Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2005

Endings and beginnings

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans --John Lennon

I've never really understood the appeal of New Year's Eve. Tomorrow is, after all, merely another day. Hell, January 1 wasn't always the first day of the year! The calendar used to start in April--which, when you think about it, is a much more relevant time for a beginning. But those who refused to follow the New Year's migration to January 1 were dubbed 'April Fools'.

No, I've never understood the appeal of the New Year...until this year. Two thousand and five was my own personal annus horribilus, a year I'm glad to see flushed down the drain. Tomorrow is another day...thank God.

In no particular order...

This past year dawned with us fully expecting to welcome a couple of children into our home by, well, tonight. Talk about a grand new beginning, both for us and for them. We had worked hard to make it happen, keeping children foremost in our minds with every action over the past th…


From The Toronto Sun, December 30, 2005 (letter to the editor)

Somewhere in Toronto is an elderly man (or, if deceased, his offspring) who carries with him in his deepest memories of three decades past, an encounter with this wicked teenage street punk who crossed the line from being a cowardly purse snatcher, car thief and B&E artist, to a gun-toting robber. Thank God, just thank God.
Oh, I had every reason to hate and steal and assault, according to the book. A product of a violent birth father, dumped into the Neil McNeil Orphanage in downtown Toronto shortly after birth and adopted five years later by an alcoholic couple, I committed my first house burglary when I was 7. I committed my last crime shortly after my 18th birthday and in between I spent exactly two days in jail.
When I was 17, a friend showed me where his police officer father stored his service revolver.
The next weekend when they were at their cottage, I broke into this friend's home, "borrowed" the gu…


I really need to stop stressing about my job.
As my longtime readers know, I am the department manager in a discount grocery store. My official title is Dairy Co-ordinator, but I also look after most of the frozen food in the store.
Any time a holiday approaches, the pressure rachets up, and the days leading up to Christmas exert seventy thousand shopping carts per square inch.
I don't know whose sanity is more in question: mine or the industry's. At this time of year, people would gladly pay a premium on things like cream cheese. So why put cream cheese on sale for $1.50? I know the average customer doesn't give a flying express lane, but we're losing a substantial amount of money at that retail. It's practically impossible to keep in stock; we went through something like twelve thousand units last week, and we were out of stock a goodly chunk of the time.
If cream cheese was my only problem, I'd have laughed it off. But we also had
Green Giant vegetables @ $2.00…

Let's talk about sex, baby...

A fellow blogger over at Dodosville has commented on the Supreme Court's recent decision to legalize "swing clubs".
So have a lot of other people, writing in to Sun Media from all over the land. Here's one such, a woman named Jacqueline Verville, with whom the Sun agreed quite heartily:

Re "Swing shift," (Dec.22): That the Supreme Court of Canada could approve this perverted smut is unconscionable. Just because twosomes, threesomes and moresomes (by dum-twodumsomes) are occuring inside an enclosed space with consenting adults, doesn't justify it in the least.
If it did, then crack dens and gay bathhouses should also be given the same legal affirmation. It's bad enough that we already have legalized casinos and strip clubs in this country.
Swingers' clubs will only compound matters to make Canada sink even lower in the mud than it already has. Before we know it, prostitution, pimping and drug dealing will be legalized also.

Aside from the morality sta…

Does it work?

I am a big proponent of "what works". In fact, that's pretty much my political philosophy in a nutshell. Does it work? If so, I support it. Does it not work? Then why isn't something being done to make it work?

Gun crime in Canada is dramatically up in recent years. My 50 Cent(s) says it's the culture that's responsible. Have you seen videos lately? It was a shock when NWA came out with Straight Outta Compton several years back. But that number sounds like the theme from A Summer Place when put on a playlist with some of today's top songs.

So what's to be done about all the gun violence?

Many people will tell you that it's merely a symptom of a disease called poverty. Treat the disease and you'll cure the symptoms, they say. That's a slanderous insult to the vast majority of working poor who are law-abiding. While it's true that more opportunities need to be created to lift the poor out of their ghetto, the mere lack of them isn't an …

'Twas the week before Christmas...

God, what an eventful weekend.

We left Saturday at six in the morning, dropping off Tux at a friend's place, hitting Tim's for some go-juice, and then making the run north to Britt. The weather was moderately crappy from MacTier to Pointe Au Baril Station--par for the course on any day from mid-November to sometime in April.
Highway 400 has been extended most of the way to Parry Sound now. There's about six kilometers of two-laned road, still, around the Moon River. North of town, however, 69 is what it's always been, a highway that demands your attention as a driver. It's two-laned, with alternating two or three kilometer long passing lanes northbound and southbound every ten or fifteen klicks.
Why am I telling you all this? Because those three-laned sections, or more precisely the lack of them, cause some pretty scary situations.
Highway 69 is the first glimpse of the north that drivers from southern Ontario see. It's nowhere near as desolate as the roads nort…

Winter wussification revisited

If you go to Environment Canada's website right now, at 7:30 p.m. EST, and click on "watches and warnings" and then select anywhere through much of southern Ontario, you'll find we are in fact under a weather warning.
A "snowfall warning".
Not a blizzard warning. Not even a heavy snowfall warning. Just a snowfall warning, as in "Warning! White flakes are going to fall out of the sky! Take cover!"
The local radio station's in STORM CENTER mode; the Weather Network's got STORMWATCH in heavy rotation. All for six measly inches of snow, falling over a period of many hours. There's not even a wind to reduce visibility.
(Granted, in some parts of eastern Ontario, they're expecting up to 30 centimetres and even a touch more...which is at least a respectable amount. But here? 15 centimetres. Big whoopty-diddly-doo.
I wasn't a weather freak in early childhood...the disease came on in my teens, as I recall...but I'm pretty sure they didn&…

Pulling up our pants

We are switching Internet providers. And television providers, while we're at it. We've decided that two years of vigorous Roger-ing is enough.
We've had no problem with the service, either cable or Internet, in and of itself. What bothers us is (a) having to pay in advance for it and (b) the fact the price keeps going up with no corresponding increase in features.
Rogers' billing service is only slightly more confusing than the tax code, and if you're even one day late with a payment (which they somehow calculate a month ahead), they can arbitrarily cut off any number of services without notice. This has only happened to us once.
Once is once too often.

So we're switching back to Bell as of Sunday, December 18th, sometime between noon and 4 p.m. Can you believe they make service calls on Sunday? Neither can I. Hopefully that's just one sign of the exceptional service to come.
The long and the short of it is, we'll be getting satellite with receivers for all…

Hey kids, bow to the statue of Pierre Trudeau as you enter...

I've been trying mighty hard not to write this blog entry. I get the sense that the Canadian public, and more importantly, my readership, is sick to death of politics and would like nothing better than to disengage for a long winter's least until after New Years'.
My fingers are quivering...quivering...

And most of what I have to say has already been said! Everywhere! So I need to resist the ever-present temptation to weigh in with both hands.


Ah, to hell with it.

My quiverfinger is due to outrage, and that outrage is directed at the Liberals. Their chief communicator, Scott Reid, is known around Ottawa as 'Paul's Pitbull', and he tore a chunk out of Canadian parents the other day. If you haven't been paying attention to the campaign (and honestly, at this point, I don't blame you), here's what happened:

Stephen Harper has promised $1200 a year, paid directly to parents for each child under six years of age, to help offset daycare…

A little something with your groceries?

I am currently watching a rather alarmist Marketplace on CBC. Its subject: food safety in supermarkets. The overwhelming impression you get from this program is that shopping at your local supermarket will make you ill and maybe kill you. There is a litany of mouse droppings, unwashed hands, improper handling and storage of food. Store after store, province after province, coast to coast, they document a truly astounding number of health violations.

I'm eighteen minutes in, and they haven't named one supermarket yet. I've watched very carefully, but they've screened their show even more carefully. I can't identify a single chain, either from decor cues or glimpses of store-brand products. Rather gutless, don't you think? To make all these accusations without naming names? It's like asserting that one-third of all NHL players dope up.

The show did clue me in to Toronto's rating system, which I had thought only applied to restaurants. It is mandatory in To…

Foods of Mass Destruction

I have a very bland palette.
I mean really bland. I am able to detect a single grain of common table pepper in a bowl of Kraft Dinner. I don't like ketchup because it completely overpowers anything it's put on. And as for "hot" food...

I can't begin to enumerate the number of times I've been offered something that looks like it might be spicy. Such offerings invariably go something like this:
"Hey, Ken, try this."
Ken eyes it suspiciously, looking for telltale signs: smoke, an inner pilot light, a subtle vibration...
"Is it hot?"
"No. Not at all."
"Yeah, right."
"No, really, there's hardly any spice in it at all. It's just really flavourful."
Ken looks at it again, holding it up to the light, examining it from all angles. No steam. He dips a finger in. It doesn't burn through his skin. He gingerly pops it into his mouth and begins chewing.
"Hmmm, this isn't ba---HOLY FUCK! WATER! WATER! YOU ASSHOLE,…

Possibly the scariest quote I've ever heard

...came on last night's Global National. Kevin Newman was interviewing someone who looked, for all intents and purposes, to be a normal teenage boy on the streets of Toronto. Newman asked the kid whether all the guns on the streets scared him or not. The kid said "No."
Newman: "Why not?"
Kid: "'Cause, like, it's, you know, pretty normal now."
Newman: "It's pretty normal now. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?"
Kid: "Hey, it's, like, 2005 now."
I have to commend Kevin Newman on his bravery. He basically just told a kid--who probably has many friends with access to guns--that what he said was ridiculous. These days in Toronto, people are murdered for less.
Violent altercations between groups of teens are almost a nightly occurrence at our bus terminal here in Kitchener-Waterloo. Ten years ago, my daily commute took me through that terminal, and I mastered the art of looking totally harmless and yet entirely unworth ac…

Enough Is Enough!

I hear that a group of Canadian Muslims is en route to Iraq to plead with the Swords of Righteousness. That's the group that has kidnapped two Canadians, one American and one Briton and threatened to kill them by Thursday if all Iraqis are released from American and Iraqi prisons.
Admirable, brave...and wrongheaded.
There's no pleading with these people, particularly by Canadian Muslims...which, to the Swords of Righteousness, is a contradiction in terms. If you're a true Muslim, according to this lunatic fringe, you're obligated to be in Iraq killing westerners. And if you're not a true Muslim, by definition, you're just as marked for death.
When will the Canadian government, and Canadians in general, understand this? These aren't people who will be shut up if you throw a nice cushy grant their way. Diplomacy does not work in the Muslim world, and it hasn't for centuries. You can't bargain with a fundamentalist...of any faith. Their minds are made up…

Random threesomes

Well...looking around the blogosphere tonight, I came across Jen's 'Everything Comes In Threes' entry. It covered some things I don't think I have, so I borrowed it.

Three names I go by: Ken, Kenny (ugh) and Macaw.
"Macaw" is my long-standing nickname coined by my dad when I was about two--because, he said, all I ever did was squawk and shit.

Three screen names I go by: Why would anyone have more than one? I'm Ken Breadbox everywhere.

Three physical things I like about myself: I'd be lying if I said there was even one. Not that my body image is particularly terrible, but it's not particularly good, either. It's not particularly anything; I rarely even think of my body. Think of memorable Christmas presents you have received over the years. Now think about what they came wrapped in. Don't remember, do you? That's how I feel about bodies.

Three physical things I dislike about myself: My chronic inflexibility; my poor eyesight; my misshapen, m…

Scrap Kyoto Now!

I've attempted this blog entry three times now. Each try has proven too strident even for me. My recent conversion into the faith of environmental skepticism has led several people to try and stage an intervention and bring me back to the Suzuki path.
Both sides of the global warming debate have a wealth of information at their fingertips--as with most things in life, you can bend the data to prove whatever you want to, especially if you look at it with preconceived notions of what it's supposed to prove. I think it's fair to say that if scientists have split off into opposing teams, each touting entirely contradictory theories, more research is obviously needed. One group of people doesn't know what they're talking about. Worse, they think they do. That can have potentially disastrous consequences.
Let's look at the much-vaunted Kyoto Protocol closely, shall we? As Canada has signed this treaty, every thinking person here should understand just what it is we hav…

Things that make you go, "well, duh..."

When I was a kid, the radio was a magic machine. Voices came out of it, but it had no mouth; all manner of music came out of it, but it had nothing on it resembling a musical instrument. The concept of "radio stations" was eventually explained to me, and I sort of understood. Radio stations were the places where the concerts were held, right? That worked for me until the day when, dialling along, I caught the same song playing on two different stations at the same time. Impossible--how could one band be in two places at once?
Well, duh.
Much later on than I'd care to admit, I found myself singing a well-known Christmas carol to a crowd. Why do all these "well, duh" moments always seem to happen when there are other people around? Anyway, I got to the second verse and belted out:

Later on, we'll perspire
As we dream by the fire...

--"uh, Ken?"
"That's CONspire. Later on, we'll conspire..."
"Huh? What the hell does t…

Art for Art's Sake

There are so many things that I am not.
I am not a sportsman. I am less flexible than most two-by-fours. There is no meal I can't mangle: just ask anybody who lived on Mac 2 West in 1990-91. For all I know they still tell the story of the time (one of the very few times) I used the floor kitchen. I set my Kraft Dinner water to boil and wandered back to my room in search of a book to read. While still combing the shelves for the perfect novel For That Moment, I heard running footsteps and a bellow:
It sounded like Doom on two legs out there. I cautiously opened the door and beheld the don of my floor. Craig stood all of five-two, but he was not a man to be ignored. I once saw him pick up a man who stood six-four, clean and jerk him, and then pitch him across a room. I stepped out into the hall before Craig could yank my arm out of its socket, and half-ran, was half-dragged, back to the kitchen. Rounding the corner, I found flames shooting up all around…

Off and stumbling...

Two days into the campaign, and controversy already.
Pity poor Mr. Harper. No matter what he says, no matter what he does, there's a CBC flunky there to discredit him. No wonder the man looks so angry all the time...
Kim Campbell, the astute and intelligent woman selected to be the Mulroney fall girl, said something very telling during her one and only campaign: that "an election is no time to discuss serious issues". She was crucified without wood or nails for saying so, and yet truer words have rarely passed anyone's lips in Canadian political history.
Fresh out of the gate, and the Liberals are jumping for joy because Harper brought up same-sex marriage. Merely mentioning the words 'same-sex marriage' on the hustings is political suicide if you're Conservative. Because if the words so much as leak out, a Liberal will enlist the services of their trusted organ, the CBC, to stomp all over you and call you an ideologue, a right wing homophobe, and worse...…

On the Occasion of the Government's Fall

From the mailbox today:

I had just got my new GMC Yukon Denali, and had returned to the dealer the next day complaining that I couldn't figure out how to work the radio. The salesman explained that the radio is voice activated. "Watch this!" he said. "Nelson!" The radio replied "Ricky or Willie?" "Willie!"he continued, and immediately "On The Road Again" came from the speakers.
I'm pretty impressed with this radio. If I say Beatles I get one of their classics; if I say Green Day, I get a rousing rendition of one of their hits. One day a couple ran a red light and nearly smashed my new Denali, but I swerved in time to avoid them. "ASSHOLE! I yelled". Immediately I heard "O Canada started to play, sung byPAUL MARTIN, backed up by BELINDA STRONACH, with JEAN CHRETIEN on guitar,ANN MACLELLAN on drums and DAVID DINGWALL playing the keyboard. The anthem was then followed followed by their version of TAKE THE MONEY AND RU…