That Fills The Bill

SW - 1

SW - 2

My recent host and hostess were not interested in money.

I took along a few foreign bills, and odd coinage, to show them.  There was some vague interest in the mis-cut American $1 bill, the somewhat rare American $2, and some chuckles over the ‘Slick Willy’ Bill Clinton $3 fake bill.  The lack of interest may have been because he’s a soldier who has been posted all over the world, and seen much of these firsthand.

BAF - 1

BAF - 2

The interest ramped up when I showed the collection to her younger son and his girlfriend.  We played a game of, ‘You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.’  Only partly because his step-father is a soldier, he has amassed a promising collection.  Going through my catalogue, we found a British Armed Forces, £1 occupational scrip which Rants might have been interested in.

india - 1

india - 2

He kindly offered to let me take any of his bills and coins, because he merely keeps them, not mounts and displays, as I do.  He had 16 or more countries’ bills.  I could have asked for all of it, but restrained myself to three countries that he had duplicates of.

sri lanka - 1

sri lanka - 2

As luck would have it, they’re all from the same general area of the world.  The Indian 10 Rupee, and the Sri Lankan 20 Rupee, are both paper, and printed about the year 2000.  The Singaporean $2 is newer, and made of polymer plastic with all kinds of security features that prevented me from taking a photocopy of it.  I did my usual money laundering, and washed and ironed them.  Singapore had a hard fold in the center, which even mild heat wouldn’t flatten completely out.

Singapore - 1

Singapore - 2

Pawing through his coins, suddenly I had British King George V looking up at me from a large coin.  I knew it wasn’t Canadian.  Might it be from England – or Jamaica – or Australia??  Turning it over, I was amazed to find that it was a 1919 Newfoundland Half Dollar.

Newfy 50 TailsNewfy 50 Heads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I explained to him that Newfoundland was the 10th province of Canada, but didn’t join
Confederation until 1949.  Until then, they had their own coins and bills, minted and printed in England.  I have long wanted at least one Newfy coin to add to my collection.  Not produced for almost 70 years, I had long ago given up much hope of finding any.

Since he didn’t even know what it was, and it plainly meant something to me, he insisted that I take it.  A caring mother has obviously raised a kind and generous child.  Before I left, BrainRants gave me a quarter-sized United Arab Emirates 1 Rial coin, which he didn’t obtain while he was serving in the army, but rather, he found it, going to work on the bus, in cosmopolitan Washington DC.

Rial

I have many other foreign bills that I will publish pictures of in a post one day, as soon as I work off the procrastination.  Till then, I am always happy to have you visit.  Come again, y’hear!   😀

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Hurt Feelings

*Crying

The problem is world-wide, but North America in particular has turned into a bunch of whimpering, whining, wimpy, wussy, wieners. I’m all for being respectful, and not intentionally hurting feelings, but more and more, within any larger group, is a smaller sect, driven by the usual ego and insecurity, who make an industry out of being offended.

Quebec flag

In Quebec, Canada, there are actually provincial government agents – Language Police – who drive the streets with notebook, dictionaries, and tape measures, to assure that theirs isn’t bigger than ours.  Signs of all kinds in stores and shops are examined.  The French language must come first and be shown above any others.  English is the most censored and censured.  All non-French lettering must be less than ¾ the size of the French.

Indian

In the past, in the USA, the whites were contemptuous of the Native Americans. Over the years, things have improved greatly.  It’s not perfect.  Nothing is.  At least now, whites aren’t giving Indians smallpox-infected blankets.  Within the Indigenous community, rather than accepting that sports teams’ names like Washington Redskins are now a show of respect and acceptance for a different kind of warrior, there are strident ‘Native American’ voices insisting that these names be changed.  If you want insult, how ‘bout The Washington Lawyers, or -Congressmen?

Confederate flag

Last year there was a big fooferaw about the display of a version of the CSA flag on State properties. South Carolina was forced to remove it from the Capital Building.  While the ancestors of the white citizens may have owned Negro slaves, the flag is a symbol of White resisting White, cultural independence, in a political situation, having little to do with slavery, in the modern day.

Still – down it came. The goofy little, long-rerunning show, The Dukes of Hazzard, has now been removed from the airwaves, because the car – the real star of the show – is named The General Lee, after a Confederate leader, and displays the Rebel flag.

Ion Wall Design

My city, Kitchener Ontario, used to be known as Berlin. It still has a strong Germanic population and feel.  In 1916, in an effort to not offend surrounding non-Germans, it changed its name.  Recently the Twin Cities have been pushing the infrastructure, in an effort to imitate some of the bigger cities.

Among other things, we are installing a street-railroad, down the length of an already overcrowded main artery. A non-German design engineer has been hired to produce design themes for stops, including the one shown above, across from the coming new train/bus station.

Scarcely had the artist’s drawing hit the internet, than there were howls of complaint. “How dare he produce a design with a Nazi Swastika in it??!” Don’t you see it?  It’s as plain as the nose on your easily offended face.

These all remind me of the story of the little old lady who phoned the police, to see if they could do anything about the guy in the apartment across from hers, who wandered around in the nude. The Police detective carefully looked out her window and said, “I don’t see anybody nude.”  She replied, “You have to go into the bathroom and stand on the toilet and use these binoculars.”  😳

This really is a First World problem. Too bad we can’t still use Australia as a penal colony.  We don’t hear this kind of entitled shit coming from down there.  I’d like to see how much complaining we’d get if these easily-offended butt-wipes were scrabbling to survive with subsistence farming.  ‘Take a pill and get over yourself.  Life’s a bitch.  Don’t be another!’

What We Want

Groups like entertainers, politicians and retailers are often urged to, “Give the people what they want.”  This often doesn’t happen, because that’s not what they want.  What they want, is the maximum return for the minimum expenditure.

What we want, is often predicated on what we already have.  A teenager in Ruanda might just want some food, while a teenager in Beverly Hills wants a new Smartphone to match her new gown, which already matches her new Lamborghini.

Back when I was a cube drone, one of my more-enlightened slavedrivers bosses sent me to a one-day, How To Be More Efficient instruction module. What he wanted, for the outlay of a couple of hundred dollars, was greater output and efficiency, and for me to think he cared, and stop bitching.

This seminar was given by the same guy who was surprised we didn’t describe ourselves as Honest.  He asked us what else we wanted from our jobs.  This was the first time I became aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

He explained that we can do without air for four minutes, without water for four days, and without food for four weeks.  Some of the guys who didn’t have them, wanted business cards, to seem professional.  Some wanted bigger offices – the corner office with the windows.  Some wanted impressive titles, even though the work would remain the same.  I didn’t care much where they put me, or what they called me.  I pulled a Jerry Maguire – Show me the money!

I had been a buyer, the lowest of the bunch.  Then I was a Purchasing Agent, a step up.  I had worked up to being an underpaid Materials Manager.  One pretentious egotist wanted the corner office with his title on the door – Senior Vice-President In Charge of Walking Around With My Nose So Far in the Air That I Can’t See or Smell the Peons – And Coincidentally Acquiring Stuff the Company Needs, As Long As No-one Knows I Actually Work For a Living.  If that didn’t fit, he wanted a bigger door.

Since the hotel they’d been using for a couple of years had a lot of steps, the Free Thinkers have been shopping around for a new venue.  What they want, is a place with a varied menu, with decent food at decent prices, a separate room or area, handicap access, adequate parking, and located on a major transit line, because a couple, like the Mennonite lady, come by bus.

We tried a new-to-us, but old, downtown restaurant in March, and will go back in April, but it does not bode well.  It’s not as upscale as it would like people to think – and that’s what we do.  Almost as many steps as its up-the-street neighbor – what a surprise, no parking – walk a block, no breakfast buffet, and five items on the breakfast menu.

What at least three in the group wanted, were Belgian waffles, just like Momma IHOP or Denny’s makes, with whipped cream and powdered sugar.  What they found was that, those are “dessert waffles”, served in the evening.  What they got, were breakfast waffles, without.

What they wanted was a menu, or server, that would explain that the place didn’t do things the usual way, and that whipped cream&sugar was available for a mere 50 cent surcharge.  What they wanted, was a dispenser of real Canadian Maple Syrup.  What they got, was a rip-it-open-and-spill-it-on-yourself, plastic container of genuine, imitation, looks vaguely like Maple, pancake syrup.

What I wanted – what I specifically, firmly and clearly ordered, was a cup of hot chocolate, with a good dash of coffee in it, almost a mocha.  What I got, was a server who brought me a Chi-Chi “drink”, a breakfast shooter, see illustration below.

What I wanted was a mug of hot chocolate, with coffee.

Home made

What I got, was this gay-bar, bud-vase, clear glass cup (?), with four layers, an inch of chocolate syrup on the bottom, with a layer of (ugh) warm! milk above it, a layer of coffee above that, and topped with whipped cream, which I didn’t want, and should have given to the lady beside me with the Belgian waffle.

Uptown Hot Chocolate

What I want, is what I want, but, as most of you know, unless you own Belgium, and not just the waffles, very few of us get what we want.

 

 

Dichotomy

Easy!  Easy!  It’s still not an English lesson, just a rant about the differences between the Twin Cities where I live.  I live in Kitchener, Ontario.  I am proud to live in Kitchener.  I tell people I live in Kitchener.  I don’t say K/W.  I don’t say Kitchener/Waterloo, and I don’t say Region of Waterloo, which comprises all of, what used to be the entire Waterloo County.

Sparklebumps lives in the Minnesota twin cities.  I don’t know how much, if any, differences there are between the two.  Here, the differences can be seen from space.  Several name-changes ago, Kitchener and Waterloo were just small villages, five miles apart.  Each has grown until Waterloo now perches like a boil on the northern ass of Kitchener.  Kitchener has better than three times the population of Waterloo.  There are several reasons for Kitchener’s greater growth, but the biggest one is, that’s where the jobs were.

The two cities share the same tourist-trapping cowpaths streets, but almost nothing else.  Things are slowly changing, but Waterloo is white-collar, and Kitchener is blue-collar.  Business owners, managers and supervisors lived in Waterloo.  The serfs and peons resided in Kitchener.  Waterloo has two universities, and has been the birthplace of four large insurance companies.  Until recently, Kitchener has been where the factories are.  We have a world-famous Community College that’s as big as their university, but still….Community College?!

Newcomers often fail to realize the significance of signs at the border, and view them as a single organism.  They ask, confusedly, how streets in common can have four different directions.  These are the least of the differences.  When the wife still worked, I would come home after an 11 PM shift, have a bite to eat, discuss our work-days, and tuck her into bed for an early rise.  If there was nothing interesting on late-night TV, I might take my motorcycle out for a late ride.

In Kitchener, the pizzerias were open, the sub shops were open, the Tim Hortons and other donut shops were open, the bars were open, lights were on, people were walking the streets.  A couple of times, I made the mistake of riding into Waterloo.  The good Seigneurs were all abed, the shops were closed, the lights were out and the sidewalks had all been rolled up and put away for the night.  I got a coupon from a sub shop, recently opened in Waterloo, and thought I’d try it, to see what it was like.  I rode north after an 11 PM quitting time, and found that this place closed at 10 PM.

With its two universities, Waterloo brands itself as “The Intelligent City.”  They contracted out the development of the industrial park where Blackberry-making, RIM Products located.  They received verbal guarantees that the interest rate would be approximately 5%, and the payback term was 20 years.  It took a Kitchener reporter to reveal that the actual rate was over 13%, and payback would take 30 years.

The Berlin Record became the Kitchener Record, became the K/W Record, became the Waterloo Region Record, because Waterloo, with a population of almost a hundred thousand, only puts out a 20-page weekly newspaper, headlined, “Boy loses ball in tall weeds”.  Kitchener Transit provided buses in Waterloo, because they had none of their own.

Waterloo residents used to boast of their low tax-rate, which was achieved by providing almost no public services.  Kitchener Parks and Recreation finally had to pass a rule insisting that all Kitchener minor sports applicants would be served first.  If there were any spaces left, Waterloo residents could apply.  They had almost no arenas, soccer fields, baseball diamonds or swimming pools, but filled the ones in Kitchener.

Kitchener resident, and employee of Kitchener’s, Superior Sanitation, Nyle Ludolf, is credited with starting the Blue Box recycling program.  He received a letter some years ago from the Federal government, thanking him for instituting the program and allowing Waterloo to be the first city in Canada to participate.  He wrote back explaining that Waterloo had turned it down as too expensive, and didn’t jump in until Kitchener, New Hamburg, Cambridge, Guelph and Toronto proved it worked, and they were shamed into it.

It’s chicken-feed in a municipal budget, but a few years back, a provincial agency got an application from the City of Waterloo for a $35,000 grant for having performed various “green” initiatives.  A suspicious clerk did some checking, and found that all the claims were for things that “The Region of Waterloo” had instituted.  The city hadn’t actually got around to most of them.

On average, the residents of Waterloo have a higher level of education and income than the good Burghers of Kitchener.  On average, Waterloonies are also more likely to have a smug, self-satisfied superiority towards Kitchener, and its population.

Kitchener has a business-like “downtown.”  Waterloo has an artsy-fartsy “Uptown.”  Kitchener stores sell boots and pants.  Waterloo stores vend patchouli, beads, and Bubble Tea.  At various street-corners and parks, Kitchener has, cleaned and re-painted presses and rolls from now moribund factories, to remind folks of our manufacturing past.  Waterloo paid some artist (?) over a hundred-thousand dollars to create a metal sculpture which resembles a large rusty bell, “To evoke the Image of Industry”.

One of the few saving graces about Waterloo, for me, is that two of the downtown Oops, Uptown hotels, have in-house micro-breweries which produce some good craft-beer.  Kitchener has a working-man, get-‘er-done attitude.  Waterloo is more, “Have the gardener and chauffeur get it done!”  You can see how simple and down-to-earth I am.  I may be just the slightest bit biased.  Your Waterloo experience may vary….but I doubt it.

Multicultural Festival

The family all had a big, interesting, informative day on Saturday.  The son worked all night, and stopped off at the downtown Kitchener market to pick up some eggs and bread.  The social engineers have pretty much ruined, what used to be a great experience.

The market used to be inside a warehouse-type building and outside, in what was a parking lot during the week.  The city could only realize income for two days a week on this building, so they sold it to a developer, and moved the market to the bottom level and meeting room of a new parking garage.

After twenty years, their contract with the owner ran out, and the space was required for parking for a 24/7 call center.  They designed and built a new market building, a couple of blocks down the street.  This monstrosity has all the glamour of an airplane hangar, and they are having trouble getting shoppers to come, and vendors to stay.  The number of parking spaces, underground, is limited, and auto paint and scrapes on almost every concrete pillar, indicate why people won’t come back.

The son got home about ten to eight and turned the car over to us.  We picked the daughter up and headed for the (Mennonite) farmers’ market at the northern edge of our twin city.  With acres of parking and outdoor vendors, this market has thrived, partly from the failure of the downtown market.  We bought some fresh meat and produce, had coffee and doughnuts, and then hit a half a dozen stores in that area, dropped the daughter and her stuff off, and were home just before two.

Kitchener holds a yearly multicultural festival, and we all wanted to attend.  They started it on the July First weekend, but that is Canada Day, a holiday, and many people wanted to go camping, or to a cottage, so they moved it back to the weekend before.  The son was supposed to have gone to bed early and got a few hours sleep, but he was up when we got home.  Nothing unusual in that.  The wife and I went to bed after three AM and were back up at seven.

The festival is held in a big park, right downtown.  It’s three blocks by three blocks, with streams and a lake with fish and wildfowl.  I dropped the wife and her crutches, along with the son, at the front gate.  You couldn’t get a parking spot within a half mile, with a gun, and they are frowned on.  A city trail, which used to be a railroad line, runs through the back end of it.  The daughter lives just off that trail, three blocks away.  I drove to her place, parked, and the two of us returned, her on her power wheelchair.

The City probably intends it as a social bonding and cultural acceptance exercise, but the unifying force I see among the licensed attendees, is commerce and capitalism.  It’s almost amusing to see a meditating Buddhist monk, hoping you’ll pay money to learn how he achieves Nirvana.  With your money, that’s how!

Many local ethnic groups set up food tents, so that you can sample their cuisine.  They use the profits to finance various groups and projects.  At the front of the park was the city’s tent, handing out information and site maps.  Then there were two mobile ATMs and, down both sides of the field were food tents representing Pakistani, Indian/Sri Lankan, Jamaican, Filipino, Turkish, Ethiopian, Zambia/Tanzanian, Vietnamese, Salvadoran, Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, Chinese, The Islamic Council, Muslim Women and Vietnamese Buddhists.  I started with a Gyro plate from the Turkish tent, and later tried a sample plate from the ZamTan folks.  Gyro is actually a Greek term.  The Turks should call it doner, but, whatever sells.

It’s a good thing we learned how to make Salvadoran pupusas after last year’s visit.  There was a huge line-up there.  The pupusas are really popular, but their service staff were the least organized.

Many of these groups also had commercial/information booths further back.  You could buy carvings, clothing, henna tattoos, jewellery, toys and other assorted gewgaws, too numerous to mention.  Aside from the blatantly ethnic, there were a lot of social-awareness groups.

The Regional Police had a shop.  The local publicly funded radio station had a remote broadcast booth.  There was an organization called Unlearn, an anti-violence, anti-bigotry, anti-the usual suspects way of doing things, group.  Sort of an Occupy For Intellectuals.  The Free Thinkers, whose meetings the daughter and I occasionally attend, had a booth.

There were also; The Art Gallery, the Symphony, African/Caribbean Awareness, Non-Violence Council, the local Transit Authority, English as a Second Language, Falun Gong, Injured Workers Support, the Library, a geo-caching group, all three major political parties, Hare Krishnas, ice-cream cranked out by a tiny, one-cylinder motor, a coffee-house for adults to relax and Tales For Children, who would watch kids and entertain them for busy parents.

A fourteen year-old girl, who gets let off a school bus several miles out in the country, had a speeding garbage truck bank off the back corner of her stopped bus, and smash her into a field, recently.  She’s an hour away, in a specialty hospital.  The entire local Mennonite community is backing her and her parents.  There was a booth selling ribbons, rubber bracelets and shirts to help finance anticipated huge care fees, if she survives.  We got our bracelet at a Mennonite meat store that morning.  I just hope the entry fee was waived for them.

The native-Canadian Indians held a pow-wow.  The Lutheran Church was there.  The Catholic Church was represented by five Jesuit priests in long black cassocks.  They looked as warm as the Arab women.  I saw one Arab female….well, actually I didn’t.  An amorphous, mobile, little black mass with a half-inch slit at eye level, covered with Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses.  Clothing ranged from there down to hot, (mostly) young things wearing so little fabric, there was barely enough room to hang the for-rent sign.

We got home about seven PM.  By that time the son had been up for 24 hours.  He immediately headed for bed and the wife and I had a two-hour nap before I started this post.  I can hardly wait for next year.