Historic Time of Remote Learning

By , March 30, 2020 1:01 pm

Hello everyone,

as we walk the fine line of hope for a better future and despair about the world as it exists today, we can all learn to adapt to our new environments.

Here are some tips for avoiding the stir-crazies:

  1. Develop a sense of routine and structure. It can be flexible but it should exist. We’re used to the routine of school. Now let’s develop something new.
(Source: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/covid-19-parenting-tips#3)

For me that means doing a Sudoku first thing in the morning after my cats wake me up. It also means taking breaks when I’m starting to lose it after staring at my computer screen for too long. Photography and cooking are great, too.


2. Find meaning and happiness in small, positive things.

(Source: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/covid-19-parenting-tips#5)

I always take time to notice the colours of the sunset and the beauty of the shining moon. It may sound silly, but when I am feeling down I need these soothing little moments of awareness of something beyond myself.

Of course my cats provide incredible entertainment and happiness, even if they’re just lounging around (okay, that’s 20 hours of every day).

Richard birdwatches to pass the time.


If you are struggling, reach out: to your teachers, your guidance counsellor, your parents, Ms. G. You are not alone.

Fact-Checking Chernobyl

By , March 18, 2020 11:59 am

Last night we watched Chernobyl on Crave while we still have it (until Picard is over). While I thought the drama was great, I was annoyed at some inaccuracies I discovered while fact-checking mid-way through the episodes. I know, my fault; I just can’t help wondering if what I’m seeing is true.

It turns out that reliable, agreed-upon data about Chernobyl, especially its after-effects, is not easy to pin down. There are differing interpretations of how many people have died, how many people have been affected, etc. It bothers me that the “facts” given at the end of the miniseries are presented as the gold standard.

If you’ve seen the series, I invite you to do some fact-checking on your own. You’ll find the minimizers and the maximizers in terms of estimates. There’s also some new research using interesting methodologies.

Nightmares aside, I thought it was a very well-acted series that gave a real sense of the USSR in the 1980s (not that I was there but I definitely studied it).

Lots of lies and every so often the truth. We haven’t come very far, regrettably.




By , March 18, 2020 11:48 am

Ganaraska Conservation Area, Port Hope.





By , March 16, 2020 8:27 am

I took it out of the YM library on the Friday before March Break began; I started it on the streetcar ride over to the Horse Palace Friday evening. I read it all day yesterday. I finished it this morning – it’s Monday.

I don’t normally read so quickly. Something propelled me through “Educated” by Tara Westover even though it’s actually really difficult to read. Not the words – they are beautiful and haunting. The pain of the book is hard; she experienced physical pain working in the family junkyard under her misguided father and being abused by her brother. She survived the emotional trauma of living in a Mormon family where fear of government overrode safety, health and well-being.

The book is about education in its multiple forms; she didn’t go to formal school as a child in Idaho but she was still educated even in not being formally educated. Her parents’ pious and rigid views influenced her, even infected her, I’d say. Tara Westover’s book is the journey to reclaim where she starts and they end. Formal education is part of her reclamation process as she has studied at BYU, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard.

But it’s education in life that has really saved her; learning to unlearn, learning to accept, learning to see through a different lens.

We can all learn from that in these troubled, polarizing times.





By , March 7, 2020 5:47 pm

Just some stuff.

Notoriously hard to photograph but caught her here:



Val joined me: we’re both 50 now.

Val at Richmond Station restaurant where we had a wonderful vegan AND non-vegan dinner


Ms. Dworet’s sign says it all – students just wanna have funds


Favourite guitar piece right now: Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind. I brought the song to my guitar teacher, Robert, a while ago after thinking back to Kurt Browning’s skate from Stars on Ice 2019.

Kurt SOI 2019


A new flavour combo for me: avocado and smoked tofu on a pita. I ate the evidence before I thought of taking a photo.


Picard is turning out to be absolutely amazing – interesting storyline with room for old favourites. I have cried every single episode.

Picard reuniting with Riker and Troi


After finally finishing Mary Beard’s highly detailed The Fires of Vesuvius about daily life in Roman Pompeii, I switched gears, accidentally, into some Canadian history/memoire with Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto. Reading it on the subway was difficult at times because I had to hold back tears. Sakamoto’s grandparents’ WWII stories provide the subject matter; one side of his family experienced extreme persecution as Japanese Canadians being forced to leave their lives in Vancouver to labour on beet farms in Alberta, while his grandfather on the other side was a Canadian soldier and prisoner of war defending Hong Kong against the Japanese. And then I picked up Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony, a novel depicting the lives of children in a Chinese family in Vancouver in the 1930s and 40s. Again, near crying on the subway. It’s rare for me to read a novel. Wayson Choy died in April 2019.

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