Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Ruler

Canada became metric in 1973….  Or did it??!

So, there was Canada, wedged between England and the United States.  We measured things with the Imperial System – all except where the British 160 ounce gallons, the 40 ounce quarts, and the 20 ounce pints became the wimpy, American Lite 128 oz. gallons, 32 oz. quarts, and 16 oz. pints – and except where you bought a pint of beer, and it was only 12 ounces.

In “Metric” Canada, you can’t buy a pound of butter; you get a 454 gram block.  The wife’s Not-Legally-Pint and Quart glass canning jars are 473ML, and 946ML.  A 12 American ounce can of Pepsi is 355ML in Canada.  At least Canada is not alone in this No-Man’s-Land.  I recently found that the serving ‘Standard’ for beer in Australia is 256ML – or, an 8-ounce cup.  The only time an Aussie bar ever serves just 8 ounces, is to some opal-miner’s 10-year-old daughter.

The weather forecast on the radio doesn’t say that we’ll get an inexact 2 to 3 centimeters of snow, it says that we’ll receive 2 ½ centimeters, because the old guy at Environment Canada still says that it’ll snow an inch.

I thought that all this back and forth might confuse immigrants who are thoroughly embedded in the Metric System, but the Polish women at the EuroFoods store seem to be just as capable of dishing out 300 grams of sliced salami, as they are ¾ of a pound.

We’ve only been at this Metric thing for 45 years now, and with typical Canadian lack of determination, we still haven’t fully committed to it.  This is about the softest conversion that I’ve ever seen.  I wonder if there’s some type of Metric Viagra that could firm things up a bit.  😆

As usual, I hope to see you here again in a couple of days.  Now, let’s see.  In Metric, that’s….  😳  Oh well, come back whenever you like.

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You Better, You Better, You Bet

coke-vs-pepsi

O Great God CONFORMITY, give us the power to make everyone else, just like us!

conformity

Yea, verily, in the beginning was the EGO. And the EGO begat an Opinion.  And the Opinion fed upon the EGO, and the EGO raised up the Opinion, until it was greater than Creation itself.

fixing-others

This was going to be a light, fluffy piece about the cola wars and pizza, until I realized how serious and ongoing this idea actually is.

The very history of the human race is a history of those with any kind of power, forcing the rest to agree with their often-incorrect opinions.

It was already old 4000 years ago, when Moses climbed a mountain. When he finally came back down with the Ten Commandments, the first thing he and his cadre of cronies did, was disobey Commandment number four – Thou Shalt Not Kill – and executed 3000 Israelites without a chance to recant, for holding an opinion that wasn’t even officially prohibited before Moses left.

The Inquisition was 500 years of torture and murder of anyone who dared stray from a very narrow religious path. The Crusades were a series of long distance religious disputes.  The Thirty Years War was not fought for riches or territory, but for the right to impose opposing Christian dogma on individuals, cities and nations.

Towns near the ever-changing line of combat could have their religious allegiances forcibly changed from Catholic, to Protestant, and back to Catholic, half a dozen times in a year. One town was known to have a number of….weirdos – vegetarians, artists, free-thinkers, Gnostics – heretics of the worst sort.  When Tilley and his forces arrived, he gave the order, “Kill them all!  Let God sort them out.”

Every man, woman and child; every dog, cat, pig and chicken was slaughtered. The town was burned and pulled down, razed to the ground till no stone stood upon another.  Thousands of innocents were slaughtered, just to ensure the elimination of a few who held contrary opinions.

Too often I’ve heard the Coke is better than Pepsi claim, or listened to gearheads argue whether Ford or Chevy is better.  When I researched for my P Is For Pizza post I was amazed at the vehemence of opinions.  Theirs was right, and everybody else was wrong.  Thick crust!  No, thin crust!  New York style!  New York sucks, Chicago style rules!

This might be understandable, if all people, and all colas, were the same, and some folks were willfully disagreeing, just to be disagreeable. To some people’s taste buds (mine included), Pepsi is refreshing, and Coke is too sweet.  It makes no sense to hold forth on whether Doc Martins are better shoes than UGGS, to a person in a wheelchair.

Other than my (often) aforementioned ‘Ego And Insecurity’, I don’t understand the driving need of so many people to foist their opinions upon others. ‘Live and Let Live’, or the Biblical, ‘Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto You’ doesn’t seem to enter into the equation.

I know that none of my gentle readers would force their beliefs on others, but I’ll bet that you have seen, and been peeved by, all too many who have.  Anybody want to cite specific examples??

Triviana T’ree

Please keep hands and feet inside the blog.  Do not attempt to exit until the post has come to a complete stop.  The following are a few thoughts which whirl through my head, there not being much between my ears to slow them down.

I was at a supermarket with the wife today.  At the end of one row, there was a plastic box with a sign saying “Seasonal Recipes, Try One.”  I took one of the sheets, and, sure enough, there was a great recipe for Barbecued Snow, another for Sweet and Sour Snowballs, and instructions for Baked Icicles, promising that they’ll come out soft and juicy.  For anyone needing basic ingredients, we’ll be happy to ship them to you.  I have a distribution system stretching from KayJai, in the east, to NotesToPonder in the west.

We had a couple of severe wind storms come through the Region recently.  Several trees in LadyRyl’s compound, and others in the neighborhood, lost large branches, or were toppled.  City and private crews have been cleaning up.  Smaller limbs go through a chipper, and larger stuff is cut and piled.  Free mulch and firewood!  All you can haul away.  One tree, about a block from Ryl’s, left a stump beside the road, almost three feet across, and six feet high.  Slowly but surely, someone has been turning it into the bottom of a Totem pole, a most handsome-looking Eagle.  I’ll grab a photo, and add to a post later.

In an ongoing contest to prove which one of us is dumber, I asked MapQuest.CA to find me a place near SightNBytes, in Newfoundland, Canada.  I was presented with Newfoundland, Tenn., U.S. bloody A!  It’s about three miles down the road from a maximum-security Federal prison.  “Do not stop!  Do not pick up hitchhikers!”

I’ve written about being (almost) smarter than the old, wooden, two-legged clothes pins.  I met their Mensa relatives recently.  Made from the heavy, recycled plastic that is used to produce some patio/lawn furniture, these things are claimed indestructible, and cheap at 39 cents each.  I guess everything old is new again, as more women (and men?) hang laundry on clotheslines.

Did you drink cherry Coke when you were younger??  Does anybody besides me still drink it?  My favorite fire-water is actually Pepsi, but, it’s like “Kleenex.”  It’s all Kleenex unless someone specifies otherwise.

I was introduced to cherry-cola at about the age of 15, back when restaurants had soda-fountains.  You could pay a little extra for a shot of the cherry soda syrup in your “glass” glass of draft (draught, for Canadians, especially KayJai) cola.  For at least 20 years, as supermarket choices expanded, I’ve been buying bottles of cherry syrup, and adding it to many of my glasses of Pepsi.

Coke sells Cherry-Coke in cans.  I’m not sure that Pepsi does.  Pepsi does sell cans with a touch of lime, that son, Shimoniac, likes occasionally.  Partly to control my weight, I often don’t want 12 ounces, and custom-mix a small glass, from a 2-liter bottle.

A little over a year ago, BrainRants mentioned Sriracha sauce on his blog.  I’d never seen or heard of it.  Less than a month later it showed up at my supermarket.  At first, it was expensive, and rare, $6.99 a bottle – liters – to satisfy Canadian packing requirements.  Soon, most stores carried it, and the price went down.

Suddenly, it was as common as water, and less expensive.  My store had a giant, end-of-aisle display, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of bottles in an 8-foot-high pile, clearing at 99 ¢/ea.  I first saw a small store in Charleston, SC, which sold nothing but a wide range of hot sauces.  We recently got the first in our area, at the Farmers’ Market.  The wife treated me to an order of poutine today.  (All questions about What The Hell Is Poutine??! faithfully answered)  I drizzled some Sriracha on it.

I went to put in the ¢ sign above, and realized that electronic keyboards no longer have them.  They have the dollar sign, but not the cents.  This happened long before Canada decided to eliminate the penny.  The wife threatened offered to teach me how to add it to my text, but I feared it would be cheaper and easier just to hire a performance artist to go to each of your houses and put it in.  Silly me, it’s not hard at all.  Two different ways, press alt 0162, or control, slash, c.  Now I gotta write more about cents.

In my continuing acquisition of interesting names, I met a knife-maker at the Detroit show named Bobby L. Toole, not O’Toole, merely Toole.  I haven’t researched just how rare the name is, but I’ve never heard or read of another.  While the name may be white-bread, Irish, the holder definitely isn’t.  Being politically correct, I will not mention the joke about him being a Masai-man, so black you could melt him down to make hockey pucks from.

Another maker with a name almost as handsome as his knives, was Doun T. Rose II, whose father had as much ego and as little imagination as Efrem Zimbalist Senior.  I gotta kick my standard transmissioned research up into second gear, to find out about him and Bobby.  He claimed that Doun is a Scottish name, and it’s always interesting to see what my skirt-wearing ancestors were up to.  You know why Scotsmen wear kilts??!  So the sheep don’t hear the zipper.

I put this post together Saturday, August 24th.  I don’t mind (much) that they’re playing football.  I’m not surprised to get back
from Canadian Tire, where Halloween costumes are available for sale, but Saturday’s paper had the first picture of someone playing hockey.  Summer, oh Summer, where hast thou gone?  Probably hiding behind my snow shovel, bah, humbug!

Yay! Olympics!

When I was about eight years old, my father bought a camper-trailer.  Unlike today’s lightweight units, this one was built like a small shed, heavy as sin.  Being trailering tyros, we took along four full-sized concrete blocks to support the corners.  Thank something, that the days of heavy, powerful cars were not past.  I don’t know how we pulled that monster, but from then till I was 14, we went somewhere every summer.

I need to clean out the paint locker at the back of my mind and offer up another story of how a small-town boy had his horizons widened a bit.  In the meantime, this story isn’t about a trip.  It’s about who we saw when our trip was interrupted.

This was the summer of 1953, or ’54.  We had been camping here and there for almost two weeks.  We were moving from north to south, somewhere just east of Toronto.  We almost reached a main east/west highway and were stopped by a Provincial Police officer.  He told us we’d have to go back and around another way, or find a place to park at the side of the road until “She” went through.  She, who??  Queen Elizabeth, of course!  He took pity on a family of campers, and told us how to get down to the little city ahead, and where to park, but insisted that we could not cross the main road until after the parade.

We followed his directions, and decided that, if we were stranded, we might as well get a vantage-point on the sidewalk.  Mom and Dad piled up at the back of the crowd.  Mom was 4’ 11”, I don’t know if she saw anything.  Dad was 6’, he might have.  I was about eight or nine.  I just insinuated myself through the crush until I was right down front.  The crowd ran right to the curb, and wasn’t allowing any room, even for a little kid, so I just stepped off the curb and stood in front.  As the Queen and Prince Philip rolled regally through town, I was only eight feet away from her.  Big F…..ng Deal!  Can we get back to camping now?

It happened again last Friday night.  The wife and I went down to the Rec room, to watch Jay Leno, and there was that damned woman interrupting my planned enjoyment again.  The Tonight show was delayed by an hour for a broadcast of the opening of the Olympic Games.  Well, it wasn’t just her.  I got to see David Beckham, a man who makes his living on dry land, row his boat up the Thames and pass off a fancy cigarette lighter to some other guy, who gave it to a passel of pre-teen arsonists, who managed to start a big fire on the ground.

Get the feeling I’m none too impressed, yet??  How observant!  Actually, as shows go, it was a decent show.  The pacing fireworks as Bend-it’s boat raced up the river, how the individual copper leaves on the ground rose on gas-pipes, to amalgamate and form the Cauldron, the fireworks that went off after the flame was lit, all of these were grand theater.  At least they went off in a timed display, not like San Diego’s 10-second, Fourth of July, boom and fizzle.  But theater was all it was.  Bread and circuses for the masses.  Proof of this is the fact that responsibility for the show was given to a Hollywood director.

Owned, sponsored and controlled by multi-national corporations, it reminded me of the movie Demolition Man.  Do you know that attendees’ clothing style was restricted and controlled?  If you were wearing a tee-shirt mentioning Pepsi-Cola, you would be prevented from entering, because Coca-Cola bought all soft-drink promotional rights?

Perhaps it’s because I learned early that I can’t compete, but I’ve always been more of a fan of co-operation.  For every competition, there’s only one winner, and all the rest of 203 countries, are just a bunch of losers.  It’s all just a feel-good societal ego sop.  Millions of dollars poured into each country’s athletes’ training and transportation.  Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of hours spent training for this soap opera, and when it’s all over, even if “we” garner a few fake medals, not a job has been created, our GNP has not increased, nor the national debt reduced, and banks still need bailing.

Us vs. Them prevails.  Tribalist chest thumping.  I wouldn’t be so cynical if people watched simply to see top-level athletic performance.  They’ll tell you that’s why they watch, but, the same folks who haven’t even driven past a swimming pool in the last four years, are suddenly experts on synchronized three-meter diving.

These games are supposed to promote international fellowship but their very competitive format prevents it.  It all boils down to, “Our team doctor is better at masking performance-enhancing drugs than your team doctor.”

Some of the “sports” that are getting in are just ridiculous.  One person synchronized swimming?  I could send over a dictionary so they can look up the meaning of synchronized.  And the little girls running around on gym mats, waving sticks with ribbons on them??!  Are they just so chi-chi that they got kicked out of drum-majorette school?  Trampoline?!  I thought the kids down the street were just playing.  Good Lord, what’s next, Tiddly-Winks and pie baking?

Ah well, it is the middle of the summer, and there’s almost nothing else on television.  Everyone can watch what they want but, I don’t watch chick-flicks.  If I watch something by a big movie director, it better have some adult language, rock-‘em-sock-‘em Kung Fu action, car chases, explosions, and maybe a little gratuitous nudity in it.  Why is Victoria fully clothed??!

I’ve kept my eyes tightly closed for a week now.  It’s half-way over.  Soon I won’t have to worry about this meaningless display for another four years.  What’s that??  What Winter Olympics in two years??  Will it include competitive Sno-Cone Serving?  Where’s a good movie when I need one?

Olio

This is going to be another “Jerry Seinfeld” blog, a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of nothing.  I have put out a couple of posts recently where no-one posted a comment.  I felt a little abandoned, till I checked my stats and realized that 25 people had read each of them.  They were (gentle) feeling blogs, not thinking, or feeling-strongly-enough-to-comment blogs.

It gave me an insight into what we bitch about, why, and why not.  Put out a post about world hunger or nuclear disarmament, and the ho-hum scale doesn’t even light up.  Rants had one about, Do you eat the heels of bread loaves?  Sandylikeabeach put up one about, Do you put the toilet paper over or under?  Another blogger asked, Which is better, Coke or Pepsi?, and in each case, the comment thread went so long I thought I was going to have to put up another monitor, to catch the overflow.

Subjects like world hunger and nuclear disarmament are too big and complex for most of us to have an informed opinion about.  Even if we did, we are too small to influence the powers that can make a difference.  However, toilet paper, bread crusts and Pepsi are parts of our very immediate life, and ranting can make a difference.

Savorthefolly felt that a couple of my posts were too blunt, and thought that they should be edited for more subtlety and finesse.  Like Rants, I’ve never been big on subtlety and finesse, and the older and more cynical I become, the less likely I am to believe in the benefits of using them.  My readership here would probably appreciate them, but, the habits of lifetime exposure to the great unwashed tend to ensure Sound and Fury, Signifying…. wake up and think, damn it.

I promised Savor to explain the similarities with mule training.  A doctor from New Hamster decided to retire somewhere warmer.  He fancied himself a bit of a gentleman farmer, so he bought a bit of land in Alabama.  Since this was to be a hobby farm, he didn’t want to use a tractor, but instead wanted to own a mule.  He asked around and found another farmer willing to sell him one, but was told that it wasn’t trained for farm work.  However, the owner knew a good trainer and arranged for the man to pick up the mule the next day, to deliver it to the doctor’s, and begin training.

When the mule and the trainer arrived the next day, one of the first questions the doctor asked was, “How do you train a mule?”  “Love, consideration and respect” was the answer.  The doctor showed him to a suitable area, and went back to the house, promising to return in a few minutes, to watch the proceedings.  When he got back, he found the trainer with a big chunk of 2 X 4, beating the mule between the eyes.  “What are you doing?” he yelled.  “I thought you used love, consideration and respect.”  “I do!” the trainer replied, “but first, you have to get their attention.”  That subtle enough?

Speaking of subtle, if you turn on the lights, the roaches will hide.  I hear that the New York City Board of Education, having had the light of newspaper and internet ridicule shined on their all-you-can-put-up-with, buffet table of No Child Left Uncosseted, has withdrawn their ridiculous list of unacceptable ideas.  I guess they’ve decided to let their little darlings learn to deal with reality like the rest of us.

Sharp left turn!  Follow closely!  Don’t get lost kids!  I went with my son recently to a second-hand bookstore.  I didn’t want anything specific, so, as he searched the stacks for his treasures, I looked at a few things that caught my attention.  I took down an old English hard-cover book and opened it.  A small piece of paper fluttered to the floor.  I bent over to look at it, and gently picked it up and put it in my shirt pocket.

Apparently used as a bookmark, it was an English bus ticket, issued about 1941 or ’42.  It’s older than I am.  It was for a bus company in Shropshire, just east of the Wales border.  When the Nazis started bombing, a lot of industries were moved to the west side to protect them.  This bus company already existed but, with the influx of workers and armed forces to move around, suddenly blossomed.  The fare was one shilling, actually a bit expensive, but supported by a war-time economy.  Hand stamped on the back is a notice that reads, “If not factory worker or armed forces, please do not use the bus between 4 PM and 7 PM.”

What a delicate piece of historical ephemera, so easily ruined, or lost forever.  I have mounted it in a small photo frame to protect it.  The stamped notice on the back cannot be seen but, there are frames with two pieces of thin glass for items like this.  Neither of two local museums are interested in it because of geographical and era restrictions.  I hope, one day, to ship it off to the War Museum in Ottawa.  It’s amazing what you can see, when you keep your eyes, and mind, open.