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Showing posts from July, 2008

The Customer: Always Right?

Only if your definition of "right" includes assault, uttering death threats, and general abuse.

Virtually my entire career to date (nearly a quarter-century) has been in retail of one form or another. Not every job held the promise/threat of interaction with customers--working in a McDonald's kitchen is one *beep*ing thing after another, but those *beeps* generally represent machines demanding attention, not customers hurling profanity at you. (When you're on what McD's calls "lot and lobby", however, you can expect all manner of ill manner...)
7-Eleven is an altogether different story. There, depending on the time of day, abusive customers can actually be the norm, and "nice" customers very rare. But most of the nastiness stems from alcohol and testosterone mixing together and curdling. For my purposes here, that doesn't count: the maliciousness isn't intentional. It's simply university students--the leaders of tomorrow--being assho…

What Do Canadians Want?

I ask this sincerely and beseechingly, without hope of a meaningful reply. On the surface, this country seems placid and serene, but underneath, maelstroms lurk.

Take Afghanistan. The recent statement by Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson that we'll probably be increasing our troop strength in that country by about ten percent has reaped a whirlwind of scorn, if the comments on cbc.ca are indicative.

Almost everyone in Canada claims to support our troops. Nobody seems to support what our troops are doing. This is a clear example of 'love the sinner, hate the sin' thinking that sets me on edge whenever I find it. It's hypocritical in the extreme.

I don't blindly support soldiers. Atrocities beyond the scope of war (which is an atrocity in itself) are perpetrated by each side in any given conflict, and they should be denounced. But there is a real colonel of truth (ha-ha) in Nathan Jessup's speech from A Few Good Men:

Son, we live in a world that has walls. An…

No Shame

The Letter of the Day in today's Toronto SUN. Substitute your city name for 'Toronto' and tell me if it holds true where you are:

For many years I have been a proud member of the Toronto community. My pride is wearing sorely thin. As a disabled person and wheelchair user I am more and more left to wonder where the common sense and common decency of this city's people have gone. My days have become a litany of waiting -- waiting for the able bodied to provide me the space and place to move through this city with any ease or comfort.
Every day I wait at bus stops or boarding platforms while people board a bus before me, leaving me sitting in every kind of weather this city has to offer. Then, I wait again while they grumble when asked to vacate the wheelchair seating they have rushed ahead to seize.
I wait at access ramps endlessly. I wait for people to move their illegally parked cars from the only wheelchair ramps available to enter an area. I listen constantly to the exc…

The Internet: Too Good To Be Free?

Every now and again someone sends me an article to read along with a request that I store my opinion on it in the Breadbin. More often than not, these articles require--ugh!--research in order to determine just what my opinion is, and whether or not it's a valid opinion. And I tend to shy away, because research is too much like work.

But I'll tackle this one, because...well, because I like debunking things.

Here's a link to the article I was sent. And here is its salient point:

What will the Internet look like in Canada in 2010? I suspect that the ISP's will provide a "package" program as companies like Cogeco currently do. Customers will pay for a series of websites as they do now for their television stations. Television stations will be available on-line as part of these packages, which will make the networks happy since they have lost much of the younger market which are surfing and chatting on their computers in the evening. However, as is the case with ca…

Musical Interlude

Geez, is the whole world on holiday?
Nobody but nobody's blogging, lately. So I guess I'll take this opportunity to do a little throwaway blog on the music that inhabits my iPod.

About eight times out of ten, when I ask someone what kind of music they like, they'll say "well, everything, really."
Oh, really?
"Do you like opera?"
"Yuck. No, I mean, like, music." Somebody actually said that to me. It was a struggle not to bray operatic laughter all over the place.
"Oh, okay. So...Dixieland jazz?"
That's when people get to thinking I just might be a smartass, and they helpfully narrow things down. Usually to one genre of music. Maybe two.
So now I ask people what kind of music they don't like. They still ignore anything more than half a century old (and quite a few newer things, to boot), but I at least get an idea where they're at, musically.
Usually, I can find something they like that I like too. I don't like everything...but …

Down the Sinkhole

"If you haven't heard of it, it doesn't exist."
--Eva, to me, on several occasions

Guilty as charged. But how the hell did I miss Batman becoming a more iconic movie than Star Wars?

Admittedly, I'm so naive about movies, I actually scare people. I saw the first two Star Wars flicks when they came out--which would have made me six and eight years old, or something like that. The first one scared the crap out of me (that trash compactor scene still has the power to chill my dreams); I fell asleep during the second one. I haven't bothered with any of them since.

Star Wars is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my cinematic ignorance. As far as I know, I've seen all of three movies made before I was born (The Wizard of Oz,The Sound of Music, and A Christmas Carol (the really old one). I've watched one James Bond movie (Casino Royale, and I did like it), no Dirty Harry flicks, nothing by Tarantino...and so on and so forth.
Part of it is a deeply ing…

Credit where it's due

So Afghanistan is now more dangerous than Iraq. For the second month in a row.

Of course, most of the media are very careful to reference this as rising acts of insurgency in Afghanistan rather than falling acts of insurgency in Iraq. Why? Because the latter is the direct result of a George W. Bush policy...the "surge". And God forbid Bush ever do anything right. ESPECIALLY on his own, in defiance of his National Security Advisors.

I'm not going to mount a defense of Bush's overall strategy and tactics in the Iraq war at this late date. I think we can all agree that lies were told, mistakes were made, and bumbles were bumbled badly, even criminally. He never should have gone into Iraq in the first place. But...
he did, and the situation deteriorated, and it was what it was: ghastly. When things were looking their worst in Iraq, Bush argued that more troops needed to be sent in. Pretty much everybody screamed bloody murder at that, and Bush, in true imperial style, igno…

Why so glum, chum?

One of life's little joys is discovering that an author you like happens to like another author you like. It's not all that surprising, on the friend of my friend is my friend principle, but it's kinda neat nonetheless.
Reading the diary of Charles Stross, I find him discussing Jim Kunstler's latest doom-and-gloomfest, which, by and large, he (Stross) seems to agree with. I particularly like Stross' penultimate paragraph:

For a perfect storm, all it'll take is for the fruitcake-in-chief to decide that two wars isn't enough, and order an attack on Iran before he leaves office. Or for another hurricane to make landfall on the Gulf coast. Or a coup in Saudi Arabia. Or, or. Too many ors.

The responses to this diary entry were many and varied, but I'd like to take issue with one in particular, that calls Kunstler and people of his ilk "apocaphiliacs": people who look forward to the end of the world with great glee.

Not that long ago, I wrote about my …

House of Cards

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity....

from "The Second Coming", by William Butler Yeats


I'm pretty lucky--at least so far--to be living where I am. Canada, by virtue of having commodities to spare, has as of yet been largely shielded from most of the mess of the American economy. The housing market here has seen a bit of a slowdown, but it's still humming along. This is due in part to Canadians' reluctance to embrace such things as 40-year and zero-down mortgages. Both 'innovations' arrived here in 2006, some time after they had thoroughly infected the U.S. While some people bit, there hasn't been the same widespread enthusiasm. Our government recently announced that…

Tales from Aisle 10 (III)

May I vent?
Thank you.
Two major specials in the frozen department this week. First up: Polar ice cream pops, 8x40 ml, 97 cents. The pack contains 4 orange pops and 4 grape pops.
Never seen this product before and probably never will again.
Okay, let's think. Head Office wants me to take five skids. There's 144 cases to a skid and 8 in a case for a total of 5760 sales. Seems a bit high to me. But I'd better take them...it's supposed to be wicked hot and humid outside. Small problem: what with the four skids of meat department crap in the nine-skid-capacity freezer we share, there won't be room for anything else. So I'll take four skids on Thursday and one on Monday. Problem solved. Ken solves his problems with a chainsaw, and he never has the same problem twice.
Wait a minute.
We have a three day sale on 2-pack Delissio pizzas for $6.97. Head Office has decided I need seven skids of this stuff, and further that they're shipping it to me all at once.
You can perha…

Ur Gonna B Raped

In Canada, we expect to be scammed. In fact, I think it's in the fine print of our Constitution somewhere. Governments, private companies, it makes no difference. Bend over and enjoy.

But the latest announcement from two of our leading (?) telecommunications companies raises the buggery to a whole new level. Bell and Telus announced yesterday that henceforth that unless their subscribers opt for a "package"--no word on how much that'll run you--they'll be charged 15 cents for each incoming text message. (Hmm, two companies announce the same new rate on the same day...can you say collusion, boys and girls? I knew you could!)

Now, normally I wouldn't give a fiddler's fart about this sort of thing: I'm still landline-locked, and will remain so until I have no choice. My wife's had a cell phone for about a year and has received--she thinks--all of one text message. I'm still of the opinion that text messaging is silly and redundant. (If whoever you&…

Rocketstar, you'll LOVE this

"A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
--Winston Churchill

New (to me) author: Charles Stross.
I'd heard good things about his novel Accelerando, tried to read it, and succumbed rapidly to Quicksilver disease. (I named that syndrome after the first novel I got it from, Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver. It has one symptom, but it's a dilly: the more you read, the stupider you feel, until you're too dumb to turn the pages.)
But I thought I'd give the guy another chance...there were far too many people telling me to read him. So I took Glasshouse out for a spin from our local library...and loved it to pieces. I bought Iron Sunrise next and I gotta say it rivals the Hyperion series for the title of Ken's Favourite Space Opera.
So I'm reading the man's web site and soaking up knowledge by the minute...until I came across his diary entry for January 16, 2006. A whole different kind of knowledge was revealed to…

Happy Belated Fourth!

My apologies for not getting to this blog entry on the actual Fourth of July (and what could be more Canadian than an apology?)...but I needed additional material to finish the Canada Day entry, and lacked it until today.
I picked up the double issue of Macleans, our national newsmagazine (the American equivalent would be Time) and settled down for an eye-opening read on Canada vs. America. The Canadian in me doesn't even like that vs....it sounds so confrontational, doesn't it?...but that cover piece was a revelation.
For one thing, Canadians are now richer than Americans on average...by at least thirty percent. That goes so against everything we've heard for about a generation that I found it impossible to credit at first. After all, it's well known that Yanks drive bigger cars, live in bigger houses, do just about everything bigger, than we Canucks.
It all became clear when I read how Macleans determined wealth. They're going by "net wealth", as in "…

Some...More...Enough

So, what to write about today?
I could write about Dr. Henry Morgantaler being named to the Order of Canada...except that anything that could possibly be written about this has been written seventeen times. I've seen everything from "the man is a hero" to "the man is the biggest serial murderer in world history". That covers a lot of ground and I don't think there's anything I can add.
I could certainly do another (thousand) Peak Oil entries. An attack on Iran looks increasingly imminent. Should that come to pass, you'll see oil jump to $200/bbl almost instantly. Fuel would likely be rationed; widespread shortages would ensue. And I know it's hard to think about this at the beginning of July, but winter's coming. We've already heard that natural gas bills will increase by as much as 45%. (Aside: we were laughed at when we bought this house because it has electric baseboard heating. We weren't even supposed to see this place because, su…