Are you sure?

Caught an item on the late CTV news tonight that what is described as “quite a few” Americans are considering moving to Canada since Obama won the election.

You may think that’s a great idea – after all we’re just like you except we talk funny eh.  Well, yes and no.  Because Canada is inundated with American entertainment, you’re not going to miss your favourite television shows – we’ll have them somewhere on the dial.  And you can be reasonably assured of better weather on Thanksgiving since ours is in early October, not late November. And there’s still football on Thanksgiving, although it may be the Canadian Football League (which supporters claim is superior to the American game – at least the field is larger). Those are a couple of the good things.

But, are you aware Canada has had socialized medicare since sometime in the last century?  And did you know that same-sex marriage has been legal federally for at least the past five years?  Oh yes, and gay rights are enshrined in our Bill of Rights.  I understand Republicans have been opposed to these, so before you move here, you’d have to consider whether those could be deal-breakers or not.  You’d also have to learn to put the “u” in words like neighbour and colour – that’s the law.  No, seriously. Our first Prime Minister, Sir John A Macdonald, managed to get an act through Parliament that made the inclusion of the “u” the only legal spelling.  One final thing – you’d have to leave your guns south of the border. Not allowed in Canada.   And, if you’re from Washington or Colorado, sorry, but weed is not legal in Canada either.

We won’t get into the economics of your move to Canada other than to say you will pay more for the identical products.

So, given all this, are you sure you want to move to Canada?

Think about it and if you decide you can live with these differences, welcome eh.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

All those years ago

Last night I watched a CTV special on the Cuban missile crisis.  You can look it up in the history books or online if you’ve never heard of it.  All I’ll say, to pique your curiosity, is that those events are the nearest the US and the USSR ever came to World War III.

But, watching that drew my mind back to October 1962 and the events in my life during that month.  I was in Vancouver B C during the early part of October at the army personnel depot awaiting my discharge papers (medical discharge).  Just before Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving – early October), Vancouver was visited by Pacific hurricane Freda.  The depot had its own power station, but for some reason, the only form of energy available in the kitchens was steam.  Worked out great in some ways – I could have all the tea and coffee I wanted – not so great in others. I swear I’ll never eat steamed sausages again: once was enough.  On the Monday I decided I’d go into the downtown area.  Later in the afternoon, knowing all they had at the depot was steamed foods, I decided to stop at a coffee shop for something to eat.  Counting my money, I realized all I could afford was coffee, so that is what I ordered. It wasn’t until I saw all the turkey dinners being brought in from the kitchen that I even remembered it was Thanksgiving. No turkey for me at Thanksgiving 1962.  My dinner consisted of a cup of coffee.

A couple of days later my papers arrived and I was soon on a train back to Toronto. It was during this trip the Cuban missile crisis began and quickly escalated.  By the time I arrived home, the Soviet freighters carrying the missiles were headed straight for the US blockade and the world was simultaneously holding its breath and crossing its fingers.  Keep in mind that during this time I was still technically in the army, but on final 30 day leave.  My stepfather was also in the army, member of the Royal Canadian Regiment (I had been in the Royal Canadian Engineers) and we were both aware that the telephone could ring at any time ordering him to his post and me to the nearest army base.  Fortunately, the confrontation at sea never happened, but it was a very nervous time for my mother, my stepfather and myself and we’d jump every time the telephone rang.  In early November I finished that final leave and was officially out of the armed forces.

If you ask people in their mid to late sixties, I’m sure you would get some fascinating stories  of their October 1962.  Mine isn’t that fascinating, but I still remember it clearly.  And every Thanksgiving, I have a cup of coffee and reflect on what might have been all those years ago.

Cat.

Random thoughts from the weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is almost over.  Unfortunately the turkey will continue.

1 – Two for one.  In Toronto, and probably other jurisdictions as well, over the past year there has been an outcry by cycling groups for trucks to have some form of anti-underride bars on the trailers.  This really became an issue  when a young pregnant lady was hit and killed by a truck – I don’t recall if it was a tractor-trailer or not – making a right turn, when she somehow came in contact with the truck and fell under the rear wheels.  Perhaps you’ve noticed, while on the highway or perhaps just watching traffic flow by, that many tractor-trailers now have what appear to be sails hanging from the bottom of the trailer.  These are slightly curved at the front, fitting under the trailer, and then extend, even with the side of the trailer, to the rear wheels.  The main purpose is to reduce the amount of air that gets under the trailer.  Air under the trailer at highway speeds significantly increases drag, which increases fuel consumption.  These “sails” are a way to combat that added air resistance.

There is this hue and cry for some form of protection for cyclists to be mounted on trucks,  but governments are reluctant to legislate such protection. My thought on this is that since many companies are now using these wind reduction panels anyway, why not just make them mandatory? That way, the transport companies get the reduced fuel consumption they want and the cyclists get the anti-underride protection they want.  Makes sense to me.

2 – It’s supposed to be used.  There was an item in one of the Saturday papers, which of course I didn’t bookmark, about some Honda models that have rolled away, even after the driver has turned the engine off and removed the key.  Apparently the problem is that something in the ignition switch breaks or wears with use that will allow the key to be removed without the transmission being placed in “Park”. And, since the key could be removed, the drivers never checked to make sure the transmission was indeed in “Park”. As I said, I didn’t bookmark the item, so have to rely on my memory, but one man broke his leg when his vehicle ran over him.  He tried to chase it and the open door knocked him down.  There is a lever between the seats, or a small pedal at the left side of the driver’s footwell.  That controls what is variously called an emergency brake; parking brake, or in the case of the lever, a hand brake.  Note that second name – “parking brake”.  Activating this feature, either by pulling the lever, or stepping on the pedal, causes a cable to apply the rear brakes.

One benefit I can think of off-hand is that if you’re parked on an incline,  using this takes a lot of stress off the pawls in the “Park” position of the transmission. No more fighting to get the transmission into gear when you want to leave wherever you’ve been.  I usually drove vehicles with manual transmissions, so to me use of the “parking brake” became second nature.  Even when I drove taxi (all automatic transmissions) I’d use that brake whenever I parked the cab at the end of my shift. In the US the feds are looking at issuing a recall for these particular vehicles, but a bit of common sense and making use of the equipment in cars as standard equipment would prevent this happening.  That brake isn’t for decoration – it’s meant to be used.

3 – That isn’t correct.  I freely admit I’m something of a fanatic when it comes to grammar, composition and spelling.  I’ll also admit that there may be times when I don’t get it right either – I’m only human and prone to error.  One place I do expect to see proper usage though is in advertising or other signage in stores.  I’ve previously ranted about the sign in a coffee shop in a mall that asks patrons not to remove trays from the premise, so I’ll just leave that one alone.

I spent yesterday in Toronto with friends and came home today on the commuter train.  These trains have some advertising – where isn’t there advertising today? – and just before I left the train, I noticed an advertising placard.  I couldn’t see who the company was, but they need to have a talk with their ad agency.  The largest lettering on this placard was the following: Be your boss’ boss.

Notice anything wrong with that statement?  What about that incorrect possessive – “boss’”?  It should have read “boss’s”.  People just don’t seem to understand how to use possessives any longer.  Much like algebra, that seems to be one of the first things forgotten once they leave school  But then again, people seem to have forgotten the proper use of an apostrophe in general. They seem to have forgotten, or never learned, that it is used for contractions and to indicate possession.  Instead they sprinkle it everywhere and yes, on occasion they do get it right.  But the handwritten sign on a door admonishing people to “mind you’re step” certainly isn’t one of those occasions.

Ah well.  I’ve resigned myself to the idea that when it comes to proper English usage, as my tagline reads, I’m a lone voice calling in the wilderness.  Still, it would be nice if one person listened.

Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Holiday time

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada.  I’m feeling much too mellow to  rant about anything.  But I’ll be back Tuesday – once the turkey settles – and I’ll be loaded for bear.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a long weekend, enjoy and stay safe.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.  To my Canadian readers, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Cat.

Rushing things

Canadian Thanksgiving is about two weeks away on the weekend of October 6 -8 this year.  Yes, we celebrate the way Americans do, with too much food and football on the tube.

Hallowe-en is about a month away.

The proximity of these two holidays makes for some interesting sights in stores right now here in Canada.  The paperboard cutouts of turkeys and the fake autumn leaves are fighting for space with the paperboard cutouts of black cats and the plastic skeletons on the shelves.

What is it about some retail outlets that they rush the seasons?  I haven’t seen it myself, but I did hear a news commentator saying that he’d seen Hallowe’en stuff on store shelves before Labour Day.  I mean, c’mon.  They’re still pushing the “back to school” stuff and they’ve already got the Hallowe’en stuff out?  This is something I just don’t understand.  If you’re a parent, you know there is no point in buying your child a costume before Labour Day because the kid’s going to change their mind at least five times between early September and the end of October.  Same thing with buying the goodies to hand out.  They’ll be stale by Hallowe’en if you buy them now, that is if they don’t get eaten in the meantime.

And, if this is a typical year, many stores, once they remove the Thanksgiving displays, will replace them with Christmas stuff. Definitely right after Hallowe’en if not immediately. My personal view, especially with Christmas, is that since people are inundated with Christmas advertising for at least six weeks, once Christmas actually arrives, people have become insulated against  what should be a joyous time of year.

Am I the only one who feels merchants push things too much; that they rush to get the next season’s or occasion’s products on display?  I know from past observation that shortly after  New Year’s, they will have the Valentine’s Day displays up; and about February 16 will have the paper shamrocks out for St Patrick’s Day.  It may help boost the bottom line for the merchants, but do their patrons end up suffering from festive overload and just don’t care when the day actually arrives?

Of course, if you believe the stories surrounding the Mayan long calendar, there won’t be a Christmas anyway.  But I’m am optimist.  All that will happen is the calendar will start over, just as does ours every January 1.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.