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Showing posts from September, 2007

Mini Winners

My mom and stepdad live on a farm east of London, Ontario. That they should live on a farm seems inevitable in hindsight: when I was in my early teens, we were forever touring Victorian houses, most of them farmhouses, and had were serious about buying at least two of them. Never came through, though: our homes were invariably suburban. But the dream obviously remained, and now they've made it a reality.
But I don't think they counted on the horses.
Oh, Mom's always loved horses. I, by contrast, was scared of them. They're just so freakin big, you know? You can never tell when one might decide it's time to give you a kick and break your leg. As their website tells it, "when John and I met a beautiful but very large horse we both realized that at our age something smaller would have to do". They've had a succession of German Shepherds dating back to the mid-eighties, and that's the sort of thing I think they meant...until they found a minature horse.

Hockey Blog 2008 (I)

(I meant to do this yesterday, before the season started, but instead had an enjoyable day at the Caledonia Fair, watching my parents handling their miniature horses to victory in virtually every class they entered. Pictures and commentary to follow).

Yup, that's right, the season's started already, and unless you're a fan of the Ducks or Kings you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. The first game was played in London, England, yesterday (Kings 4, Ducks 1) for reasons that will become clear the same day Steve Downie wins the Lady Byng Trophy as most gentlemanly player.
What is the NHL thinking, anyway? It's bad enough they have the gall to play a preseason game in Winnipeg ("Hi. Remember us? We're just here to tantalize and taunt you with a taste of what you'll never have again, bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha"). Or Hamilton ("and you thought you were getting a team? You'll never get a team. If we give you a team, Toronto might want one, bwah-ha-ha-ha-…

Join the Book Club!

...because I can never have enough books...

Time for a trivial post.

I've rejoined the Quality Paperback Book Club: my initial shipment just arrived, and now I'm completely torn as to what I should read first. I just started a very long, involved space opera called PANDORA'S STAR by Peter F. Hamilton, bought during a book run last week.
(Why'd you buy books last week, if you knew you had more coming this week, hmmm?)
Shut up, voice in my head.
(No, really, it's like buying stuff for yourself on the twentieth of December. What were you thinking?)
I was thinking, if you really must know, that my initial QPB order might not show for another two or even three weeks. I could always cycle back through things I'd already read, of course, but a detailed survey of the library upstairs left me feeling like I'd just read everything in it. I could go to the library--I have, actually--but everything I'm itching to read has so many holds on it, I'd be reading in my gra…

Ahmadinejad Jihad

I would very strongly urge my regular readers, as well as anyone who may stumble across my blog, to take some time out of their day, go here, and read the transcript of the speech delivered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad at Columbia University yesterday.
All the better if you can read it all the way through. The first half, roughly, seems so completely and surprisingly sensible that you may be (or at least I was) tempted to think a rational and credidble person is talking. I even give the man points for his immediate complaint that the person who introduced him insulted him in the process. This drew applause from the audience, and rightly so. To invite someone to speak in a prestigious forum, then insult him before he even opens his mouth, is appallingly bad manners. Instead, the president of the university would have done well to wait a few minutes.
Because roughly halfway through, things take a turn for the surreal. The rug is yanked out and Ahmnadinejad's speech reveals…

Should Marriage Have a Best Before Date?

Minister: Do you, Walter Goodman, take this woman to be your lawfully dreaded wife, to love and to cherish, to wear down and grate on her nerves, to drag her into your own private hell, in sickness and in health, before and after sex, with or without a purpose, for as long as you both shall deem it profitable to hang on to the house before you make a killing on the resale market?
Walt: Sure, why not.
Minister: And do you, Sybill Robinson, agree to take this man for everything he's worth?
Sybill: Oh I hope to! I mean, I do! I do!

--Tim Burns, Brian Moffatt, "Six Days that Shook The Walt"

I've been expecting to see this in real life for about ten years, ever since I first ran across the idea in the works of Robert A. Heinlein.
A German politician has floated the idea that marriages should be automatically dissolved after seven years unless both spouses elect to renew. Because so many marriages have shattered by this time, she argues, it's outmoded and increasingly silly …

Election follies (II): MMP for MPPs?

First, a confession: I did not watch the political "debate" last night.
I don't think I've ever missed one, provincial or federal, but honestly. My interest in seeing these things rests comfortably to the left of zero these days. The day they stop screaming at each other and start talking rationally, I might reconsider.
Remember Mike Harris? He turned in the best performance I ever saw at one of these shindigs, by virtually ignoring his two opponents and simply, directly stating his platform to the electorate. He was rewarded with a huge majority--and even those many who hate the man recognize he followed through on most of that platform. Would that all politicians, of all stripes, exhibited that sort of candour. Instead, they bob and weave, rarely even speaking to the issue at hand, unless it's to blame the other guy. No thanks.
I did, however, pick up copies of both the Sun and Star this morning, to make sure I got both sides. Both papers, predictably, pandered …

Identity? Pul-LEEZE.

"Shhh, do you know you're actually yelling?" my wife said to me.
Well, no, I didn't realize I was. But I guess I'm not surprised. Every once in a while, I hear something on television that pisses me off.

In Delcambre, Louisiana, it is now a crime to wear baggy pants that expose your underwear. The penalty is six months in jail and up to a $500 fine.

That wasn't what pissed me off. Granted, the punishment's a bit harsh, but then again, if you want to look like somebody who's in jail, maybe you belong there yourself.
No, what pissed me off was some talking head getting onscreen and saying "this is no big deal to youth. It's fashion. They're...
(oh, shit, here it comes, he's actually going to say it!)
...searching for their identity."
Cue the boiling of the blood.

Searching for their identity? Why do so many adults say this about teenagers? Straight out of the southern end of yonder bull, that is. Teens--most of them, at any rate--have ze…

Election follies (I)

The Ontario election campaign is in full riot mode all around me. I know negative campaign ads work, but boy, I wish they didn't. McGuinty's getting hammered left and right (on the right, it's a literal hammer: every Conservative commercial features at least three panes of glass breaking, each symbolizing a broken promise).
The thing is, I knew long ago that I wouldn't be voting for Dalton McGuinty. I almost voted for him last time. He seemed so sincere when he said "I won't raise your taxes, but I won't cut them either. Our schools and hospitals need every penny of that money." Wow, I thought. That sounds so honest! In an election campaign! That's probably the first honest statement I've heard since Kim Campbell's infamous "An election is no time to discuss serious issues."

(Incidentally, the same John Tory that's currently running for the Premiership of Ontario ran that campaign for Campbell. He was behind possibly the most n…

On Racism

I'm racist.
I suspect most of us--probably close to all of us--are. As the musical Avenue Q so trenchantly points out,

Everyone's a little bit racist, sometimes.
Doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
no one's really color-blind.
Maybe it's a fact we all should face:
Everyone makes judgments based on race.
Not big judgments, like who to hire or who to buy a newspaper from...
No, just little judgments like thinking that Mexican busboys should learn to speak goddamn English!

I got to thinking about this early this morning as my wife was doing her monthly Snopes run....checking out all the various hoaxes and urban legends that have cropped up lately, the better to debunk all those people who go around believing everything they see on the Internet.
Anyway, she found a reference to the Jena Six.
If you're American, I imagine you've heard all about this incident. I'm Canadian: this was the first I'd ever heard of it.

A rough …

School Daze

Teacher, teacher, listen well
My lessons all to you I'll tell
And when my day at school is through
I'll know more than aught I knew.

Today's the first day of school for many children of all ages. I'd know this just from a look around our neighbourhood, which has shed its summer torpor and become a bustling hive of activity and garbage generation. There are many tradespeople who live by this time of year (notably bread salesmen) and just as many who loathe it (at least I would if I had to stuff all this garbage into a truck!)

So begins another nine months of our driveway being used as a turnaround point for those parents who drop off their little darlings up at school and pick them up later, which is pretty much all of them. One of the things we hadn't bargained on when buying this house (and remember, this house was bought with children of our own at top of mind) was the sheer number of cars on this street at the end of every school day. When your arrival hom…

Hide in your big house while ours falls down...

I ran across a reference to this over at author Dan Simmons's site. If you don't choose to follow the link, in brief, it's an article from CNN about a new home in West Hartford, CT.
This newly built home is 50,900 square feet (4729 square meters) in size: only slightly smaller than the White House. It has, among many, many other things, a 103-seat movie theater and a 4900 square foot (455 square meter) games room.
I had surfed on over to the Simmons site immediately after perusing the weekly jeremiad over at Jim Kunstler's space. Kunstler is also an author (his books include The Long Emergency, and he's always good for a pull-me-down to start your week. Lately, what with the ongoing financial crisis in the United States, you can almost see him rubbing his hands together in glee. It's pretty clear from even a perfunctory reading of his blog that he hates our so-called "civilization" and hopes it collapses soon.
He may get his wish: between Peak Oil, e…

Long weekend scuttled: Forty Words for Sorrow

It turns out that I'm not getting a long weekend this time, either.
I work Sunday night into Monday--which I had thought was a stat holiday. I called Head Office on this, in the guise of caring about unnecessary labour dollars spent (why pay people time and a half when you don't have to?) and was cheerily informed that no, as far as they're concerned, if the shift *starts* on Monday it means time and a half. If it *starts* on Sunday and goes into Monday, nope, that's regular rate.
I still think they're full of shit on this point. Every collective agreement I found on the Web yesterday took my side. (Never thought I'd say this, but I regret not being at one of the unionized stores right now.)
When I worked at 7-Eleven (and believe you me, I worked a lot of stat holidays), their policy was a shift starting at 11:00 p.m. the day before the holiday and going into the holiday itself was paid at time and a half.
But I won't argue it any further: I'd lose.

So I&…