ALS: Walking for the Cure, and I still need yor help!

It is amazing that earlier this week I reached out to you, my friends, colleagues, and followers, about raising money to support the Walk for ALS that I will be doing in a couple of weeks.  I set my goal to raise $1000, and I made my appeal to you to help.

LGDIt is amazing insofar as after 48 hours I was more than half way there.  With your help I have so far raised over $500, and I am thrilled and blessed.  More than that, I am touched by the messages I have received from many of you who have donated (and from a couple of you who are financially unable but still wanted to support me). I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

However there is more to do… Halfway there means I still have a lot further to go before I reach my goal.  I ask that you find it in your hearts to dig deep and make a donation… click on the link here and give what you can… a little or a lot, whatever you can give.  Remember… there is no cure for this disease… many diseases have 20-90% survival rates and you donate because words like Cancer strike fear in our souls.  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is 100% fatal, and worse, nobody knows where it comes from… which means it can strike any of us at any time.

Please donate what you can… your donations go to two funds:

  • Helping to find a cure; and
  • Funding much needed equipment for the afflicted, such as wheel chairs, walkers, and more.

I don’t ask often, but I need your help. ALL OF YOU.  If you have already donated then I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  If you have not then I beg that you find it in your heart to donate what you can.  If you find yourself falling on hard times I ask that you share my link… not only on Twitter and Facebook, but please e-mail my appeal to everyone on your contact list. 

I thank G-d every day that I am healthy, and when I was asked to walk to help raise money and awareness of a disease that has never touched my or anyone close to me I thought about it… but only for a minute before deciding to do it.

Thank you for your support!  You can donate by clicking here.

 

http://my.e2rm.com/PersonalPage.aspx?registrationID=2369692&langPref=en-CA&Referrer=direct%2fnone

Please help me to beat ALS.

LouGehrigGoudeycard

I don’t ask often, but I need your help.  ALL OF YOU.

On July 4, 1939, two weeks after his retirement, Lou Gehrig stepped onto the field at Yankee Stadium and proclaimed that he was “…The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.”  Two years later he was dead from a disease that nobody could pronounce… but they could pronounce his name, and since then it has been referred to simply as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  He was 38 years old, and within a span of two years went from being one of the greatest (and healthiest) athletes on the planet… to being dead.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease with various causes.  If that sounds like a big word, let’s break it down… ‘neuro’ refers to the brain and nervous system; ‘degenerative’ (the reverse process of generative) means it erodes and dies.  In other word this disease kills your brain… but not right away.  First it takes away your ability to walk… hold a drink in your hand… go to the bathroom.  It is a slow and painful death that along the way strips you of all of your dignity.

imageWriter

I did not know Liz Fein; she was a member of my synagogue until she passed away from this terrible disease.  Rabbi Wise announced recently that he would be leading a team of SBE members on the Halton Region Walk for ALS this May 19th.  I am going to be walking with him, and am asking for your support.

I do not reach out for help often, but I am hoping to raise at least $1,000 to help people suffering from this disease, to provide much needed equipment, and to help fund the research necessary to find a cure.  We will be walking through Bronte Creek Provincial Park on May 19th. 

Every bit helps.  Please click this link and then on the left side of the page click the Sponsor Me button.  Give what you can afford, but please give.

Thank you for your help. Together hopefully we can help eradicate this terrible disease.

Do you believe…

This Easter week-end I made an unlikely call to a radio talk show on Ottawa’s CFRA.

Don’t get me wrong… I have called radio stations before, and am no stranger to being on the air.  However the circumstances of my call this particular Sunday morning were probably… out of character, or at least unexpected.

The topic of the show was: Can you be a good Christian if you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  While this might be a reasonably common topic of conversation between Christians, as a Jew it is not usually one that I would weigh in on… but as I listened to three callers in a row I felt that I had to say something.

The host (I do not know his name, but he was obviously religious and well-versed in Christian doctrine) was being bombarded and he was shocked that it seemed to be unanimous… caller after caller said if you did not believe, you could not be a good Christian.

The first caller I heard (I tuned in late) said that there is only one path to Heaven, and if you did not believe that Jesus died on the cross for you, and then rose from the dead three days later, you would be denied entry into Heaven.

The next claimed that if Jesus did not rise then there is no hope for any of us (I assume she meant Christians) to be saved, and there is no reason to believe anything else in the Gospel.

They continued on like this.  Now I should remind you that I am Jewish, and while I have been married to a Christian woman (and father to a Christian son) for many years, I still strongly believe in my own faith… I have never believed in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, which is why I never call him Christ (which translates to Messiah).  However that does not mean that I do not respect the rights of others to believe.

I called and told the screener my position, and she put me on right away.

The message of Jesus, both alive and since, has essentially been that you should be a good and kind and charitable person.  If you are a good person then you will be rewarded in the afterlife.  Of course there is a lot more to it than that, but if you read his words essentially the rest is just commentary.  Of course, Jesus was not the first person to say this, and he was not the last.  However as far as Christian tradition goes he is the most important of those.  Okay.  Does that message stop being right if he did not rise from the dead?

There are many aspects of Christian doctrine that I do not understand.  If Jesus did not die on the cross for our (their?) sins then what is the point?  If Jesus did not rise from the dead then there is no hope!  As a Jew I don’t get it…

…But here’s the thing: In this day of science and proofs and thousands of years removed from any ‘confirmed contact’ with G-d, do any of us really believe? I am not an overly religious person (I can hear orthodox Jews laughing at that understatement as I type it), but I believe in the Torah.  I think many of the stories are exaggerated… but if we start from the Forefathers I believe most of it happened.  However I also believe that a lot of the miracles that happened can be explained scientifically.  I won’t go into those details for fear of starting a holy war with my own people.  Does my belief that the ‘miracles’ could be proven scientifically make me less of a Jew?  Not unless I say ‘Well, there really is no G-d so I can live as I want.’  I certainly do not say that.

So getting back to Christians and the story of Easter, even if Jesus did not rise from the dead his message is just as true… being a good person will bring rewards. 

If you do believe in Heaven and Hell (and not just the Joe Jackson album) then I cannot fathom any deity, who in his time on earth spoke of kindness and forgiveness and turning the other cheek, being so petty and unforgiving as to not letting a person who spent his or her entire life being good and charitable into Heaven just because they did not believe in one part of the doctrine that was written after he was gone from this earth.

What if you do not believe in Heaven and Hell?  I believe the message is just as valid.  I consider myself to be a good person.  I am kind, considerate, caring, charitable, and so on.  I do unto others and so on.  However that was not always the case; there were years when I was angry with the world, and was not so nice.  At a certain point I made the conscious decision to become a better person, and over time, as it happened, my life got better.  I became happier, I had more friends, all of the things that happens to good people.  Even if I do not believe in the Afterlife (another Joe Jackson album!) my life on earth became better, more enjoyable… less of a Hell.  See?  Even as a Jew, following the messages that Jesus taught I am enjoying the positive results here on earth, in this life.

I am not going to go into what I believe as far as doctrine versus science… that is a conversation for another time (and hopefully over a scotch or three).  However it seems to me that anybody – Christian or otherwise – who judges others on their beliefs rather than on their actions cannot himself (/herself) be a good Christian… or for that matter a good Jew or a good Muslim.  If we are supposed to turn the other cheek.  I suppose it would not be a proper religious article if I did not quote scriptures at least once… “Judge not, lest ye be judged!”-Matthew 7:1. 

With that being said, if you are going to judge someone, is it right to do it based on their beliefs rather than their actions?  Who among us has not seen someone else’s spouse and had inappropriate thoughts?  That may be a bad idea, but there’s nothing illegal about it.  If we were to act on those thoughts, that would be wrong.  I expect there are many of us who are relieved that we cannot be judged (and tried and sentenced) based on our thoughts and beliefs alone… but to go to Hell for them?  I think even Jesus would scoff at that.

Happy Easter to all of my Christian friends and followers, and Happy Passover to my Jewish friends and followers.

Night of Defiance

Five years ago I was flying home from London just in time for the first Passover Seder.  I wrote an essay which I ended up delivering as a guest sermon to my synagogue the following year before Passover, and I have read at my family’s Seder every year since (for reasons I will not go into this year I did not read it).  However in light of what is going on in Ukraine this year, I felt I should share it with a wider audience.  Please feel free to share the link… I wonder what Vladimir Putin might say to it! –MDG

This night we sit in defiance.

As a people we have for centuries – even millennia – adjusted, fit in, integrated into the societies that surrounded us. We were a displaced people who have lived in too many civilizations to list or count. Some of those civilizations embraced us, many more tolerated us.

Most of us who live in the Diaspora do not remember what it was like from the destruction through 1948. If this country tomorrow were to pass a law barring Jews – ridiculous as that may sound – we have somewhere to go, a country where we will always be welcome, accepted, and truly home. It has not always been like that.

Tonight, this night, the first night of Passover we sit in defiance of those who have turned on us, enslaved us, humiliated us, oppressed us, and killed us. US, and not them; our ancestors are us and we are they because if we were to find ourselves in their place we would not have been spared. On this night we sit around magnificent and opulent tables, openly celebrating our holiday; we do so in defiance not only of the Pharaohs of Egypt but of the Emperors of Rome; of the Hamans, of the leaders both of countries and of churches who have banned our celebrations; we sit in defiance of the Spanish of the 15th century and of Adolph Hitler in the 20th century; we defy the terrorists who would push us into the sea and of anyone who would tell us that on the first night of Passover we should not celebrate and remember.

Why do we celebrate Passover? Why is the Passover Seder different from all other nights? Why is it so vitally important for us to gather around, lean comfortably in cushioned chairs, and read the story of our enslavement and exodus? It is not only because we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but we were persecuted over the millennia by Greeks and Romans and Spanish and Germans and so many others – most of whom are confined to the annals of History now – who would be disappointed, upset, and outraged to know that we are still here reading the story of the exodus from Egypt. We read the same story every year and must never forget, because it could happen again if we let it.

Of course it is a ridiculous concept that a country such as Canada, the United States, or Great Britain would ever pass such a law. These are, after all, the most liberated societies in the world where people are free to be what they want, think what they want. These are countries where Jews live, work, and contribute to not only religious but also secular society; they own property and businesses, work in every job imaginable. Jews in our countries are comfortable because over the decades and for some even centuries they have become a part of the fabric of the secular societies of which we are a part. Laws like that could never be passed here, now, to us.

In the 1930s when Germany passed the Nuremberg Laws stripping rights from Jews they had lived, worked, and contributed to not only the religious but also the secular society of that country for hundreds of years. They owned property and businesses, worked in every job imaginable; they were comfortable because over the decades and centuries they became a part of the fabric of the secular society of which they were a part. Millions of them went to their deaths because they did not fathom that it could really happen here, now, to them.

In 1492 when the Spanish Inquisition gave Jews the option to leave, convert, or die they had been a part of that society for decades and centuries. They owned properties and businesses and worked in every job imaginable; they were comfortable because over the decades and centuries they became a part of the fabric of the secular society of which they were a part. The torture and humiliation and death and displacement took them by surprise but it happened, and the one country in Europe where Jews had known they were welcome and safe turned on them violently and thoroughly.

There are of course huge differences between then and now; however the only way to ensure that it will never happen again is to not let it ever happen again. As Jews we must not let it happen; we cannot be meek and we cannot be quiet, we must speak out and rise up and let the world know that we will never again be enslaved, persecuted, and slaughtered… always and loudly and with a resolution that will remind the world that Jews as a people and the Children of Israel as a nation are strong.

The State of Israel is a dichotomy to the ill-informed. It is a nation craving peace that is constantly at war; a nation of love that is the target of so much hate; a nation of hope amidst infinite despair. It has been a refuge for millions fleeing persecution around the world; escaping the Holocaust in Europe, persecution in Africa and the Middle East, poverty and troubles in the Soviet Union and then Russia. Israel offers Jews no matter where they are from a homeland when they want it, crave it, seek it, or need it. Likewise it is the guarantee that Jews will never again be rounded up and slaughtered.

For those who might waver in their support for Israel when the army is accused of wrongdoing they should consider what its enemies would do to it were the balance of power reversed. If Israel should elect a leader that they do not endorse whether they be right wing or left remember some of the leaders chosen by its neighbours such as Hafez Assad, Saddam Hussein, and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Tonight we sit in defiance of them and countless more. We sit in defiance of Bashir Assad and Mahmoud Ahmedinijad and so many more who would not only deny the right of the Jews to a homeland, but to their very existence…

…and never again allow us to be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Smoking the competition with meat!

When I was living abroad I had two great friends – Mark Segal and David Goodman – and the three of us were inseparable.  The two New Yorkers and I had a lot in common, but one thing that we never agreed on was food… for some reason the two of them never understood the supremacy of Montreal smoked meat over New York pastrami.  (We also fought about bagels, but who doesn’t?)

A few years later we had all moved back to North America, and Goody (David) came to visit me in Montreal.  I picked him up at the airport and after dropping his gear at my tiny basement apartment I took him to Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen on St. Laurent.  I ordered for both of us – a medium old-fashioned hot with mustard, fries, and a dry karnatzel for each.  We sat near the front of the crowded restaurant sharing a table with whoever else they sat with us, reminiscing about this and that.

When the food came he was still skeptical, but after a couple of bites he was sold.  You seldom hear a New Yorker admit that he was wrong about anything to do with food, but Goody admitted to me that day that I was right.  I doubt he would admit it today, but he did then!

Someone sent me the following link comparing the two meats.  I thought of Goody and Mark (who to my knowledge is still uninitiated) and the times we had together… then I got hungry for a good medium old-fashioned!

http://www.thrillist.com/eat/montreal/montreal-smoked-meat-seven-reasons-why-montreals-smoked-meat-is-pastramis-cooler-older-brother

Surface Docked

Earlier this week I posted an article about the versatility of my Surface Pro 2.  Actually it was a combination of an article (Battery Up- Windows 8.1 on the Surface Pro 2) and a Facebook status update (See here).  I bragged not only about the battery life, but also how cool it is that I can take a single device from tablet – to laptop (just add keyboard) – to complete workstation (plug the Surface Pro 2 into the docking station in my office, and it instantly extends to take advantage of the two large screen monitors, full sized keyboard, and regular mouse).

A Twitter follower named @Deskcovery asked if I had any pictures of the setup, because he wanted to see it in action.  Great idea!

Here’s the problem… my desk is usually a bloody mess.  I call it my secure, well-managed disaster zone.  It wasn’t always like that, but I don’t spend a lot of time there, so I don’t maintain it the way I used to.

Having said that, I try to do what I can for my readers… so your wish is my command.  Mr. @Deskcovery, here it is… I walk into the office and drop the device into the dock.  After a few beeps and blips, this is what I see:

Surface Docked

Over the next few weeks you can expect better pictures (and possibly even a video) of the area and the versatility of the device, but from this picture it is hard to see anything except the finished product.  As such, here are the components:

  1. A Surface Pro 2 256 with 8GB of RAM
  2. A Surface Docking Station
  3. Two LG 21” monitors
  4. One Microsoft Sidewinder X6 gaming keyboard (not once has it ever been used to play a game)
  5. One Logitech MX Revolution wireless rechargeable mouse

Now here’s the problem that I found… I have far too many devices to settle for four USB ports.  Rather than mussing about trying to plug and unplug devices as I needed them, I decided to leverage the USB 3.0 port on the Surface dock to connect… another docking station!  Actually that’s not entirely accurate… I connected the Lenovo port replicator that I bought with my X1 Carbon… seeing as that device is now listed for sale on eBay it won’t miss its port replicator.

surface-pro-docking-station-04

Thinkpad

Now, instead of simply having three USB 2.0 ports and a USB 3.0 port, I have:

  • 4x USB 3.0 ports
  • 3x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2x (mostly unused) Ethernet ports
  • DVI port
  • Mini-DV port
  • Audio out jacks

In other words… everything I need.

Don’t get me wrong… all of the USB ports are already accounted for, so if I do want to plug in another device I will have to unplug something… but the USB speakers and extra hiigh definition webcam are extraneous… I can unplug them any time I want…

I swear, I am NOT addicted!

How to Make and Choose Friends, and How to Influence People

According to Facebook I have seven hundred and ninety-five friends.  Of course that number includes people who asked me to be friends because we know someone in common… but I have have never met them before; it includes people with whom I have agreed with on matters debated or discussed, but have also never met.  This particular article is about someone I have met, have known for fifteen years, and with whom I had a serious disagreement this week, even though we are squarely on the same side of the political argument.

canada_flag_quebecWith apologies to all of my friends (in the meat world as well as in cyberspace) who share that name, I will call him Steve.  That is not his real name.  However to give you a profile, he is a Caucasian, English-speaking Montrealer of Jewish heritage.  He is passionate about several things, not the least of which are rock and roll and, as I discovered this week, the politics of the province of Quebec.

Since the premiere of Quebec announced the April election last week my friend Steve has posted several very strong posts on Facebook about voting against the Parti Quebecois (PQ).  While I no longer have a vote in Quebec (I left the province for greener pastures in 2007) I do have an opinion, and on this I happen to agree with him.  Were I living in Quebec there is no way I would ever vote for the PQ.  To steal a line from the comic troupe of Bowser and Blue, PQ stands for pack quickly.

Wednesday evening Steve posted another of his posts to the effect of ‘The PQ are bad.’  Several of us replied (none of whom disagreed with Steve) but then he posted something that worried me: ‘The PQ are evil… all of them.’

ViveLeQuebec_880Wow… strong words.  I responded something to the effect that while they are certainly (in my opinion) misguided, I doubt that they are actually evil.  He responded ‘The PQ and their #^%& leader are evil period! she is a racist @^%#$!

Wow… stronger words.  I answered that while I do not disagree that Pauline Marois is racist, that does not make every member of her party (and everyone who votes for them) evil. To this Steve replied:

TO ME EVERY MEMBER OF THE PQ IS EVIL BECAUSE FOR ME IF YOU LIKE THEM YOU ARE RACIST! FOR ME NO OPINION JUST A FACT!

Although our debate continued for a few lines on his wall, he then took it into private messaging, where he tried to clarify his position.  Unfortunately he continued to use words like ‘evil’ and ‘enemy’ claiming that he refused to speak to anyone who was on the other side of the question.  He said things like ‘I am fighting for the English, and for my rights, and I will fight until they are all gone.’  The following is the transcript of the private conversation:

Steve My mind set will never change to these PQ pigs and I don’t care who is part of it, I hate them all. they hate me for being English, they are racist towards Muslims, you don’t see it as you don’t live here anymore. if you did you’d think as me.

Mitch You are very wrong Steve. I agree with almost everything that you say… I just know that saying things the way you say them will never change anyone’s mind… except to make radicals MORE radical. Yes, they are the ‘enemy’ but if you want to change their minds then TALKING and not SCREAMING is the only way it will ever happen.

Steve As long as they are PQ they are my enemy. if they leave the PQ then it’s okay. anyone and I mean anyone in the PQ or anyone supports them enemy #1.

Mitch Then you are never going to accomplish anything. Dude, I served in the IDF – I know what an enemy is. I also know that when I stood in the room with Rabin and Arafat they were both trying to make things better.

Steve This is how I feel. I hate any PQ supporter and to me they are an enemy. I support all our Canadian troops and I thank them everyday. Canadian troops.

Mitch So let’s say they ARE the enemy… how are you going to change their minds if you refuse to talk to them?

Steve They don’t have minds. if I had my way I’d get rid of all of them.

Mitch So then what makes you any better than them? You are just as racist as they are.

Steve i am against them yes but i am fighting for everyone else they hate or insulted. I have no problem telling them how dumb, stupid, ignorant, no brain people they are. Sorry but i will not change my mind.

Steve Oh i am better then any PQ member.

Mitch You aren’t fighting for anything… you are yapping on Facebook and preaching to the choir. No, you are no better than them… not if you say they are all dumb, stupid, ignorant, and brainless they are.

Mitch By the way, I want you to remember that through all this YOU AND I AGREE WITH EACH OTHER… we just look at things very differently.

Steve they are all that and more. For example: 1) At the Jewish (General Hospital) one dumb bitch threw a tomato at a guy for talking English; he could have died cause he is allergic; 2) at the Verdun hospital a couple was thrown out cause they spoke English, now tell me to they deserve respect? Fuck no and my rants I am doing more.

Mitch You think that because of two assholes they are all evil? There are 8,000,000 people in this province, and frankly a lot of them are ignorant morons whose minds you will never change. However the rest of them might be willing to listen and those are the ones to talk to.

Steve One more time, if you support the PQ you are evil period!

Mitch For the record I have Palestinian friends… and more than two Palestinians have tried to kill me outright, no tomatoes. Does that make them all terrorists?

Mitch Then Steve you are simply closed-minded and will never change anyone’s mind. You can’t be any better than they are if you think they are all the same. Good luck to you, I’m never going to change your mind, and I am not going to waste any more time on a futile mission.

Steve Good!

Quebec1Wow… He has very strong words, and very strong opinions, but is as closed-minded as any separatist péquiste I have ever met.  It doesn’t matter that I agree with his basic position, it is even lost on me because of his fanaticism.  Even if anyone from the other side were to hear what he is saying he could never change anyone’s mind – if you start with the position that ‘you are stupid and brainless and a racist’ the other person is going to shut down immediately even before they hear your words… it is a simple fact of life, and one that took me far too long to really learn, to the detriment of many friends and opportunities.

cka_let-us-be-caI remember when I moved back to Quebec from Israel in 1997; there was a man named Howard Galganov was running a group called the Quebec Political Action Committee (QPAC), an organization aimed at fighting for the rights of Anglophone Quebecers.  I wouldn’t say that it was a militant group, but they were certainly outspoken.  A friend of mine encouraged me to join up ‘to protect our rights.’ 

Now I am all for protecting rights and freedoms, but having just come back from Israel where I spend thirty months in an army uniform (very often in parts of the country – and neighbouring countries – that were not friendly to Jews).  Maybe we were taught a different meaning of the word ‘enemy’ over there, but even having grown up in Quebec (I remember the referendum in 1980, and I remember holding my breath with everyone else for the results of the referendum in 1995) I could not picture the French Canadians taking up arms to kick out the English… this despite the FLQ that held the province hostage in 1970 (see article).

I asked my friend what the point of the group was, and his answer was simply to fight the enemy, to make sure that we were not pushed out.  He told me that we were going to have to fight for our freedom.

Harsh words…

I told my friend that I would not be joining QPAC.  He tried to protest, but I cut him off, and told him that if he wanted to see what real enemies were, what real strife was, then he should get onto a plane and visit places like Gaza.  I told him that I wanted to take Mr. Galganov and his equivalent on the separatist side to where I spent the last two and a half years to spend a week learning about what problems were; I said they would be French-kissing on the flight home once they saw what real problems were.

I don’t know when I learned it, but one of the more important lessons I have learned as a communicator is that even if more people hear you when you yell, more people listen when you don’t.  I can’t think of too many cases where I have yelled and convinced someone that I was right.  Speaking calmly and making a good case might not convince your political opponents to change their minds, but yelling at them will not convince them.  Your mother told you that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar… unless you are fishing I don’t know why you would want to catch flies, but she was right.

While I was in Montreal I was looking for a parking spot on Queen Mary Road (chemin de la Reine Marie) and I found a great one, right across from the restaurant.  I signaled, pulled in front of it to back in, and as I was backing up another car pulled into half the spot.  It really was just like that episode of Seinfeld (http://youtu.be/egsdc7tZ_xc).  I got out of my car and yelled – it was extremely loud – that he obviously knew I was backing into the spot, so why did he want to cause problems.  The driver of the other car knew I was right, but he yelled back – not to get lost, simply to stop yelling.  When I lowered my voice, he backed away and gave me the spot.

So what point am I trying to make?  It is obviously not political, as Steve and I agree on the salient points.

  1. Yelling, screaming, and name-calling will not convince anyone to do anything but dig their heels in.
  2. If you want to change peoples’ minds, you have to speak to them.  Simply yelling at people who agree with you will not change anyone’s mind.
  3. You may not agree with someone, but if you want to fix things you should try to understand their point of view – as offensive as it might be to you.
  4. Refusing to talk to the people with different views as your own will only ensure that they will always have different views as your own.
  5. Wisdom trumps loud.  Even when quiet wisdom is drowned out by loud screaming, it does not make the wisdom any less right nor the loud any more so.

If any of what I am saying sounds exactly like me, then you have probably not known me longer than five years.  By nature as well as by upbringing I am a loud, in-your-face type of person.  I have spent years trying to change that, and today I am (mostly) seen as a reasonable voice of reason type.  That did not come to me easy or naturally, but it was among the most important lessons I have learned as an adult.

I have not lived in the same city as my parents in several years, and as such they have not seen the transformation in me; so when my father says something like ‘you are exactly like your mother’ he doesn’t realize that it is among the most hurtful things he can say to me (aside from nagging me about my weight).  It may be in my nature, and it may be how I was nurtured, but that does not mean it is how I have to live my life.

I hope the Parti Quebecois do not win the upcoming elections in Quebec; if they do, I hope they do not win any referendum on separation that they may hold.  But more than that, I am truly hopeful that the people whose jobs it is to convince the moderates to vote against them is nothing like my friend ‘Steve.’  I hope they are reasonable and convincing, and do not just shout out and insult the opposition.