The Rest Of The Story

Llama

….so I says to him, if Bob can walk his albino python up and down the hall on a leash, why can’t I bring in my llama?? It’s an emotional-support animal too!

There’s a game where you and a friend (or a cell phone) are on an elevator with only a floor or two to go, and someone else gets on. You make some mind-boggling statement, like the one above, and then get off at your floor.

WE ALL WANT TO KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!

Some of you, especially Americans, may have heard the great Paul Harvey’s radio broadcast of that name, where he tells ‘What Else Happened.’  He had a tale of a male British teen with a pure, sweet voice, who sang in the school choir.

One day, he was viciously elbowed in the face during a basketball game, and completely bit off almost an inch of his somewhat long tongue. A doctor sewed up the end of the rest, but told him that he would never sing again.  After he graduated, he became Mick Jagger – lead singer for The Rolling Stones – and that’s the reason for the Rolling Stone logo.

Back in the Stone Ages, when airplanes still had propellers, a young American man accompanied a Catholic bishop on a business trip to Chicago. As they neared O’Hare Airport, the plane was struck by lightning in a powerful storm, and a couple of the engines stopped.

The Captain came on the intercom and said that they might have to ditch. In the row behind the young man were a couple with an 8-year-old girl.  She began screaming and crying, further panicking other passengers.  The young man undid his seatbelt, and turned around, kneeling on his seat.  He began to make strange, funny faces at the little girl, until she, and surrounding passengers, were chuckling and laughing at him.

The engines restarted, they safely landed in Chicago, and Red Skelton went on to a very successful career in comedy.

I’ve had a couple of these cases where I was able to find out the whole story. During my late teens, my younger brother carried on a summer romance with a girl whose family owned a cottage on our beach.  She and her mother stayed all summer, and her father drove in every Friday night after work.

One time, she went home with him for the week. My brother looked forward to her return on Friday night.  When he arrived, she was shaken and sobbing.  Her father had run over and killed, an Indian on the highway through the adjoining reservation.

Later in the summer, I was hanging out with a lad that my Mother had warned me to stay away from. He told me the story of, earlier in the summer, going out to the Res (already risky) and getting drunk with a group of Indian teens – unpredictable, and far riskier.

They were walking beside the highway, facing traffic, when he stumbled into one of them. Instantly angry and irritated, the guy gave him a great shove, and he landed in the ditch.  The force of the push knocked the other drunken teen over backward….right into the path of the oncoming car.

I took my car to a mechanic for service. He also worked on the personal car of an Ontario Provincial Police officer.  His patrol area was down the big highway, almost to the airport on the edge of Toronto.  He told my tech a story.

One night, around 3 AM, he was sitting in a turn-around, with his radar gun aimed back up the road. At that time, the highway was almost empty.  Suddenly, a set of headlights appeared.  That in itself is unusual, because lights usually start as a distant glow, and increase.

The radar readout increases and gets more accurate as the vehicle gets nearer. The speed limit is 100KmH (about 62.25 American MPH)  He watched, stupefied….50 – 100 – 150 – 200 – 225 – 250 – 275 – 300.  Just as the blur passed him, the screen read 304KmH!

He thought about starting the cruiser….and then just shook his head.  He considered radioing for assistance, and shook it again.

About a month later, another friend of the mechanic dropped in for a visit. He owns the ‘Robin Masters’ Ferrari from Magnum P.I. because he’s a computer-tech genius.  He fixes big computer systems when they crash, and he’s on-call 24/7/365.  Calls can come at any time, and from Toronto to Taiwan.  Losses can be thousands of dollars per hour, so time is of the essence.

He was wakened about 2:00AM, with a computer-crash in Dubai. A chartered plane would be waiting at the Toronto airport.  Get there ASAP!!  He told his buddy that the highway was almost empty, so he really let’er out.  “It’s a good thing that there were no cops out that night, because I was really flying.  Musta been doin’ almost 300 K.”

And now you know ‘The Rest Of The Story.’

Come back in a couple of days, and I’ll tell you another fascinating story.   🙂

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Little Snowflake

About 25 years ago, the wife and I went to our first knife show.  It was in Detroit.  I had found out about it from a knifemakers’ magazine I had subscribed to.  Raising the kids, we had not been on many trips, for many years.  We had driven seven hours to vacation at a lake where the brother-in-law liked to fish.  We took a one-year-old and a four-year-old to Niagara Falls, as my parents had taken my brother and me, and we drove a hundred miles each way, every month to visit my parents.

We had not been away by ourselves, and had not been out of the country for over twenty years.  I reminded MasterCard of that fact, the month we got a charge for a J.C.Penny store in Buffalo.  We could afford a weekend away, and needed it.

There might have been online map sites, but back that far, we hadn’t even bought a dial-up connection.  High-speed internet was still only a gleam in my computer’s eye.  I relied on tour-books and maps from CAA.  That’s AAA, with a Maple Leaf on it.  I found a cheap motel a quarter-mile from the expensive hotel where the knife show was being held, right across I-94 from the airport.  While I assured the wife that there were 5 or 6 hotels/motels within a stone’s throw, she insisted that I phone in a reservation.  I told the clerk we’d arrive around 8 or 9 PM.

The show back then was held near the end of February.  I got off work Friday at 3 PM, loaded the wife and luggage into the car and headed for the bank, to get American cash.  We exited the bank on a clear, and still sunny day.  Just as I got into the car, one little snowflake hit my nose.

Soon we were zipping along Highway 401, Ontario’s answer to Interstates.  It started to cloud over and a bit more snow fell.  Thirty miles along there was a clot of cars by the center median.  I buzzed past at 110 Km/h (70 MPH) and realized there were two stuck in the snow, one of them upside-down.  Perhaps I should slow down a bit, first to 100, then to 90, as the snow got more serious.

We were listening to local radio stations for weather reports as we moved.  I had just passed London, ON when the radio report said that the Ontario Provincial Police had closed the 401 “at London.”  90 Km/h became 80, and then 70!  The snow thickened, and the traffic thinned out.  Soon I could see no other vehicles in either direction, speed down to 60, then 50.  See other vehicles?  I could barely see the edge of the road.

As we crept along, debating what to do, finally I saw a big-rig slowly overtaking me.  He’s got more lights and a better angle on the road, so I slowed down and let him pass me.  It was a Verspeeten Transport truck, from back where the car was upside-down.  With his headlights, and him breaking trail for me, we’re back to moving at 65/70.  I followed him for miles and miles.  We’ve had a soft spot for Verspeeten ever since, and always look for them.

Near an overpass, a car was way down in a deep ditch.  We both stopped and checked it out, but the driver must have climbed the hill to the crossroad.  The trucker told me he had to turn off at Chatham, and I would be on my own, but time and distance had broken the storm.  The snow was abating.

When he finally pulled off, I continued.  Just as we passed the Chatham interchange, the new radio station announced that the O.P.P. had closed the highway, “at Chatham.”  Dead-of-night dark, no other traffic and over a foot of snow on the road, we ventured onward.  More than another hour of driving till we reached the outskirts of Windsor, at the border.

Just as we pulled off the highway, onto city streets, the radio told us that the plows were going out to clear the road, and the highway had been closed at Windsor, till they were finished.  It was the fastest we ever crossed the border.  Two drivers from Windsor and I wanted to cross the Ambassador Bridge, and the border guards were happy for the business.

When we got to the Detroit side, the snow had stopped, and the Americans had cleared most of it away – except on the traffic signs.  This had been a wet, clingy snow, and every sign was coated.  I managed to get onto I-94, and headed towards the airport.  My little CAA map gave me no idea of scale.

I had no idea how big metro-Detroit was.  I drove and drove and had no idea where I was.  I finally pulled off I-94 on an exit that seemed to go only into a Ford plant.  I booted a street-sign to knock the snow off it, and checked my map.  I was still only ¾ of the way to the motel.  Back on the road, I soon found where I was supposed to be.

The huge snowstorm had closed the airport.  There were hundreds of stranded passengers.  I pulled into the motel, and went in to register.  I wound up at the end of a row of 9 or 10 people.  Each one in turn would approach the counter and ask if they could get a room for the night.  The clerk would tell each one in turn that they were full up, and there were no rooms available.  And yet the next in line would step up, and ask the same dumb question, and get the same resigned answer.

Finally, it was my turn.  I stepped forward and noted the look on the clerk’s face.  Oh no, not another one!  I pulled a piece of paper from my pocket and placed it in front of her.  “My name is “John Smith”.  I have a reservation.  This is my confirmation number.”  And the face lit up, finally someone she could help, who wouldn’t bitch.  The wife couldn’t resist an, “I told you so.” about phoning in the reservation.

I checked the registration form later.  I officially checked in at 12:07 AM.  The estimated 8 or 9 PM arrival time was considerably delayed.  Our hoped-for 3 to 4 hour drive had taken over eight hours.  One little snowflake on my nose before we started was fun.  It was when he brought a couple of trillion of his friends, and ganged up on me that things got a little hairy.

Attawapiskat

The title of this post is a Cree Indian word meaning, “If white man and red man co-operate, we can really f**k things up!”  Attawapiskat is really the name of an Indian reservation on the western shore of James Bay, in Northern Ontario.  It’s so far north, you can barely see The Harem Master’s back door.

In colonial times things were often done that we are now not proud of, nor happy with the results.  The white men gathered all the Indians, who had made a subsistence living from hunting and fishing, and said, “In return for stealing all your land, you have to live on this reservation, but we will take care of you.”  For over a hundred years the government has thrown money at them, actually, a lot of money, but last year we found that sending money wasn’t the same as *taking care of them*.

Stories leaked to the press about Indians living in squalor, in moldy shacks, and tents, up where temperatures can get down to minus forty.  It doesn’t matter whether Celsius or Fahrenheit, at that level, they’re the same thing.  The white men stuck them on swampy ground.  They have no reliable water supply.  They have no sewage system.  People, especially children, are getting sick from contaminated water.

This is a little town of less than 2000 people.  White men taught the Indians how to live in a town like the white men do.  White men gave them money to support themselves, but white men didn’t teach them how to manage the money.  This is like Jeff Foxworthy talking about giving money to rednecks.  You just know that they’re going to buy a fancy belt-buckle, and an Elvis, Jack Daniels decanter.

In the five years from 2006 to 2011, the Federal Government gave ninety million dollars to the band.  Besides that income, they are receiving royalties from the recently opened Canadian diamond mines, so why are so many living in crappy conditions?  The government has tied its own hands.  All monies are paid to the band, and the government is forced to remain at arm’s length, and cannot tell them how to administrate it.

This town of 2000 has three chiefs, or mayors, each earning $100,000/year.  The tiny town has 18 councillors, each earning (well, let’s say receiving) $90,000/year, as well as other well-paid bureaucrats.  It’s unknown how many are in it, but the school board is also fully paid.  There’s a funny story about the school board.  The school also was full of mould, and derelict, so it was pulled down….and replaced with an arena.  And, now that they’ve got a new arena, they bought a Resurfice ice-machine, made in nearby Elmira, for it.  With all the extras, this machine cost $96,089.55, but it cost almost that much again, to have it shipped north.  It got trucked to Cochrane, sent by train to Moosonee, and sent by barge to the town.  The band already has a 1997 model in the arena they now plan to pull down.  They claim that income from bingo games paid for the new machine, more government money from a Southern Ontario casino paid to get it to Moosonee, and the barge company hauled it for free.

Despite the outrageous shipping-included costs of everything, these people are status Indians.  They pay no taxes, no income tax, no sales tax!  Their $100,000/yr. is like our $200,000/yr.  Other than the few local streets, they are two hundred miles from the nearest road, and yet there are a number of beautiful big sport-utes in evidence.  $40,000 to buy and $50,000 to ship, and gasoline at $4/liter to run them.  The government sent an investigator north to have a look at the situation, but he was perceived as a white man, interfering in Indian affairs, and was forced to leave.  He reported what little he found to a Federal judge, who finally ruled that there were no financial improprieties.

People were outraged; surely there are improprieties – but it’s the hands-off regulation again.  Within their community, they are allowed to make their own rules.  If they want to select three chiefs, if they want to pay them, and the bureaucrats, and the school board, if they want to tear down the school and put up an arena c/w brand-new ice machine, that’s their business.

I wrote recently about a man who asked if it was moral to kill pigs, just so that we could eat bacon.  Here is another place where it seems to be a good idea to ask the question, “Is it moral to revise the statute, so that the government can step in and take care of those who cannot take care of themselves and those they are responsible for?”  It’s the thin edge of the wedge.  I don’t trust white bureaucrats any more than Indians do.  President Ronald Reagan said the most dangerous words were, “I’m from the government.  I’m here to help.”  And yet, can we stand by and do nothing?

This situation spills over into other social areas.  Charities say that they are having increased trouble collecting funds for worthy causes.  Canada sent $25 million to Haiti after the earthquake and still the people have no homes, no food, no safe source of water.  What we do see is even more politicians driving Cadillac Escalades past the shanty-towns.  What we see is Somali war-lords taking Red Cross food before it reaches the people who need it.  I feel extremely sorry for the northern Cree, the common Haitians and the poverty-stricken Somalis, but why should I donate, when I see that my money will not help those in need?

It took several hundred years in England and Europe to establish the concepts of social equality and concern for others.  We can only hope that other sections of the world learn faster.  The Canadian troops have returned from Afghanistan.  BrainRants is still there with folks who are trying to teach them better manners, but it’s a long road.  We can’t even get rid of three petty warlords chiefs in Ontario, how can we change the entire middle-east?  Far too many outside North America think in hierarchies, first me, then my family, then my clan, then my village, then my valley.  Equality, democracy and concern for others are a long way down the scale.  It’s sad, but it’s a fact of global life, that we can only hope and try to change.