Monday, June 30, 2014


Because of the maudlin story I have been reading ("The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka) it is no wonder that the world feels similarly depressed and has unleashed the rains of the endless sort so that the laundry that I have been dumb enough to leave out is now such a soggy mess that they all resemble used tampons. The clothes will be rinsed over and over again as the drip continues like a flow of baptismal waters. The ants hopefully will be drowned. The drenched begonias sit in their pots like fugitives cowering from the whips of wind and water.

Every time I look outside I can see only the darkness with the stabbing points of wet.
It is enough to make you wonder if the end is near.
Are we to experience floods again?
I am glad we have installed a double sump pump.
The fact is that this water flow is horrendous and will ensure that all the garden weeds that have been hacked down will restore themselves to full proficiency when the seedheads bloat up with the long awaited drench of life.
I wish I could have some empty barrels to collect the pour so as to have water for the next few months but unfortunately the barrels are lying on their side. They used to be ketchup, mustard and relish barrels before they became rain barrels.
The compost heap is now covered with the survivors of the varmints which seem to be mostly peonies that I got at half price at Superstore and the delphiniums from Calgary which are marked with the sinful signs of the fungus that is impossible to eradicate. Having days of torrential downpours will make the fungal calamity a genocide among the delphiniums which are already appearing sickly and emaciated despite all the compost around them. Meanwhile the puffy peonies are getting arrogant and flaunting their red and pink hips everywhere. The white peonies in the front bed are tightly pursed lips that do not smile. There is one white peony that is ingratiating himself among the flamboyant kin but dares not show more than one white hand.
I wish the rain would stop.
It is bad enough to feel sad over the insect human being of Gregor Samsa in the story "The Metamorphosis" but now I have to hear the crying rain and wind as well to accompany the tragedy.
So how does Kafka get me to feel sorry for the wretch of this story? I think he does it simply by showing the eternal selfishness of family members who consider only their own problems and place in the world over the needs and sorrows of an afflicted relative. In other words, as in the other story I read by Tolstoy, when death is in the room, we are overjoyed that it is someone else who is dying and we are impatient for the death to be over so as to go on with our own petty lives so that we can put the thought of death out of our minds.

The rain is being beastly right now and boxing with wet fists at the Russian Olive tree that is all I have left of sanity with the varmints killing the populace of my garden. It would be useful to know the true identity of the varmints but really there is no way I will find out. I haven't been in the garden except to put out laundry, drag out the screaming chickweed populations and tsk tsk over the dead bodies everywhere.

Most of the time when I try to dissect a story as I am trying to do with Kafka's sad story of family life interrupted by the inconvenience of a terminal transformation in one of the family members, I get diverted and wish I had a brain.
The rain is slippery slide of a filmy dark silky slope now.
I could fall asleep.
Maybe Kafka should be read only in small bites like chocolate that is needed in a moment of horror.
Where is the rest of my chocolate?

And for a little while he lay quiet, breathing lightly, as if perhaps expecting such complete repose to restore all things to their real and normal condition.

The incredible yapping of the neighbor's dogs interrupts my perusal of the story "The Metamorphosis". I have read it over once and felt very maudlin. I feel that my handicapped sister is a copy of poor Gregor Samsa and that the family around him is the despicable us.  I could feel very tearful over my sister right now.
But I concentrate on the story.
What is it like to be a human insect?
It feels like the way Gregor Samsa feels.
I guess I am trying to put myself in my handicapped sister's shoes.
The yappy dog gets me to leave the sad parts of the story and I yell out the window to the neighbor to shut his dogs up. The inelegance of my yelling works. I mean not one of the other neighbors do what I do  which is a sort of public shaming but surely after years of such disruptions of their quiet summer days and evenings with the antics of poorly trained dogs the size of puff pastries -they too applaud my courage in confronting the citizens who are breaking the law with reference to their canines?

I go back to the story. I am dwelling in it so that I may be brave like Gregor Samsa over the horrific transformation of his physical and mental state. I wonder what it would be like to have a loving family one day who are dependent on you for their survival and then by the bad luck of magical transformation inflicted by a writer, to be a sort of human dung beetle who is abhorred by all and rejected by the formerly loving family.
This is sort of the situation my handicapped sister is in.
We found her to be the cutest baby. She was a loving and generous teenager. And when things fell apart we gradually and inevitably became desensitized to her. She turned from a human being with pain and horror inside of her --into a sort of Kafka insect.
This is to say I understand this transformation now, at the end of it more than I did while we were in the middle of it.
Certainly we stuck by her but what was the quality of our understanding, affection and support for the human insect she has now become?
Surely we all understand that in our society the handicapped citizen is barely tolerated? The citizen who is not severely normal --the citizen who is incapable of following the norms of our society, the citizen who lacks insight and conformity --well that citizen is somewhat like a ham that is on the table slowly being carved up and eaten --almost to the bone.

I am sure we all try to be accepting and inclusive but the proliferation of drugs in our society reserved to alter everyone into the everyone we all are comfortable with makes our handicapped citizens a sort of ball we bounce in public to show our skills at the play of dealing with the citizen and then we put the ball away in some corner of some institution. The institution gets the real work of taking care of the ball or the human insect.

This is to say we have not advanced in the care of our handicapped citizens. Without family advocating for them there is no sort of net to prevent them from being killed off in our emergency rooms. At least this is the feeling I get based on the experiences of our family with the emergency staff at the Gray Nuns Hospital. It is hard to feel positive about the care unless you have a family member stationed next to the patient.

In any case, the Kafka tale is being read over to learn why we have labelled our handicapped citizens as dung beetles to be relegated to the care facilities or group homes. Why aren't they integrated completely into our society? What is the use of taking handicapped people out of places where they have been kept like spoons and forks in the drawers of cupboards like the Michener Center and then put them into facilities like the Good Samaritan extended care where they will have to deal with the perversions of inadequate funding situations as my sister has had to? What is the meaning of our society that gives major sums of cash to the deputy minister of health and then asks my handicapped sister to accept a worn mask and poorly functioning BiPap machine with no data card?  Who is to monitor our most vulnerable citizens when it is obvious to me that the AHS is not doing its job with reference to the extended care facilities? I am the one who has to ask these sorts of questions. I have no answers. I go to the Franz Kafka story "The Metamorphosis" to ask how we have all made a human insect out of my sister. She was so beautiful as a baby that strangers would stop my mother as she pushed her in her pram---and tell her that she was an adorable child. Who can say when a human being turns into an insect? Who can say when a family becomes hard like we have become so that we would wish the ease of not having her? Who can say how we alter faced with the economics of powerlessness? Who will tell me the life of a human insect? Only Kafka can. My handicapped sister talks to her pink piggy unicorn that I have bought her to keep her company in her room at 5E3 at the University of Alberta Hospitals where she is getting the care and attention she needs.  I am telling you all that when we arrive at this place, where we turn our beloveds into human insects, perhaps then it is time to put ourselves into the place of the human insects and wonder what it feels like in that dark room scuttling about, unwanted, unloved and despised. And yet, how he struggled as my sister has for some sort of normal.

I wonder about a lot of things.
I wonder most about how a family can end up here, asking others the questions that point to the way we have altered ourselves so that ethics can be ignored and so that we can fit into the requirements of our jobs, our roles in the society and the importance of our positions.
One day we might be the human insects of our society. One day we might feel what my handicapped sister has felt all through her life--the rejection of a world bent on profit, sham success and growth despite the alarming consequences of this growth.
One day we might be in the place where we stand confronted by the abandonment by everyone and we might decide to do what Gregor Samsa decided to do which is starve himself to death.

Page 92-93

He thought that he might get out of bed with the lower part of his body first, but this lower part, which he had not yet seen and of which he could form no clear conception, proved too difficult to move; it shifted so slowly; and when finally, almost wild with annoyance, he gathered his forces together and thrust out recklessly, he had miscalculated the direction and bumped heavily against the lower end of the bed, and the stinging pain he felt informed him that precisely this lower part of his body was at the moment probably the most sensitive.
So he tried to get the top part of himself out first, and cautiously moved his head toward the edge of the bed. That proved easy enough, and despite its breadth and mass the bulk of his body at last slowly followed the movement of his head. Still, when he finally got his head free over the edge of the bed he felt too scared to go on advancing, for after all if he let himself fall in this way it would take a miracle to keep his head from being injured. And at all costs he must not lose consciousness now, precisely now; he would rather stay in bed.

   But when after a repetition of the same efforts he lay in his former position again, sighing, and watched his little legs struggling against each other more wildly than ever, if that were possible, and saw no way of bringing any order into this arbitrary confusion, he told himself again that it was impossible to stay in bed and that the most sensible course was to risk everything for the smallest hope of getting away from it. At the same time he did not forget to remind himself occasionally that cool reflection, the coolest possible, was much better than desperate resolve. In such moments he focused his eyes as sharply as possible on the window, but, unfortunately, the prospect of the morning fog, which muffled even the other side of the narrow street, brought him little encouragement and comfort. “Seven o'clock already,” he said to himself when the alarm clock chimed again, “seven o'clock already and still such a thick fog.” And for a little while he lay quiet, breathing lightly, as if perhaps expecting such complete repose to restore all things to their real and normal condition.

from "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka in "Franz Kafka the complete stories"

Perhaps my sister has gone through such terrors, telling herself to keep calm and hoping for a good resolution to her situation.
But now it is a time of relapse and downward motion.
The mind shutters itself.
The door is slightly ajar.
We look in.
The human insect hugs her fluffy toy.
She croons to it
She says the words of love.
Perhaps now --finally--she has a brief period of repose --that repose that Kafka speaks of  "to restore all things to their real and normal condition."

which world will you choose?

and should you see the water on the back of the trees and seek me
should you say that I have the words in my mouth
that are fruit for your need
I will laugh and say that you are dreaming

what you seek is within you
and what you search for ceaselessly will never be found
that world has a harvest that is all about experiences
that you must partake of

outside the grasses rise up from the death
that winter played as a trick upon them
the poplars clap their hands
the aspens rustle their backs of stone

the rain pours down from the eyes of god
the clouds melt into strings of divorcing moisture
the silver and gold of your life
is before you      and all you seek is the tarnish and the rust

the day will come when you will stand before the sea of darkness
you will board the boat of flesh and the bones will be your oars
you will row to the end of your days
you will feel the wind blowing the memories away

all you have done
will be revealed to you
which world will you choose?
choose well for the ending must be pure

all the laws you have bent
and the rules you have avoided successfully
will form the lessons that will be revealed as incompletes
and then how are you to face your failures?

how are you to see yourself as the insect being
that dined on the suffering of those in need?
how will you go to the land that the boat comes to
and see the book of life in its complete dissolution?

how will you see the past as the hell
that you created out of your illusions?
how will you take your limping blue soul
to the very end of eternity?

Lockheed Martin Corp-----------Wal-Mart Stores Inc.----------excluded from the Norwegian Government Pension Fund

From: "Stewart Shields" <>
To: "Prime ministre" <>, "thomas mulcair" <>
Cc: "Alberta Activism" <>, "C�line Hervieux-Payette" <HERVIC@SEN.PARL.GC.CA>, "dnd mdn" <>, "mccallum" <>, "Peter - M.P. Julian" <>, "peter watson" <>,, "raitt" <>, "T Banks" <>
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 5:26:01 PM
Subject: Norway Use Sanctions Against Some Investments!!

Since I have used the Norwegian Government Pension Fund many times in pointing out our failure in Canada to properly administer Canada’s huge publicly owned petroleum resources, i feel it only fair to show those with sanctions against them. Norway have an ethical board to guide the use of their mammoth petroleum capital pool.  I await the day Canada’s petroleum property become so well managed that we may need an ethical board to guide the wealth our public derives from publicly owned petroleum reserves??
Stewart Shields
he following companies have been excluded from the Government Pension Fund of Norway due to activities in breach of the ethical guidelines:[13]
CompanyHQDate of exclusionReasonDivestment (USD)
Africa Israel Investments Israel24 August 2010Violation of the Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory by being involved in developing settlements[14]1.2m
Alliance One International, Inc. USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]0.9m
Alliant Techsystems Inc USA30 Jun 2005Production of components for cluster munitions.[15]N/A [nb 1]
Altria Group Inc. USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]131m
Barrick Gold Corporation Canada30 Jan 2009Extensive environmental degradation related to the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea[16]245m
BAE Systems Plc. United Kingdom11 Oct 2005Production of nuclear missiles for the French Air Force through the company MBDA.[17]N/A [nb 2]
Boeing Company USA11 Oct 2005Maintenance of ICBMs for the U.S. Air Force.[17]N/A [nb 2]
British American Tobacco BHD Malaysia19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]9.4m
British American Tobacco Plc. United Kingdom19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]683m
Danya Cebus Israel24 August 2010Violation of the Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory by being involved in developing settlements[14]N/A
European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS N.V. France
30 Jun 2005Production of nuclear missiles for the French Air Force through the company MBDA[18][nb 3]N/A [nb 1]
Elbit Systems Israel3 Sep 2009Supply of surveillance systems for the Israeli West Bank barrier[19][20][21]5.0m
Finmeccanica S.p.A. Italy11 Oct 2005Production of nuclear missiles for the French Air Force through the company MBDA.[17]N/A [nb 2]
FMC Corporation USA30 Sep 2011Production of phosphate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.[22]52m
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. USA28 Mar 2006Serious environmental damage.[23]17.2m
GenCorp Inc USA15 Nov 2007Production of nuclear weapons.[24]N/A
General Dynamics Corporation USA30 Jun 2005Production of components for cluster munitions.[15]N/A [nb 1]
Grupo Carso SAB de CV Mexico15 Feb 2011Production of tobacco.[25]N/A
Gudang Garam tbk pt Indonesia19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]0
Hanwha Corporation South Korea15 May 2007Production of cluster munitions.[24]1.2m[26]
Honeywell International Inc. USA11 Oct 2005Simulations of nuclear explosions.[17]N/A [nb 2]
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc United Kingdom19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]347m
ITC Ltd. India19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]48m
Japan Tobacco Inc. Japan19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]210m
KT&G Corp. South Korea19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]16m
L3 Communications Holdings Inc USA30 Jun 2005Production of components for cluster munitions.[15]N/A [nb 1]
Lockheed Martin Corp USA30 Jun 2005Production of components for cluster munitions.[15]N/A [nb 1]
Lorillard Inc. USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]42m
Northrop Grumman Corp. USA11 Oct 2005Maintenance of ICBMs for the U.S. Air Force.[17]N/A [nb 2]
Philip Morris Int. Inc. USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]476m
Philip Morris Cr AS Czech Republic19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]2.7m
Poongsan Corporation South Korea30 Sep 2006Production of cluster munition.[27]1.2m
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Canada30 Sep 2011Production of phosphate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.[22]274m
Raytheon Company USA30 Jun 2005Production of components for cluster munitions.[15]N/A [nb 1]
Reynolds American Inc. USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]36m
Rio Tinto Group United Kingdom28 Apr 2008Severe environmental damage[28]882m
Samling Global Ltd. Malaysia23 Aug 2010"Illegal logging and severe environmental damage"[14]1.4m
SAFRAN SA France11 Oct 2005Production of nuclear missiles for the French Navy.[17]N/A [nb 2]
Serco Group Plc United Kingdom15 Nov 2007Maintenance of British nuclear weapons through the Atomic Weapons Establishment.[24]N/A
Shikun UVinui Israel17 June 2012Violation of the Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory by being involved in developing settlements[29]1.4m
Souza Cruz SA Brazil19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]7.4m
Singapore Technologies Engineering Singapore22 Mar 2002Production of anti-personnel landmines.[30]N/A
Swedish Match AB Sweden19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]75m
Textron Inc USA30 Jan 2009Production of components for cluster munitions.[31]36m
United Technologies Corp. USA11 Oct 2005Production of engines for ICBMs in the U.S. Air Force.[17]N/A [nb 2]
Universal Corp VA USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]3m
Vector Group Ltd. USA19 Jan 2010Production of tobacco.[11]2.1m
Vedanta Resources Plc UK28 Aug 2007Environmental and human rights abuses.[32]12m
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. USA28 Mar 2006Breach of human rights and labour rights.[23]372m