The Week That Was . . .

My thoughts and prayers go out to the folks that live or used to live in Fort McMurray. What a terrible tragedy for the people there. It does go to show how fragile life is or can be and how we need to be sure what we are spending our energy on really matters.


The headlines read: “Conference Board gives Canada a failing grade when it comes to managing the environment”. I understand that it is easy to bash a former government no matter who was in power. In this case it happens to have been the Conservatives. It is no secret that they had a hard time balancing the good of the economy and the good of the people who live here. Unfortunately they chose the economy. As a result Canada ranks (14th) near the bottom of the pack of 16 peer countries when all are tested regarding fresh water management, air pollution and climate change as part of the research done to determine if we are getting better or worse at being responsible stewards regarding Mother Earth. We have reached a place where time is now a serious factor when considerng the health of our citizens and our children. I must say that I am not comforted by the fact that we rank just ahead of the United states and Australia.

Surprisingly enough Ontario fares pretty well in the scheme of things when it comes to environmental factors–in some categories–about the middle of the pack or a ‘B’ grade. For a more complete report on how our provinces and our country fare compared to others in the world click on the highlighted text (above). As you will see we have a great deal of work to do if we are going to grant our children and grandchildren a healthy and safe environment in which to live.

This Weeks Parenting Tip:

From my perspective the goal of parents should be simple. I’m not saying that the practice of being parents is easy or simple. I’m saying that the goal of parenting is simple. We need to teach them and model for them the basics of how to be self-sufficient, self-confident, honest, responsible and respectful. They will get the rest on their own as they grow up. Many parents try much too hard to protect their kids from the world and from themselves. By doing so they take away their childrens’ right to learn by their own mistakes. This is not to say that we allow them to participate in high risk activities or try to handle situations that they are clearly unable to master as yet. But to learn some of these basic lessons they are going to have to scrape some skin off their knees and come home with a bloody nose sometimes.

However, ‘hovering’ parents need to buy into the idea that the more they micromanage their kids daily lives, try to protect them against every threat, limit their high risk activities and steer them from potential risk the more they hinder their chances of growing up to be well adjusted, adventuresome and independent teens and eventually adults.

Here are some suggestions for parents to consider in order to stop being helicopter parents:

1. Stay out of sight more often. If your child can’t see you he/she is more apt to feel they are on their own and therefore more able to decide for themselves what happens next. You can still monitor high risk activities but don’t be seen ‘spying ‘ on your child to make sure he/she is OK or doing ‘it’ right

2. Ask others who care for your child-teachers or care givers what your child does for himself/herself when you are not around. Does he get himself/herself ready to go outside to play or does he/she organize their own recreational activities without whining or trying to get someone else to do things they should be able to manage on their own. Then be sure that they do the same things at home when you are around.

3. Play with them and teach them basic skills like throwing a ball or playing on recreational or sporting equipment and how to be safe when playing with other kids. Encourage them to use safety equipment and explain why.

4. Set aside some time during the day when you are not available to them. If your child is at home and he/she yells for you to come, unless there is a crisis of some kind, say that you are busy and can’t come there right now. It forces the kids to sort out for themselves what you would have done for them.

5. Take the time to teach your kids how to dress themselves, tie shoes, fix their own breakfast cereal, make a sandwich or comb their hair and brush their teeth.  You are teaching them how to be strong and independent human beings and if you do this right you won’t have to worry about what they are doing when you are not looking.

These are a few of the things that helicopter parents need to begin to do as soon as the child is age ready. It will be a great deal less stressful for the parents and the kids won’t be near as ‘needy’, dependent and helpless therefore being more self sufficient and self confident.

Video Of The Week:

When I watched this video I was just amazed at how fast we have moved into the world of electronics and how much faster we will go in the next year. Where does it end? Doesn’t there have to be an end to it? Apparently not. It is one of the reasons that I continue to say that it is so vitally important that we change the way we educate our children and why the current style of teaching just isn’t efficient anymore. But you judge for yourself.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. Please pass this newsletter on to friends and family. To connect with me please email me at  OR

Drones, Drones–Everywhere Drones . . .

Yes! This is truly a picture of a drone. It is a real machine created to look like and act like an insect. As a matter of fact there could be one looking at you right now while you read this article, or while you read a favourite book outside hanging in your hammock on a beautiful summer day. You may be just hanging around outside on your patio or BBQing a nice steak or a juicy burger. You could lying in the privacy of your back yard or a rooftop perch au naturel believing that you have complete privacy to enjoy the warmth of the sun in the buff while the reality is 20,000 people could be watching unbeknownst to you.  You could be doing ANYTHING inside or outside your home and not be aware of who is watching you or why they are watching you. However, even more concerning, I suppose, is why would anyone want to make something this small and hidden this well unless they had some ulterior motive for it’s use?  Really creepy isn’t it?  You may have swatted one out of the air not knowing that it was a fairly expensive piece of equipment dressed up to look like an ‘insect’. Maybe it’s the neighbours kid or the neighbour himself/herself that has wired up a reality cam to the drone and is flying it all round the ‘hood’ watching everything that others might be doing-just for the fun of it. Hell, you could end up on the 6:00 news as a human interest story or a favourite U-tube clip.

As with all really great innovations, creations and discoveries that we have come up with and despite all of the claimed benefits to mankind the ‘dark’ side always seems to get hold of it and turn it into something ugly-something that has the potential to kill other people, maim them in some way or threaten to destroy them if they don’t comply to whatever we are asking for. Such was the case when the atom was found to be a powerful generator of energy when we learned how to split it. The benefits were endless it was thought. Then we learned how to hurt others with the technology and how to kill tens of thousands at one time. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not advocating for the end of drones but we have already learned how to kill others with drones and how to use drones for purposes other than recreation. It is being touted as a great tool in war because we can now destroy things or kill others without risking any of our brave soldiers in the process. It certainly lessens the incentive to not go to war in the first place though-doesn’t it?  We can now use them to assassinate foreign dignitaries–how would you stop covert operations like destroying or hitting a palace in some middle eastern country or destroying significant infrastructure like a power plant, hospitals, universities and the list goes on. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to make one of these things or to navigate it. Attaching the weapons of war is a short leap after that apparently.

I can see and understand some of the benefits of having this technology. We could  surveil pipelines, border crossings and unguarded boundaries. We could use them to create beautiful films, advertising products and places, use to hunt for folks lost in forests or desolate territory, monitor our highways and rail road tracks and so on. There are a multitude of public uses that would save many lives and prohibit serious natural disasters. We could x-ray bridges and dams for faults and outfit them to detect bombs and other instruments that could otherwise harm innocent people. I’m for all of this.

The issue now, however, is drones are already out there and the agencies that use them have already been given the go ahead to use them as they see fit. The military wasted no time in making sure they were at the head of the line for first dibs. But it is not too late for governing bodies to stipulate exactly what the public can and cannot use them for. There has to be some guidelines for public use otherwise any semblance of privacy that we still have left-and there isn’t much any more-will disappear right along side of the dodo bird. What started out as a toy for junior to occupy his time has turned into something that threatens our safety and security. I know this was not the intent but it is the reality. It is the place of government to regulate this ‘toy’ and they should do it much sooner rather than later. The same situation exists with lasers. Just ask airplane pilots that fly in and out of any major airport. Most will tell you that ground based lasers are becoming an extreme hazard for pilots because they can temporarily blind them while ‘behind the wheel’. Imagine a laser mounted on a drone. I suppose the alternative would be to wait for the first accident to happen and then acknowledge a problem exists and that something needs to be done. Does that mean that the hundred or two hundred people killed or injured on the plane are or were collateral damage?

Anyways, that’s how I see it, Jim

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Author Jim Cloughley's 
Brand New Blueprint For Learning