Tuesday 13 February 2018

Almost time to go!

By the time this posts, I'll be mere hours from making my way to the airport for my 6:30 a.m. flight to Toronto. I expect I'll be in bed attempting to get a few hours of sleep before the taxi arrives at 4:00 a.m.   From Toronto I fly next to New York, and then finally to Orlando.  It will be a long day as I won't arrive at the hotel in Cocoa Beach until close to 10 p.m. local time (9 p.m. Regina time).  Luckily I can sleep on the plane...

Packing is almost complete, just need to tuck my driver's license and my cellphone in my purse.  Also a few first aid items, band-aids, Tylenol, cough drops, as well as my magnets, towel clips, a laundry bag, and a hat for the sun.  Maybe I'm not quite as far along as I thought I was!

I take the license as my identification to take with me in port, rather than a passport.  I'm so afraid that if I were to lose my passport, I wouldn't be able to get home...at least without a hassle.  So if the driver's license gets stolen or lost I'd still be upset but not nearly as concerned since it would be far easier to replace.

I'll take my cellphone but only for limited use - to contact transportation mostly.  While I'm in Cocoa Beach, the hotel should have a guest computer I'll be able to use to post, however on board ship I don't/won't have the internet package so this blog will be silent until I get back to Orlando.  I'll be staying at the Point Orlando resort (if you want to see pictures, follow the link).  I've done a bit of research and discovered there is a TGI Friday's nearby ... I love their crispy green bean fries appetizer...so I'll be sure to get there one evening.  

I also found there is an outlet mall, as well as a Ross Dress for Less within a half hour walking distance from the resort.  I've printed out the walking directions and tucked these into my paperwork so I'll be able to find them easily without using the data for the GPS on my cellphone.  Old school I know, but less expensive!  Ross Dress for Less is another favorite - I've been to the one in Fort Lauderdale several times, and found one in Hawaii too.  It's much like Winner's or Marshalls here.  But they tend to carry larger sizes....as a short fat older woman I truly appreciate that!  One of my favorite pairs of jeans came from RDL, NYDJ - not my daughter's jeans.  They fit perfectly and were a good price as well.  

I plan to arrive at the resort about lunch time on the 24th, though I don't expect to be able to check-in.  I'll drop the luggage and head off to shop!  I still haven't decided what to do on the 25th, though the pool and amenities at the resort look pretty darn tempting.  I might just spend the day relaxing since the following day will be a long exhausting travel day. On the other hand the resort does offer shuttles to various parks.  Hmmm...decisions, decisions.  

I'll get a bit of sleep in on the 26th, as my flight isn't until 1:30 p.m.  From Orlando, I fly to Toronto where I will clear customs, then fly to Calgary and finally to Regina.  It is never easy to get anywhere from here, nor to return.  By the time I arrive home it will be near 1 a.m. (or midnight Orlando time).  That, of course, is assuming there are no delays along the way.  I've scheduled a vacation day for the 27th so I have time to rest a bit, probably do laundry, get photos printed, and catch up with my grandson.

I'll definitely post photos (none with this post as the camera is packed though I did buy a great pair of shoes for the trip!) along with some commentary of each port when I return.  We're visiting Great Stirrup Cay (in the Bahamas), Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico.  I've pulled in the map and realized I've got Grand Cayman and Jamaica in the reverse order.  I've never claimed to be good a geography!

Stay tuned for Cocoa Beach later this week!  

Take care and have a great couple of weeks.

Saturday 10 February 2018

Two sides, one story

I don't suppose there are very many people who haven't heard about the verdict rendered in the Stanley trial last night.  But if you haven't read or heard anything, a land owner shot and killed a young aboriginal man on his property in August 2016.  Last night, Gerald Stanley was acquitted of all charges.  Today there is outrage and anger from the Boushie family, the First Nations leadership, and many others. 

Of course, there is more to the story than the short synoptic above.  On a summer day, five young people decided to go swimming at a local river.  While there they drank copious amounts (30 shots for one of the participants alone).  On the way home, the driver was driving erratically, so much so that a tire blew but he continued to drive on the rim.  Along the way, they decided to stop in at a farm where they attempted to steal another vehicle by smashing a window with a loaded shotgun.  When they realized the truck had a standard transmission they left in their SUV and made their way to the Stanley acreage.

The story the young people later told was they were seeking help with the tire.  However before asking for help two of the young men attempted to start an ATV, while another looked through another vehicle.  The two young women were said to be sleeping in the back seat of the SUV while all of this went on.

At the sound of the ATV the land owner and his son came running from the field where they were fixing a fence.  The three young men jumped back into the SUV and attempted to leave, however the driver made a wide turn and crashed into the SUV of Mrs. Stanley.  Meanwhile the son, Sheldon, used a hammer to smash the windshield of the SUV.

In the space of these few minutes, Gerald Stanley grabbed a handgun from his shed, loaded it, and while two of the men ran from the SUV he fired two warning shots into the air.  

The tale gets more tangled at this point.  According to the testimony shared on-line one of the other men had been in the driver's seat but when Gerald Stanley got to the SUV, Colten was in the seat.  Stanley indicates he reached in to grab the keys with one hand, and accidentally shot the young man in the head.  According to one of the women in the back seat, Stanley held the gun to the young man's head and fired.  

What really happened?  We'll never know for sure.  The defense lawyer suggested that the cartridge bulged which would suggest a hang fire...that is, a lag in time between pulling the trigger and the shot actually firing.  The experts who testified for the Crown suggested this would be rare and the gun would not fire without a trigger pull.  (My brother, a police officer, had another theory - muscle memory.  After firing off the two shots, he wonders if Stanley's hand didn't tighten).  When Colten's body was pulled from the SUV (by one or both of the women), a broken shotgun was between his legs. 

The incident sparked much reaction, a good deal of it negative.  Charges of racism were met with horrific comments, including one person who suggested that Stanley's "only mistake was leaving witnesses".  Emotions ran high in the fall of 2016; the verdict has opened these wounds once again.  I can only hope that calmer heads were prevail but to be honest I won't be surprised if there are not some ugly scenes and situations played out over the next few months.  There will be those who want to retaliate and those who will respond. 

I've watched the trial in interest for the past two weeks.  As some of you might know, I grew up on a farm.  I can remember several times while I was growing up, being along in the farm house when a strange vehicle came into the yard.  Usually they were there to steal gas....I stayed put and let them have it.  There would have been no point calling the police, as we lived 12 miles from the nearest dispatch.  Nor would it have crossed my mind to pull a gun (not that I've even fired one in my entire life).  

But I do know what the fear feels like and thus I was surprised that the Stanley lawyer did not bring that fear forward.  But perhaps I'm wrong in my assumption that this family would have been afraid when five drunken young people arrived in their yard.  The fact the two men immediately grabbed weapons (hammer and handgun) would suggest this may not have been the first time someone attended the acreage for less than friendly reasons.  Yes, I tend to believe the assertion the young people were there to steal another vehicle rather than to request help.  As the defense attorney stated, "they were up to no good".  

However, regardless of the reasons, I feel the landowner went too far.  His stated intention was to frighten them off.  But in the end, someone died as a result.  That, in my mind, is manslaughter.  The jury, none of which appeared to be aboriginal, decided otherwise. 

Today, there are protests planned across the country, seeking "Justice for Colten".  I understand.  On the other hand, until individuals of all races, colors, and creeds are accountable for their actions.  IF, these young people had not been driving and drinking, IF the landowner and son's first reaction had not been to grab weapons, IF there had been one indigenous person (or more) on the jury, I suspect the outcome would have been different.  

I suspect the decision will be appealed.  The Crown has every right to do so, and the family of Colten Boushie will push for it.  Yet, even if Stanley is tried by judge alone, and found guilty of second degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter, I suspect they will find no closure.  This is a no win situation but perhaps will be the impetus for change.  

Time will tell.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Welcome February!

Happy belated groundhog's day!  We woke this morning to three inches of fresh snow, -21C (-6C) so winter is definitely here to stay.  Not surprising given where I live.  

According to Wikipedia, if the groundhog does not see his shadow, spring will come early.  Heck, if spring arrives here in 6 weeks, that would be early, very early.  

I do recall seeing pussy willows open at the end of March, when I was a young child but that's many years ago.  

No, I'll be thrilled if all the snow is gone by the mid to end of April.

In the meantime, I'm done to 11 days until I fly off to Florida.  I'll arrive late day on the 14th - it takes a full day to get there from here (or pretty much anywhere from here).  Cocoa Beach, here I come!  Did you know that "I dream of Jeannie" was filmed there?  I didn't until a friend mentioned it to me.  There is a park named for the television program so I'll try to find my way there to check it out.  

First, though, I plan to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral.  I've been checking the maps and it appears I'll be able to take the local transit from Cocoa Beach, though I'm not entirely certain.  I'm sure the hotel staff will be able to point me in the right direction, and the bus driver(s) will know when to tell me to get off. :)  I've been told it will take a full day to take in the sights.  

Day two I'm planning to wander about Cocoa Beach, perhaps visit the Dinosaur museum, look for the "I dream of Jeannie" park, and most definitely walk on the beach.  The weather forecast is for temperatures of 22-24C (72-75F) for those days with mostly sunny skies.  Sounds absolutely lovely to me. 

I still have some research to complete for my time in Orlando post-cruise.  I definitely won't be doing Disney World!   I arrive mid-day on the 24th and fly out on the 26th so only have a day and a half to explore.  I might visit the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, and do a bit of shopping along International Drive...I'm sure I'll play it by ear and enjoy whatever I decide to do.

In the meantime, I'm in the midst of preparing for the trip, while continuing with the day-to-day routine of work, home, life.  More changes coming at work, there was a cryptic message received by all staff last week about resource realignment.  In plain language, though it specifically says no jobs will be lost the reality is generally that as work moves from one location to another, the ones whose work moves are offered a transfer but many will not accept.  I don't expect we'll see wholesale change in our area but it has already had an impact on some of my staff.  More to come, I'm sure.

At home, D and J have had the no contact lifted, with some remaining conditions.  She can deliver Eli to J's home (or pickup from), but cannot go inside nor attend to his work site.  Of course, the very first thing he asked for was a ride to work.  I took some pleasure in learning D told him that she could not do so.  The case continues to wind its way through the court system, perhaps by the time I'm back from the cruise it will be settled.  She is adamant that their relationship is truly over and in the past month has started to create a life apart from J.  She and Eli have been attending the library for reading circle, taken him on play-dates with two of her friends, and been out to lunch while Eli was at his dad's.  I'm so thankful to see these first steps and am hopeful she's starting a new path that will make her happy.

Well, enough babbling for today.  The Page 3-4 game of the Scotties Women's curling is about to start!  

Have a wonderful week everyone!!