Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2006

If In-laws were outlawed...

I mentioned my in-laws in my last post, and how they don't really understand me.
The feeling is heartily mutual.
They live about a three and a half hour drive from here. Pardon me: the tangent beckons...
Ever notice that in Canada, we measure distance in time? I don't know if that holds true across the entire country, but I know it's not the case south of 49, where they measure distance in...distance. Maybe it's because this land is so vast: if I say my dad's a four and a half hour trip, it sounds slightly better than saying he's 232 miles away--or 374 kilometres, for that matter.
Where was I? Oh yeah, my in-laws live three and a half hours away. That's about right.
Don't misunderstand me. I think my wife's parents are great. They bore and raised Eva...that alone makes them special in my book. That they did so good a job of it--that Eva is so strongly self-reliant, intelligent and empathic--just increases my debt to them.
My in-laws live in something that…

Taking the Hard Road

"To a nonconformist, the only thing worse than a conformist is another nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity."
--author unknown

I can't remember where I picked up that little tidbit--it was at least fifteen years ago--but it resonated with me then and still does.
I am a nonconformist, not easily pinned down. Strangers don't know what to make of me. My in-laws, who have known me for eight years now, fare no better. Sometimes I wonder if anyone understands me. Sometimes I don't understand myself.
One of my defining characteristics is a rabid unorthodoxy: I do almost everything--from trivial daily duties up to shaping my life--at least slightly differently. I'm convinced everyone who knows me has felt the exasperation at some point, and many of you have let it boil over into words: "WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING THE HARD WAY?!?"
To which I have no easy answer. Oh, there are crutches aplenty: I'm as flexi…
Every once in a while, the stuff that comes through the mailbox asking me to "pass it on" is actually worth being passed on. Like this.
I got this from my cousin, who is a forensic detective, and my dad, who is a volunteer firefighter and retired police officer. It could have come from my uncle, an O.P.P. officer who passed away while on duty. Or it could have come from my mother, who was an ambulance dispatcher at one point and an auxiliary police officer at another. Or it could have come from another cousin, who is a firefighter. Or...well, you can perhaps see why I feel people should read this...

Dedicated to Paramedics, Fire and Police Officers and their Dispatchers:


I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 6 in the morning as I
check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none. I start CPR
anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late.
But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to
try and save his life.

I wish…

Three Lessons I'd Like to Teach The World, Part III

To recap, the first two, in essence, were that happiness, like any other emotion, is a choice; and that you should always think for yourself, drawing wherever possible on verifiable fact to do so.

The third can be summed up in the oft-quoted, and just-as-oft-ignored, maxim "work to live, don't live to work".

My first job was picking apples at Cornell's Fruit Farm, which used to be just outside London, Ontario. It seems to be out of business now: no doubt kids ride their bikes and play road hockey (who am I kidding?...ride their couches and play NHL 2K6) where, not all that long ago, apple trees grew by the seeming millions. My best friend Tim and I worked all the same shifts, and usually our shifts would degenerate into all out apple wars.
There was only one rule in these sometimes bloody affairs: ammo came off the ground, not out of a tree. I'd pick up a fallen apple, calculate how best to get it over two rows and down the line of trees, and let fly. Unbeknownst …

P.M. P M's P M*

* Prime Minister Paul Martin's Post Mortem

My first thought upon seeing the electoral results: boy, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver got exactly the government they deserve.
Not a single Conservative from any of Canada's three largest urban areas. I just know Stephen's thinking something he can't say out loud: Good. Now you people might understand what it's like to be Alberta.
Seriously, the red tide in the Greater Toronto Area distressed me. I've tried to get into the head of your average Liberal-voting Torontonian, only to find the atmosphere dark, brown, and smelly. Many writers more erudite than I have suggested Toronto is the wife of an abusive husband, and last night, she covered up for him yet again.

Fellow blogger Peter Dodson suggests that "this result speaks not to the fact that Canadians [his unfortunate phrase for those who voted Liberal] forgive corruption, but that they don't want a socially conservative agenda." But Harper wasn't ru…

The magic's in the music and the music's in me...

No more memories, no more silent tears,
No more gazing across the wasted years...
--Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd-Webber

Practically everybody has them...songs that define chapters of their lives. They come on the radio and transport their time and their place up to you in the present, packing a lot of emotional punch into three or four minutes. If you close your eyes while one is playing, you can practically smell the past. I used to find that aroma intoxicating. Now it just seems musty.

As a composer who has lived his life around music (and not just popular music, either), my hit parade is considerably longer than most, and when it starts up it still detours most of the traffic in my brain and slows it to a crawl. Put a name from some point in my past to me and chances are I can immediately give you eight or ten songs that bring her (it's almost always a her, although my close male friends have some songs all their own) into sharp relief.
In some cases,…

Beat me! Harder!

On the one hand, I'm astounded. On the other, I'm not surprised at all.
With three days left until Election Day, the polls seem to be showing that Harper's Conservatives have peaked. They were into slim majority territory as recently as this past Tuesday, and now only lead by nine percentage points. It looks like a Tory minority right now, and a Liberal minority is (amazingly) still not out of the question.
My partisanship aside, the Liberals have run one of the worst campaigns in my political memory, full of stupid gaffes and outright bald-faced lies. Apparently, they've even stooped so far as to level a false accusation of sexual assault against a Conservative. "Get power at any cost; hold power at any cost" has been the Liberal mantra for generations now.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, have run a largely gaffe-free, factual, issues-oriented campaign--pretty much as close to perfect as you're going to get. They entered the campaign eight or ten points back …

The Fear That Would Not Die

From the diary of Ken Breadner

SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001

…dawns clear and seasonably cool, an entirely regular, routine and boring Tuesday. The morning ritual completes itself as the sun breaks the horizon and we pull into the Price Chopper parking lot. My mind is already on my Tuesday workload, or lack thereof--three orders due in and one to write, far and away the lightest day of my week. Al’s off; Larry’s due in around ten and Mike about noon. The truck order is done well before eight: I’m getting good at it. Greg’s in early with the milk, pulling out about half past eight. Part of me is thinking about my father undergoing hip replacement surgery in Toronto today.
Just before nine, the phone rings, and Crystal pages me to pick up line one. It’s Eva, with news: a plane has crashed into one of the World Trade Centre towers in New York.
Ugh. What a horrid image that makes: a plane completely out of control, spiralling into a 110-storey building. My ‘guess the picture on tomorrow’s Sun front p…

Ah, Sleep...

I should be sleeping right now.
Well, at the very least, I should be preparing to go to sleep. That's an hour-long routine with me, and it usually begins between 8:00 and 8:30 in the evening. By 9:30--10:00 at the latest--I'm deep in dreamland. Nearly every night.
Several lifetimes ago, in high school, my days often began before seven in the morning and often ended after midnight. What with the part time jobs and piles of homework, sleep was a rare commodity. It never bothered me much, back then. I practiced and eventually perfected the art of dozing at my desk without missing a word the teacher said.
In Grade 11 a geography teacher crept up to my desk and thwapped a ruler down about an inch from my lowered head. After I gathered up the crap he had scared out of me, I proceeded to answer his question and summarize what he had been talking about since the period began in terse, rapid point form. I was tempted to add a few things he hadn't mentioned, things I'd learned thr…

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood...

I am a living conundrum, a study in opposites. I'm one of the most open men you'll ever meet--there's no detail, no matter how personal, I'm not prepared to reveal to you, Dear Reader. Only two things stop me from spilling every brain-bean I have out on to your screens. One is the ironclad knowledge that there are things, many things, about me to which you would rather not be privy. (That my mind often resembles a privy is merely the most obvious of them.)
The other is my wife, Eva, or rather the suffusion of Eva that exists in my cells after five years of marriage. If the beans involve her in any way, I must check with her before they're spilled. It's not that I'm whipped. Even though she's at least as open as I am, it's that I value her privacy.
As, despite my own openness, I value mine: very highly. While I will open up right quickly to anyone with whom I feel comfortable, people shouldn't assume I feel comfortable with them and proceed to ask…

Ten...Nine...

...days left to go, and then I'll be boring the snot out of everyone blogging the political aftermath of what looks certain to be a Tory victory.

Before I get started, a quick one question survey of my readers is in order.

The question: should I open up another blog for strictly political musings?

I don't want to--I think that if I did that, one or the other of my blogs would wither and eventually die. I am in awe of all you blogspotters out there who maintain two (or even more!) separate blogs. I'm not in a position to write full time right now...I have a full time job and a full time marriage.
But I can't deny that the Breadbin has been getting more and more political lately, and it may be turning some of my readership off. I work in retail; I'd rather redirect a reader to a NEW AND IMPROVED fine bloggery product (also owned and managed by Ken Breadner Enterprises, etc) than lose him or her. Your call, folks.

Now, on to the meal.

APPETIZER: a steaming bowl of none of …

Three Lessons I Would Like To Teach The World, Part II

What are the facts? Again and again and again--what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell", avoid opinion, care not what the neighbours think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history"--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

--Robert A Heinlein, "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long"

If only I always lived up to this lesson. Still, you teach what you have to learn...

A while ago I walked into a Coles bookstore and asked when the reissue of Robert Heinlein's Expanded Universe was due out in paperback. The girl behind the counter--ostensibly someone hired, at least in part, for her knowledge of a wide range of things literary--had no idea who Robert Heinlein was. I wasn't sure whether the shock I felt should be paired with pity or contempt. I settled for informing her how lucky she was to have the ful…

Eternally Apart from Apartments

My friend Jen--a homeowner like myself-- just wrote a miniature paean to apartment living. I love Jen dearly, but holy God is she out to lunch on this one.

Here she is, with three reasons she misses living in an apartment. My comments to follow:

1) Security. It's rare for uninvited people to just show up at your door when you live in an apartment building. Once a week or so, I get door-to-door salesmen, or Jehovah's Witnesses ringing the doorbell trying to sell me energy providers or a new faith. I miss not having to deal with those people in as polite a way as possible.


Jen, I too have lived in apartments...several different ones. I was never rich enough to live in an apartment building with any real security. Unless your complex has a doorman on duty 24/7, the security in any apartment building is pathetically easy to outwit. I've done it myself, on the numerous occasions when I forgot my front door key. The trick is to wait until somebody legitimate approaches an entry and…

Time to fish or cut debate

A confession to make: I tried my damnedest to sit through last night's debate. About seventy minutes in, I finally turned the television off in disgust.
That wasn't debate. I'm not sure what it was, but it certainly wasn't debate.
Okay, I suppose it was marginally better than last year's screamfest. But every time somebody started to say something interesting, the moderator would leap in and cut him off. None of the leaders was allowed to adequately defend himself...and Harper had to, because Martin was flinging every bit of mud he could think up in the hopes that something would stick. The facts be damned...
I offer one example. Martin seems utterly convinced that his income tax cut would benefit the poor more than Harper's GST cut. As a long-time Minister of Finance, you would think Martin would know that poor people don't pay income tax. Then again, as Minister of Finance, you'd think Martin would know all about the monies being strewn hither and yon …

Going Moldy....

Show more