12.30.2004

the long goodbye

I haven't been doing very well on my New York exploring. I've decided I'm going to visit one place on my NYC To-Do list each week (weather permitting).

Starting today. We're spending the day with a teenage niece, and I'm planning on finally seeing the inside of the Merchant House Museum. I've been walking past it for more than 20 years, but its odd hours never coincided with my desire to take a peek.

lump of rock hurtling through space

Loyal reader Nick pointed this out:
The deadly Asian earthquake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation, shortening days by a fraction of a second and caused the planet to wobble on its axis, U.S. scientists said Tuesday.
and says
Jesus Fucking Christ! An earthquake can change the planet on a global scale? ... Kind of reminds you we all share this big lump of rock hurtling through space doesn't it.
I find this earthquake/tsunami event absolutely stunning. Many progressive bloggers are complaining about the media coverage, but I find nothing exceptional. CNN reporting that "celebrity vacations were shattered" was surreal, though predictable. But mostly it's been a lot of individual stories, which illustrate the vast numbers and make them real, which in turn motivates viewers to donate. There are the usual local angles (people killed from one's own country), the science info, the "could it happen here" scare stories.

Carping about the faces the anchors make as they report, I just don't get. What would we have them do? Laugh? Remain emotionless like automatons? I hate the mainstream media as much as the next lefty, but I don't think they're being particularly awful now.

I've been wondering how many events of this magnitude have occurred in recorded history.

I've also been thinking about how I felt on September 11, 2001, how I spent the whole day in front of the television, crying, how obsessed New Yorkers were for days, weeks... and how, now, while this is happening on the other side of the planet, we go about our daily lives. As the rest of the US and the world must have done while New Yorkers were still suffering and in shock.

I'm not saying this is wrong or making a judgment about what we should or shouldn't do. I'm just trying to empathize with victims in a situation that taxes the limits of imagination.

12.29.2004

let's talk about the bird

There was good news on the hawk front this morning. About 45 minutes after the scaffolding was removed from the cradle that will - we hope - support their new home, both Pale Male and Lola arrived. They flew over and around the site for about 10 minutes. Observers said it was clear the birds were checking out the new design. Everyone is hopeful that they will roost.


hawk1
pale male inspects the renovation

immigration myths and facts

There's a lot of misinformation out there about Canadian immigration. (Why would this be the exception?) Based on current law:

1. Americans who emigrate to Canada do not lose their Social Security benefits. Assuming George W Bush doesn't lose all our savings in the stock market, if you emigrate, you will be entitled to the same benefits had you not left the country. At retirement age, you will also collect the Canadian version of Social Security. Canada will subtract the amount of your US Social Security from your Canadian cheque.

2. Similarly, under current laws, American 401(k)s and IRAs will be accessible upon reaching retirement age.

3. Taxes are paid based on residency and where the work is performed. As a Permanent Resident of Canada, I will not pay US taxes. Canada and the US have tax-agreement laws that generally prevent double taxation. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

4. Canada has not announced that it will refuse refuge to American draft resistors if a draft is instituted. There has been no announcement about this one way or the other. There is only rumor. Based on current Canadian immigration law and Canadian history, American draft resistors will likely receive asylum, but that is conjecture, not fact.

5. Currently, US military conscientious objectors are not eligible for refugee status under Canadian law. This doesn't mean the Canadian government approves of the war in Iraq! It means that a volunteer soldier who follows her or his conscience over military orders does not qualify for refugee status under current law.

6. There is no such thing as a "Bush Refugee". Canada is not accepting asylum seekers based on extreme disgust at the current American government. No one who applied to emigrate after the 2004 election could have been accepted yet.

7. There are, however, American Muslims who fled to Canada to escape persecution in the post-9/11 US. Some of them have received refugee status; others are living legally in Canada as their cases are reviewed.

8. You do not need to hire an immigration lawyer in order to immigrate to Canada. Having an attorney does not increase your chances of acceptance. Anything an attorney can do for you regarding immigration, you can do yourself.

9. The point system for Permanent Residency, where you are assigned points based on education, work experience, language proficiency and other criteria, is flexible. If your points are below the passmark, Canadian Immigration may still accept you. Likewise, you can have a point-value above the passmark and be rejected.

thank you, thomas crowley

Excellent letter in today's New York Times:
To the Editor:

"2004: The Year in Pictures" (Dec. 27) includes a picture of flag-draped coffins of soldiers in a cargo plane, captioned, "Pentagon restricts images of troops killed in action returning to the United States."

Of all the deceitful actions taken by the Bush administration with this war, this is perhaps the most shameful - that the men and women who died, obeying the headstrong plans of their leaders, are hidden from the public eye to avoid any more criticism of the war.

How cowardly can you get?

But then what do you expect from leaders who, when they were young, went to every effort to avoid service to their country?

Thomas Crowley
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Dec. 27, 2004

* * *
R.I.P. Jerry Orbach. As an avowed "Law & Order" addict, I will miss the wise-cracking, never bigoted, recovered alcoholic, grieving father, and tough old softie Lennie. Orbach had a terrific, versatile career and died much too young.

He never knew I named a drink after him: The Briscoe. In a tall glass full of ice cubes, pour a generous helping of dry vermouth that you bought by accident, add whatever juice blend you have in the fridge and a splash of Rose's Lime. Add straw and enjoy.

alternative universe

Today the death toll from the tsunamis is put at 70,000. I'm trying to imagine what a crowd of 70,000 people looks like.

While I'm exercising my imagination, I'll envision the United States sending a contingent of its under-used military to South Asia for disaster relief and rebuilding. If the US wasn't wasting so much money and people-power to make the world safe for Halliburton, think of what could be accomplished.

12.28.2004

the limits of empathy

It's weird, isn't it, to be blogging about our own little lives, while at this very moment, people are suffering on an almost imaginable scale?

Of course, people were suffering yesterday, in Darfur, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in... take your pick. Any of our neighbors or friends, or we ourselves, might be enduring a personal tragedy that eclipses all else. But when a disaster occurs on this scale, the numbers so huge, too numbing to truly take in, how do we process it? What does it mean to say more than 40,000 humans are dead, millions more at risk for disease, millions homeless? We'll write checks, shake our heads, some of us will shed tears. Is there more?

* * * *

R.I.P. Susan Sontag. A great thinker and writer is gone.

snow!

Winter is finally here. Ah, I love the cold weather! So bracing, energizing.

Snow becomes inconvenient, living in an apartment with dogs - every walk is a production, before and after. But the cold is great.

Snow makes me miss Gypsy. That dog loved winter. She had an amazingly thick double coat, like a wolf's, and she positively blossomed in the cold. Her black eyes would sparkle and her coat seemed to get even thicker and fluffier. Even when she was old and slowing down, when her paws would touch snow, she'd buck and prance around like a puppy.

two gypsies

life is cheap, war costs a fortune

Courtesy of Redsock:
After being criticized for pledging only $15 million for Asian earthquake relief, the US upped that total to about $35 million. That is also roughly what will be spent on Bush's inauguration next month (though private donations will cover most of that cost).

Compare that $35 million to the $226 million being wasted every single day in Iraq (650 days and a cost of at least $147,000,000,000) -- or 1/5 of 1% of the total cost of the invasion.

12.27.2004

the global village

The horrific destruction in South Asia is an extremely personal ordeal for thousands of New Yorkers. I always notice how whenever there is a disaster, be it earthquake or civil war, anywhere on the planet, a community in New York is painfully waiting for news. New York is the global village.

Looking at the Star and Globe and Mail this morning, I see it is the same in the Toronto area.

I also see Canada is no stranger to the petty local angle. This seems to be universal. "Ten thousand killed in Sri Lanka - two Americans missing!!"

you say you want an orange revolution

I had dinner with an old friend recently, someone I hadn't seen in nearly 20 years. He considers himself liberal, and he referred to the Democrats as "we". Discussing what "our" strategy for the next election, he focused on getting people as ruthless and politically brilliant as Karl Rove & Co.

I didn't say much. (Yes, it happens!) I'm all for axing McAuliffe, that stupid wimp, and Mary-Beth Cahill could have done a better job, though I don't lay a lot of blame at her feet. But talk about re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic! With a Republican-controlled media and key elements of the election system rigged, the Dems can get all the Karl Roves they want, it ain't gonna make any difference.

If you believe, as I do, that the 2004 election was fraudulent, and you see how questions about its legitimacy were handled, it's really hard to care who the Democrats hire in '08.

You know how hard I worked to help defeat W, so you'll never hear me say a Kerry administration would have been just as bad. But you also know I was leaving no matter who won the election. As I tell people about our plans, I've been refining my response to the obvious questions about our reasons. And I've finally found the most succinct answer possible: I want to live in a democracy.

If you're about to tell me how we do live in a democracy, because we have the right to vote, here's my reply. (Scroll down past my whining.)

12.26.2004

application questions

Several people have written with questions about the Canadian immigration application process. I'm wondering if the application itself might have changed, or if different processing centers use slightly different forms.

For example, my new friend Nick from Colorado is waiting for his fingerprints to come back from the FBI. My application, however, instructed residents of the US and Hong Kong to not send anything to the FBI until instructed to do so - that is, if your application makes it that far, they'll tell you its time to run the FBI check. A man from the Bay Area asked about state-issued identity cards. My application called for passports and birth certificates (and marriage certificates, if applicable) but said nothing about identity cards.

If you're filling out the forms yourself - which you can do, you do not need an attorney - be sure to read the instructions very, very carefully. Don't rush to get a spot in the queue. The wait is very long anyway - filing a week or two later won't make a significant difference, but if your application is filled out incorrectly, that will delay you.

If you have questions, I'm happy to tell you what I know, but if our forms are different, ask a few people to read it, then trust your judgment.

more reasons to love new york city

Yesterday in Tribeca, we saw a car with this graffiti on its back window: 927 Fifth Ave Sucks.

If you don't recognize the address, it's the ultra-luxury co-op that royally pissed off an entire city by evicting two red-tailed hawks from its eaves. I won't try to recreate the story here; goodness knows there are plenty of places to read about it. The hawks have their own website, there's been at least one book written about them, the story has garnered international attention, as well as the focus of gossip columnists who helped unmask the people behind the selfish decision.

Thanks to organized protest, general public outcry, and the intervention of both the Audubon Society and the NYC Parks Department, Pale Male and Lola can again roost in peace. And some of the wealthiest people in Manhattan won't live in dread of an errant twig falling on their heads.

As of today, the birds haven't come home, but they've been seen in Central Park, and everyone seems to be confident that they will.

This is one of my favorite City phenomena, the kind of story that makes me proud to be a New Yorker.

our "christmas"

We never made it to the movies, but we had a lovely New York day, and today I'm filled with the goodbye-New-York blues more than ever.

First, excellent dim sum at HSF in Chinatown, which was packed with both Chinese families and (apparently) Jewish families. All I can say is thank goodness there's a huge Chinese population in Toronto.

After dim sum, we wandered around the part of Chinatown that used to be Little Italy. Little Italy these days is really just a few restaurants hanging on as the area grows increasingly Asian, mostly (I think) Vietnamese. It's cool to see the transition. I love the shops in Chinatown, the big jars of ginseng and dried fish, the tea shops and bakeries. Though the best Asian food in NYC is now in Queens, the city's original Chinatown is still thriving.

I had heard of a hotel bar and lounge that was supposed to be a knock-out - we love hotel bars - so wandered over to Tribeca to check out the Tribeca Grand Hotel (click on Tribeca, then Church Lounge, I can't link to that). It is simply fabulous. On Christmas day, it was quiet, though not deserted, and very warm and friendly. If you're up for an expensive, delicious drink in a gorgeous setting, you can't do much better than this.

After that, walking around looking for a "bar bar" for a less expensive pint, Allan remembered Chumley's. We hadn't been there in probably 15 years, and Allan somehow remembered where it is! (Which absolutely amazed me, considering our fried brains.) Ah, Chumley's. It hasn't changed at all, complete with the unmarked door and secret back entrance.

If you're visiting my fair city and find yourself in the West Village (which you should), look for this gem at Bedford and Barrow Streets. If it's cold out, a fire will be blazing in the fireplace. You might have to ask a fat, old dog to move so you can sit down.

I love New York and I'm going to miss it. I'm glad it's in my blood. Living here has changed me, forged me, and I'm grateful for it.

12.25.2004

a new york jewish christmas

One last traditional New York Jewish Christmas: Chinese food and a movie. I'm really getting the leaving-New-York blues.

Those of you who celebrate this holiday, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Lately I've been seeing desk-pounding pieces by right-wingers up in arms because most people now say "Happy Holidays," to be more inclusive, as opposed to "Merry Christmas," which assumes everyone is Christian. Clearly the end of civilization as we know it. Next thing you know, the women will wear pants and the darkies will go to school with our children!

One guy called it revisionist history. Actually, it's just the opposite. It's progress.

12.24.2004

neutrality is evil

"Sooner or later," Heng said, and I was reminded of Captain Trouin speaking in the opium house, "one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.

from The Quiet American, by Graham Greene

12.23.2004

cheap drugs

I don't usually post about things like this, but I've just gotten a terrific tip, and I want to share it with as many people as possible.

I've mentioned that our Buster is on various medications, some of which are very expensive. Our behaviorist (Buster's shrink) told me about a mail-order pharmacy based in Florida that has the lowest prices in the country. It's called Barrier Island Pharmacy: 800.711.3090.

They have the ugliest website in creation, which makes them look like some fly-by-night operation, but don't be put off. They're completely legit.

I spoke to a pharmacist there yesterday. First, he actually answered the phone. A live person, answering the phone! Next, he patiently quoted me prices for each drug I named. The prices were so much lower than what I was paying at Drugstore.com, that I thought I had heard wrong. One medication for which we were paying $40 for 30 tablets was $40 for 100 tablets. Not every price difference was that significant, but every price was lower.

The pharmacist explained that Barrier Island Pharmacy has a set profit margin, no matter what the drug cost to them. Often the wholesale price of a medication will decrease significantly, but the consumer will never know that, because pharmacies like Wal-Mart and Rite Aid will not pass the savings on them. When the price of a drug goes down, Barrier Island automatically informs its customers that their price will go down, too. So even though BIP can't match the buying power of huge chains like Wal-Mart, their prices will be much lower.

BIP never charges for shipping unless it's a rush order, and then only whatever the cost is to them (no extra surcharge). During this time of year, when the regular postal mail is very slow, they routinely ship by Federal Express at no extra charge to the customer. They handled all the change-overs of our prescriptions from both Drugstore.com and our local pharmacy. And the pharmacist couldn't have been more polite or helpful. Buster's meds just became way more affordable.

Businesses with consciences should be rewarded. Spread the word!

12.21.2004

a little evangelism of my own

Have I mentioned recently that I LOVE my iPAQ?? In case you want to gaze upon her lovely face, here she be.

I'd better cut this out or this blog is going to get reeeeally boring.

No Canada news yet. Just waiting, waiting, waiting. Dreaming of a townhouse on the Lakeshore line, wondering what it will be like not to celebrate Christmas there (as compared to not celebrating it in NYC).

Later.

To elaborate, what I'm referring to is the profound sense of alienation I feel this time of year. To be an atheist and a Jew (and not a conspicuous consumer) at Christmastime in the US is truly to be a stranger in a strange land. Even in New York City, with the largest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel, and a very sizeable Muslim population, I am still on the outside, looking in.

Since the Toronto area is so wonderfully diverse, and since many people's original cultures don't celebrate Christmas, I'm wondering to what degree Christmas dominates the psychic landscape. Do Canada's roots as a Christian country subsume the habits of more recent arrivals?

12.19.2004

what i'm reading

I just (re) started Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Once again I am reminded that, especially for women, geography is destiny. Not that I need reminding, it's something I think about all the time. There but for an accident of birth go I.

And, since right now all roads lead to iPAQ, I'm thinking of getting the book in ebook form, too. I would leave the paper book at home, where it would stay clean and undamaged, and not add weight to my backpack, and read the digital version on the subway.

This means, of course, that I'll want to get a spare battery, which Alan The Handheld Evangelist has advised me to do all along. The lesson here is always listen to evangelists.

Not really.

12.18.2004

other people's lives

One of the things I value most about being a writer is being able to tell people's stories.

I've interviewed a few well known people - Chuck Close, Chamique Holdsclaw and Jean Driscoll come to mind - but usually I write about so-called "ordinary" people, who are well known only to those whose lives they've touched.

I've sat across the table or on the phone with dozens of survivors of rape and relationship violence, young women recovering from eating disorders, athletes with disabilities, adopted people, people with disabilities doing interesting and surprising things. Then I've tried to represent their stories to the world, fairly, sensitively, in a way that will educate and not exploit. And, with any luck, in a way that will make people want to read about them.

Recently it was my good fortune to meet Brooke Ellison, a brilliant woman who is a high-level quadriplegic. Christopher Reeve, who had the same injury level as Ellison, made a movie about Ellison's life, and I happened to write about her shortly before Reeve's death.

By coincidence, a few months earlier I had interviewed another person with the same injury. (There are only a few people in the world living with this level of quadriplegia, so speaking to more than one was a strange quirk of my writing niche.) Devin K-B is eight years old and one of the coolest kids I've ever met. I was able to introduce Devin and Brooke via email, which was extremely gratifying.

support the troops

Here's how you can.

i love the internet, reason #997,326,034

It figures Blogger.com would have an excellent, simple solution to my mobile blogging issue. It also figures that someone reading my blog would direct me to that solution.

I am happy again!

testing... 1, 2, 3 testing...

Now why did I think I couldn't try this until I had a wireless connection for my iPAQ? Duh. I'm at work, emailing from my home email account via webmail. Let's see how this works...

bad news!

Ack! I can't blog on my iPAQ! For some reason, Blogger.com doesn't communicate with Pocket Explorer, the browser on the iPAQ. This means I can't sit in Starbucks with my lovely iPAQ and my T-Mobile Wireless account and blog. I would have to compose a post in Pocket Word, then post it when I'm home and can sync with my desktop.

I'm annoyed.

Apparently once upon a time there was something called Pocket Blogger, but I don't know if it still exists. I'm investigating.

Meanwhile, enjoy this from the Simpsons, courtesy of Uggabugga. (Scroll down a bit.) This is what I thought Redsock would post, but I don't think he ever saw the comment.

12.17.2004

a canadian opines

Kyle, loyal reader from Ottawa, has a new blog. Check it out!

12.16.2004

provincial talk

I'm intrigued by these perceived differences in the provinces. (Read the comments.) Also in these US/Canadian correlations. Any thoughts?

the new phone books are here! the new phone books are here!

She has arrived! And I am in love.

Alan The Handheld Evangelist came by last night to help me set it up. I'm pretty sure he would have ditched our dinner plans with our respective partners in order to spend the whole evening focused on The Thing. But we got a few things done, and we'll do more tonight. He's almost as excited as I am about it, which is really saying something.

I'm not, however, blogging from it right now. I'm home, and it's 7:30 a.m., and it's still much easier to type on my full-sized keyboard. But I'll soon be blogging from Starbucks (free T-Mobile Hotspot) and wherever else.

I'll try to keep the gushing over the iPAQ to a minimum, but no promises.

12.15.2004

canada goes to hell

A reader sent me this great story.

political compass

Those of you who don't read the comments are missing lots of interesting Canada Facts, such as population densities, TV shows, correlations between Canadian and US cities, and unhealthy but tasty food, often brought to you by the helpful and friendly Kyle from Ottawa, along with political commentary and random profanity by Redsock, a/k/a Allan.

Kyle, as it turns out, is the only other person I know to mention Political Compass. I've sent the site to many people, but few seem to have heard of it.

I'll let Kyle explain:
It redefines "left-right" as a two dimensional "communist-capitalist/totalitarian-libertarian" spectrum. It placed me as "left-libertarian" which I think is fairly accurate of my political views. They also show current political leaders. Bush scored in the upper right hand corner of the "right-totalitarian" quadrant.
From the site itself:
There's abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left' , established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape. For example, who are the 'conservatives' in today's Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?
On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.
Try it! It's an interesting exercise.

12.14.2004

stems

Who would leave a World Series Championship team to play for the Losers of Loserville? And why would anyone, least of all Pedro Martinez, want to play for the Mets???

our world and how it got that way

From 1987 to 1998, we were a family of four: Laura, Allan, Gypsy and Clyde. We adopted Gypsy from the ASPCA death row. She looked like a concentration camp victim with bits of fur attached. She turned out to be a magnificent Shepherd-Husky mix, gorgeous, and so smart it was scary. She was a dog whose beauty turned heads, and whose manner commanded great respect. Her love for us was very intense - and so was her will. She was a challenge, that's for sure! She was my best friend.

We had Gypsy not quite two years when we found another little dog on the street, sweet and cheerful and completely housetrained, despite being covered in mange and infections. By the time she was healthy enough to give away, the two dogs were in love. More importantly, Allan was in love! His little Clyde.

We think Clyde was a Jack Russell Terrier-Fox Terrier mix. She was one-third of Gypsy's size and the boss of the house. "The Girls" were inseparable. And that was our family.

Gypsy died in November, 1998. She was aging, her health was failing. It was horrible, it hurt like hell, but I knew we had tried everything we could, and I knew it was the right thing to do, that my final responsibility to her was to end her suffering.

The worst part of Gypsy's death was watching Clyde grieve. The little dog had never known life without her big friend. She was lost and bewildered. She would walk to where Gypsy slept to see if she was there, then look up at us, and our hearts would break all over again.

After about six months, we felt we were ready to get another dog to keep Clyde company. In April 1999, we adopted Cody, a chocolate brown mutt, maybe some kind of lab-shepherd-collie mix. Cody was the first dog we didn't actually find and take in from the street - someone else did, but she already had too many animals, couldn't keep her.

Cody was the perfect sister for Clyde - completely submissive. Clyde spent three days bullying Cody into deep submission, then, her point made, accepted her as her slave. Poor Cody! (There's something about Cody that makes everyone say: Poor Cody! It's just an act to get more treats.)

We thought this was the beginning of a new era: Cody and Clyde. Four months later, Clyde suddenly died. We were out of town when she got sick. I happened to call home, and we drove 17 hours back to NYC. She hung on til we got back. We rushed her to the hospital, and she never came home.

It was such a shock. It seemed impossible that both our beloved animals were gone. I will never forget Allan and I standing outside the animal hospital, holding each other, sobbing, wracked with grief and disbelief.

And then there was Cody. We hardly knew why we had her.

Four months later, Cody and I found Buster, and we were once again a pack of four.

happy b day!!!

December 14, 1999. On this cold, rainy, December night, I was walking Cody. I had been out that night, so it was a little later than usual. Right in front of my building, I saw him: a dog, alone, walking slowly down the sidewalk, his head down. I watched him for a while, to make sure he wasn't with anyone. Then I ran back to the building and called Allan on the intercom. "Get your shoes on! There's a dog down here!" Allan, surprised, hesitated. "Get your shoes on! Get down here!"

Back on the sidewalk, I didn’t see the dog. For a moment I thought I lost him, but then he appeared, coming out of an alley onto the sidewalk, maybe 20 feet ahead of me. I knelt down and opened my arms wide, breathed deeply to calm myself. I waited with my arms open – and he came right to me. By the time Allan got downstairs, the dog was in my arms.

When we got him upstairs, we saw he was ravaged. He had almost no fur, and his exposed skin was gray (a healthy dog's skin is pink). He had open sores all over his body, both his eyes were infected, he was bleeding – he was a wreck. He was wearing a collar with no tags; the tags had been clipped off with a metal cutter. While we were marveling at him, he curled up in a ball, right next to my side of the bed, and went to sleep. He's been sleeping there every night, ever since.

In that dreadful condition, and alone, on the street – and Buster never had an accident in the house, not once.

Four months earlier, our little terrier-mix Clyde had died, suddenly, breaking our hearts. Cody really needed a friend. I had just recently remarked to my sister that the next stray dog that crossed my path would be ours.

It took us a long time to get Buster healthy; for a while we thought he might not make it. But he did, and he's turned out to be an extraordinary dog. He's the most loving, loyal, affectionate and certainly most obedient dog I've ever had. He wants nothing more out of life than to love his mommy and daddy and Cody.

Our special boy. He was always anxious. For the first few months, Buster was practically attached to my ankle. He would follow me around the apartment; no matter what I was doing, he had to be right beside me. He'd lie on the cold floor, when his warm cushy mat was only a few feet away, in order to be closer to me.

I'm a huge believer in crate training - I learned that lesson long ago - and Buster loved his crate, as most dogs with separation anxiety will. So he never destroyed anything and was always housetrained. But his separation anxiety and his obsessive attachment to me wasn't healthy for him, and it would certainly complicate my life as we went along.

Then, after he was physically healthy, we found out – the hard way – that Buster is seriously aggressive with other dogs. He may have been trained to fight as a puppy, or, as our trainer thinks, used as bait for other dogs to attack. (Grrr! makes me so mad!) A combination of an irresponsible so-called trainer, my trusting that person's supposed professional opinion over my own judgement, an already-hysterical owner of another dog, and Buster's own fear and anxiety, caused Buster to attack another dog. The dog wasn't critically injured (he needed some stitches in his ear), but it was incredibly traumatic.

In trying to split up the fighting dogs, Allan was accidentally bitten. He nearly lost a piece of a finger and spent four days in the hospital. The effect on Buster and his mommy were not physical, but more long-lasting!

Since then we've been through a lot with B. He's on medication and we've done a lot of special training. (With a different trainer, of course! She's a genius and a miracle worker.) Through some painful (for me!) retraining, he learned how to relax at home; he can let me out of his sight and no longer needs his crate. Outside, we avoid other dogs, but his reactions to them are more like a normal dog's, very manageable and not scary. New dogwalkers require some special training, but any patient person who understands dogs can walk him. And although it takes him time to accept and trust people – strangers can't pet him – it only takes a few controlled meetings (complete with treats and brilliant training methods), and he will be a friend for life.

But this will only go so far. Buster can never play with other dogs or ever be off his leash outside. This used to pain me, as all our dogs have been able to run freely in the park. But I finally came to accept it. This is the best life he can have.

Buster and Cody. The amazing thing is, though Buster wants to kill every dog he sees, he adores Cody and is always sweet and gentle with her. When we found him, he was too sick to be aggressive, and while he was healing, he and Cody bonded and became family. By the time B was healthy and his aggression issues surfaced, B and Sweet Cody Brown were already in love. If we hadn't had Cody when we found Buster, Buster would never have another dog friend. Cody is his best (and only) dog friend in the world.

12.11.2004

my island

Except New York.

I'm not emotionally ready to leave the City. I don't know if I ever will be. I still get choked up and teary when I think about it.

I'm ready to live someplace different. But I'm not ready to leave. It doesn't make much sense, but the two feelings coexist.

New York City is an island. It's an island literally, and now more than ever, it's an island metaphorically. During the Bush years, we New Yorkers have bonded even more closely in our outsider identity. Where we might have fooled ourselves into feeling more mainstream in the 90's, now we harbor no illusions. We are misfit Americans and proudly so.

I know my politics and world view are more mainstream in Canada, and that will be a relief, and a comfort. But also, in some crazy way, it will be a loss.

i want to leave now

I hope this doesn't offend anyone who is no rush to see me go. It's not that I want to get away from anyone. If you'll miss me, you can be sure I will miss you, too.

But I am ready. I am emotionally, mentally, psychologically ready to make the move. Our recent trip to look at apartments further gelled this state of mind.

I feel myself emotionally detaching from life here. I don't feel my usual fervor to work for change. Maybe this is partly a lingering post-election hangover of extreme disappointment. But much of it is a wish to no longer be part of this system. The war in Iraq, the war on women, on gay people, on children, on diversity, on personal freedom, the zeal to privatize and commercialize absofuckinglutely everything... It's like a huge mudslide, and our efforts to fix this legislation here or that cabinet appointment there is like tackling the mudslide with a spoon.

Not that we can or should do otherwise. Any spoonful saved is a victory.

But I have no energy for it now. I barely look at the emails from MoveOn and ACT. There are no emails from the Democrats because I took myself off their list. That all feels like my past now, and I stand facing a different future.

12.10.2004

back in nyc

We've just returned from an extremely productive trip to Toronto and surrounding suburbs. We saw a lot of places, probably disappointed quite a few landlords, and made some excellent decisions on where we hope to live.

Let's see what we learned.

- We're definitely not going to rent in a high-rise building. It will be too difficult with our dogs, adding a level of stress and possible complications that we just don't need.

- We can afford to rent a beautiful townhouse in Mississauga. They are spacious, full of wonderful amenities like a fireplace, an extra bathroom, nice new kitchen, a tiny backyard, etc. We'll be able to get a three-bedroom, so we'll each have our own office. Yay!

- Public transportation to and from Mississauga is an issue. We didn't realize that most GO trains run only Monday through Friday, only during rush hours, and then only in the standard rush-hour directions. This is tough for people who work non-traditional hours as we do (and very much hope/intend to continue after we move). We'll have to figure something out with a combination of the trains, express buses and driving.

- Because of the above, we looked at places in our price range in other areas. This helped us rule out the eastern suburbs (Ajax, Oshawa, Pickering) as too wealthy and not geared towards rentals.

- We also looked at some home rentals in Toronto, and confirmed what we believed to be true. We could find affordable places in Toronto, but they would either be too small for us (brand-new townhouse on Bloor-Landsdowne) or some place we don't want to live (Eglinton-Dufferin, Bloor-Landsdowne, a few other places). They were decent places, if we were 23 years old and just starting out. But they were many steps down from where we live now, and we'd rather commute to the suburbs than live in them.

- We saw some houses for rent in Etobicoke (Bloor-Kipling and Lakeshore Drive-Royal Oak), which means we'd still be on the Toronto subway. One place was huge, with a fenced-in backyard, and in our price range. So that's a possibility, too.

- There is one exception to the GO train problem, and that's the Lakeshore line, which runs all hours, all days. It happens that my Number One area preference is also on that line: Port Credit. Port Credit was a fishing and port town before it was subsumed in Mississauga. It's the only place in Mississauga where we saw an actual town - with a main street you can walk, little pubs and independently owned stores - and it's only 20 minutes on the train to downtown, as opposed to 40 to most other nice Mississauga areas. And...

- We learned that there are some townhouses for rent in our price range in Port Credit! There are only a handful, and it would be an amazing bit of luck for one to become available right at the time we need it, but it could happen. And...

- While having a cup of coffee in Port Credit, we impulsively stopped in at a Remax agent (just next door to the coffee place), and learned that Remax also handles rentals, paid for by the landlord. Agents can be on the lookout for us. We had no idea that was possible! The agent was very nice and his initial database search turned up a few things we'd definitely look at. That might prove to the best cup of coffee we ever had.

- We also looked a little in Brampton. We saw two huge homes there, both with huge backyards, finished basements, and more space than we would know what to do with - both semi- in our price range. However, the transportation issues might be too difficult to live in Brampton. We still need to investigate further, but we're leaning towards ruling it out.

We also had dinner with our new friends BC and R, which was great. Other than that, Allan drove, I navigated and made phone calls, we ate a lot of high-fat food and had a good, if somewhat tiring, time.

Now I am more anxious than ever to hear from Immigration!

12.05.2004

heading north for a few days

Tomorrow morning we are off to check out apartments in Mississauga. Can't wait! See you all on Friday.

still they write

More email from right wingnuts. This guy says he was depressed when Clinton won in 1992 and 96, but he didn't go into therapy or "threaten" to leave the country. (Psst... this is not a threat, repeat, this is not a threat, this is an actual emergency...)

What's amazing here is that someone thinks Clinton is to the left what Bush is to the right. Karl Marx himself would have to run for president to get the equivalent of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft. Clinton was barely a Democrat. Or maybe he was exactly a Democrat - and why so many progressives stopped voting Dem in those days.

And no, the neocons didn't go into therapy over Clinton. They just set out to systematically destroy him.

While briefly checking out this guy's blog, I noticed he derides dismay over torture at the Guantanamo Bay prisons. Apparently concern for human rights is not a moral value; conservatives support torture.

I can only hope this attitude sickens many conservatives out there, if only because it makes American servicepeople much more likely to receive ill treatment if they are captured. The blogger also calls the detainees "terrorists", though no one has seen or heard one iota of evidence of this.

12.04.2004

"having drinks at the same bar"

Once again, Mr Zinn nails it. While I'm still in the US - and after I leave - I pledge to do everything in my power to stop this insane war. What could be more important?

if only

Great site!!

Having worked at corporate law firms for the past 15 years, I can easily imagine the cease-and-desist letters zipping to the webmasters right now. More power to them!

12.03.2004

"the president's been studying his howard johnson placemat"

A reader asked if I saw The Daily Show after W's visit to Halifax. Well, I just watched the re-run. As much as I hate to find anything W says amusing, credit is due to a speechwriter, as Bush thanked the people of Halifax "who came out to wave - with all five fingers". Cute!

Stephen King was also on, plugging his book Faithful, a chronicle of the Boston Red Sox's 2004 season. For the same thing, only better, check out The Joy of Sox. It's free, better written, plus you'll learn a lot about government lies and media whores. Baseball and left-wing politics - what more can you ask for in a blog?

texas north

A loyal reader from Ottawa intrigued me with his comment about Alberta. What's it like there?

why i prefer canada, reason number 35,264

Today's poll in the Toronto Globe And Mail:
Do you feel that Canada should participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence program?
Yes 5306 votes (20%)
No 21347 votes (80%)
No matter that it's an unscientific survey. If you can show me a poll in any mainstream American media that shows 80% of respondents against anything military, I'll stay.

12.02.2004

translation needed

What does anyone make of this column by Barbara Ehrenreich? I a huge fan of Ehrenreich's, always have been. (She's also a fellow union member.) I'm confused about what she's saying here.

Is she sarcastically deriding the idea of leaving the US because we find ourselves at such odds with the mainstream? She compares staying in the country of one's birth to staying in a bad marriage, and I can hardly imagine Barbara Ehrenreich advocating that.

However, this:
Of course, some of your friends and family may choose to remain behind. There are people who take a somewhat inflexible view of "patriotism," just as there are people who never give up on their first, childish, seventh-grade object of infatuation. Perversely, these diehards think it's their RESPONSIBILITY to remain in their country of origin just as it becomes an international source of terror and a mockery of democratic governance. Whether out of masochism or misdirected altruism, they feel OBLIGED to stay and straighten things out.
makes me wonder. Is she implying that progressives should stay and fight? That it's our obligation?

12.01.2004

world aids day

HIV hasn't gone away. Honor those we have lost by working for change.

11.28.2004

not one thin dime

In yesterday's mail, among the usual year-end solicitations for donations, I found a letter from our old friends the Democrats. It was printed upside down. (I'm not kidding. Upside down.)

Allan and I both immediately started ranting. "More?" I shouted. (Yes, shouted.) "You want more money? I haven't got any more money! I wasted all of it trying to elect that ASSHOLE John Kerry, who CONCEDED BEFORE THE VOTES WERE COUNTED!!" I think Allan's rant was along the lines of "Tell them to go fuck themselves!"

What chutzpah, asking for more money so soon. For that matter, what nerve showing their faces at all, ever. They couldn't even beat George W. Bush! Can you imagine anything lamer than that???

* * * *

Anyone recognize the title of this post?

subway blogger

With apologies to Alan, Handheld Evangelist, who has already read this in an email.

On my way to work today, I was reminded of another wonderful use for my iPAQ.

I always carry a small memo book and pen with me, no matter where I am or where I'm going. I've done this for as long as I can remember; when I was younger, I would forget at my peril. I can't count how many little spiral memo pads I've bought in how many drugstores in how many cities...

Someone once told me that writing in public is pretentious, but when I'm working on something, thoughts and solutions to writing dilemmas usually come to me when I'm away from my work - that is, not at a computer. So I must always have a way to write things down.

These days I often compose blog posts on the subway, scribbling in a memo book, then typing and editing when I get to a computer. It's one of the few things for which I still use pen and paper.

I was writing just such a blog post on the subway this morning when I realized that soon I will be able to type and save it instead! I can blog in pocket Word, then post whenever I'm able to get online. My handheld computer will be a huge time- and effort-saver for this use alone.

If you're curious about what I'm blathering about, the handheld PC that I'm waiting for is here. The biggest selling point of this model, for me, is the keyboard.

Stay tuned for more equally exciting posts about My Little Computer.

a year to say goodbye, part 2

Now that baseball and the election are over, I can turn my attention back to my long farewell.

MOMA has reopened after its renovation and extended stay in Queens, and as much as I feel the new $20 admission fee is outrageous, I must spend a day there before I leave. I want to see the new space and take a MOMA's Greatest Hits tour.

My mother wants to do another No. 7 Train Food Expedition with us, which is a good excuse to see the New York City panorama again. I still haven't been to the Noguchi Museum, though not for lack of trying (note to self: closed Mondays and Tuesdays! got that??), and some assorted old houses.

I know I'll never see everything, and that's the way it should be. That's what makes it New York. I just want to keep exploring while I'm here.

what i'm reading

The Devil In The White City - Murder, Magic, and Madness At The Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson

This true (nonfiction) story takes place in Chicago in the 1890's, before and during the Great Columbian Exposition, an exhibition on a scale incomprehensible in today's world. It focuses on two men: Daniel Burnham, one of the greatest architects of the era (he designed the wonderful Flatiron Building, among many others), and a man known by the pseudonym H. H. Holmes, one of the most prolific serial murderers in recorded history.

I'm enjoying it very much. Having read easily a dozen (probably more) historical novels that take place in 19th Century New York City, I'm finding the Chicago backdrop new and intriguing. I love architecture, and I love cities, and my fascination with the 19th Century in general goes back to one of my earliest book-loves: Dickens, then other Victorian writers. I don't share many people's fascinations with serial killers, but if you're into that, there are plenty of gory details.

If you're reluctant to read history or nonfiction in general, this book would be an excellent introduction. It's written in a lively narrative style - that is, like a novel - although Larson's historical accuracy is said to be beyond reproach.

The story is framed by these two interlocking quotes:

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.
Daniel H. Burnham, 1893

I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.
Dr. H. H. Holmes, 1896

11.27.2004

arabic for vietnam

I haven't taken off my anti-Bush button, and don't intend to. But I replaced the "Bring Back Complete Sentences" Kerry button on my backpack with this.

I'm sure some historian out there can list five reasons why the war in Iraq is not equivalent to the Vietnam War. But let's see what we got here. A war being fought on a foreign land, in a culture the US doesn't understand, purportedly to stop an Evil (substitute terrorism for communism), but actually to control and profit from that nation's resources, and to install a government friendly to American business interests. A war that was started under false pretenses (substitute WMDs for Gulf of Tonkin incident), against a people we utterly underestimate, as American involvement escalates and the situation grows increasingly untenable.

Close enough for me.

Remember: we stopped that war and we can stop this one. Now that the election is over, we must take to the streets, both literally and metaphorically, to stop this madness.

11.24.2004

better buster news

I hope these "what I did today" posts aren't going to turn off new readers who are here to learn about emigrating to Canada. One purpose of this blog is for ease of keeping in touch with friends and family after the move, and I'm finding it's very good for doing so before we move, too.

At last, some progress. This has been a difficult week, dealing with Buster's eye problems. We had our follow-up appointment on Monday, and were very disappointed to learn that after all these weeks of all kinds of medications, there was only minimal improvement.

We had to go back the following day, so the doctor could try a different medication. The plan was for her to administer the new med, then we would wait around and/or walk Buster for an extended period of time, then the doc could take another look to see if this very strong and very expensive medication worked. (We could have done this on Monday, but it was late and we had to get the car back.) This threatened to be a little stressful, since we can't take Buster to a park or dog-run, so extended waiting-around time with him could be difficult.

But fortunately on Tuesday, we finally had some good news: the eye pressure dropped into the normal range for the first time! Yay. Even the waiting time wasn't so bad - the doctor only needed about an hour and we had a nice, long walk.

And so we've added yet another medication to the regimen, which brings his daily total to six - two for anti-anxiety/anti-craziness, four for his eyes (3 eyedrops, 1 oral). After our next appointment, the doc hopes to reduce the eye regimen considerably. I am very relieved!

My iPAQ is coming! Thanks to the help and support of my friend Alan (note the single L; this is Alan, not Allan), I have purchased a wonderful "pocket PC", the HP iPAQ 4350. It's back-ordered, so while I wait for it to arrive, I'm working on preparing the data in my desktop for easy transfer and sync'ing. It's a big project, a bit of a learning curve, but I am so psyched about it.

This is something I've wanted for years. I've had electronic organizers, but this has much greater capabilities, including wireless internet, pocket versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and Reader (e-books!! end of shoulder pain from carrying heavy books!) and it syncs with another computer wirelessly. I am totally psyched and can't wait to be up and running. Did I mention I was excited about this?

11.23.2004

what i'm doing

Boring what-I-did-today post alert.

Mostly trying to save Buster's vision. Multiple trips to the eye-doctor vet, with minimal improvement. Lots of time and money, though joining Zipcar has helped cut down on the stress. (Try to travel by cabs with a pit bull - not fun!) We had been waiting for Zipcar to get a car in our immediate neighborhood before we joined, but now that we need a car more frequently, we'll settle for a short subway ride. Poor B! I'm trying to stay in the present, not think too far ahead and get caught up in worrying...

Last week we went to the funeral of one of my great aunts. She was old and didn't suffer. This leaves one surviving sister, of the five siblings (one of whom was my grandmother). We always wondered who would be last.

My wonderful niece (one of my many wonderful nieces and nephews) who was in rehab for depression is doing much better, thanks to the miracle of anti-depressant medications and her amazing mother. We are greatly relieved. We love her so much!

11.20.2004

please, canada... please??

A columnist for the Toronto Star has a great idea. When W visits Ottawa this year, the Canadians can indict him as a war criminal. As Jewish grandmothers everywhere say, You should live so long.

11.16.2004

kids on wheels update

It's out!!! The book came in the mail yesterday and it looks GREAT!

Kids On Wheels is the first book of its kind - a book about the wheelchair life written specifically for young people. I wrote the sports & recreation chapter, plus some profiles of cool young wheelers. The work combined two specialties of mine - disability issues and writing for young people - and I was very proud to be a part of it.

If the book is successful, it will be spun off into a magazine, and I'll be a regular contributor or editor. So if you know any young wheelers, tell them to tune in!

the second visit

We're planning our next fact-finding mission to the Toronto area. Last time we flew JetBlue to Buffalo, which saved a lot of money and wasn't too inconvenient. But now I see that Air Canada has very low fares from Newark to Pearson, so we can save money and time, even better. Toronto Pearson airport (as opposed to the airport in downtown Toronto) is very convenient to where we think we'll be living. I get the feeling that the airport was once in the middle of nowhere and Mississauga sprawled out to meet it.

We probably won't even go into Toronto proper this time, or if we do, just for one evening to have dinner with friends. We're going to stay in Mississauga - since the airport is there, there are plenty of hotels - and focus on looking at apartments out there.

I have a whole bunch of addresses and phone numbers from my internet research. Our goal is to see a lot of places and come home with a good idea of where we want to live. Then, one bright and shining day when our application is approved, we'll contact the building agents and see what's available. That's the plan, anyway.

howard zinn, my hero

You know I've been quoting Howard Zinn for the last few weeks. I finished the book yesterday, and I want to recommend it to everyone.

Zinn is a historian, activist, writer, speaker. He's most famous for writing A People's History of the United States, which is American history from the point of view of Native Americans, slaves, women, working people, poor people - a kind of reverse history. He's also one of my big heroes.

You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train is Zinn's memoirs as a civil rights and peace activist in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He fought in WWII, and his experiences in that war helped shape him into an anti-war activist.

The book is largely about activism - how any small action we can take is significant and worthwhile, how our actions can't be judged by immediate results, but are cumulative.

Zinn is also an incurable optimist. He has tremendous hope and spirit, and makes me feel proud just to march alongside him (metaphorically speaking).

For me Moving Train was the perfect antidote to the helplessness, depression, even despair I felt from this election. It lifted my spirits so much. It's short, easy to read - and you might be similarly inspired!

11.14.2004

howard zinn says...

"What the [US civil rights] movement proved, however, is that even if people lack the customary attributes of power -- money, political authority, physical force -- as did the black people of the Deep South, there is a power that can be created out of pent-up indignation, courage, and the inspiration of a common cause, and that if enough people put their minds and bodies into that cause, they can win. It is a phenomenon recorded again and again in the history of the popular movements against injustice all over the world.
. . .
When that might happen is uncertain. If that can happen is also uncertain. But not to believe in the possibility of dramatic change is to forget that things have changed, not enough, of course, but enough to show what is possible. We have been surprised before in history. We can be surprised again. Indeed, we can do the surprising."

Howard Zinn, from You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train, A Personal History Of Our Times

is your peace showing?

Great buttons here. Unity, shmunity. That's just another way of saying Shut Up. We won't shut up. Wear your colors proudly.

11.13.2004

people yelling at each other

Yes, yes, I know you'll help me pack. I'm not asking you to miss me. You've taken over the country. What more do you want?

Wandering around the internet today, I sampled a tiny taste of the bitter online political sniping that litters the net. From this election blog, I read comments posted by right-wingers, and found the right's silly response to the global apology website. And on from there.

Right-wingers have been emailing me, trying to bait me into arguments that I'm utterly uninterested in having. Apparently they are all about eight years old, as that's the last time I heard "What are you, chicken?" used effectively.

It's difficult for me to understand why people waste their time on this kind of thing. No one is listening to each other, so no one is even coming close to making her/his point of view heard in any constructive way. Anyone with enough of an opinion to bother posting online probably feels pretty strongly about her/his beliefs. It's not a debate. It's just a shouting match.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I do try to move like-minded citizens to action, as I think political action is important. I do try to educate, and hope others do the same for me. I will occasionally discuss a specific issue with someone who seems to have an open mind. A co-worker who reads this blog thanked me for making him think more about the war against Iraq. That might have been my greatest accomplishment of the year. (So it's been a slow year.)

But why would I want to waste my valuable time and energy screaming back and forth with people whose ideas repulse me, and who feel the same about me?

where they're coming from, where they're going

From the Monitor, the official publication of Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
Immigrant levels increased by 20% compared to the first quarter of 2003. Canada took in 54,889 permanent residents between January and March 2004 . . .

Source Countries

Canada saw an increase in the number of immigrants from each of the top ten countries of origin in the first quarter. China showed no sign of giving up its place as the leading source country, contributing 9,373 new permanent residents in the first quarter . . . India, which ranked second, was far behind, with 5,028 new landings. Its rank as the second largest source country remained unchanged. The Philippines was the third leading source country, with 3,108 landings. . . .

Destination

All provinces increased their intake of new immigrants in the first quarter. The number of immigrants to Canada’s most popular immigrant destinations — Ontario and British Columbia — increased at less than the national rate of 20%. . . . The provinces that increased their intake of immigrants beyond the national average included Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta. . . .
The United States ranks fifth on the list of source countries, moving up a notch in the rankings with an increase of 35% in the first quarter of 2004 as compared with the same period in 2003. Last year, 5,990 Americans received Permanent Residence status in Canada.

free advice

Many people have been asking me for tips and pointers about emigrating. I can only speak to the parts of the process I've experienced so far - filing the application, and getting information about jobs and apartments in the Toronto area.

But since you asked, here goes.

1. Go to the CIC website and read EVERYTHING. Take your time. Study it. Find out what category (if any) you fall under and what is required to emigrate in that category.

2. Download the application and instructions for your category. Study them.

3. Study them some more.

4. If you decide to apply, fill out the form super-carefully, preferably with someone else double-checking your work. The slightest error will get the application kicked back to you, and you'll have to resubmit it, going back to the very end of the queue.

5. You might want to consider borrowing some money. You must show "proof of funds" when you submit your application. However, your application will take at least six months to be processed, probably closer to a year or more. If you don't have the required funds (about $10,000 for a single Skilled Worker class application), but can earn it or save it while you're waiting, you might want to do what we did: borrow the money, deposit it in your bank account so you have the required proof, then pay back the loan while your application is in the queue. We borrowed the money from ourselves by taking a cash advance from our friend Mr. Visa.

6. Be patient. This process takes a long time. But then, it's a huge change. It doesn't need to happen overnight.

7. If you have more specific questions about photos, fingerprints, language proficiency, the medical exam, the point system, or anything else on the application, I suggest first reading the instructions very thoroughly, then if you still have questions, emailing me.

8. I highly recommend visiting the Canadian city or province of your choice on a fact-finding mission. Talk to people in your field about job prospects; email them in advance to set up appointments if possible. Check out apartments through a local newspaper and through websites like these.

Good luck!

what i'm reading

I finished Pat Barker's Border Crossing, which was strangely similar to her Double Vision. Both are good, but The Regeneration Trilogy is clearly her masterpiece (so far), so if you want to discover her writing, I'd stick with that.

I'm still reading Howard Zinn's memoir, You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train. It was perfect timing on this one, as Zinn's indefatigable fighting spirit and optimism are the perfect post-election antidote.

And I'll soon start Devil In The White City, by Erik Larson, about the 1893 Exposition in Chicago. It sounds like great history, I'm looking forward to it.

welcome to new york. now please go home.

I hate tourists. I HATE THEM!

My day-job is located in the most heavily touristed part of Manhattan. From early November until after New Year's day, it's impossible to go outside. The sidewalks are literally impassable, clogged with slow-moving, slack-jawed, pink-clad, camcorder-toting hordes, walking five abreast on the sidewalk, allowing their children to run wildly through the crowd, somehow talking loudly enough to make their presence inescapable above the din.

I know what you're thinking. Yes, I love to travel. Yes, technically that sometimes makes me a tourist. But I'm not talking about real travelers, explorers, people who want to dive into a city and discover what makes it tick. I encourage everyone to visit NYC, no matter what your budget. It is a strange and magical place.

But the annoying dolts waddling down our sidewalks are not travelers. They visit only the most famous attractions, the ones on their tour bus itinerary. They eat at the same chain restaurants they do in their hometown. They never stray off the very heavily beaten track. They're not interested in New York City; that would be too different. Too scary. They want the New York City Theme Park.

I know they're supposed to be good for the City. But can't they just deposit their money and go home?

you can take an american out of the u.s., but you can't...

In his comment below, CB writes, "I suspect that your impending relocation to Canada, while it will indeed take the two of you out of the country, will not take the country out of you."

That's a good point, one I often wonder about. When will I stop feeling like an American living in Canada and begin feeling Canada is my home? How long after moving? Will it ever happen? If I live in Canada for the rest of my life, and I'm lucky enough to have a long life, it should.

More importantly, when will I stop feeling like a New Yorker? That's an identity I wear pride, as opposed to my apologetic feelings about being American.

11.12.2004

the anti-hero

Several people have said Allan and I are brave and courageous. Emigrating to another country without the kind of compelling incentive that typically causes people to emigrate - hunger, poverty, persecution, even (as one friend put it) a whirlwind romance - strikes many people as an act of courage.

I wish I could own up to that picture, because I admire moral courage more than any other attribute I can think of. But I don't feel the slightest bit brave. We're moving to another Western culture. Although Canada is blessedly different than the US, I probably won't feel as alien there as 99% of the people who move to New York City must, whether they come from Karachi or Kansas.

I'm not brave. I'm just fed up.

get me out of here

I. Can't. Wait. To. Leave.

I mean no offense to the people here who I will miss. But I can't wait to leave this country.

Today's gag-inducing last straw (I have a last straw about every-other day) is the mainstream media's dismissal of concerns about election fraud. Ooo, it comes from the internet. This wacky place where wacky ideas are circulated. (Or is it that revolutionary new means of communication? Or that failed, boring place where people just shop and look at porn? I can't remember... which story template are we running today...?) As the mainstream media becomes less relevant, less in control of The Story, it derides and dismisses the competition.

With everything we know about the 2000 election, with everything we know about the vulnerability of electronic voting, and with everything we know about Republican dirty tricks to suppress registration and turnout - and with the so-called "most important election of our lifetimes" on the line - don't questions about the accuracy of the vote count need to be taken seriously and investigated???

Nope! We'll just dismiss them. They came from the internet. We found one expert who'll say they are nonsense. Case closed, bye-bye.

Bye-bye democracy.

Oh my god, I can't wait to get out of here.

11.11.2004

others follow in our wake

Everywhere I look there are stories about Americans moving to Canada. Here's the one from the reporter who was looking for gay folks to speak to. A few days earlier, another Globe and Mail story started like this:

Huddled masses yearn to breathe free -- up north
By JOHN ALLEMANG
Saturday, November 6, 2004, Page F2

Two days after the U.S. election confirmed her worst fears about the state of her country, Dawn Woodward and her husband were busy filling out the forms that could turn them into Canadians.

Several people sent me Dan Savage's current column. (At least he's not blaming Ralph Nader anymore!) And there was this facetious view from Slate. I'm not a fan myself, but it's interesting how it's making the rounds.

In response to the Globe & Mail article, my friend BC in Toronto lamented:
Obviously, our gain and USA's loss, just as in the case of you and Allan. However, I can't help but worry about a drain of vocal, intelligent, talented people from the US who will no longer be there to fight for same-sex rel rights or other good fights. In your specific case, totally understand the choice. But a wholesale gay immigration could leave the US forever in the clutches of the right wing asses...
Personally, I don't think there's much danger of that. Most people are too comfortable in their lives to uproot themselves. I think the percentage of people saying "I'm moving to Canada!" who will actually go will remain fairly small. But that's just my perception, it could be way off. Perhaps gay flight will equal or top the number of Americans who fled to Canada to avoid killing or being killed in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Either way, BC is certainly right. It's Canada's gain and the US's loss. As far as leaving the US in the clutches of the right wing, that's been happening for 20+ years, and - as we know - has been escalating sharply of late. Hence our plans.

11.09.2004

i'm not a democrat, either

I've been getting comments and email from right-wingers who mistakenly assume I am leaving the country because Bush was elected. Allow me to clarify.

We made our decision to emigrate in July 2003, and filed our applications in early 2004. The applications cost more than $2,500 and entailed quite a lot of work. We are not wealthy people who can drop thousands of dollars on a "what-if". In other words, we were planning on leaving no matter who was elected.

I wanted Bush to lose more than I've wanted anything in a recent memory. It was incredibly important to me to defeat his administration and I'm heartbroken that it didn't happen. (And even more horrified that he probably didn't actually win the election!!)

I voted for Kerry, but I'm not a Democrat. They are clearly the better choice, but they are also, in my opinion, clearly part of the problem.

I'm not your garden-variety liberal. I am what's known as a progressive. My politics fall several steps to the left of most Democrats. (Unless the Democrat is Joe Lieberman, then they fall several miles to the left.)

The system is bankrupt. The entrenched two-party system, the corporate stranglehold, the multi-million dollar campaigns, the lobbying, the antiquated electoral college and the corporate-controlled media - they all conspire to kill democracy. Add to that the ascendancy of the religious right - the war on women, gay people, the working class, the environment, education, science... it's a long list. I want out.

Please stop writing to tell me how John Kerry is not worth abandoning my country for. This hasn't felt like my country for a long time.

calling all queers

I received this through the grapevine today:
Hello, I am a journalist at the Globe and Mail, a newspaper in Toronto, Canada. I am interested in speaking with gay Americans who want to immigrate to Canada, following the US election and the increasingly conservative position of the US government (and some state governments) on gay rights and other social issues. I would greatly appreciate it if you could contact me about this.
Please email me privately for the reporter's contact info.

My friend who sent the request asked me to say that "Immigration Equality, a lesbian and gay rights advocacy group, is working hard on the anti-queer inequities of American immigration law".

11.07.2004

the 51st state

Before the election, my friend Spencer remarked that if Bush won, it was time for NYC to secede from the United States, as moving to Canada is so complicated. Now Spencer writes:
Still in post-election soul-searching. How far am I willing to go to win this country back? Far enough to talk about religion? about family values? About moral certainty, absolute truth? How much am I willing, really, to forgo my beloved liberal "nuance" in order to win over the center?

How much do I really want to win this country back? I feel like it's a bit like that hardbody contest in Texas, where people have to stand with their hand on a huge pickup truck for days and the last one to let go wins the truck. In the end, it's still a gas-guzzling monstrosity for which I have little use, and unless I can transform it somehow into a metrocard it's really just a liability. If this country is as full of idiots as it would appear, then its prospects for transformation seem dim.

Secession is really the best policy I think. We could do without the red states, and we can solve the problem of landfill space by expanding battery park. After all, we'll have to support a huge refugee population from San Francisco.
I love that analogy.

For more on secession, read this excellent story.

11.06.2004

reverse immigration

Why is emigrating from the US considered such a radical thing to do? Why does it dismay or even infuriate so many people that an American would consider leaving?

We readily accept people moving to the US from just about anywhere else. No one thinks immigrants have deserted or abandoned Russia, India, Ireland or the Dominican Republic. (No Americans, anyway.)

That must be a clue. We think of the US as someplace people move to, in search of a better life. We grow up hearing that the US is the greatest country in the world - and so many Americans believe it. The idea that anyplace could actually be better is simply unthinkable.

Guess what? People also emigrate to Canada - in droves. They come from all over the world, looking for the same things as immigrants to the US, plus greater tolerance, the guarantee of health care, a burgeoning economy that welcomes immigrants, and a generally more humane way of life.

post-election funk

I gotta get it together. Research and buy the handheld PC. Go to the gym. Look for some writing work. Plan our next trip to look at apartments in Mississauga. Re-focus.

At the phone bank, people would always joke about "what was it I used to do before...?" and "what will I do when this is over... how can I not see you every day?" It was sweet. The camaraderie, the shared experience of working collectively towards a mutual goal, was very intense. We got attached to each other.

And it was the focal point of my life. The people I met through ACT who used all their vacation and sick days, drained their savings accounts, gave up their entire lives for the campaign... if I'm feeling so adrift, I can't imagine how they are feeling.

Meanwhile, back at the exit poll... It looks more and more like the election was stolen. We knew all along that it was a distinct possibility. Apparently it became reality. I'm not going to try to link to all the information about it. As always, go to Black Box Voting for the facts. Allan's blog might also be a good place to start.

Another American First. I often think we're looking at something historically new here: a dictatorship dressed up as a democracy. No tanks rolling down Fifth Avenue, no government mass rallies, no junta, no putsch. We retain party conventions, campaigns, voting booths - but it's like a backlot movie set, a facade of props. The US democracy has been in trouble for a long time, controlled by corporate interests and a conglomerated media. But if voting is not legitimate, what makes it a democracy at all?

no, the whole country lost

On my way to work today, a guy on the subway platform called out "Hey, your guy lost!" It took me a moment, but I realized he was looking at the anti-W button on my backpack (which I have no intention of removing). I guess he was one of the 16.7% of Manhattan voters who voted for Bush.

Amazingly, I actually thought of something to say on the spot, instead of 15 minutes later. My answer is the title of this entry.

We saw "Control Room" last night. I cannot wait until my tax dollars support national health insurance instead of this insane war.

11.05.2004

following the north star

Runaway slaves fled to Canada. Vietnam draft resisters did the same. Today we honor the path they blazed.

According to this Reuters story, on an average day, about 20,000 people in the US log on to the Canadian immigration site. On Wednesday, November 3, that number "rocketed to 115,016". The following day, "the number of U.S. visits settled down to 65,803... still well above the norm."

Many people will be surprised by what a lengthy, expensive process it is to emigrate. Still, anything worth having is worth working for.

what a relief

I am SOOOOOO happy that we made this decision and our applications are already in the queue!!!!

We had decided to leave no matter who won the election. But now... what a relief.

welcome/unwelcome new readers

I have a bunch of new readers!

Until very recently, I was keeping this blog private, only sending the link to friends and family who know about our impending BLC. I didn't want anyone at my day-job to know, except for my few friends there who I trust, and in general didn't feel ready to be public.

I'm not sure why, but the election changed that. Now I don't care who knows. Allan saw a thread at DU (his online political home) about moving to Canada, and I gave him permission to post my URL. Since then, several people have written to offer cheers and support, and a few to say my writing has given them hope. That makes me feel great.

You may also have noticed that I've gotten some comments from right-wingers. (I won't even link to them; if you're curious, you'll have to search.) This baffles me. I don't know about you, but I don't have anywhere near enough time to read things that further educate me about the things I believe in. Why waste time reading blather that you totally disagree with and that only makes you angry? I don't mean studying another educated, well-reasoned point of view. I mean the kind of purely personal politics of the sort I'm writing. Why do these people waste their time reading my drivel and then waste even more responding?

Perhaps they think they're gloating. Perhaps they just like to argue. Perhaps they are so deluded and un-self-aware that they think they have something important to say.

Even in my younger, more hotheaded days, when I never passed up a chance to debate, I didn't go out of my way to lock horns with the opposition. These days, I have as much interest in talking to those people as I do in voting for them. I'd like to help educate an open mind. And I'd like to help like-minded people take action. But I have no wish to battle my way through life by arguing with close-minded morons.

Allan wonders why I don't just delete these stupid wingnut comments, and I don't really have a good answer. If they get out of hand or blatantly offensive, I certainly will. For now, though, I'm content to include a stupid rant or two - especially since at this site, I'll always have the last word.

11.04.2004

a telling typo

Allan just pointed out that in my previous post, I had written "a people divided will never be..." Of course that's supposed to be united. I corrected it. Yeesh.

11.03.2004

my election day

I woke up at 5:30 a.m., walked the dogs and arrived at the GOTV phone bank at 8:00. Most of the organizers and coordinators were already there. We got our marching orders and by 8:30 the volunteers starting arriving.

We had 100 phones going for 14.5 solid hours. We even had a system for floaters to sub in when callers took breaks, so we didn't lose any phone time. The tech staff said we were calling at a rate of 15,000 calls per hour. By the end of the night we had logged 275,000 calls.

We called registered Democrats in New Hampshire, Ohio, New Mexico and Oregon, mostly making sure people had voted, but also trouble-shooting and giving out phone numbers for voting problems. I arranged rides to the polls for three people, including an elderly woman in Ohio who desperately wanted to vote and feared she wouldn't be able to.

Mostly I did training - lots and lots of training. I trained groups of 5, or 10, or 20. I think I did 8 or maybe 10 sessions over the course of the day. In between training sessions, I'd help supervise the floor, walking around answering questions, helping volunteers, offering water, running around doing whatever needed to be done.

Allan arrived around 5:00 p.m. (wearing his B cap) and helped out with supervising and some phoning. I'm glad he got to see where I've been living for the past few months and meet the amazing people I've been working with.

The energy in the room was astounding. There were TVs on all over, and as the night went on, tension mounted, but there was so much hope.

When we finally cleared out the room and left at 11 p.m., people were gathering at various bars, but I was utterly exhausted and needed to be home. Lying on the couch, I felt nearly sick with exhaustion, my joints throbbing. Watching the returns was agonizing. At 2:30 a.m., nearing the 24-hour mark, I took a sleeping pill and went to bed.

This morning I saw the "breaking news" crawl on CNN and turned on the sound just in time to learn that Kerry was conceding. I ran into the bedroom. "Allan, wake up, wake up, Kerry is conceding. He's conceding!" and then I burst into tears. Watching the concession speech later in the day, I start to sob.

Today I am thinking of my comrades from the call center - June, Betsy and Kate, Ramon and Ann, and all the volunteers I've come to know over these months, people like Alex and Bob and Bruce and Bill and Rita and . . . Smart, committed, informed people of all ages and backgrounds, all giving their time and energy, all working for change, and for justice. Many of them left for Ohio and Pennsylvania last Thursday and Friday, carrying our hopes and prayers with them.

We all worked so hard, and we all wanted this so badly. The only bright spot is that the organization and activism and energy will continue. There will be no stopping us. As we often chant: A people united will never be defeated.

(not) giving up the fight

It has been suggested that we are leaving when the chips are down.

I'm 43 years old. I've been part of people's movements my entire life, beginning with the civil rights and anti-war movements when I was a small child. I'm sure I'll continue fighting for equality and justice when I live in Canada. Why wouldn't I? I'm an activist, and proud of it. But I don't have to spend the rest of my life fighting a losing battle, feeling like an alien creature, just because this is where I happened to be born.

We also keep hearing that Canada Is Not Perfect. Of course not. It's a country, with a government. It doesn't exist in some parallel utopian universe. Yes, there's a religious right. That's ok. People are entitled to the free expression of their religious beliefs. As far as I can tell, however, they don't hold the Canadian government in their thrall. And as I've asked elsewhere in this blog, when was the last time Canada invaded and occupied a foreign country for no reason?

why unity?

We're told the country needs to heal. We're told we must seek unity.

Why is unity a worthy goal? I won't unite with people who oppose the values I so passionately believe in. I will not link arms under one star-spangled banner with those who are destroying our democracy, who value nothing but profit, who wrap themselves in false patriotism and religion to deceive and control, who recklessly pursue power at any cost, who care so little for human life.

I won't seek common ground with Americans who value a collection of cells more than the autonomy of an adult human being, who would force me to live by religious standards I find ludicrous and absurd, who shred the Constitution to establish a theocracy, but who blithely support the destruction of human life both in their own towns and around the world.

Unity is facsism. March in lockstep, repeat the slogans, watch TV, do as we say. Liberty and justice for those who can afford it, no child left behind if they're already ahead, mission accomplished, but don't show the coffins. We have always been at war with Eurasia. Orange alert, if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of, just comply. Trust us, keep shopping, don't ask questions, watch what you say.

Democracy is conflict. Democracy is disagreement, and the change that follows. It is the free exchange of complex ideas. Unity brings complacency and makes us easy to control. Democracy requires us to question authority.

I will not succumb to platitudes about common ground while our country spirals downward, dragging half the world with it.

I do not want my country to heal. I want it to wake from its complacent, consumerist slumber, change direction, and resume the progress towards the fulfillment of its ideals.

I am proud to be a warrior in The Struggle, and I will fight on.

Right now, though, I am still crying.

i despair

I don't want to live in a country where this can happen.

More later. I'll write about our day and night later. Right now I'm too stunned, upset and depressed to write.

10.31.2004

the day after tomorrow

Everyone is very nervous.

Everyone I speak to or email with is fearful and anxious. The other day I made some phone calls for ACT's PA trips - the response has been so overwhelming, organizers needed help getting back to everyone who had signed up. All I was doing was giving people info, but a good dozen people took the opportunity to talk about their fear and anxiety.

I do believe we will prevail. Organizers on the ground in OH, PA, Oregon, Colorado and other battleground states are feeling strong and confident. Thousands of polling-place monitors and attorneys and democracy-friendly judges are standing by to protect the integrity of the votes. An army of volunteers will be getting out the vote.

But of course, we don't know. We don't know if enough of the public knows the facts (as opposed to the lies), and will vote in their own self-interest (against W). We don't know if the election will be fair. I believe we will win, but we don't know.

Everyone on the planet, minus some 48% of registered American voters, wants the same result. The world holds its breath.

10.30.2004

kids on wheels

The publishers of New Mobility magazine, to which I contributed for many years, have published the groundbreaking Kids On Wheels. I have many stories on the website, mostly in the "Roll Models" and "Cool Kids On Wheels" sections. (Just enter through the "under construction" message.)

Kids On Wheels is the first-ever resource guide for young people who use wheelchairs and parents and professionals who interact with them. There are two editions, one for kids and one for adults. I wrote the sports chapter and some other profiles for the kids' edition. If the book is successful, a magazine will follow, and I'm hoping to get a regular gig with that as well.

It's a great fit for me, since I have more than a decade of experience writing about disability issues and a life-long love of writing for young people. Writing the sports chapter, I had the opportunity to speak with kids all over the country who use wheelchairs and are doing sports. I had a great time, and I remembered how much I enjoy writing for kids.

Also in print, Allan did several interviews while the Red Sox were shutting down the Yankees and the Cardinals. There were a few good radio spots, including WFAN, the big sports-talk radio station in New York, and an ESPN Radio affiliate in North Carolina. Fortunately, others are in print, and you can read some of them here.

10.28.2004

1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004

The world looks exactly the same as it did yesterday, but everything has changed. Congratulations to the World Champion Boston Red Sox and their loyal, long-suffering fans.

Congratulations doesn't seem like a strong enough word. For years Allan and I have talked about what it will be like in New England when the Red Sox finally bring home a championship. Now we will find out.

Some Red Sox fan neighbors stopped by last night for hugs and champagne, and told us that their Yankee-fan friends are depressed and angry. Like a Yankees fan has anything to be depressed about. And you know I say that as a lifelong fan - minus 1.5 seasons.

My favorite Yankees fan, Matt, called around midnight to congratulate Allan. Now that's class. Matt and I watched most of the 1986 World Series together; he was 5 years old. Allan was still living in Vermont. We go back a ways.

I'll stop now, as I generally try to keep this blog somewhat focused, and I sense I am babbling. Check out Allan's blog for complete celebration coverage.

And now on to the next victory, the one the whole world awaits.

10.27.2004

some numbers

72. The number of volunteer phone-bankers at the ACT NY campaign this morning. Our biggest day yet.

32,000. The number of phone calls made from one ACT NY call center to Florida voters yesterday. That's from one center, on one day. I'm told NYC is logging more calls than many national campaigns. I love New Yorkers!

41. The number of electoral votes in Pennsylvania (21) and Ohio (20) combined. All going to John Kerry.

85. Days left in the George W. Bush presidency. (Also known as days until John F. Kerry is inaugurated.)

1. The number of wins the Red Sox need to win their first World Series in 86 years.

R.I.P. 1918.

10.26.2004

the final week

This is it. One week to go. Phone-banking is going gangbusters. When I started on the morning shift we had 10 or 12 people each day. Last week we had 25-30 a day. Today: 65.

ACT Ohio and ACT PA have changed their outlook from "optimistic" to "confident - as long as we do the work between now and Nov 2". Let's do the work, folks. Here's what to do, in order of priority:

- If you can take four days off, go to Ohio. Free transportation by bus, free hotel. If you want to fly or drive, you can still get the free hotel room.

- If you can't take four days, go to Pennsylvania. Free round-trip buses Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

If you do either of the above, be sure to get your absentee ballot in right away!

- If you can't travel, join the phone-bank marathon at the SEIU call center. We'll be there from 9:00 a.m. til 11:00 p.m., doing get-out-the-vote calls in every time zone. There'll be a TV on to watch returns, food, people, energy, passion and fun. Join me!

Meanwhile, the Red Sox need two more wins. I think Massachusetts is going to be celebrating big-time.