Friday, July 30, 2010

Casey Stengel

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2010

“It's wonderful to meet so many friends that I didn't used to like.”

- Attributed to Casey Stengel

“The trick is growing up without growing old.”

- Attributed to Casey Stengel

Charles Dillon "Casey" Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri on this day in 1890. The nickname "Casey" originated from the initials of his hometown of Kansas City (K.C.). The press affectionately dubbed him “the Old Perfesser" and he was one of baseball's wittiest personalities. After a 14-year professional career as a player, Stengel went on to manage the New York Yankees to ten American League pennants and seven World Series victories (1949-53, 1956, 1958). However, Casey also managed a struggling New York Mets club during the team's early years as an expansion franchise in the early 1960s. Frustrated with his team after an exasperating loss, Stengel complained despairingly, "Can't anybody play this here game?" The expression became the title of Jimmy Breslin's best-selling book about the first-year New York Mets, Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?.

As a researcher, I have a soft spot for Casey because he often said, "You can look it up." He certainly had a way with words and his unique brand of English has been called "Stengelese". Casey Stengel died at the age of 85 in Glendale, California on September 29,1975. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

NOTE : I am going to visit friends in Walkerton, Onario and surrounding area tomorrow. Although I am a city person, I enjoy occasional forays into small towns and rural areas. It's been over ten years now since the water contamination disaster in Walkerton. In the year 2000, the town suffered through Canada's worst-ever outbreak of E. coli contamination. I am curious to see how the people there are doing and I would like to find out about the lingering effects of this tragedy.


The Blue Jays did not play yesterday, but they sure stirred things up. General Manager Alex Anthopoulous is proving himself to be quite a creative wheeler dealer. If he were a pitcher, his specialty would be throwing curve balls. He certainly does the unexpected. Yesterday, the Blue Jays sent Brett Wallace, their widely-tauted first baseman of the future, to the Houston Astros. In return, the Jays received another prospect, centre fielder Anthony Gose. Gose is only 19 years old and could have a great future with the Jays.

After a three-game wining streak, The Toronto Argonauts fell down to earth with a thud last night. They were soundly beaten 41-10 by the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium before a capacity crowd of over 25,000 people. An outstanding quarterback makes all the difference and the Als certainly have one in Anthony Calvillo.

- Joanne

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Inspiraton of Terry Fox


“I don’t feel that this is unfair. That’s the thing about cancer. I’m not the only one, it happens all the time to people. I’m not special. This just intensifies what I did. It gives it more meaning. It’ll inspire more people. I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try."

- Terry Fox

Today is the anniversary of the birth of a great Canadian and a great humanitarian. Terrance Stanley Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July, 28, 1958 and was raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. If Terry Fox were alive today, he would be 52 years old.

I had just started my job at the Toronto Star library during the summer of Terry's Marathon of Hope in 1980. I remember reading a tiny blurb about a young British Columbian dipping his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean as he set out to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. I had no idea how big this story would become and that this determined young man would make history.

I'll never forget the heartbreak of that September day when Terry was forced to end his run at Thunder Bay, Ontario. Canadians everywhere were overwhelmed with sadness upon hearing the news that Terry's cancer had returned. On September 9, 1980, the Terry Fox telethon was held on the CTV network to help Terry reach his goaL of raising $23 million - one million for every Canadian. The telethon lasted five hours and raised $10 million.

Although Terry Fox died at the age of 23 on June 28, 1981, his dream and his memory have been kept alive by the annual Terry Fox Run every September. I wish I had one iota of the strength and courage that Terry Fox displayed during his brief lifetime. Here's to you, Terry!

And to those who say there are no Canadian heroes, I say balderdash. Terry Fox is one of many and arguably the greatest.


Jose Bautista hit his 29th and 30th home runs of the season as the Toronto Blue Jays overpowered the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 8-2. What a season Bautista is enjoying!

The Jays have now won 11 straight games this season against the hapless Orioles. They play the final game of their current home series with Baltimore tonight. Then they begin a series with Cleveland as the homestand continues.

- Joanne

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Witty definitions

TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010

On this lazy summer day, I present some more witty definitions. Enjoy!


Gold prospectors: People who mine their own business.

- Milton Doane

Last will and testament: A dead giveaway.

A chicken crossing the road: Poultry in motion.

Fishing rod: A stick with a hook at one end and a fool at the other.

- Samuel Johnson

NOTE : For other witty definitions, please see my blog entries for July 9th and July 12th.


Well, the Blue Jays defeated the sad sack Baltimore Orioles last night by a score of 9-5. As the trade deadline approaches, it will be interesting to see what moves the Jays will make. I have to say, I've been disappointed in the bullpen in recent games, particularly Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs and Jason Frasor. I don't think Gregg has been playing with the command, discipline and authority necessary in a really good closer. We will see what General Manager Anthopoulos comes up with.

If the Jays trade Jose Bautista, I will be disappointed. He is such a versatile player and has been a home run king this season.

- Joanne

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26th Birthdays - George Bernard Shaw and others

MONDAY, JULY 26, 2010


“There are no secrets better kept then than the secrets that everybody guesses.”

- George Bernard Shaw
From Mrs. Warren’s Profession

The great Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, was born in Dublin on this day in 1856. Shaw lived to a ripe old age and died on November 2, 1950. He was 94 years old. George Bernard Shaw is one of my favourites because his work is so witty and provocative. As regular readers of Number 16 know, I am a great admirer of wit.

While doing my research, I couldn’t help but notice that in addition to Shaw, many people of renown were born on July 26th. The list is quite impressive. Here it is.


Mick Jagger once stated that he’d rather be dead than singing Satisfaction when he’s 45 years old. I’d be willing to bet Sir Mick regrets that statement. The lead singer for the Rolling Stones is 67 years of age today. He was born Michael Philip Jagger at Dartford, Kent, England on July 26, 1943.

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases ... “

- Carl Jung
From Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933,

Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung was born on this day in 1875. Jung can be described as the father of analytical psychology and a trailblazer in the field of dream analysis. He died on June 6, 1961 in Zurich, Switzerland at the age of 85.

”After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
- Aldous Huxley
From Music at Night, 1931

Aldous Huxley, the English critic and novelist was born on this day in 1894. Huxley is best known as the author of Brave New World. Born at Godalming, Surrey, England, he moved to the United States in 1937 and settled in California. It is interesting to note that Aldous Huxley died in Los Angeles on November 22, 1963, the same day as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Famed movie director Stanley Kubrick was born in New York City on this day in 1928. His most aclaimed films are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sparticus, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and Full Metal Jacket. The Oscar winner was a huge fan of the New York Yankees, but I won’t hold that against him. Stanley Kubrick died at Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England on March 7, 1999.

Lucille Ball’s sidekick, Vivian Vance was born on this day in 1909 in Cherryvale, Kansas. I am a great fan of I Love Lucy and I have always felt that Vivian Vance and Lucy had superb comedic chemistry. Although Vivian’s character, Ethel Mertz, was meant to be several years older than Lucy Ricardo, Vivian was only slightly older than Lucille Ball who was born in 1911. Lucy and Desi Arnaz originally chose Bea Benaderet for the role of Ethel. (Benaderet later became the voice of Betty Rubble on the Flinstones and she starred in Petticoat Junction.)

Vivian Vance was reluctant to take the part of Ethel Mertz, because at age 42, she was not thrilled about playing the part of 64-year-old William Frawley’s frumpy wife. Fortunately, she decided to take the role that won her an Emmy Award in 1954. Vivian Vance died of cancer on August 17, 1979 in Belvedere, California.

I would also like to point out that Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, was born on this day in England in 1945. Another Oscar-winning actress – Sandra Bullock – was born on June 26, 1964. American figure skater Dorothy Hamill also celebrates a birthday today. The 1976 Olympic champion was born in 1956. Actor Kevin Spacey will also be celebrating. He was born in 1959.


I wish to commend Munir Sheikh who resigned last week as head of Statistics Canada. Mr. Sheikh resigned in protest over the government’s plans to axe the mandatory long form of the census. He has shown himself to be an honourable man, a man of principle. By the way, if you agree with me about the census (see my blog entry for July 9th), I urge you to sign the petition on the web. The address is


The Argos are 3-1 for the season as they defeated the B.C. Lions 24-20 on Friday night. I only wish their victories would put more fans in the seats. The announced crowd was only 19,709.

The Blue Jays split a double header against the Detroit Tigers yesterday. They begin a home series against the woeful Baltimore Orioles tonight.

- Joanne

Friday, July 23, 2010

Toronto Talk

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010


Today’s topic is close to my heart. I am going to ruminate about the future of Toronto, Ontario, my hometown and the city of my birth.

On October 25th, Torontonians will go to the polls and elect a new mayor for this growing metropolis. The City of Toronto has a population of about 2.6 million people, which means that the new mayor will preside over a city with more people than six of Canada’s ten provinces. According to Statistics Canada’s 2009 estimates, only Ontario (12.7 million) Quebec (7.6 million), British Columbia (4.2 million) and Alberta (3.2 million) have larger populations than the City of Toronto.

The new mayor will have a four-year term. These will be crucial years in the development of our city. It would be disastrous to be stuck with a poorly performing mayor for the next four year. To be brutally frank, I am not impressed with any of the current candidates. I’m not sure whom to vote for. I want to like at least one of the candidates. I really do. Alas, I am dismayed. None of them inspires me. None of them seems to have a vision, a passion for this city. I am fervently hoping for another candidate to make a late entry into the race, but I realize that might not happen. What we see may be what we get.

Toronto is a city of so much potential. It is vibrant and diverse and there are so many cultural activities. All the street festivals, sporting events, museums and restaurants make this city come alive. People from all corners of the world bring energy and excitement to T.O. That is why The Huffington Post recently dubbed Toronto “the new capital of cool.”

Yes, this city is a wonderful place to live, but it could be even better. For one thing, it could be cleaner. Job number one is to remove the litter from our streets and from the TTC. I take public transit frequently and I am sorry to say that our buses and subways are filthy. I also regret that our waterfront is hidden by a concrete jungle of ugly condos. We never should have let that happen. In 1987, Peter Ustinov described Toronto as “New York run by the Swiss.” I wonder if he would be able to make that same statement today.

The good denizens of Hogtown deserve better. We’ve gone through some terrible ordeals these past few years. In 2003, we had an outbreak of SARS and a massive power outage. Last summer, our city employees went on lengthy strike. Toronto resembled a pigpen and smelled like one too. Garbage was strewn everywhere and city services were closed down. This summer, we held a G20 summit we didn’t want or need. There was rioting and vandalism. The downtown core was fenced in. It was an armed camp with police everywhere. We learned what it felt like to be under martial law. To top it all off, taxpayers have to foot the bill for the over $1 billion in security costs for the summit.

We in the Big Smoke have survived all of this. Although we have thrived, we can have an even brighter future with better leadership. WANTED : A good mayor for the largest city in Canada. Time is running out. Where have you gone, David Crombie? An anxious city needs someone just like you.


Don’t get me going on Toronto’s sports teams. I’ll leave that for another day. Today I’ll just discuss the Jays ongoing road trip and the Argos’ season thus far.

After a promising start after the All-Star break, the Blue Jays have slipped back again. Their road trip began well with a sweep of the feckless Baltimore Orioles. Then they dropped two out of three games in Kansas City against the Royals. They began a new series in Detroit yesterday by losing to the Tigers by a score of 5-2.

I am a CFL fan. I follow it more than the NFL. The Argonauts are off to a decent start under head coach Jim Barker with a respectable record of 2-1. They have a home game today against the B.C. Lions. Both teams are owned by Senator David Braley. I can’t help thinking that Braley would certainly be in an awkward situation if the Lions were to play the Argos in the Grey Cup.

- Joanne

Thursday, July 22, 2010

William Spooner and Spoonerisms


Willam A. Spooner

Do you know what a "spoonerism" is? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a spoonerism is "a transposition of usually initial sounds of two or more words." An exapmple is "toin coss" instead of "coin toss."

The term "Spoonerism" derives its name from William Archibald Spooner, a classical scholar and Anglican priest who was prone to such errors in speech. Spooner was born in London, England on this day in 1844, the son of a Staffordshire county court judge. At the age of 18, he won a scholarship to New College, Oxford and maintained a 60-year association with the institution. He became a fellow of New College in 1867, lecturer in 1868, a tutor in 1869, dean 1876-1889 and Warden of New College from 1903. That same year he obtained his Doctor of Divinity degree.

During his many years at New College, the Reverend Spooner gained a reputation for making verbal slips of the tongue. His students even began devising transpositional puns, and attributing them to him.

I was intrigued to learn that Dr. Spooner was an albino. As a result. he suffered from defective eyesight. Spooner had a pinkish face, very pale blue eyes and white hair tinged with yellow. His physique was poor, his head was too large for his body and he stammered. In an article entitled Will Someone Please Hiccup My Pat, Wiliam Spooner Donald (Spooner’s nephew), says that “nature compensated the weakling by blessing him with a brilliant intellect.” He describes his uncle as a "caricaturist’s dream with freakish looks, nervous manner and peculiar mental kink that caused him – in his own words – ‘to make occasional felicities in verbal diction.’”

William A. Spooner overcame his drawbacks, lived a successful life and was very popular with his students. This master of malapropism died in 1930 at the age of 86.

Hare are some examples of Spoonerism that have been attributed to William Spooner.

"Blushing crow" for "crushing blow"

•A well-boiled icicle" for "well-oiled bicycle."

"I have in my bosom a half-warmed fish" (for half-formed wish)

Spooner is said to have raised this toast to Queen Victoria: "Three cheers for our queer old dean!"

Upon dropping his hat: "Will nobody pat my hiccup?"

Officiating at a wedding, Rev. Spooner prompted a hesitant bridegroom, "Son, it is now kisstomary to cuss the bride."

Paying a visit to a college official: "Is the bean dizzy?"

Addressing farmers as "ye noble tons of soil"

Visiting a friend's country cottage: "You have a nosey little crook here."

He castigated one student for "fighting a liar in the quadrangle"

Another severe reprimand to a misbehaving student:- "You have hissed all my mystery lectures. You have tasted two worms. Pack up your rags and bugs, and leave immediately by the town drain!"

"Mardon me padom, you are occupewing my pie. May I sew you to another sheet?"

Some of these are apocryphal, likely devised by Spooner's students. They sure are fun, though.

- Joanne

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reflections on the anniversary of the moon landing

TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010


“To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die.”

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
From "Ulysses"

I have chosen this quote because I think it is very appropriate to mark the anniversary of the day that a man walked on the moon. It embodies the sense of adventure and curiosity that is so noble in human beings.

It has been 41 years since Neil Armstrong took that historic step onto the lunar surface. I had just completed elementary school and I can vividly recall the sense of wonder and excitement of that day in the summer of 1969. Younger generations are perhaps baffled by the grainy black and white footage of Armstrong stepping down that ladder and bouncing around the moon. It probably seems so old hat to them, no big deal. There appears to be a lack of interest in space travel among today’s youth. In the 1950s and 1960s, children pretended they were astronauts and wore space helmets. Space was an exciting new frontier. Of course, there was the political motivation of the Cold War. There was the incentive for the Americans to reach the moon before the Soviets and to plant the Stars and Stripes there before the Hammer and the Sickle.

To this day, my adrenalin flows, when I watch footage of that walk on the moon and I hear Armstrong’s famous “That’s one small step . . . But did Neil Armstrong actually flub his monumental line? Did the first person to walk on the moon mistakenly utter the words “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”? That immortal phrase has been the subject of debate among academics and aficionados of space travel for years. Armstrong himself has vehemently claimed that he said "for a man" rather than "for man,” but the tapes of the event aren't clear enough to be absolutely certain. With the technology of the 1960s, the worldwide television audience at the time definitely did not hear the crucial “a”.

It is not a trivial matter. The omission of the article “a” makes a tremendous difference in the literal meaning of the phrase. Armstrong obviously meant to link the small action of one man with a monumental achievement for humanity. Instead, he wound up uttering a phrase that that equated a small step by the human race with an epic accomplishment for humankind. The phrase sounded good without the ‘a’ and it was quoted that way around the world. It is unfortunate, however, that the true meaning of Armstrong’s words has become clouded and confused.

In recent years, evidence has emerged demonstrating that the “a” is present on the recording but is too indistinct to hear.” According to an October 3, 2006 article by Mark Carreau in the Houston Chronicle, the missing “a” was discovered as a result of the software analysis of Peter Shann Ford, a Sydney, Australia-based computer programmer. In his research, Ford found that Armstrong spoke, "One small step for a man ... “with the "a" lasting a total of 35 milliseconds, 10 times too quickly to be heard." Nevertheless, Ford insisted that the "a" was indeed transmitted and that this can be proven in an analysis using Canadian sound-editing software called GoldWave,

The last manned lunar mission was Apollo 17 in December of 1972. The United States remains the only country to have a human being to the moon. However, recent plans to return to the moon were cancelled due to U.S. government cutbacks.

Some argue that money should be spent to improve life on earth, not on space travel. While I firmly believe that there should be restraint on government spending on space travel, I do not agree that it should be abandoned. Human beings are natural explorers. We need to learn about the universe and our place in it. Space exploration leads to the development of technology and provides information that is beneficial to humanity and improves life on this planet. That is why I am convinced that a human being will walk on the surface of Mars one day. I fervently hope to be alive to see that day. The Red Planet beckons and we will answer the call.


On this day in 1871, British Columbia became Canada’s sixth province. With plans for a railway to be built linking the new province to the East, Sir John A. Macdonald’s vision of a country from sea to sea moved one huge step closer to reality.

Congratulations to all British Columbians. This Torontonian is of the opinion that your province has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. It is a natural wonder with its mountains and forests and the Pacific Ocean. Geographically speaking, you have the most beautiful province in Canada. Here’s to you, B.C.! Happy 139th anniversary.


It appears that Toronto Blue Jays have an exciting new shortstop in Yunel Escobar. They were looking to the future when they acquired the talented Escobar from the Atlanta Braves for the veteran Alex Gonzalez. The move seems to be seems to be paying off. On Sunday, the 27-year-old Cuban hit the Jays’ first grand slam of 2010 as the Jays swept their three game series against the hapless Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Escobar led the Blue Jays in a 10-1 rout against the Orioles.

The Jays were on a roll as they began a new series against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City last night. Struggling closer Kevin Gregg handed the game to the Royals in the 10th inning. Gregg surrendered the walk and the single that drove home the winning run in Toronto’s 5-4 loss. His days as Jays’ closer could be numbered.

- Joanne

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photos of Cleveland

MONDAY, JULY 19. 2010

Here are some photos of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that I took during my recent visit to Cleveland. There was a featured exhibit on Bruce Springsteen. (See my blog posting for June 30th) Also included are some pictures of Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians.

- Joanne

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reflections on Happiness



"Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it."

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

Okay Sixteeners, the subject for today is happiness. It is on my mind because I read the results of a Gallup World Poll ranking the world's countries by happiness. The results wre released recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Looking at data collected across 132 countries, the Gallup Organization based their marks on representative samples of more than 136,000 people in each country. Respondents were asked how they would rate their lives on a scale from zero (worst possible) to 10 (best possible). They were also required to reply to a series of questions on positive or negative emotions. In addition, the poll asked respondents whether they felt respected, whether they had family and friends they could count on in an emergency, and how free they felt to choose their daily activities, learn new things or do "what one does best."

As in previous studies, this recent analysis found that life evaluation, or life satisfaction, increases with personal and national income. It also found that positive feelings, which also increase somewhat as income rises, are much more strongly associated with other factors, such as feeling respected, having autonomy and social support, and working at a fulfilling job.

According Gallup, the happiest country was ..... a little drum role please ..... Denmark.

Here is Gallup's list of the top 15 happiest countries, each with a mean score between 7.0 and 7.7.

1. Denmark: 7.7
2. Finland: 7.7
3. Norway: 7.6
4. The Netherlands: 7.6
5. Costa Rica: 7.6
6. Canada: 7.5
7. Switzerland: 7.5
8. New Zealand: 7.4
9. Sweden: 7.3
10. Austria: 7.3
11. Australia: 7.3
12. The United States: 7.2
13. Belgium: 7.1
14. Brazil: 7.0
15. Panama: 7.0

It is interesting that northern European and Scandinavian countries always score so well on these types of polls. The top ranking country in the Americas was Costa Rica. Costa Rica finished fifth in the happiness derby. Canada was the second ranking country in the Americas and the sixth overall. Hmmmm . . . sixth out of 132 countries is not too shabby.

The percentage of respondents who said they were "thriving" ranges from a high of 82% in Denmark to a low of 1% in the African country of Togo. 62% of the Canadians surveyed said they were thriving.

- Joanne

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16th birthdays

FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2010

My birthday is today, July 16th. That is one of the many reasons why I am so partial to the number sixteen. On this July 16th, I hearby present a list to you of some renowned persons who share my birthday.

St. Clare of Assisi was born on this day in 1194. In Italian, her name is “Santa Chiara.” She was born and died at Assisi and was a follower and protégé of St. Francis. On February 17, 1958, the Vatican designated her as the patron saint of television. There is a story that St. Clare was ill and bed-ridden one Christmas Eve in 1252. She was disappointed that she was not well enough to attend Mass in the new Basilica of St. Francis in town, but had a vision of the Mass, both hearing and seeing it from several miles away. It is for this reason she was pronounced the patron saint of television. Clare is also the patron saint of sore eyes. In 1996, while on a tour of Italy, I visited the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi.

The great dancer and actress, Ginger Rogers was born on this day in 1911. She’ll always be remembered as the legendary Fred Astaire’s dancing partner, although she was an accomplished actress in her own right. Together they were magical and I sometimes imagine what it must have been like to glide so effortlessly and graciously with Astaire. Ginger Rogers was born Virginia McMath in Independence Missouri. She died in at her home in Rancho Mirage, California on April 25, 1995 at the age of 83.

Movie and television actress Barbara Stanwyck was born on July 16, 1907 in Brooklyn, New York. Her birth name was Ruby Stevens. Fans of the Big Valley (1965-1969) will remember her primarily for her role as Victoria Barkley, the matriarch of that television western. However, she had a long and successful film career and was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Although she never won an Oscar, Stanwyck received four Academy Award nominations, the first for 1937’s Stella Dallas. Her film career ended in 1964 and she moved on to an Emmy-winning television career. Barabara Stanwyck retired in 1986 after appearing on the primetime television soaps Dynasty and The Colbys. She died on January 20, 1990 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 82.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement, was born on July 16th, 1821 in Bow, New Hampshire. She spent much of her life in ill health. Her health improved dramatically after she became a patient of the New England healer Phineas Pankhurst Quimby in 1862. Dr. Quimby and his "medicine-free" healing techniques influenced her greatly. Her health quickly improved and she discovered a sense of comfort and well-being. In 1875, Mary Baker Eddy published a book called "Science and Health” in which was set forth a philosophy of Christian faith and spiritual healing. She formed the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston in 1879, a church that often faced controversy for its beliefs and techniques. In 1908, at the age of 87, Mrs. Eddy founded the Christian Science Monitor, a well-respected and successful newspaper. She died on December 3, 1910 at her home in Newton. Massachusetts. In 1995, Mary Baker Eddy was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame as the only American woman to found a worldwide religion.

Baseball’s "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was born Joseph Jefferson Jackson in Brandon Mills, South Carolina on July 16, 1887. According to his official web site, he received the nickname “Shoeless” after playing a minor league game in his stockings. A new pair of spikes had caused him to have blisters on his feet. As a member of the Chicago White Sox, Jackson became embroiled in baseball’s infamous “Black Sox” scandal. In 1920, the left fielder was suspended from playing baseball after allegations that he was involved in the throwing of the 1919 World Series. The following year, a jury acquitted Shoeless Joe of conspiring to fix the World Series. Despite the court’s decision, Jackson and seven other Chicago players were banned from baseball for life. Shoeless Joe cannot be inducted into the baseball's Hall of Fame unless and until he is reinstated by Major League Baseball. Joe's supporters point out that he had a .375 batting average and recorded 12 hits in the 1919 World Series. His detractors counter that he failed to hit in the clutch during that series. Although the debate rages on all these years later, Jackson's hitting ability has never been disputed. Shoeless Joe Jackson died in Greenville, South Carolina on December 5, 1951 at the age of 64. He is sometimes reported to appear in Iowa cornfields (just kidding about that).

Orville Redenbacher of popcorn fame was born on the 16th of July in 1907 on a farm near Brazil, Indiana. In 1951, he purchased the George F. Chester and Son dent seed corn plant with partner Charlie Bowmannear Valparaiso, Indiana, and experimented with tens of thousands of hybrid strands of popcorn before achieving success. In 1970, he marketed Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn. Renenbacher sold the company to Hunt-Wesson Foods, a division of Norton Simon, Inc., in 1976. On September 19, 1995, he suffered a heart attack and drowned while in the whirlpool tub of his condominium in Coronado, California. The popcorn king was 88 years old.

Happy Birthday to all those born on July 16th.

- Joanne

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day and all things French


Today is Bastille Day, he national holiday of France. On this day, the French commemorate the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1759 and the beginning of the French Revolution. For your edification and enjoyment, here are a few quotations about France and the French.

"How can anyone govern a nation that has 240 different kinds of cheese?"

- Charles de Gaulle, former French president, 1962

"Everything ends this way in France - everything. Weddings, christenings, duels, burials, swindlings, diplomatic affairs - everything is a pretext for a good dinner."

- Jean Anouilh

"Paris is the city in which one loves to live. Sometimes I think this is because it is the only city in the world where you can step out of a railway station—the Gare D’Orsay—and see, simultaneously, the chief enchantments: the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the beginning of the Champs Elysees—nearly everything except the Luxembourg Gardens and the Palais Royal. But what other city offers as much as you leave a train?"

- Margaret Anderson


The National League won its first All-Star game since 1996. The NL defeated the American League by a scre of 3-1 in Anaheim. I am more of an American Leaguer as I follow the Blue Jays. However, it's about time the National League won the ALL-Star game.

Monday, July 12, 2010

MONDAY, JULY 12, 2010


"Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines or rather, indicates , his fate."

- Henry David Thoroeau
From "Walden"

Henry David Thoreau, the great writer, naturalist and philospher, was born in Concord, Massachusetts on this day in 1817.


As promised in my blog of July 9th, here are some more witty definitions.

Sneeze: Much achoo about nothing.

- Oscar Brinkman

Plumber: Drain surgeon

- Merry Browne

Eraser: A corrector's item.

- From Boys' Life

Hypochondriac: A person who loves sham pain.

Apology: The pause that redresses

- Bert Murray

I can't resist wit. If you would like to contribute any witty definitions to Number 16, please send them to me. I will publish them in this space.


Congratulations to Spain for winning the FIFA World Cup. Congratulations to South Africa for proving that such an event could be held successfully on the African continent.

The Blue Jays lost the final game of their series with Boston yesterday by a score of 3-2. Unfortunately, they head to the All-Star break on a losing note. Sigh.

- Joanne

Sunday, July 11, 2010

John Quincy Adams : The president and his "foreign" wife

SUNDAY, JULY 11, 2010


"The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced."

- Aldous Huxley
From "Ends and Means"


John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, was born on this day in 1767. Adams was born in in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts. He was the eldest son of John Adams, the second president of the United States. They were the only father and son combination to hold the office of president until George W. Bush and his father equalled the accomplishment in 2001.

John Quincy Adams was a career diplomat. He was a well-travelled man of the world who spoke French fluently. While on a mission abroad, he was charmed by London-born Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of an American diplomat and his English wife. Louisa’s father, Joshua Johnson of Maryland, served as United States consul in London.

The futre president married Louisa in 1797, the same year that his father became president. They had four children, one of whom died in infancy. By the time she became First Lady, Louisa suffered from health problems and was not fit to undertake the social duties expected of her.

It is interesting to note that Louisa Catherine Adams remains the only American First Lady born outside the United States. Political enemies sometimes referred to her as being English.

If John Kerry had won the presidency in 2004, his wife would have become only the second foreign-born First Lady of the U.S. Teresa Heinz Kerry was born to Portuguese parents in Mozambique.


Why do we still say "dial a number" when telephones haven`t had dials for years? In fact, the majority of young people have never even seen a rotary phone, except on television or in a photograph. I guess we still say "dial" for lack of a better word. What else can we say? We can't say ``push button`` a phone. If anyone out there has any ideas, let me know. I`d be happy to publish your thoughts on my blog. I won`t use your name if you don`t want me to. So, what do you think, Sixteeners? I`m quite stumped on this one.


The Blue Jays lost the first game of their series with the Boston Red Sox by a score of 14-3. They were clobbered and it was not pretty. I attended that game, and for a Blue Jays fan, it was an unmitigated disaster. There were many Red Sox fans in attendance. I have to say that Red Sox fans are very loyal and follow their team around to different cities. Yesterday, the Jays redeemed themselves and won by a score of 9-5.

- Joanne

Friday, July 9, 2010

Witty Definitions

FRIDAY, JULY 9, 2010

Here are some witty definitions for you on a July day.

A hypocondriac is one whose claims to being an invalid are invalid.

- Frank Tyger

Global peace: The world coming to a mend.

- Merry Browne

Paralyze: A couple of fibs.

- Buck Tracy

Bankrupt corporation: Red Inc.

- Buck Tracy

I hope you enjoyed these witty definitions. I promise to share more of them with you soon.


As someone who has worked in a library for many years, a column in yesterday’s Toronto Star caught my attention. It really hit home for me and I feel compelled to comment on it.

The column was written by James Travers and it laments the Harper government’s decision to no longer make mandatory the long form of Canada’s census. I strongly agree that the government has made a foolish and short-sighted decision. I am astounded at such pettiness and lack of awareness.

Approximately 20% of the population receives the mandatory long form of the census. I happen to be quite familiar with the long version as I was required to fill it out in 2006 and in 2001. It is a bit time-consuming and tedious, but the effort is well worth it. When one considers the usefulness of demographic information, there is no doubt that the benefits far outweigh the drudgery of answering about 50 census questions.

As Travers puts it, ``Conservatives are pandering to the fringe conspiratorial notion that big government is prying too deeply into private lives.`` When I filled out the long-form census, I never felt that my privacy was being invaded and that Big Brother was watching me. I realized that I was contributing to a self-portrait of my country.

James Travers is right on the money with his criticism of what he calls the ``dumbing down``of Canada. Any librarian will tell you how valuable and how necessary census material is to researchers, journalists, students and countless others. Nothing else provides such a vital and accurate snapshot of our country. As Travers points out, that snapshot will be distorted and incomplete without the long version.

Thank you, Jim Travers, for exposing this travesty. Canada and its people deserve better.


What a circus surrounding LeBron James' departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers! He's off to Miami to play with former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh. Good riddance to both of them!

I'm cheering for the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup. No, I don't have any Dutch blood, but I want the Orange to win because of their warm relationship with Canadians.

The Blue Jays won their series with the Minnesota Twins last night in magnificent fashion. They defeated the twins by a score of 8-1 and slammed 5 solo homo runs. The Jays are the major league leaders in homers. I am inpressed with the ability of this team to hit the long ball. Unfortunately, the Jays have been hampered by their inability to hit for average. Their batting averages are pitifully low. They need to hit some more singles in addition to homers. When the home runs go dry, the Jays are in trouble, as was evident in their recent series in Cleveland. They did not hit one home run in that nightmare of a series and they lost all four games.

The Jays begin a new series against the Boston Red Sox and I will be at the dome tonight to cheer them on.

- Joanne

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ringo, The Beatles and Ray Sonin


On this day in 1940, Richard Starkey was born in Liverpool, England. He’s better known as Ringo Starr, the drummer for the Beatles. It’s noteworthy that Ringo, the eldest of the Fab Four, is the first to reach the age of 70. John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, about three months after Ringo. If John were still alive, he too would be turning 70 this year.

I remember when the Beatles first arrived on the scene. I came home from school one day and my father presented my siblings and me with a copy of "Twist and Shout." I played that album over and over and I collected black and white Beatle cards.

It is interesting that a Toronto radio announcer was the first to play the music of the Beatles in North America. His name was Ray Sonin and he had a program on CFRB 1010 called "Calling All Britons." English-born Ray was the first to play the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and Petula Clark to North American audiences


Bob Probert died on Monday at the age of 45. He battled his demons and had problems with drugs and alcohol. I notice that the media describe him as “Tough guy, Bob Probert” or "Enforcer Bob Probert" or the “NHL’s heavyweight champion.” These are all eupehemisms for "goon" - although Bob Probert was a goon with some hockey skill.

There is no doubt in my mind that the media are complicit in supporting the old boy's network and perpetuating the myth that Don Cherry's precious "code" is necessary. I am absolutely sick and tired of television networks replaying hockey fights ad nauseum.

It's not just the media. It's the players themselves and the National Hockey League. The code is sacred to them. Woe to any player who would dare speak up and say that "enforcers" are not necessary! I wish that even one player would have the courage to do so. It would be difficult, however, because that player would become a paraiah, shunned and ridiculed by the other players. Such a player would also have to defy the The NHL Players' Association The Players' Association would not be pleased if hockey fights became a thing of the past. Goons with few discernible hockey skills would find themselves unemployed.

Hockey fans should never forget the death of Don Sanderson of the Whitby Dunlops in January of 2009. The 21-year-old died 20 days after banging his head on the ice during a hockey fight. His helmet fell off during the skirmish and Sanderson lapsed into a coma after his head hit the ice. Many questioned the regulations surrounding helmets and fighting. They skirted around the real issue. They were afraid to question whether that fight was really necessary at all. A young man with a promising future lost his life. For what?

Some will scoff at my opinion, especially since it is coming from a woman. That doesn't bother me. All I know is the best hockey occurs in the playoffs and in the international tournaments, when fighting is not a factor. I reject tha notion that fighting is an integral part of the game and I firmly believe the NHL could put a stop to it - if it wanted to. Obviously, it don't want to because Gary Bettman and company have the misguided belief that fighting helps to sell hockey in the United States.

The sad and undeniable truth is that the NHL does not feel confident enough in the sport itself to attract fans. The quality of regular season hockey has been greatly diluted by far too may games and far too many teams.

By the way, I do not stand up and pay attention when there is a hockey fight. I remain seated and I just roll my eyes and sigh with annoyance.

- Joanne

Tuesday, July 6, 2010



“I consider a human soul without education like marble in the quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties till the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein that runs through the body of it.”

- Joseph Addison (The Spectator, No. 215, Nov. 5, 1711)

Hey Sixteeners, I’m back in Toronto and we are in the midst of heat wave in this city. Due to the weather, there was a power outage yesterday. Although it is very hot and humid, the record temperature has not been broken. Toronto recorded its highest recorded temperature in July of 1936. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, a peak of 41.1° C was recorded in Toronto on the 10th of July, 1936.

“The 1936 heat wave killed 780 Canadians - 376 males and 404 females, most of whom were elderly and infants. A year earlier there were only 42 heat-related deaths. In July 1936, there were another 400 indirect casualties including several drownings. Ontario had the greatest - number of deaths - nearly 600 persons - and in Toronto over 225 succumbed to the heat. Heat-related deaths in Manitoba exceeded 70.”

- From the Canadian Encyclopedia


Not surprisingly, there was little interest in the World Cup in Cleveland. There were no flags on cars as in Toronto. It’s not multicultural and has a much smaller population than Toronto. As I have already mentioned, Cleveland does not have a subway and public transit is not great. The car rules there. Downtown Cleveland looked clean to me. I did not notice much litter on the streets.

On our return from Cleveland, we stopped at Niagara-on-the-Lake, the most beautiful and delightful small town in Ontario. The Shaw Festival was in full swing and we attended a play at my favourite theatre there - The Courthouse. The Courthouse is the smallest of the three theatres at Niagara-on-the-Lake, and the most intimate. We saw "The Cherry Orchard" by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. I enjoyed it immensely.


Major league baseball’s first All-Star game took place on this day in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The American League All-Stars won the game by a score of 4-2 before a crowd of 47,595. The time of the game was 2 hours and 5 minutes. Babe Ruth played right field for the American League and Lou Gehrig played first base.

- Joanne

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day in Cleveland


Happy Canada Day from a proud Canadian. Today is our country's 143rd birthday and for the first time in my life I am spending it outside our borders. I am here in Cleveland enjoying myself, but my heart is and always will be in the Land of the Maple Leaf.

In 1775, Samuel Johnson famously described patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel. Johnson never put those words into context, but I would like to do so. I would amend Johnson's statement. I would say that unbridled or excessive patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. By that, I mean the "my country right or wrong" brand of patriotism. That type of patriotism leads to warmongering and jingoism. As far as I am concerned, true patriotism is not jingoism. That is the mentality of the Archie Bunkers of this world.

As much as I love Canada, I do not think it is perfect. I do not think it is above criticism and that it has no blemishes on its record. No country can live up to that standard. That is why I firmly believe it is the act of a patriot to speak up when one is of the conviction that one's courtry or government is wrong.

In an imperfect world, Canada is a beacon of hope. My wish on this Canada Day is for Canada to live up to its promise and its potential.


It's a beautiful sunny day here on the shores of Lake Erie. We went to the baseball game at Progressive Field and the Jays lost by a score of 6-1. They were swept by Cleveland and they did not even hit one home run in the series. What a tale of woe! They have now lost five games in a row and their record is a mediocre 40-40 - that's .500 baseball and it's not good enough.

There is a big movement here to keep Ohio-born LeBron James in Cleveland. People are standing on street corners carrying signs and wearing black t-shirts reading "home" and "family" etc. They really want King James to stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers. At the ballpark today. fans were chanting, "Stay LeBron." Alas, I do not think they will succeed in keeping him anymore than the Raptors will succeed in keeping Chris Bosh.

There were more Jays fans at the ballpark today. The attendance today was the highest in the 4-game series - about 16,800.

- Joanne