Saturday, December 31, 2011

Joanne's Journal: December 31, 2011


Edition No. 5


There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

- William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar


This will be my last posting in 2011.  It's time to ring out the old and ring in the new.  Before we say farewell to 2011, however, let's reflect on the year that has passed.  It's been one of unrest and turmoil, but the slate is going to be rubbed clean at midnight.  We'll have a fresh start, a tabula rasa.

Apple founder Steve Jobs, who died this year, exhorted us to "make a dent in the universe."  There are, of course, certain times when we should take a risk,  If we miss the tide "taken at the flood," as Shakespeare put it, we may never have the same opportunity again.  The problem is determining whether the tide is actually at the flood.


I firmly believe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is taking this country in the wrong direction.  I am strongly opposed to his polices vis-a-vis the environment, the economy, gun control et cetera.  It is my belief that this government has lowered Canada's stature in the world, particularly with its withdrawing of Canada from the Kyoto Protocol.  To put it mildly, the environment is very very low on the Tories' list of priorities.  It's not even on the radar screen. 

As regular readers know, I support strong gun control measures and I was extremely dismayed by the Conservatives' abolition of the Long Gun Registry.  The Conservative government has also brought shame upon this country by continuing to allow Canada to export deadly asbestos to other countries.  This is appalling and is worthy of absolute disdain.

We have a democracy, nevertheless, and some people do not agree with me.  They voted Conservative last on May 2, 2011 and the Harperites formed a majority government.  Nevertheless, the combined popular vote of all the other parties surpasses that of the Conservatives.  The 60 per cent of Canadians who didn't vote Tory are actually in the majority.  We have a "first past the post" system, however, and the Conservatives won the most seats in Parliament.  As long as they hold the confidence of Parliament, they are entitled to govern.  It's we thought about some form of proportional representation.  The problem is getting agreement on any one formula.  To those who argue it would create a pizza Parliament with too many splinter parties, I say a party should have to get at least 10% of the popular vote in order to gain a seat through proportional representation.

My hope is for a strong leader to take Canada out of the wilderness and to undo the damage done by the Conservatives.  This wonderful country deserves better.


There are still about 10 months to go before Americans go to the polls.  Unless something unforeseen happens, it appears that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president.  Romney is not as bad as the other far-right candidate such as Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann and libertarian Ron Paul.  Indeed, Gingrich has referred to him as a "Massachusetts moderate."  With this bunch of Republicans, it's unacceptable to be moderate.  Romney had to flip-flop after being criticized by conservatives for introducing a health care bill  in Massachusetts in 2006 that was the blueprint President Obama health care reform.  Instead, it seems, Romney’s opponents have been more focused on painting him as the author of a health care bill that was the road map for President Obama’s health care reform. 

Then, of course, there is Bain Capital, the private equity firm that Romney and partners co-founded in 1984.  Romney left the Boston-based company in 1999 to become President and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympics.  As he campaigns for the Republican nomination, Bain Capital has come back to haunt the former Massachusetts governor.  On December 19, 2011, the New York Times reported that Romney is still cashing in on the sweet deal he made with the firm shortly before his departure.  According to the Times report, the Republican candidate still earns seven figures a year from his share of the company's profits from leveraged buyouts.  LBOs are acquisitions mainly funded by debt and they are frequently used by private equity firms to make investments they would not otherwise be able to afford.
The fact is that Romney's equity firm caused corporate bankruptcies and many layoffs.

Politico revealed how Bain Capital bought ailing companies, slashed them to pieces and sold them, creating job losses.  Some of the companies destroyed by Bain include American Pad & Paper, LIVE Entertainment and DDI Corp. and it must be emphasized that Mitt Romney was with the firm when this happened.  Yet he claims that he knows how to create jobs.  Well, if his record in the private sector is any indication, Romney is a man who knows how to destroy jobs for his own profit.

My wish for America in 2012 is economic recovery, more employment and the re-election of President Barack Obama.


The world's population reached 7 billion this year.  That is a significant milestone and we should reflect upon its ramifications and significance.  Japan experienced a nightmare earthquake and a nuclear crisis.  It wasn't a good year for terrorist leaders and dictators.  Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi were killed.  Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and The Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il died, leaving North Korea's future in a state of uncertainty.  His country remains one of the most miserable and impoverished places on the planet.  Yet it flaunts its considerable military power.

Goodbye 2011!  You'll soon be history, but your legacy will linger on.


* The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 15, 1912)

* The London Olympics (Opening Ceremonies will take place on July 27, 2012.

*  Britain's Queen Elizabeth will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne).

* February 7, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great English novelist, Charles Dickens.

*  The United State presidential electon will occur on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

*  A presidential election in France is scheduled for April 22, 2012.  A runoff will be held on May 6, 2012 if necessary.

*  The 2012 Euro Cup (UEFA Eupopean Football Championship) will be held in Poland and Ukraine from June 8 until July 1st.


What kind of school do you have a drop out of to graduate?


Parachuting school


On a personal note, I want to tell you, the readers of Number 16,  how much I enjoy writing this blog.  I appreciate your support and I hope my postings are informative and entertaining to you.  I encourage you to give me your feedback.  Happy New Year to all!

P.S.  I don't make firm New Year's resolutions, but I try to improve myself generally. Every little bit helps.

- Joanne

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day: All about the day after Christmas


My mother and my nephew were both born on the day after Christmas.  It is, therefore, a very special day in my family.  The British and people of many other nations, including we Canadians, refer to it as "Boxing Day."   In old England, it was a custom for servants and the lower classes to approach employees and patrons with a Christmas box on December 26th in order to solicit money.  In modern times, Boxing Day has become a day of frenzied shopping for bargains for many.

December 26th is also know as the Feast of Stephen.  It commemorates St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who was stoned to death.  In the Eastern Church, the Feast of Stephen is celebrated on December 27.

St. Stephen

Today is the birth anniversary of Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao.  The Chinese Communist revolutionary was born on December 26, 1893.  In 1949, he established  the People's Republic of China and was appointed its Chairman.  Mao ruled the nation for over 33 years until his death on September 9, 1976 at the age of 82.


Popular American wrestler Gorgeous George died on December 26. 1963 at the age of 48.  His real name was George Raymond Wagner and he was known for his flamboyance.  In 1962 he retired from wrestling on the advice of his doctors.  He had been diagnosed with a serious liver condition brought on by alcohol abuse.  The following year, on Christmas Eve, Gorgeous George suffered a heart attack.  He passed away two days later.

Gorgeous George

Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States passed away on December 26, 1972.  Truman, who served as President from 1945 until 1953, died in Kansas City, Missouri at the age of 88.  He had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and later developed multiple organ failure.

Harry S. Truman

Comedian Jack Benny passed away on December 26, 1974 in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 80 years old and had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer.

Jack Benny

December 26th is a significant day for java lovers.  On December 26, 1865, the first United States patent for a coffee percolator was issued to inventor James Mason of Franklin, Massachusetts.  Mason's percolator, however, still used a downflow method without rising steam.  It should also be noted that the percolating coffee pot was invented by British scientist and solder Sir Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) who lived from 1753 until 1814.

- Joanne

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Trivia


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

- John 1:1


Did you know that Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was born on Christmas Day in North Oxford, Massachusetts in 1821.

Clara Barton

Did you know that the poinsettia originated in Mexico.  It was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico.  Poinsett introduced the plant into the United States in the 1820s. In Mexico, it is called "Flor de Noche Buena" (Christmas Eve flower).

Did you know that a cyclone devastated Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia on Christmas Day, 1974.  Known as Cyclone Tracy, it killed 71 people and destroyed over 70 per cent of Darwin's buildings.

Did you know that Christmas Island is a territory of Australia?  It is located in the Indian Ocean, 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth.  It's closest neighbour, however, is the Indonesian island, Java, which is 360 km. (223 miles) away.  It was named Christmas Island because it was discovered on Christmas Day in 1643.  Its discoverer was Captain Willaim Mynors of the Royal Mary, a ship of the British East India Company.  The island has a tropical equatorial climate.

Did you know that the turkey is native to the forests of North America?

Did you know that in the middle ages the traditional Christmas dinner in England was a pig's head prepared with mustard sauce?

Did you know that the abbreviation Xmas is religious?  The letter X is actually the Greek abbreviation for Christ.

Did you know that the correct name of the famous Christmas poem by Clement C. Moore is not Twas the Night Before Christmas?  The correct title is A Visit from St. Nicholas.


- Joanne

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Joanne's Journal: December 21, 2011


Edition No. 4


I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

- Irving Berlin (1888 - 1989)
From the 1942 song "White Christmas"

Well, it's December 21st and we still haven't had any snow to speak of here in Toronto.  I've lived in this city my entire life and I've never experienced a milder, wetter December.  I glance out the window as I write this and it's dull and grey outside.  Now I don't mean to whine and complain about the weather.  There's nothing much one can do about it and I'm not in a bad mood.  It's just that I can't help dreaming of a white Christmas.  A pretty winter wonderland snowfall would be magnificent.  Let's face it, no one dreams of a wet Christmas.

Due to climate change, the winters here seem to be getting warmer every year.  Thanks for pulling out of Kyoto, Stephen Harper, and disgracing Canada.  By the way, I don't accept the argument that we shouldn't be part of Kyoto because the Americans aren't.  Our two nations are certainly allies, but that doesn't mean we have to do everything they do.  What about our independence?  What about taking our own principled stands on issues?  Do we have to be twiddle-dum to America's twiddle-dee?  Oh yes, and what about the environment?

December 21st marks the Winter Solstice.  From now on, the evenings will become brighter and brighter.  That makes me very happy.  If I had my druthers, there would be Daylight Saving Time all year round.


I see that Sarah Palin is reconsidering her decision not to run for the presidency of the United States.  She'd certainly liven up the Republican race. but what a nightmare if she should ever win the White House.  God bless America if Palin or Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry becomes President.  America will need all the prayers it can get.  The Republicans are no longer a party of moderate views.  More and more, their candidates are espousing extreme anti-government right-wing positions.


How do we know that Santa Claus enjoys gardening?


Because he likes to HO HO HO


Am I disappointed that the Toronto Blue Jays were outbid by the Texas Rangers for star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish?  Well, I have mixed feelings.  It would have been exciting to have him play in Toronto.  He's still unproven, though, and maybe the money could be better spent.  The Jays still need to make improvements for the 2012 season.  I'd like them to acquire another decent starting pitcher.  I also hope that they can lure Joey Votto home to T.O. in about two years time. 

2012 is a crucial year for the Bluebirds.  They really need to make the postseason play this year.  There are no more excuses for Beeston and the Boy Wonder.  Another .500 season will not do.  It's not acceptable if they want to attract fans and sign talented free agents.

Blue Jay fans are fair weather fans.  In the glory days of the franchise, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, 50,000 people filled the dome here almost every night.   The Blue Jays were trendy.  It was cool to be seen at the dome, even if you weren't really a baseball fan.  The Toronto Maple Leafs rule in this town.  Leaf fans support the Blue and White no matter how bad the team is or how expensive the tickets are.

Speaking of the Leafs, what's happening with them?  Are they going into their usual swoon again?  That usually happens in November.  It seems as if it's happening a little later this year.  There is also talk about extending Ron Wilson's contract.  I realize that the team needs stability, but I don't think Wilson should be rewarded until the Leafs make the playoffs.  Unless something is done (and soon) about their egregious penalty killing, they are headed for another season of futility.

- Joanne

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ace Bailey - Eddie Shore Incident


Boston's Eddie Shore shaking hands with Ace Bailey (left).

As the Sidney Crosby saga continues, let's remind ourselves that head injuries and concussions are nothing new to professional hockey.  Let's go back to the Dirty Thirties, to a time when Conn Smythe ruled the Toronto Maple Leafs and they played at Maple Leaf Gardens, the massive arena he built in 1931 during the Great Depression.  Let's remember the day Toronto Maple Leaf star Ace Bailey's career ended.

Irvine Wallace "Ace" Bailey played in the NHL from 1926 until 1933.  Born in Bracebridge Ontario on July 3, 1903, Bailey was raised in Toronto.  He played two seasons of junior hockey for St. Mary's in the Ontario Hockey Association.  In 1924-25, Bailey joined the Peterborough Seniors where he spent two successful seasons and celebrated an Allan Cup victory.  

Ace caught the eye of the NHL's Toronto St. Patrick's.  The St. Pat's convinced him to try out with them and, on November 3, 1926, he signed with the team as a free agent.  During Bailey's rookie season, the financially ailing franchise was purchased by a consortium headed by Conn Smythe and renamed the Maple Leafs.  The team's green and white colours were changed to the familiar blue and white.

Ace Bailey became a star with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  During the 1928-29 season, he was the NHL's scoring leader with 22 goals and 10 assists in 44 games.  His life changed irrevocably, however, on December, 12, 1933.  It was on that day, exactly 78 years ago, that Bailey's hockey career ended cruelly and abruptly.  During the second period of a game between the Leafs and the Boston Bruins at the Boston Garden, Ace was hit from behind by defenceman Eddie Shore of the Bruins.  His head hit the ice, fracturing his skull. 

Shore's attack on Bailey was in retaliation for a hipcheck from Leaf defenceman Red Horner.  Here's how Horner described the incident.

Eddie Shore was having a very frustrating night.  He was playing a great game but it wasn't getting him or the Bruins anywhere.  They couldn't scare us.  (Coach) Dick Irvin sent out King Clancy and myself and Ace Bailey up front to kill off (two) penalties.  Bailey was a very expert stickhandler, and he ragged the stick for awhile.  Eventually, Shore got his stick on the puck and made a nice rush deep into our end and I gave him a very good hipcheck. 

Shore was stunned by that hard check from Red Horner and skated wildly toward Ace Bailey, likely confusing Bailey with Red Horner.  According to Horner, Eddie Shore "wanted to get even for the check I'd just put on him.  He thought Bailey was me.  He charged into Bailey on an angle from the side.  He hit Bailey and flipped him in the air, just like a rag doll.  Bailey landed on his head just a few feet from where I was standing.  Bailey hit the ice and went into some kind of convulsion.  I thought to myself, 'That's the end of Ace.'"

An unconscious Bailey began bleeding from the wound to his head.  Red Horner, upset by the injury to his teammate, knocked Eddie Shore to the ice.  Horner felt that "Shore skated away in a very nonchalant fashion.  I wasn't going to let him get away with it, so I went after him."

Eddie Shore suffered a deep gash to his head.  Both Bailey and Shore were carried off the ice by teammates.  While being attended to by Boston doctors in the Bruins' dressing room, Ace regained consciousness.  Shore approached him to apologize.  "It's all part of the game," Bailey uttered before losing consciousness again.  (Hmmmm.  I wonder if any hockey player has ever said it shouldn't be part of the game?)

By the next morning, Ace's condition was very grave.  The 30-year-old hovered between life and death.  His temperature surpassed 106 degrees Fahrenheit and it was feared that he would not survive his injury.  Bailey underwent two operations to relieve the pressure on his brain and Dr. Donald Munro, a brain specialist, declared that his chances of living were "very slim." With death seemingly imminent, a priest was summoned to give Ace the last rites. 

Boston homicide detectives interviewed Shore and other players about the altercation.  If Bailey had died, Eddie Shore would have been charged with manslaughter.  When Ace's father was informed of his son's condition, he became so incensed that he armed himself with a handgun and took the train to Boston. to seek revenge on Eddie Shore.  Conn Smythe and his top assistant, Frank Selke, got word of the elder Bailey's plans and alerted the Boston police.  They located the distraught dad in the bar of the Leafs' hotel and sent him on a train back to Toronto without the weapon.

Ace Bailey began to recover.  By Christmas, and it was evident that he was going to survive, although he would never be able to play hockey again.  Boston manager Art Ross visited Bailey in the hospital and Ace told him that he did not believe that Eddie Shore willfully meant to hurt him.  The Leafs star then went to Bermuda to recuperate.

NHL president Frank Calder suspended Eddie Shore indefinitely and Red Horner was prohibited from playing until January 1, 1934.  It was not until Bailey's survival was assured that the NHL announced that Shore would be permitted to return to action on January 28, 1934.  He missed a total of 16 games.

An all-star benefit game was held in Ace Bailey's honour at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens on February 14, 1934.  The game featured the Leafs versus the best in the league.  Before the game, the All-Stars skated onto the ice in their regular team sweaters and a group photograph was taken.  Frank Calder then handed them their All-Star sweaters.  A hushed crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens looked on as Ace Bailey forgave Eddie Shore and shook his hand at centre ice. 

The crowd cheered loudly as Bailey, dressed in street clothes, presented Eddie Shore with his Number 2 All-Star sweater.  Ace later stated, "I hold no grudge.  I see Eddie when he comes to Toronto for the games.  It was one of those things that happens."  Shore once said there was no bad feeling between them and that the incident was "purely accidental."

Before the opening face off of the Ace Bailey benefit game, Ace's Number 6 was retired, marking the first time in NHL history that a sweater number had been removed from use.  The fans roared their hearty approval when Conn Smythe announced that no Maple Leaf would ever wear the Number 6 sweater again.

The primary purpose of the benefit game, however, was to raise funds for Ace Bailey.  In this, it was highly successful.  Ace and his family received $20,909.40 in gate receipts from the game (a princely sum in Depression days).  As for the outcome of game, the hometown Maple Leafs defeated the All-Stars by a score of 7-3.  It should also be noted that the NHL All-Star Game took place more regularly after that 1934 event.

During his NHL career, Ace Bailey accumulated 111 goals and 82 assists in 313 games.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.  From 1938 until 1984, Bailey served as a penalty timekeeper at Maple Leaf Gardens, a position he enjoyed very much.  In 1984, when Ace was 81, Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard dismissed him from his job.  The penny-pinching Ballard callously fired Bailey in order to save money.

Prior to the 1968-1969 season, Ace Bailey requested that Leaf forward Ron Ellis wear his retired number 6 sweater.  Ace admired Ellis' effective but clean style of play.  "Wearing No. 6 was my greatest honour ever as a Maple Leaf," said Ellis proudly.  "Ace Bailey personally asked me if I would consider wearing his number.  He had followed me for years and considered our styles of play comparable."  There was one stipulation, however.  Bailey told Ellis that once he left the game, the number would be retired again.  It was.

Eddie Shore died on March 16, 1985 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He was 82 years old at the time of his passing.  On April 1, 1992, Ace Bailey suffered a stroke.  He passed away in Toronto on April 7, 1992 at the age of 88.  Sadly, Ace died without getting to see his sweater raised to the rafters at Maple Leaf Gardens.  The Leafs had planned to honour both him and Bill Barilko in a pregame ceremony on April 1, 1992, the very day of Ace's stroke.  The ceremony was delayed anyway because of a players' strike which shut down the league for ten days beginning on March 30.

Ace Bailey's Number 6 and Bill Barilko's Number 5 were finally hoisted to the rafters at Maple Leaf Gardens in a poignant display on October 17, 1992.  Ron Ellis and Ace's daughter Joyce were in attendance.

- Joanne

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Great Christmas Song Quiz


How much do you know about Christmas music?  Try this Yuletide quiz and find out.


1.  Where did the hymn "Silent Night" originate?

A.  England

B.  France

C.  Austria

D.  Germany

E.  United States

2.  Name the first film in which Bing Crosby sang "White Christmas."

A.  The Country Girl

B.  High Society

C.  White Christmas

D.  Holiday Inn

E.  Going My Way

3.  In The Twelve Days of Christmas, what do the lords do?

A.  They laugh.

B.  They lift.

C.  They leap.

D.  They leave.

E.  They lilt.

4.  The Beach Boys had a hit Christmas song.  What was it called?

A.  Little Saint Nick

B.  California Christmas

C.  I Want a Surfboard for Christmas

D.  Surfin' Santa

E.  Under the Mistletoe

5.  In the song "Little Drummer Boy," which two animals "kept time" with the drum music?

A,  The donkey and lamb

B.  The cow and lamb

C.  The ox and camel

D.  The ox and lamb

E.  The cow and camel

6.  Who had a hit song with "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree?"

A.  Leslie Gore

B.  Brenda Lee

C.  Annette Funicello

D.  Sandra Dee

E.  Connie Francis

7.  They looked up and saw a star
      Shining in the East beyond them far
      And to the earth it gave great light
      And so it continued both day and night

This is the second verse of which Christmas carol?

A,  Hark the Harald Angels Sing

B.  It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

C.  Angels from the Realms of Glory

D.  While Shepherd's Watch

E.  The First Noel

8.  In the song "We wish you a Merry Christmas," what kind of pudding is requested.

A.  Plum pudding

B.  Toffee pudding

C.  Figgy pudding

D.  Bread and butter pudding

E.  Yorkshire pudding

9.  Who first recorded the Christmas novelty song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?

A.  A 13-year-old American boy

B.  An 11-year-old English girl

C.  A 10-year-old Canadian girl

D.  A 12-year-old Canadian boy

E.  A 7-year-old American girl

10.  Bruce Springsteen recorded a version of this popular Christmas song.

A.  Jingle Bell Rock

B.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

C.  Jingle Bells

D.  Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

E.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town

11.  In the popular Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas," when does the king gives alms to a poor peasant?

A.  On Christmas Eve

B.  On the Feast of Stephen

C.  On Christmas morn

D.  On the 10th day of Christmas

E.  On Christmas Day at noon


1.  C   Austria

The original words to "Silent Night" come from a poem written in German by a priest named Father Joseph Mohr.  Father Mohr was the assistant pastor at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.  Mohr asked his friend, schoolmaster Franz Xaver Gruber, to write some  music for his poem "Stille Nacht"   Gruber, the choirmaster and organist at St. Nicholas, composed the melody for "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve in 1818.

Fr. Joseph Mohr

2.  D  Holiday Inn

Bing Crosby sang "White Christmas" in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn in which he starred with Fred Astaire.  The film White Christmas was released 12 years later, in 1954.  To watch a clip of Bingo singing White Christmas in a duet with Marjorie Reynolds in Holiday Inn, click on the link below.  By the way, Marjorie Reynolds' voice was dubbed.

3.  C.  leaping

In the "Twelve Day of Christmas," the lords are a-leaping.

4.  A.  Little Saint Nick

"Little Saint Nick," originally performed by The Beach Boys, was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love.  It was first released as a single in December of 1963.  Christmas celebrations were rather subdued that year due to the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  "Little Saint Nick," however, reacher Number 3 on the Billboard Christmas charts.

5.  D  The ox and lamb

It comes from the following line in "Little Drummer Boy."

The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum

6.  B   Brenda Lee

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was written by Johnny Marx.  It was recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958.  I did not become a hit until 1960 when Brenda Lee's popularity had increased.

To listen to Brenda Lee singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," click on the link below.

7.  E.  It is the second verse of "The First Noel."

8.  C  Figgy pudding

In the song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," figgy pudding is requested.  Figgy pudding is a traditional English pudding with a history going back to the 16th century.  It is a custard-like dish made with figs or raisins, often at Christmas and can be steamed in the oven, baked, boiled or fried.

9.  A   A 13-year-old American boy named Jimmy Boyd first recorded "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."  The song was composed by British songwriter Tommie Connor and reached the top of the charts in 1952.  Jimmy Boyd, who died of cancer in 1970, married Yvonne Craig of Batgirl fame in 1960.  The couple divorced in 1962.

A young Jimmy Boyd

10.  E.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town

To watch a video of Bruce Springsteen performing Santa Claus is Coming to Town, click on the link below.

11.  B  On the Feast of Stephen

The song begins with the words "Good King Wencelas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen."  The Feast of Stephen or St. Stephen's Day is celebrated on December 26th, the second day of Christmas, in the Western Church and on December 27th in the Eastern Church.  It commemorates St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Good King Wencelas biscuit tin

- Joanne

Saturday, November 26, 2011

TTC riders don't deserve this, Mayor Ford


An Open Letter to Mayor Rob Ford

With all due respect, Mr. Ford, what have Toronto public transit riders done to deserve this?  The city is cutting service on 62 bus routes in this city and TTC patrons (not customers) have also been told to expect fare hikes.  Was this what you meant when you talked about stopping the gravy train?  Since when has efficient public transit been gravy?  Isn't it an important service?  Don't the most vulnerable people in our fair city depend on the TTC.  I'm talking about the elderly on fixed incomes, students who can't afford cars, lower income people, the visually impaired who can't drive . . .

Adult TTC patrons already pay $3 cash fare per ride and $119 per month for a Metropass.  We are already burdened with paying the lion's share of the cost of operating our public transit system.  It's not fair that we are also going to have to endure poorer service.  It's not fair that we are going to have to pay more for that poorer service - not at a time when jobs are being cut and many are living on fixed incomes.

The province of Ontario should also be contributing more to the TTC.  I would be happy to pay more provincial tax if it it would prevent service cuts and fare increases.  An efficient, affordable TTC is in the best interest of all Torontonians and all Ontarians.  It affects everyone in this province, directly or indirectly.

I count myself among the many public transit users in this city.  My regular bus route is one of the ones targeted for service reduction.   All TTC patrons are going to be greatly inconvenienced and the most vulnerable will be hurt.  Some seniors may not be able to afford riding on the TTC as frequently and will be confined to their homes more often.

Mr. Ford, when was the last time you stood at a bus stop and waited for a bus in the pouring rain or during a snowstorm for twenty minutes or more?  It's so easy for politicians to be indifferent to public transit riders when they can just hop into their cars or take a taxi.

As mayor, you were elected to represent all the people of Toronto - not just car owners and drivers.  Nathan Phillips, when he was mayor of this city, was dubbed the Mayor of all the People.  He would never have tried to drive a wedge between car owners and transit riders.

This city depends on clean, efficient public transit.  The TTC is neither clean nor efficient and it is going to get worse once service on 62 bus routes is reduced.  The health of a city can be measured by the health of its public transit system.  Right now Toronto is not too healthy.

Mr. Mayor, I doubt that you will pay any heed to my letter.  You are ideologically driven.  You have a conservative right wing agenda and you will not change.  I am writing this because I am upset and frustrated about what is happening to my city.  I am distraught about what your policies are doing to the Toronto I love.  I need to vent.


Joanne Madden

More Campaign Slogans and Songs


On May 21, 2011, I wrote about witty political campaign slogans.  Now I am going to continue with this topic of snappy election slogans and political campaigns.

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast breakfast cereal - that you can gather votes like box tops - is . . . the ultimate indignity to the democratic process. 

- Adlai Stevenson
Speech, Democratic National Convention, August 18, 1956

Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956 and was defeated both times by Dwight D. Eisenhower.  He uttered those words in 1956 when television was starting to become a factor in U.S. election campaigns.  If he were alive today, he would be disgusted by the commercialization of politics and the proliferation of TV attack ads.  Yet, it's no secret that character assassinations and attack ads have always played  a role in democratic elections.  It's just that television and other mass media have intensified the darker side of politics.


One of the dirtiest presidential elections in American history was the 1884 contest between Republican candidate James G. Blaine and Democrat Grover Cleveland.  It was replete with scandals and mudslinging.  Blaine was dogged with accusations that as a Congressman from Maine, he had been corrupt in his dealings with the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway.  His political adversaries ridiculed him as "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine." 

James G. Blaine

Blaine's candidacy divided the GOP.  Some Republicans refused to endorse him as they considered him to be corrupt.  These reform minded  Republicans were dubbed "Mugwumps" and they came out in support of New York Governor Grover Cleveland.  Cleveland had a reputation as a corruption fighter and a reformer.  He campaigned under the slogan "Public Office is a Public Trust."

Cleveland and the Democrats, however, faced problems of their own when a paternity scandal surfaced during the heat of the election battle.  On July 21, 1884, an article in the Buffalo Evening Telegraph revealed that Cleveland, a bachelor at the time, had had an affair with a widow from Buffalo.  It alleged that he had fathered a son with the woman and that he had abandoned their child who was now ten years old. 

The story broke nationally and Republicans seized on the opportunity to make political hay out of their opponent's indiscretion.  They began bringing children to Cleveland's campaign rallies and chanting, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?"  Cleveland admitted that he had relations with the woman but said that he knew of other men who could also have fathered the child.  He decided to take responsibility for the boy and send money. 

Despite the scandal, Grover Cleveland narrowly won the election of 1884. His triumphant supporters shouted, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?  Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!"

 In 1920, the Democratic candidate for President of the United States was James M. Cox, the Governor of Ohio.  Cox's Republican opponent was Warren G. Harding, another Ohioan.   James Cox was opposed to Prohibition, which had come into effect in the United States in January of 1920.  Harding, who supported Prohibition, attacked Cox's position with the slogan "Cox and Cocktails."  It is interesting to note that Cox's Vice-Presidential running mate in that 1920 election was 38 year-old Franklin D. Roosevelt.


During the 1928 U.S. election campaign, Republican candidate Herbert Hoover faced Alfred E. Smith as his Democratic opponent.  Hoover used the slogan "Hoover and Happiness Or Smith and Soup Houses."  Hoover won the election and became the 31st President of the United States. In October of 1929, the stock market crashed, the economy tanked, and the people were left with Hoover and soup houses.

The 1932 U.S. election was held during depths of the Great Depression.  Hoover ran for another term in office.  When he returned to his home state of Iowa on a campaign trip, he was accosted by an irate group of farmers holding banners that read, "In Hoover we trusted.  Now we're busted."


Optimism has long been a theme that candidates use during elections.  Voters certainly need and want to be hopeful.  If, however, the economy crashes before a candidate takes office, the candidate is expected to clean up the mess once he or she assumes power.  Often, however, there is no quick fix.  It takes time to turn an economy around.and people become impatient.  They take their frustration and disappointment out on their new leader.  "You offered us hope," they say. 

For example, President Barack Obama didn't cause the Great Recession but he got blamed for it and was expected to turn things around in the blink of an eye.  During the 2008 election campaign Obama was definitely the candidate of  hope, but many Americans have forgotten that he also tempered hopeful expectations with a note of caution.  He declared that economic recovery wouldn't be easy and that it would require time.

As in the 2008 election, optimision played a integral part in the 1932 presidential contest in which Herbert Hoover sought re-electioni in the midst of the Depression.  Hoover procalaimed that "Prosperity is just around the corner."  Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign song was the upbeat "Happy Days are Here Again" from the 1930 musical Chasing Rainbows.  The song reflected Roosevelt's cheerful personality in contrast to Hoover's more austere demeanour.

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
Let us sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

- Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics)

To listen to "Happy Days are Here Again," click on the link below.


Sometimes, during difficult times, voters are asked to reject change and to remain with the same steady hand at the helm.  In 1932, Herbert Hoover, had campaign buttons that read "Don't Swap Horses, Stand by Hoover."  Yet voters did swap horses.  They were looking for change rather than stability

After leading Britain through World War II, Sir Winston Churchill faced the electorate in 1945. He ran on the slogan "Send HIm Back To Finish The Job." Although the war in Europe had ended in May of 1945. Churchill wanted to continue the wartime coalition until victory over Japan was achieved. Labour Leader Clement Atlee, however, advocated a new party-based government in Britain. On July 5, 1945, British voters went to the polls and elected a Labour government led by Atlee.  They rejected Churchill's steady hand and opted for change instead.

During the 1997 British election, the Labour Party used the campain slogan "Things can only get better."  It moved closer to the centre of the political spectrum and and called itself New Labour.  New Labour won in a landslide and its leader, Tony Blair, assumed the office of Prime Minister.  After years of Conservative government, Britain had chosen change.  The 43-year-old Blair became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1912.

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Joanne's Journal: November 23, 2011


Edition No. 3


Eternity's a terrible thought.  I mean, where's it all going to end?

- Tom Stoppard (1937 - ), British dramatist
From Rosencrantx and  Guildenstern arre Dead [1967]


So now stores in Canada are running Black Friday ads.  I appreciate that the economy is weak and that retailers are trying almost anything to entice people to spend their money.  But Black Friday ads?  They don't have any meaning or relevance in this country.  The term "Black Friday" refers to the day after American Thanksgiving.  We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving back in October.  Our Thanksgiving is a harvest festival.  It has nothing to do with pilgrims and it does not usher in the Christmas shopping season. 

Derek Szeto, founder of the discount website said,  "A lot of stores, especially those that are Canadian extensions of U.S. companies, will take the opportunity to hold sales."  "There is a lot of economic uncertainty," he added.  " We expect it will be a huge Black Friday shopping day."

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Canadians already have Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, to shop for bargains and return gifts.  Retailers have tried to stretch Boxing Day into Boxing Week.  We don't need Black Friday here, thank you very much.  I'm probably in the minority, but I will not be joining the frenzy.  I will not be bargain hunting on Friday.

To my American readers: Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.  All the best to you and your families.  If you would like to read my story, A Thanksgiving Tale, click on the FICTION tab above.


From Greece to Italy to Spain, governments under the gun from financial markets are doing precisely the wrong thing.

They are slashing jobs and deficits in an effort to eliminate deficits.

But because unemployed people don't pay taxes, all that these governments have accomplished so far is to cut deeply into their own revenues, thereby making their deficits worse.

This increases the cycle to cut, thereby starting the whole cycle all over again.

- Thomas Walkom
Toronto Star, November 23, 2011

Altogether now, class.  Uunemployed people don't pay taxes.  Unemployed people don't pay taxes - at least not as much as they did when they were employed.  When companies lay off people, those people don't spend as much money either.  They do not buy cars and refrigerators.  End of economics class for today.


I'm glad that the Toronto Blue Jays decided to put the "blue" back in their uniforms.  We're finally rid of those hideous black uniforms with the evil blue jay on the logo.  Now all they have to do is put a contending team on the field.

I'm not saying that Justin Verlander wasn't deserving of the American League MVP award.  I'm just saying that if pitchers can be MVPs, then why have a Cy Young Award?  I'm also saying that if a player has to be on a contending team to win the MVP, then spell that our clearly.  Say that it's the award for the most valuable player on a contending team.   Then, define contending as perhaps a player whose team made post-season play.


It will be Winnipeg and B.C. in the Grey Cup.  I was hoping that Hamilton would represent the East in the Canadian football championship.  It just doesn't seem right to have Winnipeg in the CFL's Eastern Conference.  The East-West rivalry is an integral part of the Grey Cup game.  By the way, the Ti-Cats haven't been to the Grey Cup since 1999.  They won it that year too, 32-21 over the Calgary Stampeders.

Once Ottawa rejoins the league, Winnipeg can return to its rightful place in the Western Conference.  It will great to have the CFL back in the nation's capital. 


NHL bigwigs breathed a sigh of relief when Sidney Crosby returned to the ice.  He is, after all, the league's marquee player.  Fans are happy to see Sid the Kid back too.  Nevertheless, the NHL can't just close the book on the incident and say all's well that ends well.  The league should not be let off the hook so easily.  What happened to Crosby, should not have happened in the first place.  It probably would not have happened  if the proper rules and penalties had governed the game. 

Crosby was wise to take his time in returning to the game.  There is no guarantee, however, that he won't be hit again and suffer another concussion.  He might not be so fortunate if it happens again.

- Joanne

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reflections on war and peace on Remembrance Day


Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries.  It is Veterans Day in the United States.  Last November 11th, I wrote a short essay about why I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.  Here is that essay again, along with some quotations on war and peace.

Why I Wear a Poppy on Remembrance Day

Without equivocation, I believe that war is an abomination, a blight upon humanity. Yet every Remembrance Day, I wear a bright red poppy. Here's why. I wear a poppy to honour the memory of those who have suffered and died in war. I also wear it to remind myself of the folly and futility of war. Yes, war may sometimes be necessary to rid the world of a scourge such as Nazism. It may be the only recourse to overcome a madman like Adolf Hitler. However, there is no glamour in war, only hardship, poverty and death. It is not glorious and it is not adventurous. It is unspeakably brutal and it takes the lives of innocent people. It causes untold destruction and it cruelly separates families. It forces its victims away from their homes and into refugee camps. In times of war, the innocent are the most vulnerable and they always suffer the most.

I wear a poppy for those who died in the muddy trenches World War I. The “Great War” was an ugly and unnecessary war. When it began in August of 1914, many thought it would be a grand adventure and that the troops would be home by Christmas. They didn’t realize that such a great number of those eager, youthful combatants would never see their homes again. Sadly, those young people went to war and died because their countries were engaged in a battle for colonies and for military and economic superiority. What a waste of human potential!

I wear a poppy for the victims of World War II and Korea and Vietnam. I wear it for those who suffered under Nazism and fascism and for those who sacrificed their lives to end the reign of those cursed ideologies. I wear it for the victims of Stalin and Mao and all those who currently live under totalitarianism and dictatorship.

I wear a poppy to remember all the women who have been violated by soldiers during wartime. I wear it for the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust and for all the victims of genocide. I wear it for the 300,000 who died in Nanking in 1937 and I wear it for those who lost their lives when the deadly atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wear it for the victims of Pol Pot and his killing fields. I wear it for the children of war, the babes in arms who begin their lives in poverty and horror. I wear it for the orphans and widows of war. They suffer because the military-industrial complex and arms dealers throughout the world have a vested interest in war. Without it, they would not be so affluent. Their money would be spent on education, health care and the alleviation of poverty.

I wear a poppy to remember the mistakes of history. This is an imperfect world and humans are imperfect creatures. Evil exists and it will take root and spread if we allow it to do so. The only answer is to educate the world's youth so that they will not support another Adolf Hitler. We must make certain that young people are well-versed in history and that they know the truth about war, genocide and extremism of both the right-wing and the left-wing variety. They must be made aware that extremism leads to death, misery and totalitarianism.

I wear a poppy for the all the victims of terrorism and for their families. I wear it to remember those who perished on September 11, 2001. I wear it for all those who have been maimed and broken by war, both physically and psychologically. I wear it for those who lack basic human rights. I will not forget. On this November 11th and every November 11th, I will remember them all and I will hope for peace.


Older men declare war.  But it is the youth who must fight and die.

- Herbert Hoover
Speech at the Republican National Convention, Chicago, June 27, 1944

I have never met anyone who wasn't against war.  Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.

- David Low (1891-1963), British political cartoonist
From New York Times Magazine, February 10, 1946

History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen.

- Enoch Powell, (1912-1998), British politician
From his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, October 19, 1967

I have seen war.  I have seen war on land and sea.  I have seen blood running from the wounded.  I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs.  I have seen the dead in the mud.  I have seen cities destroyed.  I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line - the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before.  I ave seen children starving.  I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.  I hate war.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Speech at Chautauqua, New York, August 14, 1936

The absolute pacifist is a bad citizen; times come when force must be used to uphold right, justice and ideals.

- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

- Mahatma Gandhi
From Non-Violence in Peace and War [1942]

There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.

- William T. Sherman, American Union general
From his speech at Columbus, Ohio, August 11, 1880

Peace can not be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.

Albert Einstein

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of it scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1953

War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), Prussian soldier and military theorist
From On War   

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

Malcolm X
Speech in New York, January 7, 1965

War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention.

Henry Maine (1822-1888), English jurist
From lecture delivered in Cambridge, 1887, in International Law [1888]

You can't switch on peace like a light.

- Mo Mowlam (1949-2005), British politician
From Independent, September 6, 1999

Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

- Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch Jewish philosopher
From Theological-Political Treatise [1670]

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

- Isaiah 2:4

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Bobby Kennedy met Ethel in Canada


In the winter of 1945-46, Ethel Skakel was a 17-year-old student at Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan, New York.  Jean Kennedy, her college friend and roommate, invited Ethel on a ski trip to the Mont-Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada for the Christmas holidays.  It was there that she was introduced to Jean's older brother, Robert Kennedy, a young man in the V-12 Navy College Program.  Bobby, as he was known, was to enter Harvard University in September of 1946.  He was two and a half years older than Ethel.

Their meeting was not a case of love at first sight.  Bobby liked Ethel but, at the time, he was dating Ethel's sister, Patricia.  Ethel, for her part, seemed more interested in Bobby's older brother John.  She had worked for John F. Kennedy during his 1946 congressional campaign and she had also written her college thesis on JFK's book Why England Slept.

Here's how Arthur M. Schlesinger describes Bobby and Ethel's early relationship in his book Robert Kennedy and His Times:

Robert liked Ethel and, after the 1946 congressional campaign, invited her occasionally to Cambridge.  But he took out her older sister Patricia even more.  In his senior year, when Robert invited Pat Skakel to Palm Beach, Ethel managed an invitation for herself from Jean.  Ethel attracted him by her high spirits and proficiency in sports.

Bobby eventually began seeing Ethel more frequently and called on her at Manhattanville College.  She visited him in Charlottesville, Virginia where he was attending the University of Virginia Law School.  By 1949, according to Schlesinger, they were "enthusiastically in love."  Ethel, a devout and pious Catholic, however, considered becoming a nun rather than marrying.  Schlesinger writes, "Robert, walking along the beach at Hyannis Port, said diconsolately to his sister Jean. "How can I fight God?"

In the end, Ethel chose marriage.  She and Robert Kennedy became engaged in February of 1950 while Bobby was still in law school.  His mother, Rose, said she had misgivings about that, but not about Ethel.

The wedding took place on June 17, 1950 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Ethel's hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut.  Bobby's older brother, John, served as best man.  It was a lavish affair with a large number of guests and, after a reception at the Skakel's home, the newlyweds departed for a honeymoon in Hawaii.

The first of Bobby and Ethel's 11 children, a daughter named Kathleen, was born on July 4, 1951.  After Robert graduated from the University of Virginia with his law degree, the family moved to the Washington, D.C. area.  Robert Kennedy was employed by the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 1955, Ethel's parents, George and Ann Skakel, when their private plane crashed in 1955.  Ethel's brother, George, also did in a plane crash in 1966.

Bobby and Ethel welcomed their second child, a son named Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, on September 24, 1952.  Another son, Robert Francis Kennedy, was born on January 17, 1954.  David Anthony  followed on June 15, 1955,   In 1956, Bobby and Ethel purchased Hickory Hill from John and his wife Jackie.  They raised their ever-growing family in the sprawling home located in Mclean, Virginia. 

That same year, on September 9, 1956, their fifth child, a daughter named Mary Courtney was born.  She was followed by Michael LeMooyne (February 27, 1957), Mary Kerry (September 8, 1959), Christopher George (July 4, 1963), Matthew Maxwell Taylor (January 11, 1965) and Douglas Harriman (March 24, 1967).  David Kennedy died of an accidental drug overdose on April 25, 1984.  Michael lost his life in a skiing accident on December 31, 1997.

During the presidency of his brother John, Bobby Kennedy served as U.S, Attorney General.  After John's assassination in Dallas in 1963, Bobby was next in line to carry on the Kennedy legacy.  In 1964, he was elected to the United States Senate for the state of New York.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June of 1968 during his run for the American presidency.  His wife Ethel was pregnant with their 11th child when he was killed.  Their daughter, Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy, was born on December 12, 1968.  Ethel remained at Hickory Hill until 2009 when the estate was sold for $8.25 million.  She is now 83 years old and leads a quiet life away form the spotlight. 

To view photos of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, click on the link below.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Joanne's Journal: November 5, 2011


Edition No. 2


Imagination is more important than knowledge.

- Albert Einstein
From The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

Well, I certainly need my imagination to get me through the month of November.  It's my least favourite month of the year.  Although there can be a haunting beauty about the eleventh month of the year, it is still the death month.  The trees are bare.  The days become shorter and darkness comes earlier and earlier.  That is why I always choose a Wednesday in the middle of November as my November Blah Day and I plan something enjoyable and interesting for that day.  This year, my November Blah Day falls on Wednesday, November 16.


I was pleased to read that U.S. President Obama's popularity has stared to rise again.  It was just one poll, a November 2 Quinniapic University poll, but it may be indicative of a trend.  The Republicans seem to be squabbling among themselves and the Herman Cain scandal hasn't help.  GOP Senators have not done their party any favours by blocking Obama's American Jobs Act.  The President is trying to do something to create jobs and Republicans are stubborning preventing him from doing so.  One year from tomorrow, on November 6, 2012, American voters will have their say.  In the meantime, this race is far from over!  Fasten your seat belts!


Good work, Toronto library lovers!  Your campaign to save our public libraries seems to be succeeding.  Your emails to city councillors and your petition have produced results.  On the evening of November 1st, the budget committee of the Library Board voted unanimously against neighbourhood library branch closings and cuts to hours of operation.  We must however, remain vigilant.  The fight is not over yet.  It is possible that this decision could be reversed when the full Library Board convenes on November 21st.  Library budget reductions may also be accomplished by slashing library staffs. 


U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona has shown remarkable bravery and courage.  She now vows to return to Congress.  I hope she does.  Giffords, the victim of a horrific shooting by a crazed gunman, has lost half of her sight in both eyes.  She walks with a cane and writes with her left hand.

A new memoir, titled Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, describes her efforts to recover after being shot last January 8th in front of a Tucson, Arizona grocery store.  Six people lost their lives in the attack that day, including a nine-year-old child.

Rep. Giffords' memoir is written from the point of view of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.  The last chapter, however, however, is written from Giffords' own perspective.  She states emphatically, "I will get stronger.  I will return."  I'm sure she will and I wish her the best. 

Giffords attacker, Jared Lee Loughner, was clearly unstable.  It was known that he was unstable.  He never should have been allowed to possess a gun.  If there had be stricter gun control, this tragedy would never have happened.  It's too bad the courageous congresswoman has not supported strict gun control.   She would be a tremendous advocate for the cause, such as James Brady who was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.


Allow me weigh in on the Rob Ford - Mary Walsh 22 Minutes controversy.  While I think Mary Walsh should not have gone to Ford's home, it is my opinion that the mayor overreacted and behaved uncivilly.  As she pointed out, how dangerous is a 60-year-old woman with a plastic sword?  It's too bad that Mary didn't do her Warrior Princess thing at another location.  Politicians of all political stripe have faced the Newfoundlander's Marg Delahunty persona.  They have either joked along with her or gritted their teeth and smiled.


Today is Guy Fawkes Day in Britain.  I suggest that you read my posting on Guy Fawkes Day from last year - November 5. 2010.


Why was the skeleton afraid to cross the street?


Because he had no guts.


Here's what I think about the NBA lockout.  I have no sympathy for the owners and no sympathy for the players.  A pox on both their houses, I say!  So many people are struggling to make ends meet and unemployment is rampant in North America.  So why should I empathize with those obscenely wealthy and overpaid athletes and their fat cat owners?  What about those stadium workers who sell tickets, souvenirs and concessions?  What about the restaurant and small business owners who lose business when there are no games? 

Here in Toronto, there isn't much buzz about the Raptors.  I don't hear many people lamenting their absence.  Of course, only the Leafs really matter in this town.  There's probably a great deal more reaction in other cities.  If not, then it does not bode well for the future of professional basketball.


Here are some final comments about the 2011 World Series.  I am quite pleased that the St. Louis Cardinals won.  I'll never forget Game Six and how the Cards kept coming back.  They were extremely persistent and refused give up.  Their victory in Game Six really decided the Series.  Game Seven was really anti-climatic.  There was absolutely no way it could live up to the excitement of the previous game.  The Cardinals won it at home before their enthusiastic and loyal supporters.  Tony La Russa made a wise decision to retire.  He goes out in a blaze of glory and a World Series victory.  How can he possibly top that?

I'm disappointed that John McDonald will not be back with the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2012 season.  T.O. fans will miss Johnny Mac.  He was one classy guy.  I hope he finds happiness playing in Arizona and I'm glad he had the opportunity to play in the postseason with the Diamondbacks.

I couldn't believe the number of ex-Blue Jays in postseason plays.  It was pretty hard for Toronto fans to swallow.  Why didn't some of those players perform as well here in T.O.?  I'm thinking of Mark Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel.

- Joanne

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Significance of the Number 16


You see I have a thing about the number 16.  I am practically obsessed with the number.  Why?  Well, I was born on July 16th.  As a child, I was an ardent fan of a hockey player named Mike Walton.    Walton was a member of the Stanley Cup-winning 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs and he wore number 16 on his sweater.  (Note : Marcel Dionne and Henri Richard also wore number 16. Bobby Hull wore the number 16 too but changed to number 9.   In baseball, New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford's uniform number was 16 and he was the sixteenth Yankee to wear that number.  Ford's number 16 was retired by the Yanks in 1974.)

16 is an even number and I prefer even numbers to odd numbers.  Frankly, I just like the way the number looks.  It's pleasing to me.

The number 16 has coming-of-age symbolism - Sixteen Candles, Sweet Sixteen etc.  It is the twilight age between childhood and emerging adulthood. 


* The planet Jupiter has 16 moons or satellites.

* According to Encyclopedia Britannica, 16 has favourable attributes because it is the square of 4.  It was popular in ancient India.  The Chinese-Indian goddess Pussah has 16 arms. 

* There was a 1916 silent movie called Number 16 Martin Street.  It was directed by Lloyd B. Carleton and starred Dorothy Davenport, Emery Johnson and Gretchen Lederer.

In the game of chess, 16 pieces are used by each player.  Of the 32 pieces in a chess set, 16 of them are pawns.

* In Samuel Beckett's novel Molloy, 16 pebbles are featured in a detailed description of someone working on a mathematical problem.

* The great Irish writer James Joyce met his future wife, Nora Barnacle, on June16, 1904.  The events of his novel Ulysses take place on that day and June16th has come to be known as Bloomsday after its protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

* Caterpillars usually have 16 legs.  Thus, they can be described as hexadecapodal.  All caterpillars have three pairs of true legs (6) attached to their thorax.  They also have up to five pairs of prolegs (10) which they use for walking and clinging on to surfaces.  However, in the metamorphosis, all prolegs disappear.  When they emerge from their chrysalis as a butterfly or moth, they have only six legs.

* The following famous people died on August 16: Singer Elvis Presley (1977), baseball great Babe Ruth (1948), Gone with the Wind author, Margaret Mitchell (1949), John Diefenbaker, 13th Prime Minister of Canada (1979) and horror movie actor Bela Lugosi (1956).

* There are 16 ounces in a pound.

* Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States.

* Tennessee was the 16th state to join the Union on June 1, 1796.

* Some famous people who died on August 16th: Babe Ruth (1948)

* King Louis XVI was beheaded during the French Revolution.

* The current Roman Catholic Pope is Benedict XVI.

*  In the Myers-Briggs classification systems, there are 16 different personality types.

- Joanne