Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category

Bluenose   5 comments

I wasn’t sure I’d find anything like the boat behind me — a replica of a hundred-foot fishing schooner, similar to a very famous one from Canada — but I lucked out in the end.  While I was wikiwalking today, you see, I was reminded of what some claim is the most famous ship in Canadian history, one most of us take for granted every day because it’s in our pockets, and we see it so damned often that we “forget” about it.  But never, never completely ….

The 1920s were the last great days of the wind-driven North Atlantic fishing fleets, including out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  In 1921, the schooner Bluenose was launched, in part to participate in the dory-fishing trade on the Grand Banks, but also to get revenge on the Americans for winning a schooner race sponsored by a newspaper.  She could work hard — she carried eight dories, which would be launched up to four times a day when she was active during the fishing season — but she was designed as much for speed, with a very unique profile in the water.

The Bluenose handily won the right to represent Canada in the 1921 International Fisherman’s Trophy, and proceeded to take apart the American Elsie in October to win the Cup.  She and her captain, Angus Walters, defended the Cup in 1922 against the Henry S. Ford.  The 1923 race ended in controversy, and another wasn’t held for years.

The ship continued mostly successful in racing, and represented Nova Scotia in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King George V; but her paying days as a fishing boat were ending.  Motor trawlers started taking over the trade from the dorymen in the 1930s; that and the Great Depression hit the wind-driven fishers hard.  The Bluenose‘s greatest racing challenger was at hand, though — Gloucester’s Gertrude L. Thebaud.  The Thebaud defeated her in a challenge cup in 1930; but the Bluenose had the better of the American boat in the International Fisherman’s Trophy, defeating her twice — and ending with the trophy in her possession in 1938.  That was the end for her, though; her masts were removed afterward by new owners, who moved her to the Caribbean in 1942 and turned this beauty into a diesel-powered coastal freighter.  She ran aground off Haiti in 1946, was abandoned, and broke up on the reef.

The Bluenose has never been forgotten by Canada, though.  At the height of her fame, the schooner was placed on the reverse of Canada’s dime coin, where she has sailed ever since.  Even before that, she was commemorated on one of Canada’s most famous stamps; and again in 1988, on a stamp honouring Angus Walters, her long-time captain.  And a replica, Bluenose II, built from her original plans, sails the waters out of Lunenburg to this day as a living museum and “ambassador” of Nova Scotia.

2 for 2   3 comments

It’s been five years since I got this RL personal in this SL blog.  But I do like to share happiness when possible, and this is a happy moment.  My youngest has graduated from the local high school tonight, and will be heading on to college in the fall.  It’s entirely possible that the house will be empty this fall, as his sister is hoping to enter medical school as well; she graduated from college back in December (which I forgot to share at the time, but I was flat exhausted that day).  It’ll be the first time in 26 years we’ve been by ourselves if that’s the case, and it may take getting used to.  On the up side, it’ll give us a chance to clean out the house some!

Posted May 22, 2018 by Harper Ganesvoort in Personal, Real Life

Veterans Day 2017

This blog always salutes our veterans of today in a more international manner, by recalling those who gave their all in service at one time or another, representative of the bravery those who are still with us showed.  This year, while considering what I would be writing about, I happened back across this story from World War II, not much remembered today by those of us obsessed with the fight against terrorism, or who champion veterans for more political purposes.  These four men show that there are many forms which bravery can take, and it can be exhibited even by those who swear never to take another’s life.

Learn more after the break.

Me On Canada 150

Since I live in Saint-Lazare-de-Vaudreuil, Québec, Harper sort of arm-twisted me — uh, make that “sweet-talked”; I can feel Harper staring at me as I write this, and she’s across most of a continent — into writing about Canada on its sesquicentennial birthday.  I don’t know if I’m really the right person for this; I may live in Québec, but I’m not native Canadian.  (I was born in upstate New York, and then my parents moved here some years ago.)  But I’m the closest thing to a Canadian on hand, so I suppose I’m anointed.  (I was also supposed to publish this on July 1, but Second Life must wait for the RL working schedule.)

And there’s really a lot to be proud of as a citizen of a country as great as Canada is, even if I wasn’t raised on hockey and poutine.  Harper actually said a lot of good things about us last year, when she happened to write a piece in this blog for our 149th birthday.  And she got it mostly right.  But there’s always a few exceptions to quick observations, some missed at the time, some which slip in later.  For instance, our eminent publisher didn’t really catch the ambivalence of many here in Québec toward being part of a country whose original rulers kicked out the king and government that founded us years before — specifically, France.  A separatist referendum back in 1995 was defeated — by only 1.16%.  Stresses exist to this day between Québec and the other provinces, and Québec has never approved the 1982 Constitution.

And then there are the relations with the First Nations peoples, who in the US are called Native Americans or Indians.  There have been few wars of “pacification,” along the line of the Indian Wars of the American 19th century.  Great efforts have been expended in modern days to work with tribal leaders.  But there have been many rocky moments as well, with promises broken by the white man; the British and Canadian governments of the 19th and early 20th centuries did have a history of land dispossession, Indian residential schools and forced assimilation.  A “reoccupation” tent was raised on Parliament Hill by an indigenous group in the days before the Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, as a reminder of these past blots on the Canadian copybook.  In a politically shrewd move, the tent was not ejected, but moved closer to the Centre Block Peace Tower — and the celebration stage.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited it as a gesture.

And things like this are actually a sign that gives Canadians hope for their country.  In the long run, Canadians have tried to live up to the more noble aspects of their country and culture.  The country itself (more properly, the Dominion of Canada) was confederated in 1867 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on the principles of “peace, order and good government,” and the full patriation of its Constitution from British control (in 1982) included a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that codifies constitutionally Canadians’ protections — aside from one interesting “notwithstanding” section that can be invoked, but rarely is due to political costs.  Outside of, perhaps, the House of Commons and the provincial legislatures, there’s usually a real attempt to find dialogue and consensus between sides of a question.  And the old chestnut about Canadians being just plain nicer than other peoples has a lot of truth to it.  (Aside from, maybe, Stanley and Grey Cup championship games.)

So yeah, I’m glad to be a Canadian in many ways.  It’s not the perfect place to live; but what country is?  And it strives to be better than many other places are around the world.  Canadians have worked hard for 150 years now to hold their place among the other countries of the world, and we’ve made our contributions, to politics, science, medicine, economics, and entertainment.  We’re gonna keep on working hard, and we should be here in some form or another for a few more decades.  Maybe we can even help keep the rest of the world from destroying itself, if we can export a little “Canadianness” to other places around.  Our children will find that out for us.

Donate Blood Today — The Gift of Life

Today is the first day of summer, and that reminded me of something I once wrote about back in my political-blogging days:  donating blood.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fearless Girls

This little girl, done in bronze and sort of “smuggled” into position overnight (with a city permit allowing them) either says a lot about the future of business on Wall Street, or doesn’t say anything, depending on who you read and talk to.  The statue, Fearless Girl, was dropped deliberately in front of another famous statue, Charging Bull, as a sort of symbol.  She is supposed to represent future women standing up to Wall Street and corporations who have almost no female representation in board rooms and executive suites, demanding that this change, and soon.

Admirers think this is great.  There’s a lot of detractors as well, though, pointing out that the statue was commissioned by an investment house that sells a branded package of stocks from companies with women on their board — and the plaque at Fearless Girl‘s feet is nothing more than advertising the package, complete with brand.  It’s also pointed out that less than a third of the company’s own board is female, so shouldn’t they be putting their money where their mouth supposedly is?

Harper and I see this as a beginning, not an ending.  Less than 30% representation certainly isn’t equal, but it’s a beginning.  Societal mentality changes slowly — as slow as a glacier at times — but it changes.  While as much progress as women have made in the corporate area in 45 years is about as slow as that glacier, remember that those big ice cubes have ground down mountains over time.  It’s time to start improving corporate performance, yes.  But it will come, one way or another.

OFPC Extra — 2017 Vanity Fair Cover

Photo by Annie Leibowitz; copyright 2017 Annie Leibowitz and Vanity Fair magazine.

Photo by Annie Leibowitz; copyright 2017 Annie Leibowitz and Vanity Fair magazine.

Appearing together (L-R):  Emma Stone, Lupita Nyong’o, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, Ruth Neggia, Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Aja Naomi King, Dakota Johnson, Greta Gerwig, Janelle Monáe.

See the 2017 Hollywood Portfolio at Vanity Fair magazine, online or on your newsstand.

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