Good People Doing Good Things — Jim Estill

Today’s good people is … WOW.  But then, all the good people I have found over the last two-and-a-half years since I started this feature are pretty awesome, from the youngest to the oldest. Today’s story is about a man who put his money where his heart is.

Meet Jim Estill of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.  Jim is the owner and CEO of a company that manufactures home appliances, Danby Products, Ltd.jim-estillAlthough Canada has been much more welcoming of Middle-Eastern immigrants than most other countries, including the U.S., the bureaucratic wheels often seem to turn at a snail’s pace.  The year was 2015, and Jim Estill was growing increasingly concerned watching the horrors of the Syrian civil war on television night after night.  So many were seeking refuge from the violence, and yet the channels for asylum often seemed to be jammed.  My own neighbors, who were refugees from Syria, were on the waiting list for a year-and-a-half before they were allowed into the U.S.

Jim decided to see what he could do.

Back in the 1970s, Canada introduced a program called Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program that was originally intended to help refugees fleeing from Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War, but the program is still in existence today.  Under the program, a private citizen may bring refugees to settle in Canada, but they must commit to covering the expenses of the new arrivals for the first year.  As you can imagine, that could come to quite a bit of an expense:  housing, food, utilities, clothing, medical care, transportation, education.  But Jim was determined, and he began by bringing … wait for it … not one, not ten, but 50 Syrian families into the town of Guelph!  More than 200 people!

Putting some up in his own house, he also rallied church groups and 800 volunteers across the city, and worked closely with the local Islamic society. People provided spare rooms, or helped find empty apartments, and the Salvation Army took the lead in collecting donated clothes to help the refugees stay warm during Canada’s cold winters. Meanwhile, Jim arranged for each Syrian family to have access to both English and Arabic mentors, so they could get their children enrolled in schools, start looking for jobs, get bank accounts, and all the other little things that are a part of relocating.

Initially, he gave 28 of the refugees jobs at his own company and provided the financial guarantees to enable them to set up shops in the city and launch other business ventures.  As of today, Jim has helped sponsor some 89 families – more than 300 people!Syrians-workI’ll let Jim tell you a little bit about why he did what he did …

Hi, I’m Jim Estill. You’re likely here wanting to know more about the refugees and what we’re doing. I’ve written this to give you a little more information.

Since beginning this journey of bringing Syrian refugees to my hometown, Guelph Ontario Canada, the question I’ve been asked repeatedly is “why?” So, it is a question that I’ve naturally given a lot of thought.

Why choose to help this cause and not others? Why choose to go to all the trouble? Why choose to give so much time and money to people I’ve never met?

But that’s just it—it wasn’t a choice at all. The answer circles back to one of my personal mantras that has done me well in both business and life: Do the right thing.

I like to read. A lot. I read books, news articles, anything to further my own knowledge. Because of my unending curiousity, in 2015 I kept a close eye on what was happening in the Middle East and Syria. The stories and images broke my heart.Syrian-city.jpgIt wasn’t a choice. I had the means and opportunity to help, so I did.

I like to start with the end in mind. Success is 50 families to safety. 50 families working, paying taxes and buying groceries where you and I buy them. 50 families speaking English and have some degree of integration. We are helping people through a hard time – not trying to keep them on charity. I have failed if any of them end up on welfare.

The process hasn’t been easy. Getting into this, I knew it would be difficult, but the biggest challenges were ones that none of us saw coming. Picking up 50 families and plunking them into a new country that is very unlike where they’re from, it isn’t hard to foresee some difficulties. Learning the language, adjusting to Canadian lifestyles, finding work. Not easy challenges, but manageable nonetheless.

No, the more difficult challenges were things like delays in the entrance process, maintaining volunteer interest while we waited for families. However, those difficulties pale in comparison to the hardest task of all: deciding which families to bring in. It is like playing God and it causes lost sleep.

The Syrians we bring in have been through a lot. They often have families in Canada. They have mentors and helpers to help them start to build a new life in Canada. They do need to help themselves though.

I love being the CEO of Danby (as well as being a mentor to all my side projects) and while it’s been tricky to accommodate everything, it’s been a true test of my time management abilities. Suffice to say, it has been a tough go. But as hard as it has been (and will continue to be), I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Many of the stories written have said that I have saved or rescued these people. I wouldn’t say I’ve saved anybody—all I set out to do was provide a way out and an opportunity for people that I saw were suffering. These families are now part of my community, and my life. If I can share a little bit of money and time to help a family to not only survive, but flourish, that sure sounds like the right thing to do.

For his work helping refugees, in March of this year Jim was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s second-highest honour. Canada’s Governor General, Julie Payette, who represents Queen Elizabeth II, said that he had shown “outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation”.  I second that motion … I think Jim is most deserving of this honour, don’t you?jim-estill-award

Her Life Mattered …

Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew, Zion, in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  Zion, eight years old, was her sister’s son and Atatiana loved him like her own, though she had no children of her own.  In the middle of a game, they heard a noise outside, and Zion, ever-helpful, wanted to go see what it was, but Atatiana wouldn’t let him.  Instead, Atatiana went to the window to look out and was immediately shot through the window … and killed … by a police officer, Aaron Dean.

Need I even say that Ms. Jefferson was African-American, and Mr. Dean was white?

Let me tell you a bit about Atatiana.  She had earned a B.S. in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana and was studying hard to apply to med school.  Meanwhile, to support herself and save money to attend medical school, she worked selling pharmaceutical equipment.  Recently, her mother had been having some serious healthy problems, so Atatiana had moved back in with her mom to help with her care.

It happened in Fort Worth, Texas, sister city to Dallas, where just last week, Amber Guyger, a white police officer, was found guilty of murdering an African-American man, Botham Jean, in his own apartment.  Ms. Guyger was sentenced last week to ten years in prison.

Atatiana-Zion

Atatiana & Zion

So, what happened on Saturday morning?  Atatiana’s mother had been hospitalized, and young Zion was spending the night with his Auntie Tay, the coolest aunt ever.  But, apparently a door had been left open and a neighbor, James Smith, became concerned and called the non-emergency number for the police department, asking them to check and make sure everything was okay next door.

Aaron-Dean

Aaron Dean

Two officers were dispatched to the house, one of them Aaron Dean.  The officers unlatched the gate and entered the yard, shining their flashlights around.  Then, Atatiana appeared in the window, Aaron Dean yelled at her to put her hands up, and before she ever had a chance to do so, he shot her through the window.  What if Zion had been the one to go to the window?

As a stand-alone incident, this story would still be tragic, but perhaps unremarkable.  However, this is not a stand-alone, not a ‘one-off’, but rather one more in a series of such killings involving an unarmed black person and a white police officer.

Dean was equipped with a body-cam, and after reviewing the footage, Police Chief Ed Kraus said …

“Nobody looked at that video and said there was any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately. I get it. We’re trying to train our officers better, we’re trying to shore up our policies and we’re trying to ensure they act and react the way that the citizens intend them to, that they act and react with a servant’s heart instead of a warriors heart. There are times for officers to act as warriors and defenders, and there are times for them to act as public servants and humble servants.”

There can be no doubt that they need to try a lot harder.  Since June, there have been six questionable fatal shootings by Fort Worth police officers.  One man was shot and killed because officers mistook his flashlight for a gun.

Aaron Dean resigned from the police department on Monday, and on Monday night, he was arrested and charged with murder.  By 9:00 p.m., he had paid his $200,000 bond and was out of jail.  Atatiana Jefferson, however, is still dead.

♫ I’m Already There ♫

Lonestar lead singer Richie McDonald wrote this with Gary Baker and Frank Myers.  The song is about being there in spirit when you can’t be physically present. It was inspired by McDonald’s time on the road while touring with Lonestar, who were red hot following the success of their 1999 Lonely Grill album and its hit single, Amazed.

The title was something McDonald came up with after calling home and speaking with his 4-year-old son Rhett …

“I remember that night clearly to this day, just hearing that little squeaky voice saying, ‘Daddy, when you comin’ home?’ And when you’re gone for 6 weeks at that point, you just hang up the phone and you cry and you think, you know what, physically maybe I’m not there, but mentally I’m already there. I’ll never forget sitting in that hotel room in Southern California and just thinking, ‘I’m already there.’ There’s an idea. And that’s where it came from.

It was a way to help me through the separation at the time. Songwriting, for me, a lot of times it’s therapy. Just the chance to spill my guts out on a piece of paper or a computer or whatever it is and to put it to music.”

The song became very popular following the September 11 attacks on America as military personnel were deployed …

“This was a song that I wrote about being away from my family and a song that we could relate to every single night in the band being away from our families. But after 9/11 it took on a whole new meaning, especially with the men and women in the military. They spend years away from their families, and it put things in perspective for us.”

It’s a sad song, and the images brought a tear to my eye.  Hope you like it!

I’m Already There
Lonestar

He called her on the road
From a lonely, cold hotel room
Just to hear her say I love you one more time
But when he heard the sound
Of the kids laughing in the background
He had to wipe away a tear from his eye
A little voice came on the phone
Said, “Daddy when you coming home?”
He said the first thing that came to his mind

I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
I’m your imaginary friend
And I know I’m in your prayers
Oh, I’m already there

She got back on the phone
Said I really miss you, darling
Don’t worry about the kids–they’ll be all right
Wish I was in your arms
Lying right there beside you
But I know that I’ll be in your dreams tonight
And I’ll gently kiss your lips
Touch you with my fingertips
So turn out the light and close your eyes

I’m already there
Don’t make a sound
I’m the beat in your heart
I’m the moonlight shining down
I’m the whisper in the wind
And I’ll be there until the end
Can you feel the love that we share?
Oh, I’m already there

We may be a thousand miles apart
But I’ll be with you wherever you are

I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
And I’ll be there until the end
Can you feel the love that we share?
Oh, I’m already there
Oh, I’m already there

Songwriters: Richie Mcdonald / Frank Myers / Gary Baker
I’m Already There lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Bee’s View

I was thrilled with the guest posts on Brexit from Roger, Colette, Frank and Gary, and thought that project had likely run its course for the moment, when my friend Bee asked if she could contribute a post.  I immediately jumped on that opportunity, for Bee’s perspective will, no doubt, be significantly different than the previous four.  You see, Bee is a German national who has been living in the UK for quite some time … not sure how long … and she fears being forced to leave and return to Germany when Brexit, deal or no-deal, is complete.  Bee’s post is heartfelt, and I think presents a side we haven’t seen before, so please take a few minutes to read her tale.  Thank you so much, dear Bee!


GoodreadsBeeYesterday, I read the views on Brexit from several of my fellow bloggers here on Jill’s blog. Thanks very much, Jill, for giving us the platform to express our experiences and views. All of their posts and many of the comments taught me a lot. But it felt that the view from an EU immigrant to the UK on Brexit was missing. So, I decided to give my pound’s worth of opinion too.

I am sorry, but this will be a bit messy because my mind is a jungle, and Brexit is very personal for me. For me, Brexit is not a theoretical mind game that might or might not bring me advantages of any sort. Brexit means in a worst-case scenario, the existence I have built here is going to be destroyed.

The worst-case scenario would be, I apply for “Settled Status” which allows EU citizens to stay in the UK with mostly the same rights as before, but were rejected. Currently, that means I would have to leave the UK within four weeks. We have a house with a mortgage and jobs here. How do you create a new life within four weeks?

Let’s assume we would go to my home country, Germany. Many think that because I am German I would get help from there but nope: for the last 12 years I have paid my taxes and social contributions here in Britain, so why should they give me anything? I am not sure if we could get any help from the UK, but chances are we would not.

Germany is, like the UK, interested in “useful” immigrants who can work, pay taxes and bring in skills that are needed. My husband has a back problem and at nearly 60 wants to settle down and not to start all over again. It is unlikely he would easily find a job in Germany or elsewhere. We also do not have a big bank account to cushion any decision we would have to make. He would go with me despite all, but he would leave his children and all security behind but what for? Because some people don’t believe the EU gives Britain any benefits?  So please bear with me if I am sarcastic, angry and very scared.

I read in some of the previous posts about Brexit that immigration isn’t the main reason for voting to leave. However, to me, this looks differently maybe because of where we live. Our home is Norfolk which is a rather rural county in the East of England. Most jobs are in agriculture and tourism unless you are in Norwich, the only city in Norfolk. Norwich has a university, a thriving tech industry and it probably doesn’t surprise you that Norwich mainly voted to remain while the rest of Norfolk mainly voted to leave.

Both tourism and agriculture are heavily dependent on seasonal EU workers. To those Norfolk residents, who do not have a job, it appears that EU workers “steal” the jobs they feel are theirs. Since the referendum, the influx of seasonal EU workers seems to have decreased though. But it doesn’t look like the vacancies are taken by jobless leave voters. They are simply not filled while farmers and restaurant owners say that they just can’t find staff that is qualified enough and/or is willing to work the necessary hours. The same goes for care staff, nurses and doctors by the way.

Leave voters I know, do say that immigration was a huge reason why they voted to leave. They mention how EU immigrants come with filled-in forms to get benefits while British people can’t get any. I have not researched how much any of this is true. However, I have tried to get benefits this August after nearly 1 1/2 years without a job. Imagine my surprise when I was told that I only qualified for 6 months of job seekers allowance. To get this my husband had to sign up as well even though he had a job. The British benefits system is complicated and has changed a lot in recent years that’s why it would go too far to explain that as well.

On top, I had to prove that I had the right to get any benefit in the UK. This entailed an interview with someone from the jobcentre where I had to bring all the proof I had that I didn’t spend all my time in Germany or elsewhere. I also needed to prove that I work and live here. I was told, I would need to tell them every time I moved within the UK, how often and when exactly I left to go on holiday and whatever else that person felt they needed to know to grant me the benefit. At that point, I gave up because I can hardly remember what I did last week, let alone remember when I went on holiday ten years ago. Also, my husband would not have to prove all this. Both of us were rather appalled that I would need to be investigated like this, especially as they have my social security number. They know what I earned and where I worked.

20190218_120157I also think they probably know better than I when I was abroad: There are only three ways to come and go from the UK: you fly, you use a ferry, or you use the channel train. In all occasions, you have to show your passport because Britain did not sign the Schengen agreement. You can travel without your passport being checked in European countries that have signed the Schengen agreement. Even when we went to Switzerland which isn’t in the European Union but has an agreement on travel and trade with the EU, we didn’t show our passports once at the Swiss border. However, we had to show them when we left and came back to Britain. So surely they know how often I left the UK?

What surprises me about the Brexit debate, in general, is the view most people seem to have about the EU. For most people, not only in the UK but also all over Europe, membership in the EU mainly seems to be a question of business and economy. However, one of the main reasons why the EU was founded after the second world war was Peace. Europe had seen wars between its countries for centuries, and it culminated in WWII. The founding fathers and mothers of the European Union had experienced the destruction and human cost this war had brought, so their aim was firstly peace, and secondly a thriving economy for all of us. In all this struggle of a changing world, we do forget how important peace is for our countries wellbeing.

Peace is what the European Union mainly symbolises for me. To me, it is the guarantee that Europeans work together for peaceful and prosperous countries.  Yes, this Union of now 27 countries is far from perfect. But maybe it would be a good idea for European voters not to practice protest votes which result in getting people into the European parliament who are against everything EU? Surely if you vote for someone like Nigel Farage (who, by the way, had a German wife, and now has a French girl-friend, but campaigned against the EU for ages) to be your Member of European Parliament (MEP) you can’t be surprised that there are bad decisions made for your country on EU level?

Many European voters use the EU elections to vent frustration about many topics. But the EU-critical MEP’s they vote in, of course, do not do a fully constructive job. Most won’t make anything done in the EU look positive. So much of the anti-EU sentiment in any European country today might be non-existent if we only had MEP’s who are devoted European Unionists.  This is not a particularly British problem either. All European countries face anti-European tendencies, and I often said after the referendum: “If Germany had this referendum it would have gone the same way. German politicians are just not so stupid to do such a referendum.”

The EU certainly needs improvement, and most EU politicians are fully aware of it. However, they can’t get on with that job because the whole union is currently occupied with getting Brexit done. And the stakes are high on both sides. I recently read that Germany would lose about 100,000 jobs if the EU and Britain would not be able to strike a deal. That is a lot of jobs and can get any politician in trouble. But as far as I can see, most Germans think: “No matter the cost and no matter how flawed, the European Union is worth it!” And that seems to be the opinion of most Europeans outside of the UK.

I am fully aware that my points are just a tiny little part of the whole complex problem of Brexit and not very well researched or explained. To me, it is not only disenfranchised jobless voters who want to get rid of any immigrant, or lazy politicians who follow their agenda and not the good for the people who voted for them. Brexit is the expression of humans who feel that their life and their society does not offer them the possibility to live the best possible life. The reasons for this are many, and no one quite understands them, so many look for easy answers. In this case: “If only we could leave the EU all will be well”.

Unfortunately, easy answers never solve complex problems, and it hurts me to see the country I chose as my home and which I love, in this unholy mess, that might never be solved. It hurts me to see families, friends and communities so divided, so angry and so lost. But maybe this pain and division are necessary for us to become open for previously unthought solutions that let us live our best possible lives. I so very much hope for this!

*** Note to Readers:  Bee asked me to add the following information to her post:

I have lived in the UK since 2007 and have worked at the same company from the beginning until March 2018 when my mental health took a turn to the worst partly because of the insecurity of Brexit. Since September I am working in a new job.

A Day In Honour Of Indigenous Peoples

Today in the nation’s capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

The simple facts are that Christopher Columbus did not ‘discover’ the Americas … the indigenous people were always here.  And, at the hands of Columbus and those Europeans who would come after, the indigenous people, aka Native Americans, suffered greatly from being enslaved, diseased, dispossessed of their land, and slaughtered.  So, over the past few decades there has been a growing movement to alter the holiday to honour those who first occupied the country.

The movement is controversial, for we tend to cling to the traditions we have known all our lives, but it is a growing movement, with a number of states and cities doing what D.C. did, replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.  Thus far, the states of Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, Maine, Louisiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Oregon, have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day on this date, and South Dakota celebrates Native American Day, as have many cities too numerous to list here – more than 130, in fact.

Trump, however, instead has issued a formal proclamation recognizing Columbus Day, citing Columbus as a “great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit,” calling the two-month journey across the Atlantic a “watershed voyage” which ushered in a new age.  But then, in this I consider him to be rather irrelevant.

So … how did this all start?

In 1977, the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, began to discuss replacing Columbus Day in the United States with a celebration to be known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

1992 would mark the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Columbus, and there was a “Quincentennial Jubilee” planned to mark the date.  In San Francisco, the day was to include replicas of Columbus’ ships sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and reenacting their “discovery” of America.  It was then that the Bay Area Indian Alliance was formed, and they created the “Resistance 500” task force, promoting the idea that Columbus’ “discovery” of inhabited lands and subsequent European colonization of these areas had resulted in the genocide of indigenous peoples by decisions of colonial and national governments.

The group convinced the city council of Berkeley, California, to declare October 12 as a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People” and 1992 the “Year of Indigenous People”. The city implemented related programs in schools, libraries, and museums. The city symbolically renamed Columbus Day as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” beginning in 1992 to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the losses suffered by the Native American peoples and their cultures through diseases, warfare, massacres, and forced assimilation.indig-peoples-day.jpgIn the years following Berkeley’s action, other local governments and institutions have either renamed or canceled Columbus Day, either to celebrate Native American history and cultures, to avoid celebrating Columbus and the European colonization of the Americas, or due to raised controversy over the legacy of Columbus.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the many contributions indigenous people have made to our world:

  • indig-peoples-day-3Constitution & Bill of Rights: According to Benjamin Franklin, the “concept” for the federal government was influenced by the Constitution of the Iroquois League of Nations.
  • Sign Language:  Today, hand signals are used to communicate with those who are deaf and/or mute. A similar system was originated to facilitate trade between Native Americans and early trappers/traders.
  • Products:  Native Americans are credited with introducing such diverse products as snowshoes, moccasins, toboggans, buckskin jackets, Kayaks, cradle boards, tomahawks, rubber, cotton, quinine, tobacco, cigars, and pipe smoking, among others.
  • Military Service:  The participation rate of Native Americans in military service is higher than for any other ethnic group in the U.S.  Members from many Indian nations have served with distinction and in a way that helped the U.S. win World Wars I and II… through the use of their various Native languages.
  • Conservation:  The Native Americans have always held a deep respect for the land and for our connection to this planet known as “Mother Earth.” They have always striven to live in harmony with the seasons and the land, to take only what was needed, and to thank every plant, animal, or thing that was used.
  • Art/Design:  The traditional and contemporary music of Native Americans have become integrated in many other cultures and musical styles. Indian artwork such as paintings, beadwork, totem poles, turquoise jewelry, and silversmithing, all remain beautiful and unmatched in this society.

Native-American-Day-Wampanoag-220px-SquantohowwellthecornprosperedAnd of course, a wide variety of foods, including potatoes, beans, corn, peanuts, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, peppers, nuts, melons, and sunflower seeds.

We can never make up to the indigenous people in the Americas for what was done to their ancestors, but we can resolve to do better, and we can honour them in this way, by setting aside a special day of remembrance for all that they went through, and for all that they have given. celebrate-500-years-of-survival

Happy Thanksgiving … Joyeux Action de Grâce … Redux 2019

Today is a very important day in a couple of ways.  It is Thanksgiving Day in (most of) Canada, and it is also Indigenous Peoples Day in the U.S.  So, rather than dwell on the depressing latest news about the stench in Washington, I thought it would be more fun to take a look at these two holidays!  Yes, I realize it is Columbus Day, as well, but frankly that has been over-hyped for a long time, and you probably know a lot more about it than you do these two.

Since I have already done a fairly in-depth post about the Canadian Thanksgiving, I will share that first, and have an additional post later this afternoon about Indigenous Peoples Day.


🇨🇦 Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I just realized, after a comment by friend Emily (Eschudel of Zombie Flamingoes) that today is Thanksgiving … in Canada!  Action de grâce!

Now, for those outside Canada, I thought I would look a bit into the history of Canada’s Thanksgiving.  We all know the lovely little story about the pilgrims and the natives and the first Thanksgiving in the U.S., which is basically a myth, but whatever.  So, I wondered if Canada has such a feel-good story too.  Well, turns out it’s confusing, but … let me tell you what I found, and then perhaps some of our Canadian friends will either correct me, or fill in the gaps.

According to Wikipedia …

“Thanksgiving is an annual Canadian holiday, occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year.

According to some historians, the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America occurred during the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England, in search of the Northwest Passage.

Years later, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, from 1604, also held feasts of thanks. They even formed the Order of Good Cheer and held feasts with their First Nations neighbors, at which food was shared.

After the Seven Years’ War ended in 1763, with New France handed over to the British, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year.

During and after the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal to Great Britain moved from the newly independent United States to Canada. They brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada, such as the turkey, pumpkin, and squash.

The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

For many years before it was declared a national holiday in 1879, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November. From 1879 onward, Thanksgiving Day has been observed every year.”

But then, I found an article in The Star (Toronto) that I think is more likely to be authentic …

“In the case of Thanksgiving Day, the critical actors were a group of Protestant clergymen in what is now Ontario. In 1859, these men petitioned the Canadian colonial government to declare a mid-week day of thanksgiving in recognition of the harvest. The government agreed to the ministers’ request, and it would do so again four more times before 1866, and annually beginning in 1871.

Protestant leaders had dual motives in lobbying for an autumn holiday. First, they wanted to reassure Canadian Christians, whose faith had been shaken by the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859.

Second, they felt obligated to mould Canadian identity in light of the prospect — and after 1867, the reality — of Confederation. To clergymen, an abundant harvest provided proof of God’s hand in nature, and evidence that Canadians were a chosen people. As such, a holiday that celebrated the harvest would give them the opportunity to remind Canadians of both their material prosperity and their divine national destiny.

Initially, Canadian Thanksgiving was a solemn and pious occasion compared to its American namesake. All businesses closed for the day, and church services were the only activities of note. Ministers delivered sermons that blended nationalism with religious dogma. Against the backdrop of the American Civil War, they hailed the superiority of British political institutions and praised Canada (incorrectly) for having avoided the evils of slavery.

Overall, their Thanksgiving sermons celebrated Canada for being a white, British, Protestant country — a perspective that pointedly ignored the presence of French Canadians, Catholics, Indigenous people, and non-British immigrants.

In time, however, the Protestant conception of Thanksgiving Day, and the narrow definition of Canadian identity that it promoted, gave way to other influences. From the 1870s onwards, holiday church services lost ground to secular community events and commercial amusements.

Meanwhile, Canadians began adopting American Thanksgiving traditions, such as family gatherings, turkey dinners, and football games. Such activities enabled previously excluded groups to stake their own claims to Thanksgiving, and by extension, to Canadian citizenship.

By 1957, when the government permanently fixed the timing of Thanksgiving Day, the holiday’s domestic focus was firmly established. While many Canadians used the occasion to close their summer cottages for the season, others devoted the day to family get-togethers and turkey dinners.

Today, Canadian Thanksgiving shows few hints of its religious and nationalist beginnings.”

Interesting … things are rarely as they seem on first glance, and it is always fun to delve into the traditions and history of other nations.  At any rate, I wish all my Canadian friends & readers a very Happy Thanksgiving … Joyeux Action de grâce. You have one very obvious thing to be thankful for:  that you have Justin Trudeau instead of Donald Trump! I hope you were all able to celebrate with loved ones, much laughter and good food.

t-giving-3.jpg

Jolly Sleepy Monday!!!

Monday-sleepy-2Good … {yawn} … Monday mor {yawn} ning, friends.  Sorry ‘bout that … I’m super {yawn} sleepy this morning for some reason.  Maybe it’s the season change, for it was definitely autumn here this weekend.  Hugh tells me they even had a bit of snow out there in Minnesota!  So, did you all have a good weekend?  Anybody do anything exceptionally fun?

And now, it’s back to the grind … er, um … the joy of the work week!  But first … there are treats over there on the table, and then let’s see what fun adventures we can find to get into today, okay?

Bacon — the one on the left is Larry’s, the one in the middle is rg’s, the one on the right is Emily’s.  Now guys — she’s younger and doesn’t have to worry so much about her cholesterol.  I’m just looking out for you guys.

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Coffee or tea?

coffeehalf-and-halfcuppa-tea

Benjamin’s donuts ‘n juice

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A few holiday treats!

halloween-cake        halloween-cupcake


A night in a blimp?

blimp-3You all know the Goodyear blimp that flies over football games and such, right?  Well, guess what?  Now, you can spend a night in the famous dirigible!  Goodyear listed one of its blimps on Airbnb for three separate one-night stays October 22 through 24.

Somehow, Goodyear squeezed a bed, a couch, two chairs, several tables, a potted plant and plenty of football knicknacks into the tiny blimp gondola, and it looks surprisingly cozy.  And imagine the views you’ll have … why, I would stay awake all night just looking at th … what???  It won’t be leaving the ground? blimp-1Bummer.  The blimp will remain grounded in an air hangar minutes from Goodyear’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio.  Guests can step outside the blimp into an open entertainment center complete with a TV and open bar.  Heck, I can stay home and have television and a glass of wine.  I wanted stunning views!

Anyway, if you’re interested, it’s only $150 for a one-night stay.  Goodyear advises those interested to monitor its Airbnb listing on October 15 for a chance to make a reservation.


Tough luck …

A Japanese businessman traveling on business in Paris had his watch stolen last Monday.  Now, normally I would have empathy … I mean, it’s rather an invasion of person to have your watch snatched right off your wrist, yes?

The man had stepped out of the Hôtel Napoléon, near the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées, around 9 p.m. on Monday evening to smoke a cigarette, when he was approached by a man who asked him for a cigarette, but when he put his hand out, the thief seized the timepiece and ran away.

But, there’s a reason I’m not terribly empathetic here … the watch was valued at $830,000.  Obviously, if he could spend that much on a watch, when one that costs $30 would keep time just as well, then he isn’t in need of my compassion.  Perhaps at least the thief will find a way to do good, to help others, with the money he gets for the watch.

What, you may ask, does a nearly million-dollar watch look like (for nobody reading this post has likely ever seen one!)?  Well, it was a Richard Mille Tourbillon Diamond Twister, and it looks like this …

fancy-watch

Seriously???  And people pay almost a million dollars for THAT???


Pumpkin carving … glub blub

jack-o-lantern‘Tis that time of year, when people are carving pumpkins into scary faces and other things.  Where do you carve your pumpkin?  Chris is the pumpkin carver in our house.  She used to do it in the kitchen, but now she usually just sits on the floor out here in the living room and carves away.  But there is a group of people who have a unique pumpkin-carving place this year … underwater!

Nearly two dozen artists of all ages, working in teams of two, used dive knives and fine carving tools to transform their orange gourds into sea creatures Saturday. The divers also were challenged to keep the hollow, naturally buoyant pumpkins from floating off while they carved their critters.  Take a look …

Josephine Walker and Stephanie McClary from Detroit, Michigan, placed first with their representation of two moray eels encircling a heart.  Their prize?  A dive trip for two at Key Largo’s Amoray Dive Resort, the contest’s organizer.


And now for a few ‘toons ‘n pictures …

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I had to think a few minutes to get this one, but once I did, I chuckled

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This is soooooo me!

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And this one is for Hugh, with a little something extra, since I forgot Maxine last week!

Maxine-autumnMonday-famous-grouse


jollyWell, friends, I’ve really enjoyed spending a bit of time with you this morning, but I know you have things to do, places to go, people to see.  Please remember to share those gorgeous smiles you’re wearing … remember that some people didn’t make it over for Jolly Monday and they might need a smile.  Have a wonderful week all!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Gary’s View

When I first asked for guest posts from my Canadian and UK friends, Gary generously said he would write one for me, but as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans.  This morning, I was thrilled when I woke up and saw this one in my inbox!  This is the fourth guest post on the topic of Brexit from a citizen of the UK, and tackles the issue from a slightly different perspective than previously done by Roger, Colette, and Frank.  Thank you so much, Gary, for your time and effort, and for sharing your views on this multi-faceted issue!


The World Carl Predicted

“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”

The great Carl Sagan wrote this in 1995. I think even he would have been shocked at how quickly his prophecy has come true. Many industries are broken. Technology is in the hands of the few with our privacy compromised. So many feel alienated from society.  Our political systems are increasingly ineffective and compromised. Reason has been replaced by self-interest. That is America today. Unfortunately, you can substitute the United Kingdom for America here. I suspect a growing list of countries can slot in here. It’s a sobering thought.

“… we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”

In the United Kingdom the country is imploding. It has the feel of a society spiralling out of control towards civil unrest. The middle ground is silent. Political debate has been ditched in favour of fake news, lies and threats. Media is becoming propaganda led. Where Extremists go unchallenged and the country is obsessed on one issue – nothing else matters. That subject, Brexit, is no longer justified in terms of benefits for the population. It’s Brexit couched in the narrative of the 1930s.

In the United States effective government has been replaced by a modern-day Nero. Just replace a fiddle with a twitter account. In both countries Climate Science is scorned in favour of late night claret-fuelled meetings with the leaders of the fossil fuel industries. Where our political elite talk of making our countries great again while they feather their nests. They spout increasingly vile racist and inflammatory language.

Recently the United Kingdom woke to the Leave Campaigns new slogan.

“We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed about by a Kraut.”

The person the leave campaign are abusing is someone who was a distinguished research scientist who became the first female German Chancellor and has successfully served 4 terms. Compare that to the people behind the slogan who are basically narrow-minded racists funded by profiteers (Hedge Fund Investors). But that’s the problem in the UK. Brexit has allowed the extremists to come out from the shadows and drive national policy. As Sagan would say – ‘almost without us noticing’. But sadly, it’s not by chance. It’s fostered at Government level. Our puppet PM Johnson views his best way to personal success is by crashing out of Europe. Riding the anti-Europe/Little England bandwagon. His Puppet Master Cummings (the PM’s Advisor) has a clear game plan. To pour petrol on the simmering schism. To marginalise and vilify anyone who gets in their way. Be that MPs, Doctors, Business Leaders, Judges and people who voted to stay in Europe. We are all branded traitors. Enemy of the people. The only people who count being the 17 million who voted to leave. Let’s not forget the UK population is 64 million.

So maybe our PM should leave the Brexit debate to the grownups and go back to doing what he does best – providing public funded favours to his girlfriends. We can then halt the attempt to drive a country purely fuelled on superstition and hate into the darkness. We desperately need a viable way out of this mess. I voted to remain but I have come to the conclusion that we now do need to leave in some form. I just can’t see how a new referendum will bring healing to this nation. I fear it will add more impetus to the extremists. A potentially violent campaign ending with one side further alienated. The alienated provide rich pickings for the extremist vultures. It’s a recipe for further prolonged conflict and social disaster.

We need to find compromise. Middle ground that can unite the moderates in both camps. So, for me it’s Brexit but with the important compromise. Agreeing to the key principle of freedom of movement. I have never understood how the Government has championed the ending of this freedom as some sort of huge win for our people. How can taking away the right of British citizens to travel freely to 26 countries be seen as a step forward. As soon as we accept the principle of freedom of movement then many of the current negotiating logjams are removed.  It then opens up the prospect of more fruitful negotiations with our friends in Europe. Borders, trade and travel continue to operate effectively. We can then concentrate on finding the right balance between increased political freedoms and essential Europe wide partnerships.

This would provide a bridge between the moderates on both Leave and Remain sides. It would also provide a bridge between the older generations who voted more heavily in favour of leaving and the younger generations who largely voted to remain.

Unfortunately, this is not a time for building bridges rather it’s the age of WALL-building. Putting up barriers again. It’s the time when doing the right thing for your country is an increasingly alien concept. It’s the age of Self Gain. Where policy is driven by Hedge Fund profits and the location of Hotels. Where the Brexit financial backers are scheduled to make billions from a crash after betting against the pound. Where US foreign policy is determined by the location of Trump Hotels and his business interests. Where the removal of citizen rights is applauded. Where former war on terror allies are thrown to the wolves.

These are dark times driven by hate, greed and superstition. When one of the few lights is a growing climate movement driven forward by a brave teenager vilified as being both demonic and dangerous by the establishment. When you hear that language, you know the few are worried. Just maybe we can continue accelerate this movement and we can save our planet. And at the same time the seismic changes this would cause would help save our individual nations. Sweep away the Darkness and lead us all to a better place. I’m sure Carl Sagan would sign up to that.


Note to Readers:  Thanks so much to all who participated in this project, either by writing a post or through comments.  The project had value beyond what I initially envisioned, and those of us living outside the UK have learned so much from Roger, Colette, Frank and Gary.  We are all hoping for the best possible outcome at the end of this month.  Hugs to all!

♫ Open Arms ♫

Some nights, I struggle to find a song that I want to hear and that I haven’t already played, but then other nights, a song just pops into my head … usually either while I’m rolling smokes or taking a shower … and I know that’s the one.  Such was the case tonight, but while I had the tune in my head, I couldn’t think of the name of the song, the artist, nor more than a snatch of lyrics.  However, my friend Google (with whom I have a love/hate relationship) filled in the blanks and here I am with the song!

This song by Journey was released in early 1982, and would become their most recognizable radio hit and their biggest US Billboard Hot 100 hit, reaching number two in February 1982 and holding that position for six weeks.

Written by band members Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain, this song is about a couple who drifted apart but found each other again and realized how much they love each other.  Jonathan Cain came to Journey with this melody already written. It could have been a song for the Babys, his previous band, except that Babys’ vocalist John Waite rejected the melody as “too syrupy.”

Mariah Carey co-produced her cover of the song with Walter Afanasieff for her fifth album, Daydream. Carey’s career has crossed paths with Journey’s: the band’s drummer Steve Smith played drums on many of her earlier singles, and its bassist for a short period in the mid-1980s, Randy Jackson, has worked with her for a long time.

The single was released as the album’s third single between late 1995 and early 1996 in most markets outside the United States. It became a number 4 hit in the United Kingdom and was performed live on the BBC’s flagship chart television show, Top of the Pops. It also charted in the top ten in Ireland and New Zealand, and at number 15 in the Netherlands.

I wasn’t aware of Mariah Carey’s version until tonight, and I will say that while I do like much of Mariah Carey’s work, for this song I prefer Journey’s version.  However, in fairness, I shall play both and let you decide for yourself!

Open Arms
Journey/Mariah Carey

Lying beside you, here in the dark
Feeling your heartbeat with mine
Softly you whisper, you’re so sincere
How could our love be so blind
We sailed on together
We drifted apart
And here you are, by my side

So now I come to you with open arms
Nothing to hide, believe what I say
So here I am, with open arms
Hoping you’ll see what your love means to me
Open arms

Living without you, living alone
This empty house seems so cold
Wanting to hold you
Wanting you near
How much I wanted you home

Now that you’ve come back
Turned night into day
I need you to stay

So now I come to you with open arms
Nothing to hide, believe what I say
So here I am, with open arms
Hoping you’ll see what your love means to me
Open arms

Songwriter(s): Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain
Producer(s): Kevin Elson, Mike “Clay” Stone

Burning The Constitution

The United States is a secular nation, meaning that the government is officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.  It means that the government does not favour one religion over another, that people do not have more or less rights based on their religion, that all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their religion or non-religion.

The United States Constitution is the foundation for the nation’s government.  It is the source of law and order.  It is the guidebook, so to speak, for how this nation’s governing bodies will deport themselves, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of each branch of the government.  While the Constitution does not use the phrase “separation of church and state”, what it does say in the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment is this …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Now that I’ve made that perfectly clear, I hope, let us take a look at what Attorney General William Barr, the man who leads the Department of Justice, had to say on Friday, when asked to speak at Notre Dame University:

“We must be vigilant to resist efforts by forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon our exercise of our faith. This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion & traditional values.”

The head of the department tasked with overseeing the law and upholding the Constitution doesn’t even understand the Constitution?

Christians in this nation comprise some 70.6% of the population, down from 75% just two years ago.  Of that, evangelicals comprise 25.4% of the population.  Now, by Barr’s presumption, does this mean that our government only represents 70.6% of the people in this nation, and the other 29.4% of us are sh*t out of luck?  Now, if that be the case, doesn’t it follow that those of us in the 29.4% should not be required to pay taxes, since the government we are paying those taxes to does not represent us?

William Barr was far out of line in his speech and seems to have interpreted the Constitution according to his own values, or perhaps, like his ‘boss’, he has never read nor understood the document that he took an oath to uphold.

Barr, however, is not alone in cherry-picking the parts of the document he wishes to support, while ignoring the rest.  Take a look at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he of rather questionable morals whose nomination to the bench was shoved through at mach speed, despite credible allegations of sexual assault.

“But maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official. That was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not appreciate sufficiently…Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision.” – Brett Kavanaugh, 1999

Say What???  It took away the power …???  Let’s be perfectly clear here … the president is not granted by the U.S. Constitution unlimited power to keep secrets and act on his own to make deals and agreements that are not in the best interest of this nation and its people!  The president is granted broad authority in certain areas, but … the legislative and judicial branches are not only granted the authority, but tasked with the responsibility, to provide oversight to the executive branch.  The purpose being to hold the president accountable for his actions.

“The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”Article I, Section 2, Clause 5

“The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7

constitution-dummiesI think that for a person with a law degree, as both Barr and Kavanaugh as well as all of Trump’s lawyers, many members of Congress and others in the administration have — including, believe it or not, Kellyanne Conway — this should be clear enough.  If you and I can understand it … why can’t the lawyers?

We have layer upon layer upon layer of corruption and dishonesty in our federal government in quantities never before seen.  Trump claimed he would drain the swamp, but instead he has further infested it with lethal, poisonous creatures … swamp monsters, as it were.  Being a republican or a democrat is largely irrelevant, but being dishonest, hiding things from the people they work for (us), and being self-serving are crimes.  It is time … past time … for us to hold these people accountable.