Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pity me plagued with a pesky pit problem.

 For the past couple of months I've been trying to find alternatives to using  antiperspirant.  The one I've been using for years had begun to give me intense itching and rashes. Going without on week-ends and putting lotion would help with the itch but I seemed to stink even more.  I tried various brands of antiperspirants including all natural ones without alum. Either it gave me itching, a rash or just made me stink to high heaven.

The past week I've scoured the internet to search for solutions and sometimes the most simple solutions work the best. One suggestion I read was to not use anything but water to wash armpits. That seems so counter intuitive.  Although I don't use much soap as a rule to being with, since I have highly sensitive skin and am prone to eczema.  I mean I was only washing  armpits and  pubic/butt area with soap and the rest just with water.   [I know I know, TMI] I do use Noxema on my face because water alone dries the skin out too much.

But it's not like I'm using much soap. I suppose it makes sense just to wash the armpits with water?  So I tried it today. I bathed at 7 this morning. I brought a facecloth to work and washed with water at noon. Again at 2:30pm because we went for a walk around the building and it was pretty hot out today and  not since, and I don't stink. I have a very faint sweat smell if your nose is in my armpit.. Compared to the funk that was coming out of those pits with antiperspirant before. [And really no one's nose should be that close to my armpit. I like personal space]

I still have to experiment.  I don't like the sticky sensation of my pits - maybe this is where perhaps unscented talc powder might be useful? The other thing is I was wearing a sleeveless dress, which means my pits were not constrained by fabric.  I'm not sure how fabrics will do with this wash only with water approach?

I'll keep experimenting and telling those close to me to tell me if I become aromatic. I've been working on this problem for most of 2011 and this is the most positive experience I've had so far. I can certainly live with washing my pits with water 4-6 times a day.

Syrian president issues amnesty - but what will it really mean?

That's the headline I just read. The claim is that "President Assad has by decree issued an amnesty on all [political] crimes committed before May 31, 2011."

I'm sure it doesn't mean much to those who have been in jail for years or even those who were rounded up out of their homes or randomly off the street in the past few months, then tortured for fun. I'm sure they might be happy to be released but they aren't going to sing the praises of Assad and his party after being detained and tortured.

Besides just before Syrian security forces started their forceful crackdown, the president had just lifted the emergency law in place since 1963, which in theory should have given the people the right to assemble and protest peacefully.

Right after the law was repealed the regime began it's crackdown. So sure they may empty the jails but will they stop torturing and killing people who assemble peacefully? It remains to be seen.

Saudi woman released!

Manal al-Sherif has been released into her fathers' custody by the Saudi authorities.  She was detained for driving illegally in Saudi Arabia. She has been mounting a campaign to encourage other women to drive so that women get the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. 

Although technically no law prevents women from driving, no driving licences get issued by the Saudi authorities to women making it illegal for women to drive. Manal is encouraging women to drive using foreign licences.  Good luck to her and all other Saudi women.

I may not like driving, but I sure like having the right to be able to do it if I want!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Syrian government so afraid of losing it's resorting to killing anything that moves

including CHILDREN. Yesterday in Syria around the central city of Homs, a school bus carrying children as young as 6 and up to the age of 24 was shelled.

If Bashar Al Assad's government think Syria is being invaded by an army of children I'm not sure what to think about their sanity or their tenuous grasp on reality. I mean what kind of crazy goes and kills random school children?

The protests started over the treatment of children. In this case we're talking teens between 13-16 years of age who had written anti government graffiti. [This is common in America and no one dies over spray painted letters on fences or buildings]. They were arrested over the anti-government words. Parents who worried over fact their children just plain disappeared were the first to protest.  I'm sure if they would have gotten answers, everything would have gone away. Instead they decided to show them that no dissent will be tolerated.

So now from a few pissed off parents over the INHUMANE treatment of their children which is what started the protests in Syria..... I'd say 50-75% now want Assad and his cronies to go away. Not surprising, who wants to be governed by CHILD MURDERERS?

So Assad's thugs keep killing people, including CHILDREN. Because it's obvious all the dissent is coming from the children. I mean who else but six year old's will think of overthrowing the government????

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Once clueless, always clueless - the saga of the intern who didn't get it!

A few years back we had an intern that can only be categorized as unique. I had hired him on the basis that he had no job experiences in the computer science and engineering fields and put him to do very easy tests. One of our internship positions involves doing certification tests for a large vendor that will offer our hardware in their machines. This requires little PC skills. It requires being able to read in English, and follow simple instructions.

The vendor that provides these tests provides detailed checklists that explains each test step by step. Anything that wasn't crystal clear we created our own document, with tips and tricks on passing the more difficult tests.  In my opinion any high school graduate who's used a PC to send email or surf the web should be able to do these tests. Most of the time these tests do not utilize the entire time the student has, and then the student is also doing the same type of testing as the rest of my team, which gives them a complete experience on Software Quality Assurance.

I've had to fill this position many students with zero PC skills but just a willingness to learn and they have done a wonderful job.  This particular student had lied in his interview about the quality of his English. I was clear that all the documentation for testing was all in English.  So in his first day, his first complaint was that he couldn't follow the tests because they were in English. We told him that he said he could handle it when we interviewed him. He tried to make a stink but since the checklists were made by the vendor and this vendor only provides them in English, he didn't have a leg to stand on.

Besides it wouldn't have killed him to use google or a dictionary. Last semester I had an intern with limited English skills, she didn't lie about it and I didn't have tons of options on who I could hire. She never complained once about fact everything was in English and in her stage report, she wrote that one of her challenges was understanding the checklist and she bought a french-English dictionary and used Altavista translations a lot. She also wrote in her report that she improved her English and she was very pleased with having had the opportunity. She will go far in life!  Him... not so much!

Since he didn't know what he was doing, most of the time he'd end up trashing Windows. His immediate supervisor would take to ghosting any system he complained he couldn't do tests with.  That got him paranoid, and he started calling his stage coordinator at his university and complained that his supervisor was sabotaging his work. Really because we have interest in hiring students JUST to sabotage their work?!?!   I'm surprised he didn't use the fact he was black from Africa as the reason he was having problems, and called us all racists.

[It would have backfired. He wasn't the first or the last black African I've hired, and he's the only one who had issues in my team - as it goes I hire students from everywhere and have had some from many nationalities, race and religion. It has never been an issue]

I mean he would spend more time pretending to work then actually working. The tests he had to do had to be done on particular systems with particular cards. One afternoon we caught him spending all afternoon doing those tests on a machine from the wrong vendor, with a card that we had shipped over 5 years earlier. His mandate was to test current cards in machines that were about to ship!  He couldn't even figure out how to cable stuff properly even despite several of us showing him more then once.  He would spend a lot of time talking to the student who sat behind him and was in the process of brainwashing him into his paranoid delusions when we had a talk with the other student.

He was in my team for several weeks and since it was not working out and we figured maybe it was my team that was the problem, I passed him along to the Hardware  Quality Assurance team. We didn't even swap, we just gave him away. The HQA lead paired him up with his student.  That's when the fun started. He realized that the student could not do anything on his own. Any task well explained and even demonstrated with step by step instructions would still require a fair amount of hand holding. In the end the HQA lead would ask him questions about the work he assigned, and have to stop him to get a real answer. The kid would ramble on for 2 hours about all the reasons he couldn't do the assigned task, when it would have taken him 5 minutes to do the actual work. 

That team wasn't anymore happy with this student and the team leader took the time in this student's last week to tell him that if he was considering a career in engineering that he should reconsider. That in all his years working in an engineering firm he'd never seen an engineering intern that had so little aptitude for engineering.

The shocker came this week when the HQA lead got a phone call from a HR person calling for a reference for this student.  The HQA lead never called the person back and I've told him if he happens to get him on the phone, to say he has nothing to say.  I've always been told to never say anything negative about a prior employee, that you can be sued for defamation of character. But saying nothing speaks volumes without being negative.

I mean how clueless do you have to be to ask for a job reference from a boss who told you that you have ZERO aptitude for engineering.  This kid FAILED his internship. What kind of a reference can you give someone who failed? Someone who worked in 2 different teams, with 2 different supervisors, doing different work and not being able to meet any of the requirements?

I actually found this post and that post where I talk about this particular student back in 2007!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another dead soldier

Canadian soldier dies in Afghanistan, he's the 156th since 2002.  Circumstances of his death are unknown at this time, but it was not in combat. Either way, maybe if he had not been in Afghanistan he would not be dead.

Also I've come to the conclusion that my daughter is currently at HMCS Montcalm, in old Quebec. She never told me the name and someone this week asked me if she was at CFB Val Cartier and I knew she wasn't so being OCD I had to look it up.

And though this has nothing to do with soldiers, it is RAINING again today!

If protesters don't get Assad, the Economy will

Article in the Time probably the best news I've read all week.  At least there seems to be an end in sight for the Syrian protesters. I am praying for them daily that they may reach their goals. It seems unfathomable to me that they would spend all this effort for no results.

Another article I read said that if the torturing of citizens that have been arrested is as wide spread as people believe it is, that is a sign of the failing regime. That no strong regime resorts to torturing it's people this much. Or alternatively Assad no longer has control over his security forces. It seems that they torture for fun, not even so much for effect.  It's pretty sad when some part of the population you live with seems to think that there are several levels of humanity and some people aren't human enough to be given human dignity and respect.

Random fact

The name of blonde crime scene investigator on CSI Miami is Calleigh, which when pronounced sounds exactly like Kali. Just saying...

Friday, May 27, 2011

A little bit of escapism

I decided tonight was the night I was saving all this season's CSI: Miami episodes.  I dunno if I can handle David Caruso in all his glory, along with his fancy sunglasses moves [tm], if my stomach is robust enough. On the other hand if it helps me focus on drawing, that would be way cool.

My back is still twitching and twinging and doing all sorts of other things pissed off backs do, so I'm still taking it easy. I hope it doesn't rain all week-end. I have a rhubarb plant that needs deflowering and laundry to do. I really hope my back is better tomorrow.

They are shooting protesters again in Syria

It's Friday and as mid-day prayers finish and people descend into the streets, security forces are there in numbers to try to stop any form of protests. At the rate they are going all that will be left in Syria are security forces. They estimate over 1100 people have died in the protests and over 10, 000 have gone missing, they hope arrested and not dead. 

I'm not sure where it's worse today, in Syria or in Yemen. Both countries security forces and/or armed forces are shooting protesters with live ammunition. Though I've been reading that there have been night protests in Syria in the past week since security forces are bad during the day. I suppose it's hard to shoot to kill in darkness. 

The thing that disgusts me the most is that the security forces tour hospitals and clinics to arrest protesters that have been shot at, so they end up dying without receiving medical attention. I hope karma gets to those who prevented other humans from getting medical help. They have done it in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain - arresting people that are hurt, preventing them from getting medical help and arresting doctors and other medical personnel for helping the hurt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh no!

IT'S !#@*&^$@^*&^!#^*&!#@ RAINING AGAIN!!!

Depressing day.

I'm still out on my back and there's nothing all that exciting in the news. In Canada alone, between the flood in St Jean sur le Richelieu in Quebec, the flooding in Manitoba & Saskatchewan, and the fires in Alberta, it's all human tragedy of some sort. Then there's the devastation in tornado alley in the US.

Beyond that, it's not sure how things are going to proceed in Yemen. Just that the loss of human life is increasing there, not as fast as in Syria but increasing nonetheless.  Things in Syria - all I can say is that there is darkness before there is light. I think they have almost managed to completely silence news trickling out of the country.  But I doubt the resolve of the people has changed.  Very unimpressed with Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah supporting Assad's government. No surprise, mostly disappointment.

In Libya there is a potential deal between the rebels and the allies but does this mean Gadafy steps down? Hard to tell.  I won't even begin to talk about Palestinians, and some of the stupid comments that have been flying around them in the past few weeks.

Here's hoping Saudi Arabia frees Manal al-Sherif for defying ban on women driving vehicles in Saudi Arabia. Several other women have come forward and also put video's of themselves driving around the KSA since she's been arrested.  Manal's arrest is really putting a lot of pressure on Saudi Arabia, the last country in the world where women cannot drive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Still out on my back

I'm still on a regiment of tiger balm and ibuprofen gelcaps. I still have limited mobility. I also have a sore stomach, and feel weak.

I really don't have much to say for myself today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Too much time to think

I can't do much other then lie or sit and even sitting isn't really recommended when my back is like this, so I have way too much time to read and think. This morning I was reading in The Gazette that Canada is 2nd to only Australia with how people rank their quality of life.

We don't chose where were are born, but to me I could never see myself moving to the USA for a job. Sure I would get a better salary, and perhaps it might be easier to find clothes my size because there is just more variety, but in terms of open-mindedness and quality of life, few places beat Canada in general and Montreal in particular. I find we're some of the most open-minded people. Not to say that everyone is friendly and/or open-minded but overall we are a very tolerant society.

A percentage of the interviews I do to fill student positions are with new arrivals. They come to Canada and go to University either in their field or in a new field, and often they will choose COOP programs with internships to get the Canadian job experience.  I've learned through interviews that our engineering programs some of the best in the world. Students who have studied engineering abroad and then in Canada tell me that our Canadian universities prepare students for the job market far better then their counter-parts in other countries. 

I hope next year we rank #1 on OECD.

back a touch better

After spending the entire day lying in bed, my back is a bit better today. It was so bad yesterday I could barely move. I survived on Larabars and Perrier, the only food and drink in close proximity to my bed.

In the end I had to stay home today. There's no way I would be able to handle all the sitting I do in a day. The only down side is that I'm going to the accountants tonight, I hope I'm sufficiently mobile.

Right now I'm trying to get the energy to bathe. Something I didn't do yesterday. Between sweating profusely because I wrapped myself in wool yesterday and applying tiger balm several times I stink to high heaven and feel really gross.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'd like an explanation...

Saturday I walked around Dow lake in Ottawa, I was feeling great. Sunday I went to Mega Mall Notre-Dame with my eldest daughter and walked for several hours. I was feeling fine, no stiffness anywhere. I was feeling fine watching JAG episodes last night. Then I lied down on my couch to continue watching JAG, and I felt absolutely no stiffness then.

When I awoke 3 hours later, I couldn't get up, my back was in such pain. It took everything I had to move myself to the bathroom, put a nightshirt on, put on tons of tiger balm on my back and lie in bed. I was in tears it was so painful. any weight on my lower back was like I was going to break the pain was so bad.  I fall asleep every night more or less on that couch for a few hours and usually I wake up fine.

This morning the pain isn't as bad. But if I sit down for even 2 minutes, then I can't move again. so it's going to be a fun day lying in bed. Hopefully I'm fine by tomorrow because I have to be at work. This was my last day of my 4 day week-end. I was planning on spending it in the garden, doing a small load of laundry and cooking. Apparently my back made other plans and it's horizontal in bed, if I want to move tomorrow.

I'd really like my back to give me an explanation..

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Few more tulip festival photos

It's fun to see rows and rows. Not something you can really do at your home typically.

These tulips are called Brown Sugar

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I still feel fine

 As I predicted I was between Ottawa and Montreal around 6pm today. It was one of the nicest days we've had, but this isn't spring either, it's summer :P It was a balmy 24-26C today depending where you were and sunny. Did I mention sunny?
I spent a couple of hours walking along and checking out the tulips around in Commissioners park near Dow Lake in Ottawa. It was quite pretty. I walked around under my umbrella to avoid getting a sunburn.  While I crouched to take pictures under my umbrella, apparently I caught the eye of another photographer, and he had me stay crouched a couple more minutes while he took pictures of me taking pictures :)

We saw 2 artists that were out painting, one woman in front of a tulip bed painting flowers, and one man under a tree, painting a landscape.

It's the end of the world as we know it....

and I feel fine, as REM would say in their song turned anthem. 

Whenever there is talk of the end of the world I am reminded of Tintin, the bande dessinee by Herge. Most of his comic books have somewhere a little old bearded man holding a sign "La fin du monde est proche". The end of the world is near!

When reading this in my youth I didn't understand why someone would walk around with a sign, that the end of the world was near. Well apparently it's not a new concept and in my adult life, several times, some religious nut or another has decided that the end of the world was coming. Of course we're still here talking about it.  I mean apparently the fear of the end of the world is more common when we turn centuries or even millennium.

So tonight at 6pm I'll probably be driving between Ottawa and Montreal, and I can't help but wonder what I should be expecting. With all the rain we have had, I'd be more likely to accept the sight of an Ark then The Rapture.

Another pressing question, what does one wear for the end of the world? I mean should you be in your Sunday best, or business casual, and will there be a quiz?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Azadi Friday

From the little I've read there were 23 deaths in the protests in Syria today. The protests  were larger then the Friday before, but not as large as some Kurds had hoped for. This Friday for the first time, Christian Assyrians were part of the protests.  More and more of the different groups of Syrians are taking to the streets, in solidarity, as Syrians, not as Arabs or Kurds or Assyrians!

Another day another protest

I'm taking a well-deserved 4 day week-end. I'm taking today off and Monday is Queen Victoria day in the rest of Canada and Patriots day in Quebec. No matter which way you say it, it's a day off.  I'm driving down to Ottawa this morning to visit a friend. Hopefully I get to go to the tulip festival and it will not rain like it's been raining most days now for weeks. I'm close to ready to volunteer to build an ark at this rate!

I haven't found much news so far about the protests in Syria today, but I am sure they are out in numbers in the streets. I can't help but wonder, when news trickle out in a few hours if we'll be hearing about more oppression, arrests and beatings.  Where is the humanity? How Syrians can beat, torture and even kill other Syrians just is beyond my comprehension. Not that I understand any better when it's two unrelated groups that are killing each other. I never understand when any man kills another. It so senseless.  

On that note I'm going to go pack my bags for my overnight stay in Ottawa.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

There is no turning back

What I've been reading coming out of Syria is that security forces are rounding up people, some from protests but also some just at wrong place wrong time, and tossing them in jail. In some towns like Deraa,  they went door to door and rounded up all men between  15-50 years old.

Many are repeatedly beaten and tortured in jail, and now they have been dumping some naked, bloodied and badly beaten back into the streets as an example to others.  The journalist Dorothy Parvaz who wrote about her time while detained in a Syrian jail has been left scarred from hearing the pleas of people being brutally beaten. It's the kind of experience which breeds nightmares for some time to come.

But even those released naked, bloodied beaten and bruised are even more determined to protest for human rights so it doesn't happen to them or others again.It also doesn't matter if those arrested, beaten, tortured and released have protested or not. 

The thugs of Assad's regime wants to instill fear into people in hopes to finally bring the country under control. But I don't think it will create fear. I think it will create anger and more determination to fight to the end. To fight so that others might be free if it comes to that. Fight so that those who have died so far have not died in vain. Fight for freedom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Act first, think later

Yesterday when I saw the list of names on Amina's blog and the comments that followed, about her impending doom for having had the courage to say what most Syrians want to say but are too afraid to say, I knew I had to copy the entry verbatim. 

It was a few hours later that I realized what the repercussions might be. Unlike anyone in Syria I'm pretty safe behind my computer. However should the Assad government continue to thrive for years to come, I will not be able to travel safely to Syria ever again. 

My hubby didn't want to spend much or any time in Syria when we travelled last fall but I insisted. We ended up spending 2 days in Syria, one visiting a bit of Homs, the church of the belt, the souk and the childhood home of my mother-in-law. The 2nd day was spent in Damascus, visiting the old souk, the Umayed Mosque and old Damascus.

It was nice. I wanted to go back and see more of Damascus. I also want to see Allepo and of course Palmyra. I'm sure I would enjoy another 3-4 days easily in Syria. Probably also dozens of places of worship to see or visit. :) 

Of course I'm hoping that Syria disposes it's despot and dozens of levels of security forces and becomes a democracy. Sadly it won't be today. 

There was call for a general strike today, shops closed, students staying home, but many business owners have too much to lose and are too afraid at this point to participate. 

As a last note, Dorothy Parvaz the AlJazeera journalist that disappeared 19 days ago on assignment to Syria has landed safely in Doha from Iran. We'll hear more of what happened in the following days. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We have your names.

This entire post is a copy/paste from Amina's post on her blog A Gay Girl in Damascus

(This list sadly will be expanded)

List of Syrian Officers those involved in Massacres in Syria

The Syrian people are being massacred every day amid a media blackout and lack of action from the international community. The situation in Syria started with a request for legal rights and calling for justice in the case of detained children.

This rightful request was responded to with live ammunition that killed tens of people from the families of the detained children. The regime used live ammunition to attack the people who were at the funeral.

The revolution began by the people who knew that this oppressive regime would not stop killing innocent children, men, women and the elderly. The list below shows the names of those who contributed to the killing of innocents and these people should face international criminal courts and be brought to justice.

Police officers who ordered shooting at the people :

1. Bashar al-Assad's Chief of Army and President of Syria.
2. Dean Maher Assad, commander of a brigade in the fourth year, is the de facto leader of Grand Four.
3. Major General Mohammad Nassif Kheir Bek, Assistant Vice President and Special Security Adviser to Bashar al-Assad.
4. General Asef Shawkat, Deputy Chief of Staff for Security Affairs.
5. Commander Brigadier General Hafez Makhlouf, Head of Counterterrorism Section and the Department of the Bridge of the White Branch 251 (internal section) in the management of state security.
6. Major General Ali Mamlouk, Director of State Security.
7. Major General Abdul-Fattah Qudseyyah, Head of Military Intelligence.
8. Major General Mohammed Dib Zayton, President of Political Security Branch.
9. Major General Mohammed Samur, former Interior Minister.
10. Major General Mohammed el-Shaar, current Interior Minister.
11. Brigadier General Jamil Hassan, Director of Air Intelligence.
12. Major General Zuhair el-Hamd, Deputy Director of State Security.
13. Major General Nazeeh Hassoun, Deputy Director of State Security in charge of operations in the coastal zone.
14. Major General Jumah Al-Ahmad, Commander of Special Forces (special units). 15. Jamil Badr Hassan, Commander of the Air Defense Department, who led the storming of Moadamieh.
16. Major General Rustom Ghazali, head of Damascus and countryside Branch and Division of Military Security.
17. Major General Ali Younes, Vice Chairman of the Military Intelligence Division (Vice General Abdel-Fattah Qudseya).
18. General Tawfiq Younis, Department of State Security branch 251.
19. Brigadier General Atef Naguib, President of the Political Security branch in the province of Dara.
20. Brigadier Thaer Al-Muammar, head of Raids and Patrols in the State Security Department, who led a raid on Doma city.
21. Brigadier Nasser al-Ali, head of the Political Security Branch in Dara.
22. Brigadier General Iyad Mahmoud, Brigadier Commander in the Republican Guard.
23. Brigadier General Alaa Saud, Republican Guard.
24. Brigadier Manaf Tlass, Brigade Commander of the 105th Republican Guard. He participated in the siege Al-Abasin yard and killed demonstrators.
25. Brigadier Ghassan Bilal, Head of Security in the Fourth Grade. He supervised the torture and interrogation of the protestors.
26. Brigadier Nabih Rabea, of the Republican Guard. He participated in besieging neighborhoods in Damascus.
27. Brigadier Nasser Deeb, President of the Political Security branch in Hama. He is a nephew of General Shafiq Fayyad Deeb.
28. General Mounir Jalud, Chief of Military Security in Homs.
29. Brigadier General Mohammad Makhlouf, Chairman of the State Security Branch of Homs.
30. Brigadier General Jamea Jamea, Head of the Security Branch of the military in the province of Deir al-Zour. He participated in killing and suppressing demonstrators. 31. Brigadier Burhan Qaddour, Military Interrogation Branch in the Division of Military Intelligence and former head of Military Security.
32. Brigadier Mohammad Khallouf, Chief of Palestine Branch who participated in the repression of demonstrators in Damascus.
33. Brigadier General Adnan Ahmed, head of the Military Intelligence Branch.
34. Brigadier Khader al-Hussein, head of the State Security Branch.
35. Brigadier General Taha Taha, head of the Political Security Branch.
36. Brigadier Mohammad Akram, President of the State Security Branch in Halab. 37. Brigadier General Abdul Latif Fahad, head of the Military Security Branch in Halab.
38. General Mounir Jalud, Chief of Military Intelligence.
39. Brigadier Suhail Dawud of Air Intelligence. He is a Christian from the villages of Damascus.
40. Dean is Thul Hemma Shailesh, Head of the Presidential Security Motorcade and has helped finance Al-Shabiha in Lattakia and Damascus.
41. Colonel Khalil Mulla, Chairman of the Political Security Branch in Halab.
42. Colonel Malek El-Hadi, Vice-Chairman of the Political Security Patrols Branch in Damascus and is currently in Lattakia.
43. Colonel Tammam El-Deeb, 53 Special Forces online in Lattakia. He supervised the killing of demonstrators in Latakia. A battalion commander and Al-Shabiha joined him in Lattakia.
44. Colonel Ali Salim, Battalion Commander of the storm, 53 Special Forces. He supervised the storming of the city and killed demonstrators in the Jabalah area.
45. Colonel Tamim Isa al-Ahmed, Special Forces 53. He participated in the killing of demonstrators in Lattakia.
46. Colonel Mohammed Al Abdullah, head of the Political Security Branch in Homs and was formerly military attache in France. He has been involved in the killing of demonstrators and torturing detainees who were participating in peaceful demonstrations in Homs.
47. Colonel Qusay Mihoub, Chief of Air Intelligence and elements of the branch in Harasta.
48. Colonel Majd Al-Abdallah, State Security Branch of Latakia.
49. Colonel Firas, Chief of Investigations in the State Security Department.
50. Kinan Mohammed Ghaliyah, commander in the Artillery Regiment 53, in Latakia. He took part in the killing of demonstrators.
51. Colonel Ahmed Abdel Hamid, State Security Branch of Latakia.Ala al-Drooby, of the Political Security Branch.
52. Lt. Col. Khalid Al-Khatib, of the State Security section 251.
53. Samer Al-Baridi, head of State Security in Doma. He is the one who deployed snipers.
54. Major Amjad Abbas, head of Political Security in Banias. He participated in killing and insulting protesters in Baniyas and Al-Beida.
55. Brigadie Haeil al-Assad, head of Secret Police and Special Operations.
56. Brigadier Zuhair al-Assad, Brigade Commander in 90, to protect the capital Damascus.
57. Brigadier General Abdul Salam, head of the Air Intelligence Investigation Branch (the airport Mezze). He is a Shia.
58. Major General Adnan Riad al-Shami, General Intelligence Department.
59. Lt. Col. Anwar and Lt. Col. Abdul Majeed. They are responsible for internal investigation.

Names of police officers from a battalion to protect the regime who opened fire on protesters in Clock Square and ordered to fire on demonstrators on Fridays in the city of Homs:

1. Nidal Makhlouf.
2. Haidar Haidar.
3. Salama Salama.
4. Mohammed Aljacqui.
5. Issam Salama from Customs.
6. Fayyad Alhabet.
7. Hassaan Al- Ali.
8. Samer Sikone.
9. Louay Salam.
10. Ali Ibrahim.

Civilians who took part in financing and supervising Al-Shabiha of them (Al-Shabiha is a militia armed group which killed demonstrators and members of the army who refused to kill the demonstrators):

1. Ali al-Assad.
2. Hafez Munther al-Assad.
3. Osama al-Assad.
4. Etab Al-Assad and her gang.
5. Harun al-Assad and his sons.
6. Office of Fawaz al-Assad in Latakia.
7. Rami Mansour, husband of Ahmed al-Assad‚s daughter.
8. Ayman Jaber, husband of Kamal al-Assad’s daughter.
9. Firas Rifaat al-Assad.
10. Moder Rifaat al-Assad.
11. Emad Abu Bilal Abu Kenan, a retired officer from Artouz.
12. (Ali Abbas), Ali Abbas Abu Hadi of the military security district of Tartus. He was seen in a video hitting people in the village of the White Stick.
13. Muhammad al-Assad, nicknamed 'Sheikh of the Mountain'.
14. Hassan Assad Ibn Tawfiq.
15. Hussein al-Assad, the son of Tawfiq.
16. Kamal al-Assad.

Businessmen who contributed externally, financing and purchasing weapons and military equipment from the black market: 

Solomon Maarouf: a nephew of Major General Mohamed Nasef who lives in Dubai. He tried to purchase the sniper guns from South Africa which refused to sell them, so he had to buy them from the black market. He owns the bulk of the TV station 'Al-Donia'

Aislin Cartoon says it all

Thanks to my girlfriend who sent me the Aislin cartoon from the Montreal Gazette.

Updates on my life and Syria.

Too funny. In the end my appointment with my therapist is exactly at the time and date he originally gave me.

In other news, this morning, there is talk that a mass grave was found in Syria near Deraa, where some of the earliest protests occured. Of course the Syrian government is denying the existance of the mass grave. They are still arguing that Salafists are trying to take over the country.

People have started to protest at night to avoid the heavy handed security forces deployed during the day. It's pretty sad what happened also in Tel Kelakh, on the Lebanese border and they aren't finished.   I hear the Lebanese will deploy more army to protect the border between Syria and Lebanon.

It's raining again

I often have such a hard time getting my brain started on days where it rains. Today is no exception. In fact today is a prime example of me having a hell of a time getting my brain in gear.  The first email I have is from my therapist, who loves to change my appointments at the last minute.

My appoinment was to be at 7pm tomorrow night, this morning, I get an email asking to change for 5pm. This  is totally inconvenient for me since I was planning working till 7:30 or 8 every day this week because I'm not coming in on Friday.  I can't see myself going back to work after talking to therapist. That's when I need to go home because my emotions are at the surface and I need to put them back under lock and key lest I blow up at some poor unsuspecting soul at work.

This week of all weeks. I also have interviews to do for students for Fall semester for one university  and a pile of other work that I need to get through. Especially since I'd planned my schedule properly. He almost always changes appointments at the last minute, but sometimes the appointments are too early.

Last night I chatted my eldest while she polished her boots. She's got a 4-person room to herself at the moment. That might change when other groups arrive for other classes if there is a woman. She might end up with a room mate or 3. She figures she'll be alone probably till sometime in June.

She showed me pictures of her room and proudly told me they had made a clamp in her class. Falls under category of making your own parts if no parts are available at sea I suppose.  Her teacher is female so that's helpful for her. At least she has someone she can look at when the guys are being guys and get a knowing look back :)  I need to add she's the lone female in a class of 10.

Just got another email asking me if I can come at the scheduled time on Wednesday to see my therapist. Why yes, that would suit me fine :) And on that note I must kick start my brain already. I'm so asleep today and I need to get ready for work.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Missing cyclists still missing

The Estonian tourists kidnapped in the Bekaa valley 2 months ago I blogged about still have not been found. The 7 men were kidnapped March 23rd, and now speculation is that they are in Syria. Authorities believe that it was 1 Syrian and 1 Lebanese who got the deed done. 

Between the power vacuum in Lebanon left by months of no government and the pro-democracy uprisings in Syria, they have bigger fish to fry then the 7 Estonian tourists.

A previously unknown group Haraket al-Nahda Wal-Islah (Movement for Renewal and Reform), has taken responsibility for the kidnapping. They were probably going for Europeans from Western Europe and are probably not pleased with the Estonians. 

An undated video was uploaded to youtube last month, with the Cyclists pleading with Lebanese, Jordan, Saudi and French leaders to set them free. 

It's also sad that some of the Lebanese actually believe Syrian propaganda that the country is being overrun by Salafists.   I'm sure we can thank Hezbollah for spreading those lies around. You'd think a group that identifies itself with the underdog wouldn't side with Assad's government, but as we all known politics makes strange bedfellows.

Which makes me wonder, what happens to Hezbollah when Assad's government get overthrown and the Syrian people go for a democratic Syria.  Just asking?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Adonis makes hubby pine for home.

Hubby decided yesterday to go to the large Adonis on Sources blvd, near Anselme Lavigne. Why one would go there on a Saturday is beyond me. Just trying to get into the parking lot is infuriating enough for me. I tend to only go there on week days generally, in the middle of the afternoon where I'm the least likely having to argue with hordes of pushy people. I take the same approach for going shopping at Costco. 

Apparently hubby found the right type of za'atar there along with his favourite halawa and labneh. He found other stuff too that was "typically Lebanese" to the point that when he came back home he was all homesick. It felt like the chaos of Lebanon he told me. 

I'm not sure why he never went before. We pass in front of it on our way to work and our on way home from work. You'd think he would have noticed just by the parking lot that it was Lebanese chaos :)  I mean he's been pining for stuff for a while and he hasn't been able to find everything at Akhavan, you'd think he would have stopped at Adonis earlier. Just saying...

A new pastel comes from staying up all night.

I fell asleep really early last night and woke up at 11pm and was up till about 5:30 this morning. In that period I managed to find a tiny bit of inspiration and I drew.

My new drawing has been inspired by the Arab spring. It's not protesters, but plainly Arab women walking away.

I'm feeling like crap because it's raining again today. I'm trying to find more inspiration to finish a bunch of drawings I've been sitting on since January. 

It rained all day yesterday, it's raining today and according to the long term weather report, it's going to rain every day this week.  BLEAH.

I was watching "In Plain Sight" while drawing. Starting season 3 now. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Alcohol, social lubricant or poison?

I'm an alcoholic. That is I cannot drink alcohol responsibly. In as such I have not had a drink of alcohol since 1981. At 19 I realized that I could never just have one drink as a social lubricant. As my alcoholic biological dad said in his book about his alcoholism, a drop is too much, and an ocean isn't enough.  

Once I have that drop of alcohol, I drink until I pass out.  I decided at 19 that I did not want to spend my entire life drunk so I chose never to drink again. It was hard at first. Back in the 80's people didn't want to accept that you weren't going to share a drink with them. I stayed home a lot to avoid temptation until I was strong enough not to cave in. 

That being said, to this day I don't socialize much because I stay very shy and quiet. I don't have the advantage of having one drink to loosen me up. The likelihood of someone tricking me in drinking alcohol is very slim as I can smell it a mile away. I've been known to take a spoonful of fruit salad, that had alcohol and my immediate reaction is to spit it out. I can tell it's got alcohol. 

I can also tell if the person in front of me had something to drink. If they had 1 sip of beer in the past hour I can smell it.  I warned my daughters when they hit an age where teens do drink that they could forget about lying to me about it, since I would always smell it. 

Something my ex with the drinking problem thought I was joking about. I could tell when he drank, and mostly how much he drank. You can't hide your drinking from a dry alcoholic.  I left him because of his drinking. If I can control my drinking, I don't need to be abused, and berated by someone who does drink and be exposed to that much alcohol all the time.  I made it very clear that I would be friends with him if he was sober, but if he drank to stay well away. 

After his stellar performance in late February, which I blogged about here I'm still really angry. I think I'm more angry because he told hubby that he had no recollection of calling me drunk. Great, he tells me nasty stuff, treats me like dirt and then laughs it off "heh heh, I can't remember".  Then again when does he take responsibility for his actions?

Well unlike him, I'm a true Quebecois, who's moto is "Je me souviens". Here is the full phrase from which this sentence is derived:

Je me souviens/ Que né sous le lys/ Je croîs sous la rose.
I remember/ That born under the lily/ I grow under the rose.

So all this to say I remember how much of an ass he is when he drinks and at this point he doesn't deserve  the time of day from me.  Now I wish I would stop feeling like absolute crap over the stupid things he said to me. After all it was just a drunk asshole spewing garbage, why are my feelings so hurt?

They like to sleep in cardboard boxes - Part two :)

Sometimes there's a box sharing experience going on like here: 

Pixie and Ziva sharing box.

Sometimes the contents of an almond danish dough roll box can be asleep:

Nope, not some almond danish dough rolls. Just a Goofy Maine Coon!

Some nights there aren't enough boxes to go around.

Jethro likes to sleep on recyclable bags. This one happened to contain an old laptop I was setting up for a friend. 

Pixie has the big box to himself, and Ziva is in the almond danish dough roll box, with Spock hanging out outside.

Friday, May 13, 2011

They protested despite the tanks this Friday

The protests were not as large this Friday in Syria and that might have something to do with the fact that some mosques were occupied by the army, and some of the main gathering places like squares in some towns and cities were occupied by tanks or plainly inaccessible. But there was protests still in Homs and Hama, where the system crackdown had been especially brutal. There were protests in the Kurdish areas, which are starting to join the rest of the country in demanding freedom. There were protests in areas of Damascus that hadn't seen them before.

Considering Syria is a mainly Sunni Muslim country, it makes sense that the marches start after Friday prayers, but the Muslims were not the only ones out there marching and crying for a unified free Syria. People put apart their differences and marched in solidarity. 

Rumours that Bashar had told armed forces not for fire on protesters were mostly true. But there were still a few people shot during protests. I also cannot help but wonder how many people who were on the streets today will be arrested in the following days and tossed in jail for being anti-Syria?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Racial profiling a real problem in Quebec

An article on the CBC this morning about racial profiling being a real problem in Quebec, especially in the more ethnic neighborhoods of Montreal.  Just because someone is a visible minority does not make them more likely to break the law. 

For instance, just because we have Mafia elements in Montreal, doesn't mean that ALL ITALIANS should be seen as being part of the Mafia or being related to someone in the mafia. I mean I grew up in Montreal-North and Riviere-des-Prairies which had large numbers of people from Italian background and I didn't know anyone who was in the mafia. 

I know that Montreal cops have it in for some visible minorities. If you are dark skinned and are walking home with purchases you just made, you can be stopped by the police. They would never do that to a white person carrying the same merchandise.

I also know having dated a Mohawk that the police have it in for Native Americans. I've probably blogged about it before but I will blog about it again.  As a white French-Quebecois woman, the only times I've been stopped by police has been for traffic violations. It's happened maybe 5 times in about 20 years. Generally for what is called an "American stop".  

When in the car with my Mohawk ex with him driving, we have been stopped multiple times for verification. We hadn't commited any infractions, but his long hair and appearance was sure to get us stopped. Because he is part Mohawk part white, and his last name is a common Quebecois last name, usually once the police see his drivers license, they back off. Most of the time they ask him if he's related to the police chief with the same last name, and he is!

I had the same problems being stopped for verification when dating a Native Rights activist, who is also technically native having been adopted into the Dene tribe by his wife's grand-mother as a youth. After one of our visits to Kahnawake, we got stopped for verification and the cops were absolute assholes. At the time I didn't have a drivers license, the cop was an ass about that.

One of the suggestions to help eliminate racial profiling is adding racial profiling to Quebec's Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a violation of a person's rights and I'm all for it. 

As I recently blogged before, all humans should be allowed the same rights, regardless of their skin color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or country of origin. Canada prides itself for being a mosaic, where people who immigrate to Canada become part of their new society but retain some of their cultural background. It is one of the things that makes Canada great. I don't want that eroded by some racial profiling yahoos!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I wish my salary would increase like my home insurance.

I nearly fainted when I received my home insurance bill renewal last week. I tried calling but it was at time of night where the office was closed. It took me a few more days before I took the bill to work so I could call during my break.  My bill last year was ballpark $1000, my bill this year was $1400. That's a HUGE increase. Technically that's a 40% increase.

When I talked to the representative she was saying 30% raise was common. That insurance prices went up. That she got her bill last week and she saw the bite of 30%.  In the end after looking into things she claimed she saw a way to lower my premium without removing any of the coverage. Yeah in the end I'm getting a 30% increase. And like a polite little Canadian I thanked her for lowering my bill.

Of course I wonder how many people call. If I hadn't called I would have gotten a whopping 40% increase. I wish I would get that kind of raise at work! I could sure use more money. I'm starting to think I can't afford to work at my job anymore. I may actually have to look for a job that pays more.

The cost of everything has increased substantially the past few years, starting of course with the price of oil/gas whatever you want to call it. It's $1.50 per liter. It wasn't so long ago it wasn't even $1.00. And when the price of gasoline goes up, so does the price of every item that has to be shipped. So the price of everything goes up.  Everything EXCEPT salaries.

Oh if only I got a salary increase like my home insurance increased. One can dream :)

No Improvement in Syria

Other then the fact AlJazeera reporter Dorothy Parvaz, has been detained in Syria since April 29th, from the moment she landed at the airport in Damascus, several thousand people are still detained and they evaluate the deaths close to 1000 Syrians, the crush against pro-democracy supporters is far from over. 

The fact 13 Syrian officials have been hit with European Sanctions doesn't seem to deter the fact that today there is heavy shelling in the Bab Amro neighborhood of Homs. Of the 13 Syrian officials one is the President Assad's brother and one is his cousin. Are the people ruling Syria so out of touch with the dozens of various armed security forces, that they don't know what they are doing? Claiming the country is being invaded by armed gangs? Really? Amina, is part of an armed gang?

I know being a Canadian I've been saying army when there has been attacks, but I realize that I cannot tell the difference between the Army, and the various forms of security forces in Syria. I believe it was Amina who joked that if you get arrested by one security force, once you get released, another security group may stop you to find out what the first group wanted to know.

As a Canadian  living in Montreal I have seen "Martial law" once, when I was a small child, during the October Crisis. It was the only time that Canada invoked the War Measures Act in time of Peace. And technically it wasn't Martial law. It was an appearance thereof. The Mayor of Montreal, Drapeau, the premier of Quebec, Bourassa had asked federal government for help and Trudeau had requested the governor general  to send the army. However the army was used in a supportive role reporting to the civilian authorities in Quebec.  

The other time I've seen the army used, was in the Oka Crisis.  I don't generally fear the Montreal police, the Quebec Provincial police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the 3 layers of police force available here.  Admittedly having dated a Mohawk, I have little respect for the way most police forces deal with the Native Americans, but it seems they are overall treated better then your average Syrian under Bashar Al-Assad's rule.

I know my Mohawk ex would probably disagree, but as much as he thinks he's in touch with what goes on out there, he's pretty clueless. He likes to act like he's been to hell and back but compared to what any Lebanese went through in the civil war or what is going in Syria at the moment, he hasn't seen anything worth mentioning!  

The other headline that had me stunned today was about the schoolgirls targeted in the Bahrain raids. Schoolgirls.  More then 15 of them as young as 12 were rounded up and detained for up to 3 days,  beaten by police with threats of rape.  It takes a really BIG MAN to threaten a girl of rape. Wow! What next? They will be arresting babies?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Songs looping in head

A comment on Facebook by a 'friend' made me think about how thankful I should be that I don't watch Glee. It would just add to my constantly getting songs stuck in my head. 

Last year when I was watching China Beach, I was getting songs from Vietnam war era stuck in my head. Heck the theme song of China Beach, Reflections by Diana Ross & Supremes  is a prime example of a song that still randomly gets stuck in my head.

A percentage of the time, I get songs I actually like stuck in my head and it's not so bad. There's a co-worker who whistles really well, and when he works he randomly whistles. I don't mind listening to his whistling, but when I sat in earshot of him all day, I'd get all sorts of songs I didn't care for stuck in my head. Or worse, listening to radio on way to work and getting something nasty stuck in my head all day!

I'm going to go watch some episodes of season 5 of Without a Trace. I miss that show. Oh and I still have the Marine's Hymn stuck in my head :)

It's past dinner time...

and I still have the Marine hymn stuck in my head. I probably will for a few days. Once a tune is stuck in my head sometimes it takes me a week or two before it gets replaced by something else.  Of the songs I've had really stuck looping in my head this is nowhere near the worst. I kind of like the song, and prefer hearing a rending sung by men with very deep voices.  Besides I have lots of respect for US Marines, and my eldest daughter is in the Canadian Navy, which in French is called La Marine  :)

For all that I'm blogging daily, I can't seem to draw at all. Even though I want to draw about the Arab Spring, at the moment I cannot seem to do it. I love the images Amina creates in her blog, but none of it is leading to creative output. I know you can't push art, so I'm just letting it be.  I'm instead spending more time in my garden and I have quite the collection of house plants that are doing great :)

US Marine Hymn

I suppose since I've been watching some "army" shows recently, like JAG, Army Wives, & NCIS I've got the US Marine hymn stuck in my head at the moment.  In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, here's the song in it's full glory:

    From the Halls of Montezuma,
    To the shores of Tripoli;
    We fight our country's battles
    In the air, on land, and sea;
    First to fight for right and freedom
    And to keep our honor clean:
    We are proud to claim the title
    Of United States Marine.

    Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
    From dawn to setting sun;
    We have fought in every clime and place
    Where we could take a gun;
    In the snow of far-off Northern lands
    And in sunny tropic scenes;
    You will find us always on the job
    The United States Marines.

    Here's health to you and to our Corps
    Which we are proud to serve;
    In many a strife we've fought for life
    And never lost our nerve;
    If the Army and the Navy
    Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
    They will find the streets are guarded
    By United States Marines.

Monday, May 09, 2011

You got your majority, now leave our riding alone!

Now that Conservatives are the majority in parliament, it seems unimportant that their electoral posters are still all over my riding, that of DDO-Pierrefonds.

Agop Evereklian has not bothered to take down all his political posters in the riding he did not win.

All the other parties, the Liberal incumbent: Bernard Patry, the newly elected NDP: Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, the Greens and the Bloc, have cleaned up their mess.

When will the Conservatives?

Equality for everyone

Someone brought to my attention that it could be in 72 hours that Uganda passes a bill would make it punishable by death to be LGBT. That is anyone who isn't straight faces death. Please go sign the petition

I feel all people, men and women, straight, gay, bi-sexual,  transgendered, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or any other faith should have the same fundamental human rights. We are all humans and we should all be treated the same.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

I'm slowly being assimilated

Apparently I've developed more middle-eastern tastes then I thought. I too have become fussy with Za'atar. Hubby picked some up at Ahkavan and it sucks. Too much regular thyme and sesame seeds, not enough - I'm at a loss to figure out what's missing... but the one we have is very unsatisfying. 

I've also become fussy about the large black olives I eat. I seem to prefer a particular type from Greece.  But I have yet to be an olive oil connoisseur. I'm also determined to make a good 'Bedouin tea'. I've realized I need herbs that are different to get the perfect tea. Heck the variety of thyme that grows easily here is different then the long leaf thyme used to make thyme salad in Lebanon. The taste is similar but not exactly the same. 

Now I'm sure there must be Lebanese and Syrians in Montreal with the same fondness for a particular Za'atar. I suspect we're going to have to go check out a few shops in Ville St Laurent, one of them must carry a Za'atar that we can live with ;) 

Prayers for a Democratic Syria on Mother's day.

In my prayers today, my mother-in-law's Sonia friends in Homs, Syria, those wonderful people who shared with me Arab hospitality.  Today I hear they deployed the army along with tanks in Homs.  The protests in Homs were pretty big after this Friday's prayers.

Sonia invited her friend and family to stay with her in her apartment in Beirut a few days ago, but they would not make the trip as their eldest daughter is pregnant and not well enough to travel. Hopefully they have stocked up with all the essentials of life, so they don't need to leave their home and get caught in the cross fire. Inshallah, they will be safe.

I'm not just praying for them of course. I'm praying for all the Syrians who support the pro-democracy protests, including Amina, the Gay Girl in Damascus.  Her blog has gone viral. The first time I checked out her blog she had 200 followers now she has over 500. This is great, as she is articulate, well-read and has lived both in the USA and Syria growing up so can explain to  westerners what is really going on in Syria. 

I'm not just praying for their safety, and freedom, but I'm praying that they achieve their goal of a democratic Syria. May all the Syrian mothers live to see their children live in a democracy. May all the mothers world-wide see their children strive free.

Happy Mother's day

Today in North America is Mother's day.  Another day made commercial - stores start their mother's day promotions the day after Easter and don't relent until today. After which they will be promoting father's day in June. 

My eldest is leaving for Quebec city today, so I don't think I'll hear from my daughters today. The eldest spent Thursday with me in anticipation that she was leaving today.

My own mom has been dead since October 1999 - so Mother's day is bittersweet, it reminds me of how much I still miss my mommy.