Archive for September 2010

More Children’s Books That Should be Banned

September 28, 2010

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Hop on Pop

Reason: Promotes family violence.

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Harold and the Purple Crayon

Reason: Encourages vandalism and defacing of public property.

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Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

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Reason: Stereotypes hard-working Irish-American immigrants.

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Green Eggs and Ham

Reason: Biased against mice, foxes, and goats.

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Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Reason: Unnecessary cruelty towards turtles (when Fudge eats one).

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Curious George Goes to the Hospital

Reason: Gratuitous use of hallucinogenic drugs (when George sniffs the ether).

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Go Dog Go!

Reason: Not only glorifies dangerous street racing, but depicts irresponsible use of non-renewable petroleum resources, thus helping contribute to global warming and rising sea levels.

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I Can Write an Inspirational Post About ANYTHING…

September 25, 2010

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WOOD

Think about this wood.

No, really.

Stop and THINK about it.

Like us, it is battered and aged.

Because like us, it has weathered the storms of life.

But there is harmony and structure there.

Despite the hardships it has suffered, the wood remains strong and resilient.

It reminds us not to go against the grain…not to waste our energy on negative thoughts or emotions.

Instead, like the wood, we must align oursevles with the positive flow of the Universe.

It’s amazing how much we can learn about the world, if only we’d just look closely at such miracles of nature.

It really IS.

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ROCKS

My eyes mist up, as I embrace the wonderful spirit of co-operation these rocks exude.

Each one a product of the wind and water that formed it, a product of its environment.

Yet each rock is unique, with its own attributes and imperfections.

And there is no “right” or “wrong” rock.

The rocks just ARE.

Yet together they form a beach, a beautiful tapestry of color.

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Sometimes, I wonder if WE should try to be more like rocks.

Accepting each other’s attributes and imperfections.

Because together, we make up the beach that we like to call HUMANITY.

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Which type of rock are YOU?

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TREES

I dance the Celebration of Life when I see trees.

For they embody success and perseverance.

Over the years, think of how many seeds have tried to take root on this bare, hostile rock over the years, and have failed.

Thousands.  Perhaps millions.

Most of those were blown away,  dried up, or eaten by birds.

But Nature did not give up.

Mother Earth kept the seeds coming and coming.

And against all odds, eventually some took root, and started to grow.

They withstood years of adversity, eking out nutrients and water out of the bare rock, until they grew into majestic trees.

Where they now PROUDLY stand.

We are all like the trees.

We all start off as seeds.  We all have the same potential.

Let’s ask ourselves:   Do we we want get blown and let ourselves go to waste?

Or do we went to grow into majestic trees?

It’s all up to US.

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Okay…one more.

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SQUIRRELS

I weep with tears of joy and gratitude when I look at our woodland squirrel brethren.

They are Nature’s go-getters.  They never give up.

They plan ahead,  burying nuts for winter.

Yet they still take time to enjoy life, to stop and smell the roses.

Playing and chasing each other through the trees.

And there is an admirable honesty to them.

They are not afraid of life, nor afraid to express how they feel.

As they sit up in their tree thrones, and scolding others 100 times their size.

“Tttttt…..tttttt!” they will chatter at us.

Yes, Squirrel, my friend.

Ttttt…tttt, to you too.

If only more of us were like you.

The world would be a happier place.

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I hope you were all inspired by this.

And have perhaps learned something.

Because I know I have.

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(*pfft…..snicker*) 😉

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Friar’s Easy Recipes for Bachelors who Hate to Cook

September 20, 2010

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Tartine au Pain Blanc
– Take two slices of squishy white bread, made of bleached processed flour
– Smear one slice with sugar-laden trans-fat peanut butter, in clockwise strokes
– Smear the other slice with a red jam made of high-fructose corn syrup, in counter-clockwise strokes.
– Assemble the pieces into one sammitch.    Repeat as often as necessary.
– Serves One.

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Citrus Surprise (a refreshing beverage)

– Unscrew the top of a 2-liter carton of orange juice.
– Drink directly out of the carton,  until it is empty, or you are no longer thirsty.
– Return the carton to the fridge, regardless.

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Quick Easy Dinner
– Select a box of cereal, making sure the sugar content is no less than 40%.
– Pour into a bowl gently,  filling it to the brim.
– Pour milk into bowl, filling it to the brim.
– Ignore the cereal overflow.
– Eat in front of  TV.
– Repeat as often as necessary.

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Gourmet Pasta with Meatballs a la Bolognese
– With can opener, carefully turn and open the lid of a can of Chef Bo-Ar-Dee spaghetti and meat balls.
– Put in bowl, and gently place bowl in microwave.
– Turn on “High” for 2 minutes (making sure to overheat and splash tomato sauce all over the place).
– Serves one.
– Only wipe up the sauce, a week later, after it’s hardened.

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Vegetarian Delight
– Entertain the thought of preparing a vegetarian meal, for maybe one microsecond.
– Drive to Subway, and order a sammitch with extra mystery meat and double bacon.

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Beef-Szechuan Stir- Fry with Mixed Vegetables
– Seriously intend to cook this meal.
– Take 1/4 lb of beef, 1 red pepper.  1 cup mushrooms,  and 1 cup brocoli.
– Stick the food in the back of the fridge, and forget about it.
– Keep the vegetables refrigerated, until they have spoiled and are starting to become liquid.
– Throw them out and accept defeat.
– With index finger, call the Golden Palace and order the Beef Szechuan Stir-Fry with Mixed Vegetables.

Boredom = Inspiration

September 17, 2010

Most productive thing I accomplished all week, actually.

Saying Hi To An Old Friend

September 14, 2010

I did my annual pilgrimage to Lake Superior a few weeks ago.

The Bear seemed to enjoy the lake.

So did I.

It’s like going back to an old friend and saying “Hi”. a

And it’s impossible NOT to feel relaxed when you’re in her presence.

It’s better than going to a therapist.    Maybe even church, for some people.

Some of these scenes are definitely going to be watercolor paintings.

Eventually.

But I could sit and watch the waves crash for hours.

Or just stare out into the calm nothingness.

Either way, it’s all good.

And the Bear concurs.

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Friar’s Cynical Answers to Time-Honored Adages

September 13, 2010

“You can do anything you want…if you just put your mind to it.”
Okay, so there’s only one  Olympic Gold Medalist.   I guess that means all the other atheletes who didn’t win,  really didn’t want it that badly, huh?

“God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.”
Tell that to suicide victims.

“Things happen for a reason.”
So what are the reasons for cancer, tsunamis or genocide?

“Money can’t buy happiness.”
Tell you what.  Give me lots of money, and I’ll decide for myself.   And if I’m still unhappy, I can always give it away to charity.   Which will make someone else happy.

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
No, it’s darkest at midnight, when the sun is 180 degrees opposite the zenith.   Unless you live above the Arctic Circle in the summer, and then it never gets dark.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior, except yourself.”
Sorry, I don’t buy that.   That lets the jerk who’s putting you down off the hook, and transfers the blame onto you.   It’s like telling a battered wife that she’s brought it upon herself.

“Different strokes for different folks”
Meh.  That’s just a gutless way of saying you don’t agree with someone, but are too afraid to admit it.

“To each his own.”
See “Different strokes for different folks”.

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day.   Teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for life.”
Yes.  And if you factor into account all the fishing gear, the boat, the gas and the trips to fishing lodge, those fish he catches will end up costing $200 a pound.

“Just because their culture is different than ours, doesn’t mean ours is any better.   Who are we to judge what’s right or wrong?”
So countries that still practice slavery, female circumcision, stoning and honor killings…we shouldn’t be judging those things, then?

There is no “i” in “Team”
No..but there’s ME.

“Bad things happen in threes.”
Yes, bad things happen in threes.  And also twos, fives, seventeens, or not at all.    Bad things…just HAPPEN.

“Seek, and ye shall find.”
Breathe in, and ye shall exhale.    …like, DUH.

“No one is perfect, that’s why pencils have erasers”
Pencils are for screw-ups and LOSERS.   Competent people use PENS.

“You’re never too old to learn.”
When you get to the point of forgetting to wear pants, drool in your oatmeal, and answer the waffle iron when the phone rings,  it’s probably safe to say your learning days are over.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
You mean, like orgies and stuff?

“You can do anything you want…if you just put your mind to it.”
“Okay…I’m 46 years old.  I suddenly REALLY want to fly the space shuttle, win the Nobel Prize in Physics, and then win the Boston Marathon.

But that should be no problem if I put my mind to it, right?

Right?


20 and 1/4 inches

September 11, 2010

On my last post, one of my loyal readers commented:

“I was disappointed not to see any pictures of fish or paintings of food.”

Well…I haven’t done any paintings lately.    Sorry, I can’t help you there.

But I do have a new fish picture.

I hope this is okay…and lives up to your expectations.

Travels with the Bear: Exploring Some of the Back-Roads of Northern Ontario

September 9, 2010

I often take photos of Junior Bear in such spectacular locations like a mountain peak somewhere in the Canadian Rockies, the shore or Lake Superior, or Yellowstone Park.    But there are times we also like to visit boring, plain, out-of-the-way places,  just to say we’ve been there.   Like some of the small towns in Northern Ontario.

For example, here’s the  Bear in downtown Thessalon, on the northern shore of Lake Huron.   I like to stop there when I’m passing through, because there’s a CIBC Bank and I can use their ATM.

Here’s the bustling metropolis of White River (pop. 841), which is about three hours north of the Soo.

White River was quite an isolated community until relatively recently.  It’s inland, miles away from the Lake Superior, so nobody could actually drive there until they completed the Trans Canada highway in 1960.   Before that, the only access was by train.

Today, White River has an A&W and a few modern conveniences on the highway.  But the older down-town area is a bit run down, because the local mill closed, and the railway boom-times have long since peaked.

The main hotel looks like it would have been a hopping place to be 30-40 years ago.  But it’s boarded up and the funky green and pink paint is peeling.

Many other areas are showing similar decay.

Though some of the newer houses look like typical suburbs you’d find anywhere…

…you still have reminders that you’re in Northern Ontario.    Like the local school that has signs for snow-mobile parking.

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Further northwest is Manitouwadge, a town north of Superior, halfway between the Soo and Thunder Bay.  It’s at the end of a 54-km highway that branches off of Highway 17.

Manitouwadge is typically a starting point for people going on hunting and fishing trips.    Wikipedia says this is becoming a retirement town, that has some of the lowest housing prices in the country.

I suppose that’s true….real estate can be a real steal in a town with limited services, where the main employer (the local mine) has shut down.

(Though why someone would want to retire in an isolated village surrounded by bush, with brutally cold winters is beyond me…)

And, as with all of these typical mill-towns up North, you can see indications of economic problems.    There are all kinds of shut-down businesses, hinting at days of former glory.

In these towns, whenever I stand in the middle of the road downtown, I never have to worry about traffic.

I mean, I realize this photo was taken on a was Sunday afternoon, but still…does anybody LIVE here?

What was surprising, though, was that Manitouwadge has a ski hill!   (And quite a respectable one, considering the location and the population density!)

I don’t know if it’s still open, but it seems to have been running recently enough, based on the clothing styles of the skiers illustrated on the ski map.

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Further down the road is Marathon, Ontario, right on the north shore of Lake Superior.   With a population of 3800, it’s one of the “bigger” cities in the 700 km stretch between the Soo and Thunder Bay.

10 years ago, I stayed at the Pic Motel just outside of town.  It was fun spending the night there, in their kitschy 1960’s era motel.

It was like going back in time,  though the motel has since been shut down and starting to fall apart.

Just outside Marathon is another ski hill, Superior Slopes,  where the top of the hill is right next to a rest stop by the highway.

The ski hill was still running last year, but it’s closed now.   I spoke to a woman at the visitor center.    She said the facility was run by the city, but it became too expensive to run, especially given that the town just lost 230 jobs last year when the mill shut down.

There’s just not enough of a tax base and enough people around to make it wortwhile.

It’s kind of sad.   These once-bustling communities are slowly dying out, and may soon become ghost towns.  It’s like I’m witnessing the end of an era.

But these were some of the “bigger” cities.

There are quite a few smaller ones, that are even more out-of-the-way.

Like Hawk Junction, located just east of Wawa.  It was a population of about 200.

I have no idea what people do here.  There’s not much, except a bush-plane service for hunters and fishermen.  And a railway terminal.

I like this sign that tells you that Highway 547 ends.    Just like that.

Lots of small towns in Northern Ontario located at the end of a paved road, which were built 50-60 years ago, to give them access to the outside world.   After that, you get around by logging roads, or by bush-plane.

And again, as with all the other towns, there’s the mandatory boarded-up shut-down railway hotel.

Half the streets aren’t paved.   The ones that are, aren’t very busy.

I like to think that in the entire history of mankind, I’m probably the first person who put his teddy bear on the street in Hawk Junction, Ontario, and took a photo.

By the way, here’s another reminder that you’re in Nothern Ontario:    piles of junk in people’s yards.

My theory is that this is to display their wealth:  I mean, there’s probably a few hundred bucks of scrap metal, there.

And if you’re looking for a cheap place to retire in, here’s a house that you probably pick up for $10,000.

Heading East on Highway 101 towards Chapleau is the Arctic Watershed.   This the the point north, above which all water will drain into Hudson’s bay instead of the Great Lakes.

I always love crossing this point.  Even though it’s only about ~ 48 degrees latitude, it makes me feel like I”m way up North.

Plus, I also like to take a leak right by the sign.   Who knows?  Some of my pee might end up at opposite ends of the continent.

Of course, I had to take a picture of the Bear in Chapleau (pop. 2200).    Only because he’s never been there

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Labor Day Monday, downtown.   (Woo-hoo!)

On the way home, I decided to take a “short-cut” which cut 50 km off my distance.   There were signs warning of no gas stations for 120 km.

The last out-of-the-way village I came across was Sultan, Ontario.

Wow…this place was really in the middle of Butt-Crack, Nowhere.    I don’t know the actual population.  Wikipedia says 30.    But I’m guessing it could be 100.

The nearest school is 68 km away, in Chapleau.    And the most prominent building in town is the church.

The old railway station would have also been an important landmark (if it wasn’t cut in half and littered with rusty cars).

My favorite, was the abandoned playground.

Jesus.   This looks like it should be something out of a Stephen King novel.

I can almost hear the voices of ghost children, mournfully singing “Ring around the rose-sieeeee….”

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After Sultan, I still had quite a few hours of driving left, including an 80 kilometers stretch of unpaved logging road going through ugly clear-cuts and re-planted forest.

By the time I hit pavement again, I was within spitting distance of Sudbury.  Which, by my standards, is a “Big City”, close enough to cottages and traffic, that it no longer had that isolated, Northern feeling.

At that point, it was getting dark and I stopped taking photos.

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PS.   The Bear is in ten photos.   Can you find him in all of them?

World’s Lamest Northern Pike

September 7, 2010

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And I caught him.

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