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Showing posts from March, 2013

On Target?

There is a very interesting (at least if you're me) interview with the head of Target Canada in the most recent issue of Report on Business Magazine.

CEOs are politicians: their party is their corporation. As such, they are verbally slippery. It is very difficult to get yes or no answers out of them. The interviewer here tries several times to get Tony Fisher to commit to saying whether Target Canada prices will be similar to those at Target in the U.S. After some hemming and hawing about being "competitive within the Canadian marketplace", we finally get the truth: no.

And they can't be. As much as I rail against the ridiculous price discrepancies between Canada and American given that our dollars are roughly at par, and as much as I dismiss the stupid 'economies of scale' argument (come on, most of Canada's population is a hop skip and jump from the U.S. border), the fact is I'd rather pay more and know that the employees are getting something margi…


I, Ken, do take you, Eva
to be the wife of my days
the companion of my journey
the friend to my life
and the mother of our children
to live with you in joy and
to grow with you in love.
With these words
and all the words of my heart
I marry you and I bind my life to yours.

I'm looking over the booklet that encapsulates our October 2000 wedding ceremony. Twelve and a half years later, I find myself marvelling at how well the late Rev. Janice Aicken crafted this ceremony for a couple she barely knew. From the prayers to the sermon to the poem that punctuated the service midway through--the poem!


Grandma sleeps with my sick grandpa
so she can get him    during the night
medicine to stop the pain.
In the morning, clumsily I wake them...
Her eyes look at me from underneath his withered arm
The medicine is all
in her long un-braided hair.

--Alice Miller

--everything fit together and resonated strongly in the little Embro church where we bound our lives together.

We married in that litte Embro ch…

"There's zero closure"

This one's going to piss some people off. For that I apologize, and I issue a couple of disclaimers right up front:

1. My family has a large number of current and former police officers in it. You will look far and wide before you find someone who respects and admires cops as much as I do. I have no patience for the people -- most of them young, but not all -- who disparage peace officers,  who call them names, and who think they're all jerks.

2. I have a great deal of sympathy for the family of slain Sgt. Ryan Russell. It's not going to sound like it in a minute or two, so I want to get that out right now and underline it: I sympathize with the Russells. That family could have been mine on occasions beyond counting and it really is horrible to have to explain to a toddler that Daddy is never coming home.

However, the kinds of things Sgt. Russell's widow Christine is saying to the media give me pause. A great deal of pause. "There's zero closure in a verdict o…

Night and Day

Two or three times a year, for the last twelve years, I've had to contend with a grocery inventory.
This is nothing to what the fresh departments deal with: for reasons unknown, deli, bakery, and produce count their stock monthly. What's more, they have to count all their stock, sales floor and backshop included.
Thank goodness we don't have to count the product on the sales floor. A team of inventory specialists comes in to do that, and the speed at which they work is astonishing. It's usually between six and eight people, and it takes them less than four hours to count everything. I have no idea how this is done. Magic, I assume.
The back room stock--which for me means the dairy cooler and the freezer--is the extent of our responsibility. It's responsibility enough, and it seems to get worse, rather than better, with every inventory.
At my old store, it was a relatively simple matter: many times I'd done it in eight hours, cooler and freezer both. Of course,

Sticking Up For Something I Hated

This is disturbing.

According to this, fewer than half of Ontario's elementary schools have phys. ed. teachers, and the majority of the teachers that do exist are part time. Furthermore, schools are having trouble fitting in the mandated twenty minutes of exercise per day.

Say what?

You can't tell me there's no such thing as recess anymore: I live across the street from an elementary school and I see it (and hear it) morning and afternoon. That's half an hour right there--not counting lunch hour. Nobody I knew ever took the whole period to eat.

Do kids not take physical education any more? I remember it going all the way back to grade one (before that, in junior and senior kindergarten, it was called 'play time'.)
I have to admit that part of me, the part that absolutely loathed  phys. ed., finds itself grateful, if so, that nobody faces humiliation of the sort I endured daily. I sucked at phys. ed. Sucked hard. You wouldn't know it from my evaluations and …


The violin played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank has been found.

Despite two large cracks and some corrosion, it's in remarkable shape, all things considered. And it's going on display in Belfast City Hall, less than a mile from where Titanic was built.

A Redditor named 'hootbot' asks,

Isn't it a bit ghoulish to tour bits of the Titanic around, a ship on which 1500 people died? I mean, imagine if there were a 9/11 touring carnival with bits of office furniture and blood stained palm pilots.

This is a common sentiment, and certainly understandable. But I disagree with it.

First and most facile, neither the victims of Titanic nor those of 9/11 care a bit about their personal effects at this point. That's because they're dead.

I object to the use of the word "carnival", with all the jollity and lightness of purpose it implies. Anyone who has spent any time researching Titanic, as I have--let alone those who have seen the ship, or an…

Life Lessons

I have had an exceptionally challenging week, with the prospect of (at least) two more to come. I can't elaborate on details, much as I'd like to; the Net has eyes, and they see all. Suffice it to say I have arrived home each day with a steadily increasing understanding of how people just...suddenly...snap. Being as stability is arguably my most important core value, you can perhaps understand how weeks like this leave me a little seasick. At times like this, I find myself inhaling positivity wherever I can find it. Which is, of course, everywhere. The love of my wife, a beautiful melody, the smiles of friends...these things are stabilizing and sustaining.  The bolded quotes below come from the Conversations with God trilogy, by Neale Donald Walsch: “Know and understand that there will be challenges and difficult times. Don’t try to avoid them. Welcome them. Gratefully. Cultivate the technique of seeing all problems as opportunities. Opportunities to…be, and decide, Who You Re…

"Nobody wants to see someone get hurt"

...says every hockey fighting aficionado. after someone inevitably does get hurt in a hockey fight.

Oh, I understand the sentiment. It's that emotion, nameless in English, that would be guilt if it could be admitted to. Instead it comes out as -- or at least I hear it as -- a pitiful, plaintive whine. Yeah, it's fun to watch people bashing each other's skulls, but how was I supposed to predict one of them would get a concussion out of it?

Last night, Frazer McLaren and David Dziurzynski engaged in fisticuffs twenty six seconds into the game between McLaren's Leafs and Dziurzynki's Senators.

There was no reason for the fight. Not that there ever are reasons, only excuses. Tonight's excuse was provided by McLaren, who said he was looking to give his side "a spark". Instead he gave his opponent a concussion. Time will tell if it's one of those fleeting concussions that only sidelines you for a couple of weeks or a career-ending, life-destroying concu…

Flanagan, Whatcott, and Free Speech

There are people out there defending Tom Flanagan.


Only in academia can you say something like "[watching child pornography] does not harm another person"--and that you have "grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures"--and have some people in the audience claim this is defensible.

Defend it then. I dare you.

In  the most technical sense imaginable, the kind of distinction that only makes sense inside ivory towers, Flanagan is right: simply watching child porn does not harm another person.


To watch child porn, child porn must first be produced, and that does harm people, many people, most grievously. Furthermore, a sizeable subset of those who do watch child porn will find themselves no longer content with just watching it. This is why merely possessing child pornography is a crime, and I goggle at the thought I'd have to explain this to anyone, much less a formerly respected man who was instrumental in the…

The Friend Zone

Back to the well. What can I say, it's a deep well.

A friend's recent Facebook status:

Friend zone- a term people use when they have a 'crush', but know that she/he isn't interested..yet will let themselves be in that situation and give it a name so people will feel sorry for them..if it comes to that, grow a pair and move on.

Easier said than done.

I can say this with some authority, having been in the fabled Friend Zone for a very long time, back in the day. The term didn't exist then, but we had an equivalent, if less succinct, term, to wit: "I love you, but not in that way".

Translated from Friendzonish, that means "You're a good friend, but you're ugly as homemade fuck." (It's also expressed as "I love you like a brother", which should be extraordinarily comforting to an only child, but which usually made him think long and hard about incest taboos.)

That status, that zone, was the source of most of my teenage depre…

I Miss Band

I imagine the school band is something like the school football team. Except in band you don't lose, ever. You have the camaraderie that comes from building something together, the satisfying sense that each member has a critical role in what is produced.
I played baritone, an instrument which scarcely exists outside of school bands (on this side of the Atlantic, anyway). Even in schools, baritones are increasingly being replaced with euphoniums, which  have a more mellifluous sound. I've tried, at various times, trumpet, trombone, and French horn. None of them felt very comfortable. Trumpet especially.

I have a friend who's a professional musician. Cornet and trumpet are his native instruments, and his ability, even in grade nine, was exceptional. I've always meant to ask him how he can constrict his throat to pinhole size, which is what (it feels like) you have to do to hit any note above middle C.

I got to be a fairly decent baritonist. Not a great one, by any mean…