Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Next Freak Show!

American Psycho - Treble Charger

In an attempt to organize our lives, we make lists. We have grocery lists, to do lists, to read lists. Our PVR's have lists of shows that we want to watch. We organize the music on our I-Pods into lists - romantic music, workout music, inspirational music. We take the time to make the lists, but we often don't do much beyond that. The grocery list with the coupons we had intended to bring along is still sitting on the fridge as we cruise up and down the aisles trying to remember what we wrote. The homework that was assigned was neatly printed in the checklist format of the agenda book and left in the locker. If you think about it, even these "competition" shows on tv can be organized in list format. Starting with 20 contestants and whittled down week by week until only one is standing. The creation of lists is big business. We all want to know what is number one. Whether it is car sales, or mobile phone preference, the longest lasting, biggest. The Guinness Book of World Records is  probably the most well known book of lists, but not to be outdone, Macleans magazine has just put out an all Canadian version of lists. And after all these years we must accept that the CN Tower is no longer the tallest and Yonge Street is not the longest street in the world either. Say what? What happened to shrink it? Calculation error it seems.

Anyways, not to be out done - I have a list. A list of oddities I have come across. In no particular order...you decide what is number one for you.

1. Walk Off the Earth is a quirky name for a band when you stop to think about it. It has been said before that if the world didn't suck we would fall off, so it is not even possible to walk off the earth given the definitive proof that the world is not flat. While you ponder this, head on over to YouTube and check out some of their equally quirky videos. This independent band from Burlington, Ontario has made a name for themselves by one of their most bizarre videos - the Gotye's cover of Somebody That I Used to Know. If you haven't seen it, all five members of the band play on a single acoustic guitar, even the drummer keeps the beat on it. Other videos have band members throwing and catching various instruments mid-note. Watch for the Beard Guy who has his own cult following. They make this list because they have amassed more than 127 million views and an international fan-base because of talent and originality.

2. The world is indeed becoming a dangerous place and nowhere can we see the heightened security and paranoia than at the worlds international airports. One fellow was annoyed at beeping every time he stepped through the metal detector that he finally stripped down naked to prove he had nothing illegal on his person. I can feel his frustration when I witnessed a woman being slowly disrobed trying to rid herself of the offending metal. In her case it may have been the underwire bra. Did you hear about the man who was stopped in San Francisco because he had an obvious bulge in his pants. Turns out he is just well endowed with 9" flaccid and 13.5" erect. He was released after showing his Guinness Record award. The embarrassed and decidedly average security guards were glad to see his go on his way. I doubt many women would consider him a threat.

3. Now here is real danger to the welfare of children - well children with unmindful parents perhaps. KinderEggs are banned in the USA because the toys inside the hollow chocolate eggs could pose a chocking hazard. This threat to security came to light when two gentlemen were detained at customs for more than two hours after American border guards found 6 offending chocolate treats in the trunk of their car. They were threatened with a fine of $2,500 per egg ($15,000) but eventually let go with a warning and the contraband in hand. I wonder how many Canadian children have been injured by these dangerous treats? I must have been a horrible parent for my kids enjoyed the toys and the chocolate and never confused which was which. They played with the toy and ate the chocolate. And I profited with all the Pink Panther Kinder toys I amassed as they chomped. One question for the border guards - are you equally good at spotting more dangerous goods like illegal drugs and weapons? People living in the bullet-ridden streets of Toronto would probably think not.

Pink Panther KinderEgg Toys

4. Speaking of Toronto and the second time for the declaration of the "summer of the gun", the illegal handguns have made their way into the hands of the gang members who seem to quick to turn the muzzle onto the innocent. It's not just Toronto, but that happens to be in my backyard so it's personal. Earlier this year, when the numbers were not yet above average, there was a call for a ban on the sale of bullets in the city. I don't even know how you can make this suggestion with a straight face. Unless transportation to neighbouring communities would be banned as well, how could this possibly be seen as a viable solution? Besides, if you can smuggle a gun with ease, then smuggling bullets would be a no-brainer. I know that our friends to the south have much more liberal gun laws and while I don't agree with the NRA (National Rifle Association) stance on the right to bear arms, I don't live there. I prefer to believe the statistics that show weapons in the home for the protection of family are more often used in the killing of family members - accidentally or in a moment of rage. But to each his own, I guess. Except when it comes to weapons that can shoot multiple rounds which are the preferred mode when taking aim at the innocent. 

5. Baskin-Robbins is closing a plant just outside of the Toronto area because even though it has been running around the clock to keep up demand it is unable to do so. Say what? You need more product to satisfy consumers and you are going to achieve your quota by closing a factory able to produce the goods. 80 people working 24/7 surely must have put a dent (however small) into your supply. Instead, production is going to shift to a plant halfway across the country in Nova Scotia and be shipped back to the gluttonous market in the GTA? I'm thrilled if this mean a boost for the employment status for Truro and I am no business expert but it all seems a little foolish to me. 

6. Back on the crime front, a tale from the bizarre. A 70 year old man shot his 50 year old son and has been charged with attempted murder. The son is said to be grateful for his fathers poor eyesight and onset of Parkinson's for saving his life. Okay, I made that part up. But seriously, maybe if the father had some hearing loss this incident might never have come to this. It seems that the reason for the shots fired was to stop the "young" man from singing. His father didn't like his sons country karaoke singing. Maybe he would have been happier with some rapping? Opera? Yodeling? Or the NRA can look into age restrictions for weapon ownership?

7. A simple search on the internet will get you to a bizarre list of ways to cheat at the Olympics. Anything that increases your percentage of red blood cells seems to work, although it is referred to as blood doping and is illegal. Athletes find ways around it, but most methods appear to involve removal of blood before manipulation like exposure to ultraviolet light or spinning in a centrifuge. Depending on the sport, manipulation of clothing and equipment or manufacture therein can enhance performance. The same old song and dance, money can buy you an edge over the competition. Winning on your own merits will of course be the greatest win of all. 

8. Being as it is Olympic Time for the summer games in London, England - let's consider the value in the spectacle. I suppose I may raise a few eyebrows and tempers, but I am not convinced that the Olympics should be continuing in modern times. It is not the competition and show of excellence that I object to, it is the money. From the initial gargantuan deposit to make a bid to host the games, to the building of the one time use facilities - the cost is astronomical. And some cities make repeated bids to be called hosts of the games until they are finally successful. As for the athletes, there are a lot of kids who have natural ability in sport, but it takes money to go beyond community sports league. If we can pay for the private coaching, we can turn a driven competitor into a winner. And therein you have another issue with the Olympics - children from a young age are removed from a life of childhood to one of glory in sport. Pre-teen competitors are not the norm nor are they the exception. 10 years of age is the youngest recorded...so far. 

9. You can find just about anything for sale or wanted on e-bay, Craigslist or Kijiji. Up for bids - an entire town including the title of mayor, an Australian man sold his entire life (car, house, job and friends). The internet is the go-to place to make a life also. Dating site for the love lorn abound, whether you are looking for a one time encounter, discreet hook-ups or long term matches. But some people go a little too far and post ads for illegal activity. For reasons not disclosed, a man in the US posed as his wife wanting a rape fantasy fulfilled. E-mails were exchanged with willing participants and the men were told to force there way into the home and perform the rape no matter no much resistance was encountered. That is just sick. Luckily for the first man on the scene, when the woman managed to get a hold of her gun she didn't shoot to kill but did hold him at gunpoint until police arrived. Hmm...about those gun laws...

10. Facebook used to be a great place to go to socially connect with people who were your friends and to make new friends. Parker Brothers game night took on a life of its own with Farmville, Cityville and Mafia Wars. All of a sudden playing games was fun again. But for most, the constant demands of the games and bugs that made play too frustrating lost its appeal. But there was so much more. Nowhere else could you show a picture of yourself...sit back and let the positive comments flow. Egos soared high. But now there seems to be a concerted effort to make us feel inadequate. You know what I am talking about..it's "Click and share if":
- you love your mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, dog, cat, rat
- you had the greatest parents, childhood, family, job, breakfast
- your son, daughter, pet, boss mean the world to you
- you love your life, your car, house, heritage, trash can
Newsflash people, I love my family and children. I know people who have died and have been ill and I love them too. My spirituality is important to me as is my happiness and friends. If I don't click and share doesn't change those facts. You would almost think that someone was earning money for every click. Like the chain letters from days gone by that we were afraid to break. Click if you want but don't be afraid not to. The heavens will not fall down on your shoulders I promise.

11. Tattoos have become the new norm, like the piercing of the eyebrows, lips and even gentiles used to be. The safety pins in the cheeks of the 80's era punk rockers used to gross me out but at least they could take them out when the fad passed and maturity set in. Even psychedelic hair colours and styles could return to normalcy and you could pass as a CEO with your youthful discretions well hidden in grainy photographs. But a tattoo is without surgical intervention, permanent. And there are medical considerations - you may be denied MRI or epidurals. Any one who has been pregnant can vouch for what happens to skin when it is stretched and then the tension is released - what happens to a tattoo placed in this area? And when that 20 year old is 80 and the skin is wrinkled and covered with age spots, how do the tattoos look now? I shudder to think. But the most important question I have is: When you encounter a person who is well-blanketed in tattoos, do you want to make out with them or read them? Being an avid reader, yes even of picture books and comics I would...lol! As artistic and beautiful the pictures may be, sometimes you have to get up close and personal to understand what exactly you are looking at, especially if it is partly covered by clothing or part of a collage of images. When I hear about inked errors or less than satisfactory work performed I have to admit that I am amused. 

12. Have you ever worried about losing your wedding ring? How about having it pierced right into the skin of your finger? Actually looks kind of gross close up and it's gotta hurt getting it done. I think I would rather insure the jewelry and risk losing it. 

13. Did you hear about the 11 year old boy who without a passport, ticket or boarding pass managed to fly from England to Italy all on his own. How comfortable are you feeling about the level of security at our airports now? If a child can do it so can anyone else. A child travelling alone should have raised all kinds of flags, but it wasn't until he was seated on the plane and bragging to other passengers about his exploits that the crew was alerted to his presence. Travelling 1700 km undetected and for free...maybe I should have a chat with the lad, I may get back to Europe yet!

14. Who jokes about running over a turtle? American country music star Blake Shelton, that's who! Feathers were ruffled all over Twitter, lambasting the celebrity for making light of animal cruelty. Why even Ellen DeGeneres got in on the action. In the end, Blake Shelton apologized for the cruel joke saying he wasn't even in the state where he said the incident occurred. So what's his excuse then? Drunk? Bad publicity is better than no publicity to ramp up concert attendance? 

That's my list of oddities in the world around me. For now! Because the world just seems to be getting more and more bizarre all the time. It seems for some there are no boundaries no lines of social acceptableness that can't be crossed. God bless the generations to come. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Like a Scared Chicken

I Did My Best - Soul Asylum

Some people get annoyed with me when they see similarity between themselves and something I have posted or written. To be clear, unless I use your name specifically you can't fairly accuse me of anything. May I add that if you find it unflattering perhaps you should take a moment to stand in front of the mirror and partake in some personal reflection and soul searching. Paranoia can manifest itself from some form of reality. If you think your nose is too big, maybe it really is. :) On my part, it may be a composite of you, but not necessarily you alone. Hence the use of the word composite: by definition "made up of several parts or elements." My writings and musing may come from dreams, reflection or based partly or wholly on fact and experience. I will not explain my writing and thoughts to those who want to attack based solely on their own insecurities. 

I have been pleased with the opportunity to do a lot of self-introspection and analysis of my life and choices. I can't say as I always thought of it as an opportunity because it was not my choice of activity for the past year and a half or so. But there isn't much that you can do with the hand that you have been dealt besides play it out as far as you can. I have learned that I have permitted toxic people to share my existence. I am now more in touch with my feelings and realizing that I am very uncomfortable in the presence of some of these people. At the same time I am finding a deep support system of people in my life that go above and beyond with their self-less consideration. It is these people that will become the focus of my days. 

Many people send private messages expressing pleasure and gratitude for things that I have shared that has touched them in some way. I can ask for nothing more in terms of praise and acceptance. Thank you. It has never been my intent to offend, but I do recognize that it can happen none-the-less. May I extend my heartfelt apologies if this is the case. 

One thing I can say with complete conviction is that I have never tried to live my life to please others. Some people will like you, some will barely tolerate you and others will downright abhor you. There is very little you can do to change their mind. Everyone walks on the earth with their own unique perspectives on humanity. Like me or not, the only one I have to please is me for that is who I look in the eye in the mirror each day. And I answer only to my God. The halo placed upon my head is askew and tarnished for I am not perfect by anyone's standards especially my own. But it is not for you to judge, thank you very much. 

Who am I kidding? One look at the stranger coming towards us on the sidewalk and we are making judgments like we are Judge Judy. It could be considered a survival skill, like animals in the jungle. We must determine if the impending encounter will be dangerous. Is it a predator? Friend or foe? The problem comes in when we use those initial observations to forever and negatively brand a person. There is a stereotypical portrait of a person whom we should be wary of or so the media would have us believe. Does Jeffrey Dahmer fit this image? Recently it has come to my attention that people have made a pre-determination about me. A word that has often been associated with me is "Strong". I hate that word because people have recently used that adjective in a negative connotation referring to me. I've never considered myself strong anyway. Stubborn yes! I have fortitude and sense of survival. I don't like to give up and I dislike losing. But I am weak and have a poor self-esteem...that is not strength. Only 2 people in recent memory have seen through to the real me when first meeting me - these people are smart and perceptive :) 

Fight or Flight? Which one are you? When faced with an uncomfortable situation or the need to take a stand, what is your choice? I fly like a scared chicken right across the road in front of speeding cars with no regards to personal safety just so I can get away and hide. But people see my intelligence and articulation as an ability to stand up and fight. Being opinionated doesn't make you strong - it makes you mensa material - if you can back it up. When someone says "I think" it probably means that they actually have the ability to formulate a thought, hopefully it is an intelligent one.     

I just ask that you consider the individual before you treat them as you have judged them. I made that mistake and am grateful that I gave that young man a second chance for he deserved it and has enriched my life by being a part of it. I am grateful that he forgave me and I am very proud of him. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Waves are Calling

Mimi on the Beach - Jane Siberry

I never thought I would be able to stand it. It has been 6 days without the sound of music ringing in my ears almost 24/7. But something else has replaced the soothing tunes of the bands I love; the constant sound of the waves methodically slapping against the rocky shore and the occasional low-pitched rumble of the hummingbirds coming to the cottage window to feed. It is all very soothing and rhythmic cadence has the ability to lull one into a place of nirvana that puts me in mind of a particularly successful yoga or meditation session. The inner peace that comes with doing something that causes your heart to spill over with overwhelming sense of joy and love: like holding your brand new baby for the very first time. The wonder in their eyes is the wonder that I feel when I watch that movement of the open water. It takes me away to a place where nothing else matters. Of course the spectacular sunsets can easily take the place of the mundane fair on the television, the changing cloud patterns and pictures they make are like a never-ending movie. Even the spinning propeller on the airplane whirl-i-gig can capture my attention for hours on end and I watch it spin while my imagination runs rampant with the adventures that the plane embarks on, the people who have journeyed. I know it isn’t true for only the inhabitants of Lilliput…for they would have to be very tiny to fit into the hull of this particular 12” wooden aircraft. Where are the little people going? Where have they come from? The hummingbirds whizzing past could be pterodactyls in a size comparison. Or fighter jets dive bombing the intruder. Even the yellow caterpillars (no bigger than a grain of rice) that float through the air on the breeze are imagined as paratroopers on a mission. It's a wonderful life when there is nothing but the beauty of nature to clutter your thoughts.

Sunset with a plane ready to land :)

And this is how I have been spending my time for the past week. Well that and soaking up the sun during the day, reading, visiting, building inukshuks. You see a rocky beach - I see art!

a small sampling of the visitors that arrived

It is a beautiful place and the owner who extended the invitation to have me come out and share in the blissfulness calls it heaven on earth. I now for myself see why she does. I’ve never been a cottager but I can see myself fitting in this scenario quite well. Truth be told, I think I knew before I arrived that my heart belonged on the water and that my soul is at peace when it is regulated by the rhythmic sound of the lapping waves. Unconsciously it has always been the go-to place; as a youth in turmoil I always made my way to the look-off in my hometown of Thunder Bay and would sit for hours just thinking or sometimes letting my mind drift like the buoys alerting the watercraft of danger. I was too far away to hear the waters of Lake Superior crashing onto the shore, but I had an incomparable view of the Sleeping Giant and the freighters that navigate the waters of the Great Lakes. The ships came empty and filled up with the grains from the prairies that came to our city via trains. It was a bustling place back then in its heyday. At the time I wasn’t concerned about the  economics, but rather the majesty of those hulking ships. So big and massive yet they could float like a feather on the water. I wanted to be the Sleeping Giant. Laying out there at the mouth of the harbour - he is majestic and so at peace. He was as alone as I felt but he carried a heavy burden. The story of Nanabijou as the Ojibway called him was a legend about the riches of the silver mines over which he lays.  He was condemned to a life of stone to forever be the protector of the bounty in the mines under the waters of Lake Gitche Gumee. To this day you can see partly submerged silver mine shafts but efforts to pump out the water have repeatedly failed. The Great Spirit of the Deep Sea Water ensures that it remains flooded.  It was a great place to grow up but it became infused with too much tragedy for me to stay. I think I have been searching for my Nirvana ever since. 

Sunset with one of the 30 inukshuks I built

Sometimes you can make your piece of heaven wherever you are dependent on the people you are with. I’ve loved every place I have lived with my children, but I was so busy marveling at their beauty as they grew that I never realized how much I was missing the tranquility of the waters. Only in the past few years of dealing with my own personal struggles have I felt a compelling need to escape and return to the water. Maybe I was a mermaid in a previous life…lol! I wonder if Sagittarius is a water sign? Is it just me that is drawn to the waters like a magnet? I doubt that one but I do know it is true for me. Interestingly, while I enjoy boats - I am not drawn to being on the water so much as being near it. That is life experiences I suspect. While I enjoyed swimming, I didn't revel in competitive swimming especially when the coach would throw styrofoam floaties to get your attention. These days you will still find me in the water, but with or on a floatie (so it can't be thrown) and seeking out the perfect wave or rollers to take me away. Like a baby in a cradle I am cocooned in the warmth of the water, being rocked by Mother Nature herself. I've been in a number of boats in my younger years where I wasn't comfortable with the competency level of the "captain". Sailboats may be more my speed - I would like to know what it is like to be gliding over the calm waters with the fluttering of the sail guiding your course. Maybe someday I will. For now the bigger dream is a ocean going vessel to take me across the Atlantic, or on a Mediterranean or Norwegian cruise. I should check those lottery tickets...I could be climbing aboard now :) 

Sunset with a piece of driftwood 

It was with great trepidation that I left this land of peace and love. It is with the knowledge that someday soon I will return. Perhaps the next time will be a more permanent journey. Closer to the people and land and sea that I love. And the host will never know just how much I appreciated their kindness, for they allowed me to clear my mind and cleanse my soul to find a goal that with some conviction and sacrifice I can someday achieve. And not look back.  

From the water we are born.  
The water sustains us. Food we can live without. 
Water enables all life forms.  
Our strongest emotions are shown by the appearance of water.  
All I really know is it is on the shores that I belong and will one day return to. 
It is not to dust that I wish to return - but to the water.

Monday, July 02, 2012

I AM Canadian Eh?

Oh...Canada - Classified

How you know you are Canadian. You end every sentence with Eh.
EH = Pronouced AY (similar, but not the same as huh)

It's all about national pride at this time of year if you are indeed Canadian. To be completely accurate however - none of us are really true Canadians save for the aboriginal people that were here before the invasion of the Europeans. But where did they come from? I've heard it said that we were all at one time descended from a tribe in some corner of Africa. But that is a heavy topic that we will leave for another day. Now, today it is all about Canada. I was born here so while I claim a European (Italian) heritage, I do consider myself fully Canadian. My parents and grandparents where all born in Italy but they thought enough of the honour of being considered Canadian that they gave up their citizenship of birth to pledge to Canada. They became Canadian.  

Canada is known far and wide for peacekeeping, friendliness and acceptance. Back in the 1980's when it was still fashionable to backpack through Europe upon graduation from high school, the one piece of advice I was given was to affix Canadian flags to my gear so I could be quickly identified. There was still a lot of animosity and bad feelings towards Americans and you didn't want to give the idea you were from the USA. In fact, I ran across a number of people from all parts of the US sporting Canadian flags. Apparently they heard the same stories about preferred treatment for Canadians. Accents aside, I think being from this country is not something that is easy to fake. It's just different here. 

I am not claiming to be the most prolific traveller - my experiences lie primarily within the eastern parts of North America. But what I found is that as a whole Canadians were more openly friendly and willing to help. Without question, the people of Nova Scotia take top honours on the "open arms, shirt off your back" award. If you could dissect a few citizens and bottle the genuineness of their spirit, you could make a fortune. It's pretty amazing. And the best part is that a lot of people have become aware of this recently. Just mention Nova Scotia here in Southern Ontario and the first thing you here are comments about the friendliness of the people. I would love to think that other parts of the world view our country in the same way.

The problem I have with multiculturalism is not the mixing and mingling of a variety of cultures in the melting pot of one to create a brand new blend. The problem I have with multiculturalism is not the expanded knowledge of people from varying backgrounds with differing languages. Being Canadian means accepting a dual language policy. Everything I buy at home has both English and French written on it. Where you memorized everything there was to read in English on the cereal box when you were a kid, you tried to understand the French equivalent. I was thrilled as a kid to have the opportunity to try foods from the country of my parents birth, to learn a little bit about what it was like in the "old country". Now many of those food have become staples of the Canadian dinner table. 

Canadian, Please

But immigration and the attitude towards it has changed over the years. My family was thrilled to be chosen to come to this new land full of freedom and opportunities that they would not have had at home. This gratitude was evident in the work ethic that they displayed and the assimilation into the life in Canada. The country owed them nothing, they owed the country that took them in. Today that attitude is for the most part gone. And that acceptance we were so widely known for is disappearing. There is a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of Canadians, there is a fear that the country we love is going to be gone. In an effort to encourage immigration, our identity is being given away. Rather than coming to this country and assimilating, people are coming and trying to change it. Just recently I read a post on facebook that said: 

"Don't come to my country and try to make it 
into the country you left behind. 
If where you came from was that great 
you wouldn't have left it in the first place."

There is a lot of truth in those words. For me, I guess is started many years ago when the iconic symbol of Canada was taken to court and forever changed when someone wanted to wear the uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to suit him. He couldn't wear the stetson hat over his turban. Maybe it is a little thing but it wasn't to me. I can't even wear glasses in my official identification, but others are allowed face and hair coverings? Bottom line for me, is if you are coming to Canada for what it and the people stand for, why do you want to change it? I don't care for the abuse of our inherent good nature. That abusive intent extends to those who manipulate the health care and social security system that I and my ancestors have worked hard to protect and maintain by bringing over ailing relations who have contributed nothing to the system. 

I remain at odds over the whole "running across the border to avoid the draft" business. With the strong sentiments over the morality of the Vietnam War, I have a lot of compassion for those people who fled what they felt was an egregious injustice. I hope that those people where able to find peace and comfort in their new land and didn't just use it for personal gain. On the other hand, I know of someone who in the last week of all 4 of her pregnancies rushed across the border to give birth to ensure that her offspring would be American citizens. When we spoke of the pitfalls of medical insurance and the draft, she claimed it was her intent to ship the children back to Canada for health care and at a time of the enlistment. It's not just a inanimate country you are abusing. It is the people who work and take pride in that country that you are abusing. Am I alone in seeing how wrong this is?

As a peace-loving nation, we are better allies to other countries than the one who storms in and throws the first punch. Just a few war facts, without too many details our defense budget is laughable so is our stock of armament and military equipment. Most of us are okay with that - sure don't hear about a lot of protests that is for sure. In the war of 1812 however we still managed to burn down the White House and most of Washington. Our own "Civil War" was led by a drunk and possibly insane William Lyon McKenzie - it was essentially a bar fight that lasted less than an hour. One person was arrested and hanged after the civil war and he was an American mercenary who slept in and missed the whole "war", showing up just in time to get caught.

Bob and Doug McKenzie - The Great White North

- land of the strong
- home of the free
- innovative
- inventive
- medical miracles
- scientific breakthroughs
- peaceful
- kind
- polite
- funny

I am Canadian, 
free to speak without fear,
free to worship in my own way,
free to stand for what I think right,
free to oppose what I believe wrong,
or free to choose those who shall govern my country.

- Hockey, basketball, lacrosse, instant replays
- Poutine, Nanimo bars, butter tarts, bloody Caesar, peanut butter, Crispy Crunch,
- Blackberry, standard time, walkie-talkies
- Birch bark canoes, snowmobiles, Canadarm
- Electric Wheelchair, foghorn, snow-blower, cardiac pacemaker
- Insulin, electron microscope, plexiglass
- Garbage bag, wonderbra, Jolly Jumper, pablum 
- caulking gun, Robertson head screwdriver and bits, duct tape (yeah baby!)

And don't forget....
Tim Hortons Coffee
The Mickey - no not the mouse! 
The 2-4 case of beer with handles that fit mittens built into the sides :)
and beer that is worth drinking! :)

Our biggest (at least funniest) export is our comedians. John Candy, Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel, Rick Moranis, Mike Myers, Leslie Nielson, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Andrea Martin. What would Saturday Night Live be without Canada's own Lorne Michaels?   

A bit of National Pride 
brought to you by the makers of elixir of Canadians from Sea to Sea - Molson Canadian Beer! circa 1980's

I am not a lumberjack, or a fur trader,
and I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled,
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada, although I'm certain they're really, really nice.

I have a Prime Minister,
not a President.
I speak English and French,
NOT American!
and I pronounce it "ABOUT"

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, NOT policing.
DIVERSITY, NOT assimilation
And that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
I know that a toque is a hat,
a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced "zed" not "zee"
Canada is the second largest Land mass in the world!
The first nation of hockey!
And the best part of North America!
My name is Joe (or Liz :)
and...I AM...C A N A D I A N !

Editorial from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - August 2003

It's not just the weather that's cooler in Canada. You live next door to a clean-cut, quiet guy. He never plays loud music or throws raucous parties. He doesn't gossip over the fence, just smiles politely and offers you some tomatoes. His lawn is cared-for, his house is neat as a pin and you get the feeling he doesn't always lock his front door. He wears Dockers. You hardly know he's there. And then one day you discover that he has pot in his basement, spends his weekends at peace marches and that guy you've seen mowing the yard is his spouse.

Allow me to introduce Canada. The Canadians are so quiet that you may have forgotten they're up there, but they've been busy doing some surprising things. It's like discovering that the mice you are dimly aware of in your attic have been building an espresso machine. 

Did you realize, for example, that our reliable little tag-along brother never joined the Coalition of the Willing? Canada wasn't willing, as it turns out, to join the fun in Iraq. I can only assume American diner menus weren't angrily changed to include "freedom bacon," because nobody here eats the stuff anyway. 

And then there's the wild drug situation. Canadian doctors are authorized to dispense medical marijuana. Parliament is considering legislation that would not exactly legalize marijuana possession, as you may have heard, but would reduce the penalty for possession of under 15 grams to a fine, like a speeding ticket. That is to allow law enforcement to concentrate resources on traffickers; if your garden is full of wasps, it's smarter to go for the nest rather than trying to swat every individual bug. Or, in the United States, bong.

Now, here's the part that I, as an American can't understand. These poor benighted pinkos are doing everything wrong. They have a drug problem. Marijuana offenses have doubled since 1991. And Canada has strict gun control laws, which means that the criminals must all be heavily armed, the law-abiding civilians helpless and the government on the verge of a massive confiscation campaign. (The laws have been in place since the '70's, but I'm sure the government will get around to the confiscation eventually.) They don't even have a death penalty!

And yet...nationally, overall crime in Canada has been declining since 1991. Violent crimes fell 13 percent in 2002. Of course, there are still crimes committed with guns - brought in from the United States, which has become the major illegal weapons supplier for all of North America - but my theory is that the surge in pot-smoking has rendered most criminals too relaxed to commit violent crimes. They're probably more focused on shoplifting boxes of Ho-Hos from convenience stores.

And then there's the most reckless move of all. Just last month, Canada decided to allow and recognize same-sex marriages. Merciful moose, what can they be thinking? Will there be married Mounties (they always get their man!)? Dudley Do-Right was sweet on Nell, not Mel! We must be the only ones who really care about families. Not enough to make sure they all have health insurance, of course, but more than those libertines up north.

This sort of behavior is a clear and present danger to all our stereotypes about Canada. It's supposed to be a cold, wholesome country of polite, beer-drinking hockey players, not founded by freedom-fighters in a bloody revolution but quietly assembled by loyalists and royalists more interested in order and good government than liberty and independence. But if we are the rugged individualists, why do we spend so much of our time trying to get everyone to march in lockstep? And if Canadians are so reserved and moderate, why are they so progressive about letting people do what they want to?

Canadians are, as a nation, less religious than we are, according to polls. As a result, Canada's government isn't influenced by large, well-organized religious groups and thus has more in common with those of Scandinavia than those of the United States, or, say, Iran. 

Canada signed the Kyoto global warming treaty, lets 19-year-olds drink, has more of its population living in urban areas and accepts more immigrants per capita than the United States. These are all things we've been told will wreck our society. But I guess Canadians are different, because theirs seems oddly sound. 

Like teenagers we fiercely idolize individual freedom but really demand that everyone be the same. But the Canadians seems more adult - more secure. They aren't afraid of foreigners. They aren't afraid of homosexuality. Most of all, they're not afraid of each other. 

I wonder if America will ever be that cool. 

While the author makes some good points, he does need some further education on others. What too many people on the this grand planet of ours tends to forget is that we all have needs and desires and you shouldn't have the right to trample of mine because they happen to be different than yours. This applies to immigrants coming to a country then forcing it to adopt all the policies and views that weren't working in the land from which they came while they forget that they are infringing on the views I hold dear. I may not chose homosexuality as my preference but do I have the right to take away rights of people for that reason. While marriage may not be a term I would use, certainly a union with the same benefits is not unreasonable. I like feeling safe among my neighbours and in my community knowing that the chances of being shot accidentally are minimal. 

A bit of Canadian Trivia:
1. How many time zones are there in Canada?
2. How many NHL teams does Canada have?
3. When did Oh Canada become the national anthem? (year and date)
4. How many cities have hosted the Olympics? Which cities and what season?
5. In what year did Canada official become a country?
6. What is a prairie oyster? Would eat it or steal a gem from it?

For more fun Canadian facts: 
check out this link Canadian-isms