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.

Skirting The Issue

Little Black Dress

It may be local. It may be temporary and fleeting.  It is definitely from a small sampling, and a completely personal study, but I believe that women are beginning to regain some of the sophistication and elegance of bygone years.  Many women, including many young women, are once again wearing skirts or dresses for everyday situations.

Women wearing ‘men’s clothes’ became common during World War II, when women took factory jobs to fill in for menfolk in the Armed Services. After the War, working women, dressed comfortably and modestly in shirts and pants, became common, and acceptable.

Even in office settings, skirt/blouse combos were usually outnumbered by slacks and jeans, and dresses were reserved for parties and dates. The ratio of skirts or dresses seemed to be about one in twenty, or fewer.

I recently spent a day at Niagara Falls, followed by a day with a couple of hours at a mall, followed by a Saturday morning spent at the Farmers’ Market. Suddenly I was amazed at the number of females wearing skirts or even dresses.  The odds now seemed to be one in five, or even more.

Of course, I’m not counting the Mennonite females, who always wear dresses, which look like they’ve been made from rejected couch upholstery fabric.  They look neither elegant nor sophisticated.

While I appreciated the views, I didn’t feel Niagara was a good place to wear skirts. There’s a lot of breeze, and up-and-down, and climbing – hills, stairs, escalators, even the tour boats in the river.

Granted, while there were a lot of them, not all of them were sophisticated or elegant. Many, and not merely the younger ones, wore barely enough fabric to hang the ‘For Rent’ sign and price list.  One 40ish woman wore what I originally took to be a sock.  The color of safety-cone orange, it was a knit dress, primly covering her from chin to kneecaps, but it was so tight, that even I had trouble breathing.

It clung tightly to her, from below chandelier earrings, to above cork-wedge-soled sandals with 4 inch heels.  Not what I’d wear to a tourist trap.  Knitter daughter says there’s a knitting term for knitted clothes that look like they’re painted on – maximum negative ease, alternate pronunciation – If you’ve got it….flaunt it!

The next day – a hot, sunny one – at the mall, I expected lots of shorts. Again, I was surprised.  Skirts were common, and ranged from office wear, to pencil skirts, to baby doll.  Poodle skirts are back, although I imagine they’re called something else now.  Lengths ranged from barely legal, or moral, ‘wide belts’, to floor-length.

There were grandmothers in comfortable, conservative, kneecap-length dresses, latter-day hippies in swirling, diaphanous kerchief dresses, young mothers in cool caftans and airy muu-muus. Asymmetrical hemlines were evident.  Angled cuts hung down front, side and back.  Cut-outs were on chest, arms and backs.

The biggest surprise was at the food court. (You didn’t think I’d leave without eating, did you?  All that looking made me hungry.)  There were at least 12 young women having lunch – or at least coffee – wearing some form of ‘The Little Black Dress’, which I thought was reserved for more special occasions, plus four more in the same high-fashion style, but in rose, gold, robin’s-egg blue and pastel green.

What’s happening with women’s-wear in your neck of the woods? Are skirts and dresses becoming more common?  My female readers will already know, because they always keep an eye on the competition.

For the guys, if you get caught staring, assure any eye-candy that you are not a lascivious pervert, but merely performing a scientific study for a famous blogger.

Extra points if you can do it without snickering – or drooling.   😆

 

Flash Fiction # 78

Coffee

Copyright Jean L. Hays

CARNIVAL

It might have been a mistake to book an entire week in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The volume of water, the height it plunged, the roar it made, the mist it produced, were awe-inspiring – for about an hour. Two hours, if you went back at night to see the colored lights.

The second day we discovered Clifton Hill, three blocks of pavement rapidly ascending from the edge of the gorge. Its sides were lined with dozens of shops whose sole purpose was to relieve tourists of their money.

Not Starbucks, Henry’s Coffee Emporium – lovely stained glass, wish we lived at 708 Fulton.

***

To begin: In reverse, on the banner outside the window, are the words ‘Clifton Hill.’ I’m not crazy(er than usual).  There may be a Clifton Hill somewhere else, but I thought of Niagara Falls, since we’ve been there several times.  There is no ‘Fulton’, St., Ave., etc. in Niagara.  Don’t let my slightly dystopian tale affect any plans.  The place is well worth visiting.

The Falls are magnificent, from either side of the border. The city is clean and well-run, and has much to offer.  Clifton Hill is like a little microcosm of Las Vegas, or a permanent carnival set-up.  It has wax museums; the Ripley’s Believe It or Not, museums of the strange, shops offering kitschy mementos.  It has a small Ferris Wheel, perched halfway up the hill.  It has candy shops and purveyors of all types of food, some of it fried, which is good, but not necessarily good for you.

***

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

 

Things That Make You Go –WTF?!

A woman, duck-hunting in Indiana, shot a duck, set down her 12 gauge shotgun and urged her retriever to fetch the bird. He galloped over the gun, shooting her in the foot. The dog’s name was Trigger.

Locally, a car pulled out of a side street in front of another car, which swerved to the left, sideswiping an oncoming car, forcing it over the curb. That car violently struck a Canada Post mailbox, driving it into a 76 year old man, out for a walk, and killed him. The man killed was a retired Postal worker.

A letter to the Editor complained of waiting till the last minute and not being able to get tickets to an Oktoberfest hall. It was so personal and trivial, I don’t know why The Record even printed it. When I read the writer’s name, it was Steve Whines. Will Rogers said, You don’t have to make things up, just read the newspapers.

Searching for an image of a rainbow, I found a nice one, captioned – Niagara Falls, Toronto, Canada – Zou Zheng.  Apparently it’s been moved over next to Canada’s Wonderland, to make it more easily accessible by tourists like Zou.  If this was one of the Chinese picture-takers from Batavia, I’m surprised he didn’t just move it to Buffalo.

I recently received an email from a bookstore, that a book I’d ordered, had come in. I went to the store, and handed a male clerk my order receipt, indicating that it was paid for, and giving my name and address, the name of the author, and the name of the book.

He glanced at it, handed it back, and said, “I’ll get it from the storeroom. I’ll be right back.”  I waved the receipt and asked, “Won’t you need this?”  “Oh no, I’ve seen it.”  “What?  You have eidetic memory?”  (Big smile)  “Yes, I have eidetic memory!”  You’re lucky.  I have to look at it just to remember my name.

A couple of minutes later he showed up with an oversized Trade Paperback. I had time to say, “I wanted the regular size, but if that’s what was ordered, I’ll take it.”  When I looked at it, it was a kids’ book, like ‘The Bobbsey Twins Do Carnival In Rio.’  Mr. Eidetic Memory had brought me the wrong title, by the wrong author, for the wrong customer.

When he returned a second time, he brought a CD Audio Book Version, but that’s a complaint about a different clerk.

Celine weddingCeline wedding 2

Celine wedding 3Above are a couple of photos from the wedding album of Empress Chanteuse, Celine Dion, and her pet monkey Consort, René.  Somewhere, Katherine the Great, of Russia was looking down (or was it up?) in envy.  Not bad for the youngest of 14 children of a poor redneck Quebecois sharecropper butcher.

Now that she has her children, her fame, her hand firmly clutching her considerable fortune and ‘Uncle René’ busy dying of cancer, she’s more than willing to divorce him and drop him by the side of the road. If Disney/Pixar ever does Frozen II, I know who can do the part of The Ice Queen.  This woman is colder than a Quebec winter.

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Three

 

Bison

 

 

 

 

Day 1 – Beautiful Buffalo

Okay, I wrote the above, and the computer didn’t explode, so, on with the post.

With five hours of sleep, and adrenalin coursing through my veins, I was awake to greet the son as he got home from work at 7:15 AM. By 8 o’clock, I had much of our supplies loaded in the car, when the alarm woke the wife.

With this head start, and only a little chivvying on my part, the wife was beautiful enough to leave by ten to 10, instead of my feared ten after.  We took along little snippy Miss GPS, who the wife has named Ethel.  We had three choices to cross the Niagara River, to get to Buffalo.  I had decided on the furthest south, at Fort Erie, even though it meant turning back north on the American side.

Ethel said, “Turn here, to cross at Lewiston.” I said no.  RECALCULATING!  She said, “Turn here, to cross at Niagara Falls.”  I said no.  RECALCULATING!  We pulled into the duty-free, and phoned the son, to tell him we had safely reached the border.

We called Cordelia’s Mom, and told her we were about to cross over. She said she would pick up her mother-in-law, and meet us at the restaurant.  It was just past noon.  We crossed the Peace Bridge, and Miss GPS ordered that I “turn left on David Street”, only, I couldn’t see David St.  The impatient guy behind me honked, and the wife insisted that we proceed, even if it was in the wrong direction.  It was!  RECALCULATING!

We went down to the next exit and reversed direction. Now, Ethel was happy.  She quickly got us to the restaurant.  We had just parked when a silver sport-ute came careening in off the street at high speed, on two wheels, one woman driving, and an older lady passenger desperately clinging to the door handle.

Sure enough, it was CM, who came breezing out of her vehicle like a little whirlwind of happy, helpful good humor.  I don’t know where such a small person packs all that personality.  She soon led us astray into a lovely Greek eatery.

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Since the lunch crowd soon emptied out, the staff was happy (enough) to ignore us, while we had an almost two-hour meet and greet. The time just flew by.  She comprises such an enthralling Presence, that it compounded and concentrated my senility.  I’m sure that I forgot at least half of the things I wanted to say, and ask.

Hoping to get some Nestle Italian Sweet Crème Coffee Mate, which is not available in Ontario, I had asked CM to keep an eye out for it as she did her own shopping, to tell me where to go to buy it.

Then I compounded my sins, by asking her to look for the Goya hot sauce that Madame Weebles had been so kind to send. While not yet totally consumed, it won’t last forever.  We can’t find it in the Detroit area but, since it’s bottled just outside NYC, I thought it might be stocked in Buffalo.  It was, YAY!

Then I had the effrontery to ask CM if she would purchase these items, to save me the running around, and I would repay her.  The nerve of some people’s kids!  She did – at two different stores.  It’s not my good looks; it must have been my glib tongue keyboard.

She carried a stuffed Teddy bear, and we had a stuffed Lamb, as identification. She showed us a good time, but nobody took any clothes off.  With what she claims is ‘Buffalo’ hospitality, first she treated us to a lovely lunch.  I got suspicious when she hauled out a gift bag.

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In it were the Coffee Mate and the Ancho Sauce, but she had also added a box of ‘Buffalo’ sponge candy, and a bottle of Buffalo Wing sauce. When I asked her “How much do I owe you?”, she insisted that these were all presents.

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She asked where we were staying, and I told her at a Red Roof Inn, but way out by the airport. She refused to let me rely on Ethel GPS, and insisted that she would lead me, fifteen miles, and most of an hour, there and back, out of her way, across town – if I could keep up.  With her responsible for where I was going, I had a chance to look around and discover where I was.  That will be important, later.

She led me right to our motel, with a quick, unintended stop at the Bob Evans out front, and did everything except book me in. We gabbed for a few more minutes, and I effusively thanked her for her many kindnesses and generosity.  The wife says that she confided that she was somewhat relieved that I had brought her along, instead of son Shimoniac, The Bear.

I shook her tiny hand and, with tears in my eyes, sadly waved goodbye, as she drove away. Still all misty, I turned back to look at my car – and THE LOLLIPOPS, which are the very center of this tale, still in the back seat.  She had told her mother-in-law about the candy, and a couple of blocks away, MIL asked, “But where are the Lollipops??”

What will she do about them?? What will Archon do about them??  Will we return to Ontario –eventually – and mail them to her?  Will I just say to Hell with the diet (again), and eat them?  Tune in next week to find out.

My only complaint is that she says she does not find me as grumpy in person as I seem on my blog site. I don’t know how that can possibly be.  I see that she has started referring to me, the World’s Champion Grumpy Old Dude as G.O.D. – not to be confused with God.  I have more power, authority, and ill temper.

***

I have a poll for my readers.  There are several more of these episodes.  Would you prefer to be bored all at once, sequentially, or would you rather have me insert the occasional rant?

I Thought About Thinking

On Sunday, Oct. 20, I took the son and daughter, and we headed to downtown Kitchener for the monthly Free Thinkers luncheon.  This was the last day of Oktoberfest, so most of the tourist drunkaholics were either on their way home, or still in holding cells.

The first thing I learned about hotels on that first trip to Detroit was that they change names all the time.  We arose the next morning and went looking for the big hotel where the knife show was.  I drove past the place four times, from each direction, before pulling into a gas station, and asking for directions.  “Oh, it’s that one right over there.  They just got bought by a different chain last month.”

Thirty years old, our Kitchener Hotel (and Convention Center) is on its 6th name, and that one is just a placeholder till they complete renovations and hang out yet another shingle.  During my period of   un(der)employment, 25 years ago, I worked as a security guard there for a year.  Back before either the wife or daughter became mobility-impaired, I didn’t notice its access shortcomings.

The front entrance has a drive-through area, and elevators are just inside.  However, if you go up the small hill, to get to the parking structure entrance off the side street, that level brings you to a spot where you must either climb up a stairway, to a door which is often locked, or down a stairway, out and down a step, across an alley, and back up 8 steps.  Not really any more accessible than the current choice.

As the group started arriving at the room we had been promised, we found that the booking clerk hadn’t told the floor manager that we were coming.  Already busy with hotel guests and walk-ins, he had to quickly unlock the room, get tables and chairs arranged, brew and deliver coffee, provide sugar, creamers, cups, spoons, water pitchers, glasses, etc.  Not a propitious beginning.

No a-la-carte was available.  $10 got you a self-serve Continental Breakfast of three cold cereals, juice and fruit.  $12.50 also let you go to the hot(?) table with bacon, sausage, potato patties, scrambled eggs with cheese, oatmeal, and toast.  There was a little pizza-oven type toaster.  Feed bread in, let it wend its merry way, and it slid out the bottom, almost-brown.  I put my two pieces back in for a second run to darken it, and stepped over to get some eggs.  When I got back, some hotel guest had taken my toast.

One of the members is an unmarried young male trucker.  He’s eaten in a lot of establishments.  He complained of a cold breakfast at another restaurant, and the manager ripped up his bill.  When he complained to this maitre d’, the man held his hand over the lukewarm food, insisted that it wasn’t cold and claimed that no-one else had complained.

One table for eight was full when we arrived, so we sat at another.  Since we’re not members, when the rest arrived, they all sat at different tables, and talked among themselves.  Finally, toward the end, we convinced a couple of folk to join us.  Both the group, and the son, are willing to give it one more chance.

I recently published some uncomplimentary “religious thoughts.”  This was probably, at least in part, a reaction to some of the, “We don’t care about the laws, or your rights!  We’re Good Christians!” stories I heard at the meeting.

The Atheist parents of a GRADE THREE girl in Niagara Falls, not only would not sign the release form for her to be given a Gideons’ Bible, they refused to allow her to hand them out to the rest of her class.  The school called them in for a meeting, and the teacher, the principal, and a rep from the local school board interrogated them, as to why not.

They submitted a request that this school district cease passing out Bibles, to the exclusion of any other belief system, and, of course, were turned down.  They took it to mediation, and the government official ruled that the board either had to cease distributing Bibles, or allow other printed matter to be handed out.

The Board refused to stop the supply of Bibles.  With the help of the Humanist Association, they delivered a pile of Good Without God pamphlets, but the board refused to distribute them.  They have now instituted a lawsuit to force the board to obey, one way or the other.

A Humanist woman in the city of Peterborough, requested that the council not begin each session with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Having filed her form, she contacted our local chapter president, and asked if she should proceed through mediation, or legal arbitration.  His answer was that, she might win at mediation, but, like above, it didn’t set a legal precedent.

She emailed him back the next day, saying that the matter was taken out of her hands when the city lawyer filed for arbitration.  My cynical old (lack of) soul says that, in both cases, the bureaucrats know what the law is, and what the final result will be, but are holding out till the last minute to look good to the Christian majority.

Like the removal of the Lord’s Prayer (only) from schools, because they wouldn’t play nicely with others, and share, they’ll be able to point to the Godless government and the Atheists, and say, “It’s all their fault.  We were forced into it.”

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Canning season is upon us.  Our supply of dill pickles has been slowly but surely dwindling, and replacements must be made.  Cucumbers have been available for a month or more, but the dill plants are only now coming into their own.

We had massage/osteopathy appointments on Thursday, so we were unable to go to the Farmers’ Market.  We had to go Saturday.  Neither the wife nor daughter is an early riser, and usually we get there 10:00/10:30 AM.  This was Labor Day Saturday!!!  D-Day would have been easier.  With both of them handicapped, I insisted that we get there 8:00/8:30 AM, to be able to park in the same Postal Code, and we still nearly needed to bring our own parking space.

More and more, we are joining the ranks of the Lazy And Incompetent cooks I wrote about 15 months ago.  A couple of weeks ago, the wife found that the Wholesale Warehouse has gallon cans of diced tomatoes, which we could use for making salsa or chili sauce whenever they are needed.  The cost is less than the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes, bought at the market, and they have already been skinned and chopped.

Dill pickles though, still require the personal touch.  We bought a half a bushel of small cucumbers from a favorite vendor, and some fragrant dill stalks from a Mennonite, and hauled them home.  The car still smells of dill – Mmmh!  Saturday evening, we scrubbed the cucumbers and put them to soak overnight.  Sunday afternoon, we started cutting and slicing.

Then we made up the first batch of canning syrup.  We had obtained a couple of pounds of de-skinned garlic, which needed to be blanched.  We used the water from that, to add garlic flavor to the pickling mixture.  We, (as in, the wife) cut the heads off the dill plants, to add to each jar, and cut up the stems to be boiled with the syrup, to add more dill flavor.

The first batch complete by about 9:30, we sent the son out to pick up a couple of pizzas for supper, and then mixed up another pot of witches’ brew, for a second batch.  By 2 AM we had canned (bottled) 15 quarts, 15 pints, and three half-pints, of slices, chunks, and quarters.  Actually, both the son and the grandson like to eat the garlic chunks which add flavor at the bottom of the jars, so, two of the half-pints were the last of the garlic which didn’t go in with the pickles.

Just as we were bottling the last of the pickles we’d obtained at the market the day before, the main building at the Farmers’ Market was busy burning down.  A passerby reported flames at about 1:30 AM, and by the time firemen arrived, all they could do was prevent damage to other, nearby buildings.  Designed to resemble a Mennonite barn, only the fittings and contents were metal and glass.  All the rest was solid, dry wood.

It will take a few days to establish the cause.  In the meantime, 60 vendors and countless customers are impacted.  Many of the locations on the main floor sold meat, as well as eggs, or Guernsey milk.  There were also a candy vendor, produce, fish, cheese, baked goods, a specialty tea/coffee place tucked under the stairs, and an eating area at one end with picnic-table seating, and several stalls selling donairs, pizza, perogies, cinnamon buns, hot apple fritters, Oktoberfest sausages and fries and burgers.  Outlets on mezzanines on both sides provided Mennonite quilts, footwear, leather clothing, dream-catchers, jewelry, semi-precious gemstones, and other various kitsch.  There may be a small puddle of melted gold in the ashes.

The market is a huge tourist trap attraction, with busloads of blue-haired walker-pushers being bussed in from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.  We met a nice couple from London, Ontario, over coffee, Saturday morning.  Management is not sure whether cleanup will proceed quickly enough to allow the rest of the market to open as soon as this coming Thursday.

The Market is Waterloo Region’s answer to Santa’s Village, Niagara Falls, or the Shakespeare Festival.  I am sure that the structure will be rebuilt, perhaps even larger, grander, more Mennonite-ish, but winter is almost upon us.  It could be up to a year to get it replaced.  Built just before legislation made it mandatory, it had no sprinkler system.  Any replacement must provide an elevator, if a second storey is included.

In the meantime, we can attend to get our vegetables, and apple fritters and hot chocolate.  We may have to follow that with longer, scenic drives to other Southern-Ontario tiny hamlets, with names like Heidelberg, Dorking and Elora, to get the quality meats we have grown used to. (Do you like Dorking??  I don’t know, I’ve never Dorked.  Yeah, right!)

Like fine wine, it takes a while for pickles to age.  By early next summer these could be ready to open, and let breathe.  Anybody up for a barbecue?  I could show up with the hamburger slices.  All you’d have to provide would be the burgers and beer – and potato salad – and corn….could we do corn??