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Saturday Morning Coffee; Child Killers & The People Who Have to Be Nice To Them

saturday morning coffeeLast night I had my sweetheart, his son, and my son together around the table to enjoy a meal together for Easter. With young adult children and their crazy schedules, family time is precious, and to have both families blend together during these holidays is a true joy.

Simple things like having dinner together every day, and making sure you say, “I love you”, before you head out the door are mandatory at my house. Maybe a little too obsessively-compulsively so.

You see, my career is death and dying. The fragile nature of life is not lost on me, and maybe I have some PTSD going on. Ok, I do have some of that going on,  but I think that’s normal under the circumstances.

Easter dinner with the kids was extra meaningful for me in ways that I’m sure people who don’t work around loss and trauma will never know. Nor should they.

This morning I sat down to my little window, with my coffee and kitty mentor, Mr. Willy Nelson. I cruised over to and read the article about Ontario’s Chief Pathologist, Dr. Micheal Pollanen.

Basically, the crux of the article was that Dr. Pollanen has been guilty of confirmation bias;

Among them was confirmation bias — reaching a conclusion and working backward to find evidence to support it, and professional credibility bias — being unwilling to change an opinion once stated.


Fine. I get it, and god forbid I was on the receiving end of a case where a professional reasoned that I was guilty and then tried to prove it. Basically, you’d be screwed.

But the point of my little blog here isn’t to crucify Dr. Pollanen. I worked with him. I didn’t really like him – let me be clear, that’s my personal opinion. He seemed to be book-smart-brilliant, and socially awkward. But most of the doctors down there fit that description.

At the Office of the Chief Coroner, one finds that ego-with-a-capital-E runs rampant, and the term Doctor warrants a god-like-untouchable-status to anyone who doesn’t have the same credentials. Humility has no place there. There are few exceptions.

The reality however is that those coroners are human too, and I would argue, because of their perceived status as stronger, more intelligent and wiser-than-the-average-bear, they are at higher risk for PTSD, burn-out and the other psychological monsters-that-go-bump-in-the-night. Sure, they have  access to support, but there is no system in place to monitor it. There is no formal support in place to insure that the mental health of  professionals subjected to the most brutal trauma imaginable is cared for.

During my training, a past Chief Coroner ended his lecture to my graduating class by telling us that if we ever felt that we needed counselling or help coping with trauma, that we should suck it up because that was our job. This was hands-down the worst advice I’ve received in my career.

I too have seen the trauma of a child’s lifeless body marked by abuse, accidental injuries or what appears to be a cold-blooded homicide. I’ve looked into the teary eyes of grieving siblings who are too young to have know what grief feels like.  I’ve done it many times, it’s part of my job.  Unless you’ve physically had to take part in the autopsy or preparation of the body, you do not have any idea what it’s like to be a professional in death care, so stop judging and proselytizing.

You don’t know the deeper level of concern that we bear when our child or spouse takes the car, or is running late. Working with trauma brings you face to face with the fickle nature of mortality every. single. moment. of. every. day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing Dr. Pollanen, I’m simply empathizing with him. You might want to try it sometime.

Ask yourself this; In a courtroom full of adults unwilling to admit that they either abused or neglected a child to the point of death, I wonder what the average reader of the morning paper would do? Part of me likes to think that they would rage and deliver a little eye-for-an-eye justice, the other part of me is a passive Buddhist.

So, as I sit here this morning, sipping my flavoured coffee, looking out at children in the courtyard giggling and scurrying during the annual Easter Egg hunt, I ask you to think of Dr. Pollanen as a human being who has dedicated his life to making our society a safer place.




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Friends With Benefits – I Don’t Think So

The flags of Canada and the United States of A...
The flags of Canada and the United States of America, flying side-by-side outside PGE Park in Portland, Oregon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada and the United States have flirted, used, abused, supported and stabbed one another in the back throughout the years.

We have a love/hate relationship. Americans like having neighbours who spell properly, and smile a lot.

Canadians like the sunny south and football. Perhaps we could also throw in the Rose Bowl parade, you know, just to make our American neighbours feel good.

It’s nice being neighbourly with the big guy on the block. Well, it used to be. The other global-guys are hitting their growth spurt, and the big guy isn’t so big any more. In fact, his fat-cat ways are catching  up, and, I hate to mention it, but he’s grown quite an economic disaster of a muffin-top.  A grand example of a sugar-daddy whose looks have slipped, and whose wallet isn’t fat enough.

This week, Diane Francis’s Merger of the Century was reviewed in the Toronto Star.  She argues, apparently pretty convincingly too, that should Canada and the United States jump the broom, both nations would stand to benefit.

To summarize, should this little marriage of two socially opposite neighbours happen, it would create an economy larger than the combined economic sway of China, Japan, France and Germany.

Francis describes our Canadian resources as, ‘mindboggling’. Trillions and trillions of dollars worth actually. I don’t think the average Canadian needs to read her book to understand just how rich we are. We may have to point out that our resources are in great, imminent danger of being destroyed by greedy BIG BUSINESS.  The very same big business that almost bankrupted North America in 2008. Yes, the very same big business that gobbled up the bail-out and learned absolutely nothing about innovation, or the fall-out of greed.

Beyond our  plethora of resources, Francis also sings the praises of our banking system, sophisticated social values, educations system (If ours is good, I shudder to think about the American system), and ‘law-abiding people’.

I would like to point out, that these are also precisely the reasons that intelligent Canadians would never wish to be more economically tangled with the United States than we are already obliged to be by virtue of our proximity.  Should a merger happen, it would leave the social, political and economic landscape of Canada a no-man’s land.

Much like the cover of the book that has our Canadian Maple Leaf gobbled up in the design of the famous stars and stripes, our social identity would be lost to the machine of capitalist greed, minus our so hard-won social system. In short, the big guy needs us now that the folly of his ways has seen the light of day.  The tough guy is looking to someone to clean up his mess.

Go ahead, take Francis’s argument for a ride, but be sure to read the other sides of the argument; Fire and Ice, and Death of the Liberal Class.  After all, you want a clear picture of just how very different our cultures are.

The reading may also inspire you to articulate our distinctly Canadian values in the face of the political shit-show that will surely be our next federal election.

Fracking? Pipelines? Bureaucratic Elitism? GMO farming and antibiotic infused livestock? Yes, we do have some rather overwhelming issues to tend to in our very own maple-syrup rich backyard, but we’d have a heck of a lot more problems if we get distracted by a  big, shiny, diamond engagement ring from the USA.



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Canadian Journalism is Dead

broken_typewriter copy
broken_typewriter copy (Photo credit: wvs)

Journalism is dead.

The objective ideal has long since gone the way of cigarette holders and the sassy style of gin-joint flappers.

Today, the  cover of our local news featured an advert at both the top and bottom of the front page, with the majority of coverage going to Anne Hathaway’s smarmy giant-toothed grin.

Guess what I’m using to line the bottom of our bird-cage? Heads up Anne….

A minor few inches of the front page were dedicated to yet another report of a crooked Canadian politician, and an “exclusive’ about the risks of casual and contract work on the vulnerable.

I hate to break it to you Toronto Star, but – no kiddin’.

Canadian politicians are as crooked, greedy and unprofessional as any in nations which we assume political superiority. Not only is journalism dead, but so is real, political leadership and vision.

Very few, if any journalists working for major publications will risk their jobs or lives (no exaggeration) to report on who’s buying who. Besides, what good would it do? No one would publish their work anyway.

During the past few months, Toronto news has been overwhelmed with the mayor’s miraculous escape from being kicked from office, despite clear conflict of interest, and misuse of city resources (including pulling our miniscule transit resources to coddle his football hobby).

Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin have lied about their residences. Bowing to the almighty dollar rather than the great good of the nation. Way to go.

As soon as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne took office, the opposition started acting up like middle school children during a forced indoor recess.

We have become a nation of apathetic Stepford Citizens at every political level.  Democracy in Canada is a joke.

The “Canadian Dream” of living in a progressive, socially responsible society has turned into a nightmare of big business buying out our media, government, and stretching the gap between the working class and the wealthy thinner than an immigrant’s pay cheque.

Keep in mind, this criticism comes from a hopeless patriot, and idealist. I believe our country has great potential, and it’s heartbreaking to see it stripped away.

Are you prepared to be duped into thinking the issues of today are Anne Hathaway’s nipples and Danica Patrick’s crappy driving?


Well, maybe that’s for the best. After all, ignorance is rumoured to be bliss.


Beauty Tip of the Week – News that Makes You Go, “Hmm?”

"God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there's no turning back. "~Gloria Steinam~
“God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back. “
~Gloria Steinam~

It’s that time of the week my rosy-cheeked readers.

I hope that you haven’t let me down. You surely couldn’t have let the week pass without reading the news?

More importantly, I hope you questioned the who, what, where, when, why and how of it all.

Beautiful women aren’t beautiful because of the shape of their ever-fabulous silhouettes. 

Truly beautiful women are gorgeous because of their warm spirituality and cunning intellect.

Top Ten News Items that Make Me Wonder This Week;

1) Why nations ruled by secular-politics dont’ have the diplomatic savvy to call a spade a spade when dealing with religion-based non-secular politics. Thoughts on the situation in Egypt; Any nation ruled by a religious group including the name ‘Brotherhood’ should make every intelligent woman’s labia snarl in protest. Brotherhood? How about evolving to a higher spiritual level and advocating human rights?

2) Bookshelves have gone out of vogue with the popularity of e-readers. So has common sense and independent thought. Odd that the two styles have become gauche at the same time. Think about it.

3) A major national newspaper used ‘filler’ for the entire back page of the Arts section. Tisk, tisk, tisk, my poor, lost editor. An article about the obvious (that romance and lust has permeated  literature since cavemen scratched stick figures on rocks) is not exactly cutting edge information. Tell me more about new authors, new artists, new theatres, but don’t bore the hell out of me with this mind-numbing twitter.

4) “Palestinians Paint Canada as Too Extreme” If that’s not a case of the proverbial pot and kettle I dont’ know what is. Canada needs to be ever more ‘extreme’ when it comes to protecting the secular politics that has made it a haven for those fleeing from countries governed by religious-politics. Don’t confuse this comment with my thoughts on Israel and Canada being kinky political bedfellows. That’s a fifty-shades trilogy in itself.

5) Do the brains behind the smiles in the society column have a clue what is really happening in the world? Do they really have any idea what they write cheques in support of, and the consequences of those big-money decisions? The coy smile peeking out from behind heart shapes made by hands (aka in the style of 11-year-old girls demonstrating their love for boy bands), makes me think – no.

6) Does anyone really care about who is in the society column beside the people in it? Not unless you’re looking for fertile fundraising ground.

7) What on earth makes a ‘Diwali Spiced Snickerdoodle’ recipe remotely appropriate for a ‘Christmas Cookie’ column? ( I admit I will try the recipe, and likely love the it). It’s like making German Stolen the first recipe in an Eid baking column.

8) The current situation between the provincial government and the teachers. Let’s talk about personal leadership and equitable compensation.  Anyone who calls themselves a professional does not ‘punch the clock’. They take on leadership as a personal badge (for teachers it includes coaching, teaching and delivering report cards that actually give parents and kids an intelligent, thoughtful assessment). Democratic governments do not take away the right to strike. Both sides of this one need a kick in the pants. Wage freeze – yep – it’s happening to everyone, and should especially happen to the gravy eaters at the top.

9) Canada’s redneck stance on the Kyoto Protocol, which ties nicely into the double-digit temperatures we’re having and the high price of apples. Please email me if you can’t put this together. In other words. Canada needs to get  off the liar-liar bus and see that our global pants are smouldering, if not already on fire.

10) The mass of jewelry adds given the impending Christmas boom. Somebody get me some of that. I like sparkly things.

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Tugging at Political Shirt-Tails

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler~

Hey you! You. Yes, you out there. I see you reading this you sexy reader you. You’re so deliciously gorgeous when you read. What’s that? Speak up, I can’t hear you…..

I bet you don’t get told very often that you should talk more. I bet on average you’re made to feel like you need to keep your mouth shut more than you’re made to feel like you need to speak up and have your opinion heard.

Last night, as I watched and listened to Nancy Keenan a glittering Michelle Obama give their speeches at the American Democratic National Convention, I was proud to be a woman, and a bit ashamed too. After all, have we made that much progress in the past 50 years?

As all of this really big stuff swirled around my pretty girl brain, I was reminded of our own little election going on right her in Canada. My politically minded cousin was posting madly to keep me abreast of Canadian issues. Gun shots rang out just after Michelle Obama’s speech, as the newly elected Partis Quebecois leader Pauline Marois was about to give her victory speech.

According to an early Globe and Mail article, the french-speaking suspect was wearing,”glasses, a black shirt and shorts, a black balaclava and a blue bathrobe.” What on earth?! In the article the suspect was quoted as saying, “Les anglais se réveillent”. I thought it meant, “The English are dreaming”, but it means, “The English are waking up.” This just goes to show you what ten years of publicly funded advanced french class will get you twenty years later.

Today, Toronto Star Columnist Chantal Hebert sums up the election results with nary a whisper of the events that caused a provincial leader to be swept off the stage in what is assumed to be an assassination attempt. Very Canadian, very Canadian indeed. CNN covered it on their news ticker last night. Go figure.

As Canadians, we tend to be apathetic. Check that. We are completely apathetic when it comes to politics. I overhear people in the cafe wondering aloud why our politicians lack leadership. It’s because we don’t demand it. We are very, laissez faire indeed.

Last night as I watched a parade of women grace the stage and enchant the audience at the U.S. Democratic National Convention, I hoped that it not only inspired American women to vote, but every woman.

We make up more than fifty percent of the population, and our voice, when united, can create a pretty powerful roar. Women in Canada and the United States of American may still suffer from wage discrimination and unfair health care policies, but we are far better off than many other nations. If we stop voting, stop pushing for what we know is right and good and just, then who has the strength to lead?

Do the world a favour. Read the news. Do the world a bigger favour and question the news. Educate yourself, your friends, your daughters and never, ever let anyone make you feel like you should be quiet.