Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Just because we have a large surplus...

Doesn't mean we should just spend it.

Why do the Liberals ALWAYS want to spend money? In the last Provincial election, their election promises were all "spend spend spend" - and the totals of all said promises were, imho, unmanageable. Now Taft sees the billions of dollars in surplus projections and he has money signs in his eyes wider than a kid on his way to spend his entire allowance at the candy store. He's yelling that the governemnt doesn't yet have a spending plan for this new surplus amount and that apparently means they've "lost control of the budget process" (even though the budget itself remains entact, this is only the new royalties and profits coming in at higher than expected rates). What he really means is he can't wait to get his hands on it. Why on earth would we want to rush out and spend it?

This money is very important to the future of all Albertans. It's true that it is a lot of money and it is also true that it is an unpredictable amount that is unstable by it's very nature (dependant on oil and gas markets) and to me that demands that our government carefully and seriously consider the long range potential, impacts and all the implications of having (or in the future not having) this amount of money.

We need to take our time to make sure that this money is spent in the right way and that it is saved in the right way, both for the maximum benefit of our current population and for all future Albertans to come.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Honourable Ralph Klein, Premier of Alberta

Premier Ralph Klein with Duncan and Allie Wojtaszek

Premier Ralph Klein answering questions and commenting on our concerns - we talked openly about everything from renovating schools, infrastructure, PSE, Party Renewal, youth involvement, the environment and the Arts to the big one of the evening, Health Care and his vision for how to begin fixing our health care system

Premier Ralph Klein, his dad Phil Klein and Edmonton Meadowlark constituents

Echoes of a past gone but not forgotten

This morning Raven was horsing around with one of her friends in the living room. I was in the kitchen making some tea when the next words I heard Raven say stopped me in my tracks.

"Don't touch me there. You're not my Mother."

I'd forgotten completely, but somewhere from the recesses of my mind came the childhood memory flooding vividly into view. Those were my brother's words, a favourite saying of his he saved for when horsing around with buddies (with a faux offended drawl). I don't know if Raven ever had the chance to hear Chris say that before he died, or if it's a more common saying than I am aware of, but it surprised me to hear his words come out of Raven's mouth in the same manner that he used them.

It was pleasant to be reminded of him this morning (even if it reminds me that I miss him) and it allowed me to experience a memory I might not have ever remembered again or otherwise. It makes me wonder about how many other echoes reside inside of me waiting to be heard.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Milk, Cookies and Post Secondary Education

I didn't actually have any milk or cookies yesterday, but I did have an awesome time. The conference sessions went well, I enjoyed the topics and lunch was served in the LaRonde Revolving Resturant which Duncan and I greatly enjoyed. Here's the view:

A look into the heart of downtown Edmonton

Edmonton River Valley and the glass pyramids of the Muttart Conservatory

After the conference debriefing seven of us (ah seven, the best number in the world) went out to Whyte Ave for dinner and then, after dinner, to a little dance club called the Funky Buddha. We didn't actually get to dancing because apparently there was just too much to talk about (my voice is a little damaged today). We got home only a few hours ago...

Friday, February 24, 2006

At the Cross Roads

Duncan and I are at the PIA PSE conference in Edmonton, as I blog. Tonight we have listened to Keynote speakers Jeffrey Simpson (the Globe and Mail’s national affairs columnist) and Peter MacMenamin (the Deputy General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union in Ireland). The Conference promises to offer a "unique opportunity for all post-secondary education stakeholders, advocates, and members of the public to develop concrete initiatives and action plans, which will provide a framework to fashion a post-secondary education system that best serves our society."

Despite my life being currently "overfull" (is that a word?) of Politics and Policy issues, and despite the fact that I haven't stopped working for almost two weeks (no long weekend for me - and I work next weekend too!) I am very much looking forward to it! Now - the cash bar reception beckons.

Oh, and believe it or not, my arm hurts.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hit by a Bus...

"Why Mr. Bus, What BIG Windows you have..."

Today I got hit by a bus. Obviously it wasn't going very fast and I appear to be ok. It's amazing the range of emotions you go through when you are hit by a bus: disbelief was quickly replaced by anger and then concern briefly before disbelief again took over... I mean really, what are those big windows for if you're not going to look out of them?

So, I seem to be fine. My arm (the part I instinctly rose up against the mighty bus to stop it) was sore for a while but I think now it's more my pride than anything that is bruised. Good thing I see the Mayor tonight, my story will be an interesting addition to the conversation!

Anyways, as my Dad would say, "live to fight another day."

I guess.

When is Fat Art?

When I was cleaning the kitchen after everyone went to bed last night and I found this waiting for me in the electric skillet. I believe my daughter to be the source of this obviously inspired artform...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2-0 Russian victory sends our boys home

When I think of all the fun Duncan and I had in 2002 this news makes me sad.

Its hard to think our men's hockey team is coming home with nothing, no medals at all. Not even Bronze.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bikers take on anti-gay protests at military funerals

I thought this was a rather odd headline until I read the story. My husband often chides that he will one day ban me from reading the news as it tends to get me upset to some degree, and this story was no different. I'm furious.

Calling themselves "the Pariot Riders," these bikers voluntarily stand guard at military funerals in order to shield the families of fallen soldiers because these disgusting people (members of a Kansas based fundamentalist church called the Westboro Baptist Church) picket the funerals with signs that say things like "Thank God for IED's." Led by the Reverend Fred Phelps, these so called "Christains" claim that "god" killed the soldiers as a divine punishment to america for harbouring homosexuals.

Morons. I am sure there is a special place in hell waiting for thee.

I don't care what you think you believe in or object to - a funeral for a fallen soldier is not the place to protest homosexuality (or anything else for that matter). A funeral is not a public event, it's a place for spouses, children, parents, grandparents and friends to say their final goodbyes to a loved one. It is sacred space.

This kind of protest is vile and I am happy to learn that many states are busy making laws to prevent this kind of protest at funerals and memorials (this same "church" picketed the Sago Mine disaster memorial with signs that said "Thank God for Dead Miners"), but I must aplaud the efforts of the Patriot Riders - perhaps the best way to fight this so called freedom of speech is with more freedom of speech, only LOUDER.

If you live in america please take the time to find out how to support these riders and encourage your government to enact legislation that will keep protesters away from funerals.

Link: Bikers roll to military funerals to oppose anti-gay protests

Thought of the Day

"God may not always give us answers, but he always gives us grace"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Family Day in Alberta only comes once a year

Since 1990 Alberta is the only province in Canada to have a statutory holiday in February. It is a time for Albertans to celebrate their families.

According to Wikipedia, the holiday was proclaimed into law by Don Getty after an embarrasing scandal involving his own son forced him to publically admit that he had neglected his family and needed to spend more time with them. Interestingly, the newly proclaimed Family Day falls on the same day as Presidents' Day (USA) - leading to the speculation that the major reason for the proclamation of this holiday was to allow many Albertan Petroleum companies to be closed on the same day their american counterparts were.

Whatever... we get a free holiday out of it. Yay Family Day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In the Line of Friendly Fire

The Cheney Shooting Incident narrative has expanded throughout the blogosphere at such a rate that I don’t have to tell you that Harry Whittington, a 78 year old Texan lawyer was "accidentally" shot (with almost 200 bird shot pellets) by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney while they were out hunting quail. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say. True, it seems wrong to let it pass without a mention in this blog.

I have been using firearms since I was 13 years old and was 15 years old when I got my hunting license. Even at a young age I learned something very important – ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SHOOTING AT BEFORE YOU PULL THE TRIGGER.

This simple rule is the foundation of universal firearm safety and anyone who is in possesion of a firearm needs to adhere to this concept completely in order to act responsibly with it. Further to this you should always be mindful of proper weapons handling; meaning you always point the weapon in a safe direction, you always keep your finger off the trigger until you are prepared to fire, you always visually identify your target and what lies behind it (you never shoot in the direction of sound or movement without being certain of your target) and oh yeah, most importantly, don’t shoot the people you are hunting with (or people in general if you will). If you can’t handle these simple rules then don’t pick up a firearm.

I believe that if you do decide to use a firearm you are responsible completely for it and what you do with it. Hunting isn't a game, it is a serious hobby that has serious ramifications if certain expectations are not observed. I am not comfortable with the way the blame has somehow found itself squarely on Whittington - for sure if any blame is to be assessed against the victim (keep in mind the guy is still in intensive care) it can only be partial at best. Rather let us hold Cheney to be as responsible for his actions as any other private citizen would be held accountable in a similar situation.

For most people just pointing a gun (or even threatening too) at someone is considered a criminal threat, and shooting them is usually punished even if it is considered accidental (negligence, accidental discharging of a firearm, etc) so I don't know why Cheney, who violated every notion of common sense when he "whirled and fired" at the "sound of birds," should be completely absolved of any wrong doing. If he had paid some attention to what he was shooting at this "accident" wouldn't have been too hard to avoid. Observe:

This is a QUAIL

This is a LAWYER

For future reference anyone who might be brave enough to go hunting with Cheney should consider this:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For My Valentine

roses are #FF0000
violets are #0000FF
all my base
are belong to you

I love you Duncan!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

There are Mountains in our Way...

I had sooooo much fun today - the mountains were gorgeous and the weather was spectacular. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much! Tired now, but more pictures to come!

Jasper pictures are now up on Flickr. And on the Travel Album.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Did It ... but I am Blaming You!

She's so Raven. It's the new style.

You know you're in 2006 when...

I received this email this afternoon from a student at Harvard University:

Hi Allie,

My mom is standing outside your window but doesn’t know which one is your apartment (she doesn’t know your last name…)

Can you let her in?


Indeed, my friend had been standing outside my house trying to remember which one was mine and she couldn't get in to knock on my door because my dog wouldn't let her the yard. So she took matters into her own hands - using her cell phone to call her son in another country to send me an email knowing that I would be on my computer to recieve it and let her in. Technology is pretty crazy these days. We are all plugged in.

Friday, February 10, 2006

It might be an early spring afterall

A week or so ago I remember I was smiling to myself as I walked in the warmth of the sunshine listening to the birds sing all around me. An excitement that threatened to burst out of me dared to hope that a early spring would soon be upon us.

Today I had the pleasure of watching a bird build it's nest while I waited for the bus. I could help but wonder with certain fascination at the sheer tenacity of it - afterall it is still mid February in Alberta Canada. Winter could still rage.

Truth be told, this year winter never really began. More days than not it has seemed like fall or spring; barely any snow fell at all and only a few days required the down jacket I purchased for the season. I've been waiting for winter with a distant expectation but a growing sense of oddity replaced it a while ago, with the sense that winter has passed us by. The birds might be right - it might be spring afterall.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Lunch Box Chronicles

When I was a kid my parents (who weren't hurting for money) steadfastedly refused to buy me a lunch box. Ever. They mostly felt that buying licenced products was a huge waste of money and as such I spent my elementary career secretly coveting my friends lunch boxes and kits while I ate out of my paper bag or walked home for lunch. I never forgot how (when really I wanted for nothing) there was this stupid part of childhood I never got to participate in.

Well, the other day my very first lunch box arrived. I don't know what exactly got into me, but when I saw it on e-Bay I decided that I had to have it. It's an ultra cool (uber geeky) Return of the Jedi Lunch Box kit (with Ewok Thermos) from 1983.

I feel like a kid again!

Photoblogger Extraordinarie

My Flickr Badge
Originally uploaded by Allie Wojtaszek.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Raven’s Promise of Peace

In the beginning of time the world was covered with ice & snow. One day Raven the Creator came from heaven and made the world green, like it is today. But Raven wanted something to be a reminder and a teaching to the people of the beginning times and its whiteness. So Raven went among the black bear people in the new paradise and chose every tenth bear to be as white as snow to honour the world as it was during the past age of ice. Upon finishing this task Raven looked upon them all and declared: "Moksmg’ol (the white bears) will live here forever in peace."

This paradise has since become known as the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, and the rare Spirit Bear (also known as the Kermode Bear) is one of its great mysteries and delights. The bears are a genetically unique subspecies of the black bear and the remaining 400 of them are found only on Canada’s west coast. They are a global treasure.

The Spirit Bears require an intact ecosystem to sustain a stable gene pool that in turn creates the conditions that produce them (they are not albino but are born white as the result of a double recessive gene). This process is obviously threatened by development and as such environmentalists and other groups have been fighting for years to protect the habitat that the bears need. The British Columbian government yesterday announced the combined Central Coast and North Coast Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) that "protects" the area often referred to as the Great Bear Rainforest.

It should be noted though that it’s not actually or even entirely "protected."

4.4 million acres will be protected as parkland, while the remaining 11.6 million is "zoned" for administration under a "special management plan" aimed at lessening the impact certain commercial activities will have on the environment. For example "Protected Areas" and "Biodiversity Areas" will be safe from commercial logging yet mining will be allowed in the "Biodiversity Areas." And something called "Ecosystem-based management" will oversee "sustainable forestry" in the other areas (but what this means has not yet been defined). I hope they have found the perfect balance here, but I am skeptical.

Given the importance of this area (it is an old growth temperate rainforest that is home to many species other than the Spirit Bears including salmon, grizzlies, black bears, wolves, cougars, mountain goats, moose, and deer as well as huge ancient hemlock and cedar trees - a land so rich that biologists have compared it to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon jungles) I will continue to hope for the day that the entire area can truly be preserved as The Great Bear Rainforest. Until then, may the Spirit Bear forever be wild and free, and may there finally be peace in the forest. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Can a cabinet swing both ways?

I was pleased to see that the three Albertan MP's I predicted would get cabinet positions were indeed the same three Albertan MP's sworn in this morning: Rona Ambrose, Jim Prentice and Monte Solberg. But besides a small amount of bragging rights (which I think I've already used up) it doesn't really get me much.

All in all, no real surprises in this Cabinet - NOT!
David Emerson - who could have seen that one coming? I doubt all the red signs in his constituency have even been all taken down... that must be the fastest defection ever!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Our Just Desserts at Death by Chocolate

The consuming passions of a Saturday morning.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Month of Love

Duncan and I have a Valentines tradition where we take turns trading off Valentines Day each year. That way Valentines Day isn't just all about the girl and there isn't a whole lot of silly expectations, just good plain fun and the chance to spoil whosever's turn it is. This year it happens to be my turn to be spoiled, and I am very much looking forward to it!