Absent Notes

As much as I would rather ponder than leave my house at 4:30 AM every morning this week to oversee catering at a luxury car launch 75 Km. away, sweltering at a race track in 30 degree heat – it’s my job, and I do love it. On the upside it’s a luxury 120 foot yacht this weekend for the fireworks, with a reception for a few hundred people in between.

While going to bed ridiculously early prevents ponders; I’ve discovered the wonder of mist rising from the river and valleys at the crack of dawn. Absent notes will be back in a few days.

It Helps If You Love Your Job

The executive assistant explained she was planning a birthday party for her boss. Navigating broken English we understood they wanted Canadian food, only the best for a party in two days. Lack of common language didn’t hinder our ability to put on a splendid party. Not surprisingly, executive assistant’s “best” involved champagne fountains, expensive scotch, and dazzling floral festooned archways dotted with twinkling lights.. Never one to judge, we pulled out the stops to make boss one of the weirdest birthday/wedding/ sweet sixteen/ 70’s disco parties I’ve laid eyes on.

Our client said everything was perfect – exactly as she imagined. As guests started to arrive it became apparent female guests fell into two distinctly different camps. The ball gown and tiara set, mingled with barely covering your panties in skin tight Lycra dresses teetering on 4 inch heels crowd. Oddly age wasn’t a factor, nor did it seem to make the slightest difference – I suppose dress code was “optional”

After dinner attention turned to the stage for speeches and video montage of boss man’s life. We found the pictures helpful, managing to piece together boss man’s rise to glory in the real estate market, despite absence of our mother tongue. Formalities over it was time for Karaoke.

As I stood next to the stage, a Lycra clad woman approached saying “help” -one of the few English words she spoke. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out her problem.  Blind sided by her period, every square inch from the edge of her skimpy garment to the top of her rhinestone heels demanded immediate attention. I led her out the back door, leaving her hunched over in the back of our van as I went to find a feminine product. No luck – the best I could do was a pitcher of warm water and two clean bar rags – one to wash up with, the other to stuff in her underwear. Her motioning for me to do the washing was met with a firm “oh, hell no”. She shrugged, washed herself, and put the bar rag in her panties.

Suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency she left the van, making a B-line for the stage. I’d missed them calling her name, I didn’t miss her perfect rendition of Lady Gaga’s I Was Born This Way.

Just another day at the office – it helps if you love your job.


I starting pondering theft tonight; no particular reason. I guess it might have started from a story on the news today about a major bust of a credit/debit card fraud organization. I’ve written about identity theft, and card skimming scams – today however, my mind is contemplating physical theft – break and enter crime.

As a kid we never even locked our doors. Small towns are like that, at least they used to be. It wasn’t until I moved to the big city that my lessons in theft and robbery began. My first lesson was brazen; staying at my mother’s apt., Mom in one bedroom with her door closed, me in a second with door open, and my brother sleeping on the sofa.We woke in the morning, had been awake for close to an hour when the phone rang. Somebody was calling to say they had just found my purse in an alley a few blocks away. We had no idea we had even been robbed. Further investigation proved the thief had gone through the pockets of my brother’s pants; gone were his wallet, keys, and car from the underground parking garage. Unbelievable – not one of us stirred as this prowler moved about in the night. Truly one of the most disturbing moments in my young life.

Over the years, despite heightened awareness and precautions taken, more than once I came home to find my drawer contents tossed on the floor. These situations weren’t scary, they just pissed me off. Thieves can make quite a mess of things when they don’t have to tippy toe in the night. Nothing creepy happened again until my wallet was stolen at work. A few days later I got a call from a man calling himself Johnny. Johnny had my wallet and would sell it back to me for $75.00, I was supposed to meet him at the corner of Main/Hastings (which if you know Vancouver would not have been a good idea) Johnny said I could identify him by the 3 tear-drops tattooed under one eye. I can’t imagine Johnny was too happy when met by a squad car, not a woman with $75.00. The police who returned my wallet said he wasn’t a very nice man, but assured me he wouldn’t be bothering me again. I wasn’t so sure; for anyone who’s watched The Simpsons, Johnny was our “Sideshow Bob” – for weeks we looked over our shoulders, expecting Johnny to break down the door at any moment.

We live in a technological era of alarm systems, motion detectors, security cameras, and pass-codes. We can’t ride elevators or enter buildings without a fob, security check points, metal detectors; all tools keeping us safe at home, work, and abroad. There’s good reason for this protection, in fact we demand our security – home security and alarm monitoring businesses have grown in number faster than just about any other business over the last few years.

So I ponder – where do we draw the line? Non of us want “big brother” breathing down our necks, but all of us demand security.

Nothing Like a Good Conspiracy

Good conspiracy theories spread like juicy gossip. Some fade, a few endure, others are  too silly to discuss. Lives are devoted to unearthing “truth”. Conspiracy web sites abound and television shows like Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura or Brad Meltzer’s Decoded offer hours of mindless dribble.

The other day I stumbled upon an episode of Jessie Ventura”s conspiracy show. The subject was “humanzees” , a secret U.S. government research project aimed at designing ape-man hybrids. Ventura and his investigators took the matter seriously – in the end we had a lot of unanswered questions, no credible evidence, and one overly concerned Jessie Ventura.

Naturally I started pondering my list of favourite outrageous conspiracies, a task more difficult than it sounds. It would be easy to go to conspiracy sites and pick out the most ludicrous. Instead I’ve decided to pull them out of my head, approaching this like a game of telegraph. Far too preposterous to research, I settled on fantasises presented as fact.

Ancient Aliens – one of my guilty pleasures – is the source of spectacular nonsense. Hitler escaped in an alien time machine, bigfoot is an alien, an alien race genetically altered the evolution of man, and Joan of Arc was acting on behalf of alien guardians. Not to be out done, Scott Wolter on America Unearthed offers copper from the Great Lakes fuelled the bronze age, the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in America, and a possible ancient Maya site exists in Georgia. Conspiracy dwellers claim Fort Knox hasn’t contained any gold for decades, a massive secret government bunker was built beneath the airport in Denver, Freemasons secretly control America, and the Alaska Triangle gives Bermuda a run for its money. All of these fall into the rather silly category; but I have to admit Fort Knox conspiracies and secret bunkers haven’t been completely stricken from my mind. Nor do I believe Christopher Columbus “discovered” America – ancient history conspiracies should perhaps be given some other name.

The most well known conspiracy might be what happened at Roswell New Mexico. Area 51 has created a cult following of theorists; in my mind the fodder for the science fiction craze that followed. There are people who believe the moon landing was faked, 9/11 was orchestrated by the government, and the CIA assassinated Kennedy. Though little doubt lingers that governments orchestrate perception; look no farther than the weapons of mass destruction fiasco precipitating the  invasion of Iraq as an example – I’m more curious about an explosion of misinformation from news media.

Glenn Beck sits upon his Fox news throne proclaiming Obama is creating a “civilian security force” to enforce Marxism and socialism in America. Beck also came up with his theory of a secret “land based currency”, reporting a government plan to base American currency on land rather than gold. He claimed plans were in place to forcibly take land from citizens using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as their foot soldiers. As if that isn’t crazy enough, Beck claims the government would ask China to step in as muscle in exchange for oil, land, and mineral rights. Beck frequently speaks of Obama’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most people easily discount alien intervention as belonging to the “tin foil hat” crowd. Television programs about conspiracies are taken with a grain of salt, nothing more than mild entertainment. The far greater concern is opinion dressed up as news. The Glenn Becks of this world are dangerous; planting seeds of fantasy, which translate into truth for far too many people, People who now stand unshakeable in their belief that Obama is Muslim with a secret agenda to destroy their way of life. It’s beyond crazy. We wonder why society is crumbling, fanaticism is out of control, and paranoia has replaced common sense.

Ponder mass media conspiracy theorists then ask yourself why we allow opinion to be dressed up as fact. This isn’t about freedom of speech ; when opinion presents itself as truth – a line has been crossed.

Theodore Roosevelt Added to My List of Heroes

I never get tired of stumbling upon something that makes me go “huh”. Most of my ponders grow from “huh” moments; that split second when “holy crap, I didn’t know that” fills your head. Theodore Roosevelt is responsible for tonight’s “huh” moment. Still rattling about, I confess to writing this before giving myself a day for the dust to settle. Being a simple “huh” rather than the meaning of life I’m ignoring the dust, adding Roosevelt to my list of heroes, and forging ahead.

Roosevelt; a Republican, for those who liken Democrats to Satan’s army, wanted to remove “In God We Trust” from American coins.This was in 1907; over 100 years ago and people still don’t get it. We all know it didn’t happen, the battle still rages today with Obama in the cross-hairs. Roosevelt recognized the weight of the constitution, bill of rights, and religious freedom. He asked how it was appropriate for legal tender to discriminate against those of other faiths.

“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege…”

“I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools.”Theodore Roosevelt, Address, New York, October 12, 1915 

“Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practise would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissensions which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization.”

“To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against the liberty of conscience, which is one of the foundations of American life.” – Roosevelt’s letter on religious liberty.

Teddy; Christian , Republican, and above all American said it better than I ever could.

Ponder John Ware

Following the George Zimmerman verdict my thoughts turned to considerable ponders of the differences between the United States and Canada .Slap you in the face points like gun legislation, healthcare, employment standards or education have been beaten to death. I searched my mind for just the right angle to approach the subject from a different perspective.  The name John Ware kept floating to the surface; not one to discount a gut feeling, John Ware stands as my attempt to clear rather muddy ideological waters.

John Ware was born a slave on the cotton plantations of South Carolina.  A free man after the civil war he made his way to Texas, finding work as a ranch hand. In 1882 he was part of a cattle drive moving 3000 cattle across the border to the North West Cattle Co. Bar U Ranch outside Calgary Alberta. Ware decided to stay in Canada; in 1884 he found work at Quorn Ranch, and put in charge of raising horses destined for the English market. The legend of John Ware was born.

In 1885 Ware took part in a massive cattle round-up from Fort Macleod  to the Montana border. An article in the Macleod Gazette wrote “not only one of the best natured and most obliging fellows in the country, but he is one of the shrewdest cow men, and the man considered pretty lucky who has him to look after his interests. The horse is not running the prairie which John cannot ride”

Hard work and saving every penny allowed Ware to register his own cattle brand; by 1890 he had his own ranch. Two years later he married Mildred Lewis.Their first home was wiped out in the flood of 1902, they resettled with their five children near Brooks, Alberta. In 1905 Mildred died of Pneumonia, the next fall Ware died when thrown from his horse after it tripped in a Badger hole.

Held in Calgary, the funeral of John Ware was the largest in history up to that point. The minister is quoted as saying – “John Ware was a man with beautiful skin. Every human skin is as beautiful as the person who wears it. To know John Ware was to know a gentleman – one of Gods gentlemen”

Ask yourself, in what corner of 1905 America would a black cowboy have received this tribute?


John Ware stamp

John Ware stamp issued by Canada Post in 2012

Secret Canadian Research

As if the legacy of Canadian residential schools wasn’t enough; a sickening new chapter in this horror story has surfaced. In 1942 researchers visiting native reservations in northern Manitoba reported malnourished populations. Rather than move to improve conditions, the Canadian government funded research on malnutrition using these “captive” test subjects.

Ian Mosby from the University of Guelph discovered “vague references to studies conducted on Indians” while researching documents for development of health policy in Canada.It seems the government conducted experiments into the need for vitamins, jumping on the opportunity to use already malnourished children as test subjects.  Aboriginal children across the country were “starved” to create a “baseline” for changes that occurred when proper nutrition became available. The first experiment in 1942 was conducted on 300 residents of Norway House Cree, 125 were given vitamin supplements. At the time residents survived on 1500 calories a day – well under the 2000 calories recommended to maintain body weight. By 1947 tests were being conducted at residential school children across the country. Children had milk rations cut in half – at one school for 2 years before increasing it to normal, and documenting their findings. Some schools gave half the children supplements of vitamins, iron, and iodine; another school withheld vitamin B1 to create a baseline for when it was added. Yet another school gave no supplements and minimal food to create a baseline. Regardless of school – dental care was denied as researchers felt it would muddy baselines.


Anyone who doesn’t know about Canada’s residential school shame should read this post….


I can’t say this story shocks me, history has proven it sucks to be an aboriginal person of any country.My ponder lies more with the hope my government does the right thing by acknowledging how messed up our thinking was. Stephen Harper needs to “man up” and start dealing with simmering anger from our aboriginal population.