This weekend I learned two things: Canada has a remarkable amount of water, a remarkable amount that we use and a phenomenal amount that we waste. Water is an issue, or a commodity according to many companies and governments, that will become the oil of the future. 
     Not 25 or 50 years from now. But tomorrow and next week and next year.
     In fact, it’s an issue today. 

     Global water companies are buying the water rights of cities, regions and countries, bottling it and selling it back to citizens at much higher costs than publically owned water. In Bolivia, privatization went as far defining rainwater as private and not allowing people to collect it.
     Actually, I knew this marginally. But Blue Gold, an excellent documentary, open my eyes wide to the issue, it’s politics, it’s economics and it’s growing and, in some cases, devastating social consequences.
     Which leads to second thing I learned – that people, the clichéd grassroots, really can flex extraordinary power, locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. For example, the people of Bolivia and Uruguay rose up and forced the multinational corporations that controlled water out their countries.
      Leading to my second realization, people, people, people, ordinary and silent most of the time, have great power, unrealized power, by coming together. They have in fact more real power than any activist, no matter how committed or how worthy the cause. Politicians know how to react to activists, how to marginalized.
     Put thousands of people in the street coalescing around one or two issues, and governments haven’t a clue what to do. Look at what’s going in Quebec right now. The growing mass civil movement has brought down the Minister of Education who was also Deputy Premier. Who knows where this uprising will end.
     I hope that the occupy organizers (?) are watching and learning how to really shake a government or a multinational corporation to its core.

     There's a first time for everything. And this is the first time I've reblogged something, the first time I've even considered it. This post is written by someone who lives with depression (not suffers from). Who has had her life dramatically altered. And has the courage to write about this disease.
     I know for my own experience with bipolar disorder and depression, the reality she writes about - the darkest shadows that seems to obliterate thought and desire. I hope that this will shed light on depression, which is also major factor in bipolar disorder:

Picture this. You’re trapped beneath a safety-blanket of duvets and pillows. The room is dark and silent. All you hear is your breathing; and sometimes you’re not quite sure if you’re really alive. It feels like you’re wrapped in a big, dark spider web; you know something bad is coming, but you don’t even want to struggle or escape. Days and nights pass in a blur of half-sleep and daydreams. Time ceases to mean anything. You can’t remember when you last brushed your teeth; and it doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to.

Suddenly, somebody comes stomping in, full of cheeriness and attempts to gee you up. They flounce over to the curtains and fling them open, pulling the nice, safe duvet from you and exposing you to the harsh, painful light. Your eyes sting. You haven’t seen real daylight in a while. You feel cold and naked; the act of stripping away a blanket is, to you, a cruel and unusual punishment. The whole world can see you now, and you’re scared.  Tired, anxious, weary and scared. You just want to be left alone.

This is why pointing out lovely weather is annoying and pointless.

Depression is a cruel illness. It strips you of your ability to care or relate to anything around you. It fills your mind with emptiness – a saying I never understood until I experienced chronic depression myself – and it’s all you can do to blink without giving up.     read the rest

    Ok, it’s Sunday. For me, for many years, it’s meant a morning run.
    However, when you’re in my position, which is essentially without work, or if you’re a buffalo, you forget this Sunday is the middle of a long weekend.
    The Victoria Day weekend is odd and funny for two reasons:
    It marks summer’s arrival. In Ottawa, this is very noticeable – boats start lolling down the Rideau Canal and a couple of major roads are open only bikes, roller bladers and others on Sunday mornings.
    These are good things.
    Or people with cottages or weekend places (some nicer than their homes) work like hell to get them ready for the summer. Then report back to office on Tuesday, “Yep out at the cottage this weekend.”   
     Not good things.
     But for me, Sunday mornings are set aside to run. This morning I was hoping or a pleasant 12-13 kilometre run. A final tune up. Next week is the National Capital Marathon weekend and, for me, the half-marathon. 
     This morning, however, was not a good run. It was laborious These things happen occasionally. I live with them. Get over them. The next day will be better. Usually it is.
     Someone asked this morning, why?
     Good question. Why do I run?
       1. A good run can be exhilarating. In many ways. 
       2. It can be extremely meditative, particularly when your body 

          goes on autopilot.
       3. The stride sometimes turns to a glide, which is like running on air.
       4. I’ve come back from a run with something close to 

          completely written.
       5. I’ve come back from a run and not known where I’ve been.
       6. A good run in extreme temperatures really can feel tremendous. 
       7. Sweating is always good. Well almost also.
       8. Times when I song on my IPod really hits me and i realize 

          I’m singing, loudly. 
       9. The little wave runners have as they pass, a slower version of 

           the Harley acknowledgement.
       10. I drink chocolate milk after.
     That’s about all. Oh, one more thing. 

     Some told me it’s good for me.
   As many, most, all of you know by now, Donna Summer - the Queen of Disco - died yesterday. I felt oddly sad about this news. I didn't like her music. I abhorred disco when she was it's pin-up girl. I liked it when some baseball owner decided that burning disco albums (or maybe blowing them up) was the right thing to do. I agreed. As did my friends.

    A strange thing happened. After I read about her death, I began writing. And continued. And wrote more. It became something of an eulogy to Ms. Summer. 

    What else should I do but share it.

Hey, loved to love ya’ baby.
Anyone who dies at 63 young 
has died too soon.
With probably much left to do.

So I Feel Love, for Donna.
Whose summer of love and disco (sucks),
swelled during my early teen ages,
My close friend’s favourite t-shirt,
ratty black, bold and disdainful,
blazed DISCO SUCKS and it did then.

She Worked Hard for Her Money
but not ours. Sorry we didn’t contribute. 
Donna, if only your last name was
Ramone, though your name did 
rhyme with M-M-M-My
Sharona, well not really but close.

                                          read and hear more
    I have been a supporter of the occupy movement. I still feel its central issues are immensely important and need to be addressed. 
    Increasingly, I’m having difficulty supporting occupy - the protest group. I think it’s in danger of marginalisation, as the loudest and angriest continue to dominate debates and actions. I’ve heard enough and seen enough to find some very uncomfortable issues are at work inside the occupy movement. One that has bothered me for a long while is the role that has been assigned for women. Yes assigned. Become one of the boys, be a counter-culture Margaret Thatcher, get your voice heard. 

     In a recent opinion piece in, Sasha Wiley, does a much better job at explaining this than I. 
     I remember my mother, after one of many General Assemblies she
     attended, talking about the libertarian derailers, intent on hijacking, 
     who tried to block any collective action unless it fit within their narrow
     pro-pot agenda … 
     …I remember meeting after meeting where the people who talked the

     loudest and most proceeded to complain about being unheard, when all
     that had really transpired was people not agreeing with them
     (freedom of thought and the right to have people agree with you are
     irreconcilable, so the right to be heard necessarily has to stop there, at
     the right to speak one's mind).
     With hindsight to put the pieces together, a bigger picture emerges. I
     remember who in particular these people were - male, predominantly
     white, alienated and resultantly defensive, and at their absolute worst
     anytime they were confronted by women.

    Agree? Disagree? It’s an important discussion to have either way.
     I have other concerns, such as what purpose do “art-jams” (still can’t figure out what the hell that means) at midnight serve or lip service to consensus and all the ‘isms’ or a disinclination to reach out to people who aren’t normally given to protesting. 
     Another time, another debate.
    During 2012, I have wondered aloud what it is to be kind. I have attempted to be kinder; met with some success and some failure (and probably learned more from the failures). 
     But one thing has become clear. Kindness is being squeezed out our society, in Canada and North America. I won’t include the rest of the world as I’m saddened enough to see what’s happening on this continent.
     Kindness has less and less room to flourish. It’s a value we pay lip service to, but seemingly don’t value anymore. A fairy tale we tell to our children knowing the real world will soon enough trample it. Kindness happens in books or movies or odd foreign lands. 
     Not here. 
     Moreover, we’re not inclined to accept kindness – it has become a sign of weakness. We no longer have the honesty or humility to say I need help, to take advantage of someone or some organization that has the means and will to lend a hand. 
     We can’t seem to muster the courage to take that hand when extended. I found this in myself, that I needed not to need help. Needed to be strong. Needed to keep everything in. Then everything went wrong, and everything exploded. I was left an empty shell.
     Truly, I mourn that I felt that way. And I wonder what I have learned over the past 5 months. I wonder if I believe in kindness as I think I do. I wonder if I know what kindness is.
     Our society grows increasingly libertarian in its outlook, which means everyone look out for themselves. A real mean spirited selfishness is hidden under the cloak of free will and speech, and less government involvement in society. Libertarianism aside, Canada is moving farther to the right than perhaps any time in history. 
     Call me whatever you like, left wing and socialist, words akin to blasphemy these days. To each his own. Or is that from each according to ability, to each according to need or needs. umm, no.
     At a time when so many are in desperate need of kindness, we are turning our backs on kindness. Are we becoming alien to each other in a culture that alienates?
     I don’t want to pose that question, let alone answer it.

   To the faithful 112 readers (yes, I follow the numbers); I need to offer a more comprehensive explanation of my ‘recuperation.’ Like what am I recuperating from? I imagine that some of you, or one or two of you, have wondered.
    It seems like a reasonable thing to do. Particularly now that I feel like reasonable person.
    I have bipolar disorder. This means that I can have periods of intense depression or episodes of mania. And periods when things are relatively calm.
    For the last month or so, I have been in a mental health centre, regaining my balance, my faculties and in some cases my memory. In early April, the imperfect storm occurred when a number of events coalesced around a particular moment in time and all the synapses in my brain seemed to fire at once. The circuit couldn’t handle the strain and things shut down. Went black. And I lost a few days.
    A nurse later described it as similar to a heart attack, which makes comparative sense. Except I don’t have a stent in my head and wires and beeping machines at my bedside
    I’m fortunate that I have been in of the finer mental health facilities in Canada. Equally, I’m fortunate that I’ve recovered fairly rapidly and fully from this experience. Thankfully, normal – my normal – has returned.
    Why am I writing this? Three reasons I think. First, I don’t need to hide the fact I have bipolar disorder. Mental illness is often unseen but is real. It’s a disease like any other, a bit of a shape-shifter so it’s more difficult to diagnose and treat, and to date incurable but it can be extremely livable.
    Second, a stigma surrounding mental health issues exists though it’s diminishing. Some still see it as personal defect or something you should be able to shrug off ‘if you really wanted.’ Even I didn’t really believe the diagnosis and it took me some time to realize – ‘yep, those symptoms, I know those symptoms.’  But that stigma – be it mine or others – shouldn’t have stopped me from getting proper medical help. It’s changing, but some days I feel like I should put a cast on my head.
    Third, being honest about bipolar disease or disorder, takes away the discomfort or the feelings of powerlessness or despair. It allows me not to be a victim of the disease. It lets me wrest back some control.
    I am many things and I have bipolar disorder. It doesn’t define me or confine me. It’s just part of who I am. I’m not bipolar, in the same way that people with cancer are not cancer. 

    Instead, call me Terry or Jack or Hank and I’ll be fine with that.
    Thanks for sticking around. Let’s get on with it.

Accidents Will Happen – Elvis Costello

     What if. We live in a world of what ifs. The stuff of wishes, of dreams. Or nightmares. 
     However, some what ifs demand serious comtemplation because of the catastrophic consequences of what if becoming what now. 
     What if the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline , which I have written about before, is built? Currently, examination of the issues, which interestingly include potential negative economic impacts among others, and the proposal continue. Let’s assume for now, that the proposal jumps through the hoops and Enbridge builds the twin pipelines to bring tar-sands oil to the harbour at Kitimat, British Columbia.
     What then?
     Enbridge points to its sterling record and careful attention to environmental impacts of its projects. However, what if a rupture to the pipeline occurs and oil spills into the surrounding area. This is a real concern because it’s a real possibility. Since 2006, Enbridge 
has had at least 7 spills from its pipelines across North America .
      The largest happened in July 2010 when over 800,000 barrels crude oil spilled into the Talmadge Creek leading to the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan. The United States Environmental Protection Agency originally gave Enbridge an August 31, 2011 to have the clean up completed. However, according to the EPA, as of April 17, the work has is not complete.
      Residents in the area question the clean-up efforts. Enbridge counters they are meeting EPA guidelines. This is what Enbridge said when the spill occurred:

     “For Enbridge, no spill is acceptable,” said Patrick D. Daniel, Enbridge President and CEO. “We
      understand that we must hold ourselves to the highest standards of openness and care in all
      communities where we operate because we have been serving North America’s energy needs for 60
      years, and we intend to be a good neighbor for decades to come.”

These three videos are self-explanatory.  

     I leave it to you to decide on truth, about who's right and who's wrong. I will say that I was able to find many many more stories demonstrating the questionable methods used to clean up this spill than I could find explanations from Enbridge on their containment efforts
     The real point is that once a spill occurs, severe and long-lasting damage is done. Much of it can't be undone. So is the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline that right thing to do no matter if it's 99% safe? It's the 1% chance that I worry about. Is the risk worth it?