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Showing posts from March, 2007

A Whole Lotto Trouble

Back when I was a child--oh, hell, probably up into my teens--I used to lie as a matter of course. I lied for the same reason most people lie: because the truth was unpleasant, better avoided. And of course the truth could never be avoided for long, and of course I'd be in trouble, and of course it would be twice as much trouble because I had lied.
And yet...I'd just turn around and lie again the next time I had the opportunity. Over and over and over again. Why? Because this time I'd get away with it, is why.
It never worked, you know. Not once. My greatest, most elaborate lie was also my last of any consequence: for well over a year, I said whatever came to mind to keep people from finding out I had dropped out of university. I had three excuses for maintaining this fiction: one, as usual, the truth was not pretty; two, I felt I had to hide my Internet addiction, which contributed; three, at the time I couldn't even explain myself. I had what to me were damned good rea…

The Brick = Shithouse

If I've had a worse retail experience in my entire life, I can't remember what it might be.

Okay, so first we bought an air conditioner: a floor model Danby that leaked all over our library. Hey, a dud: happens to the best of us. We called The Brick, and had a new one delivered reasonably quickly...just after the heat wave broke, of course, but oh, well.
So far, so good.
Except the new one didn't work overly well, either, and sure enough, within a month, tops, the red light indicating a full hopper began to flash, and continued flashing after we emptied the hopper, and while that light flashed our $626 air conditioner was reduced to acting as a simple fan.
So we called for service. And it took three and a half eternities, but we eventually managed to line up a service call for a time when one of us could be home. The repairman fiddled with the air conditioner, called his superiors, called Danby, and decided he needed to order a part.
By the time that part came, summer was of …

Did you know you need a quarter to put air in your tires?

Or, the high cost of inflation

I've blown the budget on budget blogs for this week, but let me address one point out of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's final (I hope), NDP-ish budget: the raising of the minimum wage in Ontario to $10.25/hr (in three years). I had a wee change of brain on this one a couple of weeks ago, as a result of something I read in the Toronto Star.

Digression: the price of prejudice is constant mantenance, the checking of your cherished truisms against invading facts. Whenever one of mine gets overturned, I feel momentarily naked and unsure of myself. I'm like a baby who's had his security blankie snatched away. Far from feeling liberated, I actually feel a tad threatened. I've betrayed myself: there will be reprisals, yes? Never mind the good reasons, they aren't that good at all, you're thinking like them, stop that!
Thus do prejudices re-assert and perpetuate themselves.

I used to side with practically every economist in the world in…

Budget Thoughts (II)

After yesterday's media sampling, I've been reading the forums at the Globe, the Star, and CBC.ca to get an inkling of what average Canadians thought of the budget.
Not that I needed to. I could have told you the whining would be deafening. Still, the shrill, high-pitched scream ("MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!") eventually caused me to bolt away in horror.
I'm a single man in my fifties. Where's my tax break?
I walk to work and support the environment by caring for my pets. Perhaps I should get a tax break.
Quebec cries, Ottawa shovels. (Oh, yeah, and where's my tax break?)
Why I am supporting other people's kids?
These are all comments I saw. If the four or five hundred responses I read are representative, this has got to be the most selfish, uncaring, entitled country on the face of the earth.
Harper scattered his tax breaks around, but most of them were loosely targeted at suburbanites with children: the same group he courted last yea…

Budget Thoughts

There's nothing like a federal budget to bring out my schizophrenia.
Scratch that: there's nothing like this federal budget to bring out my schizophrenia.

Anyone who's been poking around this here Breadbin for any length of time knows I was raised conservative, if not Conservative, and have become more and more progressive is many (but not all) respects. Such an animal as I, when confronted with Harper's conundrum of a budget, is apt to twirl himself into a tizzy.

ITEM: TAX CUTS

Last year I railed against the Liberals' infamous proclamation that parents would blow Harper's child care allowance on "beer and popcorn". I still believe that parents are much better qualified to raise their children than a government could ever be, but at least now I understand where that comment was coming from.
I used to parrot the right-wing mantra that taxes are my money, damnit: give it back. Indeed, some days I'm still apt to say that out loud, usually when I see some…

Five for Fighting

Me work hard five days a week
Sweeping garbage from the street
Come home not want book to read
Not 'nuf pictures for me see!
Sit right down in favourite chair
Wearing only underwear
Favourite night is Saturday night
'Cause me can watch hockey fights!
Me Like Hockey! Me Like Hockey!
--"Me Like Hockey", the Arrogant Worms


Fighting in hockey: should it stay or should it go?
This is one of those issues that can consume a group of Canadian hockey fans, almost driving them to blows themselves. Supporters of fighting are called Neanderthals and worse; detractors are called nancy-boys and told to go watch figure-skating, or "AIDS on blades", as one friend of mine dubs it. (And before you get all PC and tell me that's homophobic, that friend is gay.)
I guess what really bothers me about this whole debate is that both sides drag out arguments that have nothing to do with their positions.
Those who support fighting in the game will tell you hockey is the fastest team game on e…

A Little Levity (But Not Much Brevity)

Since two of my friends have done this meme and I really don't feel like blogging on (a) hockey fights (tomorrow!) or (b) anything else of substance, I'll fire this off instead.


How tall are you barefoot?

173 cm (5'8")...I still remember one visit to Science North, back in my tween years, where my height was measured and fed into a computer and out spat a prediction that I would grow to six feet even. Even at that age--ten or eleven--I had read that height is destiny: men, in particular, who stand six feet or taller are generally more successful, more powerful, happier. Accordingly, I was prone to brooding in my teenage years when I failed to meet that target...until I figured out height and happiness need not have anything whatsoever to do with each other.

Have you ever flown first-class?

Never. I've only flown six times within living memory. In all honesty, I think I'd prefer first class train travel, or even a car trip (in something a little more comfortable th…

Bullshit is a source of global warming too, you know.

If anyone has or can make a free 73 minutes of time, I would very strongly urge you to go here and watch this video, entitled "The Great Global Warming Swindle", courtesy Britain's Channel Four.
Very interesting and powerful stuff. It does not deny the Earth is warming--there's a broad consensus that it is--but it does raise many serious concerns with the idea that we as a species have anything whatever to do with it; also with the motives behind the whole global warming movement, which it likens to a religion.
These are actual accredited scientists here, not talking heads. A couple of them are Canadian. Given that people who appeared in this programme are receiving death threats and are standing by their findings, I think it important the rest of the world sees what they have to say and judges for itself.
Having watched this--which I'll admit lends credence to much of what I have been saying for a couple of years now--I now have more ammunition to use against the d…

Yet Another Way I'm Out Of Touch

The New York Times reports that separate bedrooms for married couples are becoming almost normal. This was reported on my local newscast this evening, making me cringe. I've got to blog on this, I thought, or I'll go mad.
So I looked up the article. After reading it three times and scraping my jaw off the ground, I think I'm ready to rebut the insanity.

In interviews, couples and sociologists say that often it has nothing to do with sex. More likely,
it has to do with snoring.

Uh, not to put too fine a point on it, but my wife snores. Sometimes almost loud enough to drown out one of the fans we keep running in our bedroom to (a) chill the air and (b) keep exterior noise at bay. But her nocturnal noise is nothing to what our puppy, Georgia, puts out. She can reverse the direction of all three fans when she gets going.
Also, when I'm tired--which is pretty often--I snore too.
There are many reasons people snore. Some of them, such as sleep apnea, are dangerous. Nearly all o…

And We're Supposed to Save Daylight Why?

Did you remember to "March Forward"?
Man, it's scary just how governed we are by time. I'd have to say the measurement of time is, by and large, one of humanity's suckier inventions. Necessary to our civilization, to be sure, but probably not required to be civilized. See the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy for related commentary: its opening sequence had a profound effect on my young mind. (I was nine at the time.)
How much of a hold does time have over this household? Well, I spent half an hour last night changing clocks simply because the American government decided (on the basis of not much evidence at all, that moving the clocks ahead three weeks early would somehow save energy. The Canadian government followed along, of course: problems can ensue when your largest trading partner is living an hour ahead of you.
(Oh, really? And yet, while everybody notices the three hour difference between, say, Pacific and Eastern time, nobody seems to care overmuch about it.)
Mo…

Blowing off steam

Okay, so, the new boss has been in place nearly two weeks now. Of course, I spent the first of those weeks in Florida...and can I just say I wish I was still there? This has been a horrid week, and it's not over yet: for the first time in nearly six years, I am required/expected/sorry to have/ to be present this Saturday.
That didn't take long, did it?
This was, sadly, expected. It's just not natural to work in retail and get every weekend off. For reasons I don't pretend to understand, nearly half of our week's business is routinely compacted into two days. (You say you don't have time to shop on weekdays? Me, I don't have time not to. You'd have to pay me to havigate our aisles on a Saturday, when it can take ten minutes or more to get from one end of the store to the other...and we're small as grocery stores go, just a shade over 2,000 square metres of sales space.)
On the plus side, it seems to be just every other Saturday I'm expected to work,…

Danger, Stephen Harper!

According to the polls, Stephen Harper is opening up a commanding lead on Stephane Dion and the Liberals. Or rather, Stephane Dion and the Liberals are watching the bottom fall out of their polling numbers, even in what is always referred to as "vote-rich" Ontario. Chantal Hebert in today's Toronto Star, muses that Harper--who admires Jean Chretien's political savvy while sharing pretty much none of his politics--must be gleefully watching Dion stumble and bumble, bringing the prospect of a federal election closer with every passing day.
Here's some free advice to Stephen Harper: don't do it. Don't call an election, and don't engineer your defeat in the House to arrange one, either.
There are several reasons for this. The first is that there is no compelling reason to go to the polls right now. The Opposition periodically floats out trial balloon issues, centering mostly around Afghanistan and the environment, but neither of those issues can sustain a…
Our "house on the hill": Jameson Inn, Cleveland, TN
A view of Destin


Swan dive, anyone?


Utter peace and tranquility



Aunt Dawna, relaxing






Dad, Hez, and Palm Tree




Ken and Eva in the front foyer of the shark's house









There's a big Gulf below you, love!



I almost stepped on you...



McGuire's Irish Pub,
site of a memorable meal. Yes, that's real money...there's $550,000 worth and counting.

What a fantastic trip. Thanks once more to all.

Tripping, Part II

[Note: yes, we have pictures. No, they're not into the computer yet--we've barely mastered the art of taking digital photos (or rather, Eva has), but at least to my knowledge we haven't introduced the camera to the computer and let them become friends. This will be rectified tomorrow: I have a Spousal Promise. In the meantime, I have no alternative but to try and peddle word-pictures: a poor substitute, no doubt.]

We arrived at the Pelican Beach Resort in Destin, Florida shortly after two o'clock local time. I thought I had missed the sign telling travellers they'd entered the Central time zone, but as it turns out there isn't one. (???) This was four hours sooner than I'd planned, due in part to leaving an hour earlier than scheduled each morning and in larger part to the braincramp I had designing our route planner, having added a hundred miles to the distance between Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala. (That state is plenty big enough, thank y'all very mu…

Tripping, Part I

We put just shy of 4000 kilometers on our Harold over the past six days. It was a voyage of discovery through a land we've never seen, and various and sundry impressions were made. I kept a trip diary, noting all the mind-numbingly boring details that will serve as a kind of memorial shorthand (if you're me, that is), bringing each day's experience to mind in the years to come. The minutiae of travel--room numbers, details of each meal eaten out, what have you--is endlessly fascinating...if you've lived it. If you haven't, any attempt to make you live it will very shortly result in suicide. Not wishing such a fate on any of you, my Faithful Readers, I'll employ something of a different approach for this travelogue.

When we first contemplated going to visit my dad and stepmom in Destin, Florida, we weighed our travel options carefully: fly or drive? Flying seemed to have one undeniable advantage: it was cheaper. It was, we discovered, possible to fly to northwest…

Going Moldy....

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