Book Hippo

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cats On Parliament Hill

Once upon a time, about ten years ago, I wrote an article on a society formed to rescue cats. These are cats which are abandoned and are living behind dumpsters or under wrecked cars or anywhere they can. A miserable existence.

They informed me that there were 25 colonies of cats in Ottawa, cats that have banded together, I suppose to make it easier to live. Or maybe loneliness? As they were once house cats, I think it's not too hard to imagine that they're used to companionship.

This brings me to one of my favorite places in Ottawa, the colony of cats on Parliament Hill. I can walk there any time I want because I'm so close and I love to go up and check on the cats.

They used to live like other colonies of cats lived until about the eighties, when an older lady decided to take care of them. She came every day and fed them and pet them and made life easier for them.

Well, she aged and died. Before she did, a friend of hers told her he would make sure the cats were taken care of. He would take over feeding them. He went farther, not just feeding them but building them a little home that he fills with straw. Here, they can get out of the snow for warmth and the rain won't bother them.

There's a little box where you can leave a donation for the cats food. Sometimes people bring small cans of kitty food for them. They have old chairs in there where the cats can curl up.

If you go up there you can also see raccoons as they like to eat the kitty food, too.

People love to go see the cats on Parliament Hill and I like that. It means that they do care, that they're better kinds of people than the ones who just abandon their cats to an existence that's lonely and hard.

The woman who rescues the cats told me that every single cat she's rescued has been grateful. Licking and licking until she's has to put them down because their lives are so bad on the street.

So I take my camera up to the Hill and snap photos of the cats, happy that they have at least some comforts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


It has been known for centuries that sometimes drinking certain water will cure some diseases. For instance, the Ganges has been used to cure cholera.

The reason for this was not known until just around WWI when a researcher found bacteriophages. Unfortunately, his research was halted by the war and lack of funding. The next the medical world heard of bacteriophages was when Felix D'Herelle did his best to make them common knowledge.

The research and use of bacteriophages was taken over by the French and most especially by George Eliava of Georgia in the former Soviet Union.

In fact, Georgia is one of the few places where suffers can get this treatment.

So what? Right? What the heck are bacteriophages?

They are viruses that attack bacteria and in this day of superbugs that are resistant to anti-biotics, they can be the saviours that many people need. People from all over the world travel to Georgia to the George Eliave Institute, which is first place in research and treatment.

The drawback is that Georgia does not use anesthesia and so it is very painful, they have to make a cut where the infection is and draw back the skin to expose the infection. The bacteriophages are applied directly to the bacteria infection.  I believe their cure rate is way over 90%.

Of course, a person would only need to go through this if regular antibiotics don't work. But for the future, if all the plants which antibiotics are made from are destroyed along with the rainforests where they come from, or if superbugs become extremely widespread, they may be our only chance to relieve the sufferings of humans.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Prehistoric Wanderers

I have a big interest in prehistoric news. So I was thrilled to read a book about the new findings about how people came to the west coast of North America.

Now, ever since I was a child I've heard about the ice-free corridor that was supposed to exist. I've wondered about that and tried to imagine how it would be possible to have such a thing.

Well, according to new studies, there was no corridor. They have never found implements or tools anywhere that would indicate where it was.

One fellow, though, reached into the sea. As oceans were lower back then, he did his searching by lowering buckets into the water and dredging the bottom. He found blackened ash where they built their fires and tools they had made. He found remains of cooked meals, mostly shells from what they were eating and he even found some human bones.

His conclusion: people reached North America by boat. They sailed around by the shoreline and got off pretty much where they felt like going ashore.

And who were these people? Well, from skeletons found, they were most probably Jomo people from Japan. These days they're called the Ainus and they're the indigenous people of Japan.

Some of their skeletons have been found to date back before the peopling of North America. So it seems prehistoric peoples were great travelers.

Personally, I think the people of the Himalayas tend to look like the Apache, who look like the Dene, so I suppose they came from all over Asia to here; in boats.

It would be interesting to find a prehistoric boat, they have found some from Christ's time but a prehistoric boat would be so thrilling. I guess it isn't likely, but, it's nice to dream.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Poverty Calling

Most everyone on earth goes through some kind of bad spot in their life. I have a friend who was very poor as a child, not enough to eat, no heat in the house. He credits this to his ability to survive, especially when it comes to finding free stuff.

Now, he lives in a big house with a fireplace. So when he needs wood he just drives around in his car looking for trees that are down. When the workers arrive to cut it all up, he asks can he have it, he'll help cut it. Wholah! Free firewood.

I had my own period of poverty but it was after I'd grown up. It was in the nineties when I was in my thirties. My way of surviving it was to walk on down to the National Archives to their newspaper section and take a look at microfilms of depression era papers.

I found that they were stock-full of tips and ways to save money, egg substitutes and how to make things last. It really showed me where to save and ways to cut corners. I still had to do without for a lot of things, but there was lots of good advice in these papers.

Now, I know this is an entirely different time period and maybe most people wouldn't be able to find much to help them with their mortgage or gasoline price but with the way the economy is now, I find myself wondering if a lot of middle-class people couldn't benefit from reading those old papers.

It's just a thought and it would just be for a time. This economic crisis that we're having in North America is not as bad as the depression but all the same, people need to eat every day and they need to feed their kids.

So next time you pass an archive or library where they keep these old copies, maybe have a look, there might be something that you can use coming from the times of extreme poverty for all. There just might be some good come out of that time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Well, it's the day after Thanksgiving. My room mate and I thought we'd just get a turkey breast instead of a whole bird, so I went to our downtown grocery store and bought what seemed to be part of a turkey with enough meat for two.

Hah! We cooked it, even after my room mate discovered that what looked like meat was a neck tucked under a back. The store made it seem meaty although I think they probably meant to sell it for turkey soup. But it sure looked meaty.

Anyway, cooked, it turned out to be almost pure bone, so David and I had a vegetarian Thanksgiving. I know, I know, some are saying, well vegetarian is good but we do look forward to our birds.

When I was young, I ate nothing but nuts and pasta and bread. I didn't have a weight problem, like I do now, but I was always becoming anemic and having to take iron pills. There is a way to eat where you can get all you need from non-meat products but you really need to plan what you're going to eat.

Back to Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say that I read what is supposed to be the true story of Thanksgiving. The story is always told that the pilgrims of the USA didn't know how to survive in the New World and their Native friends taught them and they had a Thanksgiving meal as a celebration.

The Native story that has come down is this one: The early Americans wanted the land that was occupied by a certain tribe. So they went to them and slaughtered every last man, woman and child and Thanksgiving was their celebration that the tribe was now extinct and they could move onto their land.

I wasn't there so I don't know which one is true, but it's something to think about.

Now on Christmas we'll be getting a whole bird. Lastly, for Halloween, why not download my horror short story The Mountain City Bronzes? It's only 99 cents.

And why not visit my Author's page on Facebook

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Halloween Month

Well, it's that time of year that children adore. Halloween is on it's way and already the stores are full of candy and costumes. One great thing about being older is that you can remember when things were different.

How many of you can recall those bedsheets (old ones) with eye holes cut in them. Just throw it over your head and go. I can't precisely remember any of my costumes.

We started around six o'clock when I was a child. Supper, then outside to do around to any and all houses that were in White Rock. We stayed in our area, but still had to beware people who would ruin our fun for us.

Like people who put razor blades in apples or teenagers who thought it fun to throw firecrackers at a little kid's head.

After Halloween had lost it's fun for me, and when I lived in Ottawa, it became the custom to have a big party at community centers for all the neighborhood kids. How boring I would have found it. I remember once at school when my class was having a party. A big lot of candy was just thrown on the floor and all the kids jumped in.

I was aghast at this 'animal' behavior. I vowed never to throw myself into a pile of writhing children fighting for a piece of candy. I just stood there knowing on October 31st I would get my chance at candy.

Another thing I liked was cutting a face in the pumpkin. My brother was much better at that than me and always had original faces. Mine were just triangles so  I wouldn't make a mistake. Mom never did roast the seeds though, and I think that's too bad, maybe she would have felt more included in Halloween. Instead, she thought of it as a kids thing.

Back to today. Lots of kids now go out again at Halloween and do the trick or treat thing. If I go driving with my room mate we see kids in neighborhoods going up to doors and some of the houses are really taking the scary thing seriously. Decorations and blinking eyeball skeletons.

So Halloween is not dead (or undead) and it's good to know that all sorts of children can have a ball on All Hallowed Eve.