Opening Statement



Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Jamaica: On The Beach!




"Soon come!" It's a Jamaican expression. Simply means what it says. The summer heat is like a furnace blast. Laying on the white sand beach in Runaway Bay under a swaying palm tree, I gaze lazily out at the tempting, turqoise sea. Everybody and everything is moving in slow motion. Under the hot sun it cannot be any other way. 

A pleasant breeze ruffles my hair. A brief much welcome respite. But to really cool down I usually swim out to the coral reef. It's about 100 feet off the beach and runs along the entire coastline at our resort, stretching beyond view out to sea. I would be way out there now but for the choppy waters keeping me closer to shore. I still manage a good two or three hours in the water exploring the nearby reef every day. 


Ship ahoy mon!

Half way out a rasta raft waits outside the roped in main beach. Its black HS pirate flags flap tauntingly in the sea breeze. Its a homemade affair. Bamboo logs tied together with rope. Two long poles to push it along the coast to wherever the tourists are. There is a warning sign posted on the beach gate. They "warn" that the vendors "in the water" are in no way connected with the resort. Ha. How true: Good vibes! Homemade and grown wares! Nothing made in China. I enjoy the lively chatter, often a heavy patois, Jah mon! Everytink is Irie!



Unable to land the crew wile away the long hot summer, bartering, trading and selling their wares to the curious guests who swim out; huge conch shells, handmade jewellery, bamboo cups, a wide variety of herbs to treat whatever ails. The smokey smell of fresh barbecued lobster wafers from a metal barrel stove. It's to the aft of the raft where the chief rastaman sits back with his long dreads hanging out below his cap, on a wooden chair, pondering the infinite. Dinner awaits. Fresh and still alive. Today's catch is in a net sack beneath the raft. Pull it up. Take your pick.


Walking into the hotel upon my arrival, the first smell that hit me was a deep earthy ganja one. Marijuana is everywhere in Jamaica. Hell, it grows on trees. A gaggle of laughing guests blow a reefer with the security guard on the beach. But everyone knows the rastamen have the best weed.



Swimming out past the raft I reach the coral reef. An explosion of colour! Patches of deep green sea grass. Rocks. Huge green brain coral. Yellow leghorns. Schools of brightly coloured tropical fish. Lobsters under the rocks. A barracuda cruises past. Blow fish puff up. I swim by, up, under, down and around them. Then float lazily on my back buoyed by the salt water as I catch my breath for a bit. I touch nothing. I take nothing, but pictures. It's very hot, quiet and very peaceful. Everything is in balance.



JAMAICA IN THE NEWS:

Jamaica will decriminalize marijuana by end of 2014. Rather after the fact @ Sensimilla

The new law allows for possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana. It can also be legally used for religious, medicinal and scientific purposes. Legislatures argue it will create jobs + stimulate the economy. The only other big export is bauxite [Zzz] @ Jah Bob Land


More Reading:

-On the Road to Bob Marley's Jamaica @ Here!

-More assorted musings and information for your erudition etc:

Bob Marley + The Wailer Album + Singles Reviews! Part 1 @ Here Part 2 Here! Part 3 @ Here! Part 4 @ There!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Land of the Lakes, Ontario, Canada!

Teacher summer news + views continue below my travel blogs....



Lake Mississaganon is but one of many lakes that dot the “Land of The lakes” region in Lanmark County Southern Ontario. It is a true reminder of the great splendour and delight of the province of Ontario Canada in summer. A three hour drive north east of Toronto or two hours or so north west of Ottawa and you are here! It’s just close but far enough away from the crowded cities to provide a perfect get away.

This year I bought a 40 foot house trailer with a huge deck on a nice treed lot a 2 minute stroll from the beach. There are a dozen lush Maple trees surrounding our new home away from home. The lake water is clean enough to drink and it’s teaming with fish. Hunters come here in the fall and winter, a sport for which I myself am not keen. Ditto ice fishing. However both speak further to the locations natural, rustic allure. Or simply look up and the Milky Way stretches across the night sky, a starry site not seen from at home in Toronto.

Our city condo is a busy enough place in summer with family + friends coming and going all the time.  Somebody is always around. Sometimes they like to borrow our place for a few days holiday in the big city. Some also come to visit our trailer. Some, but not too many. Oddly enough, despite the common urban misconceptions I am hardly roughing it up in the countryside.




Quite frankly, I figure I am too big to be sleeping on the ground anymore. I bought a thick double mattress for our trailer bed. Our trailer has lots of storage space for life’s amenities. Also electricity, water, a complete kitchen and living room. Mostly though I prefer sitting outside under the awning on my wood deck. Or I’m swimming in the lake. Hiking about the site.  At night there is always the fire pit.  Internet and cable are spotty at best but it feels great to be weaned off them for the summer. The other campers are very friendly in a down home Ontario manner. Most are gone during the week as they are not retired like me. And company or not, no matter! I quite enjoy my solitude.

I have a lot of time to read. There’s a full book case at home. They are books I’ve always wanted to read at my own leisure, as opposed to those I had to read from throughout my busy teaching career. Last week I finished an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, another by D.H. Lawrence, and two histories. Next week there will be more. I confess to having a very nice stereo system here also and lots of tunes for a change of pace when I’m not just enjoying the quiet or the sounds of nature, the birds, crickets, squirrels or the chorus of frogs at night. Likewise there’s a sack of classic movie DVD’s and more current downloads to play on my Blu-ray at night should it be raining or there’s too many bugs come sunset. Yes! There is a mosquito, and horsefly season and summer was late in coming this year! The temperature can dip at night, occasionally requiring me to turn on the trailer furnace or perhaps the space heater. Nonetheless it’s a trade off from the hot smoggy humid life in the city that I am pleased to make.



I could relate numerous tales of pure bliss but this is the most recent one I like best. If you have followed my BlogSpot for very long, you will know that I am also keen on swimming and diving. Lake Mississaganon is located on the “Canadian” or Cambrian shield. It stretches across northern Canada. Many deep lakes, and crevices were carved out of the bed rock by the glaciers during the ice age. The water from springs deep below the surface is remarkably clear and clean. The lake temperature in summer hits about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not bathwater warm like the Caribbean where I usually go for swimming and diving but nonetheless it is incredibly refreshing and invigorating all the same. Once in the water one warms up pretty fast and on all but the cool days find it perfectly fine.

Lately I have been enjoying the freedom of movement I have when snorkeling, more so than the laboured preparedness and all the equipment that comes with scuba diving. I understand this lake is relatively shallow, bottoming out at about 60 feet. The shallow water often has a sand bottom with huge boulders and rock formations poking through. Following the rock sides further out I have done free dives down about 20 feet or so holding my breath. I like hanging upside down looking around, then completing a half somersault to head back to the surface. Or I like doing a slow breast stroke or the crawl as I follow the rocks down into the deep. The water temperature drops, quite a pleasant sensation on a hot and sunny day. The often quite spectacular rock formations and slopes continue to dip far down into the even colder dark depths below. I was quite fascinated to find a sunken tree, which I’d estimate was probably close to a hundred feet long. It stretched from near shore into the deep dark depths below.  Without scuba gear I couldn’t follow it any further down. However there are many other such marvels, especially along the shallower shorelines of the island that’s just a couple of hundred feet off our beach.

I swam around the island the other day. The island is thick forested with many coniferous and deciduous trees warmly lush and resplendent in every possible shade of green. The water was a deep royal blue below a pastel blue sky. The sun was beating down. Schools of pike, and perch swam along among the sea grass, weeds and fallen trees. There were plenty of boulders off and along the shore where I could stop to rest and lie in the sun.  It was quite peaceful and marvellous to lie sunning on one huge boulder protruding from the lake on the far side of the island. It was completely peaceful except for the sound of the birds, and the light rustle of leaves. I gazed out at nothing but greenery without any sign of people or other busy things, quite perfectly alone but for myself, surrounded by nothing but water, forests and rock everywhere I looked. I felt so completely free, centered and relaxed.

It is great to be so close and yet far removed from home in Toronto. No time need be spent in airports. Nor is a passport required to get here. As I write now in my trailer a booming thunderstorm has just rolled overhead. The sun is once again beating down. The last of the raindrops are dripping off the trees. The birds are chirping. It’s a perfect time for a stroll back to the beach.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Paris Oooh La La! The Eiffel Tower!

Updates added for Teacher Summer News + Views @ News!  + Ford Nation blogs @ Ford


I have many pleasant happy memories of our trip to Paris in June. None seem to stick with me so clearly as that of the Eiffel Tower. I know it might sound cliché. There is so much to see and do, and this quite obvious postcard image is the best I can do? Far from it!

The Eiffel tower is an impressive steel edifice. It’s very modernist in a sense: Man over nature, a huge free standing pointed steel girder and brace structure. A triumph of 19th Century architecture and Science over the elements. The center piece of the 1890 Paris Exposition. At 1000 feet the tallest standing man made structure in the world at the time.


Today, in our postmodern world, where architecture no longer is no longer as constrained by the laws of physics, the Eiffel Tower has been dwarfed in size many times over. Until recently our own Toronto CN Tower was the world’s tallest free standing structure, a huge sleek concrete needle in the sky. Its unobtrusive lack of colour, perhaps at first brush rather unimaginative and dull, nonetheless allows it to blend into the Toronto skyline while also providing a focal point to the city.

The CN Tower is not without its own charms.  I do not think it is fair to compare it with the Eiffel Tower. They were created in different times. One might wonder if the CN Tower will still be standing a 124 years from now. Maybe? Maybe not? No matter. Each exists in a world of its own.

The stark magic of the Eiffel Tower by day is one of amazing technical ingenuity, if not from a time long past. As sun sets the bronzish copper Eiffel Tower turns gold in proportion to the growing propensity of Paris and the night. Most notably down at the Champs de Mars fountains and walkway. It is transformed into a mad carnival of life; gawkers, hawkers, lovers, artists, performers, Parisians, tourists, Gypsies and thieves. They all come to watch. At nightfall Janet and I would sit on the steps, or perhaps cuddle together on an embankment to drink in the magic swirling about us.



 As the tower becomes a throbbing beacon of gold in the night, spotlights from the top slice through the dark on a perpendicular angle, swaying hypnotically back and forth as the excitement builds. At 11 pm it’s the finale everybody has been waiting for. Flashing white lights explode all over the tower. Everybody gasps. Cheers. It is quite breathtaking. Perhaps unnecessary. It’s a glitzy finale and no doubt the finishing touch. However on our visit this June it was cut mercifully short leaving us with the fittingly magic and magnificent golden vision in its own rite.

On Friday we at last joined the hour and a half lineup to the top. I kept putting it off. I hate lineups. Here they are unavoidable unless I suppose one is either an early riser or up all night, neither of which for us would fit the bill. It was well worth it. At each level we stopped to gaze at the magnificent city of Paris grow smaller and smaller below. From the top two observation decks it had become reduced to a majestic map. All the familiar landmarks can be seen from on high stretching off to the horizon; the Seinne, the Arc de Triumph, Grand Palace, Cathedral and Opera House to name but a few. The mad cacophony of curving streets twist among long, flush lines of greenery stretching out like fingers here and there across the city.


The view from the Eiffel Tower was extremely breathtaking to say the least! I have been up higher before on mountains, in buildings, and on an airplane. It is the sheer beauty of it all that is the point in an age where sheer height no longer need amaze. Totally exhilarating. We arrived back to earth quite breathless, even dizzy as we stepped off the elevator onto the ground, swallowed up into the Paris crowds once again. It is an experience I can’t encourage enough should you ever visit the city. The Eiffel Tower will always remain a snapshot in my mind to savour as I will during more trying or mundane times, a most enriching life experience.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Blogsite Summer Holiday Notes!

The summer holidays are here! It's time to relax, travel and/ or just enjoy our province. There's little that's more beautiful than Ontario in summer!


My blogsite will continue to run during the holidays, though I will be often out and about, not here every day. I will make a special note of providing news links etc in my Teacher Summer News + Views blog as the need arises. The Queen's Park legislature will continue through July to pass the budget. Your teacher union should be busy negotiating provincially and at the local level: You are to have a new teacher contract by August 31 when your current one expires. I will track these and provide the links for you here.


Please also note: there are over 500 teacher blogs in my archive below this column when you scroll down the page. They are organized by date from 2011 to now. You will find lots and lots of info and links on any number of articles of teacher + union interest. I think they provide a pretty good resource for a lot that has happened in Ontario's schools, our union movement, + the related party politics over the past 3 years. Without doubt there is a lot of thought provoking materials that's well worth another gander.

I might well do some more travel blogs, music reviews and other special features for those of you who visit here for these. I pretty much write these as I feel so inspired. Remember, the "Heavy Rotation" and "Quickie Review" features near the bottom of my blog page are also updated with info about music, movies and TV etc. etc. etc., whatever I'm into at home. Check there too!

If you would like to contribute a guest blog please do. You will find the info on how to do so @ Submissions

You can email me @ davechiarelli@gmail.com .There is also a link on the top right of my blogsite.

I will continue to tweet info on important news, issues and topics of interest as they arise over the summer for your convenience. You can subscribe to my Twitter hashtag @ #davidchiarelli

My blog site has had over 420,000 reader visits now. I am honoured to help provide the information here for you. Have a great summer! And stay tuned!

David C

PS: You can scroll down to my Teacher Summer News + Views blog ~just look for the summer sun [as above]! Or use this link @ Links

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Hudak's Downfall+ The Harris Secret Caucus!

Under construction

I know we are all now in holiday mode! School's out! The provincial election is over! Sometimes important news items just skip past the old scanner. However, here's one we shouldn't miss!


Boo Hoo! Hudak returns this week to the legislature for the first time since the election!

This Wednesday two weeks after his fellow PC MPP's were sworn into office at Queen's Park, former PC Party Leader Tim Hudak arrives for a private ceremony before he finally attends the summer legislative session. He tells reporters he doesn't want to reflect too much on his election campaign. Must be tough eh? You can read the story @ Beat!

As you will recall, this June Hudak was finally given the old heave-ho by his Queen's Park Caucus. The parties displeasure was quite understandable. Hudak lost the spring election to the Wynne Liberals. Moreover, they lost 10 seats. It was an election that by all odds should've been his to win. Instead he handed the Liberals a landslide victory!

Immediately after the election, Interim PC Party leader Jim Wilson gave an insightful interview. He admitted some very interesting items of special note, First, that the PC Queen's Park Caucus has felt "disenfranchised" from the party policy and decision making process for the past 10 years. Secondly, Hudak's giddy election announcement that he intended to axe 100,000 public service jobs was a big surprise and not popular with many of his own MPP's. Thirdly, Jim Wilson says the PC's are tired of attacking people. After 10 years of that they need to re win the public trust. You can watch and hear the interview @ Jim Wilson

Some observations: It shouldn't be a surprise that the official PC caucus is feeling disenfranchised. Indeed last summer it was reported in the news, and here on my blogsite, that Hudak had a "secret caucus" advising him, rather than the duly elected PC Caucus at Queens Park. It was made up of ex Harrisites including many of Hudak's old neo con buddies from across Ontario and even in Ottawa! Hudak managed to avert a party revolt at last fall's leadership review. But who knows what deals he made to hang on as long as he has? 

Tim Hudak: It's a family affair!

Hudak's secret caucus was hardly a democratic way to run a government in waiting. It only seems fair that in the final analysis justice has been served and he is gone. Perhaps we are seeing an end to the Harris Years once and for all? Hmmm. For your erudition you can review the names, connections and political intrigues of the Hudak secret cabinet and the party revolt last summer from my blog then @ Tim's Big Secret

Hudak's surprise 100,000 jobs cut announcement was certainly a big  mistake that cost the party dearly. It has long been a typical Harrisite strategy to use these sort of tactics to try to scapegoat and blame the province's economic woes on the backs of the public service sector, including teachers. Also to create wedge issues like these to split the public vote. It's all a part of their well known neo con divide and conquor strategy. The real goal is to defeat the union movement and roll back our workplace gains. Hudak should hardly have expected, despite his outrage, that we would not rally and fight back. Indeed, in assuming he could thereby strengthen his hand against working families and the unions, he was very badly mistaken. 

Hudak is his own worse enemy. He has nobody to blame but himself. His plan failed. Instead, the Ontario labour movement went on the offensive  to combat his US Republican Wisconsin North cloned agenda, which included issues like "Right to Work for Less" in the winter by-election, and his 100,000 public service job cuts plan this spring. As he found out, the Harris Years are indeed over. 

Labour was organized and ready! First there was the OFL's No Right 2 Work 4 Less campaign. Also the teacher unions' "Who Speaks for children?" and "Building Better Schools" campaigns, among others. If Hudak was thinking 2014 would be like 1995 all over again, he was dead wrong. Our well prepared messaging worked too expose his secret bullshit agenda! Unlike during the Harris Years, the voters showed they were fed up with his negative, divisive antics at the ballot box. Indeed, for a refresher on the teacher unions involvement in the spring election please reread my blogs @ Here! and @ Here!


Ontario Spring Election 2015: Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

The Ontario PC's can usually count on about 1/3 of the electorate voting Conservative. Historically this hardcore element will not vote for another party but rather they will abstain from voting at all to show their disapproval with the party. When we consider the Hudak PC's 31% popular vote he would seem to have fallen a little short. When we consider that number also includes soft voters just exercising a protest vote against the Liberals, his drop in party support was probably a lot greater. No wonder Jim Wilson claims it's time for the PC's to stop always being negative and attacking people, and that the party needs to regain the public trust! Is it possible that the Harris Era, 13 years after the governments defeat, is finally over once and for all? 

One needs to watch the upcoming leadership race carefully. Hopefully Mike Harris, Deb Hutton and the PC neo con right have finally crawled back under their rocks, but don't count on it!  As their desperate, pathetic ploy to regain power in the spring 2014 election has shown, they are still around. Like a bad smell, they might linger! We are wise to hope for the best but also realize that Ontario progressives must remain eternally vigilant! Hudak's secret Harris caucus has been decisively defeated. However let's not ever get fooled again like in 1995 and 1998. The new PC Party: neo con no more? It could be a very interesting PC leadership race! Bring it on!

SOME MORE RELATED NEWS LINKS:

Typical: Hudak Blames Unions for By Election Defeat @ Here!

Diabolical BS: Hudak's Plans for Right 2 Work 4 Less Policy Revisited @ Here!

Goodbye to Tim! Hudak's Right 2 Work 4 Less Policy Foiled by Unions @ Here!

COMMENTS

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Youtube Bar: Afrika Bambaataa!

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Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!