27 November, 2004

You're married, not dead...

She Ain't Pretty, She Just Looks That Way....
--The Northern Pikes


I've probably heard it, or a variant of it, fifty times since I exchanged vows with my wife. And it's yet another in a seemingly neverending series of things that I'll never quite understand.
It's spoken in a tone of patient exasperation mixed with incredulous wonder: the kind of tone you'd expect to hear directed at a moronic extraterrestrial. You'd think I'd be used to that tone by now. Unfortunately, it's another in a seemingly neverending series of things I'll never get used to.
There are an awful lot of men in this world who get a rise, figurative and literal, out of looking at pretty women. Which is all well and good and to be expected, I suppose. But they always have to spread the cheer. "Would you look at that?" "Check out the tits on her!" "Whew, don't you want to take her home and give her a tour of the ceiling?"
Well, I didn't see her, wasn't looking for her, and certainly have no interest in bedding her.
Here it comes, all together now: "YOU'RE MARRIED, NOT DEAD!"
I used to have an urge to lay it at the feet of my absentmindedness. Sorry, Alpha Male, I'm just generally fogbound; my inattentiveness shouldn't count against my masculinity. Please, forgive me. Let's go drink beer and then shoot the cans, okay?
I am occasionally a tad...um, dazed. I can't deny that. But it's been a long time since I've failed to notice something in my environment that was really of concern. About four years, actually: the last time was...well, I had just used a doubled-over tea towel as an oven glove. A pleasant odor came into the room right about then, one of those childhood odors you associate with...
"Hmm, it smells like a campfire in here", I said, not noticing the flaming tea towel I was holding at my side. Hey, it was well beyond the arc of my peripheral vision, okay?
Yeah. That incident reformed me a little...I made a mental note to myself: Ken, I said, you must remember that kitchens are places where, on occasion, dangerous things can happen. You might want to, I don't know, rachet up the attention a few notches.
A strange woman walking past me, pretty or not, isn't something my brain will likely classify as a potential threat. So I'm unlikely to notice her on that account.
What other reasons do I have for deeming something or someone worthy of notice? Quite frankly, very few. Unless our hypothetical sexpot actually speaks to me, I'll probably fade her into the background, where, ostensibly, she belongs. She's intent on her own business, I'm intent on mine.. Within ten seconds--if not sooner--she'll have disappeared from sight and memory entirely.
I've had people question my sexuality because of this. I have several things to say to such people: one, my wife has never had reason to think I am gay; two, neither have any of my prior girlfriends; three, neither have I. I don't notice men any more than I notice women.
To allay your silly fears, yes, I have tested myself. I read in some study somewhere that the human brain can gauge attractiveness very, very quickly: in a matter of several hundredths of a second. And it's true. If I choose to, I can look at a woman and come to an instant judgement of her appearance. And some of them are, not to put to fine a point on it, but, whew, nice looking.
So what?
I've met some very attractive women who knew how very attractive they were, and talked of little else. Instant turn-off. I've met other attractive women who were--sorry, ladies--right bitches. Instant turn-off. And I've met quite a number of really attractive women who were, ahem, also really stupid...either immature stupid or just plain dumb as dirt stupid. Again, instant turn-off. Nothing against the stupid...they're just not for me.
Those three (snottiness, bitchiness, stupidity) blot out any superficial lusty thoughts utterly and completely. There are other turn-offs, not as total, but still likely to strangle attraction fairly quickly. Rampant materialism. A lack of empathy. No sense of humour. The phrase "born again". A cigarette. (The only flaw in Eva's ointment, until she successfully quit the habit.)
Still, a man can look, can't he?
Sure, why not. It won't tell you much, though. Ever heard the old saw about judging a book by its cover?

Since I got married, I've actually felt an attraction to two women. I work with both of them. One of them is even conventionally pretty, which is to say that several other guys hover around her like flies. I have a decade on her, so I guess she's the Pretty Young Thing everybody warns against.
The other woman has a decade on me, and what a shock it was to find that out. She's quite different from her younger counterpart, but the three things they share are an easygoing nature, an infectious laugh, and a few smarts.

The thing those three things have in common is: they can't be assumed from looks alone.

One of the best things about marriage, for me, is that I am finally secure enough in a relationship to admit casual attractions. There was a time I thought them signs of deficiency in my relaitionship...later,. I came to regard them as nuisances. And now I see aspects of Eva in all the best qualities of anyone pretty, intelligent, and compassionate enough to gain my attention. (Awww, mush.)

The difference between me and other men, married or no, seems to be that I don't actively seek lust out. And why should I? I AM married and I've never felt so gloriously alive.

22 November, 2004

Pssst...wanna hear some secrets?

The price of gas is sitting at 68.5 cents a litre here today.
And you'd think it was free, the way people are lining up to get it.
Now, granted, I haven't seen gas at this price for a couple of years at least. And I also know--as does everyone else, apparently--that tomorrow's price is very likely to be ten cents a litre higher. It always goes up Monday night here; it's axiomatic.
But as usual, I don't get it.
Okay, let's do the math together. The average fill-up (I know this from my days working at a gas station) is about 30 liters. That means a $3.00 saving if you fill up tonight versus tomorrow. But you've got to wait fifteen minutes to fill up if you do it tonight.
How much is your time worth? Mine's worth a lot more that $12.00 an hour.
(Caveat: if you have an SUV sitting on dead-nuts empty, you can put in 120 liters and save yourself $12.00. Then again, if you're driving an SUV around the Greater Toronto Area, and you bought it, and it's yours, then buddy, you should be paying twice as much to fill it up. Call it an ozone tax, or something.)

I see this kind of thing play out over and over each and every day around the grocery store, sometimes over amounts less than five cents. 'Why is this three cents cheaper at Food Basics?" Mental Sarcastic Bastard says: did you want me to call Food Basics and find out? Or would you prefer to spend half an hour driving there?
Another thing I have yet to understand, after almost four years in the grocery business, is why it is that I can sell a year's worth (literally) of chocolate milk when it's on sale at $.97 a litre. The regular price is $1.87 and I sell maybe 50 a week. Put it on sale and it'll sell at a rate, I kid you not, of 50 every half hour.
You know something? No matter how cheap an item is, it's not a deal if you don't regularly buy it. This logic is lost on people.

Here's another example. One flyer not all that long ago featured a certain brand of pizza...we'll call it Cardboard, at $3.00. Regular price: $3.97. Less than a dollar off. People were trying to buy twenty at a time and I'm quite certain many of those people were not regular Cardboard eaters. I found proof of this two ways: by observing the reaction when I told people, 'you know, this pizza is only $3.97 year round' ("Really? Wow, that's cheap! I never knew that!") and by observing that my sales of Cardboard have dwindled almost to nothing in the three months since. You buy cheap, you get cheap.

Stores are not above putting items in their flyers at regular price. Sales of these items double when they're 'on sale'. Even more astounding, the odd item may actually be more expensive in the flyer than its everyday shelf price. There's no law against it. And if you make that more expensive price an even number, like, say, $1.00, and you put a bunch of other things in your flyer for $1.00, just watch the fun. You'll sell up to six times the amount you would if the item was a penny cheaper.
There are obviously two kinds of customers: those who notice every last penny (and quibble over it) and a great many more who really don't seem to pay any attention to prices at all.

People ask me why the milk is always as far from the door as possible. It's because over 80% of customers walking into a grocery store will buy milk. You want them to walk as far as possible, seeing as many attractive displays as possible, before they get to their milk; you'll almost never find the bread anywhere near the milk, for the same reason.

The produce department is usually the first thing you see walking through the front door. Why? Two reasons: one, it's nice and colourful, and two, supermarkets actually make money on their produce (unlike, say, most of the grocery department...you barely break even on canned goods and you actually lose money on most dairy items.)

Items a store is trying to push, on sale or not, are often put on endcaps: those big displays at the ends of aisles. People are much more likely to notice a large display and once a customer is actually in an aisle, a kind of tunnel vision takes over as she searches for her product without really looking at anything else. That's the same reason why shelves are routinely scrambled. It's not to piss you off...it's to get you noticing (and maybe buying!) things you never noticed before.

Another place to look for deals is in bunkers, those long open chest fridges or freezers.They used to be called 'coffins', but you don't hear that term much any more...Anyway, if the item you're looking for isn't on the shelf, odds are that's because the shelf only holds one case and we're selling a case every ten minutes or so. Quite frankly, it makes no sense to assign somebody full time to stock that shelf, when there's a bunker down the way that holds twenty cases.

Something else to remember: the best deals are usually not at eye level.

Any question you have in a grocery store that starts with the word "Why"....the answer is simple: $$$. Companies pay astronomical sums to get their products on to specific shelves, with a certain number of facings mandatory...or, just as often, to get other companies out. If the brand of milk you buy is no longer available where you buy it, there's a very good chance a rival dairy offtered that store's head office more money than you can possibly imagine to make that happen. And, sadly, there's often nothing that can be done at store level. It's been my experience that the higher up mistakes are made, the longer it takes to get them (a) recognized as mistakes and (b) rectified.

I'd better stop now before I give everything away.







19 November, 2004

Welcome to today's Breadbin.

The special for this evening is whole roasted aardvark. Unfortunately, we ran out of forks an hour ago, so patrons will have to eat with their fingers.

A little potpourri for the day, beginning with some questions...

  • WHY is the cursor on the Blog entry screen usually about three spaces to the right of where it should be?
  • WHY do my pants still try to slither down my legs no matter how tightly I cinch my belt? Am I the only human being shaped this way?
  • WHY are so many people not content to live in harmony with whatever their vision of God may be, but instead want to jam their God down my throat so I choke?
  • After all these years and Public Service Announcements, WHY does anyone start smoking?
  • Then again, if smoking is so addictive, how is it that many people only smoke in bars?
  • If stock prices always go up when companies merge, and also go up whenever layoffs are announced, shouldn't one company make everything and employ nobody but machines?
  • Apparantly, 26% of Canadians own more than one cellphone. Why is that?

The National Post truly is a joy to read. Every day there are articles scattered hither and yon that are worth reading, and often the Post reports on stories, many of a scientific nature, that other papers don't touch. I rarely read much of the financial sections, having no finances to worry about, but the front section is a news gourmand's dream.

The paper isn't perfect. My biggest gripe about it is that I often feel like I'm too poor to read it. For instance, their road tests rarely involve anything so bohemian as a Ford or a Honda. Instead they like to road-test Maseratis and Rolls-Royces, ostensibly in hopes that one of the six Canadians destined to buy one this year will want to read up on it first. Likewise, their Homes section really ought to be retitied Mansions or Estates or some such.

Anyway, their TV critic was lamenting what he dubbed "Christmas Creep" the other day, and he hit on one of my biggest peeves. "Christmas Creep" refers to the way December 25th now starts in mid-October and extends until late January.

In my world, it would be illegal to put up Christmas decorations, air Christmas commericals, or play carols any time before the first of December. One month of frenzy is more than enough, thank you. And all decorations would come down the day ofter New Year's. Boxing Day sales would be limited to what they were at first intended to be: clearances of overstocked product.

My Christmas cookies came in three weeks before Hallowe'en. I refused to put them out until last week and even that, I felt, was pushing it. Predictably, I have not sold very many units yet. Our store Christmas tree was erected a week ago. Any time now, I expect to hear the first carol of the season on the radio (please God, not Little Drummer Boy, okay?)

I'm keeping up a determed Bah Humbuggy face from now until 'tis really the season.

And that's about all I feel like writing. Gotta go chow down on some Kraft Dinner. It may be nuclear-reactor orange cheese glop, but I love it.

18 November, 2004

Parrish the thought!

For all the bitterness dividing Paul Martin from his predecessor, Jean Chretien, the two do share some political traits. One is the ability to do the right thing for entirely the wrong reasons. Another is an absolute insistance on party loyalty., meaning, specifically, loyalty to the Leader. Both came into play in l'affaire Parrish.
History will record that maverick Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish was exiled from caucus on this day, after over a year's worth of intermittent sniping at Americans. Here is a woman who has developed an appetite for her own feet. Her bons mots of note: "Damn Americans, I hate those bastards"; those in Iraq were "the coalition of the idiots" ; George Bush is a "stupid, stupid man" and a "warlike" man to boot. History might further record that the last straw came when Parrish, in a taping of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, stomped on a George Bush doll.
History would be wrong.
Paul Martin was all ready to accept Parrish's apology and preserve the unpreservable status quo. After all, the United States is only our largest trading partner; allowing a spokeswoman for your government to mock Americans at every turn can't really hurt, can it?
But after all that Yankee-bashing, Parrish did something really unforgivable: she insulted Dear Leader and professed not to care if the Liberals lost the next election.She called Martin "weak" and said she had no loyalty to him. The biggest surprise was that Paul was surprised.
Parrish has long been a Chretien favourite. Jean didn't just tolerate her anti-American blatherings, he tacitly encouraged them. When Marin announced his caucus, the name 'Carolyn Parrish' stood out like a cockroach on a wedding cake.There were many other sops Martin could have thrown to the Chretienites in his party, and for some reason known only to him, he chose the sop most likely to routinely embarrass the hell out of him

Are the things Parrish alleges of Bush and his country true? Well, many in Canada think so. There's a strange dichotomy in this country as regards our government's willingness to listen to us. If Joe Canuck thinks George Bush is a dunderhead, the Liberals feel free to seize on that and trumpet it to the high heavens. If Joe Canuck thinks the Liberals should maybe--given the $70 BILLION dollars in federal surpluses over the past decade--give him some of his money back, the Liberals shake their heads and say "go blow, Joe, we'll spend your dough instead".
.
In a democracy like ours, Carolyn Parrish has the right to freedom of thought and expression. Likewise, I am free to sink my finger into my behind up to the third knuckle and then suck it like a lollipop. This is not something I have the slightest desire to do; it would leave a disgusting taste in the mouth, much like some of Parrish's ramblings. There's such a thing as tact. There's such a thing as discretion. There's such a thing as diplomacy.

Governments are built on this last, and, it's true, the degree of diplomania can be off-putting. "I am not entirely certain as to the veracity of the esteemed Member's statement" translates into English thusly: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" So in one sense, it's kind of refreshing to hear somebody call it as she sees it. But it's equally refreshing to be doused with cold bull semen on a hot day, as long as your eyes are closed and your brain is totally shut off.

Across the floor, the various leaders of the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance/Conservative Party of Canada have had to deal repeatedly with bigots in their ranks. The Liberals would greet every new slur as an opportunity to tar and feather the whole party. Manning, Day and Harper would proceed to relieve the racist/homophobe of duty, apologize profusely, and state unequivocally that such views were reprehensible and bore no relation to party policy. It was never enough. How telling to see the foot in the other mouth, and the LIberal reponse: "Stop it, Carolyn! Or we'll say 'stop' again!"

Parrish was given every opportunity to recant and join the team. She chose to publicly trounce the team instead. And that's what got her booted out of caucus.

Martin is a tarrier. Every lobbyist's pet cause is "of the most pressing nature". Every situation is an "urgent priority". The current Liberal government is like a spiffy car with a hot rod engine and a dying battery. Cough...sputter...stall. Cough...sputter...stall. Any month now we'll hear the final deathrattle and we'll be back to the dealership, hopefully kicking the tires on a new government.

This Liberal Lemon should be rotting in a dump somewhere. As for Parrish, we haven't heard the last of her. I'm betting a couple more cracks about Martin will get her out of being a Liberal altogether. She'd be right at home under Layton--the NDP are full of people who think Americans are scum. Good riddance.

16 November, 2004

Let's talk about sex...

Okay, now I have to go see this movie, Kinsey.
Dr. Laura is calling for a boycott. So that means this movie is required viewing.
Various right-wing and fundamentalist groups are trying to make Kinsey the next touchstone in the cultural wars.Supposedly this movie is a boon to the 'homosexual movment' (because Kinsey was reputed to be bisexual) and a goldmine for the 'pedophile movement' (because Kinsey dared to ask children about their sexuality). Who knew there was such a thing as a pedophile movement? Sounds like something a bunch of Bush voters dreamed up.
Kinsey, for those who don't know, published a couple of landmark studies in sexuality, one in 1948 concerning men and one in 1953 concerning women. Among his findings: ten percent of men are gay, and half are at least somewhat bisexual; nearly all men masturbate; extramarital affairs were remarkably common. On women, Kinsey noted that a vast majority of those who had acheived orgasm had done so solely through self-pleasuring; women could (gasp!) initiate sexual encounters; they often fantasized about partners other than their husbands (yike!)
These findings didn't just overturn conventional wisdom. At least not according to the Catholic Outreach, Focus On The Family, and other groups of that ilk. No, this so-called 'junk science' was singlehandedly responsible for the destruction of Decent Society, fomenting depravity and perversion of every kind.
Oh, yes, the swinging fifties. Sex was everywhere back then, wasn't it? Such television classics as Gunsmoke, The Jack Benny Show, Philco Fireside Theater, I Love Lucy... those shows were replete with sexual themes. Just look at all those gay characters! All that graphic bonking! Hell, wasn't I Love Lucy the show wherein the word 'pregnant' was first uttered on television? The horrors! Imagine, women being PREGNANT!
Now, over half a century later, we've got Britney, Christina, and the makers of Grand Theft Auto, not one of which could tell you the first thing about Alfred Kinsey. I don't think you can hold Kinsey responsible for the 'depravity' of modern society.
See, the problem with morality is that for most people, it's an all-or-nothing thing. You either have morals, or you don't. There's no such thing as 'different' morality. The reality is, of course, that each generation charts its own moral course: what's immoral to your mother may well be perfectly acceptable to you.
Is sex too evident in society today? Depends. Certainly it's losing its effect to sell merchandise. But despite all the T&A readily visible to anyone with half an eye open, the prevailing attitude towards sex in North America is still rooted in the fifties.
In Berlin--right downtown--there's a park where office workers congregate to eat lunch in the nude. In Amsterdam, prostitution is not only legal, it's recognized as a marital aid. Certainly it has reduced the incidence of rape and other sexual assualt. In Japan, they regard practically any consenting act between any number of adults as perfectly normal. Back here, A little flash of nipple on television is treated like a mortal sin. A nipple. Remember those? Nobody ever thought to shut your eyes when you were a little baby sucking on one.
So I'm going to see this movie, Kinsey, and I urge: go and do thou likewise. Drop me a line and let me know if the movie made you gay, or if you suddenly had the urge to go screw a donkey.

15 November, 2004

So long Dory, we hardly knew ye

Dory, our resident squirrel, hellraiser and B.B.-baiter, is off to a (hopefully) happier home.
God knows this one didn't work out.
Streak was mostly neutral on Dory. She'd hiss and growl only if the kitten approached her wanting to play, but would avoid her the rest of the time. B.B, on the other hand, actively stalked her, no fooling around. At least once a day (or more likely, once a night) we'd be treated to the aural spectacle of two cats having a melee. Imagine, in your mind's ear, a 78 rpm recording of ten kittens being stepped on, played at 33 1/2. That's been our house for the last little while.
At the very first, B.B reacted very badly to the new kitten. After a couple of days, though, you could see her trying to make friends. Unfortunately, she'd made a piss-poor first impression and Dory was having none of it. So B.B. figured 'okay, this cat hates me, I can hate it too'. Cue the yowling hissyfits.
For some reason, it mortally offended B.B. to see Dory using a litterbox. B.B and Streak have shared a box forever; we bought a new one for the kitten, but it made no difference. B.B would try to pounce on Dory while she attended to business, and that didn't go over well, either.
We held out for three weeks, hoping that things would get better. They didn't. So now Dory's off to a new house with a mother and daughter...and no other cats. I think she'll be much happier.
Kind of attached to this cat after only a month...this is why we can't be foster parents. If it's this bad with a kitten after four weeks, how bad would it be when our foster child finds her 'forever family' after four years? We're more the 'forever family' type...

14 November, 2004

Ups and Downs

Last night, we went and visited Eva's friend Lisa, her husband Craig, and their little boy, Jake. They live in uptown Waterloo. If my childhood spent slogging through house after house is any guide, theirs was built around the turn of the last century, and it's positively gorgeous.
I got to revisit my own childhood there. They just got a piano, an upright about the age of the house, fairly similar to one that used to be mine. I played half of a tune on it and realized right quick that I will never own another piano.
The proper term for the instrument is 'pianoforte', meaning 'soft-loud', but really they ought to call the things 'forte-fortes', because--and here's something I forgot--it's damn near impossible to play one quietly...or at least at the volume I normally play my electronic keyboard.
I'm okay with this. Eventually I will get a full size electric piano...with a headphone jack.
Craig dragged out some of his old Hot Wheels to go with Jake's admirable collection and my eyes lit up. I used to have over two hundred toy cars: Matchbox, Majorette, Corgi Juniors, Hot Wheels...I loved them all. I saw ten or fifteen models I used to have myself, including a couple that were among the first I ever owned. Way cool.
This morning we sat down to watch this week's episode of Joan of Arcadia. I've praised this show before and will again, but I may have neglected to mention that it can be a tear-jerker. This episode provoked more tears than anything I've seen since Mask. Talk about draining.
Eva's brother came over today to haul away our back fence, install a bathroom fan and put up the ceiling fan in our bedroom.
I took the back fence down some time ago...it was so rotten that I was able to lift out entire sections. The fan in the bathroom: therein lies a tale.
I like showers. Specifically hot showers. I don't think of them as overly hot, but they must be, because I come out looking like a lobster. (Feel free to wipe that image from your head if you want.)
My showers produce, as one might expect, a fair bit of water vapour. It's to the point where I can peek out through the curtain and see a miniature Maid of the Mist circling the bathroom floor, the pinpoint flashes of hundreds of tiny rain-coated Japanese tourists and their microscopic Minoltas capturing images of the giant lobster. (Oops, there's that image again. Sorry.)
Our smoke detectors are wired directly to the fire department. They are specifically designed not to go off just because somebody is smoking a cigarette or burning toast or taking a hot shower.
I've set mine off. Twice.
When that piercing shreik fills the air, it means I have thirty seconds to leap out of the shower, stumble down thirteen steps, rumble through the living room, pincers jiggling in the breeze (Jesus, Ken, shut up) , elephant down the basement steps and hit the silencing button. Thirty seconds is not a long time.
So the smoke detector got moved further down the hall and I am now under orders to shower with the bathroom door firmly shut and the fan on.
Trouble is, the fan works about as well as your average mesh condom. I think it actually blows more steam in to the room, just to be contrary, you understand.
Voila, a new fan, twice the size of the old one. But installing such a thing means working with electricity, something Eva and I will not do. ZOT! Hence Jim. Thank God there's a Jim in this family.
I'm off to bed soon, unless Eva's best friend Chris calls. She had a baby on October 19th and I don't think she has slept since. Actually, babies are everywhere keeping people I love up. My stepsister and her husband are dealing with colic, oh joy oh bliss. My Dad and stepmother have been helping to look after him, so they're sleepless too.
Seeing Jake last night made me long for our adopted kids. No idea when they're coming. I know Children's Aid is waiting on references to start the homestudy. Sounds like almost all of them are in. Well, I'm not sure if Chris's is done...Knowing her, it probably is, but I'll cut her some slack if it's not. Any three-week old infant sounds as if he's a bit of a handful, to put it mildly.

Night, all.



11 November, 2004

In Slander's Fields

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...
At work today, I was asked to read a short speech over our public address system prior to our two minutes of silence. I did this from the manager's office, which has a window overlooking the store, as well as a TV screen showing camera views from all over. So I was able to observe customers observing the pause in their day. Or not.
Actually, this year, it seemed a higher proportion of people were silent, immobile, respectful. That's not to say the store was as quiet as the grave; far from it. I saw for myself that several people continued to shop and I was told later that several conversed with each other. But all in all, it was better than last year.
Last year I was near a cash register when the two minutes of silence were announced, and the reaction from thosee around me startled and disgusted me. There were loud sighs, and one individual actually berated a cashier for not ringing his order through.We all glared at him, silently, and he suddenly seemed to notice the relative quiet. But he didn't understand: as soon as the (mostly) reverent pause was spent, he started bitching again. One gentleman raced his cart up and down the aisles quit e noisily, covering four or five in two minutes and doubtless quite pleased with himself that he was able to take advantage of rival shoppers' sudden stillness.
Look, if you can't take two minutes of your day--out of your year-- to honor those who served and those who still do, then in my honest opinion you ought to have your citizenship revoked. Whenever I see people who don't respect our fallen, I remind myself that many died for their right to be assholes.
It doesn't help much. Because in Canada under Liberal rule, war is a figment, a trifle. Even though we currently have soldiers deployed all over the world, the official governmental attitude is callous disregard. Witness our disintegrating Sea Kings, a replacement for which is still not decided upon. Or our third-rate flea-market submarines. Or the $100 a month rental increase on soldiers' decrepit dwellings. Or the fact that we have to beg rides from the U.S to deploy our troops.
Little-known facts among the younger generation:
  • Canada had the fourth largest armed forces in the world in 1945
  • Although Confederation came into being in 1867, it is widely agreed Canada was really born at a place called Vimy Ridge, where so many of her sons died...but others prevailed against impossible odds.
  • Canada's elite troops rank with the best in the world.
  • The man who wrote 'In Flanders' Fields'--John McCrae--was from Guelph, Ontario.
  • In the Netherlands, Canadians are particularly revered because we were largely responsible for the liberation of their country.

The liberal media in this country feel that this is a source of embarrassment. They pay poppy service to it in November, but you get the distinct impression their hearts aren't in it. War, after all, is brutal. Whether you talk about mustard gas in the trenches, the searing flash from the Enola Gay, or the booming judgment of an errant Patriot missile, you're giving voice to horror beyond comprehension. In peacetime, in a peaceable country, the terrors of war recede into remembrance. As peace lulls on, they recede further until the faded glimmer of an old service medal is all that's left. And if war goes on...elsewhere, we take comfort in that elsewhere, the more else the better. It allows us to retain our bored sophistication.

Ask the residents of the Ivory Coast how sophisticated they're feeling lately. The Baghdad bourgeoisie are largely dead. War is elemental. Our government, for all its passionate words, lightly regards the wars and the warriors of our past and present, all the more insult when one considers the earnestness and heaviness of the sacrifice.

Remembrance Day...Veteran's Day...Armistice Day...is just that. A day. Showing respect for our veterans is relatively easy, one day a year. Our citizens should demand much more, however: our government must accord those who served and those who still serve the respect they deserve. Year-round. Anything less is slander.

One final note: There has been talk of making November 11th a national holiday. This is a lovely sentiment that's entirely wrongheaded. If we all get the day off, how long before it becomes just another long weekend? I'd say about a year. No, better that we continue the present course: assemblies in schools nationwide extolling the horrors of war and the burden of peace; Taps; two minutes of silence at 11:00 on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

To all those who served Canada, and to all those who serve her now, a heartfelt thank-you.


04 November, 2004

What was that curse again?

Ah, yes, that was it. "May you live in interesting times."

Anyone care to take a few things off my plate?

Let's see. This week we have the dreaded "Loonie and Toonie" sale going at work. (Aside: I hate that word 'toonie'. Stupid made-up word. Why can't we call it a 'doubloon'? It looks like one, and it's a double-loon. Anyway...)

These loonie-toonie ads are crazy. Last Saturday our store was bursting at the seams, setting a record for both customer count and sales volume. Thank heaven for small mercies, at least this time they didn't put every third item in the frozen department on sale. Last time we ran one of these, we had Eggo Waffles for $1 (regular retail: $2.17). If I had filled my walk-in freezer from front to back, wall to wall and floor to ceiling with Eggos, I still would have ran out. But I couldn't do that because Polar Novelties were on sale. So were McCain hashbrowns. So were Swanson Dinners. And frozen struesel cakes. And that says nothing of all the dairy items on sale. I wrote our head office a plea for sanity and they seem to have listened to me. I only have three things on sale this time: chocolate milk ($1.00), Green Giant Vegetables and Sauce ($1.00) and Michelina Bowls ($2.00).
A cinch, right?
Yeah.
Last weekend I sold over three thousand units of chocolate milk. I would have sold more if I could possibly have ordered more, but my dairy cooler wouldn't hold everything I did order--we had to branch out into the meat and produce coolers besides. Chaos. Total chaos. Add to that the over two hundred leakers I've had--Neilson can't produce the milk fast enough to satify demand and still manage to, you know, make sure the tops are sealed...and you can certainly understand that I will live just as long and die just as happy if I never see another carton of chocolate milk.
And those Green Giant Vegetables and Sauce? Almost nine thousand sold so far this week.

Next week promises to be even more crazy. I just had holidays a month ago, but if these twelve hour days keep up I'm going to need a mental health week soon.

Last night was our final adoption class--nearly three hours of sitting and talking when I would much rather have been prone and sleeping. Now the homestudy starts up--Children's Aid workers invading our home and tearing apart our lives. We have no idea what this entails, butwe have been told it's intense Knowing Children's Aid it will probably take place in the evenings, right when we have ten thoussand other things on the go. Like:

Chocolate season is in full swing.We're working hard to turn out several dozen a night and tens of dozens on weekends amidst all the housework

And the housework! This owning your own house kind of loads on the chores! I haven't been able to get out and rake my copiously overflowing back yard yet. It's dark when I leave in the morning and full dark when I get home.

Kind of amazed, actually, that I have time to writeanything half so substantial as this blog.