STOP THE WORLD….

Time to clear the air….
I’m not responding to a lot of facebook posts anymore. Simply because…
I’m tired of conspiracy theorists.
I’m tired of hearing how Canada as we know it is doomed under Trudeau. Let’s get real here. It wouldn’t have mattered who got elected the gloom and doom crowd would have been tossing their uneducated prophecies ad nauseum anyway.
I’m tired of fifteen year old photographs/stories showing up as current fact even though they have been proven to be hoaxes for at least a decade. Check the facts before you post.
I’m tired of the assumption that if I respond negatively to a story then I’m anti-something. Other than Macaulay Culkin and aforementioned conspiracy theorists I don’t dislike anyone. If I choose to not ‘like’ your comments it has nothing to do with your religion, social status, sexual preferences or race. It’s simply because I don’t agree with your comment. If you have a problem with me not falling in line behind you then…like I said, it’s your problem.
I recently ‘unfriended’ someone because of our different views regarding one of his posts. It was regarding recruitment to form a march on the Alberta Legislature to protest the NDP Government. Let me tell you up front I’m a child of the Sixties and I am all for peaceful protest and, if I felt strongly enough about an issue, I would join the sit-in, signs and all. In this case, for me, there was a lot to be wary of. First the photograph of a flag-waving man atop an excavator posed rebelliously against a bright blue sky. Then comes the text containing a list of “I love my:”s…everything from oil sands to farming, guns to freedom. The way I see it trying to encourage a ‘peaceful’ demonstration yet feeling the need to throw ‘guns’ in there is somewhat counter-productive but it is the ‘freedom’ part that really sticks with me. The fact that we have the freedom to gather on the government’s doorstep and protest is a freedom not granted in many countries around this world. You HAVE your freedom and it was that freedom you expressed when you voted that party into office. You also have the freedom to vote them out and if you want to peacefully protest everything they do until you can kick them to the curb then go for it. When I read the original post I went back through the comments from the Bundy camp in Oregon and everything from content to presentation was eerily similar and I stated that in my response. I did receive the expected pro-Bundy style responses but then my comment was deleted. It appears the poster didn’t like being compared to the home grown terrorists on the other side of the border. The original post remained however so I have to assume he supports this type of thing. I don’t support it so I ‘unfriended’ someone for the first time in all the years I have been on facebook.
In the old days (yes I hate those words too but in this case it fits) if anyone managed to get a public forum it was through recognized media and they were required to adhere to certain standards but thanks to the internet anyone can now have their moment in the spotlight. Generally this is a good thing but as this forum also provides a stage for the wack-a-doos it is up to the reader to investigate what you see and read.
A couple of years back a fellow by the name of Bill Schoel posted on a wildlife site regarding the BC government’s policy of aerial-gunning down wolves and how it was a necessity because (according to the writer) a friend of his had seen his dogs torn apart by a pack of wolves in downtown Kamloops, BC. Coincidentally I live in Kamloops and I’m pretty sure I would have heard about this incident. Further investigation revealed that Bill lives in Maryland and continually posts idiotic comments to stir the flames. There are a lot of people like Bill who post under false names or simply anonymously to fill some sort of void in their lives but it’s when you see the responses these posts get you realize how easily unthinking people get wrapped up in stuff like this. If I remember correctly a dozen or so hunters responded that they were ready to camp out in Kamloops to gun down those vermin. A simple search of the local news outlets online would have proven the story false and they wouldn’t have looked like the idiots they most certainly are.
Memes falsely accredited to famous people, altered photographs, misleading headlines, totally laughable conspiracy theories, sponsored comments, and outright fiction is flooding social media and it now becomes the responsibility of the reader to validate everything before accepting anything these days.
If you believe that the government is spraying chemicals in the air to ‘dumb-down’ the public then fine. I think it’s simply that through social media the dumbed-down segment of the public that has always been there now has an unfiltered voice and a built-in audience that, back in the days of responsible journalism, would have remained silent.
Off my soapbox now.
I have been scarce on both this blog and the facebook pages lately due to a few things but mostly I’m working on a third book (which isn’t going as well as the first two) and the finalizing of the second book. I’m on the third read-through of the print-proof of ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ and it should be uploaded in a few days. It is available as an ebook on Amazon.
To those whose blogs I usually follow on a regular basis I apologize for my absence but hopefully I can get back into the rhythm soon…although as Evan Morris says in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”:
“Things change and the sooner you realize that life isn’t perfect…that everything isn’t going to magically fall into place when you get all those ducks in a row the better off you’ll be. Every step we take in life has its own trials and tribulations. After we get those sorted out we take that next step and…more wandering ducks.”

 

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WOLVES AGAIN (sort of…)…

It’s been a while since I have posted anything about wolves but I’m finally going to respond to a comment I received about three years ago with regards to “White Wolf Moon” and my depiction of Ginn, the wolfdog. A woman came into the bookshop where I worked at the time and informed me that I misrepresented this animal to be cute and cuddly and not the “killer” that wolves are. I have also been (correctly) informed that wolves do not have blue eyes.

First…the book is fiction. Yes the characters and situations are loosely based on people and events I knew back then and contain a lot of factual information but it is still fiction. Ginn is based on a white wolfdog I had met (yes, she had blue eyes) and in subsequent encounters with other animals of her type I found all of them to be very much like the character I portrayed. Second…I did a search for wolfdog photos and sites that featured the crosses and not only confirmed that if treated properly they can be socialized (although not properly domesticated) and that quite a few did peer through blue eyes. I suppose the eyes are indicative of the wolf content (high content would probably negate the blue eyes of the Husky or whatever the other part of the cross). No there are no blue-eyed wild wolves but the fact is there are many blue-eyed wolfdogs out there. By the way the questions I received about Ginn have been answered in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”. As for wolves being “cuddly”…come now. We all know that wolves are predatory carnivores and trying to cuddle an actual wild wolf (if you could even find one) is nature’s equivalent of Russian roulette with five rounds in the chamber. That’s the reality. Do I love wolves? Yes but I think “respect” would be a better word.

I find it interesting that, according to a couple of sellers that flog Canadian and British Columbia souvenirs, the two most requested animals are bears and wolves. My local thrift shop will tell you that if it has anything to do with wolves, whether posters or sculpts, they rarely last more than a day on the shelves and Walmart sells out of those wolf keychains before anything else (even though they incorrectly have blue eyes). Tourists spend millions of dollars a year to come to our country to see the wildlife yet we blatantly slaughter these animals under the guise of “control” or “maintenance”. We aerial gun down wolves to “protect” the Caribou then turn around and lease those delicate lands to oil and forestry businesses thus destroying the one thing that these animals need…a safe and secure habitat.

Okay…elections.

Both the U.S. and Canada are in the throes of election campaigns of sorts and for whatever reason I’m intrigued by both this time around. I’ll pass on commenting on the “hair” aspects of our election…Margaret Atwood said it better than I could:

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/hair-is-in-the-election-season-air-but-is-it-crucial-to-your-vote

I just wonder why no-one is using this type of campaign against Trump.

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TIME TRAVEL & TRUTHS

“No…I wouldn’t want to go back. You can’t change just one thing, it’s all intertwined…one thing causes another and so on. Take away that first thing and a whole branch of your life tree could disappear and who knows where I’d have ended up. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you if I could’ve gone back and changed something.”

So says Danny in a deleted scene from my current manuscript. It is the obvious theory of time travel and actually makes a lot of sense.

Time travel is easy when writing a manuscript but the same theory applies. When I began this story I decided to keep writing as the ideas flowed and I’d go back and organize it later. At one point I was reading what I had written and decided one scene would work better in a later part of the story so I used a bit of fictional time travel and relocated it. It was only during what I hoped would be my final read-through that I realized what I had done.

As this is a sequel to “White Wolf Moon” I have to keep in mind the people that might not have read the original story so all the little “in” references have to be introduced. One of the major references was to the place that all the characters gathered on weekends simply called “The Ranch”. Using internal narrative I had Evan (the main character) reminisce about the pioneer property with an introductory description of the geography and the activities they had experienced back in the 60s. That narrative (and a few other mentions) was in the scene that I had moved. Anyone who hadn’t read “White Wolf Moon” would have had no idea what the characters were talking about in the current manuscript.

Another flaw in the time travel was a new character calling an original character by her first name. Their introduction was also in the scene that I had moved so there was no way he would have known this woman’s name as he hadn’t met her yet. That might work for a psychological horror story but not in mine.

Lack of continuity aside I’m surprised at the number of little things I’m finding that need to be tweaked or totally redone. It tends to make me wonder what kind of head space I was in when I wrote it.

Another topic, still in keeping with the fictional flow of this blog…truth on the internet. If I’m to believe everything I’ve read then Shania Twain has died not once but twice over the past few years; Michelle Obama is really a man; Sandy Hook was a Government plot to outlaw assault-type weapons (no children were harmed apparently, they were just “actors”); Malaysia Flight 370 was hijacked by ISIS and is buried in the sand in Syria awaiting another 911 fiasco; President Obama doesn’t know what a cattle guard is, and of course the re-occurring chestnut…Paul is dead.

What got me started on this was a post to a BC Wolf Hunt petition by a man named Bill Schoel whom I don’t mind mentioning because I apparently embarrassed him into hiding. He claimed that a “friend” of his had his dog killed by a pack of wolves that frequent downtown Kamloops, British Columbia. I’m not sure why he chose to name Kamloops as the setting for this piece of fiction but I’m glad he did. I have lived in the city for many years now and I don’t recall any wolf sightings…bears and cougars yes, but no wolves. I’m pretty sure a wolf pack patrolling downtown would make the news. I took him to task and he withdrew into wherever people like that go but not before he had multiple “likes” and confirming comments about his post. It is those people I question. Do they not check out these comments to ascertain the validity before jumping on the Fool Express? I find it amazing that in this easily accessed information age so many people are so misinformed. Perhaps they’re just lazy and would rather mindlessly buy into the flavor of the day than expend what minimal energy it takes to check the facts. Bill should have googled his ludicrous story prior to writing his comment and he wouldn’t look like an idiot trying to spread something that wasn’t true.

One comment I received was questioning whether I thought I was smarter than the rest of the world. My response was “It has nothing to do with being “smarter” it’s simply using your head and presenting verifiable facts (preferably with links). You don’t have to be a genius…just someone who wants to do a little digging and get it right before you comment.”

Alas I fear it’s easier to look the fool.

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ART, MUSIC, LIFE, RHYTHM…

How curious is Mother Nature. To create within a single world this multitude of perfectly shaped trees, flowers and grasses then simply toss them about with reckless abandon.

Rocks and boulders, each grained and weathered with intricate care are strewn helter-skelter across the landscape with little consideration of overall impression. Does she not understand the basic concepts of balance in form and texture, function and structure?

Or could this chaotic representation be the work of the quintessential artist?

It might be a still life with wind-swept grasses cascading down hills like waterfalls frozen in time, charred trees boldly standing as ancient sentinels on a field of muddied ash, a reminder of the fires of summer. Portraits of perfection posed before a scattered backdrop.

Is it abstract, impressionistic or a subtle blend of both? Simply put it is the finest example of interpretive natural art and it is how you see and feel it.

Nature may not always be perfect yet within these imperfections there lies a sense of purpose. Straight lines do not grace her masterpiece yet within her seemingly disheveled display there is order…and rhythm.

Everything natural exists for a reason and everything runs to a beat. It’s the cycle of life. Left to her own devices Mother Nature the artist becomes Mother Nature the composer, her natural sweet symphony the soundtrack of this world.

It is only when mankind chooses to ignore the rhythm that this symphony is silenced.

While Mother Nature is perfect in her imperfections mankind is simply imperfect, failing to understand how much a bit of harmony could improve life’s song for everyone and everything on this planet.

This not-so-veiled call for everyone to stop and think before we lose what we can’t replace was predicated by the BC wolf cull. I am almost ashamed to admit that I live in this province they call ‘beautiful’ on television ads and license plates. Public and scientific opposition to this ‘cull’ is massive yet the government doesn’t want to listen. Oddly enough the B.C. Ministry of Lands refuses comment on how many wolves have been ‘harvested’ and won’t provide a representative to explain the ‘science’ behind their decisions. My guess is…there is none.

Blaming predators (wolves in particular) is the cowardly way out. It’s easier to face a backlash from ‘tree-huggers’ than the wrath of forestry, ranching, and mining corporations. It’s easier to take to the air and gun down animals that are simply trying to survive in a wilderness growing smaller every day than impose restrictions on development, fracking, and overgrazing livestock. The caribou herds are in decline but for God’s sake’s let’s not suggest that man has had anything to do with it.

Okay, off my soapbox but on the same topic…

The Go Go’s had the beat, as do we all. Everyone has that certain song stuck in their head and that song goes a long way toward how we feel about our day. Regardless of religion, race, sex, or socio-economic lot in life…music is the common denominator. Happy music puts a spring in your step and makes everything just a little bit better. Those odd people, those skippers and shakers you see every day swaying along the sidewalk…you know the reason they’re odd don’t you? They’re marching to their own drum and while it may seem that some have their own damned orchestra it’s all part of the rhythm of life.

I’m on the first major tweak of the manuscript for my second book and never has the need for rhythm been so obvious. This book has been written in pieces over two years, which is my failing. These pieces didn’t necessarily follow each other during the writing and while the rhythm within each scene is strong the combination of scenes doesn’t flow as well as it should. It’s almost like this was a group effort, different people writing different parts of the same book. Readers need a beat whether in narrative or dialogue and while it’s not a major re-write it is a necessary step to smoothing the flow of the story.

It’s simple. I’ve just gotta stick with the beat and follow that rhythm in my head in writing…and in life.

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https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/captain-paul-watson-on-b-c-wolf-kill/

 

OF WOLVES AND SUCH….

This blog is not really about wolves but it is a subject in which I consider myself to have above average (although by no means expert) knowledge so it’s easier to make my point. From witnessing my first wolf pack in the wild on our farm in Ontario in the 1950s to having a much more recent encounter with (fenced) wolves at a Christmas Light Celebration at the BC Wildlife Park outside Kamloops, wolves have always played some sort of minor role in my life.

When I was beginning work on the sequel to White Wolf Moon I decided to research this animal so I could present my canine character with more authenticity. It was then I discovered the ugly truth about the internet.

It seems anyone who can type has an opinion these days and that opinion doesn’t have to be based on anything concrete or valid. It’s just an opinion. Having an opinion is fine (everyone should have one or two) but for a reader to blindly accept these opinions without question simply confirms what I feel is one of those things wrong with the world today.

I’m not a follower, nor am I a leader. I feel that comments made by people on both sides of any issue should be checked out but it appears most people don’t want to hear the truth. They just want someone to confirm that what they already believe is the truth. Just tell them what they want to hear and the ‘likes’ will come. One of these anti-wolf pages is currently on the “historic” bandwagon posting unverified newspaper stories and illustrations from days gone by. They claim that these unsubstantiated hackneyed articles from the 1700s complete with woodcuts and etchings are the factual journalism of the times and they prove “that modern wolf science is pure fiction”. By the way through minimal research I discovered that one of their latest “fact” illustrations is from The Red Fairy Book (published1890). No need to tell you what fairy-tale we’re talking about.

We live in an age where credible information is out there but a lot of people have neither the comprehension nor the time or patience to learn what is real and what isn’t. It’s easier for them to take the lazy way out, much preferring to have some narrow-visioned snake-oil salesman with a pocket-full of agendas and videos to sell tell them what to think rather than form their own educated opinion.

A side note: I generally steer away from commenting on American politics because I really don’t understand the workings and, as a Canadian, it really isn’t my place but…

I watched the SOTU address (which reaffirmed why I like Obama) but I just couldn’t take my eyes off John Boehner. Am I the only one that thought he looked like the ‘before’ picture in a Preparation-H ad? With millions of people watching him this man didn’t possess the self-pride to at least appear interested in anything. It’s clear that he and Obama aren’t after-school buddies but there should be at least minimal respect for the office, if not the man. I’m not a fan of our Mr. Harper but I respect the position he holds.

Respect, or the lack of it, is one of the big issues in our world today. Respect for others and respect for oneself seems to have disappeared. We, as a people, show little respect for our environment. Politicians are trying to force through “safe” pipelines on fragile landscapes while, coincidently, the waterways in Yellowstone National Park have just been polluted with 50,000 gallons of crude from a leak. Our BC Government was (perhaps still is) considering opening up our Provincial Parks for oil and gas exploration. Oddly enough the fact that big business, politicians, and money mongers have no respect for anything doesn’t surprise me. It’s the little guy that types “sweet” on his social media page under the story of two RCMP officers being shot in Alberta. What the hell is wrong with these people?

Perhaps this lack of respect is a sign of the times. In the old days before the internet if you chose to call somebody down you’d best not walk past the schoolyard after dark but there’s safety in the anonymity of social media today. You can sound big and tough while living in your parent’s basement smokin’ dope and free from the fear of retribution. Perhaps the lack of respect has been here all along but I don’t think so. I also don’t think it’s as widespread as it appears, at least I hope it isn’t. It’s just that with today’s technology it’s easier for these people to be heard…but that doesn’t mean we have to listen.

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SONY ET AL….

Let’s see…we have the big SONY scandal, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, world hunger, environmental disasters, questionably lawful police shootings….the list goes on and on yet the biggest thing on some people’s minds is the fact that Blue Buffalo All-Natural Pet Food is using a photograph of a wolf on one of their dog food products. The anti-wolf crowd is calling for all pet owners to boycott the product until they remove the ‘offending’ photograph. My God…cyber ransom over a photograph on a bag of dog food?  Get a life people!

Okay that was my little rant for the day. I  don’t know how far this ‘boycott’ will go and I hope that Blue Buffalo doesn’t bend to what I would assume will be minor pressure from a small group of brave individuals hiding behind their laptops but it does demonstrate the power of the internet, as does the SONY debacle.

The son of a friend of mine is a “Hacker for Hire”. For obvious reasons I won’t disclose names but he’s one of the good guys. Large corporations hire him to try and break their on-line security and offer any advice to improve any weak areas. Typically he works with police departments instructing law enforcement officers on how to break into the bad guys computers and judging by how busy he is, he must be good at it. Three years ago he said that if there’s to be a Third World War it will be fought in cyber-space. Nations will fall when all of their systems fail. I think he may be right.

The kafuffle over SONY could have been the first volley. To me the speculation that North Korea was behind it seems sound but really…is it? How many times have students hacked into school computers to try and change exam marks? We know of a few that got caught but how many are never found out? Over the past few years banks and other financial institutions have been hacked, department store credit card machines have been infiltrated, iphone codes are regularly stolen…who’s to say that the SONY hack wasn’t pulled off by some fifteen-year-old straight A student in his mum’s basement? Personally I don’t understand computers enough to present an educated opinion on this and I would guess that ninety-percent of people that use computers are in the same boat but this should be a bit of a warning to us all. Put it up on the internet and it doesn’t ever go away.

Moving along…try a little kindness. I love this time of year. There are always ‘feel good’ stories about strangers stopping to help out the less fortunate and it’s nice to hear that a homeless person had a new (to him) coat dropped in his lap. I did my small RAOK yesterday and the appreciation and emotion I received from both the elderly woman involved and a total stranger who observed my action gave me that warm holiday feeling. It was small to me, seemingly insignificant really, but it meant the world to someone else. It doesn’t take much, sometimes just a cheery greeting, but it can change someone’s day for the better and when you make someone else feel better….

To each of you Merry Christmas or, if you prefer, Happy Holidays!

Mike

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CLUTTER CLUTTER

I admit it…I’m a pack rat.  Everything I “pack” is themed, cataloged, and semi-organized (which takes me out of the hoarder category) and I am impressed with my collections as are most of the visitors to my little world. Over the last few months I have let that damned reality slip into my life and ask the question “when is too much too much?” The answer is…probably now.

A brief summary of some of my passions…221 Alien/Predator pieces, 2850 Hot Wheels, 399 Johnny Lightnings, 327 Matchbox toys, and 200 Richard Petty collectibles. This doesn’t take into account three shelves of wolf sculpts/toys, a kazillion books and videos, two massive shelf units of vinyl music, and…well you get the idea.

I’ve run out of room.

These last few months have been difficult for a rampant collector like me. I decided that I should cut back on purchases and specialize in a couple of areas rather than continually adding to each collection and to an extent it has worked. I’ve saved a lot of money but when I walk away from a Predator figure that would look great on the shelf the “saving” part doesn’t quite smooth over the “wanting” part.

WOLVES

In the last two days I have left a department store not buying a cool wolf blanket and departed a thrift shop leaving two wolf sculpts and a framed limited edition wolf print for someone else to buy. It’s been a rough two days of second guessing and fighting the urge to get back in the car and remedy the roughness.

Cutting back has done nothing to clear the clutter of course…the only way to accomplish that is to let go of some of it.

Some will be easy. I have five guitars. I play one regularly and another one quite often. The other three just gather dust so they could go. I have doubles (in some case triples) of some of the toys I mentioned so selling them is a no-pain option…but that’s as far as the “easy” part goes. I’ve spent years building these collections and deciding what stays and what doesn’t isn’t something I want to get wrapped up in right now.

I’m going to spend this winter organizing for a yard sale but a lot of it I wouldn’t sell at yard sale prices so I’m not sure how successful that would be or even how much I would put out. Online selling doesn’t appeal to me either although it may be the only option.

I know there are people who will say just sell them, they’re only things…yes, but they’re MY things. They’re also my kids’ things and I’m not sure how any of them would feel about me selling off their inheritance. On the other hand “Die Broke” seems to be the battle cry of my generation and there’s a lot to be said for reaping my own financial reward from a lifetime of collecting. I have a feeling I’m going to be wrestling with this a lot more before I decide what to do.

I also have a feeling that my final decision will be “maintain the status quo”.

**Upon rereading this I realize I have just summarized the entire plot of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and I now understand the agony that Andy Stitzer felt while watching his collection disappear into the mail boxes.