Monday, February 26, 2007

Peggy Shaughnessy: Wow

Every so often, guest speakers come through town. Some are enlightning; others are forgettable. And then there’s Peggy Shaughnessy, who spoke today at the Peetabeck Health and Wellness Conference. Peggy Shaughnessy is Mohawk, she’s a researcher at Trent University, she’s the daughter of a prostitute, she has worked with the worst of the worst criminals in Canada - including Paul Bernardo, she was called in to fix the situation when there were 53 stabbings in 51 days at Millhaven Maximum Security, she used to run drugs for Satan’s Choice, she’s a mother and grandmother. How’s that for an intro?

I wish the entire community could have been there today. She addressed issues surrounding family violence (she hates the term domestic violence). Peggy basically said that things can’t continue as they are on First Nations reserves, and it’s up to the young people to change things. In a powerful presentation, she read Crown Attorney crime reports from reserves in Northwestern Ontario. It was incredibly sobering - one young girl was on the verge of tears. The horror was unspeakable, made worse by the fact that every word was true. I dare say that these stories would be front page news, and spark public outrage, if they occurred in Toronto, or Mississauga, or Brampton, or just about any other non-First Nations community in the country.

I look forward to Peggy’s presentation tomorrow on the gossip epidemic on reserves. She claims people are killing others, and themselves, because of gossip. It should be interesting.

Peggy heads up the WhitePath Counselling and Consulting Services. You can read her bio by clicking on the link on the right.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The World I Live in is Beautiful

You know, since moving to Fort Albany I’ve become a big fan of Canada. I have a greater appreciate for Canada’s vastness and its diversity. Here we live among Cree Indians, who are among the friendliness people I’ve ever met. I am truly blessed to have been welcomed into their community. It is a tremendous experience to live among people whose skin is a different colour, and whose language is foreign to me, yet feel completely at home. I always joke that I don’t like visiting Toronto because there are too many white people. Wherever life takes us, I will always be affected by the time we are spending here.

I took these photos on my walk this morning. The first one is of the nurses houses, with the hospital in the background. Our house is the second on the left.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Hockey Odyssey Continues

Well, didn’t I pick the right game to watch last night? The Ottawa-Buffalo game was moving along swimmingly until Chris Neil blindsided Chris Drury with an open-ice hit, splitting open Drury’s forehead. I guess it was a clean hit, but should you really be able to deck a guy when he can’t see you coming? This incited a line brawl which saw the two goalies square off, followed by a bout between Sens goalie Ray Emery and Sabres meathead Andrew Peters. Like everyone else, I give Biron full credit for standing in against Emery, a guy who fights with a smile on his face. It was an interesting incident, to say the least.

Tonight I am going to watch the Edmonton Oilers take on the Detroit Red Wings. I am such a hockey geek – I am watching these games with The Hockey News in front of me, a print out of the NHL stats, and the line combinations, which I write neatly. A former boss of mine claimed you had to write down the line combos in order to fully appreciate a game. He insisted on writing them in pencil, as they could change at any time. This is a man, keep in mind, whose idea of relaxing was curling up in bed with The Hockey News and a glass of red wine.

I have finished reading “Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures” by Dr. Vincent Lam. It was a fantastic read. I regret the fact that I read it about 5-10 pages at a time, over a span of six-weeks. I was unable to build up any momentum until the last couple of days, when I read the final hundred or so pages. Next, I am going to read Frank McCourt’s memoir “Teacher Man.” If all goes well, I will polish it off by the end of the weekend.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shame on You, Gord Miller!

I watched a tremendous hockey game last night between San Jose and Washington. Jonathan Cheechoo scored the winning goal in a shootout. The pace was brisk and there were a lot of hard hits.

However, commentator Gord Miller had me screaming at the TV. In fact, I almost phone Rex to express my outrage. It’s a good thing I didn’t because he wasn’t watching the game. He was at the hospital as both his sons were sick, but that’s another story. Anyway, Pierre McGuire - who I really like - brought up the fact that Cheechoo is from Moose Factory, and how that’s such a great name for a town. Miller then showed his ignorance by commenting that Moose Factory is "up on Hudson Bay." I’m probably the only white guy outraged by this, but Moose Factory is infact located along the JAMES BAY coast!!! He went on to say that you’ll only be able to drive to Moose Factory for a few more months because the road will thaw. OK, I won’t quarrel too much with that statement. Technically, it’s true. I will point out, though, that you can only access Moose Factory by road from Moosonee this time of year. You can’t drive there from Toronto at any time of the year. I wonder if Gord knows this?

Tonight’s game game of choice is Ottawa at Buffalo. Should be a good one. I would like to watch the Leafs-Isles tilt, but our Starchoice service blacks out Leafs games on Sportsnet because we are not in the Leafs coverage area. This is puzzling, considering we get all the Oilers, Flames and Canucks games. I thought briefly about watching the Calgary-Phoenix game at 9, most because I haven’t seen the Flames much this season and haven’t seen the Coyotes at all.

Go Sabres! (I guess)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

All by Myself

Well, I am all by myself for the next two weeks. Christine and Jonas flew out today, gone for the next three weeks. I am flying out March 8 to join them. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to spend my two weeks of freedom. For a while, I thought about going on the CBC diet, watching nothing but CBC on TV, and listening to nothing but CBC radio. The rest of my leisure time would be devoted to reading and playing on the internet. Then I came to my senses. I have since decided to do whatever I want when I want. Rest assured, the CBC will be watched and listened to, as I am a big fan of both mediums. However, there will be plenty of hockey watching, and I plan to read until my eyes pop out of their sockets. First, I’ve got to finish “Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures”, the book I’ve been reading for over a month now. Andrea left us a few books before she went, one of which is “Walking on the Land” by Farley Mowat. Now you can’t get much more Canadian than that, can you?

Tonight’s agenda features the San Jose Sharks vs. the Washington Capitals – Cheechoo vs. Ovechkin. This could be the first non-Leafs game I watch this season. Watching hockey, just like reading, and generally wasting time, is something that has become scarce for me since Jonas’ arrival. I will sure miss the little guy. Tonight is the first night since he was born that we haven’t slept in the same room, and tomorrow will be the first day I don’t get to see him. Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mission Accomplished...Finally

My NHL player phoned me late this afternoon after nearly two weeks of unreturned messages. Needless to say I am completely thrilled that I can enjoy my weekend without this hanging over me. It was the first thing I thought about in the morning, and the last thing I thought about before going to bed.

I don’t want to reveal his identity because I slagged him, tongue in cheek, in yesterday’s post. Truthfully, he was a bit of a dick with me in the interview.

Jeff: Why do you think you made the NHL, when the odds of a kid making it are astronomical?

NHLer: I don’t know.

Jeff: Do you ever think about how fortunate you were to make it?

NHLer: (aggitated) Of course I do, I think about how lucky I am everyday, but I worked hard to get where I am.

I guess I was expecting a more thoughtful answer, one that credited his coaches and parents. To his credit, he did go on about the sacrifices his parents made, but only after I prompted him.

I’m just glad this is over. In the future, when I chose a player to profile, I’m going to do a thorough background check to ensure he doesn’t give me the runaround.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why won’t he phone?

Does anyone have any ideas on how to get an NHL player to return messages?

I’ve been waiting by the phone for more than a week now, waiting for a certain NHL player to phone me to do an interview. If the PR guy is to be believed, this player has received five messages to phone me. I thought it was kind of funny, actually, that the PR man said he would "text" my numbers to him. I’d like to send a message to this player: tear your ass away from the X-Box and phone me. It will only take 10 minutes, and in exchange for your time you get to appear on the cover of Hockey Life Magazine. Sure, it’s not The Hockey News, but Mike Brophy does write for it - not to mention Steve Simmons from The Toronto Sun. Hey, I’m just a lowly freelancer who lives in BF nowhere, a guy who depends on the money from this job to feed his infant son (OK, that was an exaggeration).

Funny thing is, I think he’s a good player who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. I even went to bat for him, advocating to the editor that we feature him on the cover. And this is how I get treated? I really have no choice but to phone his parents and see if they can get him to call me. They’ve been helpful with this story, sending in his minor hockey photos to be used with the article.

On a more positive note, I weighed in today - two weeks after modifying my diet. I’ve lost a little more than a pound. I’m just relieved to halt the weight gain, to tell you the truth. If I can lose another pound in the next two weeks, I can’t really complain.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Downsize Me

In an effort to go from a fatso to fitso, I’ve embarked on a diet…make that a “food modification” program. Since the birth of Jonas, I’ve been on a real eating tear. It started with all the restaurant food we enjoyed while down south for the birth of the little boy; then it continued unabated over the Christmas holidays. The opportunity to eat presented itself, so I took it. I’m not ashamed of it, because I ate some damn good food. Problem was, over the Christmas holidays I discovered ye ol’ pants weren’t fitting quite as well. In fact, a couple of pairs of pants are on the sidelines because they no longer fit.

But not for long…hopefully.

Here are the diet changes I’ve made:

- I no longer drink sugared beverages like pop, ice tea and kool-aid. From now on, it’s only purified water (5 glasses a day) and a little bit of fruit juice for breakfast. Of course, I can’t give up my Tim Horton’s coffee in the morning.

- The granola bar I was eating for my morning snack has been replaced with an apple or orange. My PM snack of crackers and peanut butter is now either fruit or carrots.

- I no longer eat anything out of a can for lunch – there’s way too much sodium. Instead, I’ve taken to scrambled eggs and toast a lot of the time. I’m still concerned I’m eating too many carbs. And it is possible to eat too many eggs, or so Christine tells me.

- I haven’t altered my dinner habits, I just watch my portion size. However, I haven’t had ice cream for dessert in nearly two weeks – a huge accomplishment for me. Also, I’ve greatly reduced my yogurt consumption. And what have I replaced ice cream and yogurt with? Jello.

Finally, I no longer eat after 8 p.m. (OK, I’ve broken down and had a bowl of cereal a couple of times, but nothing major).

I am going to weigh in every two weeks, with my first weigh-in scheduled for this Thursday. I’ll be sure to keep y’all updated on my progress.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Kid in a Cage

I heard a bizarre and incredibly disturbing story on CBC Radio today. The story went something like this: parents discovered that their son was being taught at school while being kept in a cage. They were understandably outraged, and when they confronted the principal and teacher were told that the cage is a time-out zone. You might have heard about this story too.

This got me thinking about my own upbringing, and the apparent physical abuse that some of my classmates endured at the hands of teachers and principals. I recently told Christine about my recollection of a certain Grade 2 student, who I won’t name, being tied to his desk with a scarf so that he wouldn’t move around the class and disrupt the other students.

Christine: What backwater school did you go to?

Me: Well, I went to Federal Public School in Kirkland Lake. You mean they never did this at your school?

Christine: Hell No!

Jeff: So, I guess they never gave the strap at your school either?

Christine: Jeff, the strap was banned in like the 1960s.

Jeff: Well, it wasn’t at Federal Public because I remember classmates telling tales of getting strapped by the principal. And I even saw the strap. It was right there, hanging in his office. Are you going to tell me I was imaging this?

Chris: Yes, you were imaging that.

Well, I was recently vindicated by Jeremie, a fellow northerner from Sturgeon Falls. He says the strap was commonplace in his school. His brother was even strapped. None of the other people I asked about this said the strap was used in their school. It must be a northern thing.

In 1988, I wonder if putting your hands on a student’s face and driving it into a wall was as common in Sturgeon as it was in Kirkland. I remember the incident distinctly. I even remember the student’s name. I recall how my grade 7 teacher was the acting principal one day, and how he manhandled a student that was sent to our class by the teacher. The teacher, who later became a principal (probably an abusive one), put his hand around the kid’s jaw and drove his head back into a wall. “What’s your name boy?” his barked. I don’t remember what happened after that, just that it never occurred to me to tell someone about this. I suppose it was still OK to put your hands on students back in 88. That day has stayed with me all these years.

Funny, but I regard that teacher as one of the most influential I’ve ever had. I’d probably tell it to him too – if he isn’t already burning in hell.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Jeff’s January Playlist

In an effort to share my music with the world, here are the singles I was listening to in January:

1. Boston, Augustana
I liked this song a lot when I first bought the Augustana CD 16 months ago. However, I heard the single version on the radio and have a feeling it has been watered down to make it more radio-friendly. I don’t approve of such a tactic.

2. Starlight, Muse
This song borrows/steals from the 80s song "All My Dreams Came True Last Night" by ABC.

3. Reach For The Sun, The Polyphonic Spree
This song features a muted trumpet, an instrument I’m not usually fond of, but in this case it seems to work.

4. Stolen, Dashboard Confessional
The DB song "Don’t Wait" was one of my favourites from 2006. This is not nearly as good.

5. Sunday Morning, K-Os
A song that makes me want to strut across the Rez.

6. It Ends Tonight, The All-American Rejects
Yet another AAR song that makes my playlist.

7. The Interview, AFI
Another song that has an 80s feel to it. And as some of you know, I do love my 80s music.

8. Cab, Train
I never thought I’d ever like another Train song after they went all soft, but this one’s OK.

9. Anna Molly, Incubus
A popular song with the masses, but I have a feeling I’ll forget about it in a year.

10. Windows In The Sky U2
This song actually started annoying me as the month went on, and truthfully I only included it on the list because of the band that sings it. Perhaps that’s reason enough dislike the song, eh?