New Recruits

The Department of National Defence is looking to hire, but don’t pack your bags just yet. They’re not interested in you.

The military has a specific type of trooper in mind…

Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, a training centre for the air force in North-Eastern Alberta, has hired a new battalion—of goats.

The four-legged recruits chomp on weeds and keep the airfields clear. More efficient and more effective than humans at working steep and swampy terrain, the animals seek and destroy…and eat.

The herd of 250 animals spend their days chewing and their nights in a paddock. “The name of the game at an airfield like Cold Lake,” says Captain Mathew Strong, “is to keep the vegetation low and prevent other animals from taking up residence.”

No weed-whackers, no uniforms required.

Aimer at Amazon

Going It Alone

I own a sweatshirt that says…

While it’s true that life is full of rough spots you have to traverse with care, the closest I’ve come to portaging is wheeling my luggage through an airport. Actually hiking through forests hoisting a canoe over my head? That would be a NO.

Zev Heuer has no problem with portages. The fifteen-year-old took his canoe, and his dog, and paddled his way across Alberta and Saskatchewan to his summer job at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters.

Karsten Heuer

It took him two months. Two months of paddling during the day, finding shelter, and setting up camp at night—by himself.

Two months.

According to Zev, “One of the things that’s pretty amazing about Canada is how everything’s connected by water.”

Karsten Heuer

And when it’s not, there is always portage…

Karsten Heuer

Zev is way more Canadian than I will ever be. Our Coureur de Bois ancestors would be proud.

Aimer at Amazon

Human Rights

A simple phrase, the meaning fairly jumps out at you. No explanation necessary—or not.

In recent weeks, former employees have gone public with allegations of racism and homophobia levelled against the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The museum’s mandate claims it is “centred around the idea that respect and understanding of human rights can serve as a positive force for change in the world.”

Understanding implies knowledge, and for two years from 2015 to 2017, the museum adopted a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when conducting certain tours. At the behest of some schools, the museum staff was told to excise specific exhibits from their guided tours.

I’d give you two guesses as to what those exhibits were, but you only need one—LGBTQ content.

Staff members were asked to steer the students away from any displays that mentioned diverse sexual orientation or gender identity. They were told to stand in front of a same-sex marriage exhibit blocking it from the students’ view.

That this conspiracy of silence was even considered, much less condoned for over two years at a museum purporting to encourage dialogue about human rights—all human rights—is disheartening. One more example of how far we still have to go as human beings.

Note: The CEO has resigned and the museum has issued an apology. They no longer adapt any of their education programs at the request of schools.

Aimer at Amazon

Family Pride

Too freaking hot. Too many people. Glen much preferred to watch Pride from the comfort of his living room. He was too old for—Hello, someone’s been working out. Glen eyed the young man shouting into a microphone atop the float rolling down Yonge Street. Nice. When was the last time your abs looked like that, huh? Never.

He wouldn’t be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with half of Toronto if it wasn’t for his nephew. No, not fair, this wasn’t Tony’s idea. This was his sister’s fault. Blasted Type A personality. When Tony came out a few months back, Karen couldn’t leave it at we-love-you, use-a-condom. Nope, she had to join PFLAG, and volunteer with EGALE, and drag the whole family down to Pride. Overkill.

Not that he didn’t support his nephew, he did, but Tony didn’t need his family here. Somewhere between the parking lot and Yonge Street, he’d disappeared into a gang of his friends and more power to him. Glen wouldn’t mind ducking into the nearest pub for something cold himself. Beer on his mind, he tried to wedge himself out of the crowd and stepped back—onto someone else. “Sorry.”

“No problem.” The guy moved back, clearing a few inches for Glen. “Bit tight in here.”

“Yeah.” Glen shifted to the side, but the crowd surged forward and he found himself chest to chest with the stranger he’d stepped on. Green eyes bracketed by age lines, sunglasses set atop waves of grey hair. Lucky bastard. Glen was not okay with his own shrinking hairline.

“Had enough?” The grey head nodded at the crowd.

“Too old for this.” Glenn winnowed his way through the glut of bodies, aware of the stranger at his back.

“Me too,” Grey Mop said, as they reached the relative quiet of a store front. “Only came to support my son.”

“Nephew. Married?”

“Divorced.”

“Beer?”

“Hell, yes.”

Too old for Pride? Maybe not.

No Man is an Island…

Maybe not, but then, John Donne never lived through Covid-19. In 2020, we’re all bobbing corks in a sea of germs, desperately trying to steer clear of each other.

As the world pries open the prison doors, nothing looks the same as it did before…

Like this young woman at La Grande Motte in France, you may have to reserve your spot on the sand this summer.

Dining out? How do you feel about a romantic dinner for one?

At Bord För En, you have a Swedish meadow to yourself. The food comes to you on a pulley, no humans anywhere in sight. Rasmus Persson and Linda Karlsson’s restaurant, 350 kilometres from Stockholm, is a Coronavirus-free zone.

Sweden a little far for dinner? What about Virginia? Patrick O’Connell, chef and owner of The Inn at Little Washington has come up with an imaginative solution to the empty table syndrome social distancing rules demand—mannequins.

Okay, your fellow dinners are made out of fiberglass and plastic, but they’re quiet, and they’re not contagious 🙂

Aimer at Amazon

Pride Pen Pals

Gay Pride in Canada Concept Image

June is right around the corner and with Covid-19 still a menacing presence, Pride will look very different this year. Goodbye to a million people crowding the sidewalks of Toronto and hello to celebrating in place, just you, your tablet, and Zoom.

Digital doesn’t sound appealing?

Looking for a more personal touch?

Buddies in Bad Times, Toronto’s queer theatre, suggests going old school this year.

Remember letters, envelopes, stamps? Actual writing, you know, with a pen? Buddies has set up a program, Pride Pen Pals, where queer folks can connect with each other through snail mail, share their experiences around Pride.

I think Buddies has something here, not that I don’t appreciate the digital world, but there is something about opening an envelope, pulling out sheets of paper that are handwritten…

Now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I received a real letter, opened an envelope that didn’t hide a bill.

Can you?

Aimer at Amazon

Covid Creative

Still stuck in the house? Sitting in the backyard with a pint just not as much fun as it used to be, when friends and neighbours could drop by? Not into bird watching?

No problem.

Make friends with the critters who scamper up and down the trees. Let them entertain you…

Daryl Granger

With some extra time on their hands, thanks to Covid-19, photographers Daryl Granger and his wife, Karen have found a new hobby. They stage photo shoots for the squirrels in their backyard. Coffee in hand, they sit back and watch the show.

Daryl Grange

And sometimes, they get in a little bird watching.

Daryl Granger

Aimer at Amazon

Grammarly and Me

I used to be friends with Word’s Editor, but lately I’ve been visiting with Grammarly. She’s intelligent and polite, but a bit of dictator.

While I appreciate her gentle reminders on spelling and punctuation, I can’t help wondering if she’s trying to change me. She doesn’t seem to approve of my style.

Don’t say anything, but Grammarly can be opinionated. At first, I let her browbeat me into changing things around, but as we got to know each other better, I started to wonder…

Grammarly’s suggestions, although made with the best of intentions, are, dare I say it?

Boring.

Bland.

She’s not a party girl, if you know what I mean? No sparkle, no shine. It’s not that she’s wrong, but sometimes, she’s wrong for me.

Oh, we’re still friends. We’ve just agreed to disagree, and just between us… Sometimes, I ignore her.

Aimer at Amazon

Hollywood: A Fantasy

Ryan Murphy has put his own spin on Tinsel Town’s dream machine. In Netflix’s new series, Hollywood he gives us a show about what could have been if…

I was going to give this one a miss. I didn’t see the point of visiting a version of Old Hollywood. Not without the old time stars, but—

Jim Parsons? Now, you’ve got my attention.

Naked men? Where’s the remote?

This weekend you’ll find me on my couch, looking for the pool scene Jim was telling Ellen about…I mean watching Hollywood to see what could have been 🙂

Aimer at Amazon

Helping Hands: Robot Style

Humans are busy. They get distracted, they get tired, and as we’re all well aware these days, they get sick.

Robots don’t.

Hospitals are waking up to the fact that robotic immunity to this delightful little virus can save wear and tear on humans. In Tokyo, Covid patients whose symptoms are too mild for hospitalization are greeted in hotels by Pepper, a mask-wearing, big-eyed robot. “Let’s get through this together.”

Reuters

Pepper does his best to lighten the load on medical staff, and at the Circolo hospital in Varese, Italy, so does Tommy.

Flavio Lo Scalzo/ Reuters

Tommy, on guard by an ICU patient’s bedside, can monitor blood pressure and oxygen saturation. He and his fellow robot nurses, reduce the health risk to human doctors and nurses, by reducing the amount of direct contact with Covid-19 patients.

Also, Tommy and his high-tech companions, don’t need to sleep. A change of battery and they’re good to go.

Helping Hands 🙂

Aimer at Amazon