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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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.  🙂

’18 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge '18 Letter E

Hold your nose and vote.  The last-minute surprise (and disappointment) winner of this year’s A to Z Challenge for the letter E is

ELECTION

Ballot Box

If the word ‘election’ is the winner, the voters here in Ontario are the losers.  We are about to hold a Provincial vote on Thursday, June 7th, and there is no good choice, only, the least of the worst.

The Liberal Party, who regard themselves as ‘the Natural Ruling Party,’ have, during their 14-year rule, financially run the province into the ground.  With their social engineering fascination with ‘renewable, Green Energy,’ like the wind turbines and solar panels that I wrote about seven years ago, they have made Ontario’s the second highest cost of energy in North America.

High electricity costs drove jobs and companies out of Ontario, reducing tax income.  Last year, the Premier cut the cost of electricity by 25%, by borrowing Billions that will have to be paid back plus interest over 30 years – not merely our children, but our grandchildren are mortgaged.

In a cynical bid to be elected in their place, the New Democratic Party – the NDP – promise that they will reduce electrical costs by 30%….  while also cutting taxes.  Even a first-year vocational institute bookkeeping student can see that that just can’t be done.

They’re having troubles with their list of candidates.  In 2012, one young man took part in a rather spirited protest at his University, and can be seen in published stills and video, holding up a large sign that clearly says, “FUCK The Police.”

A middle-aged female candidate has been on Twitter and Facebook about the wearing of Memorial poppies.  She thinks that they are just a way for the present government to brainwash and control the electorate, glorify war, and become more waste in the landfill.  She refuses to wear one, and sticks to her peace symbol.

Near my home-town, some yahoo published a post saying that he was going to soak a poppy in bleach, and “let the red bleed out,” to get one of those white ‘Surrender’ poppies.  The Royal Canadian Legion owns all rights to the red poppies, and published an article decrying the desecration.

Another middle-aged female candidate jumped in, claiming that the original article was relevant, supporting the writer.  She objects to the Legion having a monopoly on red poppies, says that they (the Legion-and the poppies) glorify wars – ALL wars – and ends with, “A plague on their house.”

It’s hard to know what to hate most, the fiscal incompetence, the cynical manipulation, or the social malfeasance.  “I’ll take all three, for $500, Alex.”

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, owner of the world’s most confused and contradictory name, recently installed a new Provincial caucus leader.  He has been favorably (or is that unfavorably) compared to Donald Trump.  With The Donald’s impressive abilities, I think that the Ontario version is just a Mini-Me, even though he tips the scales (and SmartCars) at 300lbs.

He is everything that you would not want your daughter to marry – brash, impulsive, self-centered, ill-mannered, sexist, entitled.  He has little political experience.  He did run a multi-million dollar business in Toronto, but can he run the multi-Billion dollar Province of Ontario, where tact and restraint will be required?

Claiming that he didn’t have enough time for normal nomination protocols, he simply appointed his picked candidates in 13 ridings – so much for his promise of transparency in government.

In my local riding, we’ve had a P.C. representative for the last two terms.  He has been efficient, and caring of his constituents.  His name is Michael Harris.  Some years ago, Ontario had a P.C. Premier named Mike Harris. Now his son – also Mike Harris – wants to get into politics.

The P.C. Association played a dirty #metoo trick on our Michael Harris, dragging out years-old sexy tweets to some woman who never worked under him, and suspending him, to parachute in Mike Harris.  Even with the transparency, did you follow that?  Who’s on first??!

You Americans should try to get Trump to put up a wall at the Ontario border by Thursday.  If things go the way I fear they might, you may need it.  With the prevailing winds, most of the fallout should carry into Quebec.  I will not waste my ballot by not voting, nor refuse my ballot, to make a political statement.  I will not give it to the Libertarian or Green Party, one-trick-ponies.  I am in a quandary.

E was for Election.  Stop back in a couple of weeks to see if F will be for, “We’re F**ked.   😯

Flash Fiction #160

Red Chief

PHOTO PROMPT submitted by Courtney Wright. © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

FLYING HIGH

This isn’t Area 51.  This isn’t even The Excited States, home to the conspiracy theory, and Emperor Orange Foolius.  This is safe, staid, Southern Ontario.  How do you get ‘alien abduction?’

There are no footprints leading away.  Do you think he flew?

Wellll….

What do we do?

Whadya mean?

Do we call the Air Force?  Do we call the Mounties?

I say, do nothing!  If Bob don’t come back, I ain’t gonna miss him.  He’s such a pain in the ass, if aliens really did take him, in a day or so, they’ll bring Red Chief back, safe and sound.

***

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

Progressively Worse

Little Red Schoolhouse

It ain’t gettin’ any better, folks!

A mass shooting has got the lefties screaming, yet again, for a gun ban. As someone who has lived in Ontario, and was married when you needed an Act of Parliament to get a divorce, abortion was illegal, and murderers were executed, it is so saddening to watch how progressives have destroyed yet another generation of our children.

Kids today can only print their names. They participate in games with no winners, attend schools where failure isn’t an option, and in general, are not taught to compete, for fear of losing, at any aspect of life.

Without learning to deal with any type of failure, they no longer can deal with it; yet there comes a time when they do fail, and then they are too weak to move on past it.

Our kids’ ‘progressive’ world leaves them unprepared for life, and academia convinces them that, just as in sports, the workplace should have no winners or losers, and that everyone is entitled to the same paycheck, just as they were entitled to a ‘participated’ ribbon.

In their world of ‘no consequences’, their failure to ever hear the word “NO”, a life of no discipline, and no idea how to cope, leads to more frustrated ‘shooters’ who have not been taught how to live a competitive and disciplined life.

Does anyone expect anything else from this progressive philosophy, which is financially and morally destroying the West??!   😯

 

WOW #16

Beer Can

The Word Of the Week, if you can remember it when you sober up, is

Cannikin

Definitions for cannikin

a small can or drinking cup.
a small wooden bucket.

Origin of cannikin

Cannikin comes from Middle Dutch cannekijn, Dutch kanneken “small can.” The cann-, kann- element comes Middle Dutch kanne, Dutch kan, and is closely related to German Kanne, Old Norse kanna, Old English canne, and English can, all from Germanic kanna meaning “tankard, container, can.” It is possible that this Germanic word is a borrowing from Latin canna “reed, reed pipe, flute, cane,” which itself has a very long history going back through Greek kánna “reed, cane” to Semitic, e.g. Assyrian qanū “reed.” Nouns ending in the diminutive suffix -kin are not common in English, and most of those (e.g., catkin, gherkin, firkin, manikin) are of Dutch origin and date from the mid-16th and mid-17th centuries. Dutch -kin is related to German -chen, as in Liebchen “sweetheart” or Häuschen “little house, cottage.” Cannikin entered English in the mid-16th century.

Now that you’ve learned more English word-history than you really wanted, this post is about the different ways that Americans and Canadians buy beer, and go about getting drunk, soused, high, pissed, lit….etc., etc. English has a seeming infinity of words to describe intoxication,

If a Canadian, or at least one from Ontario, wants to buy beer, he buys a case – 24 beer at a time, and usually in bottles. Based on very limited personal research, mostly in New York State, Florida, Ohio and Michigan, I find that most Americans don’t buy beer by the case.  Even when they purchase 24 at a time, they get them in 4 sissysix-packs.  Damned amateurs, no real commitment.  At least most of them don’t drink it with a straw.

Canned beer generally outsells bottled. They don’t break when you drunkenly accidently drop one at a tail-gate party or Barbecue, and they won’t flatten your ATV’s tires later, when you fling them out your pickup’s windows.  When you’re fishing and drinking, be kind to the environment.  Don’t just toss the empties out of the boat.  Fill them with water, and sink them to the bottom.

Mind your Ps and Qs.  The British still drink beer by the 20 oz. pints and 40 oz.quarts.  It’s getting better, but quarts don’t get warm while you drink them, because much of the beer they serve is still unrefrigerated.  If any of you Americans want to see how beer is really drunk (and the patrons are really drunk, too) c’mon up to Kitchener during our Oktoberfest, and watch it guzzled from one-liter (wimpy 32 oz.American quart) steins.  The beer has a head tonight.  You’ll have a head tomorrow.

Hans Haus

A To Z – History And Hi-Way Market

Challenge2017   Letter H

About 125 years ago, just at the turn of the 20th Century, in the heyday of Ontario manufacturing, Kitchener was not yet a city.  It was still a town, a booming, industrial town, full of Germanic Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch, called Berlin.

A bit over a mile (a long way in those days) north of ‘City Hall’, toward Waterloo our Twin City, two companies were established, and two buildings were erected. The nearest was Kaufman Footwear, making slippers, shoes and boots.  A square, three-storey structure went up.  Over the next 50 years, three more additions produced a plant a half a block wide and a city block long, right where the main street crossed the old highway.  At its height, it employed hundreds of men (and later women).

I applied for a job as a lab assistant in 1965, when I first came here, but was turned down. I worked for Kaufman for two years, 25 years later, after they’d moved storage and most of the manufacturing to a new plant at the edge of town.

Another block further north, a rubber company was formed. This was the plant I retired from.  It began as Merchant’s Rubber, then became Dominion Rubber, then Uniroyal bought it, and later amalgamated to become Goodrich/Uniroyal, though it never produced tires.

The asshole brother-in-law worked there for almost 25 years. After he left, I joined it as Becker’s Lay-Tech, then it became Perstorp Components, and finally, Collins and Aikman drove it and its sister plant down the street where my brother worked for Dominion Textile in 1965/66, into bankruptcy.  During its Uniroyal heyday, there were 3600 people working around three shifts.  It didn’t grow as neatly as Kaufman.  Over 50 years there were 13 ‘buildings’ which became another half-block wide X block-long X 4-storey plant.

A mile further north, in the open fields and meadows between the two cities, dozens – hundreds – of stout little homes were built to house all the men who walked or biked to work at these plants. The wife was born in a sturdy brick house, three doors north of the imaginary boundary of Waterloo.

This neighborhood was once called the North Ward, home to the blue-collar families who worked in these factories. The North Ward is slipping away.  The area is called Mid-Town now, and it’s the up-and-coming place for young professionals to move to.

Of course, not everyone in the subdivision could be a mindless plant drone. Her father built a barber shop a block and a half from the Uniroyal plant, and raised 9 kids by cutting hair for men going to or from work.

Two nearby young brothers tried plant work, but found they were more interested in installing and adjusting machinery, so they started a millwrighting/rigging firm in their dad’s garage, to service the two firms. Years later they built a facility further out of town than the Kaufman plant.

I worked for them for two years, and the engineer down the hall, was the guy who didn’t hire me at Kaufman. The structure is now the plastics plant where the son works, and they rent warehouse/assembly space at the nearby ex-Kaufman building, where I once cut shoe/boot parts.

The man whose Portuguese wife sent him to work with delicious sandwiches, started providing them for a friend – or two – or more – soon dozens. He quit the company and started his own catering business, eventually stocking the vending machines, and running the three-shift, hot meal cafeteria in the plant he no longer worked at.

The greatest success story was the local grocer. He also couldn’t take the plant work, but had an inspiration.  If it was a mile walk for the men to go to work, it was a lot further trudge, dragging children, to go shopping.

He turned his front living-room into a little ‘corner store’, when such a thing didn’t exist locally, and stocked it with the essentials. GENIUS!  He had a captive audience.  Soon, he expanded the ‘living-room,’ and then added on….and added on again.

Then he had another flash of genius. In the late 1950s, more families owned cars, and the rise of shopping malls was beginning.  In order to get around an hours-of-opening bylaw, a mile outside the city limit, he built Hi-Way Market.  In the days of two-lane highways, you could just drive out to the A & W, and turn left across the road.  Today, it’s two exit ramps and an access road.

This was the Costco/Price Club of its day, 20 years before Costco was born. He erected a huge big barn of a building, as big as any Costco.  Like Costco, he sold everything, and much of it in bulk – canned and boxed goods, produce, meat, bakery, clothing, hardware, electrical.  He had a sit-down lunch bar where both the wife and her brother worked, and a postal, and a banking facility.

There were actually two floors, but much of the upstairs was used for storage and staff/administration. He put a photography department up there, which later went independent, and still exists in town.  Aside from the main-floor diner counter, he tried a slightly upscale restaurant upstairs.  It became famous in the region, as The Charcoal Steakhouse.  It built a fancy new home a block further up the street recently, when the original building was torn down.

So much history! So much local commerce emerged from the wife’s neighborhood.  The Kaufman plant is now a preppy downtown condo, and my C&A plant had a tiara added and is home to a bunch of Google gremlins.

Jeep goiing up

And so, the ugly duckling has become a swan.    😉

Google Building