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Monday, November 30, 2009

Fiona soon to be three - months!

For those who are waiting patiently to see Fiona and daddy John. Here is a post just for you.

Fiona has passed a milestone; She is no longer a newborn baby. She is now simply a baby. She now is holding her head up, checking out her surroundings. So far everything seems to have passed inspection.

Judy calls her a pothead as she is quite taken with the stainless steel pots hanging from the ceiling above our kitchen counter.

I think of her as more of an art buff; She quiets right down when I stroll around our home and discuss the art with the obviously intensely interested little girl cradled in my arms. She is especially interested in the various sculptures that sit on our livingroom mantle.


You're more powerful than you think.

Note: the video has been changed. I was told that my first was like a feel-good e-mail message. That was enough for me; I changed the video immediately. I removed the cheese.

What we do in life is important. We've all heard of the "Butterfly Effect." If conditions are right, small actions have big effects. 

Your actions reverberate in the world much longer than you would ever imagine. You truly are more powerful than you think.

This post and the video were inspired by a passage in the book The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. Troubled by the unfairness of the biblical injunction that wicked acts by the fathers will be visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation, Jacobs, after much thought, arrived at a generous interpretation, and came to appreciate the passage with his new insight.

As a young boy I, too, was troubled by the unfairness of this Biblical passage. My mother had an interpretation which was in agreement with Jacobs. Years later I chatted with a minister who would go on to become a bishop and he confirmed my mother's interpretation.

Our actions influence others. A father's bad actions set a bad example not just for his children but  for generations to come. Set a bad example and your children and your children's children may very well suffer. 

But why stop with fathers?


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Modern Dance_a burning obsession

Years ago I shot some pictures for a gentleman and his wife; Both were movers and shakers in the art scene here in London, Ontario. As payment for my work they gave me not just cash, always nice, but tickets for two to each show at a local theatre.

Of all the theatre stuff I was exposed to in those 12-months, I think the modern dance nights were my favourites. I knew very little about modern dance but by then end of the year I was making the drive to Toronto to catch the Danny Grossman Dance Company and attending the Joffrey Ballet in New York. When the touring arm of the Joffrey stopped in London, I made sure I was there.

For me, the best modern dance was imaginative and visually witty with a patina of surrealism. I would go on about the "incongruous juxtapositions" but I never felt comfortable with that talk in art school and I am not about to get into it now.

The only way to make such a conversation work is to get a good group of friends, a couple of jugs of beer and lots of pub-popcorn and peanuts and then, and only then, is it possible to launch into a discussion of what it means to conduct an entire dance routine under a bright red sheet of lycra stretched tautly over an entire stage. The dancers are never seen. All we see are the moving, expanding and contracting bulges, the result of the dancers performing under the distorted fabric.

All the foregoing was an introduction to this video by Memo Akten.

This video is an off-shoot from a visual performance accompanying the Rambert Dance Company at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London UK . . . When the clip starts, you probably won't recognize a human shape, but your eyes and mind will be searching, seeking mental connections between abstract shapes and recognizable patterns, like looking for shapes in clouds. You'll be questioning what you see, is that him? is he sitting? is he crouching? is he kneeling? until all of a sudden, he'll be crystal clear . . .

The dancers are Robin Gladwin and Miguel Altunaga. Choreography by Alexander Whitley.

Reincarnation from Memo Akten on Vimeo.


Christmas in Norway

I have linked to this site so often in the past that I am beginning to feel pangs of guilt. Oh well, I can handle them.

I saw Elle's tweet and thought "ho hum" but no, it's a" ho ho ho." What gives this post an edge? - the picture of the helicopter placing a Christmas tree on a bridge. It is just such a neat thing to do on so many levels.

The lights are starting to appear in London and soon I'll go out and get some shots of the local crazies who light their homes better than Niagara Falls.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Social Networking

Last night I blogged on my reaction to women wearing hijabs in London, Ontario. My thoughts had me thinking about how I treat Muslims and why I treat them that way.

This morning I heard from a blogger in Iran! A woman who goes by the name of Shahrzah, and she gave me permission to use some art from her site. She also took the time to enrich my knowledge concerning the attire of Muslim women.

Here are her comments:


I read your post and it's thoughtful. You have permission to use photos from my blog if you want to. And i am so happy that you've decided not to treat Muslim stereotypically as some few people do.

However i would like to give you few information about the hijab and hijab law in Iran. Actually based on law, Iranian women must cover their head by scarf, but it does not include forcing to wear burka or things like that. There's no force to cover the head thoroughly as well. There was a religious police since some years after revolution, but now after coming for second term, Ahmadinejad has eliminated that ancient religious police!

Nobody wears burkas in Iran. Burkas are popular in Afghanistan and some other Asian countries. In fact Iranian women never cover their face, bcs religiously they're not recommended too. (Iranians follow a different sect of Islam, name as 'Shia or Shiite Islam and women are not recommended to wear face cover.)

There's a traditional way of hijab with the name "Chador" and this chador has a history related to pre-Islamic era when Iranians used to follow Zoroastrian religion and women of rich families were obligated to wear chador. Nowadays nobody is forced to wear chador, but some women 'chose' to wear it.

Best Regards,

My addition: Years ago, while still working at the newspaper I shot pictures of two sisters who were practising Zoroastrians. At the time there were about four or five dozen Zoroastrians living in London, Ontario.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just a scarf?

The young woman wore a dark, long-sleeved, floor-length dress with a matching hijab. She was working behind the counter at a local store. She smiled at my wife and at me and started totalling our purchases.

This was my second contact with this young woman. She had checked me through a few days before, when I bought a large, wooden toy stove for my new granddaughter. The hijab wearing woman had asked if I would need help carrying the stove to my car and I had laughed that I was not that old. Well, I allowed, I might be that old but I wasn't that out-of-shape.

She had asked who the stove was for — a granddaughter perhaps? I had replied, "Yes." As she taped the loose parts, ensuring I would reach home with the complete stove, we had chatted. I paid, we parted and soon I was struggling through the parking lot with a stove that grew bigger and heavier with every step. I was that out-of-shape.

Driving home I thought about her head covering, her colour coordinated scarf, her hijab — a traditional headdress worn by Muslim women. But before I worked through my thoughts, I was home.

Now my wife and I were back and we had the same young woman checking us out. I think she recalled me — the foolish old man, too proud to accept help carrying an immense, heavy, wooden toy stove to his car.

My wife had a number of delicate canisters and each had to be individually wrapped to make sure they wouldn't knock together and break. As the young woman worked, she chatted with my wife and with me. She asked about our family and Christmas. She confided that her family was quite large and if they celebrated Christmas it would be one expensive festival.

The hijab, unlike the burka, does not cover a woman's face. This young woman's charming and disarming smile was not hidden. When we took our bags filled with Christmas gifts to leave, her thank you followed by the invitation to come again, had the warmth of sincerity.

I'd like to say that I treated this young woman exactly the same way that I would treat any counter person, but I didn't. I tried to be friendlier than usual. I went out of my way to not look at, and to not react to, her obvious Muslim attire.

I mentioned this to my wife and I told her how, if a Muslim family was approaching a store door immediately behind me, I would walk through and then hold the door open for them. I will wait a few moments longer for a Muslim family. I go out of my way to let Muslims see that I treat them just like I treat others.

I see my actions as my own, small way of fighting terrorism. I will not be bullied into treating my Muslim neighbours differently because of the actions of a few nasty extremist crazies living, and dying, many thousands of miles away.

My small, positive actions don't seem like much, almost nothing.

But then I think of France. Last June President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "In our country (France), we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity." The burka — the all-concealing Muslim dress, with mesh covering the eyes — is "a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement," he said. " . . . it will not be welcome on our territory."

In 2004, a law banning the Islamic headscarf — the hijab — and other highly visible religious symbols from French public schools sparked heated debate. He's not smiling and ignoring the head scarf. He's not holding any doors.

Interestingly, in Tunisia — Muslim North Africa — a similar ban has been enforced and ignored in waves since 1981 when a government decree prohibited women from wearing Islamic head scarves in public places. Tunisian human-rights activists accuse authorities of depriving women of a basic freedom guaranteed by the Tunisian constitution.

Photo credit: Shahrazad. [The two images of Iranian women wearing hijabs.]

When I was in Tunisia about a decade ago I would see women walking together, some wearing hijabs, some wearing western dress, while still others in the same group wore body-covering robes hiding all, including their faces. I thought it was pretty cool.

At one point during my visit, I was able to slip into a women-only-club in downtown Tunis. Dozens of western dressed Tunisian ladies held a business luncheon from which all men were barred but for some waiters, the musicians in the band and a smooth talking Canadian photographer. How I managed smooth talk my way in using my limited high school French, I don't know.

But I do know that those women would agree with Sarkozy. They talked about how Saudi and Iranian women must wear the hijab by law and often wear the full burka, not by choice, but out of fear. These ladies might not hold the door for a woman wearing a hijab.

Confused? Me too. But, I think I'll keep smiling, chatting, and holding doors.


"I go out of my way to let Muslims see that I treat them just like I treat others." My wife thought this too subtle. If I go out of my way, I do not treat Muslims as I treat others. My behaviour has been changed by the events of this decade.
The picture on the left accompanied the story I wrote for the paper on Tunisia. This woman had passed on the hijab in favour of the cap and white cuffs of the Police de Circulation, or traffic cops.

For more info on Muslim dress, check out my post "Social" Networking. A lady from Iran contacted me and has added first-hand info. Ah the virtual world is a wonderful place, and that's reality.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Computer Died, Blog Stalled, Back Thursday!

I'll be back - Thursday. I have a new computer. Yeah!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Romantic Fever

Welcome!    Velkommen!     ¡Bienvenido!     Salut!      أهلا وسهلا

I can still recall the first time I even gave a thought to having a computer in the home. I was in Detroit buying nylon rode plus dacron sheets and halyards for my sailboat, stuff was cheaper in the States. I caught an Apple II ad squeezed in between the steady stream of old Motown hits.

Why would anyone, I mean anyone, want a personal computer? Talk about stupid.

Then I went to a Canadian Industries Limited (CIL) open house and visited their "computer room." It was a relatively dust-free room, no carpets, with an air conditioning system specifically installed for the computers. The room had to be cool. And it was. It had a dozen Apple IIs running something called a VisiCalc spreadsheet.

Change the number in a square, called a cell, and a wave quickly rippled across the screen as all the numbers changed. These little computers were at the heart of the London CIL operation. They calculated financial projections and complex “what if” scenarios. I was awed.

When the Mac 128 came out, I bought a computer for the home. I did it while my wife was away. I set my baby up in the kitchen on one counter top and ran cables across the narrow room to the printer on the opposite counter. The Mac had 128KB of RAM,  a 64 KB ROM, a 400 KB floppy that didn't flop, it was encased in plastic and the best thing was the screen - run the word processor software, MacWrite, and the screen was like a window on a white sheet of paper with black type. It gave a WYSIWYG image. All I could say was WOW!

There was no going back. I had seen the promised land and it was populated with computers. My Underwood sits in the garage forgotten. My early favourite film camera hasn't been out of its box in years. My darkroom is now in a dark box. My World Books no longer reflect the world and sit shelved in the basement. Computers are everywhere and do everything.

A few years ago I decided to try and learn French and so I went back to school. I did O.K. I can now read French fairly quickly. Today I loaded a new beta version of Blogger software, and if I want to blog in French it is computer easy. Select the words, click on the Define / translate icon.

To put the words into French was as easy as select, point, click, copy and paste.
Pour mettre les paroles en français était aussi facile que pointer choisir, clic, copier et coller.

Let's try translating the same words from English to Spanish.

Para poner las palabras en francés era tan fácil como seleccionar el punto,, click, copiar y pegar.

Out of curiousity, if I went from English to French to Spanish and back to English. The result?

To put words in French was as easy as pointing to select, click Paste.

It got muddled in translation and yet to err is human. Someday, they'll get the human error out of the software. For now this software reminds me of my high school girlfriend. She was from Cairo and her mother tongue was not English.

She would enter a room and "open the lights." When she asked for a favour, she would start out, "I beg of you . . . " When she arrived in Canada she was asked her medical history. Rosy had had rheumatic fever as a child and replied, "I suffered badly from romantic fever."

I do hope they have the bugs out of the software soon. "Suffering badly from romantic fever," sounded much better when Rosy said it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Put out to pasture_they've earned a rest

Some blogs posted here have been entertaining in their own right but they also had other reasons for hanging around gathering digital dust. In the past three days they have all been checked out. Now, their work done, these blogs have been retired.

They are going to join the one and only video ever shot for posting here and which was taken down after just a day or two.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Art Rules!

If you're here to read my take on the SMarts London Social Media Un-Conference, scroll down. Sorry, but a more pressing issue has come up: Art!

And this blog will be at the top to-morrow, I'll move it, and it may grow. So, if you come tomorrow for my little follow-up to today's SMarts post, get ready to scroll again.

I don't know how anyone can get up in front of an audience and say that by the end of the week they have nothing more to share on the Net. This morning I checked where my hits are coming from, I put out a tweat and checked the Twitter feeds to which I subscribe.

I found the following tweat:
Put a snazzy new flash ellemusic player with my song "Let You In" on
Come listen! :)

If that address doesn't work once removed from its Twitter home, and I bet it doesn't, try the following link:
ellemusic on MySpace

Elle is a talented London woman who is now living in Scandinavia. How I discovered her site, I really don't know. But it is just such an eclectic site with a strong patina of "art" washed over it that even though I could not care less for fashion, I visit there now and then.

Elle is not just a good writer, photographer and graphics artist, she is also a musician. I believe she had a group in her teens in London. James Reaney might know Elle. He seems to know everyone even remotely connected to the arts in London (Ontario).

At the SMarts Conference the last event was a panel discussion on free art. Does giving away artistic creations on the Net, or worst having them simply ripped off, help or hurt the artist? There were two women and two men on the panel, all with both feet placed firmly in the world of art.

The speakers all had strong positions and presented them well but the one I liked best was the feisty one - an artist named Olenka. She saw the problem very clearly, unfortunately the world does not see what she sees. Olenka was not swayed. Taking stuff for free, stuff not offered, is theft. Period! And those taking the art are thieves.

Olenka said, "Lot's of people are making money on social media and it's off our backs - you people are patsies!" Olenka is out to change the world, to change the world's perception of what it means to take stuff for free from the Net - stuff that was never meant to be free. (I would add that if the artist gives the stuff away because they feel pressured, that is a digital world mugging. "Hands up. Hand over your zeros and ones, now!")

I like it.

Elle is sharing. Fine. But we must find a way to reward our artists. They civilize our world. Without artists, it's back to the caves - but if your cave is in the south of France it won't be so bad. The cave walls there are covered with incredible art.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shout Out to: Out of Work Young Lady Met at Conference

Please send me an e-mail and let me know how to get in touch with you and I'll see if I can find someone interested in your story but not interested in you. No name attached to story. I'd like to take a crack at helping you.

My e-mail is londondailyphoto1@hotmail.com ---- Note the number 1 after photo.

Do hope I hear from you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Biscotti — the way to a man's heart

I love coffee. Rich, almost thick coffee, with a small whack of sugar and smoothing splash of milk sometimes even half and half. But what truly makes a cup of coffee, for me, is something that is only dipped, temporarily into the cup, and that's my wife's biscotti.

Dried cherries, oven toasted hazelnuts and a little lemon zest all combine to make these just about perfect.

A good cup of coffee, a crisp biscotti ready for dipping, and my morning London Free Press, the perfect way to start a day.

If you'd like to try making my wife's biscotti you'll need:

4 cups (1 l) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 cup (250 ml) sliced hazelnuts lightly toasted in the oven or in a dry frying pan
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (225 ml) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract - use the real stuff and not vanillin
1 cup (250 ml) dried cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C)

2. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder,salt, lemon zest and hazelnuts.

4. Using a KitchenAid stand mixer, beat eggs until fluffy and a light coloured.

5. Slowly beat in sugar, then oil, lemon juice and vanilla.

6. Slowly add flour mixture and stir until dry mixture is nearly absorbed.

7. Finally, stir in dried cherries.

8. With water-moistened hands divide dough in half and form each into a loaf about 15 inches (38 cm) long and 4 inches (10 cm) wide on a baking sheet. Keep loaves at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

9. Bake from 35 to 40 minutes or until small cracks are visible and tops are golden.

10. Slice loaves onto a large cutting board and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch (1 1/4 cm) thick slices. If the knife blade becomes sticky, wipe with a damp cloth.

11. Stand slices upright and about 1/2 inch (1 1/4 cm) apart on baking pan.

12. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (150°C) and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until biscotti are dry to the touch.

13. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet sitting on a rack.

14. When completely cool, store in airtight containers.

This should make about four dozen biscotti. This is enough for more than three weeks if you share them with your partner and you both show proper restraint.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Penises regrown in rabbits!

It's true. I looked up the press release from the university involved and have done a report for, you guessed it, Digital Journal.

If you haven't heard about, or read about, this yet, here is my take:

Digital Journal: Rabbits grow new penises

Most reports don't go into detail about the other work being done by the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre. Their work is absolutely amazing. If you are really interested, click on the link to my DJ article.

Oh, and if you've got the time, check out London Daily Photo. I'm rather happy with the picture and writing. If you have even more time, there is new photo tip at Rockin' On: Photography.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Asian carp poised to invade the Great Lakes

I have posted one of my best news reports; It looks at the danger presently posed to the Great Lakes by an invasion of Asian carp made possible by creative human ineptitude.

The story has been posted on Digital Journal.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

It was a green car!

It's November and it's cold in Canada. Oh, it will get colder but let's not quibble; it's cold.

I don't drive my Morgan too often in the winter but I do drive it. I'm not very mechanical. Pulling plugs and filling cylinders with oil seems harder than just driving the old car for 45 minutes every four weeks.

If you don't run an engine regularly, the cylinders can rust. I know this is true but we don't want to go there . . . well, maybe we do. That incident, as embarrassing as it was, is at the core of this post.

You see, my Morgan was vandalized years ago. And to make a long story short, I was forced to store the car for years. Finally, I found someone to fix the car. I loaded it on a flat bed and had it trucked to Bolton, Ontario.

When the mechanic pulled the head, he discovered the pistons were rusted to the cylinders. "Didn't you put oil in the cylinders," he asked. "Of course," I replied. "I did that before putting it into storage."

"That was years ago! Heavens, man! Haven't you heard of gravity? Over time the oil seeps down to the bottom of the engine leaving the cylinder metal exposed." He then took a power chisel and broke up the pistons and chipped the cylinder sleeves from the engine.

Lot's of other stuff was equally damaged from doing nothing. I began to think my old car was a lot like a person. If you want rusty arteries, just sit and do nothing. Do nothing and it will come, meaning deterioration.

It took my mechanic three years of off-again-on-again work to put my Morgan back on the road. When I had some cash, the work was on. When I didn't, the work was off. There were a lot of offs.

But, in the end, it was fixed. My wife and I drove it to San Francisco in 2005 for the Morgans Over America tour. We saw the Grand Canyon. We spent a night in Hannibal, Missouri, made famous by Mark Twain. We took the Chi-Cheemaun car ferry from the largest, freshwater island in the world to Tobermory at the tip of the scenic Bruce in Ontario. And when we got to Toronto the car died. It needed a new cam shaft.

You know what's coming: I loaded it on a flat bed and had it trucked to Bolton.

Fixed again, my wife and I drove it to Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Detroit — they loved it in Detroit — hey, it is Motown. 

And then the other day, out for a late fall run, gotta keep that rust at bay, I felt my heel slip. I thought there was a lose piece of paper, or maybe a leaf, under my foot. I reached down and felt something warm, like blood, but slippery. I looked at my fingers. Oil! My engine's life blood! A quick glance at the oil gauge confirmed that I had no pressure. Zero. I immediately shut the engine off.

I just got off the phone to the mechanic. He says that I have horseshoes where the sun don't shine, or something to that effect. The engine is fine. A hose carrying oil to the one-shot lubrication system (don't ask) broke. I shut the engine down in time. No damage.

So, what's the point of all of this? Why is this blog titled "It was a green car?" If you're thinking it's because of all the money, the green, that the little car has devoured, you're wrong.

Here's the scoop — the Environmental Rating for Vehicles (ERV) has been calculated for the Morgan roadster by Cardiff University and a new Morgan 4/4 rates almost 7 per cent higher than a Toyota Prius Hybrid!

If I asked you to name a car that was designed and built around the principle of weight reduction, you might not think of a sports car but you should have. My Morgan doesn't tip the scales at even 2000 lbs., and yet it can mosey down highway 401 and hold its own against the turbulence caused by even the largest trucks. Size does matter and small is better. And what you do with that small size is important, too.

According to the Cardiff University report, "despite the traditional styling of Morgan cars, they can out-compete most . . . modern competitors in terms of environmental performance." And, as I said, they're no slouches on the highway either. (Ah, but twisty, narrow, back country roads, like those snaking up and down the Niagara escarpment, on those roads from hell Morgans find heaven.)

So, how does a car earn a good ERV rating?

- low weight
- good use of materials
- low emissions
- durability
- a green manufacturing system
- a forward looking approach

Many new Morgans tip the scales at only 50 kg more than The Smart Car. Morgans use lots of steel, sometimes aluminum, and even wood in their construction — think recyclables. New Morgans use state-of-the-art engines from manufacturers like BMW.

Now, your might think that durability was the weak spot in the Morgan green armour. If you did, you're wrong. Morgans are durable. I bought mine in December of 1968 and yet among Morgan owners, I'm a bit of a newbie. One fellow, I know, bought his Morgan in 1956! The factory encourages this by supplying parts  for up to 50 years after a car was produced. And don't discount the emotional attachment owners have for their Morgans; Morgan owners are as durable as their cars — although I, personally,  have never needed a flatbed. I have needed an ambulance, though.

Around 60 -70 million cars are produced every year with the numbers climbing constantly. This is clearly unsustainable. If car making is to survive, all manufacturers will have to move towards to a business model closer to that of Morgan and other low volume producers than that of General Motors. (Hey, Morgan has been in business for a hundred years and, unlike GM, is still standing on its own two feet — uh, four, four wheels.)

Lastly, if you believe a car company famous for deviating little from a 1930s design is hardly a forward thinking company then you're wrong again. Morgan has announced the LIFECar, designed to prove a car can be lean, green and still fun, is going into production. And then there is the all electric Morgan based on the original three-wheel Morgan design with roots going back to the early years of the last century.

Finally, why do I say my Morgan "was" green in the past tense? Internal combustion engines have come a long way since 1968. By today's standards my 4-cylinder was a polluter. I'm afraid its days of making claims to being green have passed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A thank you

I don't know how long my Page Rank will remain at three but three is amazing. I never thought that I would have a page rank on parr with Elle and Brian. Sonny Drysdale has earned a rating of four with his very entertaining blog.

This blog has been more successful than I ever imagined and for that I must say thank you. It would not be possible to do so much if it were not for you, the regular readers or occasional visitors.

Thank you.


The Digital Journal Experiment Continues

When I left The London Free Press, I thought it would be fun to blog. I might have been able to blog for the paper but it would have been for free. This didn't seem right. If I had been willing to work for free, Quebecor wouldn't have had to lay me off. I wasn't willing then and I'm not willing now.

I started out on Blogger but soon noticed that the best looking sites were using WordPress; I switched. Then I realized that only Blogger offered me the chance to add ads to my blogs. Eager to sell out, I switched back to Blogger. If someone sees something that they like and they click on an ad to learn more, I get a cut of the action. Hey, this is already better than the offer from the Freeps.

Then I discovered the Digital Journal. I told my wife I could earn as much on the Internet as she earns at her retirement part-time job. It was a bold statement. It was also wrong. I can't.

That said, I am learning where to find stories and put together something that people will enjoy reading. And so far it is paying much better than my Adsense stuff but Adsense is still paying better than the Freeps.

Check out my two stories from today and if you like 'em, give 'em a vote. If you don't, don't. The first one, and the art, is a handout. It is the same handout that was the source of all the stories about this VW on the net and in the papers.

The second story is something that I worked up after seeing these black spots on maple leaves and searching the Net for answers. This story, too, was worked up in a manner very much like a true newspaper story. All that is missing is a few quotes from a local London tree specialist. If I had gotten a quote or two, the Digital Journal would pay me a bonus. They reward originality and getting out and actually developing contacts which you can then refer to in your story.

Stolen VW bus found after 35 years

Maple tar spot very visible this year

Forgotten garden sculpture fetches $118,000 USD

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sent this concerning proof reading...

I was sent this as an e-mail after writing the piece on pore and poor. I thought I would post it. Cheers, Rockinon. The layout is because I was unable to modify the source code to improve the presentation. Sorry. It is e-mail code and not Internet page code.

Proofreading is a dying art



Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter  
This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this.  It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!!  They put in a correction the next day.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says  
No kidding, really? Ya think?  

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers   
 Now that's taking things a bit far!  

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over  
What a guy!    

Miners Refuse to Work after Death  
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!  

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant   
See if that works any better than a fair trial!  

War Dims Hope for Peace   
 I can see where it might have that effect!  

 If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile  
Ya think?!  

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures   
 Who would have thought!  

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide    
They may be on to something!  

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges   
 You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?  

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge   
 He probably IS the battery charge!  

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group   
Weren't they fat enough?!  

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft   
That's what he gets for eating those beans!  
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks   
Do they taste like chicken? 

Local  High School Dropouts Cut in Half   
 Chainsaw Massacre all over again!  

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors   
Boy, are they tall! 

And the winner is....

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead     
Did I read that right? 

I thought the doctors had seven feet - kinda like a spider that got short changed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A day for cleaning up loose ends.

 First: a shout out to Em in Madrid, Spain

I heard from a young, teacher of English working in Spain who had her own pet peeves about proper pronunciation. She commented on my post "On pore and poor pronunciation." I'd like her to know that I moved her comments on to Paul Berton, the editor-in-chief of The London Free Press. It was his piece that inspired my post and I thought he would enjoy reading Em's remarks.

Second: a link to Tori Amos via one of my favourite blogs

Years ago our daughter was quite the fan of the singer Tori Amos. Because of this, I was quite interested in meeting Amos when I had the chance. She was in London to appear at Centennial Hall and a reporter and I were assigned to do an afternoon interview. She was an impressive lady.

I got tickets to the performance for my wife and me. Amos was incredible. Our daughter was jealous but better to miss a concert than attend it with one's parents. Ugh!

Now, Amos has a Christmas album, uh, CD, on the shelves. If you'd like to hear a song from the album and another song to introduce yourself to this cool lady please check out the post, Tori Amos: Midwinter Graces, on Elle Hermansen's blog. (My nephew has checked out Hermansen's blog and given it a thumbs up, too.)

Third: a shout-out to Houghton Lake

Here is a picture that I thought you would enjoy. Note the little outfit.

And lastly, some thoughts on names and places and how newspapers decide what placename to assign an article. I'm using the Ford Motor Company, St. Thomas Assembly Plant, as my focus. The plant is not in St. Thomas and soon it will not assemble anything.

Ford Assembly Plant in Talbotville

It is interesting that Southminster Bourne, which (I believe) forms the southern London boundary, is the road that runs right beside the St. Thomas Assembly Plant, the plant's official name. One can toss a stone from the plant property to London. Yet, stories about the plant, which The London Free Press once insisted on calling the Ford assembly plant at Talbotville, are now given the placeline of St. Thomas - a community much farther away from the plant than London.

I recall going to the plant and shooting pictures of workers, many of whom lived in London. I put the correct name of the plant on my cutlines just to see the reaction. I was told one reason we located the plant using Talbotville was that the plant was not in St. Thomas, many of workers did not live in St. Thomas, and a lot of the spin-off benefits of the plant did not go directly to St. Thomas. Thus, the correct name was confusing to readers. All mention of St. Thomas was removed from my cutlines. But, those were arguments from a long time ago.

(Does the fact that the plant is now an orphan and will close in the near future enter into this? Do Londoners no longer want to be associated with the plant now that it carries negative economic vibes?)

It's just interesting.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

On poor and pore pronunciation

Now that newspapers are going on-line they have one more thing to watch when it comes to quality and professionalism. In print there was spelling, grammar and fact checking. Now, with Internet podcasts and the like, pronunciation can be added to the list.

When I was in school in the '50s and '60s I had some really bad experiences on account of my pronunciations. I said poor, pronouncing it pore, and my teacher made me stand in front of the class while she corrected me for the edification of all.

The word was pronounced poor, poo, and not poh. "A pore is a hole in your skin," she told me. If you say pore when you mean someone had little money it makes you sound like you're poor; It makes you sound as if you come from the poor side of town. It makes you sound like a farmer from down east.

She was right, on all counts. I was poor, or maybe I should be honest and say pore. Us pore folk shouldn't put on airs and use pronunciations above our place. And I was but one generation removed from a farm in eastern Ontario.

I always thought my teacher was right — it was poor and not pore. But I also thought that she, and the others who humiliated students because of their pronunciations, were the ones who lacked class.

How I wish those teachers were still alive today. I could introduce them to Paul Berton, the editor-in-chief of The London Free Press, who could chastise them for their pronunciations. They might get their backs up but my money would be on Paul. Times and pronunciations have changed.

Paul tells us that zoology is good example of a word badly mangled in conversation today. My teachers would agree. "Never say z-oh-ology. It's pompous," they'd say. "It's zoo-ology." Paul would challenge them, "It is correctly pronounced z-oh-ology."

Unfortunately, he wouldn't stop while ahead. He'd continue by admitting, "(saying) it that way makes you sound like a snotty scientist." They would tell Paul an adult does not use the word snotty as an adjective.

My spelling is a fright. I'm sure, if you've followed this blog at all, I have made your hair stand on end with my creative spelling. I'm sorry, but I do try. I even pronounce February as 'Feb-roo-air-ee." I want to remember to put in the first 'r'.

Some of my teachers tried to knock that out of me. "Just because a word is spelt one way does not mean it is pronounced that way," they said. Other teachers demanded just the opposite, "Remember the 'roo' in February." Paul and Daniela, quoted in Paul's column, agree with the rooites. I checked my dictionary and sure enough the pronunciation favoured is 'roo'. Yes!

I wondered what the Internet would add to this discussion. I found a site that claims to be: "a free online talking dictionary of English pronunciation." Feeling mischievous I typed in mischievous . Ah . . . Teachers one, Paul zero.

My wife objected to my site selection. "That speaker is English!" Well of course he's English; I'm looking into English pronunciation. "Just type in jaguar and see how he pronounces it. Or yogourt." (The site didn't even like my spelling for yogourt, taken right from my Astro yogourt container. "Just anything goes when it comes to spelling yogourt," my said and went back to making soup. She's not fond of the stuff whether it's yogourt or yogurt.)

I tried zoology. It pumped out both pronunciations. Teachers two, Paul one.
I tried forsythia . Teachers two, Paul two.
I tried harassment . Teachers three, Paul two. (Paul wants the emphasis on the 'har' not the 'rass.'
I then tried Iraquis . Hmmm?

I'm afraid that at my age I suffer from tinnitus and I'm even a little deaf. I'm finding I am no longer a good judge of this stuff. Oh, I could still pick Eliza Doolittle out from a crowd before old Higgins got hold of her, but I'm not a good judge of this stuff anymore. I swear that I heard not 'Eye-raqis,' which Paul hates, a position with which my teachers would agree, nor did I hear the short first "i." I heard a third pronunciation! Sure sounds like, "Eee-rack-ees" to me.

I give up. I'll step back and let my teachers and Paul duke it out. Now, what else do I have on my schedule today? ....uh, is that pronounced skedule?

Oh, and the word poor . I checked its pronunciation using my Internet English buddy and he, it turns out, did not have a proper upbringing either. He said pore!