27 February, 2006

The question that dares to speak its name

Bravo to the nineteen Catholic priests in Quebec who are daring to criticize the Church's stand against same-sex marriage and the ordination of homosexuals.
We all know what the Catholic Church believes about gays and lesbians. That Pope Benedict's first policy announcement would bar men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from the priesthood only confirms it, although that phrase "deep-seated" is open to some question. How deep in the seat do you need to go before you're confirmed gay, I wonder? Of course, the encyclical notes that it "profoundly respects" such people, which is a real hoot.
One of the things that turned me against Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular was this, you'll pardon the expression, deep-seated attitude that it's somehow possible to "love the sinner while hating the sin", to use their oft-repeated words. When the "sin" is not some trifling peccadillo but instead is a matter of self-identity, it's truly impossible to separate the two.
Of course, the Catholic Church continues to believe, in the face of so much contrary evidence, that every homosexual act is (a) against "natural law" and (b) a choice freely made.
As to (a), homosexual behaviour is common throughout nature: only those who would seek to elevate humanity above nature would hold us to a higher standard than our fellow animals.
"Natural law", as the Church sees it, echoes God's command to "be fruitful and multiply". That command has been taken literally, unlike so many of God's Old Testament dictums (when's the last time you attended a stoning?) ...probably because of what comes immediately after it:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the Earth"(Genesis 1:27-28).

That sounds fantastic, doesn't it? "Subdue" the Earth. "Have dominion over" pretty much the whole shebang. Crawl over the globe in ever-increasing multitudes like so many lice, albeit lice made in the image and likeness of God. We don't actually say "God told us to" in so many words any more, but it's implicit in every cloud of smog and every clearcut tree: why else would we deliberately foul our only nest, unless we'd been given the Heavenly All-Clear to do so?

In any event, since homosexuals can not multiply--yet--they've been deemed "unnatural". Which makes me wonder to what purpose infertility exists, but anyway...

As to (b), of course the homosexual act is a choice, just as is the heterosexual act; the alternative to both is celibacy, which goes against the Catholic Church's command to everyone except, paradoxically, its priests. I've heard many Christians, not just Catholics, concede that point, while still stating unequivocally that one form of sex is perfectly fine while the other is a sin. Therefore, they say, homosexuals are free to be homosexuals, so long as they don't have sex.
This little piece of sophistry disgusts me. Deny yourself, the attitude says, and you'll be fine in the eyes of God. But it makes no such statement to people who are not gay (unless, again, they aspire to the priesthood).

The letter from nineteen Quebecois priests is an attempt to open dialogue on this issue. Although it is apparently written in a polite tone, it rather pointedly asks "does the Church have the last word on the mysteries of political, social, family and sexual life?"

Don't be surprised if the answer from Rome is equally pointed. I'd also expect to see disciplinary action taken, not so much because of the question asked but because a question was asked. You learn pretty early in the Catholic educational system not to ask questions on matters of faith.


It's heartening to see priests discovering their balls.

25 February, 2006

The Week That Was

Another busy week here in the Breadbin.

Our grocery chain is going through some very big changes--a complete overhaul of the electronic side of our business--and I have been selected to serve as an in-store trainer and facilitator.

They think I'm computer literate. Ssssshhhhh!

There are three kinds of things in my world: the things I care about and have no problem doing; the things I care about but struggle to do; and the things I don't care about at all. Modern computing falls firmly into that second category.

I used to be, well, not a crackerjack hacker by any means, but pretty comfortable with computers. That was back in the days when you had to learn their language. For many years, of course, computers have forgotten they ever had a language, but they've come no closer to learning Human. It's all gooey--or is that GUI?--to me. As I have said many times before, I don't speak Picture.

As with all second-category stuff, I have coping strategies to make me seem more competent than I am. I tend to learn just enough to get by, and then five or six nifty-neat-o shortcuts and tricks that most people don't know about. Exhibit those at just the right time and presto: computer literacy is assumed.

By October, I just might be as savvy as they think I am now.

My first training session was held at Orangeville Price Chopper this past Tuesday. This store is a revelation. It's recently converted from a different banner. The sales floor is twice the size of ours, and their back room is positively cavernous: you could fit our back room into one corner. I never got a look into the coolers, which was probably a good thing...I might have snapped, thrown their dairy manager into the compactor, and taken his job.

On this day, I was forcibly and repeatedly reminded of why I dropped out of university in such disgust. We were handed out a booklet that consisted of about 150 pages of slides. Then they put the same slides up on to the projector and proceeded to read them out loud to us. All of them. Pretty much word for word. Hey, I said to myself, at least I didn't have to shell out $100 or more for this booklet. They took questions at intervals, almost all of which were answered four or five slides down the line. Five hours later, we finished going through the book which had taken me about half an hour to read and digest.

I'm sorry, that probably came out a little smartass-y. I didn't mean for it to. I'm just--again--different, is all. Here's an illustration:

One of the slides we saw (and read) was titled We tend to remember at our level of involvement. It noted that most people remember

  • 10% of what they READ
  • 20% of what they HEAR
  • 30% of what they SEE
  • thus, 50% of what they HEAR AND SEE
  • but, 70% of what they SAY and
  • 90% of what they SAY AND DO

In my case, those figures are quite wrong...and I can prove it.

We were supposed to train each other on how to make paper airplanes. The training exercise went out the window pretty quickly: almost everybody simply put their hands together a few times, crinkle fold fold crinkle abracadabra! paper airplanes. Not me.

I've never made a paper airplane in my life. Not once. Never even tried. I was one of those brown-nosers who actually listened when the teacher was talking. So I had no frame of experiential reference. I looked at the pictured instructions and yecch! I don't speak picture. I looked at the written instructions and thought I understood what it was I needed to do. So I put my hands together a few dozen times, crinkle fold spindle mutilate crinkle fold fold crinkle abracathunk! paper...thingy.

I clearly remember those written instructions, because I remember a hell of a lot more than ten percent of what I read. But even after my training partner corrected what errors were correctable and guided me through the procedure of making a paper airplane, I tell you I couldn't replicate that thing with a paper gun to my paper head. How to make a paper airplane: third category thing. Okay?

This reminds me of the time I tried out for a summer job at CAMI, the joint GM-Suzuki plant where my stepdad worked (he still does). I didn't really want the job, but I sure wanted the $17.00 an hour (1989 dollars) it paid. There were several steps--written tests, interviews and so on--and I jigged and reeled my way right through them, until I got to the physical aptitude test.

There were actually two tests here. The first one involved putting discs on axles. There were five or six steps, and we were graded on speed and accuracy. I didn't have any problems. I wasn't the fastest kid in the room, but I was probably a shade above average.

Then the sub-assembly. This was a mishmash of pipes, thingamabobs, whatzits and so-and-so's: it looked like a 3-D Rorschach blot. A completed model sat on the desk at the front. The instructor demonstrated, first slowly and then quickly, how to create an exact replica. It was quite a bit more complex--probably twenty or twenty five steps. We then had 45 minutes to create as many exact replicas as we could. It was about fifteen seconds into that 45 minutes when I realized I'd come as far as I was going to get. There was no hope of my getting that job no matter how high my previous scores had been. Because I had absolutely no idea what the fuck I was doing. I stared at pieces until I was seeing triple and willed them to fit together. They refused. I tried screwing this into that and those into the other. No dice. At seventeen years old, I felt like crying. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched busy little beavers assembling perfect replicas with one eye tied behind their backs. I think the best score was 27. I hadn't even managed one.

But I can tell you a concise summary of everything I learned on Tuesday--through my half an hour's reading, the redundant presentation nothwithstanding--and I doubt I'd miss anything important. My mind seems to be suited to abstraction. It rebels whenever it has to instruct my hands to do something more complicated than hitting a few keys on a keyboard.

*************
About six weeks ago, I pre-booked the lead item for this week's sale: Danone Silhouette and Creamy yogurt 8-packs for $2.00. That's a pretty amazing price, considering the 16-packs retail for $6.47 at our store and up to $7.49 elsewhere.
Earlier in the week, I got to looking at the flyer and thinking. It looked pretty hot. And the more I looked at the yogurt, the hotter it got. I called up Danone and asked them to bump me up to four skids of product instead of three. No problem, they said.
They lied.
My yogurt showed up Thursday...39% of it. The rest of it was nowhere to be found. It took repeated calls all over the place to find out that I wouldn't be getting any more until at least Tuesday. As a chain, we had booked far beyond their capacity to produce.
And this is my fault how?
Our head office swung into action and the next day I found myself with the remainder of my order. Except it wasn't Silhouette and Creamy 8-packs: it was Activia and Cardivia 8-packs instead, including a couple of flavours we don't normally stock.
For those customers who don't mind, they're getting an even better deal: Cardivia and Activia retail at 8 for $4.99. You'll never see them at $2.00. If you like them, or if you think you might, get thee out to a Price Chopper and save save save!

************
Our dining room set arrived today, the one we purchased nearly two months ago at the Brick's Boxing Day Blowout. I was just getting home from work as they were leaving. I came in to find....a box.
Shit, I thought. If I had known it was going to come in a box, I would have gone to IKEA and saved a hundred bucks.
I mean, come on. We had originally asked that it be delivered last Friday. (Actually, it was supposed to be delivered with our couch, three weeks ago. ) Last Friday morning, they called me and said it would be here sometime between noon and 2:00. "I'm sorry, " I said. "I've got to leave for work no later than 1:20...is there any way you can make sure it's here before that?"
He'd try.
He didn't try hard enough.
Eva called up the Brick that afternoon and gave them seven shades of holy shit, the end result being that we'd have it delivered the following Saturday (today) at no extra charge.
And so it was.
In a box.
More stuff to put together. Subassemblies, anyone?

Eva did most of the work on that as I moved furniture around. I took our old set out to the curb, fully expecting it to be gone by tomorrow: this is a student area, and there must be thirty sets of eyes trained on everybody's trash, hoping for treasure. What I didn't expect was to put four chairs out to the curb, come back in for the table, get that to the door, look out and find the chairs gone.
Where they went didn't remain a mystery for long. As I carted the table down to the curb, my next-door neighbour--handyman and Doberman-neglector--appeared and asked me
"Are you throwing those out?"
No, I thought. I'm setting up a picnic at curbside. Here's your sign.
"Yes."
"Well, they're in pretty good shape", he said as he took the table up to his own front door. "What, did you get a new set?"
No, I thought. We've decided we're now going to eat every meal off the floor. Here's another sign, dumbass.
"Yeah. A smaller one."
The table and chairs disappeared into his house. Eva echoed my thoughts precisely when I got back into mine. "All that money for a new deck, hot tub, door, fence, furnace, and he doesn't have a dinette set?"
Apparently not.

*******************

Made a Costco run today. God, I love that store. There's no cheaper place in the world to buy new books. I picked up Stephen King's latest, Cell. Also Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed Or Fail by Jared Diamond. Both of these things are dystopian. I'm in a real dystopian mood lately.

Anyway, g'night, all.







22 February, 2006

Mobile homes

Amidst looming civil war in Iraq, a Canadian couple brutally murdered in Cancun, Dubya's insistence that the United Arab Emirates should control American seaports (???!!!) and assorted other tales of calamity, I turned to this week's issue of Macleans in an effort to escape...only to be confronted with this on the cover:

"Flat screens. Wi-fi. Mini-fridges. iPod docks. Seats that heat, cool and massage.

IT'S NOT A CAR ANYMORE,

IT'S HOME"

Christ, I don't know what scares me the most out of all that. I mean, I can put warfare, random murders, and impending terrorism (does Bushie actually think any good can come out of ceding control of his ports to a country known to harbor terrorists?) --I can put all that out of my mind. With difficulty, granted, but I can do it.
But sooner or later I'm going to have to leave the house and travel on roads...roads filled with people who think they're in their own living rooms.
It's bad enough as it is now.
Those of you who have been with me a while know I do not drive. I sometimes think I'm the only non-handicapped 34-year-old male in the country without his driver's license. My vision is a very small part of the problem: indeed, my corrected vision is supposed to be just adequate for driving. A much larger part of the problem is something approaching an actual driving phobia.
I note that "fear of driving" doesn't even have a one-word name. There's a phobia for everything else under the sun, not to mention the sun itself--but none for driving a car. That's pretty telling.
I have no idea where my phobia came from. Usually with such things, there's a traumatic experience lurking somewhere in the deep past. But I've never been in a car accident, and certainly not during the all-too-brief period in my life when I actually drove. My dad's been in more car accidents than everyone else I know put together, but about 95% of them were intentional, controlled crashes: the man was a career cop.
My father, my stepfather, my mother, my wife--exceptional drivers all. So it's a bit of a mystery whence came this mental block.
In my own mind, I've rationalized my fear of driving--justified it. Ken, my mind says, you simply do not pay attention. You are capable of paying attention, yes, for a limited span of time, but then a thought will come in and you'll chase it right out the windshield and into that bridge abutment. Or maybe you'll be paying really close attention for...hell, even an hour straight...and a song will come on the radio and you'll suddenly find yourself...elsewhere...like, the Pearly Gates.
I'll try to shut that voice up, but the hell of it is, there's a good deal of truth in what it's saying. Plus, I've convinced myself that driving is the ultimate task--things happening ahead of you! beside you! on the other side! BEHIND YOU! Fuck, even ABOVE you...when some punk decides he's going to drop a chunk of concrete from that overpass up there. How all you normal people drive at all I can't imagine. How you seem to do it so effortlessly I don't want to imagine.
"The dilemma with driving", says Macleans, "has long been that, unless you are the proud owner of a Lamborghini Diablo, and you live and work on a closed track, it's a little boring." Boring. Yeah. Right. Hundreds of thousands of tons of steel and glass hurtling towards you each day at speeds guaranteed to turn you to pulp, and you're--yawn--a little bored. Thinking maybe you should take up skydiving. Or maybe Russian roulette.
And cars these days, says Macleans, are all about making that driving experience less boring...by offering a cornucopia of diversions to take your mind off that dull road ahead of you. Drop-down LCD monitors. Satellite TV recievers. Ford's about to come out with an optional mobile office system complete with a mounted tablet computer (with full Microsoft Office capabilities) and broadband internet access.
In your car. How long before somebody control-alt-deletes themselves right off the road? Maybe taking you with them?

You would think that, as a non-driver, I would be ecstatic about all these new automotive developments, things bringing us closer and closer to The Car That Drives Itself. You would be so very, very wrong.

Infiniti's new concept car doesn't have rearview mirrors. Instead, it uses rear-facing compact cameras and flip-up screens on either side of the instrument panel. And I don't know about you, but the first thing I think of is what do you do if all that whizbang circuitry fails? Lexus has a car out right now that has the closest thing to an autopilot seen yet. Its cruise control monitors the road ahead and will not let you hit anything, to the point where it will stop or swerve you all by itself. Honda's going one further: by 2016 they say that all their cars will be equipped with "Advanced Driver Assist" which basically drives the car forward for you on highways--oh, you do have to touch the steering wheel every ten seconds to let your car know you're still 'paying attention', and it will keep you in your lane and safe from harm. How long before somebody figures out they can just leave their hands on the wheel...and then, damnit, that road's so boring....falls asleep and never wakes up?

There's enough chicanery going on behind the wheel as it is. My personal and heretical opinion is that anyone caught using a cellphone behind the wheel should be charged with impaired driving. After all, studies have shown that people talking on handheld phones are four times more likely to crash
(source) . They've actually determined the top ten worst foods to eat while driving:

--Coffee
--Hot soup
--Tacos
--Chili
--Hamburgers
--Barbecued food
--Fried chicken
--Jelly or cream filled doughnuts
--Soft drinks
--Chocolate

Knowing this, how many people specifically ask for a car without cupholders? Can you even buy such a thing nowadays? The Chevy Ventura, a way back in 1997, had seventeen of the fucking things. People, it seems, are just bound and determined to get their minds off all those ever-so-boring kids running out into traffic just ahead of them.
Even if I didn't have a driving phobia before, I would now.

20 February, 2006

Cartoons revisited

I've been trolling around the blogosphere, and it seems these Danish cartoons continue to take up a lot of people's time and effort. The argument rages: free speech or provocation? Blasphemy or meaningless scribble?
Herewith, my final word on these things--at least until somebody issues a fatwa on me.
I've heard just about enough people saying variants of "I believe in free speech, but...."
No, you don't. You either believe in free speech, or you don't. For speech to be truly free, it must not be limited--by definition!--to things of which you approve.
This saw cuts several ways. Many human rights tribunals have trampled on people's right to free speech--to say out loud, for example, that the Holocaust was a fable. In a truly sane society, we would issue no sanctions on people who said such things, merely expose them for the fools they are. For no matter what they may believe, there is enough documentary evidence to the contrary.
Likewise, in a country which believes in freedom of speech, we each one of us have the right to talk about God--to say "My God is great" and "your God sucks the big hairy one". I happen to believe that any God that sanctions killing another human being because of scribbles on paper sucks the hairy rigid phallus of Satan. (I'm speaking metaphorically: I don't believe in Satan, myself.) But I'll say that out loud to anyone who asks; I've just written it here.
I'm sorry to say this, but it really is only Muslim extremists who get worked up like this. Non-extremists--the vast majority--of Muslims might be insulted by a depiction of their Prophet (may all peace and blessing be upon him), but they won't burn a building or decapitate a stranger over it. No, their attitude is probably more akin to what devout Christians feel when they consider Sunday shopping or what devout Jews feel when they think about eating shellfish, or what Jehovah's Witnesses feel when they think about blood transfusions. These are all blasphemies under somebody's code of ethics, but they're all perfectly normal things in this society, and you don't see protests, let alone riots, because of them.

I think it very important for extremists and non-extremists alike to consider why those cartoons were penned in the first place...just as I think it very important for people in Western democracies to consider why 9/11 was, in some eyes, entirely justified. Extremists of each faith--Muslim or Yankee-Doodle-Dandyism--won't bother, of course. They lack peripheral vision. But that shouldn't stop the rest of us.

19 February, 2006

Putt-Putt...

It was a fine day for a miniature golf tournament: isolated flurries, with a windchill around -25.

Golf is one of those sports that I will never be able to play, and there's no sense in telling me otherwise. For one thing, I am almost completely lacking in co-ordination: if I ever hit the damned ball off the tee, it'd be a miracle, and if the ball actually did something other than burn a few worms, well, Satan would be handing out the ice-skates. I used to add in my poor eyesight, but let's face it: my maximum drive would still be well within visual range.
But mini-golf? Hell, the first hole I ever played, I got a hole in one. Of course, it all went downhill from there, but I'm at least somewhat competent at the game. It's nice to know there are things like mini-golf and pool and darts in the sporting world: they save me from being a complete waste.

This particular tournament was put on by the Palmerston Legion, of haunted house fame, and had been on our docket since, in fact, we toured that haunted house last Hallowe'en. That shindig was so creative that we could scarcely imagine what a mini-golf course would look like.

They didn't disappoint, and boy, we weren't alone. There had to be over a hundred people there--most of the population of the town, for putt's sake! We formed a foursome with our friends Dana and Bowe and studied the hole layout. Our starting hole was #5. Due to an overflow crowd, there were 23 holes on the course. Then again, at one of them you had only to play a game of old maid: the winner got a hole in one and the losers had to count five strokes. (Oh yeah, and if you neglected to buy a drink, you had to add another five strokes. Cute.)
I started off with some decent scores, and at every hole I was marvelling at the creativity. There were little frogs on one hole (hit one, count a stroke), water hazards, shag carpet "rough", and on and on and on...At one "hole", you had to toss styrofoam-and-duct-tape "horseshoes" at a common commercial toilet: a ringer was one stroke, on the toilet was two, and so on. When you went to retrieve your "horseshoe", you were confronted with the papier-mache and God-knows-what-else construction in the toilet. There were discernable pieces of corn. Yurk.
Hole#14, "Black Beauty" was where my game started to go south. This hole started upstairs: putt the ball into a very long length of PVC pipe that carried the ball down the stairway, landing in another toilet, and shot it out on to the carpet within putting distance of the hole. Well, it took me five strokes to get the damned ball over the lip and into the pipe. No real harm done: once downstairs, I made a fifteen foot putt to salvage the hole.
But then I got into Leftie's Barn.
The instructions said you had to putt left-handed only, and if you hit a pig you had to yell "Oink! Oink!". I didn't hit any pigs...I didn't hit much of anything. That was one of the hardest holes on the course even without the extra handicap of putting with my dumb hand. Putt..putt...putt...sputter...sputter. Rack up a 27 for that hole. I do believe I had been leading amongst our foursome before that calamity. As any chance of my posting a respectable score ebbed away, I...well, I didn't stop trying, but I stopped trying to be competitive.

Eva won the game of old maid--something, believe it or not, I had never played in my life--and then it was time to go back upstairs...up ramps, I should say. That was easily a twenty-yard hole, a real monster for a mini-golf course. You had to fire the ball up one ramp, through a couple of chair legs, and then up an even longer ramp, through the A-frame of a sign on the way, and then into a numbered hole that told you how many strokes to add to your already prodigious score. Shouts of "FORE!" abounded: by then, at about four in the afternoon, it was getting pretty drunk out.
We were warned about the cigarette smoke. Palmerston hasn't gotten around to insulting its veterans by banning smoking in their hall. But nobody told me about the alcohol. There were, as I say, over a hundred people playing--probably three times what I had thought there would be. Did you know inebriated old ladies act just like inebriated young ladies? I didn't. The volume level increased until I felt like I was under siege.
Not that I'm making excuses, you understand. No, I managed a 29 on one of the last holes all by myself, noise or no noise. But by the time I got to the end of the course, I had such a headache I was thinking of getting drunk myself to ease the pain.
Final scores: Bowe, 155; Dana, 158; Eva, 185, and Ken, 187. Some guy managed a few strokes higher than I did, sparing me the ignominy of being the 'most honest man', but we were the highest scoring team, and as such were awarded prizes.

Hey, it was all in fun. And for the most part, it was fun. Towards the end, there, it was once again made clear to us why we try to avoid mob scenes...as always, it was nice to get home.

16 February, 2006

Olym-pique

You know what gets my goat? People blathering about our sickly, suckly medal total at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.
But before I get into that, you know what almost gets my goat, before I grab it by the horns and snatch it back at the last second? People who insist on saying these games are coming to us from Torino. The CBC, injecting a little snobbery into its should-have-been-privatized-long-ago coverage, is among the worst offenders.
Look, I know the place is called Torino...in Italian. But I speak English, damnit. I know of no Shroud of Torino. Spielberg does not have a Oscar-nominated movie entitled Munchen, with or without the umlaut. In 1968, the Games was held in Mexico City--only if you lived near there did you bother calling it Ciudad de Mexico.
So, are we agreed? Turin.

Now, if you check the medal standings as of this writing, you find Norway leading, followed by Russia, Germany, the United States, and...hey, there we are! Canada, eight medals. Not too shabby, says I, although many people disagree. I've heard a lot of kvetching about how we should have at least eleven by now. Quite a few persons of my acquaintance seem to be upset not at the quantity of medals we've won, but their colours. To some, it seems, anything less than gold is simply unacceptable.

I have to admit, I used to think like this, a bit. I mean, there's only so much CBC you can watch before you've convinced yourself that "Personal Best" is Canuck for "Gold Medal". And yes, it is undeniably frustrating when athletes who are expected to win gold medals instead go arse over tip four strides into the race.
But let's just look at that last sentence there a second, eh? Athletes who are expected to win gold medals. What a monstrous burden that's got to be to carry around, and how very un-Canadian! Aren't we the country that stares down our snoots at those damn Yankee bastards with their U! S! A! U! S! A!? Aren't we the folks who look at all that national pride emanating from the south and recoil, as if from a bad fart? So why, I ask, do we saddle our athletes with such lofty expectations?
Not to mention we think we can train our athletes on a Bluenose dime. You can't train people in a vacuum and expect them not to suck...

But it's the Winter Games! Winter! Canada! Synonyms!

Only in our own beery minds. Let's bring out Richard Dawson and play the Feud here for a minute. "Top seven answers on the board. We asked one hundred entirely imaginary people who were not from North America to...NAME A COUNTRY ASSOCIATED WITH WINTER."
Bzzzzt!
"Yes? Beuller? (He's German, nicht wahr?)
"Ack! Vas ist der Vaterland?"
"Wait a sec, there, Beuller, this ain't Jeopardy! But survey says..."
dingdingding
29
Mama Bueller, remembering Stalin, shouts out Russia!
dingdingding
42
And the Buellers win the shooting match. There's much kissing and hugging and--yech, why do they all find Dawson so sexy, anyway? The board flips over to reveal Norway, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Iceland, hey, gotta dig it, they named their country after winter. Canada? Oh, yeah, that place. Not on ze list, folks. Truth be told, we're not on too many lists, anymore. It was almost flattering when Osama named us as a target. Aww, how cute, he remembered us.

1988 marked a turning point for Canadian success at the Winter Games. It can't be mere co-incidence that we hosted the world that year and spent a mint building new training and performance facilities. Granted, we only won five medals at our own Games, but our share of the medal haul has increased in every Winter Games since:

1992 -- Albertville -- 7
1994 -- Lillehammer -- 13
1998 -- Nagano -- 15
2002 -- Salt Lake City -- 17
2006 -- Turin -- ???

With a renewed commitment to funding and an eye to being among the leaders when we host the Games in Vancouver in 2010, I think it's fair to say that even if we slip a little, we're on the right track. Here we are, halfway through the Olympics, and we have more medals than we managed in any TWO Olympiads from 1948 through 1988 COMBINED. I think that's pretty damned good.

I have a cousin who was an Olympian. Women's Field Hockey, Barcelona, 1992. That team finished seventh out of eight teams at the Games. But what that little stat neglects to tell you is that they had to qualify just to play in the bloody Games. I'm very proud of her, just as I am of all our Olympians, past, present and future. Whether they win a medal, or not, ALL our athletes are golden.

13 February, 2006

For my wife, on this Valentine's Day

And Every Day...

I've never felt this way before
I miss you and I love you more
than I could ever hope to show,
and every day I'll tell you so.

I'll tell in words, I'll tell in deeds
I'll tell you as we plant the seeds
of life and love: they're ours to sow,
and every day we both will know.

We'll know that love is ours to share.
We'll know it is forever there.
And through the years our seeds will grow,
and every day, my love, we'll go...

We'll go to places yet undreamed.
We'll go to places often deemed
to be where streams of kisses flow,
and every day the breeze will blow.

The breeze will blow us joy and cheer
and laughter, and a fleeting tear
and Life will lead both high and low
and every day, new rows to hoe...

I love you, Eva, don't forget
I haven't even started yet
to demonstrate so that you'll know:
But every day, I'll tell you so.

--written for Eva before we married: I mean it even more now.

12 February, 2006

Hockey Day In Ken-ada

At long last, the day I'd been waiting for ever since October: the Leafs versus the New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre.
My dad had procured some very good seats for us and presented me with the tickets all the way back at Thanksgiving. I promptly hid them in my underwear drawer. Anyplace else, I figured, I'd lose them.
He had taken me to the Air Canada Centre once before: March 17th, 2002, against the New York Islanders. (Dad: Next time it'll have to be the Devils: then we'll have covered New York City!) We had sat about twenty rows from the tippy-top of the building then. Although there are no bad seats at the ACC, some seats are definitely better than others: these promised to be.


Everybody at work seemed to be a bit envious. Well, one guy wasn't. Jeff asked me what I was doing this weekend. "I'm going with my dad to a Leaf game", I wheedled. "WRONG ANSWER!" he yelled.
"What are you, some kind of Habs fan?"
"Naw. I just hate the Toronto Maple Leafs."
"Okay, well, then I'm going to a NEW YORK RANGERS road game!"
"That's better! You're learning!" he chuckled.

Our first stop was the Hockey Hall of Fame, under extensive renovation. We tried our hand at play-by-play (Dad was pretty good, I was pretty bad) and had a few rounds of hockey trivia, one of which I won going away:



We watched one movie covering the 1987 Canada Cup and another on the career of Bobby Orr (who, like my dad, is from Parry Sound: one of my most prized possessions is a picture of myself, at six months old, cradled in the arms of the Hall of Fame defenseman). Then, off to slunch at
Richtree Market ... hey, if the meal between breakfast and lunch is called "brunch"...

This Richtree place is something else. Picture the most opulent cafeteria imaginable, and you'd be close. As you enter, they give you a shopping card. You grab a tray and move from station to station, selecting things you want: each swipe of the card adds to your tab. What a selection: steak to sushi to stir fry to struedel to salad, and that's just the esses. All of it prepared fresh, right in front of you. One of the more memorable meals of the year.



Then, on to the game.

On the way in, we were almost selected to be on Hockey Night In Canada, cheering on the Leafs and Team Canada. As it was, we are barely visible in the background of the segment in our Britt and Area Fire Department hats. (I kid my Dad that the department should be called the Britt and Area Rescue and Fire/Emergency Department.)

Nineteen rows from ice level, near the top of the golds, halfway between the Leafs defensive blueline and the high slot. Almost perfect seats.

We were in those seats over an hour before puck drop. The atmosphere grew steadily more electric as game time approached and the arena filled up.

John McDermott came out to sing the anthems...obviously a good omen. He's probably my favourite singer, and this was, to my knowledge, his first time doing anthem duty this season.

Opening faceoff. There are two big differences between seeing a game live and watching at home. One: in the stadium, the game goes by in an absolute blur. Two: it's nothing short of incredible how quiet eighteen thousand-plus people can be. Unless the Jumbotron specifically encourages noise, you can hear the ice freezing. This is Toronto, after all.

One noise I can certainly do without is coming from my right: two girls chattering away through the entire game about everything but hockey. With seats this good--and expensive--I marvel at what seems to be the practised insolence of the affluent.

Another noise I can do without is the sound of puck bulging twine--the wrong twine. Four times before we manage the same feat once. (Okay, Rich Brat on my right did make one remark about hockey. With a glance at Staffan Kronwall, she muttered "oh, look, he lost the puck all by himself, isn't that clever?" Despite myself, I snickered...

The final score was Rangers 4, Toronto 2. Our goals were supplied by McCabe (of course) and Allison, while Jaromir (anagram: Mario Jr) Jagr was a one-man wrecking crew for the Rangers. A good game though: tonight, the Leafs tried. As a long-suffering fan (Stanley Cup Final appearances during my lifetime: uh, zero), that's all I ask of them.

Even though we lost, I really enjoyed the game. Thanks, Dad, for the tickets and the company!

10 February, 2006

Oil The World's a Stage

How many people actually sit around thinking that if their eyes are open, they're probably looking at something that was made with oil?
(Yes, Peter, I know you do.)
So do I. In fact, this disquieting thought meanders through my brain quite often lately. I mean, everything has something to do with oil. Even if it's something that wasn't made directly from oil, chances are the machine on which it was made has some connection with black gold.
Have we not, as a civilization, put all our eggs in one basket? What happens when that basket gives out? I, for one, have little interest in surveying the giant omelette that was once our whole world.
There are conflicting reports on just how long the oil supply will last. But it's a pretty safe bet that we'll see the end of oil within a generation or two. And I think we've long passed the point where we could adapt easily to a world without oil and everything it's been made into.
There are alternate energy sources out there. And I'm not talking solar or wind...how many factories do you know of that are run by the sun and the summer breeze? More than a century ago, Nikola Tesla found a way to sink a rod into the earth and bring up electricity; his scheme collapsed when his backers realized there was no way to make money from it. You can bet that somewhere, somebody's got ol' Nikky's notes, and they'll spring this new power source upon us just as soon as they've wrung every last cent out of oil.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am an almost complete ignoramus when it comes to economics. Every time the price of oil inches upward, we're fed a litany of excuses. They won't actually come out and say they're starting to run out of oil--that'd cause real panic--but everything from a little wobble in Middle East geopolitics through to the mere possibility of a hurricane is enough, these days, to send the price of oil shooting for the moon. To me, that indicates a lack of stability in the supply. But from here, it looks like the only reason we're being asked to pay more for gasoline is to line the pockets of Big Oil. Every quarter, their profits grow fatter. The PRICE of oil may rise, but it's pretty obvious the COST of oil hasn't. If you count the cost in dollars alone, anyway.
Consider a world without oil. In many ways it'd be an improvement over what we have now...but getting there would probably take an Armageddon or two. Individuals don't kick addictions easily. With societies, it's damn near impossible.
It'd be in our best interest to develop a wide-ranging, sustainable, and powerful source of energy right about yesterday. It will take time to wean the world off the oily tit. But even having done that, there remains the colossal problem of material...most of it, as I said, either made from oil or made with the assistance of something that was made from oil. That's what's called a nontrivial issue.
An atomic replicator a la Star Trek would be ideal. While still in the realm of science fiction last I checked, I do believe such a machine is at least theoretically possible. And the payoff is beyond any invention in the history of inventions.
If I were a government, I would offer a 25-year exclusive patent to the first company that comes up with a working replicator. Greed is a powerful motivator, perhaps the most powerful motivator of all. What price a machine that will literally create weath? Every episode of Star Trek I ever saw had the replicator confined to making little stuff like a cup of tea. But if you can create a cup of tea out of thin air, what's to stop you from creating a new house?
Or an atomic bomb?
Every new technology has its promise and its peril. I think the only reason we haven't seen atomic replicators in our world is simply that spiritually, our world isn't ready for them yet.
We'd better get with the program soon. Before we run out of our drug of choice.

08 February, 2006

Value judgments

The German State of Baden-Wurttemberg now requires new immigrants to answer thirty questions concerning their attitudes on a variety of issues. The test is specifically designed to filter out Muslims whose beliefs may not be compatible with prevailing German standards.
Although this exam is in written form, an applicant's answers do not summarily decide his or her allowance into Germany. That's a good thing, because some of the questions are a mite tricky.
Like this one: "What do you think about the following statement: 'Humankind has experienced nothing worse than democracy'?"
No less an authority than Winston Churchill said that 'Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." I myself sometimes think democracy is a great deal less than it's cracked up to be. The problem I have with democracy is simply this: a body temperature near 37 degrees Centigrade is all that's required to earn a stake in the future direction of a government. To me, a brain and a tendency to use it should be prerequisite to a franchise. But that's me. If I state that on this test, do red flags go up?
Question 23: "In your opinion, were those who carried out the 9/11 attacks terrorists or freedom fighters?"
Boy, that one's loaded, eh? It's pretty obvious how you are supposed to answer. And if I was taking this test, my honest answer would be 'both'. There's no doubt that we in the West think of al-Qaeda as terrorists, but it's vitally important to remember that a sizeable percentage of the world does not agree with us.
Question 30: "What do you think about homosexuals...working in state institutions?"
Well, I know what I think--so what? But there are people right here in Canada that have a problem with this. If they say so, are they blackballed? I hope not.

This test comes back to the nonsensical idea, championed in the recent Canadian election, that a country has "values". While it is true that democratic structures eventually grow to reflect their environments, those same structures safeguard minority beliefs. Or they're supposed to. That is, in fact, the whole point of democracy.
Then again, here in Canada, I sometimes wonder if we're teetering on this point of democracy. Paul Martin has referred to us as a "nation of minorities". As a proud Canadian, I object to that characterization. I find it needlessly divisive: to endlessly focus on our differences is to deny our essential sameness and fray the bonds of unity. Perhaps that explains why patriotism is waning, and why we've never been able to satisfactorily define what it means to be Canadian: it now means so many things that it really means nothing at all.

05 February, 2006

Take that Divine Light and...LIGHTEN UP, ALREADY!

Is this offensive?





















How about this?














For every one of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons that have inflamed Muslim sensibilities, I can show you three dozen like the one above. Many come out of Egypt, but they originate all over the Arab world. In appease-at-all-costs Canada, it's very rare that we get a glimpse of the kind of hatred endemic in Muslim culture: hatred of Jews, in particular and the Americans, who are seen as Jewish protectors, in general.
You have to understand that in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, it is general knowledge that Jewish people are monsters who flavour their Seder meal with the blood of Arab babies; that the Jews run the world; that the only good Jew is a dead Jew. Kids are given this nonsense with their mothers' milk.


By publishing the first cartoon on my blog, I am taking a risk. By stating that to some degree I agree with the sentiment behind that first cartoon, I am doubtless increasing it. The Danish Embassy in Syria has been torched, there have been worldwide protests, some of them violent, and death threats have been levelled against the original publishers of the cartoons. This is typical:





Pleasant, isn't it?

The real irony is that the Danish cartoon depicting the Prophet with a bomb for a turban is merely stating in pictorial form what many here in the West have come to believe about Islam: that its sole purpose is to eradicate all other systems of belief off the face of the globe. And the reaction to the publishing of these cartoons is proving their point in spades.

The second cartoon, out of Egypt, depicts what many of that culture believe about Israel and the United States. As far as people in that part of the world are concerned, there's nothing offensive about it. Odd that Jews everywhere aren't burning embassies down. To me, that says something about the maturity of the Jewish faith.

I understand the Muslim religion bans representation of human figures (in an attempt to eliminate what it sees as a sin of idolatry). It also bans denigrating words directed at its Prophet. That seems like idolatry to me!

I am nobody's Muslim scholar, but I'm pretty sure the Koran makes allowances for people living in non-Muslim lands. Last I looked, Denmark was pretty Christian. As usual, the fundamentalists can't tell their faces from their fundaments.

This whole brouhaha is precisely why I have no use for religion. That may sound harsh, especially since I'm perfectly aware the vast majority of believers in any faith are nowhere near as zealous as the folks who decided to torch that embassy. But the roots of that act are embedded in the very fibres of any religion which states that (a) God is greater than Man; (b) there is something Man has to do to get into God's good graces; and (c) if Man does not do what God requires of him, he will burn in hell everlasting.

That many Christians profess to believe in those three things, while simultaneously telling you that their God is eternally loving, speaks to their misunderstanding of love.

The God I believe in--and I do believe in one--is a part of all things, not apart from all things. He is truly eternally loving, which means She never judges, merely Observes. It asks nothing of us--there being nothing to ask. This God forgives us nothing--for there is nothing to forgive: how can one possibly sin against a Being/Force that inhabits every cell of the universe?

Most importantly, the God I believe in honestly doesn't care whether or not I believe in God.

I would never presume to criticize any one person's faith, but I do feel free to observe the results of that faith. And what my observations tell me is that many, many people have never examined their faith, much less have faith in themselves. The first order result of this is a world turned upside down, where heinous acts are committed in the name of a supposedly benevolent deity.

Super Bowl? Toilet Bowl...

Just got in from shovelling the driveway. If you look at Environment Canada's Kitchener-Waterloo website, it'll tell you we got 20 mm of rain yesterday. I'm here to tell you that that was pretty heavy, white rain. More like 20 cm worth, actually. It was so heavy that it was nearly impossible to shovel. What I actually did, most of the time, was scoop and carry.
I'm sore, I'm stiff, and I'm definitely out of practice when it comes to shovelling snow. This marks only the second time this season I've had to do it.
Global warming? Well, my little piece of the globe is warming, that's for sure. So far this winter, we've had exactly three days with below normal temperatures. The thermometer hasn't touched -20 yet; I rather doubt it will. I am a bit concerned about July, though. The first half of last summer was almost unbearable. I'm hoping we don't see a repeat.

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY.

If there's anything I care less about, I can't think of what it might be.

I'm sort of a strange animal when it comes to sports. I consider myself a rabid hockey fan, but the truth is I'm more of a rabid Toronto Maple Leafs fan: even with the Stanley Cup at stake, I won't go out of my way to watch any other team--and I'll be the first to admit that the Leafs won't be playing for the Stanley Cup any time soon. That doesn't lessen my devotion to the team, however.
I like baseball, but, again, I'm more of a Blue Jays fan. I can certainly appreciate the exploits of players on other squads, but actually make time to watch them? Not likely.
I tolerate basketball (and wouldn't you know it, the sport never crossed my radar until the Toronto Raptors joined the NBA?) But I'm likely to only watch the sport in snippets, between all the time-outs.
As for football...you'd have to pay me to watch that.
And in case you're wondering, I have seen a game live (the 1991 Vanier Cup: Wilfrid Laurier 25, Mount Allison 18), so I can't fall victim to the "how do you know you don't like it if you've never even watched it" people.
Truth be told, my dislike of football is a bit hard to articulate, and that's bothering me. You see, I'm the sort of person who insists on a reason for people feeling the way they do. You don't like something? Fine. Tell me why. And I have trouble doing that when it comes to football.
After all, football is basically hockey without skates (and with a lot more players on the field at any given time). The puck is a ball, and you kick or throw it instead of slapping it with a stick.
Okay, I cringe at the brutality of football, even as I acknowledge hockey has its share of the same. I think, if I'm being honest with myself, the main reason I hate football so much is that the sort of people who play it are also the sort of people who used to beat the crap out of me.

I understand the rudiments of the game. I appreciate the athleticism. And blah, blah, blah...
Even if Toronto should realize its dream of acquiring an NFL franchise--they've been clamoring for one almost as long as they've been frantically insisting they're a 'world class city'--I won't cheer for it.

So as a total outsider, I regard this whole Super Bowl thing with large doses of amusement mixed with contempt. I have been told by many football fanatics that the game itself is usually devoid of drama. Of course, that hardly matters. It's still the perfect excuse for an entire week of hype. My God, people are even babbling about the commercials. Commercials, you know, the things that nobody watches anymore, thanks to their remote controls and PVRs? Further proof that the game is the furthest thing from people's minds came in 2004 with the infamous wardrobe malfunction. A nipple was visible for an instant on national television. From the reaction, you would think that nobody had ever seen one of those before. This happened during the halftime show and had nothing to do with the game at all. Halftime show? Isn't halftime when you get up and stretch, hit the can, go out to the kitchen and get some munchies?
Apparently not. Shania Twain's album sales increased by 58% the week after she appeared at the halftime show in 2002. Okay, everybody! Shania's been legitimized! It's okay to buy her album now!
Puh-leeze.
Television networks take for granted that anyone with a testicle will watch the Super Bowl, and so schedule all manner of overtly ovarian fare opposite the game. That doesn't appeal to me, either. I guess I'll be reading a book tonight...which means I won't be calling in "sick" tomorrow.

02 February, 2006

The Story of Ken, Tim, and Joe

I said yesterday that I'd have more to say tomorrow, and now tomorrow is today, and whatever I was saving yesterday to say today has evaporated. Luckily, something else took its place.

This morning, for the first time ever, I had a coffee before I left the house.

I know what you're thinking. Huh? Isn't this guy, like, 33 years old? And he's never had coffee in the morning? I call bullshit. Well, I'll be 34 on Monday, and it's the plain truth. Until a couple of years ago, my coffee intake had been limited to a sip or two every decade like clockwork: nope, this still tastes like crap.

Taste is supposed to be 80 percent smell. So if you like the smell of something, I figure there's an 80 percent chance you're going to like the taste of it, too. I like the smell of roasting coffee. But every time I tried to drink it, I'd be confronted with that 20%. Blecch.

If you're wondering how I ever woke up in the morning without java, I'll tell you. Even if you're not, I'm gonna tell you anyway. Ten minutes in a shower under scalding hot water. I'd just stand there, semi-catatonic, until I'd parboiled the sleep right off my body.

"A Shower is the halfway point between Bed and World", I would intone as I half-stumbled, half-fell out of bed. I'd hobble off to the bathroom, shut the door, and leaving the light off lest I popped my tender eyeballs, I'd turn on the fan (very important, that). Shortly thereafter, humidity in the room would rise to 438% and visibility outside the bathtub would sink to zero. The road from Plungerton to Commode would close due to the fog; standing in the tub with my eyes firmly shut, I could hear the foghorns wailing from Faucet Point.
Most of the time, I wouldn't even bother with soap or shampoo: the morning shower was therapuetic, not hygenic, in nature.
Oh! how I loved my showers. Still do, in fact. And they still do the job: just ask my wife, who is NOT a morning person, about how chipper her husband is before sunrise.

Something you ought to know about me: I love going up north to see my dad and stepmom. Always have. The night before a trip up there, I'm like a kid destined for Disneyland: I don't sleep much.
So this one time, a couple of years back, we arose at the ungodly hour of four in the morning in order to be in Britt for brunch. The morning shower wasn't doing it that day...I stepped out of the fog still half asleep. My lovely wife managed to croak out one word...coffee.

My sleeping mind recoiled as if from a nightmare. Then, sluggishly, my brain worked it out. If you dump enough sugar and cream into a coffee, maybe it won't taste so much like coffee.
This revelation came upon me with the force of someone turning the bathroom light on whilst I was in my morning mist. Coffee, I thought. I'm gonna brave it. I gotta wake up. If I don't keep up a constant stream of chatter, Eva will fall asleep at the wheel and we'll both find ourselves in a long white tunnel, approching the light...
The sign ahead said



Well, this being Canada, there was a sign to the left that said



and one to the right that said




Hell, sometimes it's hard to believe that every Canadian doesn't have their own Tim's franchise. They're EVERYWHERE.

We pulled in and went in. It being something like ten after five, there were only seventy or so other people in there with us. Okay, I'm exaggerating a little. It was only thirty. Thirty people and no food.
"We'd like to get a sand--" my wife started to say.
"Sorry", said the clerk in a tone that suggested she was anything but. "We can't make sandwiches right now."
"Do you have any donuts?" she asked.
"No! Not for another half hour." This time, it came out like we were aliens from someplace out beyond the Goat's Ass Nebula. I wondered for a second if I'd blundered into a
cheese shop.
I regarded the girl behind the counter and for just an instant, I caught a glimpse of what was going through her mind.
These assholes are from somewhere out beyond the Goat's Ass Nebula. They don't know the schedule! They look Canadian...but they've obviously never been in a




before. Do I get my manager? Do I call the cops? Oh, no, the girl's getting testy.

"Can we just get a bagel? And coffees", my wife entreated, testily.

"Y-yes, sure", she said. Bagels. Coffee. Well, that's okay. Let's just get these freaks out of here.
"Two cream, two sweetener", Eva ordered. "And a triple-triple".
Holy crap, the clerk thought. The girl alien's order's okay, but the guy! He must live on sugar. Like that...thing...out of Men In Black. I better hurry, before he changes.

I thought about croaking "More" to her a couple of times, just for shits and giggles, you know? But I decided against it, and soon we were out on the open highway and the first sip of that Tim Horton's blend hit like ambrosia.

I've done a little research to find out why their coffee tastes so damned good...so...un-coffee-like. There are various conspiracy theories out there that Tim's uses things like nicotene and MSG. Back here in the real world, I've asked some longtime Tim's employees. They offer a couple of suggestions. One is the use of top-quality coffee makers that brew at a much higher temperature than your Mr. Coffee. That might be part of it, but 7-Eleven uses similar Bunn coffee-makers and in my opinion their coffee tastes like dirty shirts. Another clue: Tim's uses 18% table cream, not the half-and-half (10%) you find in many other places.
Other theories abound. It's the paper cups. It's the freshness. It's a little love in every pot.
I guess we'll never know. No matter: I was hooked right through the beanbag.

But a Horton habit gets expensive, even at only $1.35 a pop. Two larges a day will run you damn near a grand in one year. Hey, if you want to spend your money, you go right ahead. Me, well, other people have been buying me coffees, over my protests. It may sound strange, but money's too tight for me to be in our Koffee Klatch. Some days, there are nine people to buy for.
So, we thought, let's try home-brewed coffee. We know we can't approximate a Timmies--I've heard that even with an exact copy of their machine, brewing their coffee, you can't re-create the magic.
Solution: CoffeeMate. Or Natrel's Cafe, or International Delight, or anything I can put into a black coffee to remove the taste of black coffee.

We tried it this morning. Our first brew came out wicked strong. I had to dump at least three good glurgs of hazelnut CoffeeMate in there to make the cup palatable. And let me tell you, within about fifteen minutes I was fixing to kick the world's ass.
Ka-SPANG! I looked up at the ceiling and counted 3,489,295 stucco stones without blinking. For an encore, I calculated how much tea was in China. Then I started babbling in Auctioneer.
"see the thing about today is that it's Thursday and all the squirrels are singing did you know that no never mind I didn't either but then why? because hey! you never know do you and so"
---"Ken!"
WHAPPO!
Right, time to go to work. I'll get there and send everybody home! I can do ALL THE JOBS AT ONCE HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

So this is how you people survive on four hours' sleep a night! It's all so clear now!

I practically threw myself through the front doors at work and shouted at the top of my lungs "IT'S GRRRRRRROUUUNNNNDHAAAAWWWWWWG DAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!" I started to sing "I Got You Babe", complete with all the instrument sounds.

Karen came sauntering up to me, took one look at the eyes going buggo out of my head, and said "Coffee, Ken?"
"No thanks, I just had one. Wheeeeeeehawwwww!"

About an hour later, I crashed. And I suddenly thought I knew something of what it must be like to smoke. See, I felt normal. But having felt so good just a couple of minutes before, "normal" felt terrible. And normal might feel better if I could just have a little Timmies pick-me-up, just one, you know, to lay the dust...
And Ric, bless his heart, had provided. For the rest of the day I was euphoric. Then I got home and crashed again.
This can't be good, I thought. One day and I'm up and down like a yo-yo. Drastic measures are called for.

I have now sworn off Tim Horton's. Everyone at work has been told not to buy Ken any coffee. Ken's going to have his cuppa joe in the morning--after his therapeutic shower--and burble through the day on that. Tim's will be a very, very occasional treat.

Now I've got to go to bed. If I ever get to sleep, I know just what I'm going to see:






01 February, 2006

Buncha random mutterings

Okay, Gomery 's out with his recommendations to avoid another AdScam. I was pretty impressed that he asked ordinary Canadians to contribute their ideas for same--but I didn't. Contribute, that is. My ideas are kind of radical: I doubt he would have looked at them.
Here's an example: why does the government have to advertise at all? They're the GOVERNMENT. Their job is to GOVERN. It certainly isn't to SELL us stuff.
Anyway, Stephen Harper says his Accountability Act dovetails very well with Gomery's proposals. I'm not so sure we need more rules. I think what we need are a very few, very clear rules, strictly enforced. Rules beget red tape. Enough of that and your government comes to a shuddering halt.
Moving right along...
I got to work today to discover a letter waiting for me, detailing an automatic distribution from our warehouse that was to arrive starting tomorrow. Reason: Super Bowl weekend.
Great idea, I thought. Okay, granted, I probably should have got notice of this last week at the latest, but hey! At least they're taking the initiative and sending us...
...what are they sending us?
Hmmm.
My eyes moved down the list, expecting to see Super Bowl necessities like, oh, I don't know, chip dip, sour cream, spinach, pizzas, nuts, that sort of stuff. Instead I saw...
...orange juice.
Six cases of store brand cartons of orange juice. Six cases of jugs of store brand orange juice. Not to mention ten cases of store brand MILD cheese bars.
Mild cheese bars. Hardly anybody buys mild cheese in Ontario. It's a big hit out east, but around here I could take it off the shelves and not hear a complaint for a month. This stuff might actually go out of code on me. It doesn't go with the orange juice, and neither the cheese nor the orange juice have anything whatever to do with football, so far as I can tell.
Never mind those. We're getting FIFTY SEVEN CASES of beer cups.
Sorry to get all sexist here for a second, but what woman decided those would sell? Everyone knows that if you're a beer drinker, you have three and a half choices:
--you drink your beer right out of the bottle
--you drink your beer right out of the can
--you drink your beer out of a well-chilled stein
--and--it's so sacrilegious I hesitate to even mention it--if your wife/girlfriend is in the room nagging at you, and no other guys are in the room with you to tease you about being pussywhipped, you might drink your beer out of a beer cup.
Next year, when somebody from Head Office comes touring and asks us why all the beer cups are sitting up in our overheads, we'll just stay silent.

That Canadian charge d'affaires in Iraq, whose car attempted to pass an American military convoy, is pretty lucky he's not dead. If he had been killed, any decent coroner would have found the cause of death to be "reckless stupidity". Assuming the media reports are accurate, his vehicle attempted to pass an American military convoy. Further, the driver allegedly ignored hand signals to stop...and even warning shots.
I don't care who you are, where you're going or how much of a hurry you are in to get there...you don't try to pass a military convoy. Ever. ESPECIALLY not in areas where homicide bombers routinely try to pass military convoys so they can blow them up.
And warning shots are good things to heed. Don't ya think?
I know, as a good Canadian I'm supposed to be outraged that one of our own was shot at by those damned Yanks. Sorry. I don't have the reflexive anti-American gene. I am, however, against idiocy in all its forms.

I had more to say, but I'll leave it for tomorrow. The bed beckons.