Friday, August 24, 2007

Go...city council.

OK. I've complained about a federal politician with the Conservatives, a provincial politician with the Liberals, now I'm going to complain about municipal politicians and their idiocy. A few years ago, city council went after Shawn Little, claiming he did not spend his campaign money properly. Either he spent too much, or spent it at the wrong time, or something. In the end, they found out he had done nothing wrong. But Little had spent a ridiculous sum of money defending himself, and he sued the city to get that money back. I can't remember if he won his lawsuit or not, but it is irrelevant. The point is, Alex Cullen was spearheading that attack on Little (who may be obnoxious, but he was not guilty), and now he is demanding a review of Terry Kilrea's campaign for mayor for the same reasons. It looks like he may have spent money on a Thursday, when he's not allowed to spend past Wednesday. Or something.

Terry Kilrea, you may remember, dropped out of the mayoral race early on. Larry O'Brien, our estimable mayor, is currently under investigation (this one not spearheaded by Cullen - I think) for offering money to Kilrea in order to make him drop out. Either way, Kilrea had no chance of winning the election, he was not a factor in the elections in the end...who cares if he spent money on a Thursday? The investigation, should it go through, would cost the city, and by extension, you and me, $25,000.00. Should they find Kilrea WAS in fact guilty - that he DID spend money on a Thursday, he would face a fine of up to ... $5,000.00. So, even if Cullen and the gang are right, even if Kilrea DID break the rules, we have a net loss of 20 grand.

Larry O'Brien is a bit of an enigma to me. I really don't know if he's doing a good job or a lousy job. It's pretty tough to tell at this point. But I certainly feel for him. The poor guy is trying to run a council of people, who are so self-absorbed and near-sighted that it must make his head explode. I can't imagine getting anything done, when our elected officials are debating things like "should we bring water bottles to council meetings" and "why don't we bottle Ottawa's tap water"! My plea to Ottawa in the next municipal election - please stop electing these simpletons! PLEASE pick a guy or a girl who will not embarrass us at every council meeting. Forget the incumbents - elect a deaf-mute, a catatonic man, a woman who is in a persistent vegetative state, Helen Keller! I don't care. At least if they can't speak up, things might get done.

Big controversy in Ontario...

There is a big controversy in Ontario! Dalton McGuinty does not want to give funding to faith-based schools. Currently, the Ontario government funds only the public schools and the Catholic schools (which, of course, are faith-based, but they've been around a while, so apparently they're cool). But apparently thousands of people are sending their kids to private schools that are faith-based simply because that's what they want for their kids. So...the issue, I guess, is that these other schools are not being funded by the government, and our province is the only one not doing it. This contravenes even the UN's charter, and they have condemned the practice.

So why not? We are funding catholic schools, but we are cetainly aware that there are many religions in Ontario that are not Catholicism. If you are going to do it for one, you kind of HAVE to do it for the others, don't you? This just seems to make sense to me. I know of many parents in Ottawa who send their kids to Catholic schools, even though they are not religious, simply because the Catholic schools are run better than the public schools. There are more programs, more opportunities for the kids, and they are better all around. When I was a kid, I went out of my way to get into Glebe simply because they had a football team. They were the only public school at that time that had one. Every other high school football team was at a Catholic school. Why?

This is the question that really needs to be asked. I agree completely with the Green Party here. (For once, I agree with them on a non-environmental issue.) They say screw ALL religious schools. Take that funding away from the Catholic schools, put it into the public school system, and forget everything else. This is a great idea, but the only way it will work is if the public schools become as good as the catholic ones. I can't speak knowledgeably about HOW we would go about making this happen. But isn't the ideal situation one in which the public schools are the ones that set the example? And then the Catholics can send their kids to their own schools if they like, the Muslims can send their kids to their own schools if they like, and everyone else? How do we promote tolerance and religious freedom when we are segregating kids in different schools based on their religion? And there is certainly no way we can promote this tolerance if we fund only the religion we like.

McGuinty's wife teaches at a Catholic school. I'm sure this is not a factor in his decision not to fund other schools, but it certainly looks bad. The solutions here seem simple to me, but that is why I'm not a politician. Either fund no religious schools at all, Catholic or otherwise, or fund every religion equally. You can't have it both ways.

Wikipedia is fun stuff...

There is always some kind of story in the news about Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. In the Citizen yesterday, the story was about some nerd in Ottawa who's "one of Wikipedia's most prolific editors" (which means, one of the guys who writes and changes articles for free with every moment of his spare time in Mom's basement, as I understand things). But the story made me laugh pretty hard. The controversy was over Pierre Polievre's page on Wikipedia. Apparently, it had been altered somehow.

I smirked for a second. If there is one politician in Canada who is going to have his Wikipedia page altered to make him look ridiculous, I hope it's this guy. But wait...the page was altered - in his favour! Making references to the Liberal "windbags" or something to that effect who were against him! And here's the funniest thing...Wikipedia traced the editor, and it came from inside the Conservative party! Whoever edited the page was a member of the Conservatives! (I asked Woody - it wasn't him.) Now, I have met Pierre Polievre on a few occasions. I find it very hard to believe that even the members of his own party are behind him to the point that they would do something like this. Therefore, the only conclusion I can reach is that he did it himself. Frankly, I would not be surprised.

The CHEZ Wikipedia page was altered a while ago - simply because anyone, from anywhere in the world can go in and edit it. It was changed to say that Jeff Brown is a giant douchebag, and a few other things. It made us all laugh, no one was angry, even Jeff Brown was like "wow. Maybe I'm a douchebag." But the editors in charge of Wikipedia discovered it before we did and changed it back within a day or two. I guess the same thing was done to Polievre's site. It was changed back very quickly. I plan to post this amendment to his Wikipedia site every day now until they make me stop:

PIERRE POLIEVRE:
You remember that kid in high school, who would still be eating worms? And when you dissected the fetal pig in biology, he would take it's tail and put it behind his ear all day and say "I'm wearing a pig-tail"? The kid who would correct your grammar, your syntax, and your facts without any concern to whether or not he was right? The one who would try to start talking to you about the effects on the human body of speeds approaching the speed of light? Based on something he read in the Star Trek handbook? The one who didn't start out as a target of bullies, but who wouldn't shut up until finally the bullies had to cave in and finally wedgied him and crammed him in his locker and stole his copy of Spider-man #47 and his twelve-sided die?

Well, imagine this man growing up physically, but not emotionally or socially. Now imagine him being elected to office as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. That is Pierre Polievre.

Now THAT would be a more interesting edit!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Speaking of people not getting the money they deserve...

No, not me - although get this. My girlfriend will drop my name every now and then when she thinks it might help her out. I HATE this when she's with me, so she has stopped doing it when I am around, but every now and then, she'll do it elsewhere. Like when the moving company was in my house trying to give me a quote. They asked what I did, she told them, and the guy said "why are you complaining about price then? Your boyfriend can obviously afford it!" Ha-ha. Some people seem to actually think that!

No, I was just thinking this morning about the salaries of athletes. We were talking about Earl MacRae's article (excellent article, by the way) about Joe Gorman, the man who gave Doug Harvey a place to live when he was a down-on-his luck alcoholic toward the end of his life. And we began talking about how hockey players' salaries were astronomical today in comparison. How some players make more money per SHIFT than Doug Harvey would have made in a season. And it's true. Doug Harvey was a Hall-of-Famer. Along with Bobby Orr, he was one of the two best defensemen in the history of the NHL. And yet, he was destitute. He managed to drink away all his money. Today, I don't think any player could drink away all their money. Can you imagine Jaromir Jagr doing that now? He'd have to start drinking soon, and buy nothing but Cristal and those 40 thousand dollar wine bottles I see in the locked cases in the basement of the liquor store! And even then, I don't think it's possible.

But it certainly got me thinking. Hockey players make a ton, it's true. But not nearly as much as baseball, where a 25-million-bucks-a-year salary is not unusual. Or basketball, where players 15 million a year is de rigeur. But then I thought - I wonder what NFL players make? They are THE major sport in North America. No other sport approaches the revenues or the fame of the NFL. So shouldn't Peyton Manning and LaDanian Tomlinson be the highest-paid players in North America? I looked up their salaries. Last year, 2006, Peyton Manning made a base salary of 1,000,000 dollars. ONE million dollars. Of course, with bonuses, he managed to get that number up to 10 million dollars. With bonuses, Shaquille O'Neal made 27 million bucks last year. The only guy, other than Manning, who could be considered the number one player in the number one sport, is Tomlinson. Last year, he made 4.25 million bucks. Of course, bonuses have to be factored in. He earned $770.oo in bonuses in 2006. Seven hundred and seventy dollars!

So why? Why has the NFL not had a players' revolt? If A-Rod can make 30 million bucks a year, if Shaq gets 27, how can the biggest stars in the biggest game settle for 10 or less? How come they aren't going nuts over the fact that hockey players, who play a game that is watched by over seventy-four Americans, can make 12, 13 million per year, but the NFL high salary is much less? It boggles the mind! Maybe, just maybe, football players just plain love the game. Maybe that's why I love the NFL so much. Or maybe I just love football. Here's a sampling:

2006 median salaries:
NFL - around $700,000.00
NHL - around $1 million
MLB - around $1.3 million
NBA - almost $3 million

By the way - Michael Vick's salary last year was...1.4 million, plus 7 million in bonuses, for a total of 8.4 million.

I hate owning a car!

I just spent the entire day at my Kia dealership. I had an appointment for 10:30, and I got out of there at 2:00, which gave me a ton of time to read a few hundred pages of Atlas Shrugged. This is where I get most of my reading done, because I seem to be in there at least once a month. If it's not one thing, it's another. And with cars, you have to make sure they are running in tip-top shape, or they could explode and it will cost you even more, or so I'm told. On occasion, I will take the car into another place that is friendly to my cause, but I get certain things for free at Kia.

That is because I have the bumper-to-bumper, lifetime, warranty. Apparently, this means free oil changes. For the "lifetime" of the lease, not the "lifetime" of the car. Kia, as I assume all car companies do, makes sure that the lease for repairing certain things expires just moments before that particular part is scheduled to break. And make no mistake, these parts are scheduled to break. They know exactly how long it will take for a timing belt, a window seal, a set of brakes. Say it takes fifty thousand kilometres for something to break. The warranty, you can be sure, will have expired on that exact part at 40,000 kilometres. This is terrific planning.

I think the next time I get a car, if I ever have to own one again in my life, I will read the warranty carefully, and make sure that I go in two kilometres before the warranty expires on that part and insist it be replaced, whether it needs it or not. If they make a fuss, suggesting that it does not need fixing, I will break it right in front of them. Bang! That will save me for another forty thousand kilometres, anyway. But that is not the only thing that genius car companies do.

I needed my washer fluid tube replaced, and my window seal had come completely out of the windshield, such that it was flapping in the wind as I drove down the street at any speed faster than 20 km/h. Some other minor problems, like a slight whirring noise and a tiny squeak in the brakes. All these things were explained to me - 60 bucks for the windshield seal, 30 bucks for the washer fluid tube, and so forth...plus labour. All this came to about 135 bucks in my head. Plus labour. Then I got the bill - it was 467.00. Three hundred bucks for labour!

Now. I was there at 10:30. I went for a smoke at 11:15, and saw that my car had not yet gone into the shop. I am also aware that the mechanics at my dealership leave for lunch between 11:30 and 1:00, because that is when I am not allowed to book an appointment. So, if I was out by 2, that means that a maximum of an hour and fifteen minutes was spent working on my car. Since labour cost me 307.15, I have then deduced that the mechanic working on my car was making $245.72 an hour. But that doesn't make sense! That would mean that car mechanics would all drive Bentleys (which they could fix themselves, fortunately), and live in mansions. But this is not the case. (I think - maybe they do.)

So what does that mean? I think it means that labour costs 250 bucks an hour, but the mechanic is likely making 30 of that. So where does the other 220 bucks go? To Kia, I assume. Perhaps that's why the stuff keeps breaking down just after the warranty expires...and perhaps that's why they have intentionally built their cars so that service is labour-intensive. Yes, the part to fix my washer fluid problem was worth four dollars. But the labour was 185 dollars! Why? Because in order to get to that part of the washer fluid, you have to remove a part of the engine. (By the way - the same goes for my headlights. I don't know anything about cars, but I used to be able to replace the headlights on almost every car. Now, I have to bring it in, and it costs me 200 bucks.)

I'm no engineer. I'm not a mechanic. I'm the last guy who should be talking about cars. I hate cars. But it seems to me that it can't be too tough to build a car where you can just get to these things without removing engine parts. And I assume that Kia is not alone in doing this. I assume (tell me if I'm wrong) that all car companies do this nowadays. I certainly hope that after we begin phasing out oil companies (which I assume will happen in the next month or so) with tougher regulations that protect consumers, we could perhaps start regulating car companies the same way! Haha...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Get your hooves off me, you damn greasy pigs!

When I heard I'd be chasing a greased-up pig this morning, I was fairly excited. It was certainly something I had never done before, and the opportunity presents itself so seldom. We travelled out to a farm in Dunrobin, where there was a pig ready to be captured by my greasy mitts. Of course the guys told me there was going to be a "twist". All of a sudden, Doc thinks he's running a reality show or something. Turns out the pig is not a pig at all, but a...millionnaire! Whatever. I wasn't too worried. When we got there, the pig was not what I had expected. I was anticipating a tiny little piglet, the kind you see kids chasing on the country music channel. But this thing was HUGE!

In the end, Doc kept referring to Belle as a 200-pound pig, but the reality is that she was around 160 pounds. Still plenty big. Karen owns a hobby farm, and I don't know what breed of pig it was, for all you 4-H enthusiasts out there. Neither did she, I think. But it certainly didn't look very fast, and it was remarkably hairy. I always thought of pigs as kind of slippery, hairless freaky little creatures, but I guess I was still thinking of the piglets. This one had hair that was thick and coarse, like a dog brush. I wasn't sure any amount of grease could make it slippery, but I also wasn't sure it could run at all, let alone fast enough to escape my greasy grasp.

As it turned out, Belle COULD run fast. All it took was the throwing of some food and the sound of the lawn tractor. She just bolted across the field, frightened out of her mind. In the end, the "twist" Doc spoke about was fairly predictable. I was to be doused in the grease as well, to make this a "fair" match. Of course, we did not have actual grease. We had canola oil, which Doc said was the stuff to make things slippery. He says that baby oil makes things much stickier than canola oil. How he knows this, I dared not ask. Some things are better left to the imagination. Or to one's repressed imagination.

So Jason doused me, head to toe, in canola oil. Which was just about the grossest feeling I've had in a long time. Dripping, slippery, and gross, I set off after the pig. I could not grab it with one hand, but since I had the phone in the other I had no option but to do so. The thing is BIG, after all! I dropped the phone a couple of times, since my hand was so slippery with the oil that it was impossible to hang on. The pig, which had been fairly inactive for our entire visit, now took off like a bolt of lightning, forcing me to run after it with the phone in my hand and my underwear falling down under the weight of the canola oil. After a while, I managed to corner it in the pen, and rather than continue fighting, the exhausted pig just laid down. I was supposed to hang on to it for thirty seconds, but I could have grabbed it and hung on for a half hour, it was so tired from all the running.

The video is here:
http://www.chez106.com/station_info/morning_show.jsp

Check out my greasy, sweaty-looking butt at the end! Or...maybe don't. Yeah. Don't. Look at the pig.

The pictures are here:
http://www.chez106.com/station_info/photos_interviews.jsp

I toweled myself off, and put my clothes back on. Since the owner of the farm and her daughter were there, I felt it imprudent to take off my underwear and towel myself off in that area as well. (Jason was there too, but he's seen that so often that...anyway the ladies were there.) So I left that part untoweled, which resulted in a giant pool of canola oil in my crotch. Jason was very worried about the seats of the CHEZ car, so he created a giant pile of speaker cables in the back seat, and placed some Tim Hortons napkins down in the middle to catch any drips. As we started off back to the station, I could feel my butt cheeks sliding together, my armpits slipping against my body, and the pool of canola oil making it's way through my underwear to my shorts, through my shorts to my lap, and finally all over the pile of speaker cables.

I couldn't make it to the station. Not in those clothes. I had to run home and shower quick, grab some new clothes, and head back to the station. I managed to get into the house, up the stairs and into the shower while talking on the phone on the air. The first time in my life I've done the show from the shower in my own home! (God, I wish I could do that every morning!) I had no shorts left, so I put on jeans, a jacket and a sweater and zipped back to the station with Jason and Jessica. I got there moments after the show ended, at which point I had a meeting. DEspite my best scrubbing efforts, I had been unable to completely wash off all the canola oil in my hurry, so I was still sitting in a small pool of it as the meeting took place.

Then, I got on the bus to go home. It takes me about three hours to get home on the bus to Kanata from the station. So there I was, on the bus, no air conditioning, in a sweater and jeans in some hot weather, holding my jacket and stewing in a small pool of cooking oil. Everywhere I sat today was covered in a beautiful bright shine whenever I got up. By the time I got off the bus and walked the ten blocks home, the oil was coming right back out of my skin. I got in the door and Muffin bit me. Apparently, by that point, I smelled like some kind of delicious sandwich!

Moving sucks.

At 7:00 last night, I was awakened by what apparently was some man from some moving company walking through my house doing an assessment. We decided to stop relying on friends to help us move, and forcing them to work through the day - people always say they are willing to help, and they always DO help, but I can't help but feel like I am putting them out, and that they would really rather NOT be there. So we're checking out movers. I decided my budget was not going to exceed 300 bucks, since I still have to pay rent on my current place until the end of December, as well as making mortgage payments on the new place. In point of fact, 300 bucks might still ruin me, but I was assuming it would cost less than this, since I am moving three and one half blocks.

Apparently not! The quote we finally received when this gentleman had left was 600 dollars! For a move of three blocks! And I don't have that much stuff. His theory was that it would likely take his company at least six hours to do the move, and at that rate...six hours? This might be the slowest moving company ever. Thank God I can't remember their name. I once moved to Kanata Lakes with my buddy Kent. We packed up his house off Walkley and delivered it to Kanata. Then we packed up all my stuff from Flora (pretty well the same stuff I have now), made a stop at my mom's house in Westboro, picked up all the stuff I had there (pretty much the same stuff I have now) and unloaded all that in Kanata. We then returned the truck to the rental company downtown and took a cab to our new house. There were four of us, and it took us seven hours. Total.

Now I'm moving three blocks, and it would take three professional movers six hours to do the same? I have no major appliances, those are already there, or I have to purchase them. There is nothing to set up or take down. They don't pack my boxes or unpack them, they just lift them. And I can't imagine this job would be more than one truckload for guys who know how to pack up a truck. My guess is that with everything packed up the way it is now (and the way it certainly will be come moving day in five weeks) I could rent a truck, fill it up, drive it over to the new house, unload it, and return that truck to the rental place in less than two hours. With three of my stronger friends, maybe an hour and a half, total. And all it would cost me would be a few cases of beer and the 60 bucks to rent the truck.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Scariest movie ever.

I have seen the scariest movie EVER. No, it is not a slasher movie like Hallowe'en. Not a spirits-from-beyond-our-world movie like the Exorcist. Not a creepy-cannibal-family movie like Texas Chainsaw. No, the scariest movie one could ever watch is called Jesus Camp, and it is a documentary. You see, there is a small segment of the American population who are religious zealots. Although there are many religions that have American zealots, they are mostly Christian zealots. And by a small segment of the population, I mean...are you ready for this? 25 percent. The religious right-wing, many of whom are certifiable nutjobs, in the US is 25 percent of the population. Now, not all of them are insane. Jesus Camp deals merely with the ones who are.

I think the movie is actually reasonably fair to the people who run the actual Jesus Camp, in that it merely shows what goes on there, and the viewer is left to come to his or her own conclusion. That conclusion, almost inescapably, is that we're all going to die. The world is going to consume itself and the crazies are going to win. You see, from brith, the children who attend Jesus Camp are groomed to be the next battalion of warriors for God. The kind of people who will attempt to spread their views to those around them, whether they actually understand their own views or not. When you see a four-year-old talking sensibly about creationism, and how eveolution can't possibly be true because when you look at the facts, only creationism makes sense, you can't help but think those words were put there by someone else. Ask her to explain further. She's FOUR.

Eight year olds repeating by rote at the breakfast table how Global Warming must be a giant myth, since the world has only warmed up by an average of 0.5 degrees in the last year, and this is a big left-wing conspiracy. Ministers ranting at kids that Harry Potter is a symbol of all things sinful, that watching his movies plays into the hands of Satan. Taping kids mouths shut with the world LIFE written over their mouths, having them hold little babies that symbolize aborted kids, getting them to march in demonstrations against abortion - they are SIX years old. There is no WAY they understand anything about an issue like this, except for the beliefs with which they have been indoctrinated. And they are committed. They are fierce. The are Republican. And some of them are seen praying at the foot of a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush. No joke.

These are the people who we hear about, but don't fear nearly enough. I firmly believe that even kids should at least become old enough to drive before they are old enough to mess around with something as dangerous as religion. Let them decide for themselves if they want to share their parents' religious convictions, rather than indoctrinating them since birth. But this will never happen, since churches would die out in two generations if they let people decide for themselves. So they have to get you before you know which way is up, when you are a small child, and make sure you keep the faith the rest of your life. In some cases, this doesn't really harm some kids. But in cases like the ones you see in Jesus Camp, it's tragic. And scary as hell.

Oh, Steven Seagal, why?

I am reading in several papers today that Steven Seagal has finally given us, his faithful viewers, a reason for his disappearance from theatrical movies lo these past five or six years. I thought perhaps it was a specific film that did him in - perhaps On Deadly Ground, which he produced and directed himself. I thought there was a chance that the film's dubious message about conservation was to blame, or perhaps the extended and cheesy dream sequences, or the plot holes...(he wants to make sure an oil rig does not break down and pollute the ocean. So...he blows it up, which presumably saved all the seals). I thought maybe Half Past Dead killed his mainstream career, a movie where he plays a Russian who infiltrates a prison in order to do something of some kind. Only, he's not a Russian. Or maybe he is, he just forgets he has an accent. Or maybe he's just Russian as part of his cover. Who knows. This is of course set at Alcatraz, because it is a famous prison. The most difficult prison from which to escape has not planned much further ahead than being on an island, as we find out when the inmates discover the cache of military assault weapons, anti-tank guns and rocket launchers, that has been safely stowed beneath a trap door in their common room.

But neither of these movies were responsible for the death of the career of the man who was once voted eleventh-most-promising Action Hero of 1988. Nor was it Fire Down Below, Hard To Kill, The Patriot, or even Under Seige II. No, it was the FBI! You see, Steven Seagal has been linked to the mob several times. We Seagal fans know this. This has been reported in papers and industry journals and on the napkins at Nickel's. We know this as well. What we die-hard Seagal fans did NOT know, however, was that along with these allegations of involvement with organized crime, Seagal is alleged to have also threatened one of the reporters who made mention of these ties. (Frankly, the pony-tailed wonder IS getting a bad rap here. If he was REALLY involved with the mob, THEY would have threatened the reporter for him.)

After the story of his mob involvement broke, people were scared of working with Seagal, and not just because he might break their arms. But he could get past that and deal with it - after all, Sinatra was always teflon. No, it was the FBI's investigation into the threats made against that reporter who was suggesting that Seagal had mob ties that...or something. The whole thing is as ludicrous and twisted as a plot in...well...a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. The point is, it was the FBI who made a concerted effort to destroy the action career of Steven Seagal, relegating him to the direct-to-DVD rack in video stores, and the direct-to-$1.99-bin at the car wash. It was NOT his inability to act. It was NOT his one-note ability as an action hero. The fact of the matter is, stars in action movies don't HAVE to act, if there are things exploding. And breaking arms NEVER gets old, especially if you have a pony tail. Damn you, FBI! You owe this man and his loyal legions of fans, such as myself! Do something, work your magic, and see that he makes it back to the top!

One last post before work...

There is one thing that has made my vacation excellent. Steak. Not only did I manage ot have two of the best steak sandwiches at the South Mountain Fair yesterday, I also managed to eat fantastic steaks at the Links O'Tay golf club in Perth on Wednesday AND Friday of last week. I guess they have an in-house cook, because the same guy was doing the lunches and dinners for both the Chamber of Commerce tournament and also the Hassler Memorial tournament on Friday. This guy, whoever he is, can really cook! (Friendly guy - glasses and white moustache - I never caught his name.) I had many burgers and many steaks.

I have yet to write about the Hassler Memorial golf tourney, simply because I have been too busy complaining about other things. But it was a terrific tournament. Mr. Hassler was a pillar of the Perth community, it appears, who passed on about nine years ago. His family put together the tournament almost immediately following his death, raising money for the Perth hospital. They never have any trouble selling it out, since everyone in Perth knew Mr. Hassler and his car dealership, and they all get out to support the cause. It's a small community, and I love the fact that they would invite me up there to participate in what seems like almost a family event, where everyone knows everyone and there is a really close-knit vibe.

The one thing about golf tournaments, however, is that they do absolutely nothing for your actual golf game. I have realized that in the past two tournaments, I have used four clubs. My driver, my 4-iron, my 7-iron and my pitching wedge. That's it. Every time you think you got off a great shot, someone hit one better. The only time you get to hit a 4-iron is when you're on a par 5, but you're really going all out to smash it as often as you can - if I shank it, someone else in the foursome will hit a good one. So I'm certainly not getting any better. But I certainly know the Links O'Tay quite well now. The course, the people, the cart girls. Which didn't help me help out my team at all. I golfed with Sue and Terry and Ed, and they may have been six under if I hadn't held them back. The course switches up the cart girls from tournament to tournament, so I had to get to know all new ones, because that's a huge money maker for them, and they are all about fairness. Which is great, but I have never seen a golf course with nine girls working, either on the carts or in the dining room, or behind the counter.

The best cart girls in Ottawa, by the way, are at the Canadian. Well, maybe not the best, but the hottest. And they are very friendly (you know, like that waitress at Hooters who puts her hand on your shoulder so you'll tip out most of your paycheque). The Canadian has the hottest friendly cart girls in the area. But the Links O'Tay has the friendliest hot cart girls in the area. That make sense?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Two things that puzzled me today.

On the way back from the South Mountain Fair, we passed a sign that said "Hicks Insurance". I thought, well, it's the country. But no need to be so mean about it! Can't the hicks use Palladium insurance just like the suave sophisticates of Kanata? Racists. Some bizarre names I can understand. Chinese food stores (like the one downtown) that are named Hung Phat, I understand. They are Chinese. For them, the letters are in Mandarin, and the translation is phonetic,and how are they to know? For the same reason, I can understand K.Y. Ho referring to himself as K.Y. Ho. Were he born and bred Canadian, perhaps he would find his name as funny as I do, and he would begin calling himself Kim Ho, or something else. But when you ARE a Canadian, and you can think things through in our language, how do you allow yourself to go by "Mike" when your last name is Hunt? Isn't Michael more logical? How does it not occur to you that naming your business Cumming Cockburn doesn't really work? (Look it up - they're in Ottawa.)

The second thing that gave me pause today was at the Ex. There was a "pet" area, which was basically a room with three tents for three different dog lobby groups. A greyhound tent, a miscellaneous rescued dog tent, and a Rottweiler tent. I like Rottweilers. They are a fairly cute dog, and seem friendly enough. But they are certainly dangerous, and they do, on occasion, kill kids. So I went to see the information they had posted, thinking I was perhaps wrong about the breed. I really wanted to learn more. The FIRST phrase on their poster was "If you want a dog that is obedient, a mindless drone that will follow any order at ALL that you give it, then a Rottweiler is not for you." OK...what am I missing? This is a DOG we're talking about. People send their dogs TO obedience school. They don't send them to the Henry David Thoreau School of Independant Canine Thought. There are no books on the Duty Of Canine Disobedience.

Isn't this kind of like saying "if you want a kid that will just mindlessly follow the laws of the country, one who, like a drone, will commit no crimes and assault no enemies..." who wants a dog that doesn't obey? Who wants a dog that will pick and choose which commands he heeds? Independant thought was not something anyone strove for in a pet, from what I understand. There is a definite difference between the personality of a dog and it's ability to stop when you yell stay! Your dog can have all the personality in the world and still be obedient and easy to deal with. And when you say, UP FRONT, that this is a dog that will not listen to you, that will do as he pleases anyway, and that will be more difficult than any regular dog, you're really setting yourself up to seem stupid. And when that breed of dog is KNOWN to have attacked children and mauled adults, you are saying "well, who knows? There's always a chance. I mean, he won't even roll over, will he?" This is the dumbest way to promote an animal I have ever seen.

But adopt one. Seriously. Rottweilers are desirable. They think outside the box. They're their own dog. Maybe they can help you find a different perspective for your term paper.

Wheatgrass really exists!

I have discovered a place that is more confusing than Starbucks! As we headed to the Ex, my girlfriend mistook my lack of enthusiasm and doom-is-approaching attitude for actual illness, and figured that the best way to cure me fast and rejuvenate my energy was with something called a Booster Juice. This is a store that apparently sells nothing but whatever a Booster Juice is. You go in, and there is a menu, and I guess it's all juice, only you can also order a whatgrass and tofu falafel or something. Wheatgrass is real! All this time I thought it was a word made up by movies to make fun of people who drove biodiesel-fueled cars and didn't shave their armpits! No, it exists. And it is in Booster Juice. You see, there are 26 different kinds of drink. Or maybe fifty. You read the ingredients. They are basically smoothies. So you choose either one with blueberry, banana and yogurt, or one with strawberry, soy milk, alfalfa sprouts, banana and yogurt, or whatever.

But then you are not done. These "drinks" come with a Booster. The drink itself is not the Booster Juice, it is mererly the "juice", as is my understanding. Only by adding the "booster" do you make the entire concoction a "Booster Juice". You can choose from several cleverly-named boosters, like You Go Girl Booster and Takes One To Know One Booster and I Know You Are But What Am I Booster and so forth. Each one is explained in great detail beneath it's name - this one contains protein. This other one, creatine. This other one, Androstenedione. And this one is for healthy women on the go. Jen got the Healthy Women On The Go Booster. I don't know what I got. I think it was the Talk To The Hand Booster. Only Starbucks makes it this difficult to just go in and order a drink. I hate Starbucks. And only in the Glebe would a business choose to pattern itself after that paragon of fake-conservationist-false-hippy-phony-naturalist commercialism that is Starbucks.

Whatever, it doesn't matter. It tasted like suck, and I pitched it. At a guy with long hair, birkenstocks, John Lennon sunglasses and a blackberry.

Why I hate the Ex. And I do.

What could possess a person to spend 12 dollars in order to walk through a densely trafficked, obnoxious, smelly fair ground and then get on two rides, play four games, and go home? My girlfriend, for one, loves the Ex. Or, as I call it, Ottawa's annual Jailbait Jam. Even without her kids, she was desperate to go this year. I thought I may have dodged the bullet, but no. She HAD to go. After all, it's the Ex. So we paid our ten dollars on parking. And we paid our twelve dollars to get in. And we navigated our way through the cigarette-smoking pregnant women, the nineteen-year-old moms pushing their strollers, the 13-year-old skanks wearing wax paper skirts and tops made out of Bounce dryer sheets, all dressed in white except for the giant silver hoop earrings, the young thugs with their pants falling off and cotton candy sticking through their greasy corn rows, the tough, swaggering kids in jean shorts and Motley Crue T-Shirts, with their hats tilted to one side just so, and a chain in their pockets that connected nothing with nothing, and we went to play bingo.

I was absolutely stuffed from my two 16-oz steak sandwiches at the OTHER fair, so I was not able to partake (thank God) in the vomit-worthy food served up by the wretched vendors the length of the food aisle. Sad-looking, portly, sweat-stained fry cooks, unshaven and unwashed, presiding over frightened and inept 14-year-old kids for whom this is their first job ever, hawking disgusting candy apples where you have no idea if they are bruised or not until you bite into them, corn dogs that are dripping with the foulest grease imnaginable, and thin dry hamburgers hastily slapped on a thin dry bun, hamburgers which you can adorn yourself with the finest condiments available, ketchup and mustard bottles with tops that are falling off, swarming with flies and the residual germs of the four hundred and fifty customers who have come before you in the last four days. Mmmm.

We played whack-a-mole. I slept with a carny once. WE played whack-a-molar. It was only slightly more fun. Whack-a-mole seems to be losing steam of late. There are just no people particpating in whack-a-mole in recent years. The good people at PETA must be doing their jobs, influencing our young people away from such barbaric customs as whacking moles, and toward more family-friendly entertainment like shooting a water pistol into a clown's mouth. Which we did also. And we did skee-ball. And we did that thing that's like skee-ball, only it moves a horse along a track and then you win something. I won that one. And I won the whack-a-mole. I got a stuffed...(well, SHE got) a stuffed toucan and a stuffed dinosaur. They cost us six bucks each, what with both of us playing the games. I would not have taken these lousy prizes for free, let alone pay six dollars. Jen won a really crappy monkey on a swing at skee-ball. We ended up tied, because she won at bingo.

Is there any game stupider than bingo? Regular bingo, fair bingo, whatever. You sit there, filling in dots when people yell the names of those dots...someone yells bingo and they get a set of glasses that will last through one picnic outing. We chose a CD case for all my burned CDs, which was actually handy. God, it was time to go! I had to get out of there before my head exploded. I just can't take it. The smell, the posers, the smoking mothers, the jailbait, the carnys. Carnies? Carnys. I am amazed carnys don't get attacked more. Their idea of salesmanship is to insult passers-by until one of them takes exception, then attempt to swindle them into playing a five-dollar game for the opportunity of winning a moustache comb. You say no thanks, politely, they say "you're a pussy". You ignore, them, they say the same thing, only louder and with more profanity. Fine salesmen, these carnys. I am certain that some day I will see them working in real estate, standing by their own toothless picture on someone's front lawn, yelling obscenities at all the cars that go by without checking out the open house.

So we left. Finally. I wanted to show the girlfriend a good time, but not at the expense of my sanity. After all, I am going back to work tomorrow, and I need to hang on but six more hours. Anyway, Ottawa's Annual Jailbait Jamboree did not disappoint. Jailbait and creepy vendors as far as the eye can see. If I ever somehow have another eleventh birthday, or the Stones play again, I may go back.

South Mountain Fair: Deal!

This morning I hosted a small fair version of Deal or No Deal at the South Mountain Fair. It was my first trip out to South Mountain, and it could not have been a better time! The people out there were the best I've met at one of these country fairs yet. Twenty-six models were brought in, piling out of their limo with the cases to be opened on the bleachers near the tent. Now, I DO have one complaint. They get to pile out of a limo...I have to drive myself? I'm hosting! I'm Howie Mandel! Only less smarmy. Ah well, I certainly am not attractive enough to warrant a limo anywhere, and I hold no grudge. They were also volunteering for the day, and if that means they get superstar treatment, it's more than worthwhile.

Of course, since it was not a nationwide game show, the dollar amounts were definitely smaller than a million dollars. Between 1 cent and 1,000 dollars was up for grabs, and the crowd was terrific, shouting their advice and really participating. Much as I hate watching Deal or no Deal, I certainly enjoyed hosting it. Rhonda came away with $250.00, and Linda made $225.00 and got a free CHEZ hat. Success! I brought my girlfriend with me, since she loves the fairs. And I like the little ones, out in the farming communities, with the horse shows and the 4H stuff and the good food. In fact, I ate the greatest steak sandwich I have ever had. Make that the two greatest steak sandwiches ever! I enjoyed the first so much, I had to have another. These were not your standard 2-oz steak sandwiches, these were full-on, beautifully cooked, 16-oz steak sandwiches. I asked the guy at the booth if he runs a restaurant the rest of the year, but apparently not. He runs a trailer-painting company! Here is a man who missed his calling.

My girlfriend was etremely excited because Little Ray's reptiles was there, and they had a skunk. (Which, by the way, is the weirdest looking reptile ever.) Every time a skunk walks into our backyard, Jen wants to pick it up and play with it -after all, they ARE very cute. So she got her picture taken with the skunk, ate some fair food, and we were good to go. And then, she wanted to go to the Ex. We were just AT a fair. And I HATE the Ex. I HATE it. More on that later...