Tuesday, May 17, 2011

no rescue for you

so, while waiting for the bus on my morning commute to work i happened to look over at the line of shops behind the bus stop and i saw a bird (probably a sparrow) in distress. it appeared to be caught by it's wing, tangled in some kind of very thin cord or cable or wire, hanging from the overhang in front of one of the shops. it flapped about frantically trying to escape but it was stuck. i felt like i wanted to do something about it but it was too high for me to have been able to reach it. it was a sad sight to see.

it got a little better, though, when i saw it drop to the ground. it was free, no longer hanging by it's wing by some cord that i couldn't make out from across the parking lot. but then i realized it wasn't flying away or even moving much and it dawned on me that it might have spent everything it had getting loose, or it's wing might be broken, or something equally final.

then, as i watched, i saw it move and difficult to see bundle beside it also moved. i realized that while it was no longer hanging from the overhang in front of the shop, it was still tangled up in something. and now that it was on the ground i crossed the parking lot to investigate and see if there was anything i could do.

it turns out what it was tangled in was some very long dried grass. probably it was material for a nest as there were several pieces loosely tangled together. some of it got wrapped around it's wing, seemingly knotted from the brief glimpses i got of it. the bird was picking at the grass trying to free it's wing, but with such long pieces of grass it could be difficult for something so small to untangle it.

i pulled out the tiny scissors on my swiss army knife intending to at least cut away the long trailing pieces of grass, but the bird scurried under a car before i could get to it. i went back and forth between both sides of the car, hoping i could get it to go out the opposite side, but no such luck.

my actions attracted the attention of the car's owner who i explained the situation to, but as he offered to move the car my bus finally arrived. i had to go. maybe the car owner took over trying to free the bird, or even better maybe the bird will be able to cut through the grass on it's own with it's beak. wish i could have done more, though.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Election 2011

I tend to keep my (admittedly unusual) politics to myself, and for the most part I intend to continue doing so. However, within the context of the upcoming election, there are a few things I feel need to be said.

It is more important to keep the ruling party in check than it is to select one you think will make the most agreeable decisions. All parties make disagreeable decisions when you least expect it, but one that is left unchecked has the potential to make decisions that are orders of magnitude worse. Re-electing a party that was found to be in contempt of Parliament not only overrules one of the controls that are meant to keep political parties in check, it makes it toothless. The electorate would be sending the message that they don't care about the corruption that lead to that finding, making it unlikely that control would be used again, even if necessary, and thus opening the door for worse corruption in the future. 

Election platforms, for all the promise they hold, amount to very little when compared to the totality of a party's actions during their term in office. And most of us know how full of empty promises those platforms wind up being. Election platforms are in a very real sense a kind of political advertising, and just as The Whopper never looks quite as good in person as it does on the TV screen, the same principle holds true for the disparity between a party's platform and real actions.

I've heard that in order to have a legitimate political viewpoint you have to participate in the political process by voting, but I know that most people expend little or no political capital beyond election day. They cast their ballot and hope for the best, like it was some kind of lottery - and, to the extent that it's impossible to predict who will actually make the best decisions for us individually or for the country, it really is just the luck of the draw. One's political capital goes to waste by blindly selecting a party (or nearly blindly selecting based on election platforms) and then sitting back down and watching the next government unfold like spectators watching a sporting event. One's political capital would be better spent by selecting the party that is least corrupt and most open to being persuaded by the people they are meant to represent and then actively lobbying on the matters one finds most important throughout the party's term in office.

A party that refuses to answer questions about the costs of it's programs (thus bringing down the government and triggering the election), or whose leader issues a policy (be it about copyright reform or anything else) that amounts to "I don't care what you do, just make the Americans happy" doesn't seem like a party that is interested in being answerable or accountable to the people they claim to represent. A party whose leader replaces a hallway full of pictures of past Prime Ministers with a hallway full of pictures of himself, or renames the government after himself, doesn't seem like the party that is the least corrupt.

Monday, March 07, 2011

a wild commute

the wildlife i've encountered on my commute to-from work include
  • squirrels (obviously, those little tree rats are everywhere)
  • seagulls (just as obvious)
  • ducks (and ducklings in the spring)
  • woodpeckers
  • rabbits
  • raccoons
  • garter snakes
  • canada geese (they may be funny running around the parking lot at work but they're even funnier navigating the intersection at dundas and hurontario)
  • a fox (dashed by me, not 3 feet to my right as i walked home one night)
  • crows (a whole murder of them circling overhead - kinda creepy actually)

and tonight i get to add deer to the list. three of them by the little pond that the mississauga transit bus circles when picking up passengers at UofT mississauga campus. i wish i'd had a camera with me.

[2011/05/17 edited to add]
  • a pair of canada geese and their dozen or so goslings crossing the road and holding up traffic
  • a beaver (yes, i'm sure, even if the body didn't give it away, the tail is unmistakeable) gnawing on a fallen branch by the side of the cooksville creek during a rain storm