young Canadians.
With their careers ahead of them, speaking more than one language is an asset.
According to Ontario's Ministry of Education,
acquiring another language will 'increase their competitiveness
in an increasingly global job market.'
My nephew's sons are competitive already. Since birth, my nephew spoke to them in English and their mother spoke French to them. Now, at the age of 13 and 10, they are totally bilingual. In the future, if they want employment with the Federal Government, they can add bilingual to their resumes. Learning a second language also helps students to 'develop their understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures.'With language learning comes the learning of another culture: its history, customs, religion, food, music and art.' In multicultural Canada, that should be encouraged.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 1, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Knowledge to Inspire Us!

Movie Titles...TV...and all forms of media
present “Captions” to attract our attention...
to incite us to read...and then upon which to possibly activate.

Did You Know?

Monday, August 7, 2017 is Joseph Brant Day...a day that pays tribute to one of Burlington's earliest settlers returns to La Salle Park. Since 1980, the first Monday in August (also known as Civic Holiday) has been proclaimed “ Joseph Brant Day” in Burlington, Ontario.
The famous Mohawk military and political leader, Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)
settled in what is now Burlington in the early 1800's.
Festivities kick off at the 50 North Shore Blvd. park with opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. followed by First Nations “pow wow dance” demonstrations...a Halton Dance Network interactive workshop... Curious Canadian Critter Show and the BarBlue Sea addition to an interactive First Nation drum circle. The festival is anticipated to run until approximately 4 p.m.

There will be many great live performances recognizing and respecting the history of First Nations and our neighbouring communities of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory...and the Mississaugas of the the New Credit...also will include a 'smudge ceremony'.

Wednesday, August 9: Canada's 150 Train to Celebrate with music! CPRail''s 150 Train will be rolling into town. The F-uit diesel locomotaive CP 1401 will lead the train as it travels across the country and stops in Hamilton from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The free event will be held at Gage Park...featuring entertainment from Canadian country singer, Dean Brody and Aboriginal hoop dancer Dallas well as family-friendly activities for kids. The show will start at 6 p.m. The train and its more than 10 restored Royal Canadian Pacific heritage cars are meant to reconnect generations of Canadians to celebrate the country's 150th birthday.-

Enforcement is Deterring Waterfall Mishaps: Firefighters have responded to 13 calls for high-angle-rope rescues so far this year. By-law officers have handed out 7 fines for trespassing past Danger signs around Hamilton's waterfall cascades. It will take more than 2 hours for 'specially-trained firefighters' to set up and use a series of nylon ropes and safety gear to pull a woman and 3 others to the top this past weekend. Of the 13 calls, 8 times, Hamilton firefighters had to actually use a harness or stretcher to lift someone out. Last year, these men received 29 calls...23 of which ended in rope rescues.
These people ignore Danger Warnings and now Trespassing signage...
including additional fencing...and going off the 'official trails'.
City bylaw has handed out seven fines ~ a zero-tolerance $130 penalty ~ in the first 2 weeks since increasing enforcement against trespassers at Albion Falls.

(From this writer's viewpoint and as suggested in The Spec's 'Readers Write' more than once,
those needing rescue should Pay the Full Price of the Rescue Services required!!!)

Did You Know?
Injury Stops DeGrasse at World's ~ No Final Showdown with Bolt: Our Canadian sprinter will miss the upcoming world championships due to a torn hamstring....which he suffered at a recent training session. He comments, “While I'm in the best shape of my life and extremely disappointed that I will not have the chance to compete for my country in London...I can't forget or be ungrateful for the successes that I've been blessed with up to this point in my career.
I'll be back stronger and faster than ever.”
The 22-year-old from Markham was due to race against Usain Bolt (of Jamaica) in the 100 metre final at London Olympic Stadium. Bolt, an 11-time world champion, plans to retire after the worlds. DeGrasse was supposed to open the worlds with 100-heats on Friday before the final on Saturday.

Prince Philip, 96, Takes His Last Official Bow: For over 65 years, he has been the unwavering presence alongside the Queen and royal representative. On Wednesday, Prince Philip made his 22,219th and final 'solo public engagement' braving heavy rain to meet Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace.
Also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, he will appear at the Queen's side...from time to the 91-year-old monarch soldiers on. He is acting patron, president or a member of 780 organizations with which he will continue to be associated.
Two years after WWII ended, Philip married Princess Elizabeth
at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26.
Renouncing his Greek title, King George VI made him Duke of Edinburgh.

Hamilton's No. 3 in Canada for Young Adults Living with Parents: Wednesday's2 016 census statistics show 44.5 % of local adults between the ages of 20 and 34 lived with parents. “Unsteady work and spiking cost of accommodation are behind that figure,” said Wayne Newchuk, a McMaster professor who studies precarious employment. The Hamilton census also includes Burlington and Grimsby. Across Canada, between 2001 and 2016, the percentage of young adults living at home rose 34.7% from 30.6%. Ontario had the highest rate of young adults living with their parents in Canada at 42.1%...or more than two in five, Statistics Canada noted in a brief Wednesday.
Lewchuk said the trend reflects the 'general malaise' in the labour market.
Wages have not kept up with inflation for 30 years, he added.

Did You Know?
Arabic, Chinese Languages Most Spoken at after English: Italian has been taken over by Arabic...according to the latest census data. Last year, 6,345 respondents identified Arabic as the language most often spoken in their household, compared to Italian at 5,100 reflecting a significant change since 2011. The Italian community was a large immigrant group in the '40s to '70s in the City of Hamilton. Arabic saw a surge of 60% between 2006 and 2016. Conversely, Italian dropped by 34% over the same period. Newcomers from the Middle East and Africa who speak Arabic have settled here. Between late 2015 and early this year, nearly 1,500 Syrian refugees made Hamilton their home.
English, however, still reigns as the language spoken most often
in most Hamilton households at 444,470.

You Sure You Know What's in That Sausage? A federally funded study has found that 20% of sausages sampled from grocery stores across Canada contained meats that weren't on the label. About 1 in 5 of the sausages tested, had some off-label ingredients in them. Seven of 27 beef sausages examined in the study contained pork. One of 38 supposedly pure pork suasages contained horse meat. Of 20 chicken sausages, four also contained turkey and one also had beef. Five of 15 turkey sausages studied had no turkey at all.
We know what we are...but know not what we may be. (William Shakespeare)
Not knowing where I'm going,
 is what inspires me to travel it. (Rosalia de Castro)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written August 4, 2017