Capital Idea

House of Parliament

So another year has come and gone, and once again it was time to drive to Ottawa, to visit the grandson and fiancé for a couple of days – a Capital idea.

We hitched up the team, and loaded the buckboard sport-brute.  Grandma and her minions had made another batch of dill pickles.  There were his and hers presents for birthdays that bracket my recent one.  Included were a home-made spelt-flour, chocolate-mayonnaise cake, and special ginger cookies from a local Dutch market.  His always-thinking-ahead mother had even sent Christmas presents, since they won’t be able to get away then.

SDC11073

SDC11072

Biggest and heaviest among the freight, was a large steel cage for a recently-acquired, white (but not albino) ferret. She is so friendly and playful!!  I took along the digital camera, but the only photos I took were the ferret ones above.  I used it to prove that I had finally mounted on the wall, the rapier that he gave me for Fathers’ Day, two years ago, because I haven’t got around to publishing the Procrastination post yet.  You guys will have to wait another week or two to see that shot.

All in all, a very interesting and satisfying trip. Food of all types, including a Mexican restaurant named ‘Ahora’, where the nachos came with a language lesson.  The word ahora (Spanish a = in/at/to – hora = time) means Now, in English.

We visited two knife shops, and two second-hand bookstores which reminded me of Charles Dickens ‘Old Curiosity Shop’, stuff piled upon stuff in no great amount of order. We went to the Byward Market, a 4-block-square area, right downtown, full of kitschy little shops, eager to separate visitors from their money before the Government got it as taxes.

Just outside, between the Market area and the Houses of Parliament, stands the American Embassy, as big as a Trump hotel, but with all the architectural flair of a shoebox. Just half a block inside the Market, a mere drunken stagger back to the Embassy, is a ‘Gentlemen’s Club.’  Coincidence??  I think not!  Around the corner was a big century-house, turned into another Embassy, not Russian, but with a sign in Cyrillic lettering – Ukraine?  Uzbekistan?  Perhaps the English sign was on another street.

We went back at night to see the Parliament Building all lit up. No-one was passing any stupid legislation, but we saw where they had installed vents to release all the hot air.

I chose a different motel than last year, this one a mile closer to the grandson’s apartment, and $90/night, instead of $130, enabling us to afford to stay two nights instead of one. It was a family-owned independent, and like the Mexican restaurant, came with a lesson, this one a history lesson, rather than language.

Always curious, and looking for blog-fodder, I approached the day-shift male room-clerk. He reminded me of the wife’s ex-doctor. He could throw a pill or a potion or a medical test at a problem, but couldn’t deal with patients.  I believe that the clerk was on the autism spectrum.  He was happy to supply an extra pillow, or an ice-bucket, but not conversation and trivia.  “Qantas. Definitely Qantas.”

I asked, “How old is this place?”
“I don’t know.  I wasn’t here when it was built.”
“Neither was I, but I’m curious.  Have you never asked?”
“It wasn’t on my job application.  I have a customer.  You’ll have to leave.”
“He’s still getting out of his car.  He won’t be here for 5 minutes.  When does the night-shift come on?”
“I have a customer!  Please leave!”

I returned later to talk to the night-clerk, who was both sociable and knowledgeable.

It all started with a mineral hot-spring. The Indians used to soak in it, and believed in its healing properties.  They told the white men, who also used it, and appropriated it.  Around 1900, a white businessman erected a building around it, and turned it into a spa where monied and powerful people came, ‘to take the waters.’

It was quite a way out in the country from little then-Ottawa. In 1928 another businessman built a restaurant nearby, so that the elite had a place to dine after their treatments.  In 1931, when cars were still balky and unreliable, he built a couple of cabins where folks could stay overnight, before returning home in the morning.  Later, he added a couple more, and then another couple.

In 1932 he joined them together into one of the first row motels. In 1956 he added a second, matching row, and in 1973, his son added a third, two-story structure which we stayed in, for a total of 80 units.  The restaurant is still there, although now it’s leased out to chefs whose pretentious menu includes $15 hamburgers and poutine made with French fries cooked in duck fat.

The Federal Government is responsible for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Some are brought to Ottawa for medical treatment.  This now includes tests, drugs, surgery and physiotherapy, but many of them still believe in the healing powers of the Manitou’s hot springs.  When we were there, there were 16 units housing Cree and Inuit from as far away as Nunavut, in the Northwest Territories.

Even including an hour each way in the worst traffic in Canada, in Toronto, it was well worth the trip, which totalled 1200 Km/825 Mi. over three days. The grandson who does not own a car, and his magic smart-phone, skillfully guided us around the town.  I’m sure we’ll go again next fall, if not before.

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2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

WOW #12

The Word Of this Week is

green-collar

Definitions for green-collar

noting or pertaining to workers, jobs, or businesses that are involved in protecting the environment or solving environmental problems.

a green-collar worker. Also, green collar.

Origin of green-collar

1990-1995

Green-collar entered English in the early 1990s. It’s based on the model of blue-collar and white-collar, with the green element coming from the sense “environmentally sound or beneficial.”

See also; boondoggle, porkbarreling, social engineering, featherbedding,

While most of the words in the English language are hundreds, or thousands of years old, it is interesting to see technology cause the invention of new ones within our lifetimes.

I am all for green energy, and saving the planet – BUT….let the politicians get their hands on it, and we’re all fu….bar-ed.  About 5 years ago, I wrote of having to pay for the privilege of being one of the first users in Ontario to have a time-of-usage, smart electrical meter installed.

Ontario was having brown-outs. We were right at the edge, between generation capacity and usage.  We were told not to do laundry, or run our dishwashers during the day.  Wait till night-time, when industrial usage goes down, pay less per KwH, and Conserve, Conserve, Conserve!

We conserved….and the total income of Ontario Hydro went down, and the big bosses’ pay and bonuses were in jeopardy, so they raised the rates. With higher rates, we learned to use even less….and the total income dropped, so they raised the rates again, and ended the time-of-use difference.

A couple of nuclear stations, and hydro plants like Niagara were being upgraded. With reduced cash flow, soon a large debt built up.  The bosses added a ‘debt reduction charge’ to our bills.  I pay an extra $10/mo.  It was ‘temporary,’ like that 100-year-old temporary Income Tax.  5 years later, the debt is retired, but still we pay.  To cover the costs of their own inefficiency, the bosses added a ‘power distribution charge’ to our bills.  I pay another, extra $30/mo. whether electricity flows, or not, as owners of cottages and cabins which are closed-up for six months have found.

Wind Turbine

Desperate to look like they were solving a problem, the Provincial Government signed 25 year contracts for Green Energy. The wind turbines and fields full of solar panels that I also wrote about 5 years ago, were just the beginning.

Since then, the Government has forced the towers into dozens of locations where they are not wanted – and may be dangerous. Often placed so close to housing subdivisions or farm buildings that, if they fell, they’d just miss houses or barns, they continue to grind on.  They produce ground-conducted sub-sonic vibrations which cause headaches, nausea, and vertigo in many people and animals.

Ignoring the wasteful bureaucratic administration costs, nukes can produce power at about 4 cents/KwH. Water can do it for about 5 cents.  Solar and wind power costs us almost 25 cents/KwH.  The nukes and Niagara are back, running at increased capacity.  We are now awash in a sea of abundant electricity.  Having learned to conserve, we now have so much unused electric power that we sell off the excess, including the expensive green, to Quebec and the US for 3.5 cents/KwH!

In the last ten years, the cost of electricity in Ontario has risen by 50%, bankrupting or closing many small businesses, and causing larger ones to move where power is cheaper. It was a strong deciding factor which caused the closing of my last employer.  Gee, thanks politicians – not!

Going Green may be the way to save the planet, but if it’s happening near you, keep one hand on your wallet, and the other on your ballot. Keep the Pols away from it.  I know that private corporations have to make money, but too many Governments waste, lose or just throw our money away.

Smitty’s Loose Change #3

Smitty's Loose Change

A Provincial Liberal spin-doctor, trying to justify the amounts of money spent (wasted) by the Government, wrote, “We’ve increased Guaranteed Income Supplement payments for seniors. We’ve started building more roads, bridges and transit to create jobs, and help you get to work on time at the end of a long day.”  Would that be in a cart placed firmly in front of the horse, or is it as we go to our second job, to be able to pay the taxes to replace what they’ve frittered away?

***

The above ranks right up there with the sign in the Notre Dame football locker-room that says, “Success is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.” Go ahead, try that.  You haven’t been knocked down, so you only have to get up once….  This success thing is harder than it looks – especially in university mathematics.

***

The term for ‘It’s been wrong so often and for so long, that now it’s right, is ‘hypercorrect incorrectness.’ All those who haven’t nodded off, can now pray to have Archon’s OCD cured.

***

“The better you feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to show off.” And now I know why I’m so low-key.  I am very comfortable in my own skin.

***

Did I miss a language lesson somewhere??? When the Hell did ‘chick’ become ‘chic’?  I collect the occasional misusage, to poke fun at.  This has become endemic.  I see it everywhere! Me and this chic went to a bar. Chic [sheek] means fashionable, stylish, elegant and/or attractive.

***

GRAMMAR:
It’s the difference between knowing your shit, and knowing you’re shit.

***

While recently celebrating Columbus Day, certain Americans discovered that Canadians were celebrating our Thanksgiving, earlier than the US, because of our shorter growing season. Considerable confusion arose. “Well, do you celebrate Christmas and Easter at the same time we do?”

MSN.ca celebrated with an article titled, ’23 things Canadians say, that Americans don’t understand.’ It included my favorite, poutine (French fries, gravy and grated mozzarella), serviette (paper napkin) and two-four (a case of beer).

I discovered another regionalism, but balked at the quote some Canuck used to explain it. “A washroom is just a polite way of saying bathroom.”  No, it’s not!  As my Grade 5 teacher explained to “that kid”, a room which contains a toilet/urinal, and a sink, is a washroom.  If instead, it contains a tub, or shower stall, it then becomes a bathroom.

‘Restroom’ is an already chi-chi way to describe a place where you can sit down, rest, and take a load off – your feet.  ‘Powder room’ has nothing to do with explosions or demolition.  It’s one of the above, full of euphemism, not powder.  As a comedienne explained, “Women don’t fart, and we don’t sweat.  If we didn’t bitch, we’d explode.”    😆

Op-Ed Joust

Op-Ed

During the recent Canadian Federal Election campaign, which threatened to become as long and strange as the American one, a failed municipal politician with very Liberal leanings had the following rant/letter about the Conservative Prime Minister published in the local paper.

A QUESTIONABLE TACTIC

I’m no fan of Stephen Harper. No surprise there.  But not withstanding my political leanings, I am deep disturbed that he is, by accounts, a five-question leader.

On a daily basis he has been limiting questions from the national media to four, and one from local media, with no follow-ups. I am unaware of any such limits by the other party leaders.

We are in the middle of a profoundly critical debate about Canada’s future, so we need to hear clear answers to the most difficult questions that face our country. But the person who wants us to continue to support him for four years is limiting reporters to a mere five questions a day.

My conclusions may be ungenerous, but I would call this hiding. Personally, I don’t think any of our leaders should be hiding behind arbitrary rules that limit our ability to ask tough questions of them every day of the campaign, and have them answer them thoroughly and comprehensively, so as to be transparent and accountable.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this limit of five is the most telling indicator of how accountable Harper really is and is prepared to be. Maybe not.

John Ryrie

Fortunately, a fresh shipment of snark had just arrived here at Grumps R Us, and I was able to provide him with the following.

 

ON THE JOB

In his, A Questionable Tactic letter of Oct. 14, John Ryrie may have missed a point because, like me, he’s an old fogy.

Today’s banal public media circus is all too full of inconsequential 140 character Kardashian Tweets and Instagram photos of someone’s lunch of baked beans.

By limiting the media to five questions, Harper is forcing them to focus and do their job.  They have to plan ahead and ask incisive questions, more relevant than, “What color socks are you wearing?” or, “Are you betting on the Blue Jays?”

Five serious questions per day should be enough.  This allows him to get on with the important job of governing the country, rather than stopping to feed the Info-tainment industry.

 

Grumpy Old Archon (as usual)

 

Things get strange during an election campaign, as the Americans continue to learn.  Media reporters, and Liberal opponents, feel they can just stop the Prime Minister and pump him for information so they can direct their counterattack.  He’s got two jobs.  One is to run a campaign.  The other is to run the country – until he was defeated (Sadly, in my opinion.)

Perhaps the other party leaders have the free time to kibitz with reporters.  That’s what the P.M.’s Media Office, and press releases are for.  I can hardly imagine, “President Obama, will we be bombing Palmyra?” or, “Pope Francis, are you going to sanctify gay marriage?”

Have you Americans got some odd election occurrences you’d like to make us Canucks aware of?

 

Hug A Thug

Terrorist

Adopt a Terrorist..!!

This is a BRILLIANT piece… and just too good to miss reading. I thought, here is a bureaucrat who is worth his salary – and perhaps a raise.

Canadians know how to handle complaints. Here is an example.

A liberal Canadian female wrote a lot of letters to the Canadian government, complaining about the treatment of captive insurgents (terrorists) being held in Afghanistan National Correctional System facilities. She demanded a response to her letter.  She received the following reply:

From: National Defence Headquarters
Maj. Gen. George R. Pearkes Bldg., 15 NT,
101 Colonel By Drive Ottawa , ON
K1A 0K2 Canada.

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Thank you for your recent letter expressing your profound concern of treatment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists captured by Canadian Forces, who were subsequently transferred to the Afghanistan Government and are currently being held by Afghan officials in Afghanistan National Correctional System facilities.

Our administration takes these matters seriously and your opinions were heard loud and clear here in Ottawa. You will be pleased to learn, thanks to the concerns of citizens like yourself… we are creating a new department here at the Department of National Defense, to be called ‘Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers’ program, or “L.A.R.K.” for short.

In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided, on a trial basis, to divert several terrorists and place them in homes of concerned citizens such as yourself… around the country, under those citizens’ personal care. Your personal detainee has been selected and is scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence in Toronto next Monday.

Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud is your detainee, and is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of complaint. You will be pleased to know that we will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with your recommendations.

Although Ahmed is a sociopath and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his ‘attitudinal problem’ will help him overcome those character flaws. Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere ‘cultural differences’. We understand that you plan to offer ‘counseling and home schooling’, however, we strongly recommend that you hire some assistant caretakers.

Please advise any Jewish friends, neighbours or relatives about your house guest, as he might get agitated or even violent, but we are sure you can ‘reason’ with him. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless in your opinion, this might ‘offend him and his sensibilities’.

Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We advise that you do not ask him to demonstrate these skills either in your home or wherever you choose to take him while ‘helping him adjust to life in our country’.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with you or your daughters except sexually… since he views females as a form of property, thereby having no rights, including refusal of his sexual demands. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him.

You also should know that he has shown violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the dress code that he will recommend as more appropriate attire. I’m sure you will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka over time. Just remember that it is all part of ‘respecting his culture and religious beliefs’ as described in your letter.

You take good care of Ahmed and remember that we will try to have a counselor available to help you over any difficulties you encounter while Ahmed is adjusting to Canadian culture.

Thanks again for your concern. We truly appreciate it when folks like you keep us informed of the “PROPER WAY TO DO OUR JOB AND CARE FOR OUR FELLOW MAN”.

Good luck and God bless you.

Cordially, Gordon O’Connor

#492

Flash Fiction #56

Tunnel

PHOTO PROMPT © Stephen Baum

OUT

Cindy lived in the Bible Belt.  Usually she was very careful what she did and said.  A couple of years ago, a handsome young man had tried to pick her up at the entrance to a club.

She replied, “I’m not straight.”  In a lobby full of smoked-up pill-droppers, that was not unusual, and he persisted.  “No!  I’m not straight.” and Marilyn had come out, and they’d gone home.

Now, the Federal Supreme Court had ruled that her State government could no longer withhold rights and privileges enjoyed by all other citizens.  She and Marilyn were going to get married.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

#478