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Showing posts from August, 2011

Pleasant Surprise

I've been dreading this hydro bill.
Our "smart meter" was installed well over a year ago. Smart meters are supposed to encourage you to shift your electricity consumption to 'off-peak' hours and penalize you if you don't. Weekends are off-peak year round, which suggests to me that homeowners are bearing a burden meant for factories, but whatever. I've got nothing against conservation. Problem is, I've been hearing stories about people's hydro bills doubling or worse. We're told hydro prices are going to rise by something like fifty percent over the next five years. This strikes me as being monstrously unfair...but whatever.
As I've said before, this house has electric baseboard heating. That's one of the most expensive means of heating a house, though one advantage is you can shut off the heat to vast swathes of your home. We do this; we like it cold in here. My attitude is, if I'm cold I'm either not dressed properly or not worki…

The Green Thing

Posted direct from the mailbox. I LOVE this.
In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we h…

Goodbye, Jack, Part II

"We can do this, we can be a better people. We've seen how to try" --Rev. Brent Hawkes
Reading what I wrote a few days back, I feel a little guilty. I feel like I wrote a standard eulogy for a standard man, not the standard bearer that Jack Layton actually was. I won't delete my prior effort--I don't do that, ever--but I'd like to refine it in the wake of watching his wake.
We're told Jack died listening to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" performed by k.d. lang.


I can think of few better songs to die to.
"Why do you want to watch this funeral?" my wife asked me. I struggled to answer. After all, I didn't know Jack, nor ever even meet him. It was hard to reconcile that with the profound sense of loss I have felt since he died. I feel, quite frankly, as if we have lost in Jack Layton a rare breed of person, let alone politician: an eternal optimist and a bottomless fount of compassion and caring.
Not everyone feels this way.
There has be…

RIP to "One Of The Good Guys"

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we'll change the world." --John Gilbert "Jack" Layton, August 20, 2011
As recently as three years ago, I dismissed Jack Layton out of hand. There was something smarmy about him, I was convinced: he had the aura of a used-car salesman. His personality screamed politician. As in, he said all the right things, they way they all do...but without a trace of guile. Nobody's that idealistic, I thought. He's in this for himself, just like everybody else. He echoed many of my own beliefs, and I resented him for it.
LOVE IS BETTER THAN ANGER

Except Layton was that idealistic. He infamously suggested we negotiate with the Taliban, earning himself the nickname "Taliban Jack". Some of us laughed, derisively, knowing the Taliban for the terrorists they were and are. And yet...we've now pulled out of Afghanis…

Poetry Break: It Only Rains Outside!

The world is not a happy placeFor those with an ideal It's beastly hard work to replace Your dream with what is real.
And when you do, you're apt to find The colour's been bleached out: The sounds of life within your mind Are whisper-quiet without.
Nothing holds your interest now. No wonder, when it's all So drab and dull and silent. How Can you see through the pall?
Is life worth living? Maybe so-- But is this living life If all inside has ceased to grow And all outside is strife?
And people say "feel better, chum!" As if it were a game... "Snap out of it", they say, "ho-hum!"-- Do they not know your name?
I do. And I can understand The hell you're going through. I know the layout of its land For me, it's nothing new.
I could just say "this too shall pass" And shrug away your pain... That's not in me to do, alas: I can't but share the rain.
Remember who you really are. You're more than what you see. Much more. In fact, I'd go so far A…

Enjoying the ride?

Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is just that...a force. The roller coaster is 310' tall, propels riders at speeds up to 93 mph, and will cause the faint of heart to stain their underwear.

Kind of like the stock market, lately. Let's ride it together, shall we?



This coaster is different from others in several ways. The lift hill starts the instant you leave the station, and it's unnaturally steep. Intamin uses a cable lift system to pull the car up at a 45-degree angle (and believe you me, you'd swear it's closer to 65 degrees...at fifteen miles an hour.
Fifteen miles an hour may seem sluggish. It isn't. You're over three hundred feet in the air in twenty five seconds flat. By comparison, the Magnum XL-200 at the same park, using a traditional chain lift system, requires over twice as long to pull the train up 205 feet.
Millennium Force's relatively speedy ascent can only be accomplished with technological help: in this case, a cable th…

A Paean to a Personal Panacea

KB was weaned on KD.
For my American friends, KD is Kraft Dinner, what you call, with typical American literalist panache, "Kraft Macaroni and Cheese". (The most popular food in America for many years was the tuna fish, as opposed to tuna chicken and tuna cow.) Kraft Dinner has been the most popular meal in Canada for at least a generation. Pundit Rex Murphy has said that "Kraft Dinner revolves in that all-but-unobtainable orbit of the Tim Horton's donut and the A&W Teen Burger. It is one of that great trinity of quick digestibles that have been enrolled as genuine Canadian cultural icons." Maybe it's because the founder of Kraft was born in Ontario. Maybe it's because, as Douglas Coupland notes, it "so precisely laser-targets the favoured Canadian food groups: fat, sugar, starch and salt." Or maybe Canadians are just favourably attracted to florescent orange. That might explain the NDP's surge in popularity, too.
My love of Kraft Dinner …

The Rise Of American Fascism

"If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." -Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum Address 1838
Prescient, that man Lincoln.
A tiny downgrade in one's credit rating from the highest possible score to the second-highest can not, in and of itself, be proof positive that a country is failing. But when that credit rating has stood since 1917, and when one reflects on the political crapfest that precipitated that credit downgrade, one certainly can't help but wonder if America understands the perils of the road it is travelling.
I, for one, think not.

The vitriol spewing out of various Fox-holes...well, Lincoln would have recognized it for the variation on mob rule it seeks to foment. There is a long and storied tradition in America of populist leaders emerging out of relative obscurity, urging the population to rise up in revolt against elitist, statist masters. McCarthy. Malcolm X. Mi…

Tales From Aisle Ten (V)

"Why Juice Boxes Are 10% Smaller But Still Cost The Same"
Article here.
Because us grocery clerks love to screw you over, that's why. We cackle with glee each and every time one of our esteemed customers chooses to assume we and we alone are responsible for shrinking the cereal boxes and juice cartons and...well, hell, everything. The groceries we shrink at night, using dark retail sorcery. Then we shrink your wallets by day. It's soooo much fun, especially since we don't buy groceries ourselves. Did you really think we need to eat? Pshaw.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Grocery stores don't generally gouge their customers. I know you have no proof of this--until the world finally gets around to putting costs as well as retails on price tags, anyway--but trust me. There are exceptions (the produce department has some *huge* margins), but on many items in dry grocery, we make pennies; on sale items we almost always lose money, sometimes quite a b…

Going Moldy....

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