Saturday, December 02, 2006

If only ....

Yes, I like Tony Bennett.

Was listening tonight to THE ULTIMATE TONY. The lovely words to If I Ruled The World*, seem to have come from another century. Well, they ARE from another century. But then, they could just as easily apply to this century, this year.

*written in 1963 (thanks for finding the date, Gloria!)

Tony Bennett


Words by Leslie Bricusse/Music by Cyril Ornadel, 1963

If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring
Every heart would have a new song to sing
And we'd sing of the joy every morning would bring

If I ruled the world, every man would be as free as a bird,
Every voice would be a voice to be heard
Take my word we would treasure each day that occurred

My world would be a beautiful place
Where we would weave such wonderful dreams
My world would wear a smile on its face
Like the man in the moon has when the moon beams

If I ruled the world every man would say the world was his friend
There'd be happiness that no man could end
No my friend, not if I ruled the world
Every head would be held up high
There'd be sunshine in everyone's sky
If the day ever dawned when I ruled the world


One can always dream.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The more life changes ...

The more it stays the same.

Two recent articles on the CBC News website caught my attention, simply for the absurdity of placement.

More working poor using food banks: study
November 28, 2006 | 12:05 PM ET
CBC News

BMO sets profit record despite fourth-quarter weakness
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | 12:01 PM ET
CBC News

I've posted the articles below, with pictures I've found. Exaggerations, maybe. Maybe not.

The Potato Eaters, 1885
by Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

More working poor using food banks: study
November 28, 2006 | 12:05 PM ET
CBC News

More people with jobs are relying on food banks despite an 8.5 per cent drop in overall use, says the Canadian Association of Food Banks.

According to the group's HungerCount 2006 report released on Tuesday, the percentage of food bank clients who are working is 13.4 per cent, up from 13.1 per cent last year.

The survey says the "working poor" continue to comprise the second largest group of food bank clients after social assistance recipients, who account for 53.5 per cent of clients across the country.

"People like you and I, people working, can't manage to feed their families," said CAFB executive director Charles Seiden.

"Low wages may be only one of several factors contributing to the working poor phenomenon in Canada. But the fact that real wages in the country have not improved over the last several years tells us that our leaders have neglected the country's labour rights and standards."

The study also showed children account for 41 per cent of the estimated 753,458 food bank clients, although they make up only about a quarter of the country's population.
Continue Article

Seiden said food bank use has risen 99 per cent since 1989, when the first food bank study was conducted.

Government must step in: Seiden

He called on the government develop policies to strengthen income and employment security and help Canadian families with housing and day care.

The CAFB represents food banks and food distribution centres across the country, serving 90 per cent of the people who use emergency food programs in Canada.

Other findings include:

* Highest provincial per capital food bank use: Newfoundland (5.6 per cent).
* Province assisting the largest share of food bank recipients: Ontario (330,491).
* Percentage of food banks with difficulty meeting demand:34.per cent.
* Years since the federal government promised to eliminate child poverty: 17.

~In Canada, a land of plenty, people can't feed, house or clothe their families. We have a large homeless population, not just junkies and binners who like the life, but poor people who cant' find that elusive thing called a home. Rather shameful. I blame Wal-Mart.


The following painting depicts US senators deciding where all the money will be spent. I think it perfectly represents our banking hierarchy deciding how to milk more dollars from the customers. A pretty painting, but not a pretty picture.

Spending Uncle Sam's Money ca. 1899
by T. Dart Walker (1869 - 1914)

BMO sets profit record despite fourth-quarter weakness
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | 12:01 PM ET
CBC News

BMO Financial Group set several new records in 2006, as profits rose by 11 per cent to $2.66 billion or $5.15 a share, despite a weaker business environment in the fourth quarter.

The bank raised its quarterly dividend by three cents, or 33 per cent over the year, to 65 cents a share, giving a triumphal farewell for Tony Comper, who will retire in March after eight years as chief executive officer.

BMO three-month tradingBMO three-month trading

He will be replaced by Bill Downe, currently chief operating officer.

BMO, which trades as the Bank of Montreal, was the first of Canada's big-six chartered banks to reports its results for the 2006 fiscal year.

The 2006 fiscal year ended on Oct. 31.

Comper seemed pleased with the results, BMO's fourth consecutive year of record results.
Continue Article

"It was a good year overall," he announced Tuesday morning, noting that all three operating groups delivered a record net income for the second year in a row, while the bank met or exceeded four of its five performance targets for the year.

The bank missed one of its key targets, improvements in cash productivity, because of its continued investment in retail businesses and a change in the business mix.

The bank set the records despite a difficult operating environment. But Comper said "favourable income taxes" and low credit losses in the fourth quarter helped the bank maintain a strong financial performance.

For the fourth quarter, the bank reported net income of $696 million, up $32 million or 4.8 per cent, with a return on equity of 19.4 per cent, down from 20.0 per cent. Revenue declined by 5.9 per cent, and expenses by 0.9 per cent.

The bank was hit hard in the U.S. market in the fourth quarter, where the income of the Personal and Commercial Banking division fell by $11 million to $23 million due to a weaker U.S. dollar, the cost of integrating acquisitions and expensive technology improvements in its branches.

Income of the bank's Private Client Group rose by 12 per cent to $12 million, excluding gains on asset sales in 2005, due to higher mutual fund fees and interest revenues.

The bank expects moderate growth in the Canadian economy in 2007. The Canadian housing market is expected to slow as past increases in interest rates dampen sales and construction. But business investment is expected to remain strong, due to continued healthy gains in corporate profits.

The U.S. economy is also expected to grow moderately in 2007, boosted by a drop in energy prices. Mortgage rates will keep a damper on the housing market, but business loans are expected to grow.

Shareholders seemed unimpressed with the results. Company shares fell by $1.22 to $70.29 on the Toronto Stock Exchange by late morning.
Internal Links

BMO Q3 earnings up 30 per cent


I don't understand why shareholders seemed unimpressed. Can they be so blasé that million dollar record profits no longer excite them? Oh, I get it -- share prices fell.

Lest anyone think otherwise, I do believe in free enterprise. I also believe in compassion. Maybe you can't have both.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another Quiz

You know I can't resist these quizzes:

What's Your Literary Personality

Here's my results:

You scored as A classic novel. Almost everyone showers praise upon you for your depth and enduring relevance. According to your acolytes, everything you say is timeless, erudite and meaningful. Of course, none of them actually listen to you. Nobody listens to you at all, but it's fashionable to claim you as a friend. Fond of obscure words, antiquated notions and libraries, you never have a problem finding someone to hang out with. The fact that they end up using you to balance their kitchen tables is an unfortunate side effect, but you're used to being used for others' benefit. Oh the burden of being Great.

A classic novel


A paperback romance novel


A college textbook


An electronics user's manual


The back of a froot loops box




A coloring book


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interesting way to kill time

During my cyberwanderings I came across an intriguing quiz:
Worldview Quiz

Here is a projected Worldview of Well-known Figures:

. . . the variety of actual worldviews cannot be expressed
on a 2-dimensional
scale, so the quiz is meant as a
thought-provoking and fun exercise.

Here is what the results are meant to convey:

Science vs. non-science: The position on the vertical
axis represents consistency with science,
as opposed to non-science (superstition/supernatural).
The range of values along this axis is from 10 (most scientific)
to -10 (most superstitious).

Value of humankind: The position on the horizontal axis
indicates the value placed on humankind and its descendants.
A high rating means the worldview places a high value on
evolution and progress for humankind and its descendants,
in the natural world. Positive ratings are plotted on the
right, with a maximum value of 10. Ratings near the middle
of the horizontal axis correspond to a desire to keep human
civilization as it is. Ratings on the left are negative and
correspond to the extermination of the human lineage in the
natural world, usually in a divine Armageddon that is seen
as just and necessary, followed by an after-life.

My results: (I was unable to copy my grid.)

Your rating on science vs. non-science: 0

Your rating on progress for humankind: 7

Your position on the worldview spectrum: (7,0)

According to projected views above, my worldview is identical to that
of Bill Clinton.

Not bad company.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

In Memoriam - K F Hartwell

Kevan F. Hartwell Dec. 21, 1920 - Oct. 3, 2001

I immediately thought of my father when I came across this quote by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). These words so aptly describe the way Kevan Hartwell lived, how he eagerly met life head on:

"I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations."

In Memoriam

Five years, Dad, since you’ve been gone.
And here’s a new October dawn.

Five years passed like one moment in time, the blink of an eye,
a solemn whisper, a small sad sigh.

We miss your music, miss your voice, your wisdom and your cheer.
The world has changed since you’ve been gone, for you’re no longer here.

The space is dark and empty you once so brightly filled,
but we are not forsaken; you're here beside us still.

Your words still clearly echo, your hands, with love, still guide
As we reflect upon the past with tears, with smiles, with pride.

Five years now since you’ve been gone,
And we, the living, must live on.

To you, to the "splendid torch" that you passed.


Tribute-- Kevan F Hartwell

My father died five years ago, October 3, 2001.

I used to think he would live forever--he had such a strong life force. He died two and a half months shy of his 81st birthday.

He was a giant. Not in the physical sense, but in his character, his qualities.

He loved music. I recall listening to his collection of wonderful 33 rpm records. Before cassettes existed, he had a reel-to-reel tape player. This is where I first heard and sang along with movie soundtracks.

And he was musically gifted. There seemed no instrument he could not play. I remember as a child hearing him with his beloved clarinet. Day in, day out, he played that clarinet, determined to master it, as he did with everything he undertook. And--oh!--how I recall the trumpet.

Banjo, ukulele, guitar...he played them all and played them well. When I married and moved away I no longer heard his music. But the seeds he planted flourished: Though not a musician myself, I had learned to love music of all sorts, and for this I thank him.

Until no longer able to use his right hand, he enjoyed strumming his guitar, sometimes accompanying himself on the harmonica. He would sing words, or just "la-la-la." His way, I'm sure, to relax after a stressful day at work.

He planned early on to be successful. And he was, extremely so. He had a passion for flying, soaring high above the earth in his glider. He traveled, it seemed, everywhere. He liked to drive. Fast. One time my husband and I, driving home from Bellingham, saw him in his Porsche eating up the pavement on the I5. We tried, in vain, to catch him. He was uncatchable. Unstoppable.

My father was a visionary, an idea man, a thinker, a reader, a planner, a doer, with the soul of a true poet.

He was fond of maxims, two of which come to mind:

Attitude is everything.

Winners never quit, and quitters never win.

Words to live by. Words he lived by.

I see my father through filters: those of carefree childhood memories, those of adult, often distant, perceptions, those of now, when he is gone and the full impact of his extraordinary life weighs heavily on me.

Often through the years he had mentioned I should write his biography. Because I thought he'd live forever, I was in no hurry. It was something I might one day get around to doing.

How I wish now that we had done it when he lived! I could have gotten to know him better and, just as importantly, he could have gotten to know me.

I may attempt to do it. Nothing is impossible. That's something he would say.

Buddha said of death:

Life is a journey.
Death is a return to earth.
The universe is like an inn.
The passing years are like dust.

Regard this phantom world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp - a phantom - and a dream.

Quite a dream!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

October 2. Yep--it's that day again. I think birthdays are highly overrated. Certainly, we should not have them so often!

According to Astrologer Georgia Nicols:

If Your Birthday Is Today

Social reformer Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) shares your birthday today. You're charming, witty and attractive. You display grace and gentleness: yet you're tough inside. You're also frank, candid and erudite. You have much endurance and perseverance. People respect you. In your early twenties, you become much more aggressive about going after what you want. Work hard this year for success in 2008.

Hey, though long past my early twenties, I can live with that!


Last night I dreamed about the Dalai Lama. He wore a red baseball cap, as he did during his recent trip to Vancouver. This small man has a huge presence; goodness seems to emanate from him like an aura. (see below for more on that) He smiled and spoke with everyone, joked and laughed. The dream was sweet and calming--I woke smiling.

Years ago, when I, and the world, were younger and less jaded, I read a book called The Third Eye, by Tibetan T. Lobsang Rampa. It's a detailed account of how young Rampa studied to become a monk in a Lhasa monastery. Under the tutelage of older, wiser monks, he learned the tenets of Buddhism.

(Shades of the Kung Fu television series! However, the book was published in 1956; the series wasn't made until 1972.)

The book simply fascinated me. From the gentle Buddhist beliefs, the teachers honing young Rampa's abilities, to the depictions of ever more-challenging tests he undertook--all was esoteric and new to one who had led a fairly sheltered childhood. Rampa's trials culminated in an operation that opened his third eye, that mystical "eye"whereby he could see people's auras and know if they were good, evil, honest, etc.

I learned much about Tibet, China, Buddhism--which charmed me because it was light years above and beyond organized religions as I knew them. Who could not be intrigued by the concept of Astral Projection, whereby one can be in a meditative or sleeping state and travel on the astral plane, meeting people who are similarly engaged? Who could argue the Buddhist's solemn belief in reincarnation, which they call transmigration of souls?

To someone as young and green as I was then (despite my innate certainty that I Knew Everything) this was all mystical, profound, verging on mind-blowing information. At the time people were expanding their minds many ways--yoga, meditation, hallucinogens. Some trekked to the Himalayas in search of that elusive goal--Enlightenment.

I believed the events of the book, even to the point where Rampa fulfilled his destiny: at the moment of his death during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (misnamed--yes?) he transmigrated his soul into the body of an Englishman, Cyril Henry Hoskins. I believed then that it, that anything, was possible. Ah, youth!

Years later I was disappointed to learn that Mr. Hoskins, an avid student of the occult, had never been to Tibet, was called a hoaxter, the story was pure fiction, and despite the accurate details in the book, no record existed of a Lobsang Rampa ever having studied to be a lama.

He did, however, insist it was all true. And who are we, or anyone, to say it can't be so? Cynic that I've become, I still have brief moments of faith.

So on this birthday I'll think outside the box, outside the norm. Expand my mind. Work my way back to that young person who truly believed.

As Buddha said:

Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.


Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

I still admire the Buddhist beliefs, their tenets, their noble truths and precepts. Championing peace and good, honoring all life, can never be incorrect.

And maybe, just maybe the Dalai Lama and I were astral traveling at the same time!