Awesome!

epically awesomeness award

 

I am awesome!  Not merely awesome, but epically awesome….or is it awesomely epic??  I don’t know.  I went to sit down at the computer to write this post, and I was already here, so I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.  That’s unusual.  Most times there’s more than enough people to tell me where to go,  when to leave, and what to do when I get there.

I know that I am awesome/epic, because my good blog-buddy, Ted, at sightsnbytes  delivered yet another big helping of blog award, but only because I deserve it.  The attractive, parti-colored picture of the Epically Awesome Award Of Epic Awesomeness at the top, is the reason for the title of this post.  (Tell ‘em what you’re going to do, then do it, then tell ‘em what you did.)

There are three rules; aren’t there always?  Since I’m a rugged individualist (pronounced shit-disturber), rules and I don’t always get along well.  I’ll tell you what they are, before I brush them off the WordPress.  If you receive this award, you’re supposed to pass it on to ten other worthy bloggers.  You are expected to notify them that you have done so, and then publish a post including ten, hopefully interesting things about yourself.  There isn’t even a rule that you must display the award, but I’m so awesome, I did it without being told.

These awards quickly become logarithmic.  One becomes ten, which become a hundred, which become a thousand.  Soon, it’s like the Big Bang all over again.  There’s muons, and pions, and Higgs bosons floating everywhere, and who knows what other God Participles?  I’m going to apply the Dark Matter gravity of stubborninity, and cause this to coalesce into an amusing, yet informative post.

SnB and I tend to travel in much the same blog-circles, although he orbits clockwise, while I rotate retrograde.  He has already passed this accolade on to many of the same bloggers I would have honored.  I’ll skip laziness, and claim that efficiency prevents me duplicating his efforts.  Since I haven’t had anyone charged with blogging with the intent to be awesome, I need not notify anyone.  Time saved is Miller Time.

Lastly, I’m supposed to tell you ten things about me.  Benzeknees has been asking for information about Archon, but I think it’s just so that she can do my obituary.  I’ve met a guy who can paint the Ten Commandments on a grain of rice.  If he did my entire interesting history, he’d still have room for about eight of them.  When I works, I works hard!  When I plays, I plays strong, and when I thinks, I falls asleep.  I don’t think I can get ten new facts about me, but I’ll think about it.  ZZZzzz.  Huh!  Wha’?  If the list below isn’t enough to slake your nosiness curiosity about me, try here, or here.

I need to check with SnB about which European music he likes.  I like some of the less mainstream British Rock (?).  The Beatles were creative.  The Rolling Stones had a bit more of an edge, but I went for Electric Light Orchestra, The Moody Blues, and Jethro Tull, who have presented so many musical sides, a dodecahedron would be jealous.

I like to use big words.  Well….I don’t like to, but I’ve got them in my vocabulary.  I don’t use them to make me look impressive, but in the hope that some of you will be inspired to research and use a few.  Logarithmic, parti-colored, dodecahedron, retrograde, there’s gonna be some learnin’ here before you guys go home.

Born in a town with a Great Lake in front of me, a river beside, and thin ice on the pond down the street, I was still 14 by the time I learned to swim.  I still don’t do it very well, or the “proper way”, but I can travel a fair distance and stay afloat a long time.  I spent huge amounts of each summer in the water, but it wasn’t till my swimming friends wanted me to join them at the harbor, where I couldn’t touch bottom, that I finally learned to swim.

I liked to jump off things, and would have done more if I could have afforded it.  I found out about the new sport of sky-diving at about 17.  My son says he won’t step out of a perfectly good plane, unless it’s at the terminal.  Me, on the other hand….It costs how much?  After swimming in the harbor, soon I was diving off the fishing boats.  The aft coamings were 12 feet above the water, the cabin roof, 14.  One summer, we had a drill-rig on a barge parked at the dock for about three weeks.  The tip of the tower was about 20 feet up.  I never jumped feet-first, but I would dive headfirst from up there.  Perhaps that explains some of my current confusion.

A big thank-you to SnB, for including me on his list of worthy blogs.  This award gives me another chance at a little light-hearted prose, and a valid excuse to air out (some of) my psychoses in public.  I’d also like to thank my neighbor for not pressing charges, and the nice policemen for being so understanding about that little restraining order violation.  It’s hard to get internet access in the holding cell.

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Learner’s Permit

In an unchanging small town, I went to elementary school with pretty much the same thirty-some students for eight years.  When we got bused to high school, we were blended in with other area students, now in four different classes of thirty-some students.

Provincial law insisted that students could not leave school until they were sixteen.  There was a local girl whose birthday was in the spring, as opposed to mine, in late September.  She had an older friend who worked in the local beauty parlor, who would train her to be a hair-dresser.  She finished grade eleven, and quit school to take the job.

She quickly established a clientele and made decent money, some of which she saved, to buy a car.  Her house was on the street behind my sister’s.  When she got off the school-bus, she cut through the property, sometimes stopping to talk.  She was a very mature young lady, unlike my immature, scatterbrained sister.  Despite the ten-year difference in ages, they got along well.  When 21 was the legal drinking age, my 26-year-old sister and her just-as-silly husband, used to take her to hotel bars.  My sister drove her to the county seat, to get her learner’s permit.

The next spring, she bought a small car, and practiced her driving skills.  By this time, I had turned 16, and owned a car I couldn’t legally drive.  It was time to get my learners permit.  I spoke to my sister about it.  She said that my ex-classmate had an appointment to take her road test, and if I wanted to come along, I could write my learners exam.

On a lovely, warm, sunny, June day, we set off, the two gals in the front and me in the backseat.  Imagine a triangle of roads, each side 25 miles long.  From our town to the county seat was 25 miles from A to B.  We got to the edge of town, where the road to the county seat split off the main highway.  Instead of taking the A/B road, we continued on the A/C side of the triangle.  I thought we had to pick up something, or someone.

As we entered the next town, five miles on, I asked where we were going.  To the county seat.  But the road back there takes us to the county seat.  We’ve never been that way.  We’re afraid of getting lost, so we’re taking this route.  Oh well, I’ve got all day.  Sure enough, we drove 25 miles south before turning left to drive 25 miles east, on the C/B side of the triangle.

We got about halfway across, when we had a flat tire.  Not a sudden blowout, we must have run over something.  Just a steady TTtthhhh, lub, lub, lub, and the left, rear tire was flat.  The driver pulled the car well off the paved road, and we got out to look at the problem.

Long before Japanese cars reached North America, hers was smaller than any Detroit iron.  It was probably a Taunus or Vauxhall, imported from England.  Two females and me, guess who got volunteered to change the tire!?  Neither of them knew how.  “Where’s the spare tire and jack?”  “I don’t know.  I’ve only owned it a little while, and I’ve never needed them.”

I pulled crap out of the trunk, and finally found what I needed.  North American cars had bumper jacks, because the cars still had bumpers.  I was faced with a scissors jack I’d never seen before, and had to figure where to place it under the car.  Impact-wrench-installed, rusted-on lug nuts finally surrendered, and I got one wheel off, and the replacement on, and at last we were on our merry way again.  Well, they were merry.  I was rust and grease stained, with bloody knuckles.

Of course, she was late for her scheduled road-test.  She tried to convince the examiner to fit her in, but he had a full day.  She had to rebook for another day.  While she was doing this, I wrote my little test and was awarded my learner’s permit.

After a couple of months’ legal driving practice, I drove my Dad to work, took the family car, and my Mom accompanied me as the licensed driver when I went for my road test.  At least we took the short way there.  The capital of the neighboring county was the same distance away, but it was the little city with the big hills.  Tales circulated of testees getting half-way up the cliff road, when the examiner would reach over and turn off the ignition, to see how you dealt with the problem.  I preferred the flatter city, and managed to get my full license on the first try, something that not every teenager accomplished.

The winner loser in that competition was a British woman who took 49 tries, over 22 years, to finally get a driving licence.  Ah, the freedom of the open road.  While I’ve not driven as much as others, like my brother, I’ve been able to visit some picturesque and interesting places.  I’m not sure Detroit qualifies, but that’s where I’m going next month.  Feel free to tag along.  Right now, I’m going to drive over to SightNBytes place, and pick up my most recent blogging award.

Flash From The Past

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and, as a good Scot, I did my part. I didn’t see anyone wearing plaid for Robbie Burns’s day, but was inveighed to “wear something green for St. Paddy’s Day.” Contrary to what a lot of you perverts think, Scotsmen do (usually) wear something under their kilts. They’re wee under-shorts known as breeks (breeches, britches).

I wore green underpants for St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps appropriately, I think I got some brown stains on them. Ooh, ooh, TMI! Tighty whiteys or boxers, I hear you ask, just to change the subject. A bit familiar, I think, but if you must know, I’ve worn YSL bikini briefs in many colors, for years.

English people, who already think they own the world, don’t bother to establish “a special day.” Scotsmen have Robbie Burns’ day, in honor of a lyric poet, whose deep thoughts and social insights were acceptable, even though they were written in dialect, as Mark Twain’s were.

Irishmen have St. Patrick’s Day, the cultural highlight of which, is drinking green beer. The local hotel bars used to add green food coloring to beer on St. Paddy’s day. An Irishman I used to share lodging with, ignored everything else on that day, and spent it sucking up this dyed delicacy. He got a job an hour’s drive away. The first St. Patrick’s day, I got a phone-call that he was in town, because the bars in his new city didn’t serve green beer. I’ll tell you more about him later.

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was Roman-English, not Irish. His name was not Patrick, or Patricius, or Padraig, and many of the stories about “him” were actually about another Roman-English missionary named Palladius. Other than these minor details, the Catholic Church has the story spot-on.

Well….except for the snakes. Separated from the rest of dry land by a big chunk of ocean, Ireland never had snakes for Patrick to drive out. The “snakes” he drove out were the non-Christian heathens. He drove them either into the embrace of the Holy Church, or their graves. Fire and Sword, the methods he used caused the later Inquisition practitioners to remark, “Whoa dude! Take a chill pill. Too intense, man.”

“Heathens” and “Pagans”, these derogatory epithets, even today, allow the faithful to judge and condemn. But “heathens” merely means those who live upon the heaths, subsistence farmers, or shepherds. “Pagans” comes from the Latin word paganus, peasants, rural civilians, dwellers in small, remote villages. The actions and attitudes of these country bumpkins, who merely wished to be left alone, to live their lives as they wanted, were at odds with the Big-City, corporate, Christian religion. They were converted, or eliminated.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on another anti-Church rant. I was quoted/mentioned in the newspaper again this Saturday. Blogs are not the only things that I read and comment on. There’s a feature in each Saturday paper, titled the same as this post. A columnist, interested in this city’s and area’s history, publishes a photo, usually 50 years old or better, and asks people to identify locations and buildings, now often torn down or greatly modified.

I first emailed him several years ago, when he wrote of a local company which had moved 75 miles north, to a small town I passed through when I drove to visit my parents. I wrote about the pretty little park there, April 5, last year, in my Trips With Mom and Dad II. While near a county line, it is definitely in my home county, but he gave it to our neighbors.

Some of the buildings/locations he has featured over the years have been a reflection of my work history. A couple of years ago he published a picture of the above-ground entranceway to the underground bomb-shelter I cleaned once a week for a year, back in the 80s. He included part of the description, both of the facility, and my work in it, which I sent him.

About six months ago, he featured a picture of the steel warehouse/fabricating shop I worked in from ’67 to ’74, out on the edge of town. Just off the photo were the stockyards and farmers’ market. Urban sprawl now has the area covered with gas stations, golden arches, sub and pizza shops. The smelly old cattle were moved to the north end of our Twin City, where we now attend the farmers’ market.

Some of my information was not included in his piece, but he thanked me for it, because it gave him enough knowledge to ask the right people the right questions for future columns. Last Saturday’s mystery photo, and this week’s article, were about the shoe plant I worked in before I went to the steel plant in 1967.

“*Archon* Smith emailed to say he worked at the Valentine plant for a year in the mid-1960s.” “We knew it colloquially as the Hush Puppy plant, because that was where the comfortable, suede-topped, soft-gummed soled ankle-high shoes were made.” Smith wrote. He later moved to a job at Bauer Skate on Victoria Street, a firm Greb Industries acquired in 1965.

I loved Hush Puppies. We could buy seconds for less than half price, at the warehouse, but fashion, and my job, moved on. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. So much of my life is about the past, because I own such a large chunk of it. Try not to point and laugh. I hope you find it mildly interesting and informative.

Old Faithful

I can’t even rely on the Federal Government to be unreliable.  I posted on the 13th that the office was to mail the son’s passport out on the 21st.  On the 14th, the dog raised a ruckus at an ungodly hour, 11:45 AM.  Well, that’s early for me.  By the time I had on enough clothes to beat an exposure charge, and got to the front door, all that was there was a notice to pick up the envelope the next day.  Not at the postal depot a kilometer down the street, the one four kilometers away, on the edge of town.

Why couldn’t it have been left in our SuperMailbox, a half a block away?  It got mailed early, but these are the people who put the “Self Service” in Postal Service.  I guess this means we’re destined for a trip to the States.  I’ve already booked a room, and paid for it to get a reduced rate.  We’ll be staying 20 miles south of Detroit for a weekend, just to prove we’re Canadians.

The son had an interesting thing happen at his plant the other night.  A guy got locked in a car.  Two well-tanned recent hires come in the same vehicle.  Ahmed drives his friend Abou, in his, new-to-him, van.  When they got to work, Ahmed left the van unlocked.  At first break, Abou wanted to smoke.  Not being a Canadian, to whom 2 C is “a little chilly”, he climbed into Ahmed’s van, and hit the lock button, perhaps to keep the smoke in.

We don’t know if it was a malfunction, or whether it is a childproof feature but, when he went to climb out, the doors wouldn’t unlock, the windows wouldn’t roll down, and the horn wouldn’t sound.  Twenty minutes later, someone found him locked in the van.  They had to find someone to relieve Ahmed on his automatic machine, so that he could go out and unlock.

A 68 year-old female bartender was let go by a hotel chain in Toronto, when they moved operations to a smaller facility.  Her union (which might have been a reason for downsizing) does not have rights at the new operation.  In a fit of entitlement, she now wants to sue the union and the hotel chain for the wages and tips she would have earned until she planned to retire at age 75.

I’d like to feel sympathetic.  I wanted to put in 20 years, and retire at 65 from the auto-plant, but reality intruded.  Not the union, nor the hotel, nor society at large, owes her a job, especially till 75.  Move aside and let someone younger work.  If she’s as good as she thinks she is, and wants to work for sake of the job, I’m sure there is employment somewhere.  If she’s in it for the money, lack of planning on her part, does not constitute an emergency for anyone else.

The East-Indian restaurateur who threw spices in the face of an intruder, bent on assaulting him and his wife and kids, has finally had all charges dismissed.  I saw a lawyer in a TV show the other night, admit that lawyers do not practice justice, they practice law.  The law is a ass, and grinds exceeding slow.

The author of his own misfortune, is an East-Indian import named Sukhvir Sandhu.  This idiot just can’t keep his mouth shut.  He was recently arrested and charged for the sixth time, with drinking and driving.  The last time it happened, he drove away from an accident and into a residential area.  When he was restrained by a retired policeman, he assaulted and threatened him.  In custody, he bragged to police about how much he can drink and still drive, as well as admitting he’d driven away from other crashes.  He blamed his drinking on being bullied in high school because of his name.

In court, he threatened to “hunt down and kill” the police officer who charged him, and warned the court that he would just drink and drive again.  Four months later, he was caught driving while under suspension and impaired.  While in custody he was assaulted by another prisoner.  Gee, I wonder why that happened.  The judge was going to give him a year in jail, but the Crown and the defense agreed to 90 days.  Even knowing that the judge had no sympathy, he still tried to con a better deal.  He tried to talk the judge into giving him 180 days, but served on weekends.  It’s only three months, but I’m glad he’s off the roads, now if we could just get him to shut up.

A “good Christian” in Toronto hit his wife in the head twice with a hammer, and then stabbed a page from the Bible to her chest with a butcher knife.  He stole $200 from her purse and took his girlfriend on a trip.  When arrested, he cursed God for not preventing his homicidal rage.  Just once, I’d like to see one of the “good Christians” either actually be a good Christian, or take personal responsibility for their actions.

The dumb criminal of the week is the genius who took a cab to the Toronto airport, and walked away without paying.  Since there are always lots of cops there, the cabby raised a fuss.  Knowing he was now being pursued, Dumbo ducked into a washroom and tried to conceal an illegal handgun and magazine separately.  They were quickly found.  When he was searched, police seized drugs.  That got them a warrant for his house, where they found ammunition, Tasers, security guard uniforms, and “one gram of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used as an explosive.”

Timothy McVeigh needed a ton of this stuff to wound the Murrah building.  One gram wouldn’t out-pop a firecracker.  Thanks very much to the Sun Media, Chicken Little, who tried to frighten readers to increase sales.  It’s always about the money!

Only In Canada, You Say

 

Only in Canada….can you get a pizza to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in Canada….are there handicap parking spaces in front of a skating rink.

Only in Canada….do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in Canada….do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries…. and a diet cola.

Only in Canada….do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

Only in Canada….do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put all our useless junk in the garage.

Only in Canada….do we use answering machines to screen calls, and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from somebody we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.

Only in Canada….do we buy hot dogs in packages of twelve and buns in packages of eight.

Only in Canada….do we use the word ”politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning “bloodsucking creatures”.

Only in Canada….do they have drive-up ATMs with Braille lettering.

Only in Canada….do we buy the kids’ Halloween costumes big enough to fit over a snowsuit.  (American SpellCheck doesn’t recognize “snowsuit”, but offers swimsuit.)

 

Forget Rednecks, here is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about Canucks:

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May you may live in Canada.
If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you may live in Canada.
If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Canada.
If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialled a wrong number, you may live in Canada.
If “Vacation” means going anywhere south of Detroit for the weekend you may live in Canada.
If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Canada.
If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you may live in Canada.
If you have switched from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day and back again, you may live in Canada.
If you can drive 90 kms/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you may live in Canada.
If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, you may live in Canada.
If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Canada.
If the speed limit on the highway is 80km — you’re going 90 and everybody is passing you, you may live in Canada.
If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you may live in Canada.
If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you may live in Canada.
If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, you may live in Canada.
If you find 2 degrees C “a little chilly”, you may live in Canada.
If you actually understand these jokes, and forward them to all your Canadian friends & others, you definitely live in Canada!

Only in Canada would we have, not one, but two huge Maple Syrup thefts.  I’m not talking about some guy who got over a fence, sneaked in the back door, and got away with a couple of gallon jars of sweet stuff.  We’re talking about millions of liters, and perhaps as much as thirty million dollars worth of purloined stock.

The province of Quebec produces between 70 and 80 % of the world’s maple syrup, and two-thirds of that is exported to the US.  Inventory losses at a Quebec bulk storage warehouse were traced to a company in New Brunswick.  The stolen syrup was impounded and returned to its legal owners.  An idea of the size of the theft, is that the police-escorted return convoy consisted of fifteen full-sized tanker trucks.

The second theft does not appear to be quite as large.  Police estimate 800 barrels, which is 36,000 gallons, which is 163,500 liters.  That’s a sweet lot of pure profit.  I’m astounded at the size of the first theft.  One truckload is understandable….but fifteen?

Truckload-lot thefts are more common than you might think.  Trucking firms in the area have lost as many as three trailers at once.  A couple of guys cut the chain on the gates, roar in, hook up to already loaded and waiting trailers, and are gone by the time security or police arrive.  Stealing maple syrup involves bringing your own tanker, and waiting till it’s pumped full, in the first robbery, fifteen times.

Young women in Quebec eat a lot of, both maple syrup, and French pea soup.  This may explain why they are round and sweet, all except Celine Dion.

One co-worker’s brother was a truck driver for a local Seagram’s Distillery plant.  About once a week, he was sent to Toronto to bring back a tanker load of rye whiskey, for blending or bottling.  When he pulled into the yard, he would connect the dump valve on the bottom of the tanker to a large flexible hose, and open the valve.  When the tank was empty(?) he would drive to the parking area, where his truck was obscured by other trucks.

He would place a clean plastic pail under the valve and reopen it.  After finishing his paperwork, he would go back out and pick up half to three-quarters of a pail of rye, collected from those last drops on the inside of the tank.  He filled easily obtained empty bottles, and sold them for half price, making an extra hundred dollars a week, and a lot of friends.

A trucker from near the Quebec border, who delivered to my son’s plant, also owned a farm with a woodlot.  He made his own maple syrup, and my son bought some from him for several years.  It was the dark, strongly flavored type, at a good price.  A new job means we now buy it, a gallon at a time, from Mennonites at the farmers market.

Trees used to be tapped and drip into buckets.  There could be contamination.  Nowadays all taps, several to each tree, are connected to plastic tubing, which delivers the raw sap directly to the boiling shed.  If you drive past a sugar-bush in operation, it looks like the trees are caught in a giant spiderweb.

That’s not all I know about maple syrup, but I know that it’s time to call for a rest.  Anyone hungry?  How about some pancakes or waffles?

DisAnDat

Spring is sprung.

The grass is riz.

I wonders where the birdies is?

The birds is on the wing, I’ve heard.

Hmm, I thought the wings was on the bird.

It’s official weather fans, at least in this part of Southern Ontario, the back of winter is officially broken.  Oh, we may still get a cold snap, or even another good snowfall, but we’ve had almost a week of above-freezing temps, and clear sunny days.  My driveway is finally devoid of any snow or ice.  There’s a foot and a half of grass at the edge of the driveway, and the path I pounded down in the backyard for the dog, is turning green.  I have heard, though not actually seen, robins, for the last two weeks.  Houselights which used to be turned on by 4:30, are now not needed till after six.

This is the type of spring where I used to have my motorcycle on the road by March 15, instead of April 1.  The son and I went to a Chapters bookstore on Sunday, and there were several bikes out, enjoying the first decent riding day.

On Saturday, March 2, we took a slightly different route to the farmers’ market.  Just after our most recent snowstorm, we passed a house where, instead of building the usual snowman, someone had carved 6 or 7 Easter Island Moas out of snow.  Easter IslandWe weren’t the only ones impressed.  Monday morning a picture was on the front page of the local paper.  The wife downloaded it for me, and I’ve included it to show local artistic talent.

“Lost” shopping carts, taken off the property by various people, for various reasons, are a problem for supermarkets.  There’s a man near the daughter’s place, who made part of his earnings by driving around in his pick-up, and returning carts to stores.  Several local markets have installed a buried magnetic strip around the property.  If a cart crosses the mag-strip, it causes one of the wheels to lock.  The number of abandoned carts has decreased significantly.

My favorite market decided to go a different way.  They got rid of their old carts, and brought in a new batch which require the insertion of a quarter to release a chain, which not everybody likes, or has a ready quarter for.  This not only reduces the number removed from the property, but tends to insure that they’re not abandoned in parking spaces….or so the theory says.

In practice, lazy, inconsiderate fools will continue to be lazy, inconsiderate fools, even when it costs them 25 cents.  I was in the store last week, and two asshats had abandoned carts which were blocking the exit doors.  I’ll put them away for 50 cents.  The next day, I went back for something else, and removed two from parking spots, including a handicap spot.  I’m still doing what I used to do and bitch about, only now I get paid for it.  C’monnn  asshats!  Retirement is expensive.

I was in a different market last week, and saw the backs of several boxes of different spices.  The identification on the boxes simply read, Mt. Scio Farm, Mt. Scio Road, and gave a 7-digit phone number, no town, city, province or state, and no area code.  Always curious, I plugged it into an internet search-engine.  Man, you can find anything on the webz, if you know how to ask.  Turns out this farm is about a mile from KayJai’s place in Newfoundland.  Anything’s possible, but gourmet spices and The Rock, just don’t seem likely to happen in the same sentence.

The Pope has resigned, and the Catholic Church is in the midst of choosing another Pope.  Anyone who wants some God/Pope jokes, ask, and I’ll email them to you privately.  All I’m going to say is:  There is a Bishop in England, who has been accused of homosexually assaulting three priests and an ex-priest.  (You can be an ex-priest??  I thought it was like the Mafia, or the Hells Angels, you were in it till you were dead.)

The man who is most responsible for hushing up the story, and allowing this man time to quietly resign from the Church, is Cardinal Marc Ouellette, the Canadian with a good chance of becoming the next Pope.  It’s depressing to see that it’s still business as usual for the Holy, infallible Church.

Several years ago, while visiting Niagara Falls, I picked up what appeared to be a folded American one-dollar bill.  When I unfolded it, I saw a message which read, “Disappointed?  Not as disappointed as you’ll be, when you find that you’re going to Hell, because you haven’t accepted Jesus as your savior.”

Recently, I picked up a “Smart Card”, a business-card sized document.  Good thick card-stock, rounded corners, gloss finish on both sides and an inch-square fractal-metallic “hologram” area on the front.  This is an expensively produced artifact.  The card instructed the finder to press his/her thumb on the square “for exactly 15 seconds” to see if you were a “good person”.  If you are, the square will turn bright green.

The back of the card, which is covered in fine print, says, “Sorry….you’re just like the rest of us.  The dictionary says “good” is to be “morally excellent.”  Let’s check the standard – The Ten Commandments.”  It then rambles on for about 500 words about, accept Jesus, obey God, don’t lie, don’t lust, forgive sins and read the Bible, but assumes that the only way to be “good”, was through the Ten Commandments.

I am singularly unimpressed with any organization, or those who claim to represent the agency, who feel that this degree of trickery is needed to advance their moral position.

 

 

Act Sharp. Get To The Point!

The wife and I have been going to Knife shows to view hand-made, custom, and Art Knives for about 22 years.  The first one we became aware of, that we could afford the time and money to attend, was in Detroit.  The trip to that show was a real adventure, perhaps the basis for a future post.  Detroit is about a four hour drive.

Soon after, we found that there were knife shows in Toronto, only an hour away.  Actually, back then, there were three shows a year, hosted by the Canadian Knife Collectors Association.  Shows organized by collectors, embarrassing!  Soon the Canadian makers organized themselves into a guild and took over the shows.  They’re down to two shows now, with talk of dropping the fall one.

Makers came in from the Yukon, B.C., the prairies, Quebec, the Maritimes, and the northern U.S.  Then, 9/11 happened.  Overnight, makers were not allowed to carry knives onto airplanes.  A maker flying from Hawaii to L.A. lost $30,000 worth of knifes from cargo.  Soon shows shrank, because they were limited to makers who lived close enough to drive.  The Detroit show went from 200 exhibitors, to 50.  The Toronto show has gone from 50, to about 20.  Still, we go!

This year there were four makers from Montreal and area, a 7 hour drive.  Their French business cards list them as joalliers – jewelers.  Their knives were elegant, gem-adorned, gold-inlaid pieces of art.

The most recent Toronto show was held March 9 and 10.  With the wife’s deteriorating mobility and increased breathing problems, she often stays at home.  Bright and early Saturday morning, (It was early, but I was none too bright, with three hours sleep.  The son had been up since 6 PM Fri.) I took the son, the grandson and his fiancée, and we went to Toronto.

I got to socialize with makers I’ve known for years.  We discussed those who have passed on, or had to leave the business, and some of the new, up-and-comers who are taking their places.  We all looked at knifes and swords, and supplies, and non-knife stuff that cutlers (A name, meaning knife-maker.) make.

The five-dollar work-knife the grandson bought last October has been extensively used, causing wear to the lock, which creates a safety hazard.  He paid $60 to buy a much more reliable replacement, prettier too!  The son also paid $60 to get a different-style lock-back, to replace the twenty-some year old Swiss Army Knife he carries.

Last year, and the year before, he paid $300 for art-engraved, solid titanium hook-type belt-buckles, which he displays with his utility/fighter knife, and the Katana sword he won last year.  The door prize this year was a pattern-welded Damascus-steel knife with a strip of Canadian Maple-Leaf flags down its blade.

One maker had a matching brother/sister pair of knives.  A gentle S-shape, the blade down, and the carved coca bola-wood handle up, with a matching carved wooden sheath.  The his-knife a little larger, but each at $300.  The grandson and the fiancée each wanted to buy one.  She had cash in her wallet, but the work-knife purchase had left him short.  He went up to the ATM in the lobby, but it was out of order.  The desk-clerk sent him to the building across the street, where he got cash at another ATM.  Just as he re-entered the room, another guy picked up “his” knife, and bought it for a friend.

The grandson learned to “reserve” a knife, even put a deposit on it.  Fortunately, the maker is a relatively new displayer, and lives here in Kitchener.  It would take about a year to work it into his schedule, and it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but if the grandson asks, he’ll make another, to complete the pair.

The son bought a shooting star, literally.  One of our friend/makers had a small billet of steel made from a piece of meteorite.  Only able to get a couple of knives from the piece, he cut and polished a few shapes from the scrap, including a thumbnail-sized, star-shaped pendant, on a rawhide thong.  He paid $60 for that also.  A piece of a star doesn’t come cheap.  He also looked at a beautiful titanium art-knife folder, engraved with skulls and crosses, like one of the buckles he bought from the same maker.  Boy, I wish I lived at home with my parents, and could afford pretty stuff.  Well, it does all live at my house, so I can gaze and fondle it.

After the show, we went down the street to a sub shop for lunch.  On a busy street, by the airport, there is no sidewalk, just a paved shoulder up to a tiny parking lot.  While we sat there, a black Lincoln stretch-limo pulled up and stopped.  Five minutes later, a black Cadillac pulled in behind.  A questionable-looking driver got out and walked up, carrying a briefcase.  The rear window rolled down, the briefcase was handed in, a different briefcase was passed out, and they rolled away in opposite directions.  Another “What The Hell Did I Just See?”  That wasn’t a drug, or weapons, or industrial espionage deal??!  Nah, the driver just took his wife’s briefcase this morning, with the wrong lunch.  Yeah, that’s it.

I finally nudged the son into applying for his passport.  The wife cut his hair and trimmed his beard.  Now he only looks like the second-in-command to an Arab terrorist.  He got the requisite photos taken, had his Mom fill in the last of the application form, and I drove him down to the passport office on Thursday.  I’ve been there before, and know where to park.

The clerk told him that they were scheduling to mail out passports, applied for that day, on March 21.  There’s the spring knife show in Detroit, coming up on April 26/27.  Unless the bureaucracy really fouls things up, he’s taking the Friday off work, and the two of us will go.  If something does get screwed up, the wife says she’ll be happy to go again.

Even if nobody gets propositioned this time, there should be enough of interest for another post.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.