Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ottawa River Scene(IMG00302, 314, 318)

These photos were taken during my run along the Ottawa River on July 30, 2011:

Two musicians are playing their instruments next to some stone sculptures. The sun is setting and the Canadian geese are busy feeding on the green vegetation grown near the water. The Ottawa Rivers meanders its way through the west end of the city towards downtown and eventually flows out into the St. Lawrence near Montreal. All is peaceful and quiet. I took one last look at the river before continuing my way home.

Photo Credit:
* Haricot's BlackBerry camera 20110730 ~19h15

Sent from BlackBerry

Friday, July 29, 2011

English to become Official Language of European Union

!!! EU NEWS !!!

The  European  Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union (EU) rather than German, which was the other possibility. 

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room  for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English". 

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard  "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f".  This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter. 

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double  letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. 

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away. 

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such  as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". 

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vordskontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil  sensi bl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun  vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru. 

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas. 

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl. 

(Source: Unknown & Unreliable :)
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Norway Massacre: Home-grown Terrorism

Now that the 32 years old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik has admitted, to his defence lawyer Geir Lippestad, responsibility for the Oslo bombing and the massacre at the youth camp, I am sure the visible minorities community in Norway will breath a collective sigh of relief. Not that such a reaction will bring back the dead, heal the injured, or lessen the pain of the living. But at least, the truth revealed itself just in time to avoid a backlash against those who had not committed the hideous crime.

With the influx of refugees and migrants of African origin into Europe, there is already an atmosphere of mistrust and anti-multiculturalism against "foreigners". And when an opportunistic extreme Islamic group had "gratuitously" claimed responsibility for the killing, the fuse of hatred was almost lit. Had the truth not surfaced from the statement of the 32 years old Norwegian, the extremists from both sides would have played up their agenda and caused more conflicts and trouble.

In response to several vicious attacks by islamic jihadists, many European countries are already facing a surge of right-wing extreme groups that spread the fear of a Muslim "take-over" and advocate the expulsion of immigrants. From a foreign policy perspective, each country is free to determine its future within the boundaries of its constitutions, domestic legislation, and international laws. But when violence is committed and justified as the only means to achieve a policy end, the news send a chill up the spines of those who are not part of the mainstream society. Let's hope that the democracy of policy formulation will always over-trump the bloody hands of home-grown terrorists, be they extreme jihadists or right-wing supremists.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

27歲女作曲家及歌手艾美懷豪絲逝世 / Song Writer and Singer Amy Winehouse Dies at Age 27

I am really sad to learn that song writer and singer Amy Winehouse passes away at age 27. The cause of her death is yet to be determined.

I wrote a series of two articles about Amy Winehouse four years ago (see August 28, 2007 postings below) bemoaning the possibility that the Grammy Award winner might go the way of Janis Joplin and other performers who had died young:

Will Amy Winehouse perish like Janis Joplin?


Unfortunately, her inner demon was too much for her to handle and the self-destructive force finally won.

I am heart broken by the sad news, but I want to remember her as a great song writer and singer, and that's why I am posting this YouTube video to mark this day when her tattooed life ended.

Rest in Peace, Amy Winehouse 艾美懷豪絲.


艾美懷豪絲 (一): 命運開的玩笑?
Amy Winehouse (1): Hook, line and sinker - life's cruel joke?

1. Hook
在北美社会,上了毒癖或酒癮而不能自拔的人實在不少, 他們多是在年青時,禁不住好奇心,想扮cool「有型」,或家庭環境有問題,脫離了正常成長的軌道,或是生命有挫折,開始飲酒、吸大麻、或服食葯物。到了成年之時,有自制能力的還可以自拔,最多是逢場作興,偶一為之 (social drinkers, "recreational" drug users),但那些身和心抵抗力低的人就變了癮君子(addicts),生命完全受「物品」控制 (substance addiction)。

2. Line
就以23歲英國女歌手Amy Winehouse艾美懷豪絲為例,她天賦音樂天才,唱歌很有獨特的風格,前途實在不差,但問題就是她不能自控,毒癖和酒癮已開始毀壞她的聲譽,上月她以「身体欠佳」理由(at least that's her agent's line),取消了歐洲演出行期,跟着八月來北美的計劃又告吹,報載她可能因毒物O.D.(over dosed)問題而入治療院rehab。

3. Sinker
中國古語有云:『天將大任于斯人也,必先苦其心志,勞其筋骨,餓其體膚,行弗亂其所為,然後動心忍性,增益其所不能。』但如果在藝壇有了名氣,在公共場所的攝光燈、水銀燈照射之下,卻因私人理由,再不願擔負這個「大任」,想下台又容不容易呢?近代中、歐、美的明星歌手,在藝海浮沈,而始終逃不出自溺命運的實在不少,例如: 比莉哈樂黛Billie Holiday、瑪麗蓮夢露Marilyn Monroe、珍妮絲賈普林Janis Joplin、林黛、莫愁、陳百強等,他/她們都像墜落的彗星,在臨終前為覌眾發出了最大的光茫,在我們腦海中留下了一個不滅的印象。但他∕她們的短暫的生命,就是不是為了大眾娛樂而犧牲?是可惜,還是可嘆?

(Source: )

艾美懷豪絲 (二): 心靈的紋身
Amy Winehouse (2): Tattooed in the heart


這是我最近買了的磁碟(黑色會)所載的歌CD / Here are the selected songs of Amy Winehouse's CD 【Back To Black】:

2.You Know I'm No Good(你知道我不好)
3.Me & Mr Jones(我與瓊斯先生)
4.Back To Black(黑色會)
5.Just Friends(只是朋友)
6.Love Is A Losing Game(愛是失敗遊戲)
7.Tears Dry On Their Own(淚已乾)
8.Wake Up Alone(孤獨醒來)
9.He Can Only Hold Her(只想抓住她)
10.Wake Up Alone(骯髒戰役)

Will Amy Winehouse perish like Janis Joplin?


(Source: )


Related News Article:

Amy Winehouse found dead at her London home, aged 27

Described as a 'tortured soul', her death follows on a long list of 'rock stars' who also lost their battle with alcohol and drugs

By Dan Wooding

-- Singer Amy Winehouse, 27, was found dead today (Saturday, July 23, 2011) at her north London home after a long battle against substance abuse.

Amy Winehouse

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed that a 27-year-old woman had died in Camden and that the cause of death was as yet unexplained. The Brit and Grammy award-winner had struggled with drink and drug addiction and had recently spent time in rehab. Her record label Universal called her "a gifted musician, artist and performer", adding: "Our prayers go out to Amy's family, friends and fans."

The singer with a gravelly voice and eclectic style, is the latest in a long list of "rock stars" like Elvis Presley, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain, as well as many others, who also tragically had a talent for self-destruction that finally saw their untimely deaths. In announcing her death, the BBC said that Winehouse had won comparison with some of the great female singers such as Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone.

Amy Jade Winehouse was born on September 14, 1983 in the well-to-do area of Southgate, north London. "Her taxi driver father, Mitchell, was a jazz enthusiast and often sang songs to his daughter as she grew up," said the BBC. "She trained at the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School from the age of eight and, by the time she was 10, had formed a rap group with one of her best friends.

Amy battling her demons

"Winehouse later attended the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School. She began writing music at the age of 14 and a former boyfriend sent a tape of her singing with a jazz band to an A&R man." The BBC went on to say, "Her debut album Frank, released in 2003, was described by The Times newspaper as 'earthy, warm, lived-in and astonishingly versatile.' "She co-wrote all but two of the songs and won praise for what one reviewer described as 'the cool, critical gaze' in the lyrics. "Frank was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for album of the year in 2004, and Winehouse won the Ivor Novello songwriting award for best contemporary song with Stronger Than Me. "But it was the critical praise that followed the release of her follow-up album in October 2006 that propelled her to international stardom." Rehab, the first track released from Back to Black, reached number seven in the UK singles chart. The song, about her refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation center, generated huge publicity, with Winehouse frequently being photographed drinking on stage and in pubs.

In February 2007, she scooped the title for best British female at the Brit Awards and, four months later, she picked up song of the year at the Mojo Awards. Winehouse was again nominated for the Mercury Prize and went on to be named artist of the year at the MTV Europe Music Awards in November. But as her popularity soared, her health began to suffer and her behavior became more erratic. The singer had been plagued by problems with drug and drink addiction. It led to a contract with the Island/Universal record label and a publishing deal with EMI. "She appeared to be drunk on Channel 4's The Charlotte Church Show in 2006, and took part in Never Mind The Buzzcocks in a similar state," said the BBC. Amy Winehouse secretly married Blake Fielder-Civil during a trip to Florida in May 2007. Her weight plummeted during an exhausting schedule of promotional appearances and concerts in the UK and US. She admitted punching a female fan at a gig in London and attacking her boyfriend when he tried to calm her down. She confessed to self-harming and spoke of battles with eating disorders. And she shocked a journalist from US magazine Spin when she carved the name of then-boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil into her stomach with a shard of mirror during an interview. "It was a break-up with Fielder-Civil that inspired much of Back To Black," said the BBC story. "But she surprised fans, and her own family, when she secretly married him during a trip to Florida in May 2007. "In November of that year, there was further turmoil when Fielder-Civil was arrested and accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm and attempting to pervert the course of justice." Winehouse herself was arrested and released on bail in December 2007 but no charges were brought against her. A month later she went into a rehab facility following the publication, by a tabloid newspaper, of pictures of a woman they claimed was Winehouse, allegedly smoking crack cocaine. She played a number of gigs in 2008 but it became increasingly apparent that the turmoil of her private life was having a severe effect on her ability to perform. Following a diagnosis of what could have been the onset of emphysema, she managed a creditable performance at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in June 2008. But her performance at Glastonbury a few days later was described by one critic as "dismal" and tabloid interest centered on an incident where she appeared to punch a fan. Amy Winehouse took some time off after a slew of festival appearances in 2008. In 2009, she was found not guilty of assaulting a burlesque dancer at a charity ball in central London. She made a low-key return to the stage in a surprise performance at her local pub in London in October 2010. Earlier this year, Winehouse was admitted for treatment at the Priory clinic in south-west London. Last month, she pulled out of her European tour after she was jeered at the first gig in Serbia for appearing to be too drunk to perform. For 90 minutes, she mumbled through parts of songs and at times left the stage - leaving her band to fill in.

"In her short career Winehouse gave us just a glimpse of what might have been, before she was undone by her own personal demons," concluded the BBC story. "But the songs she recorded, and the string of awards they brought her, served to underline what a talent she was."

Here is a rundown on some of the rock tragedies from garnered from :

* Jimi Hendrix - Autopsy showed he asphyxiated on vomit after combining sleeping pills with wine.
* Janis Joplin - Probable heroin overdose.
* Jim Morrison - Cause of death listed as "heart failure"; however, no autopsy was performed.
* Kurt Cobain - Ruled as suicide by shotgun.
* Robert Johnson - Unknown, but typically credited to strychnine poisoning.
* Brian Jones - Drowned in a swimming pool. The coroner's report stated "death by misadventure."
* Ron McKernan - Gastrointestinal hemorrhage associated with alcoholism.
* Jean-Michel Basquit - Speedbal overdose.
*Amy Winehouse - TBD - autoposy on the way.

Of course, there was also Elvis who died on August 16, 1977 in the bathroom at Graceland. After being found on the bathroom floor, Elvis was rushed to the hospital where he was officially pronounced dead. The coroner recorded the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia. While true in the strictest sense (cardiac arrhythmia basically means that the heart was beating irregularly and in this case, finally stopped), the attending physicians deliberately omitted the fact that what had apparently caused Elvis' heart to beat irregularly and then stop was an overdose of prescription drugs. These drugs included codeine, Valium, morphine, and Demorol, to name a few. After this information was revealed, Vernon Presley, Elvis' father, had the complete autopsy report sealed. It will remain sealed until 2027, fifty years after The King's death. Elvis' body is buried at Graceland.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Merry Xmas !!!

With a humidex temperature of 43 plus degrees C, the CBC radio station is playing Xmas songs to cool us down.

Yes snow, I can almost see it melting and dripping, and Santa Claus ho-ho-ing in his swimming trunk !!

Merry Xmas from the Great White North !!!
Sent from BlackBerry

野兔 / Wild Rabbit



Photo Credit:
* I took both pictures on June 16, 2011 at around 16h45 in the backyard.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

渥太華河畔 比基尼泳衣 沙灘排球賽

我愛夏日長 !!!

Photo Credit:
* I took all these photos during lunch time on July 14, 2011 at the Britannia Park beach located in the west end of the city next to the Ottawa River.

Monday, July 18, 2011

「字由式 一週一題: 在家千日好」 之【無尾飛鉈】 / 「Weekly Free-style Writing」: 【Home Sweet Home, Not】


Updated 20110720
Space 留言:


Haricot 答曰:



我從小就被母親形容為「無尾飛鉈」(廣東話歇後語,意謂: 無影無踪),做小學生放學後我喜欢四處遊逛,吃飯時間才急急趕路回家。到了中學階段,『收身丶離家丶自覺丶遊天下』的意念開始萌芽,『天大地大,何處不為家』的世界覌漸漸形成,我這年青人的世界是在「外」而不是在「內」。我在香港丶九龍做了「寫字楼後生」和「汽水仔」的暑期工後,就更加是「有毛有翼」,週末深夜不歸巢,加添了父母不少煩憂。


在加拿大下机時,我只擁有三件被携在兩手中和肩膊上的行李,放它們在那裡那裡就是我的「家」。為了讀書丶賺學費丶謀生計,我的足跡走遍了加拿大西部Alberta 和BC 省 ,容身之所包括: Edmonton; Prince Rupert; CN railway sidings along the Skeena River; sidings near Wainwright; Grande Prairies; Hinton等。我讀大學四年搬了十次長租和短住的「家」,旅程共約5700公里!!

大學畢業後,「留學生」變了「移民仔」, 要在五湖四海白手興家,当時我個人總值是負加幣200元,幸好我找到了一份鋅銅鑛產冶煉廠的工程司職位,於是坐巴士將所有「家爛竇」雜物由艾伯塔省愛民頓市搬遷1400公里到曼尼托巴省北部的Flin Flon弗林弗倫市。我做了數年鑛務之後跳槽,又再收拾所有身家財產,單人匹馬駕駛2900公里,繞道蘇必略湖南岸 south shore of Lake Superior,經美國搬到來加拿大首都渥太華。屈指一算,大學畢業之後共搬了五次「家」,路程共約4300公里!!

正如我說: “Root is where I come from; home is where I settle。”

私人方面我就是喜愛戶外活動,例如: 跑步丶滑雪丶遠足丶旅行等。工作方面当然是field operations本地出差和 international affairs 國際事務 的檔案最合我心意。


Photo Credit:
* Top: I took this (edited) photo on July 16, 2011 17h54 at Big Rideau Lake near Perth, Ontario
* Bottom: Iwanami 飛鉈

Related link:
* 周游

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Cottage - Open Water Swim

My friend KF took this pic on July 9, 2011 at CC's Sharbot Lake cottage. I just finished my swim out to a little island and back. The weather was excellent that day. The sun was shinning and the lake calm, a perfect day for spending time at a cottage.

ps: I am writing this blog article at A's cottage at Big Rideau Lake !! Three cheers for a warm Canadian summer. BTW, this is the first time I deliberately post a pic of myself on the blog lol !!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ottawa's Queensway Highway 417

I took these pics of the Queensway looking east (top) and west (bottom) from an over-pass in the west end of Ottawa.

I was enjoying the evening clouds and wondered how many ppl would actually stop and look at a sunset these days.

Cars and trucks were zooming by under my feet at over 100 km per hour.

Why is life always such a big rush ??!!

Photo credit:
* Haricot's Blackberry camera July 12, 2011 20h50

Sent from BlackBerry

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

March in July

I posted the following comments at Beer Flower's blog re whether to participate in street protests or not. Obviously, these are my opinions and each individual must weigh the potential cost/benefits/risks and make his/her own final decision.

Haricot said .....

We all have our own circumstances to consider and must weigh the impacts AND responsibilities to (approx in that order):

- ourselves
- loved ones (next of kin)
- extended family (relatives)
- friends
- other citizens

For example: The #1 responsibilities of a single mother with a baby is to herself and the baby, not to her friends and other citizens and must decide accordingly.

Of course, there are martyrs but I think they are the exceptions rather than the rules.

Do we make our decisions with our hearts or heads, or both? That's the question.

(July 11, 2011)

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Ranting about Cottaging (in the Canadian wilderness)

Definition of Cottaging: A seasonal activity involving a prolonged stay at one or more cottages; similar to visiting, but typically for a longer duration and at a seasonal home that one owns or rents. (source: )

Just like canoeing and portaging, there is something very Canadian when we add 'ing' to 'cottage' and make it into a verb (if you think this article is abt sex, you might as well stop right here!!). The word conjures up the images of being in a state of total relaxation away from the buzzing city, trolling for trout in a mirror-calm lake, listening to loons calling each other across the shimmering water under the setting sun, sitting next to a roaring fire BBQ-ing and chatting away, and skinny-dipping in the middle of a starry night.

Some city slicks might point out the unpleasant aspect of living in harmony with nature, such as poison ivy, deer flies and mosquitoes. But as one savvy fisherman pointed out, God creates all these 'barriers' to protect the fish and wildlife so human won't march en mass into the wilderness and fish/hunt them to extinction.

Unfortunately, there are decision-makers in this country and around the world who would rather build concrete jungles than conserve swamp lands. They often equate economic success with sky-high office towers, mega shopping centres, multi-lane highways and other aspects of modern living and consumerism. "We are now number two in global oil-consumption!" boasted one reporter from a country that is striving for world-wide economic supremacy. I shudder at the thought, not because I am against development per se. What worries me is the apparent lack of concern for sustainability. After all, fossil-fuel is a non-renewable resource that has led to numerous military and geo-political conflicts. So is it really good news for a country to become addicted to oil?

Now before someone makes the snarky remark: "You can bring the man out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the man!", I would like to fully disclose that I did work for the Canadian forest industry one summer and for a Forest Sector Advisory Cmttee Secretariat at one point during my career. I enjoy city living and all the amenities it offers, but at the same time, I see the importance of embracing a harmonious relationship with and a healthy respect for Mother Nature.

Which brings me back to cottaging. Canadians are not boring hillbillies who like poison ivy, horse flies and mosquitoes. We just want to remind ourselves from time to time, of our pioneer root as hewers-of-wood and drawers-of-water; and of our traditional affinity to rock, log and cod.

Here have another Molson before we hit the traffic jam back to the city. But that means no drinking and driving for you, eh?!!

Photo Credit:
I took this photo at a friend's cottage on July 9, 2011

Reference: Joe Canadian Rant by Molson

Joe Canadian Rant

Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader....
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled....
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it 'about', not 'a boot'.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced 'zed' not 'zee', 'zed' !!!!

Canada is the second largest landmass!
The first nation of hockey!
and the best part of North America

My name is Joe!!
And I am Canadian!!!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Canada ended combat operations in Afghanistan

I am posting this Ottawa Citizen article that marks the end of Canada's combat operations in Afghanistan. Many men and women went over there to serve; 157 did not return. The future of Afghanistan? To be continued.

Related lotusandcedar blog articles:

* 靈魂之窗: 加拿大士兵与阿富汗女孩 / Windows to the Souls: Karine Blais & Sharbat Gula


After 9 years, Canada ends combat operations in Afghanistan

By Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canada's first war in more than half a century ended at 11:18 a.m. local time Thursday (Haricot: 02:48 a.m. in Ottawa Thursday), about 300 metres away from where the first Canadian combat troops set foot in Kandahar on Jan. 19, 2002.

The seventh and last Canadian to command Task Force Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, signed over responsibility for Canada's battle space to Col. Todd Wood of the 1st Stryker Combat Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, as NATO's senior officer in the south, U.S. Army Maj.-Gen. James Terry, presided.

Milner repeatedly returned to the close friendships he had forged with Afghan security forces during a sometimes emotional address at the "transfer of authority" parade. In particular, he singled out his Afghan partner, Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Habibi for "leading from the front."

Returning the compliment, Habibi praised "the kind heart of General Sahib Milner." He recalled that Milner told him last summer that whatever Afghans most urgently needed would be directly funded by the Canadian military.

"We spent the money wisely," Habibi said. "Schools and roads were our priority."

To much laughter, the Afghan commander added: "Everywhere Sahib Milner went he would shout to kids, 'Nack tab talarsha!' ('Go to school!')"

Milner began his speech by tracing Canada's involvement since Task Force Kandahar was stood up in 2006.

"Just one brigade in strength, successive Canadian task forces demonstrated remarkable flexibility and fortitude," he said. "They operated over large stretches of this province in order to fight the enemy wherever he presented himself."

Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard, who as the head of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command is responsible for all troops that Ottawa sends overseas, said that "remarkable progress had been achieved in enhancing security and governance." The outgoing commander of CEFCOM would "never have thought this achievable" when he served as commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in the south three years ago.

With Task Force Kandahar trying to cover an area the size of New Brunswick with fewer than 2,000 combat troops, the Taliban enjoyed great freedom of movement for several years which they used to plant thousands of homemade bombs.

A consequence was that ramp ceremonies for fallen Canadians were held here about once every 10 days until coalition and Afghan forces began to dominate the battlefield last year.

Lessard concluded by stating "we held the line from 2005 to 2009" before a surge in U.S. troops changed the dynamic in the coalition's favour.

With as many as 15 times more troops now on duty in Panjwaii than three years ago, the coalition succeeded in pushing the enemy off the battlefield. This allowed Canadian, American and Afghan forces to move in among the local population to ensure their security and to assist them with economic development.

Col. Peter Dawe was the only soldier in attendance Thursday who was in Kandahar when the first members of Lt.-Col. Pat Stogran's Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry arrived 3,468 days ago. That six-month tour was spent hunting for the Taliban and al-Qaida in the mountains near the Pakistan border.

"It was pretty apocalyptic coming up here in a Hercules (aircraft) at night," said Dawe, who now heads Canada's new training mission in Kabul. "The passenger terminal had been shot up and shattered glass was everywhere. It was pretty austere.

"For our country this has meant a great deal. We answered the call when your friends needed us. We did not shy away from the challenge even after the traumatic loss of troops and civilians."

During Canada's long involvement in Afghanistan, four Canadian civilians and 157 soldiers died, including Dawe's younger brother, Matthew. Hundreds more were seriously injured.

Well ahead of a deadline to have all combat troops out of Kandahar by the end of July, about 95 per cent of these forces are already now either at Kandahar Airfield, in Cyprus for four days of compulsory decompression or back home. Canada's last few tanks and armoured reconnaissance vehicles returned two days ago to the airfield, which is the main logistical hub for the war in the south.

That still leaves a few dozen infantrymen from the Quebec-based 1 Royal 22e Regiment in the field for a few more days. These Van Doo are advising the incoming 'Arctic Wolves' from Fort Wainwright, Alaska. A small number of other troops also remain at a base in Kandahar City for a few more days.

A who's who of Kandahar's political and security elite, as well as the top ISAF brass in southern Afghanistan, attended the 70-minute handover ceremony at New Canada House. The exception was Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, an Afghan-Canadian academic, whose unexplained absence prompted the hasty removal of references to him from speeches.

Where Canada had fought in Kandahar "was the decisive terrain," said Terry, the current ISAF commander in the south. The American two-star said that, during his first tour here in 2006, the enemy had tested the Canadians by making Panjwaii District its main focus, but failed when the Canadians "cleared out the insurgents."

Describing the Canadian army as "a superior fighting force," Terry said, "you've got to give them credit for creating the conditions for the U.S. surge."

"Maybe this has been a question of refinding ourselves," said Dawe, who was here in 2002 and is back again today. "We have a proud military history but it has been some time since we have had to pay the price.

"As a Canadian I am extremely proud of what we've done. We are not the biggest kid on the block but we stood up for what is right. We have a military today that is as vibrant as it ever has been in recent history."

Matthew Fisher of Postmedia News is the only Canadian journalist based in Kandahar. He'll be leaving Afghanistan this week after spending more than 900 days there since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, mostly spent with Canadian troops.

Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen 20110707

* Canadian Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, seated left, transfers his command to U.S. Army Col. Todd Wood, seated right, ending Canada's combat mission. Between them sits U.S. Maj.-Gen. James Terry, who commands all NATO forces in southeastern Afghanistan. (Photograph by: Sgt. Matt McGregor for Postmedia News)

* A Canadian light armored vehicle drives next to a soldier from Bulldog Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Royal Regiment, walks during a patrol in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province southern Afghanistan June 25, 2011. Canada will end its combat role in Afghanistan by the end of July, after nearly ten years fighting in Afghanistan.

: The Ottawa Citizen 20110707

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

<唉依家啲後生女> / Climbing the Corporate Ladder

I just finished reading a Chinese book entitled “猫猫的白領生活”that tells the story of a fictitous female character Meow Meow who was able to use her charm and ruthless tactics to climb the corporate ladder in China. Throughout the story, Meow Meow was portrayed as a modern-day Chinese university graduate who was not just smart, but also strategic. Nothing could stand in the way of her desire to succeed and to become a manager, not her room mate, not her male co-workers, and not even the senior excutive mentor with whom she had established an intimate relationship. People are sources of intelligence and tools to help her advance in the corporate world. In the end, she succeeded in getting her promotion, from a fresh-0ut-of-school trainee to a manager position, in record time.

What really chills me is the authour's apparent endorsement of what I would consider as ruthless tactics and manipulative behaviours e.g. extracting job info from friends and then misleading them; using female charm to defeat competitors or to conquer male team leaders, esp if the latter could provide her with career advancement advice and help. It is as if getting promoted is the end that justifies all means. Who gives two hoots abt values and ethics. And it goes without saying too that promotion here means higher salary, company benefit and perks, but not necessarily more responsibilities.

As a professional, it really bothers me when someone advocates that strategy rather than principle should be the primary driver for success. It is a slippery slope that will lead to short-term gain but long-term pain for a corporation, and deceit and corruptions for the trade and investment world.


Attached is a Hong Kong rap entitled <唉依家啲後生女> that pokes fun at stereotyped 港女. But frankly, some <後生仔>are just as bad.


lyrics & rap by:
鯉魚 aka Ms YoFish

好多人 好多時都戴住幾副面具 去面對
唔同人 唔同事 隱藏係人群堆裡
表面笑臉迎人 背後依舊同你對壘
耗盡心機沉醉 係呢個辦公室戰場裡

* 面具既掩蓋 無奈令我悲哀
爭寵既比賽 咁要維持幾耐?
為上位而殘害 你身邊果位摯愛
我問你係咪應該 離開個戰場建立未來

女人既天性 係爭妍鬥麗
精通十八般武藝 更精於攻心計
憑知識 去發圍 憑姿色 去上位
以女王姿態稱帝 砌低老細身邊既卒仔

係 每日都準備全副妝甲上陣
係 隨時以最佳狀態博殺敵人
為 捍衛自己既OL教主身份
為 攀附權貴不惜將色相犧牲

白領麗人 不斷修練道行 偽過藝人
分分鐘為領功 博上鏡製造 緋聞
憎人 富貴但又厭人貧
強調退隱森林 轉過頭繼續逗留商場打滾

**面具既掩蓋 無奈令我悲哀
爭寵既比賽 咁要維持幾耐?
為上位而殘害 你身邊果位摯愛
我問你係咪應該 離開個戰場建立未來

冬天番工 個個鬥低胸 唔著羽絨 我睇到都覺凍
單靠眼睫毛簷蓬 未必可以抵禦寒風 捱到放工
當眾 你鬥妝容 莊重 你又欠奉
淨係煽動 是非專發起人事暴動
個腦 你無用 辭工 你無種
遲早 嫁個好老公 我諗你咪早發夢
未咁早轉季 晨咁早去排頭位
為既只係 限量版新款LV手袋仔
拎番公司示威 拎埋下期糧照洗
所謂 既尊嚴捍衛 始終都係靠港幣
講 是非一班庸脂俗粉圍埋講男人
嚇親 我話 你唔係已經結左婚?

Monday, July 04, 2011

2011年7月1日加拿大國慶日:【煙花】 / July 1, 2011 Canada Day: 【Fireworks】

今年的加拿大國慶日,我沒有安排什麽大節目,只簡單的與母親及 K 往渥太華市中心的國会山莊和露天市場逛逛。今時不同往日了,老媽子自從12月摔斷了腿子骨後,行動不便,氣力也比舊年差勁了很多,她一跛一跛的用拐杖在前面敲地走,我一步一步地望天打卦在她後面跟,母子倆,一勞力,一勞心,在街道人叢中艱步而行。

K 看在眼,知道我們都是牛脾氣硬頸之人,她倒不想和我們這些苦行僧侶磨練整個下午,所以未到半途,她就嚷肚子餓,要在 Clarence Street Memories Restaurant 回憶餐室休息,我也樂得同意討好,於是三人一坐就在那裏逗留了一小時多,又叫冷飲止渴,又要三文治祭五臟廟,財散人安樂。

母親年紀老邁,吃飽了肚子就有點倦意,於是我和 K 送了她回家,之後



Photo Credit:
* I took all the photos except the fireworks one which is from Wikipedia (

Sunday, July 03, 2011

生命樹 / The Tree of Life

今晚與 K往 Towne Cinema 看這套故事層次頗為複雜的電影,導演把地點丶時間丶人物交叉剪貼,令我看罷也有點摸不著頭腦,所以回家後,我要查看維基百科,和搜索其它網上影評的解釋,才對故事有一個更深切的明白。如果您是年輕一代的覌众,或对養兒育女沒有實際經驗者,可能都会對這長138分鐘的影片覺得納悶。不過,無可否認,在視覺藝術來說,【生命樹】中的拍攝鏡頭丶色彩丶角度確是一流。

".... 故事開始於一個五十年代的美國中西部家庭,十一歲的積克與父母及兩兄弟同住,他似乎擁有一切美好的東西。他的母親無時無刻展露著愛與仁慈,使積克學會用心靈看到生命中璀璨光明的一面;但父親(畢彼特 飾)則告訴他現實是個適者生存的殘酷世界。雙親對兒子的教導及期望存有極大分歧,積克夾在他們之間成為磨心。其後,積克目睹病痛、苦難及死亡,令他眼中原本光明的世界變成混沌的迷宮。受到父親的影響,長大後的積克(辛潘 飾)在現代社會中迷失了自我,他不斷尋覓出路與答案。...."

Source: 觀看這個精彩的 MSN 影片: 《生命樹》(The Tree of Life) 電影製作特輯(1) - The Story
".... The Tree of Life is a 2011 American drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick, and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. Malick's film chronicles the origins and meaning of life through the eyes of a 1950s Texas family, while also featuring themes and imagery through space and the birth of life on Earth. After decades in development and missed 2009 and 2010 release dates, the film premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or. Many reviews praised the film for its technical and artistic merits, but there were also negative reactions in response to Malick's directorial style and, in particular, with the film's fragmented and non-linear narrative.


The film opens with a quotation from the Book of Job, when God asks, "Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation...while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" A mysterious, wavering light that resembles a flame emerges. The image is Thomas Wilfred's "Opus 161" from the collection of Eugene and Carol Epstein of Los Angeles, CA.[2] The film cuts to Mrs. O'Brien (Jessica Chastain) as she receives a telegram informing her of her son's death at age 19. Mr. O'Brien (Brad Pitt) is notified by telephone. The family is thrown into a world of grief as they try to cope in their tidy suburban home.

Jack O'Brien (Sean Penn) is adrift in his modern life as an architect. On the phone with his father, he confesses that he thinks about his dead brother every day. When he sees a tree being planted in front of a building, he begins the central reminiscence of the film.

The film cuts to a dramatization of the formation of the universe. As the galaxies expand and planets are formed, Jack's voice is heard asking various existential questions. At other points in the film, these questions and observations are voiced by other members of his family, as well as his younger self. On the newly formed Earth, volcanoes erupt and microbes begin to form. Eventually, the camera settles on a beach, where it reveals an Elasmosaurus lying with a fatal gash on its side. In a forest, a young Parasaurolophus is wary of predators. Later on a riverbank, the Parasaurolophus lies wounded. A Troodon emerges and examines the wounded dinosaur. The Troodon places its foot on the Parasaurolophus neck, preparing for the kill, but then reconsiders as he watches it struggle against him. The predator wanders off.

In a sprawling neighborhood in Waco, Texas, the O'Briens are reintroduced, living in a different, much older home. The young couple are enthralled by baby Jack, and his two brothers quickly follow, as their family grows. The film settles on the family as Jack (Hunter McCracken) reaches adolescence. Mr. O'Brien struggles to balance his sense of paternal duty with the overwhelming love he has for his sons. He is stern and borderline abusive, while also deeply affectionate and nurturing. In contrast, Mrs. O'Brien is childlike and empathetic, having a more permissive attitude towards her sons.

Mr. O'Brien covets wealth and regrets failing to become a great musician. He files patents for various inventions, but doesn't get any lasting endeavor off the ground. At one point, he takes a trip around the world trying to sell his inventions. While he is away, the boys enjoy unfettered access to their mother, and Jack experiences the first twinges of rebelliousness. Goaded by other boys his age, Jack commits acts of vandalism and animal abuse. He later trespasses into a neighbor's house, and looks at her underwear. Jack is confused by his experiments with violence.

Mr. O'Brien's plant closes, and he is forced to relocate the family. He reconciles with Jack, asking forgiveness for his harsh treatment of him.

The film returns to the adult Jack, who is walking on rocky terrain. He tentatively walks through a wooden door frame which is erected on the rocks. On a sandbar, Jack is reunited with his family and all the people who populate his memory. His father is happy to see him. His mother is overjoyed when Jack's memory resurrects his dead brother. She thanks Jack, kissing his arm twice. The film ends with the same mysterious, wavering light from the opening. ..."

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Going to the Library (IMG00282)

I took this photo of the Carlingwood Branch of the Ottawa Public Library on July 2, 2011 just b4 the 5 pm closing time.

When the sun is burning every inch of my exposed skin outside, I find it relaxing just sitting inside a quiet air-conditioned library, flipping the pages and enjoying some light reading, all free of charge.

I did that when I was living in Hong Kong. My most favourite "cold" rooms included:
* the library of the US Embassy (it had the coldest air-conditioning system)
* City Hall library's reading room (where I met other student friends)
* the Catholic Centre in a downtown office building facing the harbour (I think it was near the Mercury House, not sure tho)
* Caritus Centre library (near Cain Road, mid-level up the hill, I recall)

I wonder how many ppl still go to the libraries these days.

Sent from BlackBerry

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