Amazing Mosquitoes

I love mosquitoes. Yes, you read that right. Mosquitoes have always fascinated me, from the time I was a kid. I mean, every person on Earth wants to drive mosquitoes to extinction. But mosquitoes aren’t just still around — they’re prospering. How do they do it?

I’ve done various experiments in my own yard. I’ve come up with many theories, unscientific as they might be, and I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two from my studies.

For starters, a mosquito missing two of it’s six legs can function just as well as mosquito with all of them. How do I know this? From counting the legs of mosquitoes who bit me, and by carefully tearing the legs off the mosquitoes with all six. Losing a limb doesn’t even slow them down.

The lesson? Go for the wings, not the legs. Or just squash the insect — that works too.

Mosquitoes evolve fast, much faster than humans. A subspecies of mosquito has been discovered in the New York subways — it lives in the subway tunnels and only in the subway tunnels. A new subspecies — that’s huge.

I think I may have discovered a new subspecies myself — though, not being a scientist, I may be wrong. See, theres a forest near my house. I often go for walks there. There are no paved paths, and it’s not unusual to run into a herd of deer, or an angry moose. The shadiest part of the forest is close to a pond.

Mosquitoes love shady areas. They also love ponds. But one of the mosquitoes there wasn’t like the ones I usually saw — it was huge, by mosquito standards, and incredibly slow — a blow any other mosquito could’ve dodged squashed this dude flat.

It was later that I noticed the swelling on my ankle. What looked — and felt — like a giant mosquito bite, two inches square. I’d never had an insect bite that bad before. I thought of the mosquito I had squashed in the forest. Was it possible another one, just as big, had caused this bite.

It took several days for the swelling to go down. I soon figured out that the giant mosquitoes could only be found in the forest, the place where I’d been walking when I got the bite. Could it be that one of these giant mosquitoes was responsible for the swelling on my ankle?

To test the theory, I let one of the giant mosquitoes bite me. Not a long bite — the mosquito only got a few seconds before it was interrupted. The bite did swell up, and it was unusually large, but no where near the size of the one on my ankle.

What if the amount of time was a factor? A bite that only took several seconds might swell up less than a bite that took an entire minute.

I came up with a plan to find out. I went back to the forest, and waited for a giant mosquito to land. I didn’t squash it, even though it would have been easy. I let it take what I call a ‘full bite’ — as in, when the mosquito finally flew off, it was because it was full of blood, not because it was disturbed.

I’d let the normal mosquitoes give me full bites before. They’d been slightly larger than normal, and slightly itchier as well, so I knew the length of the bite had something to do with it.

The giant mosquito’s bite grew. Within a few hours, it was the size of the largest normal mosquito bites. By the next day, it was two inches square, itchy and raw. Like the first bite, it lasted for several days. I came to two occlusions from this experiment: 1), the giant mosquitoes were responsible for the giant bites and 2) I was never doing another experiment this stupid again — not with the half week of itchiness that followed.

By this time, I was certain that the giant mosquitoes were a separate sub-species. So, being very scientific, I decided to give them a proper sub-species name: ‘beaters’. If I ever discovered another sub-species, I’d call them either ‘chasers’ or ‘keepers’. What can I say? I love Harry Potter.

I have several theories about beaters that I am currently unable to prove.

For starters, their size. It slowed the beaters down, to the point they couldn’t dodge a human. They were easy to spot and squash. How could any species survive like that?

Well, what if it was the forest — or, more specifically, the animals that lived there? Not many humans went to that part of the forest.

But there were deer and moose — I often found their prints along the path. It would make sense if these were the beater’s prey. Deer and moose can’t easily slap a mosquito that lands on them.

Maybe a bigger proboscis helped beaters get through the animals fur? Did it help them carry blood? Or was it just that, with deer and moose as their main victims, there was no reason for the beaters not to be big?

Mosquitoes are horrible. They’re also amazing. The next time I see one, I’m killing it.

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the Horror of Imprisoned Children

Over two thousand children have been taken from their families and imprisoned. If by chance you don’t know what I’m talking about, then let me explain.

The Trump administration has announced a ‘no tolerance’ policy towards illegal immigrants. Anyone caught, or suspected, of illegally crossing the border will be treated as a criminal and arrested, and thrown in jail. Children, who came across with their parents, are separated from them.

No, let me rephrase that. I’ve read dozens of reports and articles and ‘separated’ is too kind a word. Children have been torn from there parents arms screaming — in one case, a mother begged to have a few extra minutes to calm her hysterical child. She was denied.

In some cases, officials tell parents that they’re taking their children to have a bath. Instead, the children are taken away to a government facility and the parents are tossed in jail, to await their trial, a process that can take months.

And what happens the children then? An image has been circling the news, of little boys, locked behind a wire fence, set up inside a garage-like building with a concrete floor. It looks like a bit like the solitary confinement cell I once saw in Alcatraz.

It seems that the boys are separated from the girls. This likely means that brothers are taken away from their sisters, and vice versa. Although the Trump administration says that the children are being taken care of, a teenage girl claims she was forced to take care of toddler, and she and her ‘inmates’ were responsible for changing the toddlers diapers.

The Trump administration claims that children age five and younger are allowed to stay with their parents. This teenager’s story directly contradicts that claim. And even if it is true, do you really think a six-year-old is better equipped to take care of herself than a five-year-old?

Did you know that long term separation from their parents can traumatize children? Many children have already been kept in the ‘facilities for several months. And when I say traumatize I don’t just mean ‘upset’. I mean ‘has to see a doctor for several years’ type traumatized. Most people who traumatize children in that way are called abusers, predators, or monsters and locked up.

Why don’t these children have the same protection? Aren’t they human?

Some of these children don’t even speak English. If a grown-up decides to hurt one of the children — more than the new policy has already hurt him or her— they have no means of reporting them. Over the years, I’ve learned to recognize potentially abusive situations. And one thing I’ve found is that if there is potential for abuse, someone always rush to fulfill it.

And what has the great Trump done? The usual — no apology, insisting his administrations policy is right, because the Trump administration can’t be wrong, can it? Seriously, has anyone ever heard Trump apologize?

Often politics are grey, with both sides having legitimate points. But this? This is black and white. You do not tear screaming children away from their parents and lock them in cages. There are no excuses.

The thing about situations like this — unless somebody goes out of their way to stop them, they continue, and often grow worse. If locking children in cages becomes normal … I would not want to live in that country. I wouldn’t even want to share a border with that country.

Sometimes, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. And other times, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. Why? Because if the few are left to suffer, or die, the many will lose whatever humanity they may have.

Would anyone want that?

the Arizona Differences

Everyone sees things differently.  Take language, for instance. A person from Scotland will hear Canadian accents differently than someone from America would. A French speaker will hear English differently than a Japanese speaker.

This difference has fascinated me since I was a little kid. What would someone from Hawaii think of the -30C snowstorms here? What would someone from the Dark Ages think of the modern era? Do the Chinesse think Canadians are polite or rude?

You can learn a lot by examining the differences between two points of view. And it can be pretty entertaining. Which is why I decided to write about my recent visit to Phoenix, Arizona, filtered through my Canadian Albertan view.

One of the first things I noticed about Arizona — there were no public washrooms. I may have been to America more than a dozen times by now, but that always catches me by surprise — the fact they have ‘restrooms’ instead of ‘washrooms’. I could give a lecture about why ‘washrooms’ are better than ‘restrooms’, but that’s not really the point of this post.

The second thing I noticed, driving away from the airport, was that there was no grass by the side of the road. Just pale sand and gravel.

There’s a difference between knowing something as a fact and truly understanding it. I knew for fact that this part of Arizona was a desert, but until I saw the complete lack of grass, I didn’t understand it.

There was an area in the resort I stayed at with green grass. I was pretty amazed at the colour — in a place with too little rain to grow grass beside the road, how on earth did they manage to keep the grass so green?

I soon got my answer. The grass was fake. It looked pretty darn real, more real than the fake grass that some golf courses in Canada have. But when you felt it, you could tell — it was stiffer than any green grass should be, and there was zero moisture.

Which was too bad — lying in cool grass is such a wonderful feeling.

The only real grass was in the upperclass part of town, and that grass was barely green at all; it looked like the grass in Alberta does during the dry season.

And then there were the cactuses (I know the forrest term is cacti, but cactuses sounds better), lining the side of the road like trees, resting in dusty garden, sprinkled on the slopes of mountains — hundreds of cactuses. Within one day, I had seen more cactuses then I’d seen in my life.

There were so many varieties — more than half a dozen at least. I even learned the names of three cactus species — golden barrel, giant argentine, and old man cactus.

Some of these cactuses came as high as my knee. Others, as high as my chest. But there were two species — I was unable to learn the name of either — that stood several feet above my head. One, the most common of the two species, towered at least twelve feet.

I never dreamed a cactus could be so big. Cactuses were the best part of Arizona.

Another thing that surprised me — the air in Arizona was drier than Alberta. I woke after the first night with a sore throat and flakier than usual skin. I recognized the symptoms immediately; they were the same symptoms I experienced every time I returned to Alberta from a wetter climate. I call it ‘dryness shock’ — when your body throws a temper tantrum about the sudden lack of moisture in the air.

I’ve never been to a place with air dryer than the air at home. I was pretty impressed.

Later, I went to a restaurant that served brilliant food — ever tried almond croissants? Inside the restaurant I noticed a sign, that read ‘no firearms allowed’. Evidence that I was sitting in the middle of America. I know there’s a cultural difference in how Canadians and Americans view guns, but still … how scared do you have to be to take a gun into a restaurant?

There were other things I noticed — fast food restaurants with two types of mustard, foot long churros, no doormat to leave your shoes on — but the things in this post are the differences that stuck out the most.

It often surprises me, the differences you notice about places you’ve never been to, and the way mentioning them can prompt surprise from the people who live there, and have always taken those things for granted. I have to wonder what you, the reader, think of the differences I’ve listed above. Does anything stick out to you? Perhaps the place you live — America, Britian — has changed the way you read this article? I’d love to know.

the Sad Truth About Shakespeare

To most people, ‘Shakespeare’ is the same as ‘algebra’ — a pointless chore forced upon you by your teacher. The very word ‘Shakespeare’ conjures up images of stuffy old professors with doctorates in snobbiness.

But William Shakespeare did not write for stuffy old professors. He did not write to bore people. He wrote for the average person, the sort of person you see on the streets everyday.

Shakespeare was a businessman. He may have been an poet, but he wasn’t a starving one. The real Shakespeare was very different from the one we’ve been taught to imagine. My hope is to convince you of that.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a town of two thousand people. It’s likely Shakespeare started out as an actor, and later advanced to editing the higher up’s plays. No one knows why Shakespeare started writing his own plays. But, in my opinion, his first plays stink. If the name ‘Shakespeare’ wasn’t attached to them they wouldn’t have survived at all.

Most of Shakespeare’s greatest plays — Hamlet, Macbeth — where written later in his career. See, Shakespeare wasn’t an instant genius. Like everyone else, he had to practice, to get good at what he did.

Writing, and performing, plays back then was very different from now. For instance, nowadays plays are a rare treat. A person can go through life only having seen three or five plays. It’s the movie industry that’s really booming. Well, back in Shakespeare’s time, plays were the movies of the day.

Everyone went to see plays, from cobblers to nobles, to Queen Elizabeth herself. Which meant that, for any of Shakespeare’s plays to be successful, they had to appeal to the masses.

There weren’t many snobby professors in the crowds that came. To entertain these people, Shakespeare couldn’t just write tragedies — he had to write comedies as well, things people could laugh at. Heck, even his tragedies have some pretty funny jokes.

Nowadays, Shakespeare is rarely, if ever, associated with laughter. But that is what his job consisted of — making people laugh, and making people cry. He gave people the best time of their life — the exact opposite of what his plays do now.

Early on, Shakespeare wrote a series of plays — Henry IV, part 1; Henry IV, part 2 and Henry V. Most of the characters were historical — even then, people liked the drama of royal lives. But one character, Falstaff — appearing in two of the plays, mentioned in the third — wasn’t based on a real character. Yet Falstaff became unexpectedly popular.

So, as we often do now when side characters become popular, Shakespeare wrote a spin-off play, called the Merry Wives of Windsor. And, like spin-offs today, the play stank. Critics claim it completely ruined Falstaff’s character. But, Shakespeare did make money, which he could then spend while writing better plays.

In 1593, when Shakespeare had only a handful of plays to his name, the plague came to London. Believing the plague spread best in crowds, authorities closed every theatre in the city. Shakespeare and his company, the Earl of Pembroke’s Men, were forced to leave London. Play’s performed in the country earned much less money — a problem, if that was all one had to support oneself.

So what did Shakespeare do? Did he lock himself in a dark room and bemoan the fate that was suppressing his genius? Did he stay up late, writing plays that barely gave him enough to live on? No — Shakespeare used one of the oldest business tricks in the book — he switched products. Instead of making his living off writing plays, Shakespeare decided to write poetry.

The poems Shakespeare wrote — Venus and Adonis, for example — did more to cement his reputation as a skilled writer than any of his plays so far had. Poetry was a big thing in Elizabethan England, especially for nobles, the people with the most money.

Shakespeare kept writing poetry, even after the plague ended, and Pembroke’s men were able to return to London. He’d probably come to enjoy writing poetry by then, but I think the main reason he continued was because he’d learned a valuable lesson — it was always best to have two sources of income. That way, if one dried up, he could simply switch to the other.

So Shakespeare continued to write poetry and plays, advancing higher and higher, until he worked for King James himself. The play Macbeth was specifically tailored to please King James — the character Banquo was believed to be one of King James’s ancestors.

Shakespeare had tamed his muse, and turned it into a money making business, a.k.a., entertainment.

So how did these plays, written to be enjoyed, became objects of boredom? How did Shakespeare become another word for dull?

A large part may be the language. Shakespeare did not speak, or write, the same language we do today. When most people try and read his plays they wind up with a headache, unable to understand a single word on the page. I have the rare gift of being able to read Shakespearean language, but even I get headaches.

There are two solutions to the problem: 1) translate Shakespeare’s plays into language that modern folk can understand, and 2) actually watch one of the plays. We may no longer be able to read Shakespearean English, but we can easily understand it when spoken. Shakespeare didn’t write his plays to be read like books in the first place. He wrote them to be acted.

Take the famous ‘to be or not to be’ speech. Until I heard Benedict Cumberbatch say those lines while tying a noose around his neck, I had only the faintest idea about what it meant. But afterwards … ‘to be or not to be’ has become one of my favourite lines.

Shakespeare was an entertainer — it’s what earned him his bread and butter. His plays were meant to be enjoyed, and still can be. And as for those stuffy old professors, well, as Shakespeare famously wrote — “Titania wak’d, and straightway lov’d an ass’. Ponder on that statement for a while.

Sources

Shakespeare, a Very Peculiar History

Shakespeare: the Legacy

Shakespeare, Britannica

the Castaway of Nikumaroro

When I was a kid, I was obsessed by castaway stories. From Gordan Korman’s Island series to Lord of the Flies — if it involved someone trapped on an island, I would read it. Eventually I outgrew my obsession, but I still remained fascinated by survival stories.

So when I saw a story about castaways on Nikumaroro island, there was no way I could let it pass. And thus began my fascination with what I call the ‘Earhart Island’ case.

To put it simply, many people believe Amelia Earhart, the famous pilot, did not die after crashing her plane into the ocean, but instead found herself stranded on Nikumaroro. There she survived for a number of weeks before dying — just a few months before a ship arrived.

I like to think of myself as scientific. I shake my head at most Bigfoot evidence, and refuse to believe a plesiosaur lives in the Loch Ness. Earhart the castaway would make a brilliant story. But is it true?

But first things first — could anyone have survived on Nikumaroro? This is an island with no fresh water, only 7.5 kilometres long, and 2.5 kilometres wide. There was an attempt at settling the island, but it was abandoned, simply because Nikumaroro’s harsh environment made the settlement too expensive to maintain — they had to import everything, including water.

But there are ways someone could have survived. Maybe not longterm, but for weeks, even months? I think so.

For instance, Nikumaroro is covered in buka trees. The hollows of these trees collect rainwater — some enough to fill a bottle with. It’s not very clean water, which may be why a bottle, burnt on the bottom end, has been found there on the island. It looks like someone, without access to a pot or pan, was boiling water.

The bottle could be from the brief settlement period, except those colonists had access to metal pans. They would not have stuck a bottle in the fire.

If someone has water, they can survive for weeks, even without food. Weeks would be long enough to create most of the evidence.

Food would be the next problem. The biggest animal found on Nikamaroro is the coconut crab, and that’s ignoring the the numerous fish found in the Nikumaroro’s reef. The broken-off blade a pocket knife was found there. Some guess that the blade was used as part a fishing spear. It’s unknown if the makers ever caught anything.

But was there ever a castaway on Nikumaroro? After all, items are one thing. They could have come from the later settlement — although most of the artifacts were found on the other side of the island.

But one thing can’t be explained away by the settlers. When the settlement was first being built, a human skull was unearthed. Someone had died on the island, and since no humans had ever lived there before, there really was only one option. These had to be the remains of a castaway.

Some months after the skull was found, more bones were discovered in the same area. All of them were human. A report was written up, and the bones were shipped to Fiji for further investigation.

What happened to the bones next is unknown. They were lost somewhere along the line of officials and investigators, and if it weren’t for the report there would be next to no proof they existed. Again, these human remains prove that there was someone stranded on the island. So if it wasn’t Amelia Earhart, then who?

As Sherlock once said, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. If no other person but Earhart could’ve been our castaway, then it must be her.

Unfortunately for the Earhart theory, there is another option. In 1928, the SS Norwich City sank near Nikumaroro. Eleven people died, but twenty-four others made it to shore, where they were rescued a few days later.

Could the skeleton belong to one of these shipwrecked men? Perhaps the remains of a drowned comrade who washed up on shore, and was buried there? 1927 isn’t that far from 1937, the year Earhart’s plane went missing. It could be that some of the evidence came from these shipwrecked men.

The bones are the best evidence out there. The report has been studied by many different experts over the years. Gerald Gallagher, the man who discovered the bones, believed they were they belonged to a woman, and though there was a chance they could be those of Earhart.

A review in 2015 came to the conclusion that they were the bones of a middle-aged man.

Recently Richard Jantz re-examined the report, and concluded that the bones were definitely those of Amelia Earhart.

I’m skeptical of these studies, especially the most recent one. How much can you really learn from a report written more than half a century ago? I don’t know Jantz. If he was already attached to the the Nikumaroro theory this could have influenced his results.

At this stage, I think there’s only one option for continuing the investigation — find someone impartial, who doesn’t believe Earhart died on Nikumaroro and isn’t attached to another theory about her fate, and have them review the report. It’s a common human flaw to twist the facts the way we want them and not the way they are.

There isn’t much to go on. An impartial review may be the closest we can get to real answers, at least for now. Unless the actual bones are found, it may be the closest we can get to an answer.

What do you think? Is the evidence enough for you? Do you believe Amelia Earhart was stranded on Nikumaroro? Or is just wishful thinking, an inbuilt desire for a good story?

Sources

Amelia Earhart and Coconut Crabs

TIGHAR, New Evidence in Earhart Story

Amelia Earhart May Have Survived as Castaway

Vikings: the Children of Erik the Red

Erik the Red is one most famous Vikings that ever existed. He set up the first permanent colony on Greenland, and his son, Leif Erikson, may have been the first European to set foot in Canada.

Researching Erik the Red was a crazy bunch of fun. He got himself exiled from Iceland for killing someone, moved to the island of Öxney, and got exiled from there for the same reason. He gave the land he wanted to colonize the name ‘Greenland’ to attract settlers, even though it was more of a ‘Winter-cold-land’.

But for me, researching Erik the Red wasn’t half as entertaining as learning about the man’s family: Leif, Thorvald, Thorstein, and his daughter, Freydis. I thought I would share what I learned, since learning it was so very fun.

Leif Eriksson

Erik the Red’s second, and most well known son was named Leif Eriksson. Most know him as the Viking who discovered Canada. Not much is known about Leif’s childhood, but it’s likely he grew up in Iceland.

As an adult, Leif converted to Christianity, and set about spreading the good news to others. Many people, including his Erik the Red’s wife, converted.

However, Erik the Red himself was not amused. He refused to give up on the Norse gods, and became estranged with with his son: a story that often happens today.

How Leif first learned of a land west of Greenland is unclear — the sagas each claim different things. One claims that Leif talked to a trader named Bjarni Herjólfsson, who had glimpsed an unfamiliar shore when his ship was blown of course. The saga also claims that the reason Leif decided to travel to this mysterious land was to convert the people who lived there.

What is clear is that Leif set sail from Greenland with a crew of 35 men. We all know what he found — the land we now call Canada. Most credits Leif Eriksson with being the first Europen ever to set foot in Canada. I have several reasons to dispute this claim.

First, Leif’s said to have rescued two shipwrecked sailors he encountered in this strange land. If this is true, the credit goes to them. Secondly, Leif , like most captains, set sail with a crew. Unless Leif called dibs on the shore, it’s likely one of the crew was actually the first to set foot in Canada. Sadly, none of these brave crew members had their name recorded. Only Leif Eriksson’s name survived through the ages, unfair as it might seem.

Thorvald and Thorstein Eriksson

Vikings had a habit of of naming their boy Thor-something. In Erik the Red’s case, two of his sons had names that started this way — Thorvald and Thorstein. I have no clue how Erik kept the names straight — maybe he just used nicknames?

For the sake of clarity, Thorvald and Thorstein will, in this post, be called Valdie and Thorsty. Much easier to tell the difference that way.

Valdie, though nowhere near as well known as Leif, did manage to set a record. He was the very first European to die in the New World.

What happened? Well, Valdie thought it would be a good idea to pick a fight with the natives, or ‘skrælings’ as the Vikings called them, and received an arrow in the armpit.
The Vikings didn’t have enough room on their ship to carry his corpse back to Greenland, so they left him there.

When Thorsty found out his brother was dead, he immediately set out to retrieve Valdie’s body. He didn’t make it far. A storm forced Thorsty to return to Greenland, where he died two months afterward.

Freydis Eriksdöttir

Freydis is the second most famous of Erik the Red’s children, and not just because she was a woman. Both the saga of Erik the Red and the Greenlanders saga mention her. By both accounts, she was not someone you wanted to mess with, or have as your neighbour.

Freydis traveled to Vinland (most likely Newfoundland) after her brother, Leif’s, expedition. According to the saga, she traveled with two merchant brothers, Helgi and Finnbog, but, somewhere along the line, they had a falling out.

When they reached Vinland, Helgi and Finnbogi set up their own settlement, separate from the one Freydis and her people built. One day, Freydis payed their settlement a visit. Helgi and Finnbogi told her they were upset about the ill-feeling that had grown between them.

Freydis agreed that she, too, was upset about their falling out. She, Helgi and Finnbogi started talking, trying to find a way they could once again be friends. Finally, Freydis made her way back to her own settlement. On the way, she stopped, tore her clothes, and made it look like she’d been beaten up.

When Freydis arrived at her settlement, her husband asked what had happened — her clothes were ripped, and something must have given her those bruises.

What was Freydis’s reply? She said Helgi and Finnbogi had attacked and beaten her. Then she called her husband a coward and threaten to divorce him unless he killed Helgi and Finnbogi.

Overwhelmed, her husband agreed.

What followed can’t have been much of a fight. After all, Helgi and Finnbogi believed they were on the way to making amends with Freydis and her people. They weren’t expecting an attack.

Soon, Helgi, Finnbog, and all the men they’d brought with them were dead. However, Freydis’s husband was a decent human being, and refused to kill the women they’d captured.

Freydis was not happy to hear this. So she picked up an axe and murdered every single one of them. Like I said, you wouldn’t want Freydis as your neighbour. Or even in the same country as you.

Later, when Freydis returned to Greenland she told her brother, Leif, that Helgi and Finnbogi had decided to stay in Vinland. But someone blabbed, and Leif learned what had really happened to Helgi and Finnbogi. He was horrified, but, despite Freydis’s crimes, couldn’t bring himself to harm his own sister.

The saga of Erik the Red makes no mention off these events. It does however, contain a second story about Freydis, even more shocking than the first.

Apparently the Vikings in Vinland got into a fight with the natives, or skrælings, in that area. It wasn’t going well. The Vikings were getting their butts kicked, and Freydis, watching the battle, decided she’d had enough.

So Freydis, eight months pregnant at the time, marched onto the battle field, yanked one of her breasts out of her dress, then walloped it with the flat of her sword.

Apparently, the sight was so terrifying that the skrælings fled in terror. And so the battle was won, thanks to pregnant Freydis and her breast. Which is somewhere between disgusting and awesome.

In Closing

Again, researching the family of Erik the Red, especially Freydis, was a load of fun. I hope that you had as much fun reading this article, as I did writing it. Thank you, and good day/night.

Sources

Britannica, Leif the Lucky

Leif Erikson, Viking Explorer

History: Leif Erikson

Thorvald and Thorstien

Erik the Red’s Daughter

Freydis, Naked History

Colten Boushie: Igniting the Storm

I first read the name ‘Colten Boushie’ during my daily news check. According to the article I’d clicked on, Colton Boushie, a Cree man, was shot in the head by a white man during a fight. Last month the white man, Gerald Stanley, was found innocent of second degree murder by what some claim was an all-white jury.

Apparently there had been protests.

When I find an article that captures my attention, I tend to do an internet search, and see what else I can learn about the subject. So what did I find when I typed ‘Colten Boushie’ into the internet?

Images of protesters, holding cardboard signs with slogans like ‘Murdered on Stolen Land’ and ‘Indigenous Lives Matter’. Interviews with Colten Boushie’s family. And a growing sense that this — the protest over Stanley’s release — was just the tip of the iceberg. That Colten Boushie’s death was only part of a storm that had been building for a long, long time.

As I researched more, digging deeper into the data files, I found things that horrified me. Did you know that in Canada, indigenous woman are 4 times more likely to disappear/be murdered than other Canadian woman? And 1.5 times more likely to be killed by strangers?

Did you know that in Thunder Bay, a city in northern Ontario, a white man threw a crowbar at an indigenous woman’s head, in full view of police, and no attempt was made to arrest him? And worse — in Thunder Bay this is a normal occurrence. There, indigenous women get things thrown at them all the time, and the police never do anything.

Did you know that woman regularly turn up dead in Manitoba’s Red River? And that the one thing they all have in common is their indigenous heritage? Dozens of murders, but only a few men have been charged. I have yet to hear of any convictions.

This is the storm that’s been building. This isn’t just about Colten Boushie. It’s about decades of injustice.

Is this really Canada? The country I call home?

Things have to change. Surely everyone in Canada agrees on that. The thing about change? It never comes without resistance. If we want a fair country, where race alone doesn’t decide whether or not you’re worthy of justice, we are going to have to stand up and face down the ugliness.

Right now, this post is the only thing I can do to change things. I don’t have much advice to give. Just this — keep on eye out for racist bigots who need a moose-stomping.

If we can agree that things have to change, then there’s hope. And hope is something worth fighting for.