can of worms: ripping open an old wound?

So the latest twizz on twitter (and elsewhere on the web) is the link to a petition from the Special Olympics to stop using the 'r' word: retarded.  Everyone from John Mayer to Joe Blow is spreading this link like a bad computer virus and I guess I'm kind of torn on how I feel about bringing it to the forefront again.  I mean, haven't we already done this?

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, the word is derived from the Latin verb 'to slow' and the word 'retard' currently is defined as thus:

1 : to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment : impede
2 : to delay academic progress by failure to promote

The dictionary gets re-written all the time - new words are added, old words die out of common usage, and other words gain new meaning.  (Who knew what a blog was 15 years ago?) So, at some point people started (correctly, in the strict sense of the word) using the term 'retarded' then 'a retard' to describe persons with a mental handicap, and the dictionary was re-written to include it as a noun in the late 1700s but today defines the word (pay careful attention to the fact that they've included a note that it's often offensive) as:

1 \ri-ˈtärd\ : a holding back or slowing down : retardation
2 \ˈrē-ˌtärd\ often offensive : a retarded person ; also : a person held to resemble a retarded person in behavior

Interesting, hey?  I'm going to try and dig out a dictionary from the 50s and see what it defines 'retard' as - bets it doesn't have the 'offensive' disclaimer?  Anyways.  By the 80s when someone called you retarded, they were referring to you resembling a handicapped person, a person with failing mental faculties due to biological circumstances, and it was insulting to both the person being called a retard and the people then commonly known as actual retards.  But through the late-80s and 90s, the political correctness police designed a whole new vocabulary to define "retards" - developmentally disabled, special needs, delayed, different-abled, etc. and by the time we partied 'cuz it WAS 1999, people hitting their chest and saying, "Gretzky," had pretty much lost its meaning, right along with the word 'retard' being associated with people like my sister, who is a microcephele and at the age of 30 has the hormone state of a 13-year old, the mental capacity of a 6- or 8-year old, and the speech skills of a 2-year old.

Growing up with a handicapped sister I, of course, took huge offense to people using the word 'retard' in a derogatory way.  Now, however, I don't, because the political correctness people managed to successfully rename the disability and disassociate the word from innocent people, and I don't believe most people believe that when they use the word it is in direct reference to a mentally handicapped person.  At one time I saw a person with developmental disabilities and said, oh, look, a retarded person.  Now I say, oh, look, someone with a mental delay.  And I freely admit that when I see someone driving while talking on the cell-phone, drinking a coffee, and trying to light their smoke, I think, oh, look, a retard - and certainly not because I think my baby sister would ever be classified in the same category.

So I'm curious why the Special Olympics, of all organizations, would launch a campaign re-associating mental handicaps with the word unless they are planning on 'owning' it like black-negro-coloured-brown-African-American people have taken over and redefined 'nigger' for themselves (?)  Seriously.  What the hell are they thinking?  After all those years I spent working and volunteering for various organizations (including recreational/rehabilitation summer camps, fundraising companies, and perhaps ironically as a coach for the Special Olympics) and campaigning against associating mentally handicapped people being called 'retarded' I don't really get why this issue needs to resurface at all.  Let it die already like poplollies and bellibones.  In fact, I was a little disappointed that Merriam Webster hasn't updated the etymology to include the word as having lost its meaning in reference to handicapped folks, and redefined it to read something like:

1: a person who makes really bad decisions because they choose to ignore every ounce of common sense in their head; "That person driving, drinking coffee, texting, and lighting a smoke is a retard."
2: something irritating to a person because it has failed to meet their expectations; "My food is cold and the service is terrible - this restaurant is retarded."

I think I'm going to choose to boycott this negative reinforcement and jump on the "time to re-write the dictionary" bandwagon when and if it comes along.  I was going to post the link, but what if it's just a portal to that nasty computer virus everyone's afraid of, and they're going to laugh at us all afterwards and call us retarded?

myLOVE: a Tuesday with the Walls

Pumpkins, puddles, and pinkness - a lovely way to spend a Tuesday.  (visit the album to read the captions!)

tubeLOVE: thank you Laura Jane!

I love discovering new music - not the mainstream or the hip indie stuff, but the really out-there unique stuff. My dear friend Laura Jane posted an amazing slideshow of her and her family, using this song for the soundtrack and now I'm in LOVE with CocoRosie. Now, where to buy a CD? Wonder if they're on iTunes... Hrmmm...

youLOVE: a few more pin-ups to share

It was deliciously difficult selecting which of the images to include, because there were SO MANY amazing shots of these gorgeous ladies, who braved saucy old pilots, freezing temperatures, and heels in ice for this session.  Once again, thank you for a wonderful day.  What are we doing next time?

planetLOVE: happy Earth Hour!

I'm not the world's biggest tree hugger, but I do try and make as small of a carbon footprint as possible.  Most people know our family is all about bicycle commuting - my brothers-in-law, my husband, my boys, and I all make a point of riding our bikes everywhere we possibly can, even when it's -30 and there's snow blowing.  (Yes, the crazy lady you see hauling a kid around in a Chariot in the middle of a blizzard is me taking Serejane to daycare.)

Tonight was Earth Hour.  From 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in your local time zone, everyone was asked to turn their lights off.  Not your TV or your computer or anything else - just your lights.  One of the first things I noticed, being in the dark and all, was that the City of Edmonton obviously didn't get the lights out notice, which ended up with me having these beautiful haunting tree shadows cast through the prism of my bathroom window's privacy coating.

We took it up a notch and went as powerless as possible, which included using the rechargeable portable video player to watch movies in bed.  Above, the girls watched 'Flushed Away' while we counted down the hour, and I unplugged the mac and went cordless.

My friend Christine had tweeted about how dark her street was so I decided to go out and check how ours was doing.

The apartment building up the road got a big fat F.

(Art came out with me - isn't he cute in his cone?  He sounds like a little snow-shovel when he snuffling around...)  The apartment building failed, but for the most part, our street was dark.

Whether that was because nobody was home or because they al heard about Earth Hour I may never know, but it was looking encouraging. I do know with certainty that at our house, it was blinkin' dark (below).

So maybe an hour of darkness isn't much.  But, we recycle, use energy-efficient bulbs, live close to work and work close to home, use public transportation, shop second-hand, grow some of our own food, and compost as much as we can.  Maybe it isn't as much as some, but it's more than many, and it's better than nothing.  Want to learn more about reducing your carbon footprint?  For all kinds of tips and tricks on being green, visit the National Geographic website here, or do a google search for 'going green' or 'reducing my carbon footprint.'

planetLOVE: cedar waxwings

One of my favourite things about spring is when the cedar waxwings come to visit.  I love watching them swarm over the treetops and housetops.  It's pure chance if they happen to choose YOUR yard to visit when you happen to be around, and happen to have your new handy-dandy 200mm f2.8 handy...

The sound of them flying so nearby is a low hum, peppered with tweets and chirps in a succession of downward trills.

They fly around in droves, landing in clumps to feed and drink, hundreds of pairs of thrumming wings, swooping about then descending in a cloud.

They are flying around in search of food, preferably last year's mountain ash berries, which ferment and make the birds a little drunk - on more than one occasion we've had a tipsy one smack into our window, startling us all until we figure out what it is.  Luckily, they are usually flying slow enough that all they require is a bit of a catnap to sleep it off before they regain consciousness and take off to find their friends.  Unfortunately, some of them will hit the window so hard they will snap their neck and we'll have to go remove a little bird body from our flower bed.

If you've never witnessed the waxwing phenomena before, I really hope you are lucky enough to at least once in your lifetime.  It really is something else.

They only hung around my yard for about 10 minutes before flying off like a herd of black flies.  I was just lucky this time.

myLOVE: the milkshakes and fries at Zellers

We had a few errands to run today, and while at Zellers decided to try out the restaurant.

This French fry was ridiculously long.

Madisyn did her best psycho face...

And the girls enjoyed some super spanky milkshakes.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the food was gourmet or even palatable (anything you still taste 4 or 5 hours after you eat never is) but the fries and milkshakes were totally worth checking it out.  And, they have liver with bacon, onions, and mashed taters... in case you're ever looking for some...

myLOVE: have your pets spayed or neutered!

I won't bother reliving the puppy nuts conversation - we've already cleared up what probably/possibly happened to the p(Art)s. But as promised I'm posting pics of Art in his new (temporary) headgear. Aside of being really groggy for a few hours after we got home and hating the Elizabethan collar (which we've decided would make him look much more dignified if accompanied by a powdered wig and velvet waistcoat) he seems to be faring fine.

Since getting his adult teeth Art has developed a bit of a snaggle tooth, especially on the left side.  Bill finds this particularly endearing, second only to when he gnaws on his own leg like it's a chicken thigh.

tubeLOVE: myLOVE

Seriously! you get myLOVE on tubeLOVE. Check it out. LOVE this band. Go buy their CDs.

Exercises: week of March 23, 2009

Ahhh - Wednesday... now THIS is more like me than that whole Monday thing, hey?

First things first: if anyone is interested in getting their hands on CS4 for a cool $300 (regularly $600) plus shipping please let me know. Only one is available so whoever contacts me first and/or puts money in my hand gets it. Now on to the good stuff - the exercies.

Task 1 is part 3 of the same exercise. Now that you have (ideally, if you've done the last 2 exercises) a few self-portraits and an 'I am' list, the next thing you need to do is play a kind of 'word-association' game with yourself. Grab a piece of paper and a pen - this will work best if you write and not type it. For each 'I am' you need to scribble down the FIRST song that pops into your head. Doesn't matter what it is or if it makes any sense at all - just write it down - then email your "I am" and song lists to me h dot walls at shaw dot ca; I will post the final part of this exercise next week!

Task 2 is the first part of a series of exercises that will help you build up what will become your portfolio. This task will help you start seeing your pictures as ways of putting a 'story' together in what the hip cats call photojournalism. You have 2 weeks for this task; there won't be a new exercise next week, only part 4 of the "I am" exercise.

You have been hired by an advertising agency to provide images for a company that specializes in at-your-house catering. Use your imagination to come up with a set of 5 to 10 images that would go on the company's website. You may use images you have already taken but at least 2 should be new and specific to this exercise. Here is some text that might be on our imaginary homepage, which you can modify if you'd prefer to narrow the scope and specialize in, say, romantic dinners or card parties or whatever:

Ambience Catering

At Ambience we are dedicated to providing not only first-class delectables prepared with only the finest ingredients but creating the perfect setting for any occasion in the comfort of your own home for groups of 20 or less. From intimate dinner parties and romantic proposals to children's birthdays and casual games nights, we'll help you plan the perfect menu and arrange for decorations and entertainment. On the day of your event we will arrive in time to do the decorating and set the mood, serve you and your guest(s), then quietly leave after all the cleaning is done so you can simply enjoy your time with family and friends. Whether it's candlelit coq au vin for your elopement, cake and hot dogs for your child's pinata party, or tea and petit-fours (or beer and BBQ wings) over card games, we'll help set the mood (and the table) for a worry-free event.

Examples of inclusions might be: pictures of food, either before or after preparation; things that would help set the 'ambience' like flowers, candles, streamers, table setting, etc.; location - back deck, kitchen table, yard; pictures of people eating or enjoying each other's company in a worry-free catered environment... You get the idea. Humour is welcome. When you have your images shot/selected, post the images on your blog along with the catering description. I will be giving both technical and personal feedback on the individual images (is the focus where it needs to be, is the composition strong, what elements are strong or weak, etc.) as well as how effectively they go together as a set to send a message or set a visual mood. If you aren't blogging please feel free to email it to me if you want feedback.

togetherLOVE: they're all getting so BIG!!!

In my wildest imagination, I could not have known what a bittersweet journey, what a pleasure and joy it would be going for my quarterly or bi-annual visits to the crew of the Mamapalooza, or how profoundly affected I'd be by this amazing group of children and parents.  I've been there for first roll-overs, discoveries of first teeth, and even a birth... and although I was fortunate enough to see Miss H standing just 2 days ago, I was genuinely excited/disappointed that Papa K posted a video of her WALKING just today!

Thanks Mom and Dad for letting me come and hang out, measure stuff, put cars on my head, wear hats, measure stuff, put kids in my beloved suitcase, catch babies on the stairs, and measure stuff - it's always an adventure, and the pictures never really do the visit justice lol!

weirdLOVE: holy sheep!

funLOVE: Leanne's heart

People are really getting into this... Leanne's daughter (who I FINALLY get to meet this Sunday!) was sitting there sweetly eating her cookie when Mom swooped in like a vulture and stole it to take some pictures for me. Thanks for wrestling the cookie from the baby for me, L! See you in 2 sleeps!

funLOVE: Carol's heart

Carol of Carol Kerfoot Photography (yes, this is the same lady who imspired the spring poop post) sent along this delicious sweet(heart) featuring her deslicious sweethearts M & T - I want to eat them!!!

myLOVE: spring is sprung!!!

Ah, we welcome spring from sunny Alberta. I was inspired by Carol's crocus post to share some of the things poking through OUR spring cover.

First I wanted to share this picture of the lovely apple blossoms, though. Aren't they splendid?

Look! The first signs of grass! Never mind that it's actually a bald spot protected from the avalanche last week by the swing that didn't get put away in time last fall. It's grass, ain't it?

And look at this rosy little bud! You may remember this beauty from a few weeks ago, buried under 3 feet of snow, but now! Whew! Serejane will be riding her in NO time!

Of course, no dog owner's springtime joy would be complete without the little brown nuggets peppering the lawn - you know, the ones you missed because a) they were buried under mountains of snow before you got to them or b) it was too bloody cold to go scooping and you said, well, they'll show up in spring? This one is especially cheerful - if you look closely you'll see that our dog manufactures pink Polly Pocket purses in his poop! MAGIC!

Welcome, spring!

funLOVE: Sherry's heart

Sherry of Sweet Temptations Gourmet Cookies (there are no comparisons that do her cookies justice) sent in her son A's hearts. Sweet!

funLOVE: Trina's heart

Trina of Creations sent me this LOVE-ly heart! What a beautiful ring shot! I (heart) the response to this - it's TOTALLY making my day, guys! MUAH to you all!!!

funLOVE: Princesstefer's heart

I am LOVING this! Thanks to Stephanie of Princesstefer and her royal tangents for this Ice on Whyte heart!

How cool is THIS?!?!? LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!

funLOVE: Laura's heart

OK - so Laura Jane did NOT send this to me, but it must be linked to. Check this heart out! She DID send these:

funLOVE: Cathys' heart

I remember freaking out over this heart because it's SOOOOO wicked!!! Thanks to Cathy of Boudoir by Cathy for submitting this citrus heart, found by sweet C. on Mother's Day, of all days!

Mmmm - lime hearts....