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Showing posts from February, 2009

Define "rich".

In the wake of Obama's "soak-the-rich" $3.5 trillion dollar budget, can we get a few things straight?Contrary to the bleatings of the $250K-$500K set--who, if the reaction over at the Dan Simmons forum is typical, will spare no expense telling you how poor they are--if you make between three and six times what the average family does, you're rich. Period. Full stop, end of discussion. I posted this over there and reaped the whirlwind. I was asked why I was "demanding" money from people who've earned it. I was told I've "fallen into the envy trap". And no less a personage than Dan Simmons himself, after explaining how he worked himself up from nothing and now works over 100 hours a week, told me I lack discipline, courage and talent, that my attitude sucks, and that I'm a...let's see, how did he put it? Oh, yes, "twerpy little asshole."
Boy, I wish I could win arguments that easily. 
Fact is, I never asked anyone for money, a…

Post-Literate World

I realize this is kind of small, but please, take a good look at the front page of our flyer this week. May I direct your attention specifically to the bottom third of the page--the part where it says "3 DAY SALE".Now--I'd ask you what item is referred to there, but since you're reading this blog, you already know. If you squint a little, or if you have a dead-tree version of this flyer, you can even clearly spot the THIS ITEM ONLY right below THREE DAY SALE. I shit you not, nearly a dozen people accosted me today at various times wondering why my milk was $4.29 when it was so clearly shown on the front page of the flyer at $1.99.  See, this kind of thing perplexes me. Not that people are stupid--indeed, I'm amazed these days whenever somebody shows intelligence--but that people are so far gone they don't care who notices. Me, I'm paranoid about appearing I'd probably, oh, I don't know, look really closely at a flyer before I approached …


There's only us There's only this Forget regret, or life is yours to miss
from Rent, by Jonathan Larson

The CBC reports here on an Angus-Reid poll which finds that 82% of Canadians are living with some species of regret. For more than a quarter, the chief regret seems to be not following up on a flirtation. 
There are times I fall into that category. A girl named Audrey asked me out a couple of times in first year university: if she'd only managed to catch me a week or two earlier, I wouldn't have just embarked on another relationship (which ended poorly a few years later). And I would have said yes unreservedly: I'd had a crush on her for about a year. The night before I married Eva, sleep was (perhaps understandably) hard to come by, and so I spent a good chunk of that night wandering down various mental/carnal pathways. Audrey's was the only one that retained any slight hint of allure. Of course, by then, she was long married and settled herself. 
But most of the …

February Music

How is it the shortest month always seems so looooooong?
Time for another musical interlude. 
You can tell I'm in a good mood if a snippet of song bursts from my lips, almost unbidden. Such was the case today when our Coke driver (a man almost of retirement age) popped in with our order. Without even thinking about it--without really being aware I was doing it--I sang 
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola Go down Point Cumana Both mother and daugter Workin' for the Yankee dollar
I got just past the first line when the gentleman's jaw dropped. He looked at me again, trying to assess my age. Finally, as I was finishing up that chorus, he blurted out "You are too young to know the Andrews Sisters!" "Says who?" I riposted. "I'm 51 years old." "Bullshit you are!" "Inside, I mean. Actually, inside I'm probably closer to seventy."  Whereupon our merchandising specialist, Don (who's past retirement age himself) spoke up from the other s…

Strange Things, Mystifying

Up in the middle of the night with a sore back and my mind gets to wandering:
1) Why does Tim Horton's even bother advertising? It's not like they need to. Pretty much all their outlets are packed 24/7. What they should do with the money they waste advertising their special brand of cocaine to junkies is expand their stores a little. It'd be nice to walk into a Tim's and see more than two registers going.
2) Why is it so damned difficult to find Dawn, aka the only dishsoap worth a damn? Pretty much the only store that stocks it in my area is...wait for it...a Canadian Tire. Because when I think Canadian Tire, I think dishsoap.
3) Kudos to Bill Bryson for this gem:
I hate driving cars and I hate thinking about cars and I hate talking about cars. I especially hate it when you get a new car and go into the pub, because somebody will always start quizzing you about it, which I dread because I don't even understand the questions. "See you've got a new car," the…

Sexist B.S.

Reading the Globe and Mail today, I came across this little pile of bovine excrement disguised as an interview.Perhaps I'm reading this wrong, but I couldn't help feeling offended at statements like "the way we men connect is by having sex. Period."
Well, go connect yourself. A hundred pumps, a tickle and a sneeze--no matter how good it feels--isn't all there is to "connection". Memo to those who might actually take this nitwit seriously: you can't stay copulated 24/7, so maybe there should be something else in the damn relationship. You think?
Actually, the first paragraph is what really caused the steam to rise out of my ears:
Steve Harvey has some advice for women: Scrap the flats for heels; ditch the T-shirt for lingerie in bed; make the kitchen your "friend;" leave the heavy lifting to a man, and never, ever utter the words "We need to talk.
--flats for heels. One of the first things I did when my relationship with my …

Yes, I see the trap. Let's rush headlong into it!

"Our civilization, which subsumes most of its predecessors, is a great ship steaming at speed into the future. It travels faster, further, and more laden than any before. We may not be able to foresee every reef and hazard, but by reading her compass bearing and headway, by understanding her design, her safety record, and the abilities of her crew, we can, I think, plot a wise course between the narrows and the bergs looming ahead.
And I believe we must do this without delay, because there are too many shipwrecks behind us. The vessel we are now aboard is not merely the biggest of all time; it is also the only one left. The future of everything we have accomplished since our intelligence evolved will depend on the wisdom of our actions over the next few years. Like all creatures, humans have made their way in the world so far by trial and error; unlike other creatures, we have a presence so colossal that error is a luxury we can no longer aff…

Heartless on Valentine's Day

Until I understood the various tax benefits, I used to wonder why it was that so many Price Chopper franchisees have their wives and often children working for them. I worked for my mom on one occasion and let's just say it didn't go well. Oh, it wasn't that my mother was a poor boss: on the contrary, she was a very good boss. A fair boss who made sure she didn't play favourites with her son. Which is why I usually got the shit jobs. As for my wife, I worked for her, t00--she hired me, in fact, that was how we met. I didn't work for her long, because (a) I was terrible at the job and (b) I couldn't very well start dating the boss. Ten years later, I can tell you I love my wife more than I did when we married (awww, mush); I can also tell you I wouldn't want to work with her under any circumstances.  When I'm at work, I can't wait to come home and be with her; but if I had to work with her, too, one of us would strangle the other in short order. (You k…

Quick and Dirty Radical Thoughts

In the wake of the A-Roid scandal, here's a heresy: don't bother.
Don't bother punishing him, or anyone else that takes banned substances. Don't ban any substances. Just let the best chemist lab win.
Okay, I don't really feel that way...except sometimes I do. Sometimes I think that anything which can't be eradicated (marijuana, prostitution, jacked-up athletes) might as well be left alone.
Gangs? Yeah, them, too. Of course, I'd throw them into ten hermetically sealed city blocks and let them have at each other for three weeks or so. (No food, except what's in yonder dumpster...) 
Here's one: let's just get rid of money entirely. It's only worth what we say it is, and all too many people think it's worth just everything. Me, I think it's damn near worthless. (Work a till for a week or two in a store or better yet a bank and you'll develop a skewed view like mine: it's just pieces of paper and metal alloy trinkets.) Now,…

Poem of the Day

MaternityThere once was a Square, such a square little Square,
And he loved a trim Triangle;
But she was a flirt and around her skirt
Vainly she made him dangle.
Oh he wanted to wed and he had no dread
Of domestic woes and wrangles;
For he thought that his fate was to procreate
Cute little Squares and Triangles.

Now it happened one day on that geometric way
There swaggered a big bold cube,
With a haughty stare and he made that Square
Have the air of a perfect boob;
To his solid spell the Triangle fell,
And she thrilled with love's sweet sickness,
For she took delight in the breadth and height--
But how she adored his thickness!

So that poor little Square just died of despair,
For his love he could not strangle
While the bold Cube led to the bridal bed
That cute and acute Triangle.
The Square's sad lot she has long forgot,
And his passionate pretensions . . .
For she dotes on her kids -- Oh such cute Pyramids
In a world of three dimensions.

--Robert W. Service


What to write today?
I could springboard off Jim Kunstler's latest jeremiad, but to be perfectly honest I've had about enough of recessions, depressions and stimulus packages for this week (and it's only Monday).
I could write about those Australian bushfires...yike. Too hot.
I could write about my beloved Leafs, and their prospects at the trade deadline and draft--but I don't even feel like talking hockey today.
I could write about the skyrocketing prices of things in my store. Yeah, there's the ticket. 
There's a story in heavy rotation today about the startling differences in price on various foodstuffs, not just across the country but across a province and in some cases a city.
I have no defense.
Our milk is now $5.09 for a 4L three-bagger. This is, from what I've been able to determine, the highest price in the city, if not the southern half of the province. Customers are fuming mad and I can't really blame them. The price of milk is adjusted every G…

Variations on a theme

Rocketstar commented on my last post:
And I think it will only get worse as the economic outlook gets worse. Empathy will decrease as people turn more instinctual and begin the survival of the fittest mentality (right or wrong)...
I intend to fight that with every fiber of my being. Who's with me?
There are many reasons that 'survival of the fittest' is entirely the wrong attitude to have at the best of times and especially at the worst of times. Let's enumerate them:
--Most everyone thinks themselves capable of survival. Few really are, at least in the kind of self-imposed isolation that has grown to be the norm over the past couple of decades. So folks will try to shut the world out and all they'll wind up is shut out. What's needed is a musketeer mentality, an "all for one and one for all" spirit that is largely lacking in today's society. 
--Who gets to define "fittest", anyway? Lately, "fittest" has served as a synonym for &quo…

Where did all the empathy go?

Let's start with my favourite bugaboo, odd behaviour in grocery stores.
WHY do people care what the regular price is when an item's on sale? What does it matter? Do you actually buy things based on how much money you think you're saving, as opposed to what the price actually is? (Don't answer that. Every time yogurt, for example, is on sale, I'll mix up my display. One time I'll put the vanilla yogurt on the second shelf and the peach yogurt on the bottom. I'll sell a whole bunch of vanilla yogurt and almost no peach. Next time I'll reverse it...and sell tons of peach yogurt and hardly any vanilla. Which tells me people don't actually care what flavour they buy...they're so lazy they won't even look for the one they want.)
Related, and something I've harped on before but will mention again now that we're in a recession: if something's on sale and you don't normally buy it, IT'S NOT A DEAL. No matter how cheap it is. Amazing …

What I've learned in 37 years

Not enough.But enough to know how much I have yet to learn.

In the meantime,
--I've learned that the number of sides to any story equals the number of characters in the story, plus the truth. --And that each person in that story will be convinced, on some level, that there's only one.
--I've learned that happiness is a state of mind. That you can't "do" happy and you certainly can't "have" happy: you can only be happy. --And that every other emotion is likewise a state of mind...with practice, it becomes increasingly easy to discard the negative and choose to be happy.
--I've learned that I am not what I do; that any job is more about the camadarie with your colleagues than the stress or even (gasp!) the paycheque. --And that I spend sixteen hours out of each day not at work...and so there's no good reason to bring work home with me.
--I've learned that some things in life are worth spending extra money on. --And that you should always budget…

Questioning the unquestionable

A scant two steps removed from my blog, I came across an interesting assertion, linking this article to back it up: The notion that only Conservapublican governments are financially responsible is a Big Lie.
(A Big Lie is that sort of fib which (a) sounds plausible--so plausible that few bother to investigate it and hence (b) it is repeated often enough that it becomes true.)
When I first became politically aware, it was as a conservative. Even as I've liberalized my thinking over the past ten or so years, it never occurred to me to question the idea that Conservatives are inherently more fiscally, well, conservative.  I'd look back to Rae's disastrous turn as Premier of Ontario, comparing and constrasting, say, Mike Harris--who inherited a monster of a deficit and slayed it in short order.  Oh, so simple. Oh, so black and white. Harris did inherit a huge deficit from Rae...due, yes, in part to poor stewardship but also the result of a global (ahem) recession. (As that linked …

Going Moldy....

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