March 2006 Archives

I assume this means I'm going to hell

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The weather is awesome - today we got up to 22 C (that's 72 F, for those that are so inclined).

How can you tell it's spring in Montreal? People are wearing t-shirts, some are wearing shorts, most are imbibing something on a hastily-assembled sidewalk terrasse, and there are ridiculous line-ups at every carwash in town.

I got my car washed.

It's silver again! I can see through all the windows! The mirrors actually reflect!

Obviously, it's an annoyingly Canadian trait to discuss the weather ad nauseam (although, thanks to global warming, we are not alone in our little meteorological obsession). But that's not really my point. My point is this - because I got my car washed, my Darwin fish is all shiny and glittery.

darwin.jpg

Now, I made a conscious decision, after a lot of thought, to affix said fish to my car. For me, the Darwin fish is not, as some people assume, a symbol of atheism. In fact, I believe that science and religion are not mutually exclusive, and it was my rancour over the whole 'Intelligent Design' debate that prompted my fishy statement to begin with. I believe, and I think Darwin himself might agree, that such a phenomenally impressive process as evolution could be used as proof of a 'designer'/'creator'/whathaveyou. I mean, if I stop to think about the sheer number of pure coincidences required for life on this planet to be what it is, I have to wonder whether or not there is something more to it.

In short, I would not be at all surprised to discover that there is some thing - being, entity, astral plane, or unimaginable thing - so far beyond our current comprehension that the various religions we've built are but the first paragraph of Chapter One of a multi-volume work, if you get my metaphor.

The point is, my Darwin fish is more about my beliefs as a teacher than as a defender of (non)religion.

The point is, my Darwin fish does not, for me, represent atheism.

The point is, my Darwin fish is all shiny and freshly washed and, therefore, very noticeable.

The point is, when I was stuck in traffic this afternoon and glanced up into the rearview mirror and saw a priest and a nun in the car directly behind me, I really wanted to get out of the car and say all of this to them.

And how was your day?

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It has been, I’m afraid, one of those days. In fact, it has been so one-of-those-days-ish that I am reluctant to blog about it, lest I jinx the apparent calm of the end of one of those days. I would not be at all surprised were the laptop to burst into flames, for instance.

The morning started with the usual panic involved in getting the boys out the door and to the bus – despite the fact that I tried to explain to all involved that this morning, of all mornings, I needed to concentrate on getting me ready, because I had a meeting at 9:15, followed by substitute teaching at 10, followed by a presentation to another class at noon.

Despite the panic, I managed to get myself out the door and into the car – which was parked around the corner, since there’s no parking on our street on Monday mornings – by 8:45, leaving myself loads of time to travel to school.

Except the car wouldn’t start.

Belated

I was hoping to have photographic evidence with which to enhance this post, but alas, there is none to be found so far.

Colin and I marched in the parade!!

Yes, that parade!

Ironically, on the one day that everyone in Montreal was pretending an Irish heritage, I, Maggie McDonnell, whose biological father was a Dubliner, and whose mother's family name was O'Keane before my grandfather changed it to the less obviously Irish Catholic 'Kane', marched with the Welsh.

Or, more specifically, the Welsh Male Choir.

Ah well, at least I can sing, albeit not in Welsh. And Colin and I were in Wales in December, which is probably more recently than any of our fellow marchers.

If anyone who was at the parade has a picture of the Welsh group, especially if the picture features a woman in a white coat and a small boy with a Welsh flag, please let me know!

Reflections on Readings

Third journal entry, 'Assessment as Learning'
One of the recurring themes in our class’s responses to the mid-term assessment was “let’s get back to the readings!” As one of the people who contributed to the hew and cry, I now feel an obligation to go back to the readings and think about my reactions to them (also, Dianne asked us to ). I went back to my reading notes, marginalia and apparently random slashes of highlighter, and tried to come up with at least one idea that I found important, impressive or illuminating from each article.

If you're interested in the article titles, let me know.

Validated by juxtaposing

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When I was researching my new camera, I asked my Dad for some advice. He wanted to know why I wanted a new camera - this is why.

The eagle on the left was photographed with my Canon A40 in January. The eagle on the right is the same eagle, same place, same time of day, photographed yesterday with my new camera.

Update
My dad says that he looked at the before and after eagle and cannot see that this "proves anything."

Y'know, I have said this before, and maybe one of these times I'll really do it - no more trying to impress my dad! He's hopeless. smileytongue.gif

March break

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Even pinker
Irene, Kate and I took the boys to the Botanical Gardens today to see the butterflies (and to take many, many pictures).

Black on orange II

I've posted a whole lotta butterfly and flower pictures. Tomorrow - the orchids.

Of pigs and piggies

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Should I be concerned that of all the photos I've posted to flickr, the most popular by far is the close-up of my toes?

Ah, they grow up so fast

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I've just posted Colin's first recipe to The Communal Kitchen, for "rice pudding and chocolate shake soup."

When photo-ops go bad

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Paul McCartney graced Canada with a visit yesterday, but only to bring to light a "stain" on our nation - the annual seal hunt. He and his wife donned fetching orange snowsuits and headed out to the ice floes to save the seals.

McCartney cooed and spoke softly as he came almost nose to nose with bawling pups on the frozen expanse.

Nearby, worried mother seals peered anxiously from areas of open water, clearly frightened by the men and women who so desperately want to be their saviours.

At one point, a prone Heather McCartney began to pet one of the furry pups, which turned and snapped, narrowly missing her hand. Federal regulations prohibit people from touching marine mammals.

...

Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for the federal Fisheries Department, said he took the opportunity to make Ottawa's case directly to McCartney when he spoke with him during a flight into Charlottetown on Wednesday night.

"Sir Paul McCartney said that he had heard that the seal population was declining and there was a conservation issue," Jenkins said.

"In fact, the seal population is at 5.8 million animals and that's about triple what is was in the 1970s."

Jenkins said he was concerned by the McCartneys' decision to pose with the youngest harp seals, known as whitecoats, because hunters have been banned from killing them since 1987.

Well, as long as Sir Paul and the little woman know what they're on about, then.

You know, I am as big a fan of cute animals as the next person. I agree that fox hunting - which is for sport, not fur, and does not mean the livelihood of entire communities in the UK - should be better regulated, if not altogether banned.

I am also all for celebrities using their exposure to benefit people - God knows there are countless Africans who no doubt owe their continued existence to the constant (really constant) nagging of St. Bono.

However, if what said celebrity is nattering on about is based on misinformation and a deep seated desire to be the champion of the small and photogenic, then all s/he is doing is perpetuating the misinformation.

Colin has a friend at school who has obviously heard how important it is to conserve nature, save the rainforests, recycle paper, etc., etc. This friend has informed Colin that his grandfather, my dad, is a bad man because he cuts down trees.

Now, my dad is not a saint. He's not vegetarian, and I don't think I've ever seen him take a stand on world hunger. His track record with nature, though, is pretty good. On his 65-acre property, hunting has never been allowed. One winter, he fed peanut butter toast to an injured raccoon for weeks. He makes room in the freezer for various chicken parts so there's always food for the local foxes.

As for the wood, well, the living room is panelled in wood from his forest. The house is heated at least in part by the wood he cuts. The cutting he does is strategic - old, dead trees, or trees that have been damaged and are thus posing a threat to other trees.

But as far as Colin's eight-year-old friend is concerned, my dad cuts trees, so he's bad.

The brighter side of winter

Click for more pix

Yay March! It's light out after 5 p.m. again! Hope springs eternal, spring being the operative word.

It was warm enough today for us to hit the park on our way home from the bus stop. Given the -25s we've lived through earlier this week, the outing was much appreciated.

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