Friday, March 16, 2018

Epidemic Continuance

'Epidemic' is described as a wide-spread condition, situation, disease ~
affecting many in an area at once or spread in various places throughout the world.

The 'can of worms' has been opened ~ and unknown how long this disease will permeate our society!
I praise those women who had/have the courage to speak of their 'uncalled-for assaults.' It's not my intention to continue writing about the ongoing details; I list only a few of the already culprits being charged. Still there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of women and men in 'out-of the-spotlight positions, whose lives have been threatened by unwanted and uninvited sexual attention.
There will be more...and the list endless!
This is only 'the tip of the ice-burg!'

Trump Lawyer Brokered $130,000 Payment to Porn Star to prevent her from publically discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, according to a report Friday in the Wall Street Journal. Trump met Stephanie Clifford (named Stormy Daniels in films) at a golf event in 2006 ~ a year after his marriage to his wife, Melania. Clifford began talking with ABC News in the fall of 2016 for a story involving an alleged relationship with Trump, but reached a $130,000 deal a month before the election, which prevented her from 'going public.' Trump's long-time attorney, Michael Cohen arranged for the payment through Clifford's lawyer, Keith Davidson, the Journal reported. Trump denies any such relationship with Clifford. Just days before the 2016 election, the Journal published a story stating that the National Enquierer ~ run by David Pecker, a fervid supporter of Trump ~ had paid $150,000 to silence former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal about a sexual relationship she allegedly had with Trump a decade ago. (Published by The Associated Press)

Franco Reportedly 'Hiding Out' After Being Accused of Sexually Inappropriate Behaviour. James Franco is being accused by 5 women. The actor skipped the Critics' Choice Awards on Thursday ~ where he won the award for Best Actor in “The Disaster Artist', The ceremony took place just hours after the L.A. Times published the stories of the five women. (New York Daily News)

Daniel Lipton Accused of 'Serious Sexual Assault' by Women from Hamilton 30 Years Ago: A sexual assault arrest warrant has been issued for a former artistic director of Opera Hamilton and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Once a high profile member of the Hamilton music scene, the warrant was issued nearly a year ago ~ in February 2017, while the maestro was artistic director at Opera Tampa in Florida ~ yet police have not arrested Lipton and do not currenlty know where he lives.
Lipton, now 76, left Opera Tampa suddenly six months ago
with a year still remaining in his contract. (The Associated Press)

Joshua Boyle, a Former Afghanistan Hostage has made a brief appearance in an Ottawa court on a string of assault charges. Boyle was arrested by Ottawa police around the start of the new year and faces 15 charges, including eight counts of assault, two of unlawful confinement and one count of causing someone to take a noxious 'thing' ~ an antidepressant. (The Canadian Press)

Albert Schultz Resigns Amid Sex Assault Allegations: The renowned co-founder of one of Canada's leading theater companies resigned just days after four actresses alleged in lawsuits that he sexually had harassed them with impunity for years. In a statement, the board of directors of Toronto's 'Soulpepper Theatre Company' which previously said it had relieved artistic director, Albert Schultz, of his responsibilities pending an investigation, and had accepted his resignation effective immediately.

Peter Martins to Retire from NYC Ballet: After accusations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse, Peter Martins, the powerful leader of the New York City Ballet has decided to retire. Five City Ballet dancers came forward to describe verbal and physical abuse as far back as 1993. “I have denied that I have engaged in any such misconduct,” said Martins, 71,”and believe I'll be vindicated.”

Tom Ashbrook Facing Misconduct Allegations: The host of one of National Public Radio's most successful programs, Tom Ashbrook was placed on leave amid allegations that he subjected nearly a dozen subordinates to 'creepy' sex talk and unwanted advances. Ashbrook's “On Point' show allegedly made at least 11 young male and female co-workers uncomfortable with lengthy sex rants; he allegedly also subjected the staffers to unwanted hugs, back or neck rubs. (reported from New York)

McNabb, Davis Join List of former NFL Stars Suspended: Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis, former National Football League players who host shows on ESPN Radio, were suspended by the network as the fallout continued from a lawsuit claiming sexual harassment and assault. NFL Network also suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor 'pending investigation,' in response to the suit. Eric Weinberger, president of the Bill Simmons Media Group and a former NFL Network executive, was suspended by the media group as a result of allegation made about him in the lawsuit.

Famed Conductor Accused of Sexual Misconduct: Three opera singers and a classical musician in the United States say that world-renowned conductor, Charles Dutoit, who had a 25-year run with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, sexually assaulted them ~ physically restraining them, forcing his body against theirs , sometimes thrusting his tongue into their mouths, and in one case sticking one of their hands down his pants. In separate interviews with The Associated Press, the accusers provided detailed accounts of incidents they say occurred between 1985 and 2010 in a moving car, the two-time Grammy winner's hotel suite, his dressing rooom, an elevator and the darkness of backstage.

In a long, distinguished career, he travelled the globe as a guest conductor. Four women stated that the Swiss born conductor either lured them to a private place to discuss or practise music, or simply seized a moment alone to'make his move.' The women said they resisted him and escaped. The women said they never filed formal complaints because they were young and Dutoit was the maestro, but they felt inspired to come forward now by all the women speaking out about sexual misconduct by powerful men in other industries and by the Metropolitan Opera suspending conductor James Levine earlier, after misconduct accusations surfaced. (published by The Associated Press)

The Biggest Hollywood Story of the Year!
Reported by Mark Kennedy in New York: The Associated Press names Weinstein Accusers as its Entertainer of the Year. Arguably the biggest thing that came from Hollywood this year wasn't a movie or a TV show. It had heroines and villains, but no script. And it went virile despite having no big publicity behind it. The women who initially spoke out against sexual misconduct in Hollywood this past fall, inspired millions to tell their own stories of harassment and illegality on social media have been named The Associated Press Entertainer of the Year, voted by members of the news co-operative and AP entertainment reporters. The wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have streteched across the country to fell prominent TV figures, chefs, journalists, entertainers, politicians and publishers was also named the top news story of 2017 in an SP poll.
The Hamiton Spectator featured in its December 22 issue
colour photos of 12 women assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.

Merle Baird-Kerr...January 7, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March's Notable Days

This third month clearly reminds me of Sousa's band music...the delightful 'March of the Penguins'...and the adage that 'if March comes in as a lamb, it exits as a lion'!
And it is this time of year when Mother Nature makes a seasonal transition.

Be of Good Faith: “No Winter Lasts Forever”
and that no Spring skips its turn. (Hal Borland)

Or perhaps you believe as Charles Dickens: “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”

According to my March calendar's colour photo of Yellow Warblers:
Medium-sized, they they are found throughout most of Canada during their breeding season in overgrown fields, pastures as well as in wet thickets and areas of regrowth. Yellow warblers migrate to Central America and northern South America for the winter months. Named for their striking yellow colour, some suggest they are the brightest yellow of North American wood-warblers.

March 1 is Movie Night in our complex's Common Room at 7 p.m.
Scheduled is “Defiance” starring Daniel Craig.

March 8 celebrates International Women's Day: the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a 'call to action' for acending gender parity.

March 11 is change to 'Daylight Saving Time' for Canada (except Saskatchewan) beginning Sunday at 2:00 a.m. Whereby local clocks are turned forward one hour. There will be much more light in the evening for farm operators and city-dwellers.

March 15: “Movie Night at 7 the Common Room ~ Salmon Fishing in the Yemin`
Never iron a 4-leaf clover because you 'don' want to press your luck!

March 17: St. Patrick's Day ~ also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration of this saint honouring the foremost patron saint of Ireland. It's also the day when I'm another year younger and another year wiser!

March 20 marks the First Day of Spring which no longer falls on March21. Now the vernal equinox for the Northern Hemisphere) comes at 2:15 p.m. Enjoy the Spring Equinox facts, folklore and photos

March 22, World Water Day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, to sanitation (washing) facilities in developing countries. The day focuses also on advocating for the sustainable management of fresh water resouces.

March 25: Palm Sunday when many Christians in Canada remember Jesus Christ's triuimphant entry into Jerusalem which marks the beginning of Holy Week ~ being the Sunday before Easter Sunday.

March 25: “Around the Bay Race in Hamilton is a 30 km. And 5 km. length. It is the oldest race on the continent. The first race was in 1894 ~ 3 years before the Boston Marathon. In 2005, The Around the Bay Race partnered with St. Joseph's Healthcare Foundation and for the first time, became a fund-raising event.

March 30 is Good Friday and when Passover begins.

March's History
Since March was the first month of the New Year in ancient Rome, some historians believed the Romans named March after Mars ~ the Roman God of War. According to the Julian and Gregorian calendars, March is the third month.
Aquamarine is the modern birthstone for the month of March.
Aquamarine is a variety of beryl which is the same gemstone family
as the emeralds and morganite.
Bloodstone is sometimes considered an alternate birthstone
since it is the zodiac stone for Aries (those born March 21-April 20)

Special People Born in March
Vincent van Gogh ~ March 30, 1853 (painter)
Albert Einstein ~ March 14, 1879 (German scientist)
William Shatner ~ March 22, 1931 (Canadian actor)
Elton John ~ March 25, 1947 (American musician and singer)
Mariah Carey ~ March 27, 1940 (musician)
Jessica Biel ~ March 3, 1982) (actress)
Justin Bieber ~ March 1, 1994 (Canadian singer/songwriter)
Eric Clapton ~ British musician

May Good Luck be with you wherever you go
and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow.

A Weird Conjecture (?)
Have you ever noticed?
Especially, after watching Olympic Games broadcasters...regular television pesonalities...and friends with whom you are having coffee: how greatly they 'talk with their hands'! This habit I've noticed for years (as perhaps you have). It was definitely noticeable how persons' hands, seem to aid the 'teller' in telling his story (they most surely must believe). But what is so characteristic these days is that not only does media coverage display this type of 'body language' it has become an everyday-type of habit which I find disconcerting! Picture this:

What we see are 'claws' which I find unsightly!
Instead of keeping their fingers together intact with their hand(s), many display fingers totally outspread, along with the thumb giving the hand, often a distracting gesture...
and with these integers (or whatever they're called) they draw attention to these claw-like hand positions...waving before you or in front of the cameraman or televsion screen.
To me, hands are beautiful and should increase ~ rather than decrease their presentation.
These hand displays strongly remind us, how truly we belong to the 'animal world'!
Best solution? Sit on your hands until habit is broken!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 1, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pandora's Box ~ Part 2

Renee Zellweger's Comments re Sexual Harrassment
The women who have spoken about their abuse are brave and heroic and although I didn't have a personal experience like this in multiple films with Harvey Weinstein, I unfortunately cannot say I'm surprised. This culture has always existed, not just in Hollywood, but across the world. And many men in positions of power have gotten away with it for far too long. We cannot blame the victims here.

A lot of these women are young ~ just starting out in their respective fields, and have absolutely no way to stand up to a man with so much influence, much greater than theirs. If they speak up, they are shut down...and that could be the end of their career.
This is all a positive step forward in changing that culture...
and these young women need to know that they have a 'support system'
should anything like this happen to them.”

Former NFL, CFL star Moon Denies Sexual Harassment Claims, writes Adam Kilgore, published in The Washington Post. “Famed quarterback, Warren Moon denied claims made against him in a lawsuit by a California woman who worked at the sports marketing agency he led, according to a statement released by a lawyer representing him. The lawsuit, filed in California by Moon's executive assistant at Sport 1 Marketing, alleged that Moon required the plaintiff, Wendy Haskell, to wear thong underwear and sleep in his bed on work trips, among other accusations.” Mr. Moon contends these claims are meritlesss and he has every intention to vigorously defend himself in court.”
Moon, 61, had served as an analyst on the Seattle Seahawks' radio network.
Moon requested and received a 'temporary' leave of absence from the network.
Moon hired Haskell, 32, in July. She frequently travelled with Moon for speaking engagements, charity events and other meetings, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges Moon committed sexual battery by grabbing Haskell's crotch during a trip to Seattle this year. The suit also accuses Moon of pulling off the woman's bathing suit after slipping a drug into her drink during a separate trip to Mexico in October. Moon insisted she would lose her job if she did not comply...and that his former assistant 'accepted the same arrangement,' the lawsuit claims.

Moon retired after a 17-year NFL career in 2001 as one of the most prolific passers in league history after winning 5 Grey Cups and 2 Grey Cup MVP awards with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. Though he won the 1989 Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his charity and on-field excellence, his career was also pockmarked with scandals involving women.
In May, 1995, a Vikings cheerleader sued Moon and accused him of sexual harassment,
alleging that he offered her cash for sex. The case was settled out-of-court within days.

Metropolitan Conductor Denies Sex Allegations: “James Levine denied allegations of sexual misconduct made against him. In a statement to The New York Times, Levine called the accusations unfounded and stated that anyone who truly know him will attest that he is not an oppressor or an aggressor. The opera suspended Levine on Sunday after the Times published accounts from 3 of the accusers who say Levine sexually abused them when they were teenagers. A 4th accuser later came forward. The conductor says he wants to continue working at the Met ~ and that his fervent hope is that, in time, people will come to understand the truth.”

NYC Ballet Chief Accused of Harassment Takes Leave: Peter Martins, the influential leader of the New York City Ballet for 3 decades, has taken a 'leave of absence' pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. The company confirmed that 71-year-old Martins was granted a temporary leave from the company and the affiliated School of American Ballet until an independent investigation concluded...following an anonymous letter accusing Martins of past sexual harassment. The Washington Post reported that a former City Ballet dancer, Kelly Boal, had accused Martins of grabbing and shaking her in a violent way during a 1989 confrontation.

'X-Men' Director, Accused of Sexual Assault in Lawsuit: Bryan Singer, who directed “Superman Returns” and several “X-Men movies , was accused in a lawsuit Thursday of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy at a party more than a decade ago. In the lawsuit, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman said he met Singer for the first time at the the 2003 party, which took place on a yacht in Seattle, when he offered to give him a tour of the boat. While showing him the Master Bedroom, according to the lawsuit, Singer shut the door behind him and demanded sex from Sanchez-Guzman. After he refused, the lawsuit says, Singer pushed him on the bed and sexually assaulted him.
(Tis said, Taking risks is OK ~ but you must be prudent!)

Later, Bryan Singer approached Cesar and told him that he was a producer in Hollywood and that he could help Cesar get into acting as long as Cesar never said anything about the incident. He then told Cesar that no one would believe him if he ever reported it...and that he could hire people who are capable of ruining someone's reputation. Singer, categorically denies these allegations.
Singer was fired in recent days from directing 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.
In 2014, another man, Michael Egan, accused Singer of drugging him
when he was a minor in1999. Egan, later dropped the lawsuit.
(the foregoing 3 incidents were reported through “Wire Services”)

Charlie Sheen Sues Tabloid Over Assault Allegations: Charlie Sheen is suing the National Enquirer, saying that the magizine defamed him by alleging he sexually assaulted teen actor Corey Haim. In papers filed Friday in Los Angeles, Sheen called the tabloids allegations ridiculous and disgusting.
The Enquirer's November 8th edition includes a quote from actor Dominick Brascia, saying he was in his mid-teens and Sheen around 20, Sheen and Haim (who died in 2010), both appeared in the 1986 release “Lucas.” Brascia told the Enquirer that the assault came during the film's production. Sheen is seeking unspecified damages. (Published December 12 by News Services)

Maura Judkis and Emily Heil wrote December 12th that celebrity chef, Mario Batali has taken leave from his restaurants and co-hosting duties on ABC's “The Chew” after the website 'Eater' reported Monday that 4 women, all unnamed, have accused Batali of sexual harassment. One woman described 2 instances where Batali made inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact witrh her, while the others alleged that Batali groped their breasts and buttocks at industry parties. Three of them worked for him, while the fourth works in the industry.
Batali has stepped away from operations of his empire of 26 restaurants
worldwide which he co-owns with restauranteur Joe Bastianich.
He apologized in a statement to Eater saying, “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories, have not been revealed to me, much of the behaviour described, does in fact.”
The Food Network has stated, “Matters like this we take very seriously
and we are putting relaunch plans for 'Molto Mario' on hold.
News reports over the years show that his restaurants, were a place where sexual comments and behaviour went unpunished. Employees at Babbo, Batali's Italian restaurant in New York, have been the source of several complaints.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...December 12, 2017

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Olympic No! No's!

The Olympic Oath is a solemn promise
made by one athlete, judge or official ~ and one coach
at the Opening Ceremony of each Olympic Games.
Each oath taken is from the host nation
and takes the oath on behalf of all athletes, officials or coaches
at the currently celebrated games.
While reciting the oath, the 'oath-taker' holds a corner of the Olympic flag.

Larocque Apologizes for Removing Medal

Canadian defenceman, Jocelyne Larocque says she got 'caught up' in the emotion of Thursday's devastating 'shoot-out' loss to the United States in the Olympic women's hockey final ~ and regrets taking off her Silver Medal almost immediately after it was placed around her neck. (When realizing what she had done, she quickly replaced it...regretting her action with remorse.)
She apologized to the IOC,
to International Ice Hockey Federation,
the PyeongChang Olympic Organizing Committee,
the Canadian Olympic Committee,
Hockey Canada
and her teammates and fans.
She said she meant no disrespect.
In the moment, I was disappointed with the outcome at the game ~ and my emotions got the better of me,” she said. “I'm proud of our team and proud to be counted among the Canadian athletes who have medals at these Games. Being on the podium at the world's biggest sporting event is a great achievement and one that I'm thankful I was able to experience with my teammates.”

Saying she wished she could take the moment back, “I take seriously being a role model to young girls and representing our country. My actions did not demonstrate the values of our team, myself and my family ~ and for that I'm truly sorry!”
Melody Davidson, the general manager of the women's program
and Hockey Canada, said Larocque was very remorseful.
Emotions run high at the Olympic Games, and never moreso
than a gold-medal game when it goes to overtime and then lose the game
in a 'shoot-out' following the 'tie' still in a 20-minute overtime!”

Championship regulations state:
The medals have to be worn by the players around the neck
in respectful manner for the duration of the closing ceremony.

Apparently, Russian Who Wore “I Don't Do Doping” T-shirt, DOES!
(Reported by Matt Bonesteel in The Washington Post)
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, Russian bobsled pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva said other Olympic athletes had warmed to her once she had been allowed to compete in this year's PyeongChang Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee. During the interview, she was wearing a shirt that read: I Don't Do Doping.An attached photo of her from waist up...arms crossed...wearing a competing Russian shirt...donning a silver helmet... accompanies this article.

On Friday, Russian bobsled officials confirmed to the AP that Sergeeva had failed a doping test. She was one of the 168 Russian athletes who were specifically vetted before the Games by the IOC, which had banned Russia's Olympic federation from PyeongChang over past doping sins but allowed the pre-approved Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic Athletes From Russia moniker. She's now the second Russian athlete ~ and just the fourth athlete overall ~ to fail a doping test at these Olympics, joining curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, who tested positive for the banned substance 'meldonium.'

According to the AP, Sergeeva tested positive Sunday for 'trimetazdine,' a medication used for angina that has been banned because of its effects on metabolism. The president of the Russian Bobsled Federation says she denies taking the substance and that her initial drug test at the Games came back clean. “She confirms she took no such medication and the team confirms she was not issued any medication,” Alexander Zubkov told the AP.
Federation representatives at the Olympics” are starting to prepare a defence,” he said.
The positive test comes at the worst possible time for Russia.
On Saturday, the IOC's executive board will decide whether to reinstate
the country for Sunday's Closing Ceremonies.
This won't win us any extra credit,” Russian delegation leader Stanislav Pozdnyakov told members of that country's media, per the Associated Press. On Wednesday, Sergeeva's sled finished 12th in the bobsled competition.

Regardless, there is so much Good elicited from the Olympic Games!
Congratulations to the Republic of Korea for their wonderful presentation!
As previously written, this country was Ready and Waiting at least 10 days
prior to the Opening Ceremonies. Amazing!

My Personal Overview
When first informed by Media a few years ago,
 that these OlympicWinter Games would be held in PyeongChang in Korea, many, including me wondered “Where in heck is this city?” Now I can pronounce and write its name easily. As viewers, we have been enlightened about the country's physical location... its mountainous 'back-scape'...their superbly delicious food...and the culture of its people. Even children around the world could tap into the country's attributes on their i-pads!

The media coverage was A-One ~ watching the televised action through the 'eyes of CTV's analysts and reporters, cameramen and on the spot' interviews!' 
All programming was professionally organized. 
 Officiating by the referees and judges seemed most justified and fair.

Canadian Athletes Rejoice ~ and Why Not?
Our Team marched into Closing Ceremonies as No. 3 Olympian nation.
Canadians won a record 29 medals in PyeongChang (11 gold, 8 silver, 10 bronze), finishing behind only powerhouses Norway (39) and Germany (31) in the overall standings.The Canadian Olympians were represented at the Closing Ceremonies by flag-bearer Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Quebec.
The 23-year-old short track speedskater won a silver and 2 bronze in an impressive Olympic debut!
They All Played for Canada!

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will always be remembered as
Canada's Faces of the 2018 Winter Olympics!”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...February 26. 2018
All comments welcome: or

Saturday, February 24, 2018

"We All Play for Canada"

As promoted by Canadian Tire, during the current PyeongChang Winter Olympics
and previous Olympic Games, this fact is so true!

Although following the Games on my home television,
I played every 'end' in curling...
I 'leapt every jump' in ice skating...
I 'snow-skied' every mogul...
I attempted 'women's Giant Slalom' (but missed a gate)...
and in luge, I 'raced down the icy track'
(challenging myself as did all Canada's athletes themselves).
I cheered when winning a medal...and teared at every loss.
Yet I marvelled at the 'road travelled' by athletes to earn a berth for their country at the Games. Whether winning Bronze, Silver or Gold, each competitor in all events performed at the highest level of their ability while wearing the Maple Leaf on their hearts.
Yeah! I Played for Canada!

PyeongChang Winter Games
could be altered to read
We Belong when Rang out O Canada
as the Maple Leaf flag soared sky-high when medals were presented.

Hundreds and hundreds of young adults tried out for Canada's team...with only the best chosen to compete at the next training level. Not everyone has that superb athletic talent and competitive desire.
I recall when my niece in Goderich at age 7 or 8 yearned to ice skate; her parents enrolled her at the local skating arena to help her realize her dream. Sonia loved it but quickly realized, as did her parents and in-house coach, that she lacked the physical ability to proceed  further. As a teenager, she found her niche ~ teaching young children in the club to skate. And this gave her great satisfaction as a part-time job until she proceeded to Western University in London, Ontario.
Yes! She Played for Canada!

Eva Salem, Vice President of marketing at Canadian Tire said, “Over the years, the guiding principles of the retailer's platform ~ which launched as part of its Olympic partnership four years ago, have remained the same with heavy emphasis on the idea of inclusiveness, play, and the importance of communities rallying together.”

Isn't it amazing the heavy emphasis placed on the annual Super Bowl advertisements? The cost for each is phenomenal, hopefully netting much 'down-the-road' business. Yet, Canadian Tire says it best:
We All Play for Canada!
To date, The Number of Kids Helped by Canadian Tire Jumpstart
is approximately 1,500,000.
Canadian Tire is also Official Partner for City Kidz.
 The end result of both these organization is the groundwork development of sport qualities: courage...leadership...teamwork...confidence...pride...friendship and creativity 
 among Canada's youth.

Brian Orser's Contribution to the Games!
Born December 18, 1961, Brian is a former competitive and professional figure skater: the 1984 and 1988 Silver Medalist, 1987 World Champion and 8-time Canadian National Champion. Orser turned professional and skated with “Stars on Ice” for almost 20 years. Today, as a coach, he has led skaters to medals of gold, silver and bronze...including Javier Fernandez (from Spain) to a 2018 Bronze Medal in PyeongChang...and with 2015 and 2016 World titles. Highly respected he is, as coach to several competitors at the current Winter Games. Back home, he is a skating consultant at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club. His heart and soul declare We All Play for Canada!

Canada's Maple Leaf Flag
Our flag is an icon ~ recognized everywhere in the world...from travellers wearing labelled back-packs to toques and jackets. Wherever we go, we represent and honour our country...and travellers 'on the go' always generating smiles and chats with us: Its significance is its design and colour.
Our 'Maple Leaf Flag' consists of a red field with a white field at its center
in the middle of which is featured a stylized red 11-pointed maple leaf.
It was adopted February 15, 1965. The red ends represent Canada's two coastal oceans.
Significant and colourful it is, when Canada's Maple Leaf Flag
is photographed against an azure blue sky...and recognized worldwide.
We should be so proud!

Hilary Clinton remarked:
Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.
And wouldn't she be amazed that at the current Winter Olympics,
is the largest representation, ever, of Women competing for medals in their specialized fields???
We All Play for Canada!

Your talent is God's gift to you.
What you do with it, is your gift back to God.”
(Leo Buscaglia)

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
(Michael Jordan)

Scripted by Merle Baird-Kerr...February 17, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

PyeongChang, South Korea ~ Host Country of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

This small city edging the Taeback Mountains and whose peninsula borders the East Sea, is home to several temples. It is about 180 kilometres southeast of Seoul, the capital city of The Republic ofSouth Korea. PyeongChang is also hosting the 2018 Paralympics. The city's elevation is approximately 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level. From my observation, PyeongChang was ready and waiting for the athletes and the thousands of visiting spectators ~ well ahead of Opening Day!
Although 14 hours ahead of our time zone here,
their warmest months are July and August
and like our coldest months of January and February.
High-speed rail opened from December 22, 2017 for the 2018 Olympic Games. Olympic venues and 'Dream Program' in preparation, the region has built facilities including hotels and a world-class ski resort named Alpensia. The 'Dream Program' (a legacy of the 2010 bid), has mounted its 5th sports and cultural program inviting 123 participants from 31 countries who were invited because they live where there is no snowfall and have no opportunity to participate in the winter sports.

Trains, buses (including inter-city buses) have been increased as well as roads and expressways. What this small city of 43,703 (as of 2014) has done in preparation is amazing! At 700 meters above sea level, it is known as “The Happy 700.” Distance to the East Sea (known also as Sea of Japan) is 601 kilometres.
The Opening Ceremony, intrically assembled and all segments running like clock-work,
the 92 participating nations moved with enthusiasm from outside zero temperatures
into the main venue. Canada's 225 athletes: the largest contingent ever sent to Winter Olympics!

Team Figure Skating Competition”
Heading into the last Winter Olympics (in Sochi, Russia),
Canada's figure skaters didn't know what to expect from the newly created 'teams event.'
It was uncharted territory ~ completely designed to award countries
for the 'depth of their talent' instead of just dishing out medals for top individuals.
10 nations in PyeongChang competed in this event.
Each of the 4 disciplines would be awarded 10 points for the winner, second place earning 9,
third with 8 points...and so on down to 1 point.
The four disciplines: pairs...single men's...single women' pairs. Each participating country came with their selected contestants. After the first 2 disciplines, Canada was first. Not verified yet, it seems Canada won this event with 23 total points. An interesting event for all spectators!

Ten Memories to Last an Olympic Lifetime
In the Burlington Post's February 8th edition, Steve Milton, a sport's journalist wrote:
“Out of a suitcase full of memories covering eight Olympic Winter Games,
I select 10 of the most indelible impressions.”
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean ~ Sarajevo, 1984: The ice dancers' superlative programs, it didn't really resonate until the first Winter Olympics held behind the Iron Curtain. Bolero, their single-themed, single-tuned, free dance was a masterpiece of interpretation, innovation and building to a musical and emotinal crescendo. It was the culmination of their brilliant amateur careers which would change the world of ice-dancing. They received 6.0 for artistic merit!

Brian Orser ~ Sarajevo 1984: After he finished 7th in the compulsory figures, cynical Canadian media paid no more attention to him. Anyone who understood the new ranking system (few of whom were in the media), knew that he could still win a silver medal, which no other Canadian male singles skater had ever done at the Olympics. Orser then beat eventual gold medalist Scott Hamilton in both the short program and the 'free skate' to claim the silver medal. His 'free skate' was technically arresting ~ and he landed the first triple Axel in Games history.
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan ~ Lillehammer, 1994: Today, it's sort of in the current movie, I Tonya. It seems somewhat humourous now, but the old reality is that someone assaulted an athlete with the intent of keeping her out of the Games. Kerrigan managed to train enough to win silver, but Harding skated poorly and had a skate-lace malfunction.

Ross Rebagliati ~ Nagano, 1998: It was a tremendous, multi-layered story to cover: the first men's snowboarding gold medalist ever ~ and he tests 'positive' for pot? His gold medal was restored on a technicality. Snowboarding and its mountain-culture kin have re-calibrated the Games. (Pot is now banned only during competition.)

Steve Bradbury ~ Salt Lake City, 2002: His win was so bizarre, his name is used as a verb in his native Australia. “To Bradbury” means to win against all odds. He captured Australia's first-ever Winter Olympics gold when all 4 men ahead of him in the 'short track' speed skating's 1,000 metres, fell on a crash at the very last corner. Bradbury, in 5th and last place, 30 metres back, saw the opportunity to the finish line as the fallen skaters all slid to the boards.

Daniele Sauvageau and Patrick Quinn, in Salt Lake City 2002: Two of the greatest coaching performances, ever, as Canada ~ Gold-medal deprived for a half century of Olympic hockey, won two games within three days. With the help of loonies under center ice, Quinn's charges won (50 years to the exact day, after the Edmonton Mercurys won Canada's last gold medal.)
Sauvageau kept her team cool, focused and confident to win 3-2!

Shaun White ~ Vancouver, 2010: Shaun,the iconic snow-boarder and figure skater, Yu-Na were the most dominant athletes at these X-Games. Shaun scored 46.8 points (out of 50) on his first Vancouver run (clearly enough to win), but on his second run, did his famous Double McTwist 1260 to win his second halfpipe gold medal in two Olympics.

Sidney Crosby ~ Vancouver, 2010: Even some fans heard Sidney Crosby yelling, “Iggy, Iggy, Iggy” just before, to Jarome Ignia who got him the puck to send in alone on U.S.goalie, Ryan Miller, for the goal at 7:40 of overtime, which gave Canada the gold medal in the very last second of competition!

The Emotions ~ Vancouver, 2010: It happens at every Olympics where Canada won its first Olympic Gold Medal on home soil, but 14 of them. Two of the most memorable were Scott Moir, who'd just joined life-long skating partner, Tessa Virtue as the first North Americans to win the Olympic ice-dancing title! (Previously won by Russia and/or other European country.)

Laura Fortino and Marie-Philip Poulin ~ Sochi, 2014: Americans still can't believe they lost!!!
Hamilton's Fortino, playing defensively all tournament, heard team-mates yell, “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”with just 55 seconds left before a 'shoot-out'! It was one of the most dramatic hockey games in women's hockey...when the pass to Marie-Philip Poulin, scored the winning goal!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...February 11, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

True Love ~ a Real LIfe Story

From diary of Sayed Jaffrey ~ the famous 'bollywood character actor'

I was 19 when I married to Mehrunima who was 17. As I grew up, I was fascinated by the British culture in colonial India. I learned to speak English fluently...wear suits with grace...and developed impeccable etiquettes. But Mehrunima grew up to be my complete opposite ~ homely, a typical housewife. All my advices and admonishments couldn't change her basic personality ~ an obedient wife...a doting mother...and a good homemaker. But, she was not what I wanted.

More I tried to change her, more we drifted apart. Gradually, she metamorphosed from a cheerful affectionate young girl into a quiet insecure woman. Meanwhile, I started getting attracted to a co-actor of mine who was all what I wanted in my wife. After 10 years of marriage, I divorced Mehrunima, left my home and married my co-actor.
I had ensured financial security of Mehrunima and my kids.
For about 6 to 7 months, everything went well.
Then I started realizing, my new wife was not caring and affectionate. She was only concerned about her beauty...ambitions...her wants...and desires. Sometimes, I missed Mehrunima's caring touch and concern for my welfare. Life moved on. My new wife and I were 2 persons living in a house...not 'one soul' living in a home. I never went back to find out what happened to Mehrunima and my kids.

After about 6-7 years of my second marriage, I came across an article on a Madhur Jaffrey, an upcoming famous chef who recently launched a book of her own recipes. The moment I looked at the picture of the smart elegant lady, I was stunned! It was Mehrunima! How could it be???
She had remarried and changed her maiden name too.

I was shooting abroad at that time. She lived in US now. I caught the next flight to US. I inquired about her whereabouts and went to meet her. She refused to see me. My daughter who was 14 and son who was 12, told her they wanted to talk to me one last time. Her new husband was by her side. He was also my children's legal father now.

To this date, I cannot forget what my children told me: that their new father knows the meaning of true love. He accepted Mehrunima as she was and never tried to change her into what he himself was...because he loves her more than he loves himself. He let her evolve at her own pace and never tried to force his wishes on her. He accepted and enjoyed her person as it was.
And she bloomed into a confident, loving, affectionate, self-reliant lady
under her second husband's selfless love and acceptance.”

Where, as my selfishness...demands...and non-acceptance of her persona had crushed her ~ and then in my selfishness I had discarded her.  I never loved her! I had always loved myself!"
And Those Who Love Themselves ~ Cannot Love Others!”
(My thank-you to Dilu for this true Love Story)

Secrets of a Good Marriage
My wife has not so subtly reminded me, this anniversary marks 30 years of marrige!”
(wrote Paul Benedetti, a frequent contributor to The Hamilton Spectator)

Because a lot of modern marriages seem to last about 30 minutes,
many people ask: Paul, what makes a good marriage?
First You Must be Considerate and Thoughtful in Your Speech! If people said whatever popped into their head, they'd be Donald Trump! Do not, under any conditions, say the first thing you think of!
Example: “Do you mind if Mom joins us on our Jamaica vacation?” (Your thoughts may be: Are you insane? I'd rather hang-glide into an active volcano!) Instead, you must pause and ask yourself:
What offers the lowest probability of death...
or a week of the silent treatment, which is like death, only it feels longer.)
Or she may ask, “Honey, do you like this scarf on me?” Should you answer, “I wouldn't like that scarf on Cindy Crawford; it looks like six-feet of old wrapping paper!” The proper answer is, “Honey, you make anything look great and did I mention, I love your mother!”

Secondly, Always be Prepared to Compromise! Early in your marriage, you're trying to decide where to have Christmas dinner and your wife says, she just loves having Christmas with her family. Then, a fair and equitable compromise is to have all Christmas dinners with her family for eternity.

When Making Large Decisions, Always Engage in Dialogue. Returning from work one day, your wife says she would like to paint the living room a bright tangerine colour. A reasonable course of action would be to rationally and calmly drive directly to the paint store and buy 2 gallons.
Of course, the most important advice is what doctors say about your health:
Choose the right parents!” Same for marriage: “Choose the right spouse!”

When we were first married, and I would introduce my wife, who happens to be very beautiful, people would look at her, look at me, and blurt out, “Boy, are you in over your head!”
I should add, these people were not Donald Trump!

Simply put, she is extremely smart and nice. And if having a good marriage ~ is a 'crap shoot' ~ and maybe it is ~ then pass the dice, brother, because I've been rolling 7's for years. I've been lucky and I've continued to be lucky. Our 30 years together have not passed without challenges: sick children...lost jobs...lost parents...but it's mostly been filled with good things, good family and good times. So, next week we will celebrate ~ and on that Tuesday night, I will...or is it Monday?
Oh God, excuse me, I have to check a calendar!

Love is a Many Splendoured Thing
(as sung by Frank Sinatra)

Love is a many splendoured thing.
It's the April rose that only grows in the early Spring
Love is nature's way of giving reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king

Once on a high and windy hill, in the morning mist
Two lovers kissed and the world stood still
Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love's a many splendoured thing.

Merle Baird-Kerr...scripted February 4, 2018