I have posted all of the weekly editiorial columns that I have been submitting to our local weekly newspaper The Kipling Citizen. Many of these editorials are "community or region" specific but many are general topics that most of us can relate to. Of course I have posted the oldest ones first and the most current last.
IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)
February 7, 2010
First off, I would like to wish Darcie all the best for the remainder of her pregnancy, the birth of her newest child and the year off to completely enjoy their third child’s first year of life. As Darcie stated in her last column, before you know it, the time will have flown by and she will be returning to work (probably before she’s ready).
In the meantime, I will be attempting to fill this space with my humble opinions; thus the title, In My Humble Opinion. Of course, my humble opinion is an understatement. Whenever anyone uses that phrase, the presumption is that said opinion is correct and better than everyone else’s. Well, that’s my take on it anyway.
I will still be contributing my Random Thoughts at, well, random intervals, as per usual. In the past, I had strived for a bi-weekly deadline, sometimes I made it, sometimes I didn’t, but now that I have committed to adhering to deadlines I guess I will have to have it ready every two weeks. So on some occasions you may be getting a case of “double drivel”, so to speak.
I, along with Tommi Kish, have agreed to cover some local news stories on occasion. As we have both committed to do some part-time reporting, we hope that we can cover the same territory that Darcie has capably covered for the past couple of years.
To me, being a reporter, conjures up images of the old ‘30s crime reporter with his press pass in his hatband jotting down notes in his writing pad, with his photographer at the ready with a 10lb Kodak camera complete with a frying pan sized flashbulb holder on it’s side. I’m not sure if I’ll be given a Press Pass, but if I am, does anyone out there know where I could get an old fedora that would fit my rather large melon-sized head? Just in case, you know.
To start with, the staff at The Citizen will be giving Tommi and me our news tips and options on stories that they want covered. I am sure that, in time, both of us will be able to uncover some interesting and newsworthy stories ourselves, as well as the assigned tasks.
Hat or not, I am looking forward to reconnecting with the community and I would like to thank The Citizen staff for giving me the opportunity to do so. Like small-town politics, small-town weekly newspapers offer a more direct connection and impact on their communities, which you won’t find in larger governments or larger daily publications. That’s my humble opinion on that matter. See you next week.
February 13, 2010
Man, what a spectacle. Did you watch the Opening Ceremonies for the Vancouver Winter Games? No? Well you had better find a copy of it somewhere or download it from the internet and watch it ASAP because it was, well…SPECTACULAR!
I have always prided myself on my Canadian pride but this was overwhelming. When it was announced that Team Canada would be entering the stadium and our Canadian athletes crested the incline in to BC Place Stadium, to tremendous applause, I had a lump in my throat and goose bumps all over.
Even the shock and sadness over the tragic loss of twenty-one year old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, added to the inspiration of the event as the Georgian team decided to attend the ceremonies despite their great loss.
In Vancouver Organizing Committee Chief Executive Officer John Furlong’s speech he mentioned the “magic” of the Olympic Games. If one could feel the magic through a TV screen how do you think the participants and spectators in attendance felt at the event? I can’t even venture a guess.
Of course there will be detractors. Of course there will be boo birds. There will be some critics who will voice displeasure as to which entertainers were included or excluded. Why this flag-bearer, or that torch-lighter? But, that in itself is an example of our Canadian values and freedoms. In Canada, “True North Strong and Free”, we are allowed to say such things without threat of repercussion.
Of all the pomp and circumstance, of the extraordinary visual effects, of the inspirational songs, to me, it was Canadian poet Shayne Koyczan’s unique poem on Canada that really caught my attention. People have been trying to define what Canada was, and is, forever and I think his words come closest to anything I have heard or read before.
If you didn’t get a chance to hear it, you must find it. It should be required reading for every Canadian, whether you are First Nations, brand new to this country or a fourth generation Canadian. It resonates with us all.
Even a technical glitch at the end didn’t stop the magic. The torch was lit and the games were declared open. As Saskatchewan’s, and Canada’s, great speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan said of her part in the carrying of the torch, that the Olympic flame represents the ideals we wish to teach our children: “inclusion, fair play and respect for each other and ourselves. It’s everything that sport implies.”
It’s been twenty-two years since a Canadian city hosted the Olympic Winter Games so excuse me if I use the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games as my column theme for the second week in a row. But, you know, they’ve been darn entertaining, haven’t they?
Even though we haven’t exactly been “Owning the Podium”, so far, the eight medals that we have collected, as of this writing, have been inspirational.
From Alex Bilodeau’s first ever Gold Medal on Canadian soil to Jon Montgomery’s victory walk through Whistler, the medal ceremonies and celebrations have been…what? I don’t even know the right word to use to describe it. There are too many that one could use. You pick one.
From all of the reports that I have been watching and reading, Vancouver’s putting on a tremendous show. The venues are all full and raucous. The lineups and crowds have been amazing and the athletes are putting in some tremendous efforts.
The outpouring of Canadian National Pride has been overwhelming. Twice, while I was watching, an impromptu rendition of O Canada broke out in the crowd. Once it interrupted Jon Montgomery’s interview with CTV/TSN’s Jennifer Hedger (which Montgomery heartily sang along to) and again during Saturday night’s curling game between Canada and Great Britain. Canada second, Marc Kennedy, was in the hack when he had to back off from his shot to let the crowd finish the anthem. He was overheard saying, “I’ve never had that happen before”! It stopped two other games on other sheets, as well, because the players couldn’t concentrate while the singing was going on.
While some of our athletes may be succumbing to the “Home Town” pressures, with less than expected results, the success stories have been salve on that wound. But we are only half way there, as of this writing, and I am sure that more success stories are yet to come for Canadian athletes.
About the only complaint that I would have, about these games, is that the television coverage is almost too good. The games are being covered by, sometimes, four different channels. It is really putting my ol’ remote control through the wringer and testing my skills at trying to watch everything at the same time. I know it’s impossible but you still gotta try.
I am sure that we haven’t heard the last impromptu singing of O Canada or watched the last Canadian gold medal winner step up on the podium. I just hope I have the luck to catch it live.
I will begin this column with a quote from VANOC CEO John Furlong’s Vancouver Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony speech, where he said, “The time has come to say goodbye and perhaps compare for a moment the Canada that was with the Canada that now is. I believe we Canadians tonight are stonger, more united, more in love with our country and more connected with each other than ever before. These Olympic Games have lifted us up.” I couldn’t agree more.
Perhaps millions of Canadians were feeling that way after a Canadian record 26 medals, (14 of them gold, which happens to be the most gold medals ever won by one country at the Winter Games), and from the jubulation of the men’s Gold Medal hockey win over the USA in overtime. But as I watched these Winter Games from start to finish you could just feel something. Something more than mere medal victories. Something magical.
Sporatic outbreaks of O Canada happened at several venues before any medals were on the line. Vancouver residents broke up anti-games protesters that were breaking windows in downtown businesses. There was a sea of red and white at every venue. Canadian flags were everywhere. Streets in Vancouver and Whister were overflowing with Olympic mad people.
Even while we were nervously awaiting the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team to find their stride and we watched some of our favoured athletes fall short of the podium there was a feeling of great pride growing within this country.
It’s the old chicken ‘n egg thing, isn’t it? As the games wore on, was our pride growing as more Canadians wound up with a podium finish or were more athletes ending up on the podium because of the welling national pride. Does it even matter?
During the early stages of the games some media wags were having a field day with the Canadian Olympic Committee’s “Own the Podium” slogan with versions like, “Bemoan the Podium” and “Loan the Podium” (to the USA) even though many Canadian athletes were thanking the COC and “Own the Podium” for their high finishes.
As the medals started to pile up, our Canadian athletes showed that we can win with pride and lose with dignity. While the COC had set high standards and maybe proclaimed, a little too brashly, that we intend to compete and win, Canadian athletes continued to wow the world with great performances without sacrificing our humble down-to-earth nature. It appears that nice guys (and gals) can finish first.
We have always been a proud nation. At least, I thought so. Maybe we were in a slump. I don’t know. But we’re out of it now. It is believed that 26.5 million Canadians (about 80%) watched some part of the Gold Medal hockey game making it the single most watched TV event in Canada’s history. The runner up was the Closing Ceremonies where 24.5 million viewers tuned in. Wow. I am so glad I was here to witness it.
March 7th, 2010
I know you may be getting a little tired of the Olympics theme but I’ve had a hard time getting over the games. Maybe I just want to hold onto that “feel-good” feeling we Canadians have been sharing for the last little while.
You know, you watch a couple of hundred hours of Olympic coverage, cap it off with Canada’s overtime win in Men’s Hockey over the Americans, then finish it off with some amazing Closing Ceremonies and then it’s over. Done. Fini. No wonder one finds themselves in Olympic Withdrawal.
How do you go back to watching a boring ol’ regular season hockey game? How can you get interested in the cookie-cutter TV dramas when you’ve been watching live edge-of-your-seat, second by second, drama unfold before your very eyes for two weeks?
As I was slugging through this past work-week I wasn’t the only thing in a fog. It seems Mother Nature was a little down in the dumps, too; at least in our area. For awhile, there, I thought we were living on the coast somewhere!
Life does move on though, doesn’t it? Fog or no fog. In the aftermath of any big event there is always the transition back to “normal”. Whatever your “normal” may be.
One of the many things that I am taking away from those amazing games is a desire to improve my “normal”. Maybe get the old curling broom out again or something. I’m finding that I want to be a participant, too, not just a spectator.
Another positive thing from the games was that it kept us engrossed in something while a few more weeks of winter flew by. With the recent Spring-type temperatures and the sun coming up earlier every day I think it’s time to concentrate on what we have to look forward to as opposed to lamenting the passing of what has already been.
So, as with many life-altering events, we will put this amazing time into our memory banks, pull out the pictures and memorabilia every now and then to remind ourselves of what a great time it was and then move on to the next big thing.
March 15, 2010
Do you remember how in last week’s editorial I said that I was going to work on improving my “normal” by becoming more of a participant than a spectator by dusting off the ol’ curling broom or something? Well, much to the chagrin of many of my non-used muscle groups, I put my money where my mouth is and joined up with three friends to curl in Kipling’s Open Bonspiel.
It was, of course, a great time. Eventually, I may even be able to lift my arms up to scratch the top of my head again. It’ll be a couple of days, I’m guessing, but it’ll happen.
Twenty-two rinks gathered over four days to participate in the event. I’m told that they haven’t had that many rinks in Kipling’s Open Bonspiel in a long time. Among the participants, there were the usual seasoned curlers, the novices, the some-timers and the very first-timers all out on the ice doing their best. Family teams, high-school teams, life-long friends teams and “ya need another curler??” teams all joined in the fun.
Did you know that the game of Curling originated in Scotland around 500 years ago? Me neither. I had to Google it. Anyway, with all due respect to you people, what’s with the Scottish and these fun and frustrating games that you started. Curling and Golf. Two games that look so easy when you’re watching them, so hard when you’re actually playing them.
They’re addicting as well. No matter how good you get at it, after every time you play the game, you know you could have done something better. So what do you do? Go right back out and try it again.
Apparently, the Scottish Parliament in the 15th century prohibited an earlier version of the game of golf (gowf) from being played as it was taking time away from archery practice, which was necessary for national defense. I guess they didn’t worry about Curling because, well, who’d invade in the winter time?
Now, I’m not an archer defending a nation but I do have other duties that I’m expected to perform so it’s a good thing that I decided to start curling this year when it’s already over or I’d be in trouble because I know I can throw better weight next time.
March 21, 2010
The other day I picked up the phone, called the Kipling Medical Clinic and booked an appointment with my doctor. No problem. The next day I was in and out of the clinic in less than an hour.
The day after that, I had to bring a co-worker into the Kipling Memorial Health Centre after he had injured his ankle. I left him under the care of our health care practitioners for the treatment of his injury. I never questioned my confidence in the facility to provide him with the best care possible.
We, the residents of Kipling and surrounding area, have really got it good. We whine and complain all the time about waiting times and poor service, but really, is it that bad? Compared to other communities like Arcola and Redvers I have to say a resounding NO.
The better question, to me, is not how good the current service is, the question is how much longer will we continue to have the service that we now enjoy? Due to physician resources, or lack thereof, Arcola and Redvers have closed the doors on their emergency and in-patient services. With their facilities not available to their patients, then additional burden falls onto other area facilities like Kipling, Moosomin, Estevan, Weyburn and Regina.
While I’m hoping that the Sun Country Health Region is doing all it can to recruit physicians to the area, the current situation is putting Kipling’s two physicians in jeopardy.
My thinking is that the rural hospitals are having a hard time recruiting because of this exact situation. How many hours a week can these doctors be expected to put in? With only two doctors in Kipling one of them is on call at least 50% of the time while the larger centres, with eight or nine doctors on staff, are on call 10-15% of the time. That’s a huge difference. It also puts a huge strain on our two doctors.
It’s time for us to support our local doctors. Get your pens and paper, your keyboards and typewriters out. Contact the Sun Country Health Region, contact your MLA, contact the Minister of Health, contact the Premier. Let them know that overloading our doctors does little to enhance health services in our area. Let them know that they should do more to alleviate this workload. Let them know you’re not happy about overworking OUR physicians. We need them.
March 27, 2010
I’m confused. I know that confused may seem like my normal state, (many things confuse me), but after reading two recent articles in a national news magazine I am more confused than usual.
The first article was regarding a new dieting fad, some would say a newer version of other older diets (i.e. the Atkins and South Beach Diets), the Paleolithic Diet, which prescribes lots and lots of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables and fruit. The second article was regarding how eating meat is killing the planet by filling the atmosphere with CO2 gases, the bi-product of livestock production and the main contributor to greenhouse gases. Therefore, their argument states, vegetarian is the way to go.
The two opposing factions, the pro-protein and the pro-vegetarian, both make compelling arguments. Confusing both arguments is that neither philosophy is marketed as a “diet”; they are “lifestyle choices.”
Pro-paleo advocates say that man was always a hunter/gatherer, (modern agriculture having been around for only 10,000 years or so), so anything that one can hunt or forage for in the wild is all that we should eat. Just like cavemen. In fact, real followers of the “lifestyle” also follow cavemen exercises like sprinting and climbing rather than the usual gym-style workouts.
The Pro-vegetarian group uses the argument that eating meat impacts on more than just our own health. The production of meat not only impacts our personal health, it has great impact on the environment and on animal welfare.
I don’t know about how you were raised but I was always told that “everything in moderation” was a pretty good rule of thumb. Or, “too much of a good thing can be bad”. So I’m not too inclined to jump on either bandwagon, just yet. To each their own, though.
I’m pretty sure that a number of you people, who are reading this article, may depend on the livestock industry for your family income, whether directly or indirectly. If you raise the stock or you’re a butcher or you clean corrals the number of industries tied to livestock production is huge. So the impact of vegetarians on the livestock industry would be very minimal, at best, in our area.
Having said that, and knowing a number of friends and relatives in the livestock industry, then if commodity prices and input costs remain the same for producers, we all may be vegetarians before too long anyway. So, in the end…I’m still confused.
April 5, 2010
I know this subject is a week past its due date but I heard a funny April Fools’ story this past weekend while I was out visiting some family at Easter and it got me thinking of practical jokes and why I’m not much of a fan of them.
While some practical jokes can be cute and others can be just lame, there are others that aim to embarrass or even hurt some people and it’s those types of jokes that I’m not really fond of.
I think the story I was told on the Easter weekend falls into the “cute” category of April Fools’ jokes. The joke was played on my sister by her oldest son. Seems he phoned her on the 1st of April and informed her that he had just purchased a $4,000.00 engagement ring for the girl he has been seeing for only a few weeks. Not only was it a little too soon, it was also quite an expensive move for him as he is currently a “starving student”. My sister had only gotten halfway through her expletive filled first sentence when he had to shout out “APRIL FOOLS” to break the news to her before she had completely blown a gasket! My sister is a pretty good April Fooler herself so she should have been a little more prepared. He must have caught her very early in the morning to sneak that one by her.
That little joke was okay by me, it was April Fools’ Day after all. It’s the everyday stuff that tends to get my dander up.
I remember that it wasn’t so long ago that I had to lecture a couple of my co-workers, who had played a little joke on me, that I don’t like practical jokes because, and I quote, “Practical jokes aren’t very practical and laughing at another person’s discomfort is cheap humour.” Their response was that I was just a poor sport and I should lighten up a bit. I guess both parties had a bit of a point there.
However, I will stick to my guns. If you Wikepedia “Practical Jokes”, this is what they have to say, “Practical jokes or pranks are typically lighthearted and made to make people feel foolish or victimized to a certain degree, although in some practical jokes there could be an inherent strain of cruelty present.”
Feeling foolish or victimized or being treated cruelly are the above terms that I have a problem with. Nobody likes to feel that way. Besides that, I don’t usually have any trouble making myself look foolish or victimizing myself so I really don’t require anyone’s assistance, thank you very much.
April 11, 2010
During a recent road trip to Medicine Hat to visit my Mom, and other family members for Easter, a few things came to my mind while we were making the drive out there and back. How different that trip is after they finally twinned the Trans Canada Highway, for one, (I know that it’s been done for a while now but it’s still so much better than before). Two: how the twinning didn’t improve the boring scenery; mind you, I think I’ve made that drive more than a few hundred times so nothing’s really new. And finally…there are a lot of dangerous drivers out there. To anyone who has made that drive I know none of the above items are real revelations, but still.
I remember making that drive on the old two-lane highway and you could usually make good time until that junction at the Maple Creek turnoff and then you’d get in behind a couple of semis or an RV or haywagon or something and it was down to 80-klicks an hour or risk your life passing them. I usually just sat in behind the fastest slow vehicle and waited until we passed through the hilly terrain between the junction and the Alberta border.
I can’t really say too much about the scenery because, well, what the heck, we’re a Prairie Province. I’ve been through Alberta and Manitoba and you have to get way off the beaten path in those provinces, too, to see anything other than flatlands and scrubrush. I think all of the provinces are guilty of putting their main roads on the path of least resistance and trying to make them as flat and straight as possible. It would only make sense, don’t you think?
But the drivers! Yikes! I don’t log the miles or kilometers, as it were, like I used to, so maybe I’m not as attuned to the traffic as I once was, but I know I definitely couldn’t drive at the speeds some of the cars that were passing me were doing or I’d feel like I should be wearing a helmet and looking for a checkered flag somewhere. I wasn’t dilly dallying along either and they were zooming by me like I was standing still.
And what’s with the trucks? That’s a half-ton? You’d almost need a rope ladder to climb into one of those things, wouldn’t you? What’s the purpose? Do you think there’s going to be a “Monster Truck Rally” breaking out any minute or something? Is it to climb those five or six hills we have between Moosomin and the Alberta border on the ‘Ol Number 1? Every time one of those things goes zooming by it makes me feel like buying shares in Esso or Petro Canada!
So I think that all you can do is drive at your own comfort level, keep the car on the road and make sure you get to your destination and back home safely. Thankfully, once again, we were able to do that.
April 26, 2010
It was just a coincidence that the very week that I submitted the story about how “Cosmopolitan” Kipling was in 1931, Susan Hengen’s article appears on the front cover of the same edition of the paper stating that we are going to celebrate that very fact in 2010 through the “Old Country Challenge”.
Mike Kearns’ idea of coinciding Kipling’s version of the FIFA World Cup of Soccer with the actual World Cup, which is being hosted in South Africa this year, is a great way of bringing people together.
Newer members of our country and community may have a difficult time adjusting to their new environment and mixing and mingling with those who have been established here for a long time cannot be very easy for some of them. Hopefully the type of event that Mike is doing will help in that regard. It has been my experience that nothing will loosen people up more than sharing in the spirit of a sport and the camaraderie of a pub.
No matter how many generations your family tree goes back in Canadian history, with the exception of First Nations, all families have one thing in common: they came from somewhere else. They came from a different country. They came from the “Old” country.
The recent Vancouver Winter Olympic Games may have been a threshold moment in Canadian pride as all Canadians, new and old, shared in Canada’s success as the host country of The Games. On the other hand, nothing will bring out the “Old Country” pride like it does during the World Cup of Soccer.
Football (or the North American term Soccer) is the most popular sport on the planet. It is played in virtually every country in the world. No wonder people’s home country pride comes out when the World Cup is on.
Many other sports, including hockey and baseball, have attempted their versions of a World Cup tournament but only basketball (invented by a Canadian, no less) comes near to Football for the number of countries where the sport is played. Coincidently, too, football/soccer and basketball are the two sports that Mike has included in his Old Country Challenge.
One more coincidence…I just happen to be needing a reason to run a little bit as I am gearing up for another, thankfully short, season of Geezer Ball. That’s right, it’s time to oil up the old mitt, find the cleats and the muscle liniment and play some Twilite Baseball! So if anyone is entering an English/Hungarian/Welsh Football Team in Mike’s Old Country Challenge and they’re desperate for an aging defender, give me a call. I could use the exercise.
May 3, 2010
It’s hard to believe, what with the goofy on again off again winter-type weather conditions that we have been experiencing recently, that it will already be Mother’s Day on May 9th. For some reason I have always associated Mother’s Day with warm sunshine and bright skies. That’s how Sunday’s in May are supposed to be aren’t they? You would think that Mother Nature would be kind to us on that day, wouldn’t she? I hope so.
I am lucky enough to still be able to celebrate Mother’s Day with my 88 year-old Mom, albeit she will be in Medicine Hat and I will be here in Kipling, but we have our ways.
My Mom introduced nine children into this world, the brave soul, but then again, couples raising families in the 1940’s and 50’s with only one, two or even three children were considered odd, not the other way around like it is today. Despite the large family, I never felt that I was in great competition with my siblings for my Mom’s attention; she always had enough for everyone.
There were occasions, throughout my childhood, that Mom had employment outside of our family home, but for the majority of the time, while I was growing up, she was a stay-at-home Mom.
Saturdays were always Mom’s bread and cinnamon bun making days. One of my fondest memories of growing up with Mom was during the winter months when my brother and I would be sitting at the kitchen table playing rod hockey games and Mom would be doing her baking while she played Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” album on the turntable. I still know some of the songs from that album word for word.
There were many, many occasions when I would grab an after school snack and catch a bit of “The Edge of Night” soap opera with her, while I got in a little “Mom Bonding Time” during the ads, before running off to some sporting event, or the Hub Café.
Mom didn’t just watch TV either. She was either mending socks or jeans or crocheting or knitting or doing something while the tube was on. I don’t know who was happier when they invented “instant replay”, Mom, or the other sports rabid fans in the house; nothing raised her dander like missing a home run in a World Series game or a goal scored on the Montreal Canadiens!
Now, when I get together with my brothers and sisters we often wonder aloud “How did she do it? With nine of us!!” And if you ask her, she will just say, “I don’t know. I just did it”. We are all so very, very happy that she did.
“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”-Mark Twain (1835-1910).
May 10, 2010
The news of a recent on-line banking theft at Stoughton has me wondering about the advances in technology not being so advantageous. It was all supposed to be so easy, wasn’t it? A click here, a push of a button there and…voila, your paycheque is in your account, your bills are paid; you put a little here, you put a little there and you didn’t even have to put your shoes on or walk anywhere or anything. How convenient! ‘Til the hackers arrive.
And yes, we know, we’re supposed to change our passwords more than every second leap year, or something. Who’s got the time? Well, to stop someone from grabbing $12,000.00 out of your account you had better make the time, I guess. But still, who has the time?! Or rather, “makes” the time. That particular task just never seems to rise to the top of the have-to-do list.
And don’t feed me any of that, “computers have made our lives so much simpler” baloney, either. In some instances, yes, in so many others, not so much. One thing’s for sure, they’re definitely time robbers. Count up the minutes the next time you’re standing at the checkout with a cart full of groceries, the debit machine is down and you’ve got 46 cents in your pocket.
And you need a password for everything, too. Banking accounts, e-mail accounts, PayPal accounts, filing your taxes with Revenue Canada, in fact, anything you do online needs a password and if you just use one password for everything then you’re asking for trouble; so you better change it up. But who can remember all those passwords? My wife decided she had better put all her passwords into one file so she could access them as she needed them and now she can’t remember the password to get into the file! This is progress?
Remember when you could remember all of the important phone numbers that you used all the time? Now, because of speed dial and cell phone directories you don’t have to remember anything, the phone does it for you.
Don’t get me wrong, I think cell phones were an excellent invention but things are getting a little out of hand, aren’t they? Recently I’ve noticed, as I’ve been watching a couple of televised hockey games, that there are so many fans attending these games that are on their cell phones throughout the whole game. Usually the TV cameras pan the same seat sections and you can see these people texting away or talking and waving into the TV camera at someone at home watching them, watching them, if you know what I mean? What did you pay for that seat? A hundred dollars? A thousand dollars? Somewhere in between? Regardless, wouldn’t you rather watch the game than be on the phone all night?
Years ago I got into a rather lengthy debate with a philosopher friend of mine about “progress”. His argument, which I didn’t buy then, but I do now, was that not everything that was invented for convenience sake is necessarily convenient. Hmmmm?
May 16, 2010
The Coaches Association of Saskatchewan recently announced that May 22-29 has been declared as the first ever Coaches Week in Saskatchewan. The stated purpose of Coaches Week is to: 1.) Recognize the valuable contributions coaches make to sport and community; 2.) Promote coaching and encourage people to get involved; and 3.) Offer coach education opportunities for Saskatchewan’s coaches.
After I had been asked to write a story on a local coach, for Coaches’ Week, too many names came to my mind. Which coach do you single out? There are so many individuals that I can think of. Brett Ferch, Merv Daku, Sue Long, Dean Harcourt, Kevin Hassler, Kevin Cheyne, Susan Hengen, Lyle Balogh, Larry Lesuik, Lyle McCarthy; the list goes on and on. And, guess what? Which coach’s name were you thinking of that I didn’t include? See what I mean?
All of the above mentioned people have coached a lot. I have had some experience as a coach and it takes a large commitment to coach at any level. So rather than single out any one individual coach, for Coaches Week, I’d like to thank them all. So here it is…Thank You Coaches! All of you.
Next to one’s parents I think coaches and teachers can play the largest role in the shaping of a person. Sometimes, unfortunately, coaches can be a very negative influence as well. Sometimes damaging young people forever, ala Graham James, but those instances, thankfully, are very, very rare.
I was lucky enough to have had some very good coaches while I was playing minor sports. Back then, (the late 60’s and early 70’s) the rinks’ and ball diamonds’ waiting rooms and bleachers weren’t filled with parents while our games were being played. Sure, there were a few parents in the stands but this was well before the “TAKE them to the game don’t SEND them to the game” philosophy was instilled. So the coaches usually looked after all of the players before, during and after the game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most influential and best coaches that Kipling was fortunate enough to have had in their midst during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Gerry “Pee Wee” Wasnik coached hockey and baseball at all age levels. His knowledge of the intricacies of the games and his ability to utilize the individual talents of every one of his players was his forte. Sportsmanship and teamwork took precedence over individual achievement. In fact, rumour has it, Old Gerry once benched his own son because Young Jerry was in a very close race for the scoring title and he seemed more concerned about winning the scoring race than winning the game. While I don’t think Pee Wee would have been the only coach in history to have done such a thing to his own son, it was a rare move indeed. I’ve played a lot of sports with Young Jerry, over the years, and I can tell you that that lesson was not lost on him. I would suppose that there are many of Old Gerry’s ball and hockey players that learned that lesson as well. I know I did.
“Good coaches teach respect for the opposition, love of the competition, the value of trying your best, and how to win and lose graciously.”- Brooks Clark
May 24, 2010
Did you know that the celebration of the British Empire’s Queen Victoria’s birthday was celebrated in Canada long before confederation? Did you know that the first Monday before the 25th of May is always Victoria Day? Did you know that this year’s Victoria Day fell on the 24th of May, which is Queen Victoria’s actual birth date? Did you know that it was originally called Empire Day and then Commonwealth Day? Neither did I. I only found out all of this information because there was very little else that I could do on the gloomy, rainy, windy weekend besides browse the internet.
“May Long” is supposed to be our introduction to summer. We’re supposed to be planting gardens and doing yard work or opening up the cottage for the summer and water skiing or something. Once again, this year, good ol’ Mother Nature didn’t allow it.
At least in Saskatchewan she didn’t.
I am sure that there may have been one or two recent May Long weekends that weren’t rainy and cold but it’s hard for me to remember them. There had to have been some, weren’t there?
For me there are two or three vivid memories of Victoria Day Long weekends and, unfortunately, they don’t include a lot of sun tanning and hot weather activities.
I recall six high school buddies packing up their gear and planning a camping trip in the bush south of Kipling. Come Friday of the long weekend and it’s raining. We kept thinking that the rain would let up so we went anyway. After an extremely long rain-soaked night in our leaky poly lean-to tent we gave up the ghost before our .22 rifles started to rust and rot.
The very next year one of my older sisters took my brother and me camping at the Kenosee Lake Campground. It rained so hard that rainwater was actually running into the tent over the three-inch flap of canvas at the base of the doorway. We were fortunate enough to find refuge in a friend’s cabin until the rain subsided enough to take down the tent and pack up camp. Don’t get me wrong, rain’s good but the timing’s bad.
Another time my mom, two of my sisters and their families were camping at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park and our family went there for a visit. There is just something wrong with standing around a campfire, at the end of May no less, roasting marshmallows as snow flakes are falling down around us. It’s just not right.
My wife says that there was at least one very nice long weekend, weather-wise that is, that she can recall. Her high school graduation was on the Victoria Day long weekend and it was sunny and hot and they had lilac bouquets on the banquet tables and everything. So there you have it. It can happen. It just didn’t happen again this year.
I know it seems like we have just gotten over the “13th Man” fiasco from last year’s Grey Cup, (sorry to open up that wound again), but another season of Roughrider football is about to begin. Every new CFL season is filled with renewed optimism that this will be the year. There is a little extra incentive this year, for one, to make up for last year’s faux pas and, for another, it is the 100th Anniversary of the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club.
The ‘Riders have lots of events, promotions and exhibits planned for the upcoming football season including murals on the sloped windows of the Hill Centre Towers in Downtown Regina, a huge exhibit on display at the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum from May 28th to December 31st, the Riderville Contest, (Go Kipling), a documentary film and commissioned anniversary artwork by five Saskatchewan Artists.
The original Centennial commissioned artwork will be on display as a tribute to the Riders influence in Saskatchewan. The artwork will be available for viewing from June 3rd –June 30th at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. The collection will be shown across Saskatchewan during 2010 and reproductions for the artwork will be available for sale through the Rider Store locations and the original artwork will also be on display at the Dunlop Art Gallery from September 4th to November 14th.
The 100th Anniversary collection of artwork is to be created by Saskatchewan artists Ward Schell of Moose Jaw, Jefferson Little of Regina, Sean Randall of Regina, Angela Morgan of Pense and Debbie Wozniak-Bonk of Regina.
In September of 2009 the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club advertised an “Open Artist Invitation” for artists to participate in the Riders 2010 Centennial Art Project. There were very strict selection criteria and all of the applicants had to go through an extensive submission process before the Riders’ awarded the commissions for the artwork to the final five artists.
One of those selected, Debbie Wozniak-Bonk, grew up on a farm near Corning. She is the daughter of Marilyn and the late Bernie Wozniak. Wozniak-Bonk received her Bachelor of Arts Degree /Visual Arts Major from the University of Regina in 1996. Debbie is a stay-at-home mother of two, a full-time artist and is married to Patrick Bonk who is originally from Glenavon.
Debbie Wozniak-Bonk has been the featured artist in many exhibitions at the McIntyre Art Gallery. To see examples of her artwork go to the McIntyre Gallery webpage.
June 7, 2010
Remember that one day last week when the sun was shining in the morning? Yeah, that’s right, that day! Well, earlier that morning I had stumbled out of bed for my usual mid-sleep trip to the ol’ loo and lo and behold our bedroom was as bright as could be and I thought to myself, I am just way too tired to be getting up already. Then I looked at the clock. It said 4:35!! Seriously? 4:35!? No wonder I was still tired. Now, just try to get back to sleep with the birds already chirping and the room brightening up by the second.
Yes, I know, here is where I would normally get on my old soap box and preach about Daylight Savings Time and how we could further enjoy the few sunlight hours we do receive here in the outer reaches of Central Standard Time if we would just roll the old clock ahead an hour in April and please, if we are already on Daylight Savings Time, then someone explain to me how in the world we can be the same time as Peace River Alberta where the sun doesn’t go down there until 10:30 at night….but, alas, what good would it do? Apparently, nothing confuses a person more than adjusting a timepiece a couple of times a year.
By the way, you can look it up, too, if you want, but Peace River Alberta’s sunrise and sunset times for the 7th of June are 5:06 AM sunrise and 10:31 PM sunset. Kipling Saskatchewan’s sunrise on the 7th of June was 4:42 AM and sunset at 9:10 PM. In fact, nautical twilight in Kipling begins at 2:53 AM so it’s already getting light out at 3:00 in the morning! Yes, I know that there is a huge geographical difference in the locations of these places but that’s exactly my point!
So here are my options: Shut up about the damned DST already, ‘cause it ain’t going to change, or move to Peace River or somewhere else where the sixteen hours and twenty-seven minutes of daylight, (that’s how much daylight Kipling will receive on the first day of summer which is the 21st of June), are more appropriately scheduled around times when a person is usually awake.
Perhaps I wouldn’t be so cranky about it if we were getting the amount of sunlight that we should normally be getting at this time of the year. Maybe I’ve still got a little wintertime Vitamin D deficiency going on here. And it’s June! Supplements can only do so much you know. We have to have some sunshine to brighten up our lives and I sure can’t get the old vitamin D into my system through the bed sheets at four o’clock in the morning now can I?
June 13, 2010
In my search to write an appropriate Father’s Day column for this week’s paper I looked to my old friend the quotation for some inspiration and found an abundance of material. I couldn’t stop myself from sharing with you many of the quotes that I had discovered. Enjoy.
He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys." ~Harmon Killebrew
One father is more than a hundred Schoolemasters. ~George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs, 1640
A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again. ~Enid Bagnold
Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again. ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968
Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father! ~Lydia M. Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836
It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller
A father carries pictures where his money used to be. ~Author Unknown
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. ~Mark Twain, "Old Times on the Mississippi" Atlantic Monthly, 1874
Dad, you're someone to look up to no matter how tall I've grown. ~Author Unknown
Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor
There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge. ~Phyllis Diller
Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. ~Red Buttons
I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich. ~M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter
The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. ~Author Unknown
June 21, 2010
“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”. So say the lyrics of an old Mary Chapin Carpenter song, which I was reminded of last week, when one day I was the windshield and then the next day I was the bug.
You see, we have been trying to sell our daughter’s car for a while now, (without any luck, mind you), when she received an offer for her on-line ad via her e-mail. The e-mail offer said that they’d send her a certified cheque for the car but we’d have to ship it to them because they were out of province. It sounded too good to be true. And of course any time anything is “Too Good To Be True”, it usually is.
But before I knew it was really a scam we got this cheque in the mail. Yowza! Three thousand dollars more than we were asking for the car! All we have to do is ship the car to outer Slobovia, or somewhere, via the buyer’s agent, and voila, the car is sold. And for more money than we were asking! Great!
Along with this great “The Car is Sold” news, my wife and I both received a little extra cash, which we had not been expecting, so the day just kept getting better and better. Then, on top of all of that, I was given a clean bill of health regarding an issue that had been hanging over my head for close to a year. Wow! What a day. It was definitely a windshield day!
Then the clock stuck midnight. Actually, to be a little more accurate, the next day began at midnight but our next day began at 1:15 AM when we were jolted awake by the loudest thunderclap we have heard so far this year. This sonic boom was even worse than when the damn bookcases slammed onto our office floor! It must have taken an hour for my heart-rate to come back down to normal.
Later on that morning I hopped into the old “To-Work” car and heard an unfamiliar whining from under the hood. Yes, the alternator had decided to take an early retirement. Great.
Deep down I had known all along that the “Certified Cheque” deal had to be a scam, too, but when I actually found out, via the internet that it was definitely a scam, I have to admit that I was more than a little disappointed. We all want to press the “EASY” button don’t we?
Then, baseball practice was cancelled because of the, surprise-surprise…RAIN. Wow. What a day. It was definitely a bug day.
“Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all”- “The Bug”-Mary Chapin Carpenter.
July 5, 2010
With a success rate of somewhere between 45-55%, (the experts are all pretty vague), it’s good to know that there is still some faith in the institution of marriage. My wife and I have been invited to a number of weddings this summer and our eldest daughter is also getting married this year so marriage has been a running theme around our house for a while now.
So I thought that it would be apropos for me, a veteran of the institution of marriage for close to…what is it now?…hmm…twenty-nine years as of the 5th of September, to offer up some advice to the couples taking the plunge this year. Of course, it will be the males that will be best served with this advice but you ladies might also learn a thing or two from this veteran’s experiences.
My first piece of advice…always remember the number of years that you have been married. Do not hesitate like I just did. They will remember. For a long time. Oh, and by the way, kudos for picking a year that ends in a zero. Good thinking. The addition is so much easier. We were married in 1981; try doing the math with that one!
Second piece of advice…now listen close now…this is very important! Listen. That’s the advice. Listen to them. I know, I know, sometimes they might sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wha, wha, wha” and all, but they’ll ask for a playback and you had better be prepared. And most of the time you can get away with 20-30% accuracy but you have to have some knowledge of the subject. A lot of the time you don’t even have to answer, just nod and stuff but above all…LISTEN!
Here’s another very important piece of advice. Just when they are at their most UN-huggable…give them a hug. Yes, I know, but it’s just like going back to school after the summer break; you’re not going to WANT to do it…but you HAVE to! I’m serious! You should even be doing it now. Just for the practice. I am sure you’ve probably had a few tense moments during the wedding planning and everything; when she’s all crying and incoherent about dresses and flowers and such. Go ahead. You can do it. You HAVE to do it.
Now, here’s the big, big one and it’s for both of you and it’s the toughest one to do. It’s even harder than hugging the unhuggable. You have to know when you are wrong, and trust me, you will be wrong, both of you, sometime. And you’ll have to be able to say “I’m SORRY” with meaning. Not the old school yard “I’m sorry” when, really, you’re not, and it’ll probably be the hardest thing for you to do, but it’s the game-saver. You may even have a little experience with this one already, but if you are going to be committed, (to each other not into an institution), you will have to be very good at this one to make the marriage last long enough for you to have difficulty doing the math when asked how long the two of you have been married.
“The ritual of marriage is not simply a social event; it is a crossing of threads in the fabric of fate. Many strands bring the couple and their families together and spin their lives into a fabric that is woven on their children.-“ Portuguese-Jewish Wedding Ceremony.
July 12, 2010
A couple of weeks ago I read an Associated Press release about how someone had bought three of Marilyn Monroe’s chest x-rays from a 1954 hospital visit for $45,000.00 at an auction. Really? To me, that’s just mind-bogglingly stupid. But, then again, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just have so many more places that I could spend $45,000.00. Maybe I just don’t understand the value of entertainment memorabilia. My oldest brother, on the other hand, who has sported a Marilyn Monroe tattoo for over 50 years, would probably think that the x-rays were a bargain. Who knows?
I know that some of these auctions actually help charities and everything and a lot of the buying is kind of like commodity trading or something, but it just sounds a little off to me, you know? $45,000.00 for fifty-six year old x-rays of a woman who died in 1962? I know it was Marilyn and all but, I’m sorry, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around that one.
Then I read how a businessman from Ontario paid 1.2 million dollars in another auction for the sweater that Paul Henderson was wearing when he scored the Summit Series winning goal in 1972. Now, THAT, I can understand. Just kidding! That’s another mind-boggler to me, too. Then again, as stated earlier, I don’t understand memorabilia trading and reading these unbelievable numbers is…well…mind-boggling.
So in keeping with mind-boggling information I’ll pass on some other facts and statistics for your perusal.
Did you know that Americans consume as much electricity, just for air conditioning alone, than the whole continent of Africa uses for everything combined?
And here in Canada, where we have winter for about nine months of the year, 52% of all Canadians have central air conditioners. Here’s the breakdown of air conditioner ownership by region: Ontario-80%; Saskatchewan/Manitoba-70% (C’mon!?); Quebec-47%; Alberta-20%; BC-19%; Atlantic provinces-17%. I am a heat lover so this one is another one that is a little hard for me to wrap my head around. Perhaps we Canadians just get so used to shivering from October to May that we feel a compulsion to do it all year ‘round or something.
Then there are the strange cases of Canada’s top CEO’s salaries. These stats are always right up there on my “You can’t be serious!?” scale. These are annual salaries only (not including bonuses/parachutes). I was just going to give you the top five but number six was of special interest to me. Here we go: Thomas Glocer, Thomson Rueters Corp.-$36.6 million; Ted Rogers, Rogers Communications Inc.-$21.5 million; J.M. Lipton, Nova Chemical Corp.-$19.8 million; George Cop, BGE Inc.-$19.6 million; Robert Brown, CAE Inc.-$17.3 million and William Doyle, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan-$17 million. How nice for them.
I guess if I was making a salary like one of these guys, then buying fifty-six-year-old x-rays of a long-dead celebrity for $45,000.00 wouldn’t be much of a problem now would it?
July 19, 2010
I’ve got a confession to make. It’s a little hard for me to admit though, but the truth is… I haven’t always been a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan. There, I said it. Now, before you go grabbing a rope and roundin’ up the posse, let me explain.
Actually, before I give up the full explanation, I, for one, can pinpoint the exact moment when I became a ‘Rider fan; can you? (That is, of course, assuming everyone reading this article is a ‘Rider fan, or should be).
Anyway, no, it wasn’t when the doctor slapped my rear as I entered into the world, like many of the members of the current ‘Rider Nation, and no, it wasn’t when I had my first “Melonhead” bestowed upon me and it definitely wasn’t when the fan sitting behind me at a game at Taylor Field gave me my first Pilsner shower. I became a fan at the precise moment when Tony Gabriel, of the Ottawa Rough Riders, caught the pass that beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the1976 Grey Cup game. Sorry to open up that old wound but that’s precisely when it happened.
Until then, I was a diehard…gulp…Calgary Stampeder fan. Yes, I was. But wait! I spent the first six years of my life living in southern Alberta and didn’t even know what a Roughrider was. Then, when we did move to Saskatchewan it was right in the heyday of Ronnie Lancaster and George Reed and the gang. The ‘Riders won the cup in ’66 and were in the Grey Cup final four more times in the next ten years. I had to listen to all my Saskatchewan friends yammer on about how great their team was. And they were. The other thing was, just like today, the Stampeders were the ‘Riders biggest Western Division rival. I couldn’t help myself.
But after that game in ’76 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders gave up that game-winning touchdown to the Ottawa Rough Riders (lack of imagination in those days boys?) with only 20 seconds left in the game, it broke my heart. It was as bad as last year’s Grey Cup loss. Everyone watching that game in ’76 knew the ball was going to be thrown to Tony Gabriel. Everyone except the guy who was supposed to be guarding him. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I’ll get over it. Give me some time.
Well, ever since then it’s been ‘Riders all the way. Thirty-four years later and I should just about be bleeding 100% green by now. Yes, I still have a soft spot for the Stamps but good ol’ Henry Burris has helped a lot in that area. Since his defection to the Stamps they’ve been pretty easy to dislike.
I saw an article that says that Saskatchewan Roughrider merchandise outsells all of the other CFL teams’ merchandise sales combined! Not bad for a team that, fifteen years ago, needed a telethon to keep them going.
Now, some media outlets are asking why the Rider Nation is so passionate. Perhaps it’s best summed up by a former ‘Rider great and a native of British Columbia, Glen Suitor, who said, “Saskatchewan loves their team like parents love their kids. They can be cross with them when they are bad but never waiver from their love and support for them at any time and are always completely involved and engaged with their growth and development. They care about their team even in the tough times. Playing there is not about celebrity, it is about becoming part of a community whose football team is part of the culture”.
Well said. GO RIDERS!
July 26, 2010
As of this writing we have strung together…what is it now?...one day in a row without rain. Actually, I think it’s going to be two but the night’s still young. Regardless, we’ve had a couple of beautiful warm summer days this past weekend and they’ve been most welcome.
There have definitely been some downsides to the excessive moisture that we have received this year, but the upside is how lush and green everything in town looks. It wasn’t too many years ago that water rationing was being considered in Kipling. Funny how things change from year to year, eh?
Although I haven’t been out and about in the community, as much as I used to be, I still hear a number of compliments on how beautiful, neat and clean our town is. The hanging red and white flower baskets and the planters throughout town are looking great again this year. Kudos to those responsible.
I think July has always been my favourite month of the year. Growing up, I loved July, first and foremost, because there was no school. July was always hot and full of adventure. July was a time for swimming and picnics at the lake. July was a time for watermelons and water fights, hide n’ seek and kick the can. July was for berry-picking and Saskatoon pies, Kool-aid and ice cream and dusty Saturday evenings spent on Main Street. July meant Church camps and sports days, baseball and bike riding; long Sunday drives with no destination in mind; visits from far-away relatives and family vacations. Oh July, where have you gone?
Unfortunately, due to the weather, it seems to me that we were unable to enjoy an abundance of the above this year. Perhaps, in our mixed up world, we’ll get July in August, if you know what I mean? One can always hope.
“No bought potpourri is so pleasant as that made from ones own garden, for the petals of the flowers one has gathered at home hold the sunshine and memories of summer, and of summers past. Only the sunny days should be remembered.”-Eleanor Sinclair-Rhode.
August 2, 2010
I was half-way through writing an editorial about the Federal Conservative Government’s mishandling of their decision to scrap the long-form census when I realized that story was secondary to the story that was unraveling before me on all of the websites I was using to do my research on the subject. The story’s not the thing. The reaction to the story is the thing; if you know what I mean?
Sure, I was piqued by the Harper government’s using the fact that the mandatory quintennial long-form census (you could face a fine or even a jail sentence if you didn’t fill in and submit the form) was an authoritarian intrusion into the lives of Canadians, even though there is very little proof that many Canadians felt completely intruded upon and many, many other governments, government agencies, public and private institutions and businesses use the data from the census for analysis to form public and private policies and strategies, raising the question as to what the Government’s motivation was in the first place, is all very interesting indeed, but the fallout’s the entertaining part.
I’ve always been a “letter to the editor” kind of guy, and if you hadn’t noticed, I’m not too shy when it comes to opinion sharing, either, so I find myself almost spending as much time reading comments about the articles I’ve read as I do reading the articles themselves. Especially on the internet as you can engage in repartee with other opinion sharers in the comments section after any given article, if you so choose.
So I found it very interesting to discover that comments on an article written in The Globe and Mail had no less than one-hundred-and-five comments regarding its contents. The article states: “The National Statistics Council, whose 40 members are appointed by the government to advise Statistics Canada, asked the agency to provide data on all complaints registered either directly with Statscan, or referred to Statscan from MPs or any other source, concerning the last census in 2006. The total number of questions, complaints and concerns: 166. From a census that was sent to 12 million households. Further, if you add in the two complaints received by the privacy commissioner, that’s 168 recorded and verified expressions of some interest in the 2006 census.” Again, out of 12 million households! Comments on the 2006 census-168; comments on the article about the 168 comments-105. And that was just one article. There is no end to the number of articles and commentaries regarding the subject.
If people were concerned about being coerced, or extorted, or forced to reveal intrusive personal information they would have probably said something about it by now, don’t you think? Because there sure isn’t a shortage of opinions out there now is there?
My wife and I were one of the 20% of Canadians to receive the long-form census, in 2006, and we felt it was our duty to comply. We never felt like a gun was being held to our heads, or anything. There were some questions that were questionable and I’ll admit that as a third generation Canadian I was a little miffed that I couldn’t list my nationality as Canadian but, other than that, I don’t recall being too traumatized by the whole ordeal.
The nationality question is going to be a little sketchy for my kids now, though. Our family has been so watered down through inter-nationality marriages we must have five or six nationalities in my family tree alone. How do they narrow it down? I might be related to Attila the Hun on one side and an American slave owner on the other for all I know. I guess we’ll have to go to Ancestry.com to really find that out.
So maybe the census questions could be tweeked a little. But totally scrapping the long-form census? I don’t think so!
August 9, 2010
Get this; I read an article that stated: “upward of 250 people may have been involved in a street brawl on Saturday August the 7th between 1:30am and 2:30am in the popular Dewdney Avenue bar district. Police were alerted by several calls from people outside one of the night clubs about groups of people fighting.” Here’s the kicker, though. “Police say the incidents seem to be alcohol-related.”
Ya think?!! SEEM to be alcohol-related? Now there’s some top notch police work, eh?
1st officer on scene: “Let’s see…we’re outside of a bar…wee hours of the morning…a couple of hundred people fighting…hmmm??? I wonder if they’ve been drinking?”
But, then again, never assume anything. Right? You know what they say about assuming something.
It kind of reminded me of a story from when I was working in the old Quality Lumber building, (presently Frater’s and Richard Levai’s Bobcat Service), which is located across the street from the Kipling Motor Inn. From the window by the sales counter there’s a bird’s eye view of the north entrance to the bar. A good friend of mine was sitting at the window at about 5:30 on a Friday afternoon contemplating “Happy Hour” when he said, “They’re sellin’ insanity over there and I’m a gonna get me some.” Not too far off, come to think of it.
Apparently mankind has been seeking some form of mind altering substances for years and years. Did you know that beer is the world’s most widely consumed and probably the oldest alcoholic beverage? And it’s the third most popular drink behind water and tea? It’d probably be number one if it wasn’t for the sin taxes. But I digress.
Beer is one of the world's oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back to the early Neolithic Age or 9000 BC. Makes you wonder who the first brewmaster was doesn’t it? How do you think beer was discovered?
Neolithic man: “Oh, look! Someone left the lid off of this barley barrel and some water must have gotten into it!” Sniff, sniff. “Pheww. Yikes!” Looks around. “Hey, Joe, c’mover here. Smell this. Take a taste…Really? Let me try…You’re right, it doesn’t taste that good but did you get a buzz, too? I think we’re on to something here. Let’s have another one.” And so it began.
Some say it’s an acquired taste. Some would also say that if you have to acquire a taste for something you should just stick with your initial appraisal. For me, I didn’t really have to acquire a taste for beer. I liked it. Right away. Still do. It was a good thing for me that the guy testing the unknown liquid some 9000 years ago didn’t have to acquire a taste for it either. And you know what else they say…Everything in moderation, folks, everything in moderation.
August 16, 2010
There are less than two weeks to go before the big day. Yes, our little Meghan is getting married at the end of August. The months and months of planning are coming to an end and there are less and less check marks to be ticked off of the list. Not that I have had a whole lot to do with that, but I do hear about it.
As the “Father of the Bride” I have just had a supporting role in the production which consisted of mainly supporting all of the decisions that my wife and daughter make and biting my tongue whenever the cost of the production comes up.
While eavesdropping on the endless phone calls over the wedding plans I was reminded of what the six stages of any project, (community event, building project or even a wedding), really are: They are: 1.) Enthusiasm. 2.) Disillusionment. 3.) Panic. 4.) Search for the guilty. 5.) Punish the innocent; and finally 6.) Praise and honour the non-participants.
When the engagement is announced there is great enthusiasm for the upcoming event. “Oh, I can hardly wait to get started on the plans. It’s so exciting!” say the mother of the bride, the bride and every other female member of the family.
Soon into the planning it starts to unravel.” I thought this was going to be fun? They want this, I want that. What colour should this be? Inside or outside? Rent or buy? Evening or afternoon? There’s so much to decide.”
The pressure mounts. “What!!?? But you said that it wouldn’t be a problem!? Now what are we going to do? There’s no bloody way that we’re ever going to get this all done by then!!”
Oh-oh, now what? “Who said!? Well it’s not up to them is it!? Damn right I’ll be talking to someone about this! Somebody’s gonna pay for this, you know?!”
It’s best to just stay out of the way. “Why didn’t you say something earlier if you’re so smart!? Whadyamean you did? I don’t remember that!”
And after all is said and done the comments will come out. “It was such a beautiful event, who planned this for you?”
I may be taking a little literary license, if you will, on the above conversations but I’m sure you get my drift.
Cost of wedding dress, tuxedoes, suits, dresses, shoes, invitations, food, refreshments, music, chairs, hall, decorations, cake, photographer….????????. Walking your beautiful first-born daughter down the aisle on her wedding day…PRICELESS!
August 23, 2010
Apparently the theme of marriage just won’t go away this year. I was the recent recipient of yet another e-mail about marriage. This one is about marriage as seen through the eyes of children. I thought I would share some of these gems with you.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?
-You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. - Alan, age 10.
-No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. - Kristen, age 10.
-My mother says to look for a man who is kind....That's what I'll do....I'll find somebody who's kinda tall and handsome.-Carolyn, age 8.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
-Eighty-four because at that age, you don't have to work anymore, and you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom.-Carolyn, age 8.
-Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm going to find me a wife.-Bert, age 5.
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
-You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.-Derrick, age 8.
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
-It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them.-Anita, age 9.
-It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.-Will, age 7.
HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED
-There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?-Kelvin, age 8.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
-Both don’t want any more kids.-Lori, age 8.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
-Dates are for having fun and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.-Lynette, age 8.
-On the first date they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.-Jeremy, age 10.
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
-When they’re rich.-Pam, age 7.
-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.-Curt, age 7.
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
-Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.-Ricky, age 10.
August 26, 2010
Has it really been four years since Kyle MacDonald and Kipling hosted Saskatchewan’s Biggest Housewarming Party Ever?! I know that it is but it just doesn’t feel like it’s been four years since we felt that magic.
Deb and I were just watching a replay of Canada’s Men’s Hockey gold medal game win and it reminded us of the magic of the Vancouver Olympics and how that feeling compared to the magic that we felt four years ago on that Labour Day Weekend when the world was at Kipling’s door. And all because of a little red paper clip and a young man’s big dream.
For our family the timing was perfect. Well before the paperclip/house deal and the housewarming plans, our family had begun preparations for a different celebration. Our families were going to gather in Kipling to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on that very weekend. On top of that, it was my Mom’s 85th birthday that weekend, too, and she would be given the opportunity to celebrate her birthday back in the old town where she and Dad had spent so much time and made so many friends. After the announcement that the Biggest Housewarming Party Ever would be held on that same weekend it was too late to change our plans, and besides, we thought it would just give our visitors something else to do while they were here.
Little did we know just how huge the whole weekend was going to be. Mom’s birthday tea was a great success with so many visitors stopping by. Our whole wedding party was reunited and everyone was having so much fun at the anniversary celebration that many of our guests didn’t even get to the Rec Centre for the auditions that were being held for the role in a Corbin Bernsen movie.
Our son, Nolan, was one of the finalists that were going to be auditioning for that role in the jam-packed Rec Centre on Saturday night. Luckily enough, many of our family members were able to attend the auditions. I can’t even remember the exact number of people that auditioned but we all new when Nolan finished his audition that he had absolutely nailed it! (When it’s a fact it ain’t braggin’.) The rest of the crowd thought so, too.
The whole town partied into the wee hours of the morning. For the second night in a row. People from all over had come to Kipling from coast to coast and many from the States, too. The buzz was incredible. The weather was perfect and all of the visitors were well-mannered fun loving people. And there’s never been a great party without a gracious and welcoming host and Kipling and Kyle and Dom were definitely great and gracious hosts.
Deb and I rode the SaskTel balloon high over Kipling, the next morning, and took in all of the sites from an incredible view. It was only a few hours later, when we thought we couldn’t get much higher than a balloon ride, that Corbin made the announcement from the stage on Main Street, with the whole world watching it all, that, OUR SON, had indeed won (earned!) the role in the movie “Donna on Demand”. Incredible! And then we partied into the wee hours. Again.
It was one of those times when you just didn’t want something to end. It took more than a few days for everyone to get over that weekend. I keep using the word “MAGIC” to describe what it felt like to be in Kipling on that weekend. Not just for our family but for everyone who took part. And I think that a little of that magic is still here. Maybe not as strong but it’s still here.
And to all those pooh-poohers out there who are still whining about how Kipling is more than just a big red Paperclip and it was money down the drain let me remind you that there have been 9,117,704 visitors to the “OneRedPaperClip” blogsite, which, by the way, is almost as much about Kipling as it is about Kyle MacDonald. Who, also by the way, has been interviewed by 20/20, The Today Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC, BBC, CBS, CNN, City TV, Global, USA Today, Maclean's, Richard and Judy, Supernews Japan, A Japanese TV show called Unbelievable!, The New York Times, New York Post, China Daily News, In Touch Magazine, VH1, MTV, The National Examiner, Reader's Digest, G4TV, LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Toronto Star, The Kipling Citizen, and hundreds of other media outlets worldwide. The cost of this kind of publicity…once again…PRICELESS!
Kipling may never come close to duplicating the success of the party that was held on the Labour Day Weekend in 2006 but it is still, to me, one of the defining moments in Kipling’s history and very much worthy of celebrating year after year.
September 7, 2010
The bride was beautiful. I’m not just saying that because I’m her father, and as I’ve stated before, in this column, if it’s a fact it ain’t bragging. But seriously, she was beautiful. The whole event was beautiful. The weather was beautiful. The service, held in our son-in-law’s parents’ beautiful yard, was beautiful. The groom, the attendants, the ring bearer and flower girl were resplendent. I had to use one different adjective didn’t I? But all in all the one word that we kept hearing throughout the whole weekend was…beautiful.
Yes, after all the planning and nail-biting and bean counting the wedding went off without a hitch. Well, there was a hitch or two but nothing so large that it would spoil the event.
There was, however, the little problem of the bride’s father having to spend the night before the wedding in the Wolseley hospital with muscle spasms and cramps relating to a lower back/hip injury. After the excellent care I received from one of our small-town medical facilities I was able to recover enough to escort her down the aisle and nothing could stop me from sharing in the father/daughter dance. Also, as stated before in this column, it was…PRICELESS!
My long-term recovery may be a different story, though, and I certainly do not want a stupid injury to overshadow our daughter and son-in-law’s beautiful wedding but I would like to address how important our rural Saskatchewan health facilities truly are. If it had not been for the care I was given in Wolseley, the day before and the day of the wedding, I would very likely have missed the event completely. Eventually I will recover from my injured back and hip but I know that there would never have been a cure for missing my daughter’s wedding and I have Dr. Bella-Lufu and the entire staff at Wolseley Memorial Hospital to thank for that.
The only other times I have had an overnight stay in a hospital was on two other occasions at the Regina General Hospital recovering from two separate shoulder surgeries. There are also some excellent care-givers in the large city hospitals but I can tell you from my experiences that there is something very different in the way that care is delivered in the rural hospitals.
As we continue the perpetual fight to retain our hospitals and the delivery of health services to rural Saskatchewan I, for one, will be writing my personal testimonial to the Premier of Saskatchewan, the Minister of Health and anyone else involved in the decision making process that these small-town facilities are absolutely necessary to the delivery of health services to all of the residents of Saskatchewan while at the same time lessening the burden on our ambulatory services and overwhelming the cities’ hospitals by providing the same excellent care in our home-town facilities.
September 14, 2010
According to Wikepedia the online Encyclopedia, “Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing a human or an animal to move rapidly on foot.” What they don’t tell you is that there are lots and lots of people who will do anything to avoid this “means of terrestrial locomotion.”
So it didn’t surprise me when, late last spring, during the Ye Olde Country Fubol Challenge, I was asked by an age-group peer why, at 53 years of age, I felt compelled to compete in the games and run around and chase and kick a ball on purpose!? My answer was simply, “Because I still can (run that is) and I will continue to run until I am no longer physically able.” Little did I know, then, that my ability to run would be deprived of me in a few short months.
I will ignore the question’s reference that many people believe that once you reach the magic age of 50 one has to start to scope out the availability of care homes and the pricing out of medical scooters or something. Ageism really, really bugs me. Fifty’s not old! However, as usual, I digress.
I, luckily enough, do not think that my exclusion from running is going to be a long-term situation. I am determined to fully recover from my injuries and regain my ability to run. I know of many people that are not so lucky. For various reasons their ability to rapidly move on foot has been permanently deprived of them. My injuries are temporary. I can only speculate on the devastation of someone who has been very active being given the news that they will permanently no longer be physically able to do something that many of us take for granted. Like running.
However, knowing that I will regain this ability has not relieved my self pity on the loss of my abilities. Exacerbating my depression over my loss to not only run, but walk without my cane’s assistance, I have been forced to convalesce by watching hours and hours of sports; all those athletes running around and playing and everything. Okay, nobody’s forcing me to watch it but it’s better than Oprah or Ellen, isn’t it? To each their own, I guess.
So if my little whine-fest, here, has got you thinking about going out to look for a new pair of running shoes and maybe motivated you to get your feet moving again, it might be a good time for me to put in a plug for Kipling’s KipFit gym. Fall is a great time to get back to “normal” and maybe work off a few of the BBQ and Beer season calories that have been accumulating over the summer. They’re always looking for new members and resigning those of you who have relapsed. Do it now while you still can.
“If you’ve got it use it because you never know when you’re going to lose it.”-Perry Hubbard (1956-).
September 20, 2010
Many experts say that of the five major human senses the sense of smell is the best at triggering memory. I stood in our backyard this past weekend, closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath through my nose. The smell of autumn is definitely in the air. And as I took in that smell, the memories of so many autumns-past floated through my mind.
Try as you might, you can’t define the smell of a season. You will know it when you smell it, but you really won’t be able to say what it smells like. To me, it’s a potpourri of so many undefined individual smells melding together that, when they are joined, becomes the smell of a season.
I am not sure if this happens to you when your memory is triggered, but nine times out of ten my smell-triggered memory will take me back to my childhood. When I smell bread baking I think of Mom’s kitchen where she baked so many loaves of bread, buns and cinnamon buns. I think that when a smell sparks a memory, we are transported back to the time of least stress; back to a comfort zone long forgotten. And to many, that comfort zone is their childhood.
The smell of fall always takes me back to the pick-up football games that we played as teenagers in the “Little School” yard. Back in the early ‘70s they even had the old H style goal posts at either end of the school yard. Huge poplar trees, which bordered the school yard, loomed brilliantly in so many shades of yellow, orange and red; their huge, blown-off leaves crunching under our feet as we ran.
Kipling didn’t have an organized official high school football team because school officials deemed that the sport was too dangerous. Or so the student body was told. Although every other school division in the province, other than the Broadview School Division, had organized football teams we were supposed to believe that the student’s safety was the primary motivation in not letting the five division schools (Broadview, Corning, Kipling, Langbank and Whitewood) field teams. It had absolutely nothing to do with budgetary concerns because of the high cost of equipment, travel and uniforms. No, no, no. But that’s okay, I’m not really that bitter about it any more.
So anyway, many of us high schoolers would gather at the “Little School” yard right after school to play pick-up-all-out-full-tackle-football every day; even in the rain sometimes. There were a few of the “rich” kids who had their own football helmets, but most of us played in an array of old hockey equipment and mismatched jerseys. Teams were chosen which often pitted brother against brother and could lead to some serious sibling rivalry.
Ward and Max Krecsy had to alternate days when they could play the full game because one of them would have to leave around 5:00 to cook supper for the family. Depending on whose turn it was, your team either lost its best quarterback (Ward) or its best fullback (Max).
As we progressed through the early 70’s many different kids played in those pick-up football games but there was a core group of about eight guys that stuck together throughout our high school years. My first contact with many of my life-long friends from Kipling happened on that field. Our friendships carried over from the football field to the Hub Café to other sports and activities and defined our social circle.
Even now, almost forty years later, some of us still gather from time to time to reminisce about the good ol’ days back in the “Little School Yard” when we were young and carefree and nothing was as important as that after school pick-up football game with the smell of autumn in the air and nothing but pride on the line.
September 27, 2010
I have always had a fascination with the English language. There are so many contradictory rules that it’s no wonder so many other cultures find that English might possibly be one of the most difficult languages to learn. The following are examples of the oddities of the English language.
“Rhythms” is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.
Excluding derivatives, there are only two words in English that end -shion (though many words end in this sound). These are cushion and fashion.
“THEREIN” is a seven-letter word that contains thirteen words spelled using consecutive letters: the, he, her, er, here, I, there, ere, rein, re, in, therein, and herein. Yes, they actually have “er” in the dictionary as an “interjection”, i.e.-“used when hesitating in speech.” And “re” is pronounced “ray”- syllable representing the second tone of the diatonic scale.
There is only one common word in English that has five vowels in a row: queueing.
Soupspoons is the longest word that consists entirely of letters from the second half of the alphabet.
“One thousand” contains the letter A, but none of the words from one to nine hundred ninety-nine has an A.
“The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.
“Underground” and “underfund” are the only words in the English language that begin and end with the letters “und.”
“Stewardesses” is the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand.
Antidisestablishmentarianism listed in the Oxford English Dictionary was considered the longest English word for quite a long time, but today the medical term pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is usually considered to have the title, despite the fact that it was coined to provide an answer to the question ‘What is the longest English word?’.
“Fickleheaded” and “fiddledeedee” are the longest words consisting only of letters in the first half of the alphabet.
“Forty” is the only number which has its letters in alphabetical order. “One” is the only number with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.
“Ough” can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully”.
I could go on and on and, yes, small things sometimes do amuse small minds. If you want to find more interesting and humourous views on the English language I would suggest you look up the material of comics Gallagher and George Carlin regarding their take on the world’s third most used native language.
"I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that "I do" is the longest sentence? –George Carlin (1937-2008).
October 1, 2010
Baby Boomers are considered to be someone born during the demographic birth boom between 1946 and 1965. How can you tell that the Baby Boomer generation is still in charge of today’s cultural world? Because we (Boomers, that is) seem to be having a very difficult time letting go of the past. Or so it seems to me.
How else do you explain how the same fashions, television series and comic book heroes from the past keep coming back over and over again?
My wife was flipping through a recent Sears catalogue which revealed the newest old fashion…women’s velour suits. Complete with rhinestone detailing, no less.
Then there’s the latest fitness craze…hoola hooping. That’s sooo fifties, isn’t it?
But nowhere will you find more “do-overs” than in Hollywood. The Flintsones, Bewitched, Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Get Smart and countless other TV series from the 60’s have been made into a movie or movies; with some unspectacular results, I might add.
When Hollywood isn’t making old TV shows into movies they are recycling old TV shows like Hawaii Five-0, V, Knight Rider and yet another rendition of 90210 for the small screen.
Is it good marketing or just the safe thing to do? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. By marketing remakes of TV series and old movies from our childhood it’s a pretty safe bet that many old Boomers will identify with them and tune in.
Television has always been formula driven though. If it works, do it over and over and over again. That’s why there are so many different CSI’s and Law and Order programs taking over the air waves.
Whether it’s western themed shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Maverick from the 50’s and 60’s or variety shows like Ed Sullivan, The Carol Burnette Show or Red Skelton from the 60’s and 70’s, once a theme has been established and successful then the copycat shows start to show up.
Hollywood’s connection to comic book heroes goes way back, too. How many Superman TV series and movies can you remember? What about Batman? From the campy (some say cheesy) Batman series from the 1960’s to 2008’s, The Dark Knight, there have been no less than 13 movies regarding the exploits of the “Caped Crusader” and there’s another new one in the works as we speak. How many ways can you tell the same story? I guess as many as it takes to keep us coming back to the theatres, movie rental outlets and buying the advertisers products. It’s a profit driven business and if it ain’t broke nobody’s going to fix it.
“I don’t want to speak too disparagingly of my generation (Boomers) but we had a chance to change the world and we opted for the Shopping Network instead.”-Stephen King. (1947-).
October 18, 2010
Often, while trying to find a subject or theme for my weekly article, I turn to the internet for some inspiration. Most often I look at the news oddities to see how humanity is messing things up and I’m seldom disappointed. We’re doing a fine job, by the way.
Depending on the topic, my reactions range from “Hmmmm, interesting” to “Really?” to “You cannot be serious!” For example, “World’s oldest twins turn 100 in Belgium.” Hm…interesting. “Google brings “Street View” to Antarctica.” Really? Do they even have streets there and, if they do, don’t you think that the couple of dozen visitors they would get per year are going to know where they are going? “Rare whiskey sells for $160,000.00 a bottle.” You can’t be freakin’ serious!? $160,000.00 per bottle!?
Master distiller, Richard Patterson of Dalmore Distillaries near Inverness Scotland, the makers of the whiskey says, “People recognize that you have to pay a premium for true exclusivity, craftsmanship, quality and heritage. Even in this day and age, when times are tough, those that enjoy the finer things in life want to reward themselves with something very special".
How special can this whiskey be? Are you transported to a different, glorious and euphoric world after a $32,000.00 glass? Do you suddenly become fifteen years younger or something? And after you’ve consumed, processed and flushed its last remains, is it different than any other liquid that you’ve passed? In my mind, it had better be.
U.S. buyer Mahesh Patel says, “I am amazed at being able to buy the special bottle. Whiskey is my passion. I love it. I have over 1,000 bottles in my collection, and the Dalmore Trinitas is now the jewel in the crown." Oh, now I get it. You don’t actually drink it. You just look at it; maybe take a sip or two every leap year or something. How special.
Apparently, each bottle comes with its own display cabinet. I should hope so. For that kind of money it had better come with an armed guard, a golden fleece bib and someone to burp you after you’ve had a drink, too.
In other interesting news: how about the woman, Christine O’Donnell, who’s running for the US Senate in the upcoming United States midterm elections who’s opening sentence for her TV campaign ad states, “ I am not a witch.” Perhaps “thou doth protest too much”? If you aren’t a witch why do you have to say that you’re not? Seems like a bit of an unusual way to kick off your campaign but, then again, maybe it’s just smart politics? Get those old skeletons out of your closet right away. Seems she’d dabbled a bit in witchcraft back in her high-school days and thought she would be a little pro-active before her opposition uncovered it. Time will tell whether it’ll work for her but if she was looking for some attention she’s sure getting her fair share of it right now.
Then there’s the story of Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, better known by his clown name Tiririca, who received more than 1.3 million votes to represent his state, Sao Paulo, in Brazil's congressional elections. That was more than double the votes of the second-placed candidate in Brazil's most populous state. His victory has opened the flood gates regarding the obvious jokes about an actual clown being voted into public office this time.
Witches and clowns in public office, (real ones this time!), unbelievably expensive booze and other good old fashion head scratching news…just another ordinary day in the life of the human inhabitants on the third planet from the Sun.
It slinks through my yard at its feliney pace
like he holds the mortgage on this old place.
Its eyes are so yellow, it coat fully black
I try to stare him down but he never looks back.
“Shoo, shoo go away, go back where you came
You can’t share my yard without any shame!”
He flips up his tail and shows me his rear,
Like he’s telling me when “leaving time’s” here.
I’m stuck in this lawn chair with my crutches and cast;
How can he know that I can’t run too fast?
With knowledge uncanny he turns back to stare
And yawns and stretches while I return the glare.
“I’m descended from Kings did you not know that?”
His eyes say to me, as I yell to him, “SCAT!”
My ancestors were lions the “King of the Beasts”
Your yelling and shouting won’t prompt my retreat.
I’m looking around, now, for something to throw
At that smart aleck cat who refuses to go.
My book? My coffee cup? What will it be?
I’ll nail you with something, you just wait and see.
He knows I’ve got nothing right handy I’d throw
So he prances to the flower bed and digs a fresh hole.
He quivers and shivers and looks right in my face
As he pushes a fresh one right into place!
He covers it slowly and lopes out of the bed
While my anger’s enough to blow up my head.
I fire my coffee cup, my book at him, too.
“I’m out of your range, there’s nothing you can do.”
“Get OUT! Go AWAY! You goddamned black cat!
There’s no way at all you’ll get away with that!”
If a cat can smile then this one did it right then
And sauntered away knowing it’ll be back again.
October 25, 2010
Halloween is an annual holiday observed on October 31 and its roots are in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saint’s Day. The word Halloween is first mentioned in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling "Hallowe'en" was frequently used, eliding the "v" and shortening the word. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All-Hallows-Even is, itself, not used until 1556.
The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the “lighter half” of the year and the beginning of the “darker half” and is sometimes regarded as the Celtic New Year. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits, (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as an evil spirit and thus avoid harm. Halloween has evolved, somewhat, over the centuries but the main theme of ghosts and spirits and dressing in costumes still prevails.
My memories of Halloween’s past always start with the Halloween night of 1969, which almost cost my older brother the full use of one of his legs.
It was a cold and dreary night and a four-inch layer of snow covered the ground as my brother and I dressed for the night of Trick or Treating. I was approaching my thirteenth birthday and my older brother, Gordie, was fourteen, so we both knew that if this wasn’t our last Halloween for gathering treats it was certainly close to being the last.
Our plans were to make a full night of it. Gord and I, along with a group of about four other friends, were going to gather treats from the twenty-five, or so, houses in the little hamlet of Marquis, SK., return the goods home, and then go back out to play a few tricks on some unsuspecting (or maybe fully suspecting) households.
I can’t remember what Gord was dressed up as but I remember that I was dressed as a clown. (Yes, I know, insert your own joke here.) Anyway, we were dressed in layers to offset the cold temperatures and although the layering worked to keep us warm it also made it difficult to run smoothly.
We played a few tricks on some of the houses where the resident’s choice of Halloween treats didn’t quite measure up to the treat standards of this group of adolescent boys, (home-made cookies and bruised apples just don’t cut it). A few egg tosses and some window soaping later, our group then headed for what would be the last house that Gord and I would be tricking with them that night.
As we separately approached the house like a company of soldiers in a World War II flick, pretending the eggs and rotten tomatoes in our hands were hand-grenades, we were the ones who got tricked. The occupant of the house and a couple of his friends were lying in waiting in the shadows near the house knowing that a group of tricksters would be coming along soon and they were about to reverse the roles on them. And boy did it work! They came out of the shadows yelling and screaming scattering our group of friends who ran off, themselves screaming, in every direction.
With an already heightened sense of fear it didn’t take much to throw a panic into us. I don’t think the residents of the house even tried to chase us at all, they just continued to yell and laugh as we ran, fleeing for our lives, while trying to get as far away from that house as fast as we could.
In my brother Gord’s effort to escape, he tripped on an old rotten wooden sidewalk and went down onto his knees. As fate would have it, his left knee came down right onto a broken whiskey bottle which cut into his knee in several places. I was smaller and slower than he was, back then, so I came upon him when he was already down. He said his leg wouldn’t work and I’d have to help him home. I’d be doing it alone, too, as the rest of our group had fled into the night.
There were only five or six streetlights in that little hamlet and none too close to us now so we couldn’t really see the full damage to his knee in the dark. I struggled under his weight as we limped toward home. Finally, about a block from home, we stopped under a streetlight so I could rest and we could look at the wound. I tore through the layers of clothing and finally we could see the blood-soaked gashes in his leg. “Oh, expletive!!” we said together. I knew I had two choices. Either toss my cookies and run like hell to get Dad or, toss my cookies, pick Gordie up and get him home as quickly as possible.
I guess no one really knows where one’s strength comes from under these types of circumstances but, I swear, somehow I picked him up and sprinted that last block home both of us crying all the way.
Mom and Dad rushed him into the Union Hospital in Moose Jaw and after a three-hour operation the surgeon assured them that Gord would regain the full use of his leg, but a mere millimeter or two, either way, and his tendons would have been damaged beyond repair. It appears that fate looked upon us with both sides of his face that night.
Turns out, that was the last year that Gord and I officially went trick-or-treating. We may have gone out for a few tricks again, in the years after that, but the spirit and the fun had definitely been taken out of the event for us.
So, I say to all of you trick-or-treaters, go out and have a good time but be careful, be safe, and always remember that the spirits work in strange ways.
October 28th, 2010
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