What he said…

Facts are stranger than fiction.
It’s raining cats and dogs.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You can’t get blood out of a stone.
This country is going to the dogs.
The early bird gets the worm.
It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
…a miss is as good as a mile
…mad as a hatter
…quick as a wink
…six of one, half a dozen of the other
…barking up the wrong tree
…won’t take no for an answer

What do these phrases have in common? Give up? …Would you believe they were all coined by a Nova Scotian? …No way! Right? How did we not know this??

All of my English teachers and university professors need to hang their heads in shame that I had to learn this from a grave keeper named Jerome (I’ll explain later). It’s true…this is a list of famous sayings popularized by Sam Slick, a character created by Nova Scotian judge and writer Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865).

Haliburton’s Sam Slick character was a fast talking Yankee type who put forward his views on “human nature” in a regular column in the Novascotian, beginning in 1835 (according to Wikipedia). Later some of these columns were published in a collection titled The Clockmaker, or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slicksville. 

I did some research but there isn’t much information to either confirm or refute the claim that Haliburton was the first to coin these phrases. (Talk about a needle in a haystack…) Information on the term Mad as a Hatter says that it did predate Louis Carrol and Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, so that seems to work with the Haliburton Said It First theory. And, just as an aside, the reason hatters had a propensity towards crazy was because it was impossible for them to avoid inhaling the mercury fumes given off during the hat making process…Oh! The things I didn’t know yesterday! For several other phrases I could only confirm that they were indeed first penned in the early 1800s.

I guess one way to confirm these famous sayings appeared in Haliburton’s writings would be to read the book…It’s been a long time since I came across any topic I couldn’t find enough information about on the Internet…off to the library.

Of course I could always claim I got this information from the horse’s mouth (No, wait! That’s not one of them, is it?) But I did get to meet Sam during a Ghost Walk last weekend..Here are a few snaps of him and Jerome…Interesting guys…

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My year of the Astronauts…




Last night I met Chris Hadfield…In a very “The Secret” circumstance, I decided, sitting in my living room in Hanoi last spring…watching him re-enter Earth’s atmosphere…that he was on my bucket list. I wanted to meet Chris Hadfield. How was that going to happen? Well, leave it to The Universe…Fast forward to June, 2014…I was in Truro; Chris Hadfield was in Truro (Jeez Universe, I had to drive 10 minutes…Couldn’t you have delivered him to my door somehow??)

But wait!…in case I got distracted… an opportunity to meet another NASA astronaut, Dr. Mary Ellen Weber, came my way in May of this year.


Bottom line? Astronauts are REALLY cool! Smart…driven… kind (Does that come from seeing where we all share a tiny speck of space?) Dr. Weber spoke to over a hundred young girls at a Techsploration event at the NSCC Truro Campus this spring. She explained to them that they have to be vigilant about finding opportunity…When she was a ‘girl’ there were no female astronauts.  A handwritten ad for sky-diving lesson on a college student billboard caught her eye when she was 19?…She discovered flight…Eventually, she completed two missions to the International Space Station and logged 450 hour off of this planet. As she explained it…When you are looking down on the earth, nations and borders mean nothing, you realize “I’m an Earthling…That’s home.”

She also had a message that resonated with this 50 something…Dr. Weber is… by my calculations… in her early 50s…She was talking to some young girls and said “Yeah, I was thinking that too…I might like to go back to University and be a veterinarian” …I think this NASA Astronaut/Chemical Engineer  is seriously thinking about going back to University to be a vet. Why? Because she realizes she has exactly one more lifetime ahead of her (20-30 years) and (Yay!) she plans to use it.

…And when Chris Hadfield was nine years old and watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon, there were no Canadian astronauts…but that didn’t stop him. What an amazing man! A Canadian who has been the Commander of the International Space Station…A Canadian who put the space program back on the map (A weird comment…but, that was a program that was off the map literally and figuratively) He put a human face on that whole program we grew up with that threw people and dogs and monkeys off this planet…He was/is a worthy addition to anyone’s bucket list…and as I walked away last night he asked about the rest of my bucket list…I told him…he said “There’s still time.” …Yep, there’s still exactly one more lifetime.

Whew! Done…Well, not quite…

CaptureThanks to my sister and my daughter-in-law I’ve achieve my very modest fundraising goal for the Cobiquid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the Bluenose Marathon Run (Oops! I mean walk…)

This got me to thinking about what I really should be doing for an organization I believe is well-run and responsible for important and significant work.  The least I can do is explain why I think this organization is so worthy of everyone’s support…

The Cobiquid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is run by a very capable veterinarian, Helene, and her super-understanding, super-helpful husband Murdo. Helene happens to be funny, irreverent, and able to divine the personality of every patient the CWRC takes in.  And what personalities these critters have! These are no pet-store darlings. They’re wild, they’re proud, and, when they are not scared, they’re pissed. Helen and Murdo respect their boundaries, support their spirit of independence (check out the Big Jeezley)  and provide only what’s needed to get them back ‘home’.

If you follow the CWRC facebook postings you get to enjoy the ride…the drama…the hissy-fits…the small triumphs …and the spectacular sendoffs. It also helps that Murdo is a talented videographer and photographer (when he’s not facing off with an Eagle over a feeding dish). I’ve really enjoyed (and often had a good laugh) getting to know amazing and courageous animals through Helene’s posts and Murdo’s photos and videos. It’s because of this that I feel especially guilty about not doing enough to support the CWRC.

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So, what is it with trying to fundraise? You put yourself out there and someone can say no (Ouch!)…You know what?…That’s my ego….And my ego shouldn’t be as important as these snowy owls, eagles, or heart-wrenching baby snow shoe hares. If you have a cause you support, fine…but…if you don’t, or if your Aunt in Fall River doesn’t, PLEASE contribute to the CWRC or ask her to.

Those of us who follow the CWRC Facebook page got to know Porcules, the teenage porcupine who was in charge at the CWRC for a few months in 2013. This year’s first juvenile patient is a baby porcupine that was attacked by a dog…Yeah, the dog got quilled…but this little guy is all alone and he does have some injuries. This week he accepted some milk…Do yourself a favor and follow his progress until he’s released by liking the CWRC Facebook page.

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Contribute if you can, but if you can’t just join Helene and Murdo for the ride…It’s uplifting!


My Fat Buddha



My Fat Buddha sits beside my television. He was a gift from a friend leaving Hanoi. Now, I have to say, this little fellow has always bothered me…I never understood why Buddha was represented as a jolly fat man?

Siddhartha Gautama, the prince born approximately 560BC who eventually  became the Buddha was, according to legend, exceptionally good-looking.  He was married and had a son before he left it all behind at the age of twenty-nine to search for enlightenment.

As the Buddha, Siddhartha  specifically stated that he should not be idolized.  He was just a man and he spent his life teaching people that anyone could do what he did. He readily admitted that he had temptations and weaknesses; admitted it was difficult for him achieve enlightenment, and that he could fail at any time. He didn’t set out to establish a new religion, and he didn’t see himself as a God.

Because of his specific instructions not to idolize him, for the first 500 years or so after his death there were no representations (pictures, statues) of the Buddha at all…

But as the number of his followers grew, so did his legend and people did come to pray to him and to venerate him.   And, if they were going to worship and pray they needed an image of their idol. So it was that hundreds of years after his death the first representation of the Buddha appeared.  One of the main tenants of Buddhism is that each man should be his own light and make his own way and that tendency towards subjective truth influenced the various depictions of the Buddha.

In search of enlightenment, Siddhartha tried lots of stuff…As an ascetic monk, he practiced extreme self-denial. So, yeah, I understand the skinny Buddha.. .


One day (many years into his search) while Siddhartha sat under a Bodhi (fig) tree, enlightenment came to him. There are many statues of the enlightened Buddha…

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There are even statues of Buddha as a female (in case that’s what speaks to you?)…

female buddhaBut what’s with this FAT Buddha?? …Well, here’s an explanation provided by a friend…

Buddha was a man. He didn’t want to be worshiped, but he did want people to follow his example and attain the enlightenment he attained.  Since Buddha’s wish was that people emulate him, someone started to look at which images of the Buddha worked for this goal…Could you see yourself as a starved monk? Probably not… As an enlightened soul? …Most of us aren’t there yet… What about as a Buddha content with what he has?   …enough food, happiness , children …


This is where the Fat Buddha comes from….mystery solved.  This Buddha is a reminder that we have all the sustenance and joy we need. So now my Fat Buddha sits by my television reminding me to be happy and satisfied…I like him a whole lot more these days.

Where can I find you online?


I was looking for images for a portfolio piece yesterday and I found this 2010 cartoon… While in 2010 employers may not have been looking for your online presence, in Internet time a lot can change in three years. And it has…Now, it’s just as likely that the first question our students get asked by potential employers is “Where can I find you on line?” …”Is your portfolio public?” …usually, while they are pulling out their Galaxy.

Today, job candidates don’t have to say “Google me”. They can assume the employer has already done that. What the candidate needs to do is make sure that search returns a professional profile and a credible portfolio of skills, contributions, and collaborations.

Nothing underlines this more than the news from Google last month that they will no longer consider transcripts or GPA scores for hiring…

One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless—no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.

Seems Google has decided that “academic environments are artificial environments”. According to Laszlo Bock, a senior vice president at Google,

[Y]our ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different.

Google isn’t interested in hiring people who can find the correct answer when one exists. They are interested in hiring “…people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer” .

Welcome to the 21st Century new grads! It’s a Google world out there…