Sunday, January 16, 2011


Mid-way through the first month of the second decade of the 21st Century: Good enough to tidy-up a few loose ends before embarking unto the remainder of the decade.

I was brought-up in a French speaking household. The expression "tidying-up loose ends" I only learned at University. My STU classmates will recall J.E.P. Butler's sophomore American History course: Dr. Butler, a history scholar and poet, "Jeppy" (we called him, affectionately of course) would walk to the Post office every day carrying a suit-case. Students never quite knew whether he received any mail...but now in my own 7th decade, I'm understanding the daily significance of waiting for the Postman - I digress.

CHEEP - THE NEW CHIC: On both sides of the North American border urban centres have been dealing with the new "chic;" keeping and raising chickens in the yard. In Ottawa last fall, City Council nixed a proposal to allow "coop housing" in private back yards. It's much the same elsewhere including Detroit and Spokane in the United States where issues of noise, odor and abandoned fowls have resulted in significant restrictions. Supporters of the proposal suggest that besides laying the "freshest" eggs, chickens eat bugs and weeds and provide homegrown fertilizer. Chicago, New York, Seattle and Portland (Oregon) are all okay with the idea, and the website claims a membership of 70,000.

HISTORY IN PHOTOS: "La Societe historique du Madawaska;" my home town's historical society has acquired and catalogued a treasure trove of photographs from about 1930 to the early part of the 21st Century. The photos (more than 2000 so far) are being posted on the bilingual website as the historical society lays the groundwork for hosting the 2014 World Acadian Congress ("Cajuns" to my American friends)in Edmundston, New Brunswick. There's been some controversy about the Congress as many locals, perhaps a majority, (myself included) are not of Acadian descent or extraction. But there's no controversy about the historic value of the photo collection acquired following the demise of "Studio LaPorte." Sidney Laporte, his daughter Charlotte and her husband Larry Coburn, their daughter Louise and her husband Mike Jessop chronicled the history of "La Republique du Madawaska" in photos for more than seven decades.

YOU'LL BE AMAZED BY THE CRUISE RATES: Two gigantic cruise ships sailing out of ports in Florida have significantly depressed the all-inclusive cruise market to the Caribbean so far this winter. In a continually tough American economic market, the Royal Caribbean owned "MS Oasis of the Seas" and the "MS Allure of the Seas" have added an additional 12,000 rooms ("berths" in seagoing terms) to the already crowded weekly sailings from ports in Florida. That accounts for an incredible availability of 90,000 oceangoing "berths" sailing out of Florida every week this winter. Pick your Port: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa or Canaveral and you're good to go - Cheap! As long as you stay away from the shipboard casinos.

NAMED NAMES: A new book out over the next few days, "Remembering My Father" by Ron Reagan, the late American President's youngest son, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the actor turned politician who died of complications from Alzheimer's in 2004. One thing the book doesn't talk about is the late President's past as a secret FBI informer during the notorious Communist witch-hunt of the early 1950's which was fueled by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. At that time, the actor Ronald Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild, Hollywood's most significant trade union. Over the "McCarthyism" period a number of film and (early) television acting careers were destroyed by accusations of subversion and treason without any proper regard for evidence.

Loose ends nicely tied-up. Thanks Jeppy!

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