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Showing posts from August, 2009

The quality of mercy is much strained droppeth, as a bombed plane from heaven upon the place beneath.
(with apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)

I'm afraid my first reaction upon hearing that al-Megrahi was freed "on compassionate grounds" says more about me than it does about him. I was angry. Where was the compassion when 270 people lost their lives in a horrific terrorist attack? What's so awful about dying in prison?
Well, dying in prison is pretty awful, actually. Especially if you're innocent of the crime that put you there.
That's "if"...I'm not stupid enough to state unequivocally that al-Megrahi was framed...I merely note there's compelling evidence to suggest his conviction was politically motivated. He was not tried by a jury. He's always maintained his innocence. I'm no psychologist, but I find that telling. Most terrorists gloat over their crimes...because in their value system, they aren't "crimes" at all, but acts of heroism and valour. Moving beyon…

The Woman I Might Have Married

I got your letter yesterday, and I'm Not really sure what to say So far gone, I think my job here is done We used to be so close, we used to be so free, until the Good Book took you away from me
--The Paperboys, "Salvation"

Perhaps that should be women...long before I met my wife, I was engaged to one person and might as well have been to another. But the particular woman I'm speaking of was my first love, predating either of them. I met her the first day of grade ten. She walked into my second period music class wearing a denim jumpsuit she'd fashioned herself, and I was instantly and irrevocably smitten, all the more so as she grabbed a baritone and sat two seats down from me. She noticed me right off, too: it's kind of hard not to notice a guy who's (a) instantly and irrevocably smitten and who (b) has not the slightest idea how to exhibit his smittenness in anything resembling a mature manner.
Somehow--maybe it was my own sheer force of will, but the smitten…

Getting back to business...

I've shied away from the politics over the last few months by design. I've sorta kinda kept up with events, but not to the degree I did, say, last year...because pretty much everything going on depresses the almighty hell right out of me. There's only so much of this kind of thing I can write before I go mad. And so I decided to take a little break, not from blogging, but from the immersion needed to look like I know what I'm talking about on matters political and economic.
Break's over.
First off, let me extend condolences to America on the loss of Ted Kennedy. Oddly enough, he's the second famous Ted Kennedy to pass away this month. Admittedly, the first one's only famous to Toronto Maple Leaf fans...but for many of the same reasons the political Kennedy was famous. Ted "Teeder" Kennedy was a lion of a hockey player. He won five Stanley Cups with the Leafs, captaining the team to three of them. His determination and heart are well known to anyone …


I bike to work, weather permitting. It's about a twenty minute ride, and the last seven or eight minutes I tend to ride somewhat on autopilot. There's a bike lane, the road is straight and relatively flat, with few cross streets. So this morning at 7:2o or so I was merrily pedalling away, pulling into the Price Chopper lot, waving hello to Jim and my ice cream, just pulling in ahead of me. I rounded the corner... ...and damn near fell off my bike. The smell hit me, pummelled me, enveloped me, clenching my throat in warm, gelatinous tendrils of stench. I hurriedly covered my nose, riding one-handed, but that was no help: I could taste it. Whereupon I covered my mouth, riding no-handed, and the fetid reek obligingly seeped into my eyes. Before I was forced to cover my eyes and ride negative-one-handed and blind besides, I arrived at my makeshift hitching post, hurriedly dismounted and locked up my bike, and high-tailed it back around the building into the store. The smell dissipate…

Future Excursions

Behold, five places I want to go/things I want to see before I enter the Void:

1) Agawa Canyon: In days of yore, when I was in my early teens, Ontario used to put out something called the Traveler's Encyclopedia annually. I keenly looked forward to each edition, and brought it with me on our frequent car trips throughout Southern Ontario. Every town of any size had a writeup, with population figures, a thumbnail history, and a list and description of local attractions. I enjoyed reading up on each place we passed through...and, of course, I spent just as much time reading up on places we didn't. Agawa Canyon has had a prominent place on my must-see list ever since I first learned of its existence. It's got everything I look for in a perfect vacation: isolation, peace and tranquility, spectacular natural scenes at every turn, and as an extra added bonus (he repeated again redundantly), you get there by train.

2) Alaska Cruise: This is planned for our kickoff to retirement...w…

Knaves' Buffet

Time was--and not all that long ago--you had two choices if you lived in the Tri-Cities and you were craving a Chinese buffet. You could eat swill, presented to you at a wide variety of places posing as Chinese buffets...or you could drive an hour to an entirely different city.
Then Kings Buffet came to town, shortly followed by a Mandarin. At least three of the swill-places closed down immediately, their game up.
Mandarins are pretty much the same, chainwide: good food and lots of it, but they can be a tad pricey. Kings are a notch below, pricewise, and they vary widely in quality. Until today, I would have put the Kitchener location near the top of the list.

Like most people I know, we skip the salad bar at any buffet: bring me right to the mains, baby. Eva had just launched into her second plate when she stopped and extracted a twig from her mushrooms. The damn thing was four inches long. "I don't think you should be seeing twigs in your food", I said. "Me, neither.&q…


Tabitha Southey weighs in on the American health care brouhaha in yesterday's Globe and Mail. In so doing, she writes possibly the most depressing thing I have ever read:
"[I]n America, where anger is the most validated emotion, even the feeling that things are actually pretty good in one's life is considered best expressed as fury that they might not continue to be that way."

I've noticed that myself over the past decade or so, as politics has become increasingly polarized in both our countries.
I'm not smug. In Canada, our own "most validated emotion" is self-pity, which is arguably at least as damaging. We're world-class whiners, black-belt-bellyachers. We bitch incessantly about everything: the weather (too hot, too cold); the government (by turns too uncaring and caring too much) in general is an endless litany of unpleasantries, even when--sometimes especially when--our attention is forcefully drawn to just how comparatively good we r…

Function Over Form

That's got to be one of my fundamentals. I was reminded of this today gazing upon a $300 purse.Said purse was brandished by a girl at work, a girl who's pretty, stylish...and obviously independently wealthy. I mean, this is Price Chopper we're talking about. The phrases part time cashier at Price Chopper and $300 purse may go in the same sentence, but they chafe together uncomfortably. Or so I think. But then again, I'm of the male persuasion. What do I know? Anyway, she brandished this purse together with its receipt. I looked at it. It was...a purse. Red leather, a huge metallic logo affixed to one side, broadcasting the Cool Brand Name to all and sundry. (I wish I could remember that brand name. It wasn't Gucci, but it sounded kind of like Gucci. Or maybe there's a point behind my not remembering the brand name. Maybe. Hmmm.) "It's gorgeous!" she gushed. "It's a purse!" I gushed back. She looked at me. I've seen that look before. I…

Life, the Universe, and Everything...melting...

That's the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything in Douglas Adams' immortal work The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
It's also the humidex reading today. That's about 108 F. Yep, summer's here. Rather than bore you with yet another weather rant, I'll rant about something else. I gotta vent about something in this heat or I'll go redline. (Sorry...)
I was reading a review of a video game called Dawn of Discovery--well, it's called that in the U.S. and Canada, because apparently we're too stupid to translate a single word of Latin: off this benighted continent it goes by its real name, Anno 1404. Can't find the review online, but it made a point of saying that in Europe, video games are decidedly less violent than they are in the United States, and speculated why that might be: there are still people alive in Europe who remember war and occupation, and thus the culture is not inclined to view violence as entertainment…

Serious admiration

...for this woman.
Her husband woke up one day and said "I don't love you. I'm not sure I ever did. I want out."
I've thought about that scenario every now and again, because I've seen it myself a couple of times. I've always considered my marriage to be an exercise in continuing choice: I choose to remain with my wife and she with me. Marriage, contrary to the single man's assertion, is not a prison.
I can't imagine Eva ever saying such a thing to me. But if she did (I've told myself) I'd let her go. Our marriage is not a prison and nor am I a warden. No doubt I'd be deeply hurt, and I sure wouldn't just throw in the towel without a good and long talk or ten--but if leaving me was Eva's perceived best option, who am I to stand in her way?
Now I read Laura Munson's reaction and am humbled before it. Because here's a woman who lives up to, indeed surpasses, every spiritual principle I try, and so often fail, to practice. Y…

Thought of the Day

...And after...

Outside the beautiful bathroom looking in and contemplating changes

Like the sink: sleek, simple, and elegant.

And the toilet, an American Standard Champion, recommended by our plumber as "the only toilet worth buying". It's incredible: flushes in three seconds flat, no matter what you ate.

The new and improved tub...

...with new and improved shower doors!

A lot brighter than it was...and no more mirrorwall.

Master bedroom closet: Double the size!
Thank you Dan and your helpers: you did a wonderful job and we appreciate it. For those interested, Dan's website is under construction and I'll post a link when one is available.


The renovation is done. Mostly. We're finishing up what's left. Blogger will only allow so many pictures in one post. So, without further ado:

Outside the bufugly bathroom, looking in and contemplating changes

Like getting rid of that vanity. There's really nothing vain about it.

And that toilet! It does add colour to the room, but not a colour anybody would want to look at...

Ugly tub

Covered up ugly shower curtain Dark stairway. Note the carpet, which is impossible to keep clean; also the oh-so-seventies mirrorwall at the bottom, complete with missing tiles thanks to overenthusiastic throws of the Georgia-ball.

And the master bedroom closet, better befitting a slave's bedroom...


Interesting article in today's Toronto Star posing the question "Do cyclists need to stop at stop signs"?
Not in Idaho, it turns out. In that state, and as of this writing, only in that state, cyclists are permitted to treat stop signs as yield signs. The Star watched 159 cyclists approach a four-way stop. Only 21 of them actually fully stopped. Many others performed an "Idaho stop"; quite a few barrelled through the intersection as if it didn't exist. Quite frankly, I'm amazed that 13% of the cyclists they saw obeyed the law. Nearly every cyclist I see on any given day wipes his or her ass with the Highway Traffic Act. Seriously: police could easily pay their own salaries solely by handing out tickets to people on bicycles. From riding on the sidewalk to lacking legally mandated lights and "sounding devices" to--yes--running traffic signals and stop signs, people on bikes generally believe themselves to be a breed apart. I'm not really sure…

Going Moldy....

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