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Can We Talk?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’m told this is the final Harry Potter mystery.  I hope they’re right.  Deathly Hallows – that sounds half good and half bad.

I admire the author, don’t get me wrong.  I mean, who could sit in a café all day nursing a cup of coffee – writing by hand no less – reams and reams of fantasy, for months at a time?  Well, Ms Rawlings obviously did for which I give her credit.  She deserves all her billions.  Her writer’s cramp alone warrants it.

Wizardry, magic, elves, alakazam, kapow-you’re-a-toad-now and such, hold no interest for me.  In order for me to enjoy a story, I have to be able to relate to it.  How can you relate to funny hats, magic wands and magic potions?  Even as a child, I never fantasized about such things.  Cinderella and her horse/mouse-drawn golden/pumpkin-carriage seemed silly to me.  Now, I’m supposed to relate to wizardry a la Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows. 

When I was young, Nancy Drew was my hero.  What a wonderful series of mystery stories.  She helps her father solve crimes.  Now, Nancy I could relate to.

Wizardry, Wizards, Magic, Magicians

Throughout history, there have always been stories of magic, magicians, wizardry and wizards.  Some of the most blatant examples appear in the Bible – both old and new Testaments.  For example, and in no particular order – the parting of the Red Sea, turning water to wine, waking the dead, rising from the tomb, feeding multitudes with a loaf of bread and a couple of fish, walking on water, Jonah in the whale, turning to a pillar of salt, walls destroyed by trumpets, burning bushes, angels giving messages from God, virgin birth, stairway to heaven – the list goes on and on.  We are told to believe these acts of magic without question.  We have them drilled into our heads like they actually happened.

No wonder we will believe other acts of magic and wonder.  How about Santa Clause and his flying reindeer, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny?  OK, you get my drift.  When we don’t like the world we live in, we can escape into a world of possibilities – where beautiful godmothers, kindly old men and heroes like Harry Potter right all wrongs.  Where everything is beauty, goodness, smiles and hugs and you live without fear or intimidation.  In this world it is easy to discern good from evil.  Evil is ugly.  Good is beautiful.  There, that was easy.  In the real world, there is no such formula. Hence, our attraction to stories such as the Harry Potter tales of magic.

So,  dear old Harry Potter, I hope you slay the villain.  I hope you find closure.  I hope you find love and live happily ever after in your world of wizardy and magic.

June 24th, 2007 Posted by | Affiliate Advertising | no comments

Photography Contests

I’ve always been an avid photographer.  Everywhere I went, my camera went.  I can’t tell you how much money I spent on film and development over the years.  Looking back, had it not been for me there would be no cute shots of my little boy in various stages of his young life, or of those swell vacations.  Face it, each moment that passes is a moment gone forever.  You can only hold tight to moments of your life and the world around you, through photography.

Three years ago, I became a member of the local Camera Club and am still in the Beginner’s category.  I had a slow start.  For the first year and a half, I had a 35mm point and shoot.  Other members had their SLR’s.  I had no idea about lighting, composition, the rule of thirds.  I had always just looked at a scene, decided I liked it and “click”, that was it.  Still I had the gall to enter photography contests, would you believe?  Naturally, my scores were low.

Then, I got my Canon Rebel DSLR.  Well, that was like learning the computer all over again.  All those settings.  But, I shot like a maniac, entered our club’s photography contests and, naturally, scored low – what is the pesky fstop, anyway? What do you mean depth of field? Geesh!  I read the instructions over and over.  I entered online forums.

By last year, the penny was beginning to drop – not as it would naturally – but in slow motion – defying gravity.  And what helped me to see the light?  Participating and observing the judging of photography contests.

Photography Contest – The Judging

First of all, the judges came from outside the club.  Some had quite a drive to get to the appointed place.  They were always seasoned competition judges.  Three judges sat side by side, each with an electronic clicker in his/her hand. For us, the observers and note-takers, we were required to sit quietly behind them, register their votes on our score sheets and write down the judges’ comments.

Sitting behind the row of judges I was amazed just how intricate judging is.  They look at the picture.  All is quiet.  Sometimes one of them will get up, walk up to the picture, examine closely and sit down again.  Sometimes a couple of hands would come up and form the “viewfinder”.  Then, without fanfare, the scores would light up on the console beside me. “Six, Six, Seven, for a total of 19” I call out.  The others write the scores.  Then the judges voice their comments, we write them down and we move on to the next picture.

When all the pictures have been judged, they decide first, second, third and runners-up standings.  When all that has been decided on, we have coffee and sweets, sit around and chat until we call it an evening and leave.

What I have learned from all this is that judging photography contests is not an exact science.  Judging photography contests is very subjective.  Here is an example.

The last contest of the season is called the Salon Competition.  This is where you enter the best you’ve done for the year.  Usually, you enter the highest scoring pictures from previous contests you’ve entered because the Salon is the best of the best.

Photography Contests – The Salon

Since I had the good fortune of observing the contests throughout the year, I was also involved in the process for the Salon Contest.

On this occasion, everything remained the same except the judges.  We had three brand new judges we’d never met before.  The judging process was an eye opener.  As you recall, this is the best of the best, so I’d seen these pictures before.  Now they are to be judged again but by different judges.

The results were dramatically different.  What had previously been lauded as amazing – now were being panned.  What had been previously panned – now was lauded.

The prizes on this occasion went to totally different photographers.

Photography Contests – How To Enter

Make sure that the basics are correct, such as horizon line is straight, the image is in focus, the lighting is pleasing, observing the rule of thirds. Oh, and give your photograph an appropriate title.  You’d be amazed how the wrong title will lose you points.

Apart from that, send what makes you happy.  If the photograph puts a smile on your face and a song in your heart, enter it.  Judges are only human and you never know what makes them tick.

There’s no use taking pictures with the view of winning photography contests.  That attitude will only stifle your creative spirit.  Make sure you’ve covered the basics and go for it.  Oh, and one more things before I forget.  If the contest requires a theme, then stick to the theme before entering.

Now, go ahead.  Be brave.  Click below and enter the photo contest.  You may just surprise yourself.
Click Here

June 19th, 2007 Posted by | Affiliate Advertising, Photography | no comments

Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch Revisited

Ortho Evra-The Good News

Some women have found it convenient to use a patch that you only have to apply once a week.  No more fumbling in the morning with the pill dispenser.  The Ortho Evra Birth ControlPatch is so convenient.  It won’t wash off.  It won’t wear off.  It stays put until you remove it. And you stay protected from an unwanted pregnancy.

Ortho Evra-The Bad News

Since this patch releases estrogen directly through the skin into the bloodstream, you are exposed to much higher levels of estrogen than most birth control pills, thereby risking adverse side effects such as strokes, pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thromboses, heart attacks, ischemic strokes, etc.

Smoking cigarettes increases the risk, especially if you’re over 35.  Should you wish to become pregnant or are pregnant, do not use this patch. Should you be in less than perfect health, do not use this patch without consulting your family doctor or other health care professional. 

If you have been using the Ortho Evra contraceptive patch and are concerned that you might have put yourself at risk, there is help and information. 

Please click on the links below and put your mind at ease or, perhaps, obtain compensation for your pain and suffering.

Ortho Evra Lawsuit – Birth Control Patch

Ortho Evra
ortho evra patch

June 17th, 2007 Posted by | Affiliate Advertising | no comments

Police Round-Up

A couple of nights ago, police rounded up about 90 known gang members who have been terrorizing their neighbourhoods and are known to be drug dealers – virtually all of them black.  The biggest roundup in the history of the force.  Not only in Toronto but Peel Region, Niagara Region, Barrie Region.  About five of the rounded up had been employed at the airport in charge of the safe transport of drugs through customs.

Much was made over the spectacular police raid – something they’d been working on for the past 11 months.  It was like an episode of Law and Order.  What do you want to bet half of them will be out on bail in the next week or two?  Laws are in place but they have no teeth. Dangerous offenders seem to be able to get off time and time again to re-offend.  For all the fanfare, only 23 weapons were seized.  Apparently, those with the weapons would rent them out to whoever needed the gun for a job. 

At the courthouse the day after the raid, family members of the gang were screaming racism.  Defense attorneys were puffing and blowing on the cruelty of treatment and that it was not the Canadian way and we should all be ashamed.  Well, you know the drill. Pandemonium.  Women screaming what good fathers the accused were and how they don’t deserve this treatment.  A lot of shouting and screaming accusations.  The news was filled with all the details on how the raid was conducted and executed.  Wow.

But there is another side to the coin.  Drug dealers need customers.  Without customers, they’d be stuck with merchandise that can’t sell.  You can bet the customers don’t live in the Jane-Finch area.  You can bet they’re on Post Road and the like.  The ordinary guy can’t afford the good stuff.  Losers use crack and, well, we all know where they end up.

Personally, I feel all drugs should be made legal.  You should be able to buy it like you buy wine, beer and hard liquor.  That way, it’s a legitimate business paying taxes and conducted in an orderly fashion.  I’m sure the guys at Jane and Finch would rather play golf or spend time with family than be out making a deal in some back alley and risking their lives and those of others.

Personally, I feel prostitution should also be legal.  I’ve seen them on cold winter nights, wearing little short skirts and spiked heels loitering on street corners.  My heart went out to them.  Their legs must have felt numb from the cold.  That’s no way to make a living.  Why can’t it be like Amsterdam?  I took a tour through their red-light district.  The girls were displayed in shop windows.  Some were dressed as little school girls, others as vamps, others in slinky gowns, punk, leather, etc.  Whatever your fantasy, you could satisfy it there.  So civilized.

People will always find a way to get what they want.  During Prohibition, more liquor was consumed than before.  Much was made of Al Capone and the Mafia.  But they were only filling a need.  Liquor was shipped in from Canada, via the Great Lakes.  Many an old-monied Canadian family today, made their money from the then illegal liquor trade.  And say what you will, that didn’t quiet down until the law changed.  No amount of police work can stop that which the public wants.

So, rather than fighting this battle that will never be won, change the law, reorganize, control it and collect your precious taxes.  Maybe we can all have some peace then.

June 15th, 2007 Posted by | Personal Opinions, The Law | no comments

Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch

So you’re practicing birth control and that part is good.  But suppose what you’ve been using is detrimental to your health and well being?  Case in point – the Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch.  Users have reported some very serious side effects. 

Ortho Evra contraceptive patch releases estrogen through the skin into the bloodstream. Using the patch, women are exposed to much higher levels of estrogen than most birth control pills, thereby increasing their risk of adverse side effects like stroke or blood clots.

Cigarette smoking increases the risk especially if you are over 35. Some women should not use the Patch, especially those women who are in less than perfect health, as well as those who are or may become pregnant. Of course, why you’d use birth control when you’re pregnant or wanting to be pregnant, is a puzzle.

It’s best to discuss this method with your family doctor or other health professional.  There is no doubt, the convenience of a once-a-week patch, is undeniable. Just make certain it is safe for you.

There is more information here if you’ve been injured.
Ortho Evra Lawsuit – Birth Control Patch

Ortho Evra
ortho evra patch

June 12th, 2007 Posted by | Affiliate Advertising | no comments