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Showing posts from April, 2011

Staying Put

Sorry for the lack of a blog about, as Charlie Stross called it, the "fertility ritual involving an amiable but allegedly none too bright helicopter pilot and a conventionally pretty party planner".Mr. Stross can be forgiven his anti-monarchism, him being Scottish and all. I myself have much more positive attitudes towards William and Kate and indeed (most of) the royals in general; as such, I have been gravely remiss in not offering congratulations and best wishes. May the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge achieve lifelong happiness. I rather think they have a shot at it: for royals, both of them are about as close to 'just plain folks' as it is perhaps possible to be.
I did see most of the wedding ceremony. I was nowhere near as captivated by it as I recall being thirty years ago. But then again, thirty years ago, I was nine. My mom and stepdad had just married, nine days previous, in the tiny chapel at Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario...the total antithesis of West…

Poor Strategy

Another newspaper got crumpled into a little ball this morning chez Breadbin and tossed into the fires that power my fingers. This time, it's the Waterloo Chronicle, a free rag more befitting a town of 10,000 than a city ten times that size. Its main purpose is to serve as wrapping paper for a dozen or so weekly flyers.
This time, it's not a letter to the editor that has my knickers a-twist: it's a political ad.
On page 4--and you'll have to take my word for this, since I can't find a reproduction anywhere online--is a full page ad for Andrew Telegdi, the once (and future, he hopes) MP for my riding. Last election, he was dethroned by all of seventeen votes: the closest outcome in the country. All reports I've read suggest this riding is, again, too close to call. Before I lambaste this ad, let me say I have no personal opinion one way or the other about Mr. Telegdi. My wife does, and hers is not favourable, based on one less than pleasant interaction. Be that a…

None Of Your Lip

I'd be more inclined to support mandatory voting if every ballot included the choice of None Of The Above. To make this choice would be more constructive than to destroy one's ballot, would send a sobering message to those who did not earn the "X" and, I dare say, give legions of voters a chance to finally vote according to their true sentiments.--Bruce Rhodes, as published in The Globe and Mail, 4/26/11
Letters like the above drive me around the friggin' bend.
It's a given that I will endure the blatting of this particular 'none of the above' opinion at least ten times every election campaign. It's usually offered as an ironclad justification for a refusal to vote at all; if not, it's a whiny-voiced "do I have to?" that takes me right back to kindergarten. What I NEVER hear hard on its heels is some description, any description at all, of the apparently legendary beast called
We all have a picture of this fa…

Eostre, the Goddess of the Dawn

At Eastertime my thoughts always turn to matters spiritual and religious. Not that they often have far to go. But I make a point of reading at least one spiritual or religious tome every year, usually around this time. This year's selection is by Tom Harpur, a Canadian ordained minister and theologian who reminds me very much of my Grade 13 Classics teacher, Rev. Roger McCombe. Harpur is one of the more liberal Christians you'll ever run across. Indeed, the book I'm reading--Water Into Wine--goes out of its way in the very first chapter to brashly assert that there is no credible historical evidence for the existence of Jesus. One would think it impossible to maintain any semblance of a Christian faith if one doesn't believe in a historical Jesus. Strangely, or not so strangely once you understand where Harpur's coming from, his faith is both wide and deep. Harpur believes, as did Rev. McCombe, in the power of myth. The working definition of a myth, according to

Some Political Humour

If I'm Jack Layton--and man, I wish I were, right now--I'd be saying the following every chance I got:
"Hey, Canadians. We've tried the Liberals, and we got AdScam. We've tried Harper..." (big shrug of the shoulders) "Now let's try something different."
I have to admit I've been impressed with 'ol Jacky-boy. As a former staunch Conservative, it feels kind of odd to even type that. Layton has lost that smarmy used-car salesman persona he used to wear like a cheap suit. Now he looks engaged and trustworthy. I'm a little leery of the NDP platform--I'm not keen on cap and trade, for one thing, and although it claims to be fully costed out with a surplus, I suspect voodoo economics. But I will say this: I like NDP priorities a whole hell of a lot more than Harper's.
For the first time in a long time, this election isn't a foregone conclusion. Oh, it's a pretty safe bet the Conservatives are going to win again. But second pla…

Truthing the Game

Before I get to the meat of my post, I would like to congratulate the entire University FreshCo team on a job well done. Our store's opening day set a record for the chain: no FreshCo anywhere has been that busy on opening day, or indeed on any day. We did three and a half times the normal Wednesday volume. I hope we can sustain the momentum.------------ A couple of "must-reads" have cropped up on my sidebar over the past week. Catelli has posted an impassioned lament of the state of the Canadian political "game". The rules for this "game", he says, are bass-ackwards: you win power and lose respect when you lie, but lose power and gain respect by telling the truth. In a society that claims to value truth and respect, this makes no sense. And it never will, according to the second must read I've found this week. John Michael Greer has outdone himself with his latest: "Alternatives to Nihilism" instalment. Democracy, said Winston Churchill,…

Not FreshCo, but it might as well have been

The boss's wife estimated sixty people outside before open. Twenty minutes after the ribbon-cutting, all 180 carts were spoken for. Ten tills going full bore all day, usually lined at least five deep, occasionally fifteen or so. It was BUSY. I knew it would be, of course, but there is a vast gulf between knowing and experiencing. When you have to plan each step because no matter where you walk, you're in somebody's's a challenge. When you find out your warehouse is out of stock on a lead item (Simply Orange Juice, 1.75L, $1.97)'s a challenge. When you listen to some of our esteemed customers's a challenge to keep your mouth shut. "You have to pay for carts now? I'm never coming back here again." Riddance. You don't pay for the cart, you rent it...for the measly sum of two bits. You want your precious quarter back, simply return the cart. Small inconvenience that helps us keep our carts. 'Cause, you know, each cart ru…

A Realization

I am not a very strong man.
I have worked somewhere between 130 and 140 hours in the past two weeks. Truth is I'm not exactly sure how many, but I have had one day off.
I am not complaining, first, because hey, I have a job. Second, because several other people have worked more than I have...some of them quite a bit more. My boss has been putting in minimum twelve hour days, seven days a week, since early February. And third, some of the people who are putting in yeoman's hours aren't getting paid a damn cent more than usual, on account of their being salaried. I am a full time worker, unsalaried: I'm getting paid for every hour I work.
And fourth: maybe this is silly, but I'm excited. FreshCo is a giant leap forward over Price Chopper. The store doesn't just look good, it looks great. It's now my job, in part, to keep it that way...which means this was just the beginning...but we have a solid team in place and it's going to be fun.…

Quick Blog, Part II

The store is coming together, but there remains sooooo much to do.
People are stupid.
I will repeat that.
We have been closed since Thursday at 6:00 p.m. This is noted in several places along the front of the store, one of which covers most of a pane of glass. In case you are among the roughly 20% of the population that appears illiterate--because I have met illiterate people who are far from stupid--you might also glean this information from the yellow CAUTION tape strung up over the drying concrete at the store's entrance; from the security guard stationed at the emergency exit; or, if you're really observant, from the CONSTANT stream of people approaching the front door, turning around and going right back to their cars.
Or you might just grab a cart, try to duck under the caution tape or outwit the security guard, because, you know, you "only need a couple of things". And then you might get upset and brandish a fl…

This won't take long, which is a good thing

THIS IS BRUTALSix days, minimum ten hours each day (and I got the distinct feeling I should have stayed longer tonight, but a guy's gotta eat, and damnit, I am tired. And SORE.)
So, in the wake of Rocketstar's declaration of musical love, one of my own
I stumbled across Fleet Foxes in one of those "what is your absolute favourite song" threads that pop up on Reddit every now and again. I sift through these things with faint hope, because my taste in music (as my longtime readers know) is rather...unconventional. The song that was linked: White Winter Hymnal. Twenty bars in I just melted; by the end of the day I'd bought one of their albums and downloaded two more (with their blessing). They have been in heavy, heavy rotation on my iPod. Supremely relaxing. Such lush harmony. Their best, for my money (can't embed, sorry): The Cascades ( (instrumental)
Sim Sala Bim
Share and enjoy...

Moral Equivalence? No, cause and effect.

On March 20, Terry Jones burned a Koran in his church in Florida and broadcast it to the Internet for all the world to see. He even--nice touch!--provided Arabic subtitles.
Well, the whole world saw it. And the response, though shocking, shouldn't shock anyone, not any more. You see, there is a subset of Muslims that believes that murder is an eminently reasonable response to the burning of a book. Not even murdering the person who burned the book, either: just murdering whoever, this case, seven U.N. workers who almost certainly never even thought about burning anybody's holy book.
Now, I agree with Dennis Prager for most of the length of his column linked above. This is moral primitivism of a sort from which cavemen would have recoiled, and he makes a very good point suggesting that evil done in the name of religion is ipso facto worse than evil done against religion. Any god that commands you to kill a fellow human being is not a god worth following, and that …

Political Twaddle

Were they always like this?I remember past screaming matches, soi-disant "debates" in which it was nearly impossible to hear, let alone comprehend, what any one person was saying in the babble. That has (largely) been solved, but it's been replaced with something considerably more vexing. I had no trouble hearing people in that sideshow last night. I had a lot of trouble meandering through the thicket of conflicting truths. Everybody seemed to be existing in their own reality bubble. Corporate tax cuts: in past debates, the players would argue for or against. Last night, Harper repeatedly asserted there weren't any corporate tax cuts to debate; everyone else debated them nevertheless. The number of times I heard "that's simply not correct", "that's a lie", "that's false"--damnit, by the end of the debate I was questioning things I KNEW TO BE TRUE.
Deflect, deflect, deflect. I hate to say it, but I have to admire Harper's b…

Toronto Maple Leafs Autopsy 2010-2011

The Leaf playoff drought has run on (sigh) LONGER THAN THIS BLOG.
That's right, the Breadbin opened for business exactly eight days after the Buds were booted out of the 2003-2004 playoffs. So maybe I'm to blame.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that the drought is nearing an end. Next year, they'll be in. Of course, I've said that privately (and, in recent years, publicly) every year. Just as, every year, I've struggled to grade the squad, on account of their remarkable penchant for playing like world-beaters...only after the world has beaten them.
This season, they started their annual charge considerably earlier than usual, not coincidentally right around the time James Reimer showed up and stabilized the goaltending. The entire team responded: they're 24-15-7 in calendar 2011. If only they had played with any sort of consistency through the first three months of the season.
Rather than grade every player, which I did the first few times I pe…

Well, that explains a few things...

Headline on Reddit: Why do all kids everywhere know that the floor is lava without anyone telling them?
Please don't do this to me at six in the morning, okay? My befuzzled mind took one look at that headline and shut down. The floor is lava? Excuse me? So help me, I actually jerked my feet upwards, took a look down at our hardwood panel floor and confirmed that it was most emphatically not lava. I felt better...a little. Still, there was this nagging "All kids everywhere" business. Apparently I was no kid, nowhere. I read that headline out to Eva, just to see if she'd kack on it the way I did. Silly me, my wife is kackless: she takes everything in stride...even at six in the morning. "It's a game you play where you can't touch the floor." I looked around my living room in disbelief...flying squirrels could play that game in here, but human beings, even little ones, probably couldn't. At least, not without incurring a small fortune in damages and …

Without Reimer Reason

"Pray in one hand and piss in the other and see which one fills up first."--Gary Jennings
James Reimer is a 23-year old NHL rookie goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His big-league career to date has been an unqualified success; his first start was this past New Year's Day, and since then he has compiled a 20-8-4 record, with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. (For non-hockey fans: those stats are pretty good. As of this writing, Reimer's save percentage ranks him seventh out of forty-three goalies.) To hear Leaf fans tell it, those stats are more than "pretty good". "Optimus Reim" is touted as the second coming of Johnny Bower, or at least Eddie Belfour. As with most musings of Leaf fans, this one should be taken with a few ice shavings. NHL history is positively littered with goaltenders who exploded on to the scene in their rookie season with stats as good or better than Reimer's, only to fall off, often precipitou…

Political Minefield

It's said that there are three topics one should never discuss at the dinner table: sex, religion, and politics. Sex and dinner don't mix, unless you've got some kind of food fetish, in which case I wish you'd keep it to yourself. Politics and religion are very similar--indeed, certain religions (such as Islam) do double duty as political systems--and both tend to heat up debates to the boiling point and beyond. It's enough to give you indigestion. I see this country slowly sliding into the cesspool that is the United States, where everything is political and the media does all it can to divide "us" from "them". It bothers me to no end that it is growing increasingly difficult to have a reasoned and reasonable discussion on politics; it bothers me even more that political parties are actually working hard to exacerbate the situation. Canada used to be about consensus and tolerance. My Canada still is. It's hard to watch my Canada receding in …