Friday, January 27, 2012

It Happens for a Reason? Bullsh**

North West Territories  
Do you believe the natural universe operates under a grand scheme for your personal wellbeing and benefit?  

Not me, I don’t believe that there is an omnipresent Being who creates situations in our life for some unknown purpose to be revealed at a later date.  It feels like narcissism.  Why would a particular person’s life be so important that a deity would intervene?  With billions of people on earth, how does this work?    

In fact, it is drives me mad when I hear the expression, "it happen for a reason."  That expression does not make sense to me.  Of course, most often than not, this reference is faith based. Making this is a tricky subject because it is complicated to have a practical discussion based on reasoning when faith or religions are taken into consideration.  That said, this blog post is for contemplation only and not a commentary on religion.   

If we look at life through the lens of  "Natural Law” life would make sense.  After all, we could not get more organic than the human being.  We human beings are not separate from the natural order of the universe.  And furthermore, we fortunately have the ability to reason.   Therefore, we should be consistently questioning our worldview. 

Still, I believe all logic is thrown out the window when using the term “it happen for a reason”.  It is in my opinion used as a coping mechanism that results in a detachment from responsibility.  When we say "things happen for a reason" we are really saying we are not in control of the event.  Thus, we are transferring our responsibility to an omnipresent Being who we believe has a plan for our life.

Questions for Contemplation

  •   Why would  an omnipresent Being create a specific situation in life, be it good or bad, with the motive to  be revealed later?  
  •   Why would it matter to an omnipresent Being  what happens in an individual’s life?  Would an omnipresent Being care if you got a raise, met your soul mate, and or got fired?  
  •  Does the saying “Things happen for a reason” apply to animals?  
  •   Are there only certain circumstances where “things happen for a reason”?  How do you distinguish between circumstances where this applies?
  •  Are certain people exempt from “things happen for a reason”?
  •  Are “things happen for a reason” only for negative events?
  •  Why would one person’s life be favoured over another?
  • Do you really believe it happens for a reason when someone you love dies, or is injured? What reason???
 A friend once told me, “So much in my like is going wrong at the moment. I must have done something really bad to deserve this.  But it must be for a reason, huh”!  That could not be further from the truth. And it didn't happen for her personal growth, that I am certain. 

The truth is life happens and sometimes bad things happen to good people. It has nothing to do with how one lives their life, or to teach a lesson, or to build stronger character.  Simply put, life happens because of cause and effect.  For every action there exist a resulting reaction.  An earthquake, which results in a major loss of lives should not translate to "it happen for a reason".  The only reason for the tragedy is the earth's plates shifted. 

Next time something happens to you where you are tempted to say “it happen for a reason” look at what happen without attaching judgment to it.  Things happen in the course of life and it is not personal.  Sometimes it's luck and other times it's unlucky.  Lesson here is to always act reasonably and mindfully. Certainly, in life, things occur that can’t be explained at that moment.  Later, after reflection it may become clear to you.  Does that mean it happened for that reason?

Life happens, it doesn't happen to you because of who you are, or as part of a master plan. The only master plan is the one you create for yourself.  Things happen and you give it reason and meaning. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's What the Heck! Chivalry

Is chivalry dead? 

Sadly, I think it might be if recent actions by Captain Francesco Schettino after the tragic cruise ship Costa Concordia accident is any indication.  I understand, he had a duty and responsibility for the safety of the passengers.  Still, if he had any sense of chivalry he would have done things differently.   

What happened to the notion of women and children first?   

I know, some of us are thinking of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, pilot of flight 1549 that landed safely in the Hudson River after an emergency. How can we compare the two captains!  What with Captain Schettino taking leave of his senses  after running his ship aground.   “Everyman for himself” seemed to be his first and only thought following the accident.   

The two could not have handled the situation more differently. Both captains had an emergency situation that involved the safety of many lives. Captain Sully remained on his wrecked plane as it floated precariously on the river.  He not only went to the back of the plane, he did so twice to satisfy himself that no one was left behind.  I can't imagine how terrifying those minutes were as he walked  waded waist deep down to the back in darkness. He emerged as a hero.  On the other hand, as luck would have it Captain Schettino was one of the first to reach safety by taking a  accidentally tripping and falling into a lifeboat.  However he got to safety there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he abandoned ship and in doing so not only did he brake the law, but he disgraced his country in the eyes of the world.  

I could not help noticing that Captain Sully is older than Captain Schettino. Could the obvious difference in age be the contributing factor as to why the two captains acted so differently under pressure?  I don’t mean inexperience.  I mean, the generational difference.  Because I have no doubt that had the accident occurred years prior, Captain Sully would have reacted in exactly the same way as he did on that fateful day on Hudson River.  It is called good character.  I think, more and more of the younger generation of men lack good character and a sense of chivalry. To-be-sure, not all young men are lacking the chivalry gene,  and those that are chivalrous should be acknowledged. 

Some would argue that feminism killed chivalry.  I would disagree, although the subject deserves it's own blog entry.  Suffice to say, chivalry has more to do with basic good manners and compassion rather than taking care of the fairer sex.     

The standard we hold for captains is much higher than our expectation of the average Joe.  Indeed, this is sad commentary on our society.  There was a time in our society when there would be no question that in a dangerous situation, women and children, would be lead to safety first.   

We should be teaching our sons to be mindful of those around us by demonstrating through our actions good behavior. Start small like opening the door for someone behind you.  What about looking up from your electronic devices to give up your seat on the bus for an elderly person, a pregnant woman or a parent with a small child.   It’s about raising the bar and expecting that no matter the situation that man will do the Right thing… the Chivalrous thing. 

It boils down to the “code of chivalry” … society needs to pay attention to Captain Sully's example.  But it begs the question, if we are not doing our duty as parents, where are the likes of people like Sully going to come from? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Silence can be Golden

On my way to work! 
We live with constant noise.  In our modern world we would be  hard pressed to find silence anywhere, including our homes.  What with our furnace fan going off and on, our electrical appliances humming,  and the tick tock of a near by clock, all these sounds produce white noise of which we are for the most part unaware.  Until it is taken away.   Then we have silence, and we notice it.

Even if we are in deep sleep (REM), silence will wake us up. It's interesting how when we are used to these noises we sleep like a baby.  But take away the sounds and we wake up discombobulated.  What's wrong? Why is it so quite?

I am tucked in nice and cosy under the duvet dreaming of sandy beaches in faraway places.  I stir sleepily, then  I become aware of the silence and the darkness of the bedroom.  I look towards the direction of the dresser for the clock, it is shrouded  in blackness.  Immediately I know the power is out.  I reach for my ipad on the night table to check the time, 4:03 am.  I was not too surprised that we were having a power outage.  Especially with freezing rain throughout the previous day and over night, there was a high probability for it to occur.  And of course,  it had to happend when hubby is away on business.  This is the joy of country living, which is just  a bump in the middle of the night.

I should have turned over and resumed sleeping, but I couldn't.  This silence, is not normal and it puts me on edge.  I wake up.

Thankfully, we are prepared for these occasional power outages. Although, we  hubby still needs to get a new battery for the generator.  Anyway, in my night table is a flashlight.  I make my way to the kitchen and light an old fashion coal-oil lamp.  I debate if I should make a fire in the fireplace and then decide against it because I would be leaving in a couple of hours anyway.   I sit and enjoy the quietness. Then it occurred to on me that this is a perfect time to meditate!  Pure Silence...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friday's What the Heck! Public Washroom

Why is it so difficult to find public washrooms that are clean and disinfected? 

I’ve been on a serious green smoothie binge (48oz per day) and drink at least eight cups of water per day since January 1st.    When you read that sentence what is the first thing that comes to mind?  No, not that!

Yikes, I REALLY must GO! 

When I leave the house I have to plan when and how much I drink because we all know that liquid in means liquid out, right!  Especially since I have a daily commute that takes me on the road at least a couple of hours twice a day.   The issue is not the availability of public washrooms. I have no difficulty finding a public washroom.  In the city, almost every block either has a Tim Horton’s, a Second Cup, or a Starbucks.  Sometimes all three are within eyesight.

My issue, however, is that I detest public washrooms.  Really, I would ratter hold it until I get home.  Although sometimes that is impossible given how much I am drinking lately. As soon as I see the “washroom” sign my bladder, which seconds before was “okay, I’m okay,’ suddenly is bursting and I need to go immediately! To be clear,  it’s not the “act” that offends me, after all, we all do it.  

My quandary with the dreaded public washroom:
  •       When you really need to go there is always a waiting line for the ladies washroom
  • ·      No clean place to put your purse or bag
  • ·      Why do all washroom door open into the washroom
  • ·      With everything automated, why are the doors not automatic
  • ·      People who don’t wash their hands still have to pull on the handle to exit
  • ·      The first washroom I pick is usually too filthy or not flushed
  • ·      Check the toilet paper before you sit down, more often than not it is empty
  • ·      Check the seat, sometimes it looks like it was used by a six year old boy, gross
  • ·       Automatic flush either flushes at an inappropriate moment or not at all (But there is a manual flush button!)
  • ·      The automatic tap at the sink is never hot enough or too short a duration to adequately clean
Finally, and just as important, to me anyway...I have a fear of being locked in the washroom. 

What’s your position on public washrooms?  Do you avoid them like the plague, bring your own toilet paper, and or, seat covers? Do you touch the door handle on your way out?  

Would you pay an attendant a user fee? 

I gladly paid a pretty zloty to a washroom attendant to visit a clean public washroom, even as a student in Warsaw, Poland.   At least they always had toilet paper and were continually cleaning the washroom.  It was during Communism when everyone had a job.  With our current economy, It might not be a bad idea to implement such a strategy.   Therefore, I decree that hence forth all public washrooms ought to have an attendant!   Not that I'm for Communism you know.  And not that there is anything wrong with that.  Just saying.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday's Picture

Does this taste great?
On the back of the bottle it states: "Feel Good About What's in this Bottle" I really do!

This morning I made fresh carrot juice! With the carrots, I added apples, a pear, lemon, and ginger and put it all into this bottle.  I'm wondering if anyone in the house will notice that it is fresh organic juice.  I've been trying for months to get my family to drink fresh juice, and still they bring home store bought juice.  If it is the time and inconvenience to make juice that is a deterrent, then in my opinion, that is a weak reason not to enjoy it "fresh".  Because it took me less than three minutes to make this jug.  Less time than it takes to drive to the supermarket!  Will this make them more open to making their own juice, well time will tell.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday’s What the Heck!!! Air Travel

Is airport security an illusion or real?  Do you really feel safer since 2001?

I’ve traveled the world extensively before 2001 and post 2001 and have come to the conclusion that the heightened security does not represent improved security. In fact, it has been my experience that the screeners at security are not even properly trained to detect security threats but have instead taken leave of their reasoning. 

A quick search for qualification for airport security guards revealed,  “no experience necessary” “55 and older to apply” “will train” “$18/hr” “summer job” The only qualifications listed is hard working, punctual, and reliable, at one of Canada’s largest airports.  Can anyone one of the over 4,000-security personal be bribed? I sure hope not!  The minimum level of experience we expect from airport security is disturbing. Frightening still is that we put up with it, are we as Canadians too polite to question our government even when our life depends on it?  I think, we are also too afraid to say anything either in line up or on the plane, because believe it or not, flight attendants are trained to yell at you. 

How do they prepare for threats when I’ve read that there is no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada. But we, Canadians continue to pay for “enhanced security” with each flight we take.

I read in the newspaper awhile back an elderly woman who had a mastectomy was required to have inside her bra checked. The real question is was she a real threat? There must be an efficient way of knowing who is a threat no matter if they are old, young, businessperson or students, etc.    

Furthermore, some of the protocols in place don’t make sense and even if the employees have a brain they aren’t allowed to use it as the example above indicates. Many of the policies are arbitrary, for example containers must be100ml/100g or less but you can bring onto the plane rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, baby formula, baby food, water and juice, which can be over 100 ml.  

First level of security in North America is when we check in.  Right after 9/11 we were asked a series of questions; did you pack your bag, did you leave your bag unattended, are you carrying any dangerous materials?  Immediately after 9/11 it appeared that they were actually looking at you and listening to your answers (I’m sure a terrorist would tell the truth) but nowadays if you are even asked the questions, they are not really listening for your answers but going through the motions. And I don’t blame them because they have not been trained to actually look for nervousness or other sighs of suspicious behaviour.  The key to security is to read peoples’ behavior as they go through the airport before they board their plane.

The second levels of security are going through the metal detection, getting a pat-down, or sometimes a walk through the x-ray machine if you consent. I agree that passengers must be prohibited from taking on board firearms and other hazardous and dangerous materials.  Especially if they are serving alcohol onboard because I’ve seen some crazy drunks and that can be a risk when you are at 37,000 feet above the earth.  Another question maybe should be asked before you board is can you handle alcohol and are you an ass when you drink? 

But, I digress. Now back to metal detector security. Would it not be quicker and safer to have all our contents spilled into the containers so they can actually see the items rather that trying to discern grayish objects on the screen? My keys, computer wires, and headphones sometime lump together making a suspicious looking object, they send it back and look at it again, this can take time as they call their colleagues to look at the screen too as they whisper to one another.  No one can figure what the object is so they ask if they can look into my purse. Sure, I say as I reach for my purse to open it for them.  No, no, you can’t touch it, I’m told. What the hell???  If I can’t touch it, maybe, they shouldn’t either.

The third and final level of security is the physical search if the metal detector goes off.  Damn those underwire bras! Then you are sometimes given a choice to use the x-ray thingy, I don’t care how low the radiation emissions but I’m not doing walking through that thing. If they can’t feel anything in the pat down, which sometimes feels like a full body massage, what’s going to show up under x-ray? Really, just saying?  Would a tampon show up? What would they do then?

Now for the most absurd protocol… your bags can’t fly without you!  In 2004, upon arriving in New Zealand from Melbourne the entire flight (over 300 people) discovered that our bags were not on board. We were not informed until we were actually at luggage pick-up. Hmmm.   Interestingly, we not only flew without our luggage but we entered another country without them making customs a breeze.

Over the recent holiday, my plane sat on the tarmac for over two hours because a passenger was not on the flight but his bags were.  I had a lot of time to ponder this particular policy and concluded that the main reason for delaying the plane and removing his luggage is they think it could possibly contain a bomb, right?  Then, WHY are we kept on the plane while they do the search? Shouldn’t they not determine that all luggage is safe before it actually gets on the plane?  

My final thought.  Has the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)a Crown corporation created in April 2002 with the responsibility to screen airline passengers at Canadian airports ever consulted the Security Agency in Israel (the ISA)?  In Israel, even with daily threats of terrorism, the process through security takes less than 30 minutes. It is well known that they take care of security without limiting the efficiency of the airport and delaying passengers.

If we in North America are to have any security while air traveling why has our Defense Minister or Prime Minister not mandated CATSA to learn from the ISA after all they use the same planes as we do, or do they? 

Air travel security in Canada is much like when you were given a choice of smoking or non-smoking seat on the plane back in the day.  Yeah, airport security is an illusion at best.  

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