Canadian Thoughts On An American Trip

Canamerican Flag

I’ve said that I treated the invitation to visit our D.C. hosts as a Royal Summons, but it was us who got treated like Royalty when we got there.  Here’s a shot of us arriving.

Harry and Meghan

More through coincidence than any planning,, we had three successive, different ethnic-food lunches.  One day it was Greek food at a strip-mall restaurant.  The next day, our kind hosts took us to an upscale Afghan establishment.  On the third day, while trying to find decent coffee, (we never did) we stopped into a Thai restaurant beside a Drunkin DoNuts.

Canada is getting screwed for gasoline, even though we pump more oil than the United States.

After calculating for US gallon/Canadian liters, and US dollar value vs. Canadian dollar….
Exiting Southern Ontario, gas was selling for about $1.30/L.  I bought gas 3 times in the US – 83.8cents/L, 76.7/L and 72.7/L – 1/2 to 2/3 the cost in Ontario.

Usually, the closer to the highway, the higher the price.  Pleasantly, surprisingly, this was not the case on the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes.  All the rest centers sold regular for $2.749 (73.8/L).  When I got off in Toledo, the city stations wanted $2.849.

Gas Cost

When I crossed the bridge back to Windsor, the in-town stations wanted $1.269/L.  Twenty miles down the superhighway, where they’ve got you by the short and curlies, where it’s ‘pay or walk,’ the price was $1.369/L!  And there’s 4 liters per US gallon, so that’s another 40 cents/gal rip-off.

Something else I found, that pissed me off….  We wanted to keep all purchases on this trip on a credit card, so that we could keep track of them.  When I went to buy gas with the credit card, the screen on the pump said, “Enter 5-digit ZIP code.”  I’m from Canada.  I don’t have a ZIP code.  I tried entering our host’s ZIP.    The screen now said, “Does not match billing address.  Please prepay at office.”

Now I have to walk a pilgrimage to Coventry….and back.  Not too bad in the city, but I felt sorry for the guy waiting behind me at the Ohio rest area.  This is like gassing up at the Costco, only there, the prepayment authorization is for $150.  Some pimple-faced kid asks, “How much do you want?”  Enough to fill it up.  “Well, I have to put something in the machine.”  $50! Put in $50!  It only took $38.50 to fill it, instead of $75Cd.

Like the jaunt to find John Erickson a few years ago, we again circumnavigated Lake Erie.  Only, this time the trip wasn’t so much a circle, as a deeper oval.  The total trip, from door, back to door, amounted to 2243 kilometers, or 1402 American miles.

There are 12 houses in BrainRants’ little cul-de-sac.  Four of them, including him, fly American flags.  Only yesterday, a letter to the editor urged Canadians to show patriotism by flying Canadian flags.  No need – we know who we are.

On our hosts’ kitchen wall hangs a repro of an old station clock, with the hands at 8:45.  I assumed that it was just a rustic piece of art…. until one morning I was having orange juice and my morning pills all alone, and – tick, tick, tick.  So it works, it’s just jammed and not going anywhere.  I was reminded of The Mamas And Papas’ song, 12:30, or The Guess Who’s, No Time.

I estimate that Rants’ subdivision was hacked out of the woods about 40 years ago.  The developers left lots of trees, in some cases, too damned many.  Our stay was almost like camping in the piney woods, although most of the trees were cut-leaf Maple, and Oak.  It allowed me to commune with nature.

There were many birds, some of whom, by their calls, aren’t present in Southern Ontario.  Rants isn’t much of a bird person.  When asked about them, he identified them all as grey-breasted, Northern Virginia Shit-birds, so-called because of their ability to put white polka-dots on parked cars, so aggressive that they eat holes in the paint-job.

I love birds.  In my de-forested area, both the bright Blue-Jays and Cardinals are skittish creatures, hiding high in trees, sometimes heard, but seldom seen.  As I watched Rants at his forge in the garage, a Blue-Jay landed on a branch in the Maple in front of the house, barely above the garage door, and sat in plain view for several minutes, while we were disgusted by discussed Trump.

As I went to get a beer, through the back door of the garage, I saw what I first took to be a dried Oak leaf, fluttering in the breeze.  It turned into a bright-red hummingbird, which eventually brightly flitted into the neighbor’s yard, and molested some flowers.  The daughter gets the occasional green hummingbird at a feeder behind her house, but red ones are uncommon here.

Baby Cardinal

Later, as I went for another beer, I thought I saw the hummingbird again, but it magically transformed into a bright red Cardinal, apparently unafraid of humans.  It lingered for a few moments, then it too casually flitted to the neighbor’s yard.  Wow!, three usually unseen birds in the course of an hour – Mother Nature must really like me.

I took a walk, early one morning, while waiting for the wife to arise.  Ambling through the nearby woods, I met a lady walking her dog.  She told me that his name was Giggs, a Welsh name, after a well-known (to her) Welsh football (soccer) player.  Strangely enough, she had met another woman with a dog, also named Giggs, after the same soccer player.  There’s an Ontario transport company named Gigg Express.  Now I don’t have to research that name.

White Lady In The Hood, if you’re still out there and reading this, I still haven’t met a stranger.

The ancient Bob’s Big Boy restaurant that has been in front of our Taylor, MI, Red Roof motel for years, since April of this year, has been turned into a Wahlburgers.  Marky Mark and his two brothers should stick to acting.  I was not impressed – with the concept – or the service.  On a four-item order, one was missing (which I didn’t pay for, but should have noticed its absence), and one was wrong.

To the rest of you who are out there reading this – Thank You!  Let’s do it again, soon.  😀

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That Fills The Bill

SW - 1

SW - 2

My recent host and hostess were not interested in money.

I took along a few foreign bills, and odd coinage, to show them.  There was some vague interest in the mis-cut American $1 bill, the somewhat rare American $2, and some chuckles over the ‘Slick Willy’ Bill Clinton $3 fake bill.  The lack of interest may have been because he’s a soldier who has been posted all over the world, and seen much of these firsthand.

BAF - 1

BAF - 2

The interest ramped up when I showed the collection to her younger son and his girlfriend.  We played a game of, ‘You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.’  Only partly because his step-father is a soldier, he has amassed a promising collection.  Going through my catalogue, we found a British Armed Forces, £1 occupational scrip which Rants might have been interested in.

india - 1

india - 2

He kindly offered to let me take any of his bills and coins, because he merely keeps them, not mounts and displays, as I do.  He had 16 or more countries’ bills.  I could have asked for all of it, but restrained myself to three countries that he had duplicates of.

sri lanka - 1

sri lanka - 2

As luck would have it, they’re all from the same general area of the world.  The Indian 10 Rupee, and the Sri Lankan 20 Rupee, are both paper, and printed about the year 2000.  The Singaporean $2 is newer, and made of polymer plastic with all kinds of security features that prevented me from taking a photocopy of it.  I did my usual money laundering, and washed and ironed them.  Singapore had a hard fold in the center, which even mild heat wouldn’t flatten completely out.

Singapore - 1

Singapore - 2

Pawing through his coins, suddenly I had British King George V looking up at me from a large coin.  I knew it wasn’t Canadian.  Might it be from England – or Jamaica – or Australia??  Turning it over, I was amazed to find that it was a 1919 Newfoundland Half Dollar.

Newfy 50 TailsNewfy 50 Heads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I explained to him that Newfoundland was the 10th province of Canada, but didn’t join
Confederation until 1949.  Until then, they had their own coins and bills, minted and printed in England.  I have long wanted at least one Newfy coin to add to my collection.  Not produced for almost 70 years, I had long ago given up much hope of finding any.

Since he didn’t even know what it was, and it plainly meant something to me, he insisted that I take it.  A caring mother has obviously raised a kind and generous child.  Before I left, BrainRants gave me a quarter-sized United Arab Emirates 1 Rial coin, which he didn’t obtain while he was serving in the army, but rather, he found it, going to work on the bus, in cosmopolitan Washington DC.

Rial

I have many other foreign bills that I will publish pictures of in a post one day, as soon as I work off the procrastination.  Till then, I am always happy to have you visit.  Come again, y’hear!   😀

Because I Wrote About It

Margarine

Because I wrote about it, because I slipped it into several posts, because I even had a post titled “Oleo Olio”, I felt that I should set the record straight, and honor a local almost-hero.  The following is a reprint of an article in the Waterloo Region Record about margarine in Canada.  It is presented without their knowledge or permission, so, if I suddenly open a Patreon account for bail and lawyers, I hope that you will contribute generously.

THE MAN WHO MADE MARGARINE “SAFE”

Kitchener’s William Daum Euler championed butter substitute

Psst!  Want to buy some margarine?  Seventy years ago, that wasn’t a simple question.

As Canadians celebrate the legalization of marijuana this month, they may be forgetting that, just a few generations ago, this country was having a fierce debate about another controlled substance – that’s right, margarine.

Banned in Canada between 1886 and 1948, the oil-based butter substitute was once labelled a serious public health risk.  Its opponents vilified it, calling the spread a “compound of the most villainous character, which is often poisonous,” according to W.H.Heick, who wrote a book on the subject back in 1991.

Many people may remember mixing color packets into their margarine, since Ontario law used to require margarine only be sold in its natural white state.  But they may not know it was a tenacious politician from Waterloo Region who led the campaign to finally legalize it after the Second World War.

Margarine has had a complicated history since it was first created by French chemist Hippolyte Mėge-Mouriės in 1868, by churning beef tallow with milk.  Dairy producers, concerned about a cheaper, longer-lasting alternative to butter, lobbied hard to have it banned.

For decades, they succeeded, convincing law makers it was unsafe and unhealthy for consumers – and bad for their rural economy.  William D. Euler, a Liberal senator and former mayor of Kitchener, had the support of urban organizations like churches, unions and Boards of Trade, as he went to war for margarine.

As part owner of the Kitchener Daily Record, he pushed for editorials supporting the end of the ban.  In 1947, he introduced repeal legislation, and was met with fierce resistance from the dairy lobby.  He wrote letters to newspapers across Canada, pushing his position.  Polls suggested that half the country was behind him – and he leaned on women, veterans, and hospitals for support.

Many Canadians were already using and cooking with margarine, bought on the black market.  Often it was smuggled in from the Dominion of Newfoundland, where it was made from whale, seal and fish oil, by the Newfoundland Butter Company.

Newfoundland, which was still a British colony then, was busy churning out bootleg margarine at about half the price of butter.  Euler, who became the first chancellor of Waterloo Lutheran University, used legalization of margarine as a key bargaining chip in the negotiations with Newfoundland to enter into Confederation.

In November 1947, he got helped by a butter price increase, from 53 to 66 cents a pound, which only reinforced his campaign for a more affordable alternative.  In newspaper pages, town halls, and on Parliament Hill, the debate raged.  Senator James Murdoch accused the butter lobby of using “Communist tactics.”

“The wishes of 150,000 producers of milk had to give way to the desires of 13 Million consumers,” Heick wrote in his book, “A Propensity to Protect Butter – Margarine and the Rise of Urban Culture in Canada.”  The fight went to the Supreme Court, which struck down the ban, and left the control of margarine to the Provinces.  By this point, a poll suggested 68% of Canadians supported legalization – a shift in opinion owed in large part to Euler’s public relations campaign.

Ontario didn’t repeal its Oleomargarine Act until 1995, which made it illegal for companies to make or sell margarine that was colored yellow.  Quebec didn’t follow suit until 2008.  Margarine finally had equal footing with butter, at least in the eyes of the law.  And consumers had a senator from Kitchener to thank for it.

***

What??!  Businessmen would lie, and politicians would support them, for financial gain?  Tell me it ain’t so!  FAKE NEWS!  FAKE NEWS!  You can butter me up by stopping back again soon.  🙂

LOST IN THE U.S.A.

Map

No vacation is truly an adventure, until something goes wrong.

Based on that statement, our recent excursion into the Excited States was actually a roaring success.  It all started just after we crossed the Niagara River, and pulled up to the American Customs booth.

I had packed our Koolatron, a mini, portable refrigerator, the night before we left, with all kinds of drinks, Pepsi, iced tea, bottled water, orange juice….  As I was packing the car, the wife added some snacks to keep a diabetic’s blood sugar up – snap peas, baby carrots and cherries.

The border guard asked if we had any fruits or vegetables.  I said ‘no,’ and the wife startled.  He wasn’t worried about the peas or carrots, but Canada has cherry mites.  Wifey says, ‘That’s okay.  They’re Washington State cherries.’  ‘Let’s see them.’  The bag she had just finished was Washington, but the replacements she brought along were from British Columbia.  ‘They have to be quarantined.’ he says, and into the garbage they went.

Still distracted and smarting from the loss of the cherries, I was one lane too far right, and ended up heading south towards Buffalo, instead of swinging east towards the New York Turnpike.  A situation usually easily rectified, at the next exit I pulled up, over, and back down.  I practiced a bit of Zen driving, by following a Greyhound bus that looked like it knew where I was going.  I was right.  He led me well into Pennsylvania.

Our Canadian cell phone plan won’t talk to American cell towers.  Several miles down the Turnpike, the wife’s phone rang.  Is the car haunted??   It was our Canadian Virgin Mobile plan.  “For a mere $7/day, we’ll contract AT&T to provide you full phone service.  We realized that you were outside Canada by GPS tracking your cell phone.”  Great idea! and I didn’t hardly feel stalked at all.  We got Google GPS on the wife’s phone.  I wanted to call the new voice Navigator Nancy, but that name was already taken.  She became just Google Girl, and I now have three female voices in the car, telling me where to go.

The second episode of Lost, was filmed in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we stopped for the night.  Frenchmen and ballerinas call it wilks – bar, but the locals insist that it’s wilks-berry. The address of our motel was right on a main access road, but we couldn’t find it.  By finally asking a convenience-store clerk, we discovered that it was actually up a hill, behind a U-Haul storage facility, and accessed from a small side-road, by going through a TGI Friday’s parking lot.

We didn’t learn that until we’d been past it 4 times.  I pulled into a small side-road to turn around, only to discover that it was the entry ramp for the Interstate.  We went nine miles back North.  I tried my patented up-over-and down maneuver©, only to find that the down ramp took me to a narrow, twisty State highway which only eventually got me back to what passes for civilization.

I must have earned some positive Karma points.  The next day’s highway mishap actually brought me out ahead – still behind, but not as far.  We wanted to go from an Interstate, to a State Highway, in Harrisburg, PA, to save about 60 miles.  All three female voices told me to take exit 5B.  I thought that 5B would be on the far side of the overpass, but like the one I missed in Buffalo a few years ago, both were on the near side.

Just as I realized this, and tried to reach the off-ramp, a local air-conditioning repair truck swooped out of the outside lane and cut me off.  Oh well, we’ll go down to exit 4.  No ‘up-over-and-down’ in the middle of a city, Ethel’s directions took me ‘down here,’ and then ‘across there.’  The wife complained that, if I must get lost, I should at least do it in an area with stately, historical homes, not the grubby factory and warehouse route we took.

When I reached the highway up-ramp, I manage to insert my vehicle into a ‘volume of traffic’ jam.  When I looked in my mirror, I found the air-conditioning van 3 or 4 spaces behind me.  After inching along for 3 miles, because of two more feeder ramps, we finally got back to ‘highway speed.’

In a previous blogging challenge, I’ve said that Life makes me happy.  Just before we leaked out of Pennsylvania into the Maryland panhandle, we curled around the base of a small mountain, just in time to see 10 colorful hot-air balloons rising up its sides.  The long, smooth, descending curve allowed us to observe them from a variety of angles and elevations.  Perhaps not as large or exciting as the Taos, NM hot air balloon festival, I still took it as a sign of apology and reward for the travails of the previous day.

There’s more to come, so I’d like you to come back.  😀

Taos Balloons

Religious Freedom To Be Paranoid

Bible

Christianity is again under attack.  So says a newspaper article that’s as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise.  The headline is actually ‘Freedom of religion disappearing in Canada,’ but Christianity is the only religion mentioned.

The writer gives two examples of loss of (Christian) religious freedom which I can refute quickly and easily.
The man is a paranoid, fucking moron.

What??!  You were expecting something deeper, and more considered?  Alright!

He whines about the Federal Liberal government refusing to give grant money, for the hiring of summer students, to any organization which will not guarantee support for birth control or abortion.   He, and many others, feels that this is loss of religious freedom.

Not so!  Any such church, or Christian organization, is still free to hold and teach any and all moral positions.  The Federal Government is just telling them that they cannot finance proselytizing their restrictive, judgemental views with MY tax money.  He complains that the churches can’t get back “their money,” but all churches are tax-exempt.

Locally, the Federal Government has tried and failed four times in the last 15 years, to strip a successful businessman of his citizenship, and deport him.  He came to Canada in 1948, and became a real estate developer.  He employed over a hundred people, and he and his wife were active in social causes, donating over $2 million to various worthy causes.

He was a 17-year-old ethnic German, living with his family in the Ukraine, when the Nazi death-squads arrived.  When they found that he could speak both German and Russian, they kidnapped him and threatened him and his family with torture and death if he didn’t translate for them, so that they could find the Jews and Gypsies.  Under U.N. regulations, this made him a ‘child soldier,’ not subject to prosecution.

After 50 years of raising three successful children, and giving so much to the country, the Canadian Jewish Congress discovered that he’d ‘been part’ of this hated death squad, and began fomenting for his exile.

It is not illegal, under Canadian law, to have been part, but it is illegal to have lied to immigration officers when he attempted to enter the country.  He says that, when he applied in 1948, Immigration saw him as a young Ukrainian, and only asked him, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?”

Ever anxious to foster the myth of an infallible bureaucracy, the tribunal decided that, “On the basis of probabilities,” he must have lied to officials.

Skip happily with me now, out to British Columbia, to the Trinity Law School, a church-run Christian College.  They require all their students to sign a Code of Conduct.  While enrolled at the College, students may not support abortion, birth-control, or same-sex marriage.  In fact, no sex of any kind, except with someone you’re married to.

Law Societies across Canada have declared that they will not regard a certificate from this school as valid.  The College, and writers like this article’s, are howling that this is an infringement of their religious freedom.  Again, not so!

They are still free to teach and instill this code of conduct, just as the Law Societies are free to decline to take the school and its graduates seriously.  In an area of business and society where neutrality and equality are valued, “On the basis of probabilities,” it is assumed that students exposed to this constant propaganda will have, at least an unconscious bias, detrimental to the even-handed practice of law.

Freedom of religion does not include the freedom to impose ‘yours’ upon anyone else, no matter how wonderful and ‘divinely inspired’ you feel it is.  That’s the quota of ‘Rants and Rambles’ that I’m free to publish today.  I hope to see you again soon, for something sillier.

’18 A To Z Challenge – J

 

Challenge '18
Letter J

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re sorry.  The blog-site that you are currently attempting to connect with, is temporarily out of service…. because we’re on a

JOURNEY

If you’re reading this, it means that my unpaid assistant has done his unpaid job, and clicked ‘Publish’ for this post, which I left queued-up for him.  I am not sufficiently tech-savvy to be left unsupervised with a ‘schedule post’ program.  In fact, only recently, Bell Canada insisted that I give up my rotary-dial telephone.

It was the last one in my telephone exchange area, and they couldn’t afford to maintain my ‘clickety-click’ system, along with the new beep-beep boop-boop one.  I guess they can’t blow the dust out of the new fibre-optic lines, the way they used to with the old electrical ones.

If we merely go to Detroit for some weekend shopping, should a medical situation arise, it’s a quick trip back across the border into socialized-medicine land.  For a week away, 12 hours drive from the nearest Canada, we will be purchasing out-of-country medical insurance from CAA, AAA’s little brother.  Please, nobody mention ‘giddy’ as a pre-existing condition.

We’re not allowed to bring anything toxic back, so we’ll stay away from all Tweets.  We might get close enough to the White House to hear that twit Trump, trumpet.  We might even get to see him playing bocce ball on the front lawn with the North Korean Rocket Man, using nuclear warheads.

We’ll be staying west of DC proper, just left of where Donald Trump hangs out these days.  Of course with Trump, pretty much everyone is to his political left.  Someone should censor him by slipping him a placebo smart-phone, that only looks like it’s actually working.

It’s a good thing that there’s a 140 character limit on Twitter.  Can you imagine how many people he could offend with 300?  He should be put on Twitter-Lite….only 14 characters.  He has surrounded himself with quite a few characters, some of whom last longer than others because they can say, “Yes, Mr. President.  You’re absolutely right, sir.”

This journey is the ‘We’re Going To Rants’ and ‘Sisterhood Of The Blog’ trip that I’ve been threatening you with for months.  We’ll be out of our minds the country for about a week, so, there’ll be no new posts for a while, and likely damned few responses to comments, so feel free to talk about us among yourselves for a while.

I’d suggest that, after reading this post, you get some rest, because I’m sure that I’ll have a shopping bag full of fun facts and photos when we get back.

‘Journey’ is an ‘80s, San Francisco rock band.  If you click, they’ll tell you how much I Don’t Stop Believing that this is one of the greatest adventures of my life.  I’ll see you back here soon, with a big smile on my face.   😀  😎  🌯

’17 A To Z Challenge – X

Challenge2017

Letter X

For reasons unknown to me, X has always stood for the unknown.  This post will be short, because I don’t know even more about X than I don’t know about anything else.

Even when Wilhelm Roentgen discovered electromagnetic waves that were previously unknown to scientists, he just called them X-Rays.

When pirates buried treasure, X marked the spot on a map, because, without the map, the location would be unknown.  If they’d marked the location with a Taco Bell, I could find that treasure-chest quick and easy….though there’d be a hard decision to make.  Dig up the treasure first – or have lunch at Taco Bell?  Probably dig up the gold and jewels first, and use them to pay for lunch.  Save some for a second course over at Pizza Hut.

If you are illiterate, you ‘sign’ documents with an X, because the ability to read and write is unknown to you, and then someone else must witness your signature.  Mom and Dad rented a mobile home from a man in Florida who signed with an X.  I’ve never met anyone quite that unschooled but, despite the ready availability of free education, some winners that I have met weren’t far above it.

DNA

I downloaded a prompt of Xenophobia, but with the number and degree of weird specimens that I’ve met locally, you’d have to go pretty far afield to come up with something better that I might fear or hate.  More and more people are doing what I did, getting a DNA test.  An amusing number of racist, white-supremacists are getting back results that show that they are actually 23% (or whatever) Negro.  😯  😳  I wonder how many heads have exploded under those pointy little white hoods.

It is unknown to me why road intersections are called X-crossings.  Anywhere except in this strangely-laid-out city, my squirrelly, OCD brain insists that streets should meet at right angles.  They should be called t-crossings….except that the Bible thumpers would then insist that each intersection represented the Holy cross, and we would need priests, instead of traffic cops.

Perhaps they all started out as plus signs (+), and just got drunk, or stoned, and fell over.  As Canada makes marijuana legal on July 1 (Happy Canada Day – if you remember it) we’ll see more of that.  Traffic lights will be replaced with bags of Doritos.

What a terrible thought! I think I’ll just X it out and invite you to return later, for the adventures of Y.