An Island

May 3, 2011

So the votes have been counted in the 2011 Canadian federal election, and the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has won their coveted majority of seats in the House of Commons, with the New Democratic Party (NDP) taking the second greatest number and forming the official Opposition to the government (replacing the Liberals who held that role in the previous parliament).

But the small city I live in, Guelph (pronounced Gwelf, for those who aren’t familiar with it – the name comes from British royalty, via King George IV through the Guelph lineage from the House of Welf ), re-elected (result still to be officially confirmed) the incumbent Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) MP Frank Valeriote.

Which, when looking at a map of election results by riding where CPC seats are blue,  LPC seats are red and NDP are orange, leaves Guelph as one of a few islands of red and orange in a sea of blue here in South-Central Ontario:

Southwestern Ontario election results - taken from CBC website

The overall map for the country shows a little more variation from region, but it’s still (for me, at least) depressingly blue:

Canada wide election results - taken from CBC website

It will be an interesting four years to come…



April 18, 2011

Full disclosure: I am, by and large, a pragmatist. At least in the sense that I recognize that there are situations or circumstances that were not of my making and that are of a scale and level of entrenchment that, whether I think they are A Good Thing or not, the chances of me changing the system is, as they say “Somewhere between slim and nil, and Slim just left town.”

Which is why I am able to deal with the occasional pang of psychic discomfort resulting from the origins of the food I eat – principally related to products of animal origin, but also with regard to the costs to the environment and society from the mass production of all kinds of foods including fruits and vegetables.

So I am an omnivore, but not necessarily proud of it.  Let’s face it, the human race evolved to be omnivorous for a number of survival related reasons – opportunistic reasons, to be sure.  After all, if you can survive on different types of food which vary in availability, you may have an advantage over other creatures which are tied to a highly specific diet – call it the “sole source effect”, to fall back on my experience working with supply chains in business.  If you rely on a sole source of supply for a critical raw material or component used in producing your finished goods, and there’s an interruption to that source… it can get ugly pretty quickly.  Trust me on this.

In fact, the diet that K and I live on tends to include much less animal-source protein than for a lot of North Americans.  And since the time we lived in France – where a culture of using fresh, seasonal ingredients is supported by the existence of neighbourhood farm markets in urban areas, we’ve been eating seasonally as much as possible.

Fresh strawberries in January? Um, no thanks, we’ll wait until they’re in season and become plentiful, not to mention actually tasting like strawberries unlike the ones shipped a gazillion kilometres from a more hospitable climate to The Great White North that is Canada in the winter (or mid-April, sometimes… where we live, this past weekend was punctuated with near white-out conditions at times; fortunately, the snow that fell melted almost immediately on hitting the ground).

Another way we manage to eat locally grown produce in season is by belonging to a CSA (short for “Community Shared Agriculture” in Canada) – ours is the Ignatius Farm CSA, and the farm that it’s part of is certified organic, so the produce we get in our share of the harvest during the growing season is organically produced as well as being local.  A big plus is that you get to know the farmers and the interns (our CSA has a strong internship and education focus).  Supplementing what we get in our weekly share are the vegetables we grow in our rented organic garden plot – the community garden plots are also part of the Ignatius Farm.

Out of season, we have to buy produce from the supermarket – but even then, we try to choose based on what’s in season.

And then there’s the animal protein side of the ledger.  As I said, K and I eat less (probably a lot less) of it than most North Americans – a good 2/3 of our suppers are vegetarian (it’s probably an even higher proportion during the summer while we’re getting the CSA share), and for those meals that do include meat K usually only uses about 300 g (10-ish ounces) in preparing them.  And that’s shared between the two of us, generally with enough left over for me to have as a lunch – from what I’ve seen people put in their cart at the supermarket, I’d say a lot of them think that 300 g of meat would serve just one person and skimpily at that.

While it doesn’t make me especially happy knowing an animal gets killed in order to provide me with that meal, I also don’t dwell on it – that pragmatism thing, you know.  Short of becoming breathairian, I know that something, whether it’s animal or vegetable, has to die in order to provide me with food to sustain my life.  I didn’t make the rules, and so far I’m still pretty attached to the whole “living” thing which means I can, er, live with the knowledge and not lose sleep over it.

There you have it, a post to cover “O” as today’s letter for the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  Funny, all of a sudden, I feel hungry…

Starting fresh

January 1, 2010

I recently had an e-mail conversation with Kneale Mann about my top 5 goals for 2010 – more about #1 in a bit, but the second on my list was to blog more regularly.  And in order to do that, I said I would need to work on achieving a better balance in my writing.

What I meant by that was, well, here’s what I said to Kneale in my e-mail:

I write well, but it takes me too long – I am by nature a perfectionist, and when combined with my great respect for language, it means I end up spending a lot of time reviewing, editing and rewriting until I feel every word in what I’ve written deserves to be there.

So the first step is writing this post today; the second will be to heed Voltaire’s aphorism Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien (“The best is the enemy of the good“) and not sweat each post so much.

What else did I have in my list of goals? Let’s see:

  • #3: Help the CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) farm program at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph become even more successful.  K and I have been members of the CSA for a couple of seasons now and have really benefitted from the organic produce we received in our weekly share of the harvest.  In the Fall of 2009 we volunteered to be part of the CSA’s “Core Group” and I have also joined their BAC (Business Advisory Committee) to help with the financial side of the CSA.
  • #4: Expand my circle of on-line connections – I’ve benefitted enormously in the past 3-4 years from making connections on-line (many of which have led to face-to-face relationships).  That said, I will continue to be discriminating about who I connect with – I don’t need to “friend” everyone, just the right people: intelligent, socially committed and willing to act in order to make the world better.
  • #5: Write the next killer non-fiction book, using everything I’ve observed about people, corporations, governments, crowds and their behaviour to explain how we’ve managed to screw the world up so badly. And if I’m lucky, come up with some useful suggestions to alter that course before it all ends very, very badly for humanity.

As I said in my e-mail:

#5 is what they call a “stretch goal” (and it’s a BIG stretch, but hey, as they say “Go big or go home”).  The other 4 are emminently do-able, I think.  Not necessarily easy, but do-able.

So, #2 is underway (you’re reading this post, aren’t you?), #3 has been started and will continue (next BAC meeting is in several weeks) and #4 is happening all the time – if you’re not already one of my connections, you can start by leaving a comment here or by finding me elsewhere on the interwebs: I’m on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to name a few places we can connect.

Oh, and #1 goal for 2010? Well, this one wasn’t quite what Kneale had in mind when he asked for my goals, since he was looking for ones that were things that others could aspire to and this one is a very self-centred goal (although I’m sure that there are many out there with the same one right now):

  • #1: Find employment – whether this is a full-time position with a company, contract work or consulting. Gotta pay the bills.

If you want to connect about helping me achieve that one, I’d certainly be interested in hearing about opportunities that would suit my particular skills, strengths and experience.  If you want to know more about what I’ve done, you can see my Curriculum Vitae page (there’s a downloadable PDF version of my résumé availble there too).

There, done. And without sweating the details… too much, anyway.