Whose Using The Dictionary?

This is it boys and girls!  This is the post about English language usage and misusage that I’ve been threatening for a year.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that I decided to do one, and have paid more attention, but the last month or so the mistakes have just been leaping off the pages at me.  I have to do a bitch post about them, or I’ll smack somebody with a thesaurus.

Despite the high rate of literacy in North America, there’s a difference between can read, and do read.  There’s a disturbing percentage of the population, for whom English is a spoken language.  They cannot make the mental connection between the random grunts that fall from their face, and the magic marks which appear on paper or computer screen.

Even among the more intelligent and educated, the professionals, paid to use the language, there is too much attention and thought given to the information being broadcast, and too little given to the words used to convey those stories.

I think of it as a young man who has proposed to his sweetheart, and now has to go to meet her family.  After a shit, shower, shave and shampoo, he splashes on some nice cologne, dresses in his best clothes and sets off to drive to see them.  He knows exactly where they live, and exactly which streets and roads he will take to get there.  He rolls into their driveway, and they see that, instead of his shiny Audi coupe, he has somehow taken the neighbor kid’s rebuilt ’73 VW Bug, with the flowers and peace symbol.  Everyone knows he made the effort, but he still looks like a fool.

Other words cause problems for the inattentive, but homonyms seem to be the most numerous problem.  Pairs of words with similar pronunciation, but vastly different meanings.  It sounded like what I wanted to say!  Restricted vocabulary sometimes means the speaker/writer doesn’t know both words, and uses one for all cases, but that’s a mute point.

I’ve got a list of doozies I’ve seen recently.  I’m going to put them down and make fun of them.  Pay attention please.  Even the best of us may learn something.

I don’t know whether to be more irked or amused when a columnist writes about something they know nothing about.  A recent article by a female about archery, enjoying a resurgence because of movies like Brave, and The Hunger Games, contained this line.

this bow and arrow, with a bendy piece of wood with one sharp end held taunt with a piece of string

So few words – so many mistakes!  I could taunt her by telling her that the correct word is taut – tight.  A bendy piece of wood??  There’s a crisp descriptive passage.  With one sharp end?  Is she writing about the arrow?  It’s an unusual bow that doesn’t have symmetrical narrow ends.  The word taunt I’ve already dealt with, but you can’t hold one end taut, it requires two, and the string doesn’t hold the bow taut.  The bow holds the string taut.

I do crossword puzzles.  There’s a lot more to them than a large vocabulary.  It’s like The Mentalist on TV.  It’s a guessing game, a long-range mind-reading act.  What was he thinking when he wrote this clue?  I have to guess not only what he meant, but what he meant when he used the wrong word.

Overly verbose – gregarious.  Gregarious means being part of a large group.  You may talk a lot when you do that, but gregarious has nothing to do with being verbose.  You may be the quiet one in the crowd.

Opposite of none – some.  The opposite of none is all.  Some is in the middle.

Day before a holiday – eve.  Eve is short for evening, perhaps from 6 PM till midnight.  It’s not the entire day.

Reared – bred.  Bred is producing offspring, reared is raising them to independence.

Between – amid.  Between is two.  Amid is more than two.  It’s that simple, and precise.

Retainers – fees.  Retainers are what you pay to ensure that a professional will work for you when you need him/her.  Fees are what you pay when the work is done.

Withered – sear.  Sear is what you do to a steak.  This one needs the word sere.

Like dandruff – itchy.  A dry scalp, which produces dandruff, is itchy.  Dandruff is dead.  It has no feelings.

Timidity – fear.  Timidity is lack of bravery or self-confidence.  One can be timid without fear.

Discus or javelin – event.  Discus or javelin throwing are events.  Discus and javelin are projectiles.

Nasty laugh – sneer.  A sneer, like a smile, or a frown, is a facial expression which makes no sound.  It can’t be a laugh, nasty or otherwise.

Restricted vocabulary can produce some interesting, though irksome, word usages.

We need to reign those politicians in

Even with lots of local Mennonites on the road with their buggies and wagons, people forget about horses and reins.

Raccoons don’t really watch their food

No, they eat it with their eyes closed, after they scrub it under water.

I don’t want to be one of thoughs.  And he worked so hard to be wrong.

Hallink, a plastic bottle dye maker.  What color were the bottles that came from the forming die?

A Wiccan experienced a right of passage, and low and behold.  Well, Wiccans don’t read much Bible, or they’d know the words were, “rite” and “lo.”

A golf cart for sale, with fancy weels and ect.  This one sets my teeth on edge.  Weels is bad enough, but the “and ect” is becoming too common.  The spelling is “etc”, an abbreviation of Et Cetera, which means, “and other things”.  And Ect is redundant, with incorrect spelling of a three-letter word.

The local car columnist, writing about station wagons, reported that they evolved from depot hacks, which were pulled by a handsome team of horses.  What he meant was that they were pulled by a pair of hansom horses, a hansom being a two-horse cart.

A woman fell and broke her tibula.  That might mean eyebrow, because the two bones in the leg are tibia, and fibula.  Even if the bones were jammed together when one broke, the words shouldn’t have been.

Wrist dramatically to forehead, Oh, whoa is me!  Well stop doing that, and use woe!

He pulled a slingshot from beneath his robe, placed a stone in the cup and whirled it around his head.  A slingshot is a Y-shaped object with an elastic band to propel objects.  Like David against Goliath, what he had, was a sling.

I could go on all day, but I’m already over quota.  Thanx for reading my rant.  Perhaps more another time.

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Come Fly With Me

Another story has appeared in the newspaper which raises more questions than it answers.  Four young people have been killed in a fairly local plane crash.  They all worked for Bombardier Aerospace Industries in Toronto.  The pilot was a 20-year-old male, who was so good a pilot that he had his licence to fly commercial aircraft.  With him, he had a 19-year-old female, a 22-year-old male and a 24-year-old man.

They all drove up to Kitchener, from Toronto, and rented a new, reliable Cessna 132 from the local airport.  There’s where the first question arises.  With three airports within a fifteen-minute to half-hour drive, north of Toronto, why did they drive an hour and a half to Kitchener, to rent a plane?

They told the rental agent that they wanted to fly over Toronto and Niagara Falls.  Again, if they wanted to see Toronto from the air, why not rent a plane near Toronto?  Toronto is east, Niagara Falls is south-east from here.  They crashed on a farm fifty miles north and west of here.  What in Hell were they doing up there?  A resident from the crash area stated that small planes use the uncrowded sky up there to practice “emergency manoeuvres”.  Why would a pilot who already had a commercial licence, need to practice emergency manoeuvres in a small plane?  Was he just showing off?

Witnesses say that the plane was spinning down.  The engine would race and then slow, and it and a strong wind would slow the spiral, but then it would pick up speed again.  The plane did not swoop in and leave a swath of destruction in the farmer’s field.  From the overhead photo, it appears to have smacked down on its belly on five-foot tall corn, so gently that one wing was barely snapped off.

I would wonder about a plane-crash that gentle, killing all four occupants, but I have personally witnessed two car crashes which showed just how capricious fate can be.  I watched a car go off the outside of a banked curve one night.  It tumbled corner over corner, seven times.  A four-door hard-top, with all the windows down, it left an unbelted passenger behind without a scratch, as the open window rolled away from him.  There also wasn’t an injury among the other two riders, or any of the 48 bottles of beer they had in the car.  It came to rest leaning against a little maple tree no bigger than my thumb, at the top of a riverbank, 75 feet above the water.

On the other hand, I witnessed a delicate little rear-end collision one day, so soft that the radiator in the rear car wasn’t even damaged.  Unfortunately, the passenger in the front car was killed.  Apparently he was leaning forward, just enough, and at just the right angle that the impact whip-lashed his neck, and without the headrest to support him, the impact snapped his spine.

This is a strange little case.  Did one of the passengers panic when the emergency actions started?  Did someone get thrown against the controls?  Several official agencies are investigating.  It may take a while, but I suspect that, like the Negro, mysteriously stabbed to death in the park, sooner or later we’ll get enough information to at least make an educated guess.

With the wife’s inhalant allergies, our trips are restricted to places we can drive to.  I have only flown twice in my life.  Once we went out to the local airport for the annual air show, and found that, for $20 apiece, we could have a half-hour flight in a fifty-seater, around the cities.  I was the last to board on one flight, and wound up jammed in the last seat in the tail, with no porthole to see out of.  I managed to get a bit of a look through the window ahead of me.  Good thing it only cost twenty bucks.  It was about as exciting as riding around in a shipping container.

The other flight I had, was a bit longer, and in a little four-seater quite similar to the one that just crashed.  The president of the small company I worked for was a plane-nut.  He was the president of the local flying club.  He didn’t own the plane, but could use it whenever no-one else had it, for the cost of fuel.

He had a potential customer and his wife, that he wanted to impress, and had promised them an airplane ride.  He expected me to share his passion for flying, and voluntold me that I would be coming along on the flight after work.  The flight lasted two hours, and, at least I got to ride up front in the co-pilot’s seat, with a good view.  We flew south, out over the coast of Lake Erie, turned around and flew back.  I got to see the Nanticoke Nuclear Power station from the air.  I think it’s illegal to fly directly over it.

Halfway home, he *suggested* that I take the controls for a few minutes.  I demurred, but this was a man who didn’t take no for an answer, so I wound up flying the plane for about fifteen minutes.  It’s like when your Dad took the car out on the highway, and let you sit in his lap and steer.  Oh yeah, with seatbelts and traffic cops, we don’t do that anymore.  The controls were light and easy.  Despite my initial misgivings, I really enjoyed it, but like many other things in my life, finances put it out of my reach.

Innocent Till Proven Christmas

Bah, F***ng Humbug!

Ebenezer Scrooge was a piker….an amateur….a poseur who was seduced, and relapsed.  He had no determination or staying power.  If you want to know all about hating the Christmas season, just climb up and sit on my lap little boy….or girl, I’m an equal opportunity pervert, and I’ll tell you how it really is.

A 26-year-old man was arrested and charged in Germany for being drunk in a public place, and causing a disturbance.  He allegedly lurched his way through the playground of a public park, and told all the little boys and girls playing there, that there was NO SANTA!  Well, they were just kids, and little children shouldn’t be disappointed, but I understand his displeasure, and how he probably got that way.

Christmas is great for children, and families.  It’s wonderful to get together with friends and relatives, and enjoy the love and support.  You know what’s not great??!  The rest of it!  The very fact that I’m blogging about it now should give you a hint.  Christmas is a beautiful day.  It used to be just a day, then it was a period, then it was a season, now it’s a juggernaut of an industry.

I’m all for peace and love, and getting together with friends and family….on Christmas!  If you need a few days before or after to wrap presents or prepare food or stay and visit, I’m cool with that.  If you need some extra time before to go shopping, I understand stores’ need to advertise and promote.

American stores sneaking north of the border to infiltrate Canadian shopping patterns have already brought us Black Friday, without the Thanksgiving Thursday to go with it.  I’m too lazy to do it, but if somebody else wants to start a drive limiting the time for Christmas retailery and feelgoodery, I’d sign up in a second.

I would think that the first of December would be an acceptable date.  Black Friday is already pushing things.  If it stopped there, I still wouldn’t bitch too much, but it doesn’t.  On Monday, November 12, the day after Remembrance Day, the neighbors across the street turned on their outdoor Christmas lights.  Turned them on, because they never take them down.

Why rant about pretty lights, I hear you ask?  Because they are Hindu Sikhs, that’s why, trying to look like they fit in and draw attention away from the fact that they run an illegal food-service business out of their house.  City crews in both municipalities are installing Christmas lights on trees and bushes in both main city parks.  They do it now, while the weather is still decent, but they don’t get turned on till two weeks before the big event.

My favorite radio station used to play nothing but hard-edged classic rock.  Because of demographic changes, they now only play some hard rock, and slip in Justin Bieber and petulant Taylor Swift, never, never, ever getting back with a boyfriend who’s probably already moved on.  They have theme weekends, like hits songs which never made it to number one.

I turned the stereo on this past weekend and heard Felice Navidad.  Apparently a Christmas song weekend….seven weeks before Christmas.  I went out in the car on Monday, and turned on the radio, and heard Felice Navidad again, all Christmas songs, all the time, from now till Yule.  There’s a station available on-line which plays Christmas music 24/7/365.

In my crossword puzzle yesterday, the solution to one clue was Auld Lang Syne.  I stopped into a store to pick up a present, and Auld Lang Syne was playing on the Muzak.  That’s a New Year’s song, for a week even further past Christmas.  That’s the kind of thing that probably set off Herr Lagertippen, above!  This stuff has been visually and aurally assaulting us for weeks….and there’s no end in sight!  Make it stop!  Make it stop!!

The city is paying a few people to patrol the main street and ask folks why they’re not smiling, and try to get them to smile.  You know why I’m not smiling??!  Because my tax dollars are being wasted to pay gooders to interfere in my busy day.  Just because I wasn’t broadly grinning, doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy.  At least I wasn’t, till you stuck your nose in my business, and got all judgemental.

I’m reading a book right now, titled Overkill.  I considered that as a title for this piece.  I haven’t even addressed the increasing numbers of non-Christians among us, because this isn’t about religion, despite what the thumpers claim.  This is about commerce and culture.

There’s a story about a newly-wed who complains comments about his young bride’s somewhat limited menu. She replies, “What?! You liked beans on Monday, you liked beans on Tuesday, you liked beans on Wednesday, you liked beans on Thursday.  Here it is Friday, and suddenly you don’t like beans??!”  Sometimes there’s too much of even a good thing.  Enjoy peace and prosperity.  Enjoy family, friends and food.  Enjoy Christmas at/near Christmas, and turn off the damned lights and music so that the birds and I can sleep.  Scrooge, were you taking notes?

Time Flies

Happy Blogiversary!

Has it really been a year since I started this silliness?  And you guys keep coming around to read it, even without a Community Service order!  You all deserve a big pat on the back.  Please take one each out of petty cash.  Just watch where you put your hands.

A whole year??!  Time flies when you’re making fun.  With BrainRants makin’ it look easy, and a daughter who pushed her creaky old father down the slippery slope, I thought I’d have a go at it.  The first thing I learned was that it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as Rants, and some of you others make it look.

Like so many other avocations, I find myself safely in the middle.  The authors, socio-political commentators and humorists among you show me levels to aspire to, though likely never achieve.  I keep up with the other raconteurs, constantly trying to throw in a small ration of humor, even among my rants, as well as interesting and educational, social and geographical trivia.

Never saddled with a need to publish, I started slowly, gradually increasing the pace until I was putting out a post every two days.  I cut that back to every three days when panic ensued about where new topics would come from.  Since I’m writing this before my actual blogiversary, I won’t know the exact count, but it should run about 125 posts in the last year.

Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve only encountered a couple of blog sites that I would describe as terrible, one that was an admitted psychotherapy project for a young, female, drug-using runaway.  Another was about the adventures of a young woman trying to find Mr. Right, and too often getting Mr. Right Now.  It began to read like the script from year 18 of a TV soap opera, desperate for followers.  I finally had to give it up when the contradictions and fantastic co-incidences became too much to believe.

I’ve found sites with posts about Popsicle stick carving and salt shaker filling.  Though I see no followers, likes, or comments, there must be at least a few people who stop by to read.  I like to hold my head and my hubris high, and assure myself that, at least I’m not that boring.

Some bloggers post every day, a few, more than once a day, even if it’s just pictures of clouds and a few words.  I still haven’t learned how to insert pictures or videos.  My forte is the (electronically) printed word.  I try to make my posts about something, even when it’s not something important.  It just takes me a couple of days to find each new subject and put together a cohesive story about it.

I try to hold my posts to a maximum of a thousand words.  Even with an interesting post, attention spans and patience start to wear off quickly, much farther than that.  I’ve revisited some of my early posts, and found rookie mistakes, huge paragraphs, half a page long.  It’s a wonder that I managed to garner any followers at all.  I’ve learned tighter, more concise presentation

I liken myself to one of my favorite pop bands, Jethro Tull, the British band with the American name.  Like almost every other English group of the time, they thought they were a “Blues” band.  Their first couple of albums were lame, experienced out of context, and yet they’ve hung in for over thirty years.  They’ve travelled, had fun, made some decent money, and still have long-time fans.  If only I do a quarter as well.

My posts are all free, and I try to ensure that you get full value for what you pay.  What you have paid is, attention….and friendship, and comments and following, and guidance, and encouragement, and compliments, and inclusion.  As I’ve been told, and responded to, the measure of the worth of me and my site, is not in the great numbers of people who only comment, “Nice post.”, but the numbers of great people who have made me one of them, and made the last year a real hoot.  I thank you all – again!

When I published my 100th post, my insecurity had me worrying about where to find grist to mill out a few more.  More and more I feel I’m mostly past that.  I now have about fifteen unpublished drafts ahead, and new thoughts pop up from time to time.  Some of them may seem chronologically misplaced, like when I post about a late September trip in late November, but you guys seem patient with the old fogy.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have found such a circle of great thoughts, in great blogs, by great writers.  I am not what I was a year ago.  I am much improved, and I hope to use your support and guidance to further improve me in the next year.  I hope that my meager offerings have improved my readers’ lives in some small way, and plan to try to increase the dividends.

Excelsior!!

On The Road Again

The wife, daughter and I very much enjoyed the food and the treatment we got at the luncheon in my recent post, Sugar Beets Boredom.  The presentation was to begin at 11:30 AM, with lunch at noon, and done by 1:00, but….the guests couldn’t all be wrangled into the dining room, the speeches ran long, there were more questions than anticipated.

Unfortunately, this was also the day I had to take my daughter an hour up the highway for medical treatment.  We were to be there by 2:20 PM.  Skipping a delicious dessert and coffee, we bailed at 1:15, dropped the wife at home on the way out of town, and headed for the highway.  With a mile left to go, we were stopped at a crossroad by police.

Not only is the International Plowing Match being held right beside the interchange, but today’s the day the Prime Minister is visiting.  We can’t get through!  All we have to do is go a mile and a quarter in the wrong direction, drive up a county road and then back to the on-ramp from the other side.  We made the hospital appointment, barely.  In the city, or out in the country, you still can’t get there from here.

A plowing match!  Yeehaw!  How bucolic.  In Southern Ontario, in late September, what could possibly go wrong??!  Other than eight successive days of rain?  Aside from our handsome Prime Minister, (Nope! I just couldn’t write that, and live with myself.) we had the Queen of the Furrow in a short little skirt and knee-length rubber boots because of mud up to your John Deere’s hubs.  There was a pole climbing contest like a lumberjack meet.  There were dancing tractors, like the Mounties on horseback, only in diesel.  The soft glow on the horizon was from all the red necks.

A week later, the three of us went to the beautiful town of St. Marys, Ontario.  I’m still old-school.  I don’t shower much.  I prefer a nice hot soaking bath.  I’m a macho he-man kind of guy, so I don’t use bubble bath.  I put in fragranced bath gel.  There’s an important difference….to my ego!

We used to be able to buy it by the gallon from the distributor in Mississauga, when we went to the wife’s rheumatologist in Brampton, but they moved the warehouse to Barrie.  There is a candle supply shop in St. Marys which carries the gel, and the wife and daughter wanted to stock up on wicks, tabs, holders and beeswax for candle-making, so off we went.

We drove out to Stratford, and turned left, and that was the first problem.  Stratford is just on the edge of Mennonite country.  Its streets aren’t quite as convoluted as K/W’s, but some still manage to run together at strange angles.  Making left turns at two successive traffic lights just didn’t seem to make sense, so we enjoyed two and a half miles of pastoral scenery in the wrong direction, before I turned around.

We got to the store and home safely.  When I checked Map Quest, for the distance from home to the store (it’s 63 Kilometers!  If you don’t get lost.  Thanks for asking.), it suggested a totally different route which would eliminate driving through Stratford entirely.

Stratford is the hometown of Justin Bieber, and I apologise profusely.  As I said, it’s the edge of the Mennonite Tract, and with the name of Bieber, he didn’t know he had German ancestry.  He claims he has enough native Indian blood to get free gasoline.  He must be huffing it, because even full-blood Indians don’t get it free.

Instead of YouTube and Bieber, I offer you Canada’s first, and still best, Shakespearean Theater and Festival, and the handsome Canadian actor, Paul Gross.  I attended Stratford’s Theater as a youngster in a school group. The main theater opened in 1953.  I saw As You Like It, in the early summer of 1959.  I’ve been to a few plays over the years.  There are now four theaters.  While they concentrate on Shakespeare, they also present plays by other playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw.

Paul Gross played a Dudley Do-Right type Mountie, bureaucratically stranded in Chicago, and assisting the Chicago police department, for three years, in the television series Due North.  He was Canada’s highest-paid TV actor, making two million dollars a year.

After the program was cancelled, he went on to produce and star in a movie called Men With Brooms, about BrainRants’ favorite sport, curling.  About ten years ago, just before my employer fell out from under me, I got a chance for the wife and me to see him on the Shakespeare stage as Hamlet.  Unlike his previous light comedy, he rendered the brooding Dane quite well.

The next time we have to go to get candle supplies or bubble bath bath-gel, I think I’ll take the route Map Quest suggests.  It will take us through the small town of Tavistock, well-known for the Tavistock Cheese makers.  A half a mile above the highway is the tiny crossroads village of Sebastopol.  I’d never heard of it, but apparently it has a huge, famous, Lutheran church.  It’s just down the road from another Mennonite cross-road village called Punky-Doodles Corners, named by a drunken farmer newly arrived two hundred years ago, from Pennsylvania, trying and failing, to sing about Yankee Doodle.

Losing My Religion

More and more, all over North America, and probably the world, smug, self-assured “Good Christians” are having their unthinking beliefs and systems questioned and rejected.  One of the recent sore spots has been the distribution in Public Schools, of Gideons’ Bibles.  The local school board took its own sweet time, but finally agreed to end the practice, after increasing complaints from Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Atheists, and even some Christians.  Of course, the Christians wanted the Gideons’ Bible out, and their Bible in.

The wife’s Bible, which I have been using as a reference book for years, had started to get a little tattered.  When my brother was placed in the local Catholic hospital for quintuple bypass surgery, and I visited him, he was taken from the room for a few minutes for a test.  While he was gone, I looked inside his bedside drawer, and took the Gideons’ Bible that was placed there.  What?  They hope people take them home.  Brother wouldn’t touch one, even with heart surgery, but I needed a new one.

I live in a suave, sophisticated urban area, and can even say that without giggling too hard.  There are still regions in Southern Ontario which are more Bible-belt than here.  Despite the tourist Mecca/casino aspects, the Niagara Region Board of Education still has not ended the Christian-only handouts.  There’s even a public-funded Mennonite school.  An Atheist couple had refused to sign a consent form for their daughter to receive a Bible, but were particularly incensed when she was expected to distribute them to other Grade five students.

They have officially applied to have a booklet titled Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith In Faith, distributed to the same students.  A female newspaper columnist doesn’t understand the concept.  She asks, if they object to the Bible being distributed, why would they think it’s acceptable to have this booklet handed out.  This is how the Christian monopoly of the Lord’s Prayer-only in schools was broken.  A local Muslim group offered to distribute Korans, but backed out at the last minute.  Still, it stirred the board to action.

If enough of a fuss is raised, and they are refused the right to give away their literature, they have grounds for legal action.  Jewish and Muslim groups asked to have their prayers said along with the Lord’s Prayer.  The courts rightly decided that it was an all or nothing situation.  Since the “Good Christians” didn’t want their kids exposed to “that heathen crap”, they decided on nothing.  The heathens didn’t take God and the Lord’s Prayer out of school, Christians did.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Jesus’ Court was transferred to a branch office in Kentucky, by his company.  An extension was added to a road up a mountain, out in the boondocks.  He purchased the last, highest lot, and lived in a trailer while he cut trees to clear a site and build a log home.  He thought he was getting along well with the locals, but after several months of the first summer, he realized there was a problem.  He began to hear that the mountain folk wanted something done about him.  Burned at the stake was not specifically mentioned, but there was a lot of, he felt, undeserved antipathy.

Wanting to remain a good neighbor, he began asking those who would speak to him, what the problem was.  It began with the fact that he had brought with him from Yankee-land, two small concrete garden Demons, and had placed them on both sides of the end of his driveway.  These God-fearin’ folks didn’t cotton to no Demon-worshippers.

He protested that he didn’t worship them, or any other Demons.  They were just silly caricatures, for decoration.  Yeah, then why don’t y’all go to church on Sunday mornin’ when we go to church?  Because I thought that was a good time to haul out the chainsaw and cut down a bunch more trees when you weren’t here to be disturbed by the noise.

Sadly, at this point, I lost the story.  Nothing further was published.  He was probably as good a Christian as was necessary in Connecticut, a vague believer, just not a great church attender, and was not ready for the degree of surveillance and intrusion from hyper-Christians.

To be tolerated, he had to fit tightly within these peoples’ religious limits, do exactly as they did, act exactly as they acted.  It was probably a great surprise to him to find these “Good Christians” with no live-and-let-live in their makeup.  Narrow-minded and narrow-social-viewpoint people like these are slowly and reluctantly learning that other people have legal, social and moral rights to act differently, without interference.

There is a tiny poem which reads;

Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout,

He drew a circle to shut us out,

But Love and I had the wit to win.

We drew a circle which took him in.

There are millions of Hyper-Christians who will not enlarge their circle to take in anyone whose beliefs don’t exactly match theirs.  Frighteningly, many of them have advanced to powerful positions within the American government.  It is hoped that, slowly but surely, they will be shown that citizens other than Good Christians have equal rights.

Sugar Beets Boredom

Several months ago, I posted about having been dragged to a hearing test and receiving new, electronic hearing assisters.  About a month later, I blogged about our dissatisfaction with the assembly-line medicine, the cash-register attitude and the lack of ethics, if not down-right illegal actions, of our first supplier.  We took a bit of a financial hit, but turned in our first hearing-aids and went with the Arnold Hearing Center.

The whole feeling with Arnold’s was family-friendly and helpful.  The new hearing aids we were given do more, and cost less. We can direct them with little remote controls.  We got a Wii media broadcaster which plugs into the A/V output of our TV, and makes it seem as if we are right in the middle of the program dialog.

When we went back for some fine-tuning, I mentioned to the tech that I had blogged about the experience.  He requested my website info, and read the post.  He passed on the information to the company exec responsible for electronic communication.  He, in turn, liked the compliment, and reposted it on the company Facebook page.  When we went back for further adjustment, he thanked me, and wondered if the wife and I would be willing to attend a luncheon meeting to promote his supplier’s new Wii (why) system and give a little, man-who-uses-it appreciation speech.

We said we would be thrilled to repay all their kind service, especially for a free lunch.  Then he said that he would like to get one more person.  Since it was the daughter who precipitated the whole situation, we volunteered her.

The meeting was to be held at a place called Hacienda Sarria.  In 1902, a large factory was built out on the edge of, what was then, Berlin, Ontario.  It extracted sugar from locally grown sugar-beets, and helped the town grow into a city.  Because of anti-Germany sentiments toward a pugnacious Kaiser, and a country about to drag the western world into war, Berlin changed its name to the more English, Kitchener, in 1912.  Lord Kitchener, who the town took their name from, was a pompous British military prat, guilty of a couple of massacres, but, at least he wasn’t German.

Times, and sugar, changed.  In 1920 the plant closed down.  Over the years it was used for a variety of commercial endeavors, and large chunks off both ends were torn down.  It sat vacant for several years until a Toronto entrepreneur bought it in 2004.  He wanted to fix it up and make it his residence, but the bureaucrats were immovable.  The land was zoned commercial, so commercial it must be.

Genius ensued.  Plans were modified.  All the fix-up proceeded, only now, one end of the bottom floor is rented to a tile company.  Beside it, a coffee-roastery/coffee shop was installed.  You can buy special coffees and/or enjoy them on the premises.  The other end was made into a reception area with a couple of small meeting/dining rooms.  The floor of the middle of the second story was cut out leaving a three-storey-high glass-roofed atrium.  The floors are all done in ceramic tile.  Gee, I wonder where they came from.

Behind the coffee-house is a fair-sized dining room and kitchens to serve it.  The owner solicits wedding reception business.  That room can have the tables removed for a dance, with patterned, softwood floor.  The very Canadian owner wanted something Latin-themed.  While it would never fool anyone from the southwest USA, the architecture vaguely resembles the Alamo mission, and the internal decoration leans south of the border.

Yellow brick and square wooden beams are everywhere, giving a rustic look.  Ars est celare artem – the art is to conceal the art.  Someone did a lot of work.  New fancy lights, light switches, thermostats, motion detectors all exist, but they are understated, and look as if they just “grew there”.  No cables or conduits are visible.  Even the pipes for the fire sprinklers seem as if they are part of the original installation.

We weren’t allowed to go upstairs.  The second and third levels are the owner’s living quarters.  With the usual bureaucratic stupidity, the city insists that he can’t have the building as a residence, but the owner of a commercial establishment is allowed to reside in the building for security reasons.  It’s not complete yet.  He continues to add finishing touches.

There is an organic garden past the end of the parking area, where the chef grows fresh vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen.  The owner had a local fabricator/artist fashion a double-size copper statue of Don Quixote.  His horse was finished and installed, and then, a couple of months later Don and his lance were hoisted aboard.  Plans include replicas of Sancho Panza and his mule, and a water-storage tower at the back of the garden will become a windmill.

The meal included a Caesar salad, tomato basil chicken with linguine, berries with fresh whipped cream and a Hacienda blend coffee from the roaster out front, or tea.  The food was good considering the bulk, industrial, cook and hold requirement.  I’m spoiled.  While the presentation isn’t as elegant, I eat that well at home.  The Hacienda’s presentation was top-notch.  The tables were properly set and maintained.  The service was crisp and friendly.

Sadly, the daughter and I had another appointment, and we had to leave before dessert and coffee, the subject of another rant, another day.  She and the wife got a cup of the coffee while we were waiting for the circus to arrive.  The wife thinks it’s great stuff.

We were treated graciously and efficiently by Hacienda, Arnold, and Starkey staff.  Because of our afternoon appointment, we had to leave before dessert and coffee.  While they probably would have been delicious, I had already exceeded my calorie allowance.  Even though we were more than willing to put in a good word just for previous good service, the Arnold rep. made sure we had some nice parting gifts.  The wife is already planning how to use our gift cards at Kitchener’s largest mall.  All in all, a most enjoyable social outing we could not have afforded on my retirement pension.