Monday, December 26, 2016

This is My Christmas Post

This is my "Christmas Post".

Declaration:  Despite what my wife will tell anyone in ear shot, I am a Christmas fan for the most part. There is much however a few festive items I struggle with and have a hard time accepting.

Today is boxing day. A day that has competing theories for the origin of the term. none of which is definitive.  The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest declaration from the 1840, defining it as "the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box". For cynical me, modern day boxing day has always been a "head out to grab everything you didn't get for Christmas".

Maybe we should go back to giving nice boxes with goodies to those who truly deserve and have less than us.

I like the feeling that the season seems to present in early December and carries thru until about today, December 26th. During the Christmas "Season" there are the admirable days filled with commendable traits that are exhibited by Christians, agnostics, atheists, and other theism alike. The spirit of giving, pausing to say thank you, seasons greetings and "let me give you a dollar to help out a cause". Visit the senior homes and spread smiles to those who need a loving hand up.

Then cue the pushing and shoving that re-commences on boxing day, and runs full tilt at the speed of life for the next 11 1/2 months.

Christmas this year was quite lovely for us.. It was usual in the way that family gathers to eat, give and get, which is fine, but we love the idea of family gathering to be family. We do the greetings and hugs and discuss past year etc, and then we offer wine and libations and wear funny tacky sweaters and take turns holding babies for pictures to be shared and reminisced over in years to come. We eat and drink too much, hug a kiss a lot, but we share a common theme of Joy.

I am not lost on the irony that the birth that we commemorate on the 25th, Jesus's, would find our celebrations contemptuous. Nor am I stumped by those Christians or Deists who find selfish reasons to obtain more consumer goods for their betterment. That my friends will always be.

Facebook and other social sites (social?) take no Christmas break from locking horns, picking fights with those who's belief differ. Including the belief in a creator or supreme being or a gaggle of god's that we should or should not follow.
Should we say "Merry Christmas" or is that just a slag against the multitudes of Muslims and others  who do not observe.

I much prefer to observe this day, and celebrate Christmas, to pay tribute to a great philanthropist, philosopher, and all round guy who did a lot of good! Someone who spread the message of love. A man who, as Michael Coren so eloquently describes as someone who " would not hurt or abuse, would not reject, would not exclude. He would not deny climate change, would not build walls, would not obsess about procreation, and would not condemn you for who you you loved." That Man of course is Jesus Christ.

This post is not to argue  for direct evangelism and certainly not  to offer proof for Jesus and His birth. We pretty much know that Jesus was not born in December, and as Coren points out " it may not have been a stable and we don’t really know who was there."
And again in Coren's words  "Jesus was born, He existed, He spoke, He inspired, and He died. There’s no serious doubt.
But as to whether He was the Son of God and rose from the dead, that is something for you to decide."

I am not here to argue the existence of God, or any god for that matter. That lies within you and only you. We all have a faith in something I hope, and if being a christian means that you follow  most  and strive to emulate to the best of your ability to live a life that offers love, and not hate. Live in truth. Love the earth as if it was ALL your home. Take care of animals and children who need our help. Live a life where possible does good and not evil. Help other who need help. Strive to be the best parent, partner, friend, mentor, student, teacher that is possible with what we have to work with. Treat all men and women equal. Love thy neighbor......
 Then call me a Christian with a capital C.

Many prefer Christmas bows, packages and lights to the Christmas message. Yes this time of year is magnificent to behold with our eyes, but what power we would be if we lived the message.
 Have a blessed and happy Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tax Me! Please!

A carbon tax is as about as evil as a tax is on cigarettes. 
There is no way around the fact that as long as we use the word "Tax", there will be an outcry. I often feel as if I walk alone in my love for this planet. I raised a lone voice when the highway 407 came further east and gobbled up nice farm land. I shake my head when I watch the hundreds of cars in a Drive thru running their engines in summer and winter. Our global love for purchasing new electronics on a regular basis, and toss old 50"  HD screens in the dump to make room for the new 55" smarties pants Screen that is Ultra HD. Sad and sorry lot we are.
Perhaps I do stand alone in my ideology. I have no issues with Taxes. It is spending that causes my heartburn and slow anger. If I get a decent return for my dollar, I am good. We pay, ballpark, around $300 a month in property tax. For that we get the roads cleared in winter, the parks to walk our dog is maintained, our garbage gets picked up and the Mayor comes out and says a few nice words on Remembrance day.
A Carbon "tax" to me is smart. If we use British Columbia as an example. They implemented their tax in 2008. It covers most types of fuel use and carbon emissions. It started out low ($10 per tonne of carbon dioxide), then rose gradually to the current $30 per tonne, which works out to about 7 cents per litre of gas. “Revenue-neutral” by law, the policy requires equivalent cuts to other taxes. In practice, the province has cut $760-million more in income and other taxes than needed to offset carbon tax revenue.The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that B.C.’s policy has been a real environmental and economic success after six years. Far from a being a “job killer,” it is a world-leading example of how to tackle one of the greatest global challenges of our time: building an economy that will prosper in a carbon-constrained world.
 What is even more extraordinary is that taxpayers are coming out ahead.  B.C. now has the lowest personal income tax rate in Canada and one of the lowest corporate rates in North America. At the same time, it’s been extraordinarily effective in tackling the root cause of carbon pollution: the burning of fossil fuels. Since the tax came in, fuel use in B.C. has dropped by 16 per cent; in the rest of Canada, it’s risen by 3 per cen.
Now lets add the fact that the economy of B.C has outperformed the rest of Canada since 2008.
 So tax me!  Please! My income tax goes down. The environment gets greener. The economy gets better.
But to my friends in line at Best Buy, buying that smartie pants, ultra HD, super spiffy screen, then taking the family through the drive thru to meet people:). Don't let these facts get in the way of your beliefs that a Carbon tax is bad.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Art of the Browse

Long before Dot had been introduced to Com; and way before there was an "app" to do what we used to do ourselves; there was the "art of the browse".
I thought of this the other day when I cleaned out a drawer and found my old "Blockbuster" card. A ping of nostalgia hit this old fella the way smelling Old Spice makes me miss my Dad.
I picked it up as if it could tell stories. The memories of browsing the aisles with my boy on Saturday afternoons was sweet with real life pictures. Dan would wander the Game aisle for hours as I would browse the "New releases" to see what would be the Saturday night feature.
Browsing was a "thing" and still is in a way for me. I never get tired of book stores or libraries, and love a "magazine afternoon hunt" in the winter. although the paper versions are going away and the good stores like Mikes, (which had over 300 titles of magazines from Neurology today, to Bumper Car new Age magazine) are going the way of the CD store.
Browsing a record store many years ago was a day of pure joy. We would bus and subway down to Sam the Record Man early on a Saturday morning where we spend the day in bliss! Album art was our Louvre. Discovering a rare bootleg Dylan (Live at the Budokan) was winning the lottery for us. Those days are near gone of course, and with internet shopping this old curmudgeon fears that I will lose my browsing days in the Hardware store.
Life at the speed of life I guess, and we will learn to "move it or lose it old fella"!
Choosing a movie now takes as long as it does to make a cup of noodles. I will and do miss the Blockbuster days, and part of my favorite memories with a ten year old are in that magical membership card.


Wally World Revisited

I wrote this on April 17th 2008. One month before my cochlear activation and sound re entering my life after 230 days in my deafness.
I am reprinting it because Mary did not read it, and I happened to have it saved.
I also liked it, and reminisced fondly of my first trip to a Wal-Mart superstore.
Deaf as a stump, no balance, wandering through my first Superstore.
I hope you enjoy it.

I needed to buy batteries today. I tried to change channels last night and the remote was not in a very cooperative mood. Seems it needed AA's.
"Didn't I just buy a bulk pack of those"? I naively asked my wife.

"Talk to the 13 year old that lives in the first room on your right" she replies.

I went into to see where all my batteries were, and I discovered the source of the supply drain The "X-Box remote controllers" , it was explained to me. "Eat them like candy" Dan complained.

Regardless, I needed some or else I would be stuck watching "The Price Is Right" marathon for the next 3 nights.
So this morning I had to make a decision on where the purchase would be made. I knew that Costco would be the cheapest, but one item in a line for 3 days is just silly. The other end of the spectrum is the corner store, but I was not paying $37.89 for 4 AA batteries even if I was the only person shopping.
I went for the middle ground and picked Walmart.
So Janet and I head out this morning and she is traveling in a direction of which I am not familiar with.
"Where are you going" I asked.
"There is a new Walmart that opened in the South Oshawa area" she tells me.
Two things here: I was surprised that any retail opening would miss my consumer radar, and…..
2) I don't like South Oshawa!

I guess while I was "sleeping" for 90 some days in a hospital ward, Wally World slipped one in on me.
Not only did he build a store unbeknown to me, but he built the "Super Wally World Store" concept.
It was the size of O'Hare and I swear I saw an air traffic control tower and a few DC 10's in the lot.
Now I'm no country bumpkin, nor have I just fallen off the rutabaga mobile, but I have never been in one of these behemoth of store.
We park, and in we go.
"You get the batteries and I will grab some fabric softener". announces Janet.
So off goes deaf as an Acorn Squash guy into the wilds of Wally's Frontier.
I leave the cozy confines of the 73 year old store greeter, and venture past the fruit and vegetables. After around 3 or 4 Kilometers I am still in some sort of produce section. Yes it is different from where I started out with the familiar Oranges and Ruby Grapefruit, but I am still in an area of "foods that grow in the warmer climes".
I cross into a deli section that takes in about 14 Acres where a nice lady in blue jacket stamps my passport and smiles at me. I am cruising now.
As I cross the Prairies, I note the vastness of the ryes and flax breads. The flatland's seem to go for miles, and one looses perspective of distance once the sourdoughs are stumbled upon.
The whole wheat flutter on skids as far as the eye can see.
I catch of glimpse of what I suspect is a Prairie dog, but quickly discount it as scurries back into the Pet aisle.
A stray gerbil I suspect.
I have always had a soft spot for the prairies. I admire the hardiness of the workers who toil among the dangers of falling prices. The amber waves of grain and the ski high stacks of Wonder Bread are a joy for the eye to behold.
"Oh beautiful for spacious skies.." I sing proudly, as grab a dozen Frosted Ho Ho's.

I sense a sudden chill now as I enter into the land of milk and cheese. I must some how have wandered off course and ended up in Wisconsin. I look for the” Go Packers" signs among the Cheddar wheels. I want to be a cheese head!
I hurry back to the pet food isle, and grab Speeder some Bickies, and a fresh kong to go with the wheel of Cheddar I just picked up in the dairy regions.
I pass a mountain of cola neatly staked beside the biggest pile of denim jeans I have ever seen. The blue jeans scream a $10 price tag.
I wonder how much the seamstress makes on this.

About 2 or 3 hours into my venture I ask a bird watcher that I pass, if I could borrow his binoculars to see if there is sign to point me in the right direction. He obliges, and I spot "Electronics" just east of the first watering hole. (The pools are now out on display even though the snow continues to fall today) I thank him and get back on my journey.

Around noon I get hungry and follow my nose to one of many local McDonald's that services weary travelers like myself. I see the natives in blue smocks dine here as well. Although I have always found it safe to eat where the indigenous dine, I take a pass on this spot and decide that I can't eat this today, I need to stay healthy.
I ask for directions from another blue jacketed lady. I hope I can speech read her.
I can't.
I ask her again to point me in the direction of batteries.
She starts into some long winded question, pointing at my feet. My God I think, are the natives interested in trading footwear?
I think she is trying to ask me why I have price tags dangling from the runners I have on.
I explain to her that the soles of my own shoes gave out about 7 kilometers away, back in house wares, so I borrowed the Wally beige shoes to get me a little further into the store.

About hour 5 or 6 hours into my journey, I make note of some falling prices that I could conceivably injure myself on. Lucky for me, I happen to be the bicycle helmet section. I put one on to secure my melon from any further falling prices.
I stop at the camping section and notice a family is resting by a fake campfire and eating giant packages of Mike and Ike's. I ask if I could join them until my throbbing stops in my legs.
They of course notice my limp and my cane, and motion me to sit a spell and rest up.
"Where ya headed" asks the woman.
I read her lips nicely.
"Batteries. In Electronics I presume" I tell them
"Ohhhh, you got a long way to go my friend" advises the man in the group.
"Better head out before you get locked in the store like us. We've been here since just after Valentines day clear out" he warns
I spring up and carry on.
By the time I reach Consumer Electronics, I notice my shopping cart is full.
I suspect while on my journey I have been subconsciously shopping up a storm.
If, and only if, I proceed to the cash at this moment, I might get out under a hundred bucks.
But I still have no batteries.

I do, however have one roast turkey, some stuffing in a box,a 15 pack of tube socks, gum that explodes when you chew it, a 12 pack of peanut butter chocolate cups, some Disney DVD with girl called Hanna something in it, a ginger ale/ ice tea combination and several empty cans of energy drinks that I have consumed since my journey began.
I asks a clerk if there is bus stop or a taxi stand to take me back. Even a rope tow would do me fine.
I am spent, done, fatigued.
I need to cash out before I have to sell my collectible footballs.
I can see the 45 cash registers just east of the horizon and very close to a mountain of Easter Bunnies that scare the hell out of me the way they teeter on a skid. With all the "watch for falling prices" warnings, one would think a "watch for falling chocolate bunnies" sign would be posted in the interest in public safety.
I follow a caravan of buggies back to the cash and meet Janet.

The batteries are neatly sold on racks on every cash.


I make a note that no treadmill workout will be needed, and we go out into the wilds of the parking lot. I hope it is not too dark to find our car.

Taking my Side in this Civil War

Up until recently, I was a believer in the old adage "Never take sides in a civil war" At one time I believed that agreement kept the world fine. Never argue, don't express an opinion contrary to the status quo. Waves lose friends. Keep smiling!

I am now at that stage in my life that I find it no longer necessary to hold my tongue. Tape my fingers so QWERTY is silent.  Turn off my active and compassionate mind.

When I read or hear of an injustice, I now speak out!

Recently in our little town, the Province completed and opened a highway. Now back in the 70's, before most of our town council was of age, I was protesting the paving of green paradise. the people  stopped the Spadina expressway. We had sit in's when paradise was being paved for parking lots. We rejected the idea of need for more airports. We boycotted aerosol sprays.
So imagine my disappointment when my town council decided to open this new highway with a celebration! The good denizens came out in droves to walk, ride and roller blade on this new expensive stretch of asphalt and concrete.
They celebrated in huge crowds with families arm in arm, joyous to have a massive strip of 6 lanes of sad grey in lieu of fertile, green, gorgeous farm land and trees. All hail the almighty car! We have more reasons to drive now! What a day it was in July 2016 when the town of Whitby partied all day in praise of 10 Kilometers of gorgeous grey substrate. No need to take Go Transit now, we have more highways. stop planning new bus routes, we don't need them! They danced and sang songs that day!

I was not present at the family asphalt-a-thon. We took our dog and went  to the lake and enjoyed a kayak ride and the serenity of nature.

Fast forward to last week.

The Province always intended that this was to be a toll highway. Not a freeway. We all knew this. All the celebrants that were skateboarding the 10 K grey belt knew this. NO surprises.
The  town councilors used their Facebook marketing skills to announce that they are passing a motion to lobby the Government of Ontario to make this toll highway a freeway!  Why should we pay tolls to drive on this? The citizens agreed and cheered! Yes Councillor! Thank You Mr Mayor!

Not yours truly.

I used their FB announcements to question why on God's former Green earth, would we want all the tax payers to pay for a 10K strip of grey that will be used by 2,000 residents? Their answer was "all highways should be and are free"
My Answer: Because those 2,000 people who live in Whitby, all vote.
 But so do the seniors who do not drive or will use the toll highway. So do the students who take public transportation to school and pay tuition.
So after I spoke out and made clear my position, and from an economic position, I was lambasted. When I dared to suggest that we look at tolls as a "sin tax" like the one on cigarettes and booze, I was called "Twisted and demented". When I suggested that a toll might encourage those to look at public transport, car pooling or even bikes, I was called a "Libtard". One commentor asked if I was "Lefttarded"
Look people: Get used to a new world where if you want a bit of luxury you pay for it. If you don't want to drive in bumper to bumper, pay the toll  to the mean old troll on Highway 407. If you don't want to stand in line for hours at Pearson airport, then get the Amex gold card for a big fee and skip the line. If you hate lining up at Disney land then pay the extra $130 US and get  "go to front of line"
But don't ask me or my 83 year old mother (who will loose her right to drive soon due to eyesight issues" or my 22 year old son who takes a bus, to PAY for your it!
You partied in July when you correctly walked and biked. Now pay up if you want to use your carbon spewing mobile to save the 3 minutes.