Photo break

July 4, 2016

I still have interest in adding stuff to this blog, no worries if I have any regular readers, but I’ve given up on having a specific theme to every post, which has no doubt been noticed.

Saskia - Serpent of the South Sask

Kidding, of course. I just happened to catch sight of a log or something tangled up by the weir in Saskatoon and thought it resembled a sea serpent.

And, via the Daily Mail, reports of a Nessie skeleton.. or is it?

Nessie hunters have been left scratching their heads after a dog walker found what appears to be the remains of the legendary ‘monster’ washed up on a beach.

These grizzly remains were found on the shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, blocked off by police tape.

The scene appears to be a highly elaborate prank by someone who has managed to create a lifelike skeleton frame and organs of the legendary beast, complete with sharp-toothed skull.

Click the link to read more.

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“Stem cell angels” says yoga instructor after getting vision back

June 6, 2016

Cool story out of Saskatoon. Go Science!

Diagnosed with glaucoma in his left eye last year, Kevin Naidoo, watched his vision deteriorate and it was affecting his work at Yerrama Yoga Sanctuary in the city, which he owns. His father was the one who suggested saving up for stem cell treatments. They wound up trying GoFundMe and soon raised more than enough for a trip to Thailand to get stem cell injections.

Over the course of a week, Naidoo received six stem cell injections in his spine and in both his eyes. And it meant he couldn’t use his eyes for anything so he relied on his parents to feed him, and escort him around the hospital. Naidoo said the experience really taught him a lot about himself.

“I couldn’t write, I couldn’t read, I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t do anything, I was left in meditation,” Naidoo said.

As doctors removed the wraps from his eyes. Naidoo said the results were so immediate, he thought he was dreaming.

They’ll continue to grow and improve his eyesight.

“I call them my little angels my little stem cells because I’m so grateful for all of these beautiful women in this world that had healthy babies and donated their stem cells to people who need treatment like me and I pray for them everyday.”

Science works, bitches! (Prayer, not so much.)


Dear Saskatoon city and Transit: please make up and be friends again…

September 30, 2014

Or, if not friends, at least find a workable compromise and get the buses running again.

I’m glad we forked out for a better car this year. I can’t imagine trying to do all this running around from job to school to job to home to babysitter with the car we had before, which was on the verge of crapping out. At least we have a car. Others are not so lucky and it’s costly and frustrating to work around this.

The transit lockout has left Saskatoon’s Oskayak High School to hire its own bus service in order to get students to class.

During the first school week without buses, only one-third of the student population was able to make it to school.

“I heavily rely on the transit system because I have school, I go to work, and I have dance practices to go to and that’s not happening,” Grade 12 student Heaven Adams said.

“It makes it a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to find rides or I spend a huge amount of money on cabs and it’s just ridiculous.”

Adams, along with all of the school’s 315 students, uses city transit to get to classes.

Today’s adventure:

The Man drove me to work early so he could drive downtown to get the Little Man and take him to school. He and his mother have been stuck walking for an hour every morning but yesterday mom’s chronic back issues were acting up and she apparently had no way to get him there so he missed the whole day. (This is not the first time he’s missed, either, but that’s another issue — had she just asked on Sunday, we could have gone over there to get him Monday morning! I also kick myself for not thinking to suggest that. Poor kid’s gonna fall so far behind and it’s French immersion, too.)

So, the Man picked up the Little Man, drove him to school, then the Man drove back to my workplace so I could drive him to his workplace and drive back to mine. We didn’t have to pick up the Little Man in the afternoon, but I drove home so I could get a few things done and get supper started and then I’m back in the car to get the Man when his shift is done.

The city is into its second week without buses and the ways in which it is affecting people is growing.

Life without a bus ride has been very challenging for Grace Kuhn. She has been taking the bus for years. She uses transit for everything from getting to work, to appointments, to meeting with friends. She’s turned to Kijiji to help fill the transportation void but unfortunately that has fallen through as well.

“I literally sit down and cried,” Kuhn said.

She can’t afford to spend $600 a month on cab fare and she doesn’t want to spend all of her savings. What really frustrated her was the response she got after she wrote an email to her city councillor.

“Saying, sorry this has happened, but here’s a couple of links, you can (go online) to get yourself a ride. You’re kidding me?” Kuhn said.

Like I said, we’re very fortunate we can afford a car. A lot of people in this city rely on transit and even with a car, we use the bus quite a bit, too, on account of shift work schedules and kid trading between houses and other needs. We need a working bus system.

It’s great news that the city has agreed to pay for 10 new buses, but they’re not additional buses, they’re replacement buses for ancient machines that keep breaking down.

A shortage of mechanics that caused a backlog of bus maintenance was the biggest factor for cancelled routes prior to unionized transit workers being locked out by the city on Sept. 20.

Older buses were also partially to blame for cancelled routes after the Labour Day weekend.

Some of the buses currently in the fleet are over 20-years-old and have more than 1.5 million kilometres.

That’s like 2 trips to the moon and back. Small wonder they’re falling apart…

Unrelated, but interesting for other reasons (mostly because I somehow never heard about it), apparently at the start of September, a 9 year old took a brief joyride in a bus that was left running with the door unlocked. The kid promptly drove the bus out of the garage area and onto the street. Eventually he struck another bus parked not far away and another vehicle. Due to his age, the police are unable to lay any charges on him.

No injuries were reported and damage to the buses is estimated between $1,000 and $10,000.

“This is not a case where policies need to be reviewed or practises need to be reviewed, this is a case where, from what I’ve seen, policy and procedures were very clearly violated,” said Jorgenson.

The city is in the early stages of the investigation.


Don’t have time to write this morning

September 23, 2014

At least, not to the extent I like.

Unrelated, but stressing me out already: Saskatoon Transit and the City are having a bit of a fight right now and no buses are running. We only have one car and the Little Man’s mom doesn’t drive and the Man’s work hours are often evenings and I start pretty early in the morning but am done when school’s out and I’m getting worked up over how everyone will be where they have to be when they have to be there.

That’s all for now.


Saskatoon woman fears stoning if returned to Pakistan

September 17, 2014

Unfortunately, Jamila Bibi was sent to Toronto on the 16th of September to catch a flight home. The 65 year old originally came to Canada in 2007 to escape claims of adultery that she says are false, says her lawyer, Bashir Khan.

Khan said the Canadian government has decided Bibi can move elsewhere in Pakistan, despite also acknowledging that she is at risk from both individuals and state authorities in the country.

“Except that makes no sense to me because the criminal charge is outstanding and she’s a target of honour killing,” Khan told CTV News Channel. “She will be. She’s received threats already.”

A deportation was originally ordered for Bibi in 2011, after her bid to secure refugee status was rejected.

The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights tried to get the government to keep her in the country, but it didn’t work, evidently.

Amnesty International is also urging the Canadian government to reconsider the deportation, saying the work of the UN body should be completed before the Canadian government makes any final decisions.

“There’s no way that Canada would want to be responsible for returning a woman back to a country where her rights could be violated,” Gloria Nafziger, an Amnesty International refugee co-ordinator, told CTV.

She’d been working for Meg’s Restaurant downtown and the owner, Sahana Yeasmin, has been helping as much as he can with her legal bills.

“As a human being, we cannot throw people like this away. From my heart, I very badly need help,” Yeasmin said.

The Atlantic ran a feature in 2012 focused on the difficulties women face in Pakistan. I don’t think it’ll matter one bit if she’s guilty or innocent once she’s back in that country, sadly.

Westerners usually associate the plight of Pakistani women with religious oppression, but the reality is far more complicated. A certain mentality is deeply ingrained in strictly patriarchal societies like Pakistan. Poor and uneducated women must struggle daily for basic rights, recognition, and respect. They must live in a culture that defines them by the male figures in their lives, even though these women are often the breadwinners for their families.

But for those who dutifully follow and live the Koran, they’ll be able to justify continued patriarchal thinking because the writers of the Koran made sure to include verses dictating how to treat and value women – often as property and worth half of what a man is.

The inequality came first, no doubt, and someone just made sure to write it down so nobody would forget. The Koran existing as a written echo of an earlier call for all to behave properly in Allah’s eyes. But while the world and overall human rights move forward, these poor women are still stuck living in a past that promoted this inequality as the status quo and a present that continues to enforce it.

Back to the Atlantic:

A difficult irony for women in Pakistan is that, should a victim speak up about physical or sexual abuse, she is seen as having lost her and her family’s dignity. Many rapes go unreported as the victim fears she will become worthless in Pakistani society. Often, women will turn to their employers; families they can trust. It’s a typically unnoticed form of charity but one that can be crucial to their survival.

The stories shared in the piece are poignant and heart wrenching. The Asia Human Rights Commission focuses on a different story of a women who was raped by her father and later poisoned by her family.

the easiest solution was to kill Sofia and bury her in secret so that the family’s shame would be buried, in secret, with her.

Their first priority was to protect the honour of the family and secondly to take the shelter behind religious tradition. The rapist was provided protection by his wife and siblings to murder Sofia in order to hide his crime. The murder of the daughter in the name of honour was, in fact, not to uphold the religious traditions but to reinforce the concept that women are the only source of sexual corruption and therefore it is only the woman that is liable for punishment and not the rapist.

Few comment on my blog but save the time you’d spend hammering one out now – I know I’m uninformed and lack the education in the culture and the history of the country and I’m just a low to mid class white woman in Canada who’s never had to experience anything approaching the lives these women wake up to every day.

That’s why I blog. That’s why I do the reading and find out about these stories and these people. Because I’m sheltered from so many problems others face and can’t really imagine what they’re going through.

I read in the Tribune that there’s some hope to be had. The Pakistan Constitution has equality written into it. Women are in the army, the air force, climbing mountains. Things are happening, but

ultimately, Pakistanis need to decide if they are going to be governed by the Constitution of Pakistan, which grants equal rights to everyone or by the will of illiterate clerics and whatever fantasy laws they whip up. If the government remains silent and no action is taken to correct this dysfunction, then there is a risk that ignorance will spread to less affected urban areas. Nothing is static.

The author, Sabina Khan, then notes she’s lived in Saudi Arabia and would hate to see Pakistan get to the point where women are covered head to toe in black and walk four paces behind men.

Pakistani women may be irresistible beauties, but they have contributions to offer to society, many are well-educated and it would be a loss for the nation to hide them away like second-rate citizens.

I agree.

Ms. Bibi, my heart goes out to you.


Have some birds

August 20, 2014

I’m taking a blogging day off.

birds


Atheist Scruples: Let’s talk about sex, maybe…

August 18, 2014

You have adolescent children. An out-of-town friend is visiting with her new boyfriend. Do you let your guests sleep together?

This is a two bedroom duplex so no. The kid has one room, we have the other. Any guests have to make due with the couch and the floor…

If this were happening today, anyway.

Hypothetically, we’re talking a house situation here where kids have their own rooms and there is at least one guest room to offer (plus the sofa).

Yeah, sure. Let them sleep together. Whatever. It’s 2014, not 1983. Hell, even in the late ’80s a cousin would come for a visit with his or her current fling and Mom would kick me out of my bedroom and give them my double bed.

I’m reminded of a time when an older cousin was staying with us in such a situation and the phone had rung around 10 or so in the morning; it was her father calling from out of town. I’m pretty sure I knocked on the bedroom door first but I might not have. Either way, I poked my head in to let her know she had a phone call. She was pretty annoyed at me. “Well, what would you have been doing?” I legitimately asked when she came out to take the call. I’m sure I knew what sex was at the time and I was pretty sure this cousin of mine wouldn’t bonk her boy toy in the room right beside my parents’ bedroom anyway.

CFI Saskatoon had a meet-up on Sunday with a Show-and-Tell theme. I shamelessly promoted my blog. Hi local readers!

One of the other topics that came up for discussion was sex education in public schools and what Saskatoon has been doing. One of the guys mentioned that his daughter wound up having to take a sex-ed course that promoted abstinence over everything else and she couldn’t finish Grade 12 without taking it. He did some research into the guy who designed the course and apparently it was bible-verse free but still fundamentally inspired and he was annoyed to find out that she couldn’t opt out. He didn’t want to kick up a fuss while she was in school but our organizer suggested he could do it now that she’s done school. Time will tell.

They also talked about the Edmonton school board that got a bit of bad press this year because of this issue. Emily Dawson and her mother, Kathy, filed a human rights complaint over a sex-ed workshop offered at Emily’s school. It was being run by an anti-abortionist group. Quoting from the National Post article:

Norah Kennedy of the Pregnancy Care Centre says the organization is “shocked and upset.”

Kennedy says her group was brought in to teach free of charge and has always been open about its “abstinence-based” teaching.

Parker said that a board review found the group’s workshops followed all guidelines for the sex education portion of CALM — or Career and Life Management, a course required for high school graduation.

“The information being provided was not of a religious nature and was aligned with the curriculum and scientifically based,” he maintains.

But not based on the science – social science – that has effectively panned abstinence education as a waste of effort and tax dollars. The Board has now dropped the group from their schools and will look for other presenters for this coming school year.

The Guardian writer Jessica Valinti noted:

Students need sexual education that’s comprehensive, medically accurate, and free from shame and ideology. Not just because sexuality is an integral part of our humanity, but because when you withhold medical information about sexuality from children and teens, you are endangering health and lives. That some students today are actually learning less than their parents did in sex ed is a scandal. Do we really want our children to be less-informed than we were?

Dawson claimed that the workshop included false information about sexually transmitted diseases, shamed many of the women, and weren’t very supportive of the boys, either. Valenti again:

Teens – whether you like the idea of them having sex or not – deserve access to information that can keep them healthy and safe. Anything else is criminal.

So, dragging it back to the question posed at the beginning, I would expect by this point that the adolescent kids have a solid understanding of the point of sex, the value of safe sex, and the natural desire of two people in love (or not) to want to undertake sex for pleasure or procreation or panacea.

It would be a non-issue to have a friend and partner sharing a room while the kids are around. That’s all there is to it.