Monthly Archives: April 2009

Dysert O’Dea, Ireland

We accidentally found Dysert O’Dea (pronounced O’Day) as we left the Burren, in county Clare. Dysert O’Dea was in the guidebook as having this wonderful doorway. But it was at the end of the day and Oct. so as we drove up to this rather small castle, we knew it was closed. There was a guy sitting in a Hummer like truck parked at the front of the castle, built in 1480. He was nice enough to move out of the way so we could take pictures.

Then he told us where the high cross and church were that we might very well have missed if we’d driven out. We drove to a cattle gate and pulled to the side of the road. This was a real farm road so in some ways it was much bigger than the hedge and stone wall encroached main roads.

Ireland 2007–Dysert O’Dea

The castle was newer than the church which was newer than St. Tola’s high cross and the ruins of the tower, which were from the 12th century. The cross holds an carving of Christ and of a bishop (St. Tola) who founded the monastery centuries before, I believe.The doorway was in good shape and very cool with all the faces. Each one was different and some human, others animals. There was a whimsical simplicity to it, and an individuality that made me think some of those faces represent particular people of the time.

I’m not sure if we were in the Burren anymore or just out of it but there was such a distortion of time for us looking at the maps. A map of all of BC and a map of Ireland are the same size on paper. But a one-inch distance on a BC map could be 2 hours of driving, whereas on the Irish map it’s probably 15 minutes.

Which means we managed to go from Carrowmore in the rainy morning, to Dunguaire, Kinvara, Ailwee Caves, Poulnabrone, Burren, Carran Church, Dysert O’Dea castle and church all in one day. We were getting into the very tail of the day. We rarely stopped for lunch. After Dysert O’Dea we drove to the town of Ennis and found a place for the evening.

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Swine Flu? When Pigs Fly

Okay, that’s a little joke but I think we need to keep a few things in perspective when it comes to the spreading fear of swine flu. Fear is spreading faster than the flu and though it is a serious enough illness, it should be treated with level headedness, not paranoia. Panic can be a demon that brings on an epidemic of hysteria.

If the media had existed in its current form in the 14th century when the Black Plague first reared its deadly head, probably more people would have died from fear, from fear mongering, from ostracization than those already-high numbers. The Black Death killed an estimated 30-60% of Europe’s population, decimating society and economy for many years to come. Some 75 million people are believed to have died from the bubonic plague.

These days, we may not get to those numbers because medical care is better. Yet we might get to higher numbers because there are far more people than Europe in the Middle Ages. And many cities are overcrowded, not to mention that many nations still have poor levels of sanitation and health. An estimated 500,000 people die yearly from seasonal flus. Mexico City has 22 million people but the flu has shown in a few other areas of Mexico as well as in Texas. Still, there are only 7 confirmed deaths by the WHO as of yesterday.

That’s not many yet. In fact, 150 people out of a population of 110 million is a pretty small percentage. However, every death is a rent, a loss of life and grief for loved ones; that should matter. We do have to be cautious but not crazed. People aren’t getting these from pigs, no matter what the name indicates. Eating pork won’t make a difference. However, one thing that humans learned over the centuries that cut down on the spread of disease and infection was that cleanliness makes a difference.

We’ve moved out of the polite era, when everyone was taught manners, coughed and sneezed into handkerchiefs, washed behind their ears and washed their hands because parents instilled it into their kids. We’ve become lackadaisical in this modern, free age, but what you can’t see can indeed hurt you. When it comes to hygiene we must still be diligent.

Here’s the best thing to do to avoid swine flu, any flu or illness in general: wash your hands well, often, and with soap and water. Cover your mouth with your arm or a tissue if you cough. Use tissues for your nose. Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant. If you cough or sneeze, don’t do it on others. Wash your hands often. Don’t kiss pigs.

Usually influenzas hit the very young and the very old. So far, this flu has killed men in the 25-40 (or 50) age range for some reason. Tomorrow I fly to LA. I’m not worried. After all, I’m healthy. I don’t have a compromised immune system or any illness that weakens me. My lungs (the area to worry about most) are very strong. I’m not flying to Mexico. Even all the people that the flu infects each year do not die from it. Planes are very good incubators of infections/colds in general. A closed space with a lot of people. It’s best to be vigilant about hygiene whenever flying.

There have been questions why the mortality rate would be higher in Mexico than elsewhere. If it’s Mexico City, well, there are 22 million people, as I said. When I was in Mexico in the late 80s, the smog was so bad that birds were dropping out of the air and you could taste it. Add that on top of other respiratory problems and a flu that attacks the same area and it’s not surprising that more people may die in Mexico City (and any other overpopulated, polluted city center) than in other cities.

Flu shots have been given for quite a few years now, optional but encouraged for the young and old. I predict we’ll see more people getting flu shots this year in general. However, a viable vaccine for this current flu would take a few months to work out and perfect. If this doesn’t turn pandemic, then it will have abated by then.

Symptoms are similar to other flu symptoms, fever, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, nausea, possible vomiting and diarrhea, lack of energy and appetite. (More severe cases may deal with respiratory problems and death.) Don’t jump to conclusions if you develop some of these. If you have been to Mexico or in contact with someone who has, watch your symptoms, call  your doctor’s office if you’re worried, or if it is a child or elderly person who is ill. If the fever goes beyond a few degrees or you have trouble breathing, then you will probably want to get checked out. Children and the elderly are always at risk. Eating healthily, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate sleep will keep your immune system strong.

Becoming crazed with fear is a more likely way to get sick than just taking sensible precautions. And when the latest scare is over, continue following good hygenic habits. After all, in many ways we don’t want to go back to, or repeat the Middle Ages.

Update as of 10/15/09: There is an awful lot of hype about this flu and to this date there are fewer people who have died from it than from other flus. However, the high-risk group does seem to be 20-year-olds and early 30s. Each person will have to decide if they need a flu shot or not but as a healthy female, who isn’t pregnant nor in that age group, I’ll forego the shot and take my chances.

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What’s in a Name: Toilet Paper

The other day I went to Safeway to buy toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper; teepee, ass wipe, etc. Most people I know call it toilet paper. Don’t you?

Now I know that Canadians (or Americans, depending on perspective) have different or odd names for things. How many times did I get confused looks in Seattle when I asked for a washroom? “You mean to do laundry?” No, to go pee. Restroom, bathroom, water closet, WC. In past eras houses had two rooms, one with the toilet, the water closet (WC), and the tub in the other. They may have started first with wash basins and then moved to sinks. So…bathroom and washroom? Except that the room with the tub had the sink too. Friends of mine have renovated their old house to have a sink in each room.

So, we’ve established there’s some confusion on what to call the rooms that we get rid of waste and dirt in. But in Safeway, what do you suppose they call toilet paper in the row with paper towels and tissues? They call it bath tissues. Bath tissues.  Geeze. Am I supposed to get out of the bath or shower and do a cheap remake of the mummy, drying myself off on swaths of toilet paper? It would make the paper companies happy I’m sure. But then I’d be picking little bits off of my body and find leftovers in odd places and be sweeping it from the floor for a billion years, or until the next shower. 

Sure, one can argue that toilet paper isn’t any more accurate because you don’t wipe the toilet with it and it’s not paper. It’s finer than paper and tissue like. Toilet tissue? But you do drop it in the toilet. So maybe in the way that advertising never has, we should name things exactly for what they are. Crap catchers, bum wipes, crotch cleaners. Wouldn’t you love to see a Safeway aisle with those names. Slang does have its purpose.

Yet, such terms would be offensive to many, though probably get smiles from others. So we come up with the euphemism, bath tissues, as far away from toilet paper as possible yet all in the same room, the bathroom. Some new houses have gone back to those split rooms, finding it more convenient to have the shower/bath separated from the toilet. And many houses will have just a toilet (WC) off of the living room or kitchen.

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Writing: Rannu Fund Fiction & Poetry Winners

donjuan-cover-72

To the right is the cover of Don Juan & Men, which is due out in June with my story, “The Boy Who Bled Rubies.” It is obviously a book with tales about the homo-erotic natures of men. I believe all the stories have a fantasy aspect, and mind definitely does.

As well, another story that also revolves around some taboo sex, “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” has been accepted by Nancy Kilpatrick for Evolve, a vampire anthology (of modern vampires, hence the title) due to debut in Brighton, England next year at the World Horror Convention.

And then, I entered the Rannu fund for poetry and fiction. I did not win, alas, nor get an honorable mention but received a note, I suppose. Here are the results of the winners, post by Sandra Kasturi, one of the patrons of the fund. Now I just need to sell my story, “Shoes.”

**Please note that all judging was done blind; names, bios, e-mails, etc. were all stripped from the entries.**

Fiction Winners (tie):
“Hell Friend” by Gemma Files
“As Promised” by Nick Stokes

Fiction Honourable Mentions:
“God’s Gift to the Natives: Flight” by Sandra Jackson-Opoku
“Crossroads and Gateways” by Helen Marshall

Fiction Judges: Robert Boyczuk, Candas Jane Dorsey, Sandra Kasturi

Poetry Winner:
“Visitation” by Kim Goldberg

Poetry Honourable Mentions:
“Book of Sloth” by Jacques Benoit
“The Gypsy” by Helen Marshall

Poetry Judges: David Livingstone Clink, Mildred Tremblay, Sandra Kasturi

We would also like to note the entries that made it onto one or more judges’ shortlists:

Fiction:
“Shoes” by Colleen Anderson
“Pearls Before Swine” by Don Bassingthwaite
“No Cages” by Kevin Nunn
“Natalie Touches Upon the World” by Ivan Faute

Poetry:
Jacques Benoit’s “Slow Day in Tabloidland”
Robert Borski’s “Neosaur,” “Frog Prince,” and “All the Clocks of Hell”
Gemma Files’ “Tantalus, Reaching Upwards” and “Jar of Salts”
Kim Goldberg’s “Inner Sanctum” and “Green Thumb”
Sidharth Gopinath’s “Watcher”
Riina Kindlam’s “Vulnerable, with a Pinch of Salt”
Helen Marshall’s “Howling,” “The Oak Girl,” “The Queen of the Cats,” and “Pan”

Thank you all for participating in this competition, and I hope you will all enter again next year–check the website for details in the fall. And thank you again for your patience as the judges got through the entries. (And thanks again to the judges!!)

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Media Creates Paranoia

I was talking with a few people at work today and it came up that one woman has a 12-year-old daughter who is just ready to start walking to school, as opposed to being driven. She said they let you know when they’re ready to walk. I sometimes pass a school in the mornings where there are numerous cars with parents dropping off their children.

When I was a child, at the tender age of six, my mother took me to school the first few times. My next older sibling was six years older and in a different school so she couldn’t take me. After about a week I was on my own, wending my way through blocks and blocks to school. That school was well over ten blocks away.

In the winter, outfitted in multiple layers and big, clunky boots, I would trudge through Calgary snows to get to class and get out of the snow suit, or tights and pants and toque for the classroom. I was late every day for over a week because I just couldn’t make it through the snow faster. My teacher said to tell my mother I was late.

But I still walked to school. My mother didn’t drive. My father often worked out of town and people just did not drive their children to school. It could be argued that people have to go greater distances but we were far enough away that it took a child over a half hour (maybe it took an hour) to get to school. It was at least a mile.

Junior high and high school were all about the same distance as the elementary school and yet we continued to walk it, winter or summer. No one was abducted. I don’t think anyone was even hit by a car. People didn’t drive as fast, roads weren’t as crowded. Perverts didn’t lurk around every corner. I don’t know of anyone who was killed by any means while I was in school.

And speaking of perverts, I bet most parents would quote safety from murderers and abductors as their number one reason for driving their child to school. Probably safety from traffic and then distance would rate as second and third reasons.

Interestingly, we were mature or responsible enough and given the freedom (told to) go to school on our own as children. Parents didn’t watch our every move. We weren’t given cell phones, we weren’t given cars (only a very few kids in high school had cars). The maturity hasn’t dropped in thirty years yet the responsibility level has risen, so what has caused the overprotective nature of parents and the dependence their children now have on them to do everything for them?

Fear. Fear of murder, of sexual abuse, of abduction, of traffic injury, of succumbing to the elements. Overall, the incidence of murder and child abduction hasn’t increased in thirty years. However, driving children to school has. Interestingly, in the US, even the rate of pedestrian-traffic accidents hadn’t increased, but 50% of children injured by cars were hit by parents or other students driving. And school zone speed limits are often exceeded. I see this every time I’m driving through a school or playground zone at 30 km and I’m passed by 90% of the cars.

The increased driving can be partly attributed to the fact that more parents work and fewer stay at home with the kids, there are more cars so that each parent may have one, and media. We now have radio, newspaper, internet and TV. There are more channels and you can get news 24/7 and the same news repeated. And repeated. And repeated. In fact, not only do the news channels repeat and update us several times a day on the same dire crime, they now go into long talk shows and reports and interviews and research on a particular phenomenon.

With the inundation of events, these murders and abductions move to the forefront of our thoughts. Parents hear the details of a horrific child abduction and murder, where the body was found, how the child was murdered, the search and rescue attempts, the hunt for the murderer, the sorrow of the loved ones, and the trial with all the horrific details again. It becomes one never-ending circle, a parent’s worst nightmare and it feels so close.

The media needs to take half the blame here for being too focused on the dark, dire and depressing. When various statistics for most Western countries indicate drops in all sorts of crime including those against children, consider if you’re coddling your child too much. Will the next generation hide in the cocoons of their homes and condos, only interacting through virtual media, too afraid to talk to anyone? I’m worried that it’s already happening, perpetuated not by crime but by the fears of it.

US report on kids walking to school and crime incidences since 1969: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/then_and_now.htm

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How to Date

This is a summation of some aspects of dating profiles that I’ve seen. I’ve tried dating sites and I understand that it’s hard to sound interesting, well-rounded and like a particularly unique individual. But there are some things that will deter men or women from having anything to do with you depending on what your profile says.

  • Try updating those pics, and making sure you have a range of clear ones that show you as you are now, not when you were in high school, twenty pounds lighter or you only dressed as Count Dracula.
  • This also means don’t put pictures of movie stars or models up on your page. Unless you only ever want a virtual relationship you will be discovered the first time you meet your date if he or she even recognizes you.
  • Be honest. Saying you’re completely active and bungee jump every weekend, or like to be a couch potato all of the time is only good if that’s what the person is looking for. Duping them into one date might be how you get your jollies but it won’t help for a repeat performance.
  • Don’t say, “I like romantic, candlelit dinners and walks on the beach.” It’s been used so often no one believes it, like those bad chick flicks. You may very well like these things but say it in your own words.
  • Don’t say things because you think the gals (or guys) will like it.
  • If you’re looking for sex for the night, then make sure you’re in the correct area or section. Don’t troll the dating and long term relationship sections.
  • Don’t chat someone up, ask if they’d like to meet for a drink and when they say yes, you don’t answer. In fact, be honest. Say (nicely), sorry I’ve changed my mind. Most people can handle that.
  • Don’t lead people on. Seriously. If you’re such a social misfit that this is the only thing you like to do and you find it funny, then I’m just happy you’re not getting closer to potential dates.
  • Spellcheck your profile information. You may suck as a speller. You may have a learning disability. That’s okay; that’s why God and Gates invented spellcheckers. Use them to make your words readable. Likewise, if English is your second language, get a friend to proofread for you. Spelling is not a sign of intelligence, but some people will equate it that way.
  • Don’t leave a blank profile, or no pictures and then ask others for pictures or to chat when they know nothing about you. I’m not interested in chatting up someone I can’t see and could be 12.
  • Watch the sarcasm. It may come across well in a group of people but on a dating profile it can come across as bitter. Save it until you get to know the person or be really obvious, such as saying, “That was a joke.”
  • Don’t be rude, condescending, antagonistic, bigoted or angry. Save those for your blog. You can rant there, but if you want to meet people, it’s the best foot, face and words forward.
  • Try to be original. In fact, I’ve read many wonderful and original profiles. People are individuals. No two are alike. The picture and the words are the first step. If someone likes what they see, they may be willing to take the next step and talk to you. But you have to be accessible.
  • Don’t say that looks don’t matter (or activity level) and when you go on a date you tell the person they’re not active enough. Again, be honest in what you really want. For most of us, looks do count to some degree.

So that’s it, a few tips that can make a difference between garnering dates and a howling wasteland. People don’t want games so don’t play them. Don’t lie. Be honest. Stick to your commitments or communicate and say no thanks.

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Writing: Selling Poetry

I was asked if you can actually sell poetry. Yes, there are many places that will pay. And believe me, I’ve bounced my stories and poems around a million places. I could show you reams of rejections. This is the real world: those of us who write speculative fiction (fantasy, SF, horror stories or poems) are always trying to get the great rates of 5 cents a word. That’s a pro rate for all sorts of notoriety and pro status.

In “literature” (said with one’s nose in the air), there are small press magazines, often but not always supported by universities. Some pay pittances but often you’re paid between $25-40 a printed page for stories and anywhere from $25-100 for a poem. Truly, when I started submitting I didn’t think I’d ever get $100 for a poem and it’s now the highest I’ve been paid. Interestingly the other two high points were $50 for poems in the Canadian Stars as Seen anthology, mainly because editor Sandra Kasturi is a consummate poet herself and probably haggled for that amount.

The second amount was, ironically, also speculative, my first real pro sale in Amazing Stories (when it still existed) at $36 US. It’s the sale that got me into SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) as a semi pro. You need three sales to be full pro and even though I’ve sold stories since, it’s mostly to the Canadian markets and hence not “recognized” as pro for lower rates that don’t convert to 5 cents or the once 3 cents a word. Not to mention, SFWA decided that poetry doesn’t count anymore, falling into the mainstream troglodyte thinking that poetry isn’t real writing and doesn’t take as much work. Yet to write a poem can take many days. You can become a full member in HWA (Horror Writers of America) on poetry alone.

 The more common rate for poetry is between $5-$20 a poem. You won’t get rich selling it. You might not get people to your reading. There is still an odd idea that poetry is unfathomable and read in a monotone. Also called “Spoken Word” poetry is like a really short play or soliloquy. It’s dramatic, fairly succinct and plays on words and images.

There are many markets for poetry and the best place to find a comprehensive list is to go to http://www.duotrope.com and search. You can specify romantic, cowboy or fantasy poetry to name a few and if you’re willing to go with a market that pays a token or a pro fee. It is most important to read the guidelines. If the magazine says we don’t take rhyming poems, then don’t send them rhyming poems. If they detest chicken poems don’t send them any. All you’ll do is annoy the editors. They see a lot of submissions. Know your markets and know your field. Practicing writing and reading published poetry will give you and idea of what styles are liked by different publications, and help hone your skills. If you like a poem, why do you like it? Analyse it to figure out what works. Is it a turn of phrase, an image, a word? Trying writing some verse to the poem to get a sense of the author’s style.

Never believe that you can improve. And submit. Receive your rejection with good grace and then submit elsewhere. Every time I send out a poem I look it over, tweak it and then send it out. Sometimes I’ve sold a poem (and it’s been shortlisted or nominated for an award) that I wrote up to ten years ago. Poems don’t go stale and you can improve them. Selecting poetry is very subjective so what one editor loves another will hate. Keep trying and you’ll start to sell some. It’s all about perseverance in your craft and in submitting your works.

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Dancing and Its Allure

I’ve been dancing or taking dance lessons in one form or another for many many years. When I was a wee child of four I took tap dance for a breath or two, enamored by the colorful outfits more than anything. I barely remember it and my mother had some health issues then and couldn’t keep me at it.

At various times as an adult I took jazz dance, Afro-Brazilian, samba and many years of belly dance. I’ve taught belly dance for the past year and a half and am accomplished enough, though I would not consider myself excellent. I would need to be much more fervent about practising every day and taking advanced workshops, which are often too pricey for me. But the moves are second nature to me and no matter if I’m dancing in

The thing about most of these dance styles above is that they are performance dances. You don’t dance with a partner and they’re meant to be watched. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t dance them with others and sometimes this has happened in belly dance, where musicians will play a piece, several women come out and dance and sometimes mimic each other’s moves. A dance can also be choreographed for a group of dancers in any style, whether ballet or belly.

Though these dance forms can be choreographed but overall you learn various moves and then can mix and match as you please. Put a shimmy after a chest drop, or go from a hip circle to a chest circle to snake arms and back to a chest circle. There is no set routine and move.

I took a dance step into the unknown this year and have just completed a beginner’s class in Argentine tango. This is like all dance, a dance to be enjoyed and of course one that can be performed and watched. Where I went from formulating my own moves I was now learning to follow. Of course, I could have learned the lead part but chose to stick to one. And tango is indeed always a partner dance. It’s as far as you can get from belly dance.

Tango involves subtle but clear movements by the lead with a hand and palcement of the foot. And it is mostly if not all about the feet, the step and the movement of them in tandem or separately. What I find interesting is that the lead chooses what step you might perform but the follow gets to do the more elaborate steps.

For many of us it was our first time but it seems that quite a few had taken at least beginning tango before and some were intermediate dancers. There were some leads who moved too fast, some who didn’t indicate the move clearly enough and follows who would anticipate or not follow. That was my biggest problem; I tended to try to anticipate the move. If you’re learning one step, that’s fine because you’re just repeating the step. But if you’re learning to dance tango, which means the order of the steps can change, then anticipating will have you going in the wrong direction from your partner.

Only a couple of the leads (all men in this case) were arrogant about their knowledge, which ticked me off. They were intermediate dancers and I was a beginner for the first time. It’s one thing to ask your partner to relax and let you lead; it’s another thing to keep correcting in an arrogant voice and then tell your partner that she’s nervous. I wasn’t nervous but I was learning and trying to memorize the step, try to get the tempo right and try to follow.

The instructor, Peter, of Dance Addicts (in Burnaby) is a good instructor, funny, relaxed and easy to approach. Because he is such an accomplished dancer and lead, following him is a lot easier. When I can afford it, I’ll take more tango. It will take a while to become accomplished enough at it. Like belly dance, or any other style, all dance takes practice.

Dance is always about flow (whether it’s jerky, stop and start or like water pouring) and grace. Belly dance and tango have a commonality in that they are both sensual dances. The accomplished dancer doesn’t just have feet being placed in the right spot tot he right style. They also have a particular style and grace, which is shown throw line of body, personalizing/flair/sensuality, tempo, movement of feet, hands, arms and head. Dance is always about the whole body, whether part of it is active or passive.

Only the last two classes of the eight-class session in tango started to feel like dance. We weren’t just getting the steps down, but putting them together to music. I closed my eyes for several dances, trusting in my lead and did find it made it better. Instead of anticipating  I tried to feel what his body was telling me in the direction to move. It was fun, it was work. I have a ways to go yet but it’s another form of dance and one thing I do love, it’s dance.

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Burren, Poulnabrone Dolmen and Carran Church

After we left the Ailwee caves we wended our way through the Burren. There are rock walls absolutely everywhere, and then the Burren stone with plants in each hardened rivulet. The walls are of stone stacked vertically or horizontally, some mortared, many not. They could be ten years old or a thousand years old and speak of the ruggedness of the land. We actually passed a sign for an old, stone, ring fort but because there were so many walls we couldn’t find it, as it was inseperable from the rest of the walls. We also went down a wrong road and then had to backtrack. We only knew we’d reached the same spot when we came across some white bagged hay (or something) since the hills looked so much alike. They also reminded me a bit of the Okanagan in BC with the rolling, pastoral hills.
Ireland 2007–Burren, Poulnabrone Dolmen & Carran Church

We had to drive around a few sheep. They proved why they have remained at a low rung on the evolutionary ladder. Some didn’t bother to move. Others would run frantically along the road (all with their butts dabbed in green or red paint) and then stop and chew. It’s like their wee brains went, Ack! A metal monster! Oooh, look nice greens to chew. Two second memories, I tell you.

I’ve already gushed about the Burren but there is a sense of such age and endurance in this area, and beauty mixed with the severity of the landscape in spots that I can certainly see how tales of fairy folk would spring up. Poulnabrone was down one road and we almost missed it too, except it stood a little above the hill. This is called a portal tomb because it looks to be a doorway, perhaps to another realm. This megalithic structure dates back 5000 years and has stood against humans and elements all that time. The ground around the dolmen was amazing and I would definitely see this again for its sheer alieness and stunning landscape. Walking  was a bit treacherous and required looking where you were going but there was all sorts of flora growing in those dips and furrows.

The day was winding down but we still had an hour or two of sunlight. As we were driving out of the Burren we found Carran Church. I couldn’t find much infomration on the church but I’m guessing it’s at least 400 years old (part of it is 15th century) and it’s near Ballyvaughn. One of the pictures shows the brown signs that marked scenic or historical sites. Not a big ruin, it was near someone’s home so I pulled into the driveway (remember, no shoulders on these roads) and took some pictures. The wall had the usual stone stile to climb over. I also met some stinging nettle (through my yoga pants) when I went around the outer wall. Ended up with a burning thigh for a few hours.

Of all the areas in Ireland that we visited I liked the Burren best. The bays near Kinvara were of the deepest blue and it was just so peaceful and pretty in its own way. And onward we went. We were yet to do Dysert O’Dea before we called it a day.

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BC Politics: Faux Pas and Scandals

Here we go again with the dirt, and dragging each candidate through the mud. Ray Lam is the latest victim of the scourge that happens before every campaign. And since BC is gearing up to the provincial election on May 12, and because Campbell’s Conservatives in Liberal clothing have a race for their money, they’re digging deep. Of course, this goes for any side; mudslinging is becoming far too common.

So Ray Lam is the latest victim, who somehow had Facebook photos that he thought were on privacy settings that no one could really see. The media is calling them “racy” photos and I suppose these are to a degree though no actual flesh is seen. Lam has his hand on one woman’s breast and in another a man and a woman have their fingers hooked in his underwear and are peeking in or pulling them down a bit.

When I run for office I will proudly admit to and display all my naughty photos off the bat. I don’t think there are any but one person’s naughty is another person’s tame. What I hate the most is the hypocritical prudery. Many people will claim to be open-minded (heck, what does Liberal stand for in the Liberal party) but will get all bent out of shape over some innocent antic. So some people were partying and went skinny dipping, or flashed the camera, or mooned a car,  or streaked through a field, or wore a giant penis costume for Hallowe’en.

And my opinion: so what? It’s obviously consensual on all people’s parts. There is no violence. There are no underage people. Some people get together and pull some pranks. It’s hardly out of the realm of human behaviour and pretty harmless. Whose morality runs the show?

What bugs me most is that people profess to be open-minded as long as it serves them (just what does liberal stand for in the Liberal party?) yet become indignant about supposed misdemeanours as long as the spotlight isn’t on them. Did I hear correctly that the Liberal member who outed this guy’s photos was asking for an apology? It should be the other way around and the Liberal member should be apologizing to Ray Lam for the untoward attention and a pretty banal thing. In fact, it matters not which party outs the other. If it’s just photos like this, who really cares?

Trudeau once said, “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” This goes for the parties and extracurricular activities as well. As long as a candidate or a politician is not stomping animals, playing with minors, beating people, shooting opponents, stealing, taking kickbacks and bribes, lying or otherwise breaking the law, then there shouldn’t be a problem in their personal life, which should stay personal. Yes a public figure like a politician should be held to high moral standards, but only in the aspect of the law. Oh, but I forgot, one must look innocent and angelic while running for office.

Once you get in you can break the law and stay in office. Like Port Coquitlam mayor Scott Young who was convicted of two accounts of assault and breaching conditions. He stayed in office against protests of his constituents. Or let’s see, Ralph Klein, ex premier of Alberta who swore at homeless people and threw money at them. Well, not exactly against the law because homeless people have no rights and never charged him. Or, oh yeah, Gordon Campbell, convicted of a drunk driving offence in Hawaii but too arrogant to step down or barely apologize.

So, other people must step down from political careers on allegations often later found to be false and unsubstantiated, and candidates have to step down for some silly photos. If the public cares, and I’m not sure we do, then it’s a sad state when we get our knickers in a twist over the minor and harmless infractions, yet offenders of the big ones get rewarded with longer time in office. If we look at honesty, then Lam is more honest for not denying this than Campbell was when he tore up hospital worker contracts.

I wish the media and the politicians would stick to the business of politics and not stick their noses in everyone’s personal business. No one is perfect and people do silly things. We should not all be punished for it and if it’s not against the law, then don’t expect godlike behaviour from mere mortals.

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