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February, 2010:

End of the week miscellany

I wonder if public sector job creation is part of this. Doubtful.

  • Why, upon boarding a bus, do many people fumble around in the pockets, bags or purses for cash fare, tickets or their pass – thereby delaying everyone else on the bus? Did they think that they wouldn’t need to pay or show their pass? Can’t they plan well enough in advance and have their fare ready to plop into the box? Are they surprised to suddenly be on a bus?
  • Staying with the transit theme… OC Transpo riders have maybe noticed the green, red and while pamphlets declaring that Transit security is everyone’s business!
  • Trust your eyes! While waiting at your bus stop or riding the bus, be alert. Watch for unusual situations, behaviour or packages, and report anything suspicious!

    If you see something, say something!

    If you see something… say something…

Have I missed something? Have there been some terrorist incidents on the City’s buses? Should I tackle the next guy I see carrying a red briefcase. Yeah, I know some of you are all for increased vigilance… but doesn’t this strike you as a bit paranoid?

  • Glad Gordon Lightfoot is not dead. Funny how that rumour spread like wildfire over Twitter before being picked up by the mainstream media.  Reports indicate that Mr. Lightfoot was quite happy about this as his tunes saw a level of airplay that they hadn’t seen in years. CHEZ 106 reported this morning that they had received an email from Anne Murray saying that she had indeed passed away as well.
  • Coyotes (silent “e”) or coyoteees – which is it?
  • The pointed hatted folks in Vatican City have declared that brother André from Montréal will become a saint. Well, good for him, darn it! But I gotta say that he looks a little fragile. I mean, even as the placekicker, I think he’ll have some problems. One hit and this dude is in a mess of pain! Has anyone told Drew Brees?

  • Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to wish my eldest subunit a happy 17th birthday this Sunday! Love ya honey!

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No big surprise

although the CBC has it wrong – the ReformCons have a slight lead because the gap is outside the margin of error.

Why no big surprise? Well, look at the calender, dummy! It’s the dead of winter! Folks down east are dealing with another dumping of the white stuff. Separatist Quebecois folks are all aghast at Lucien Bouchard’s latest remarks. Ontarians are worried that they’re going to get hit with a huge winter storm cuz it has been such a tame winter so far. And everyone to the west of Ontario is too busy skiing or watching the Olympics.

Wait till spring and then we’ll see if either party can take a step or two forward…

Remind me again why the Grits and the Dippers aren’t talking about merging???

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Harperites ain’t so “handsome”

And so it begins.

PS union leaders are meeting with the President of the Treasury Board, Stockwell “cavemen fought dinosaurs” Day to talk about what they should expect in the next budget, due to be released on March 4th. And federal public servants are justifiably afraid of what the budget may have in store for the PS pension plan – already described by Jimbo Flahtery as “handsome”.

I’ve gone on and on about the PS pension plan, as have others. And if you are in the PS, you pretty much like the status quo, but if you are not, you pretty much think that the pesnions are already way too generous for a buncha lazy good-for-nothing bureaucrats.

So I’m not going to rant on and on about this yet again, except to say this:

Mr. Day, changing the rules of the game is OK if those new rules apply to new employees. They can make the decision whether or not to pursue as a vocation, a career in the PS. The rules of the game are up front and transparent.

But if you dare to change the rules for those of us who have worked hard under the assumption that what we signed on for would still be in place when we retire, then, Mr. Day, you will be in for a fight.  Mark my words.

(2525)

The Knack

If you’re of a certain vintage, you’ll remember The Knack. A pumpin’ heavy beat and a wild vocal… the wild vocal, Doug Fieger, was silenced on Valentine’s Day as he succumbed to cancer.

I was in Grade 11 in 1979 when their mega-hit, My Sharona, was playing everywhere…punk and post punk, new wave and Ska, Zep and Floyd dominated the juke boxes (kids, ask your Moms and Dads what those were).

Some good memories, man… some good memories.

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Be kind, y’all…

Did you know that this week is Kindness Week in Ottawa?

I didn’t either.

Over at kindottawa.ca, kindness is in the air! Hostilities have ceased! Flowers are blooming and hugs abound!
“Celebrating the kindness that exists and encouraging the kindness that can be.” that’s the motto.

There are even different levels of kindness. One can accept the challenge of a bronze, silver or gold level of kindness. Hmmmmm…. Sounds kinda Olympian… The kindness folks should watch out for the IOC police.



Call a family member or friend who you haven’t been in touch with lately to say a friendly hello.



Donate toiletries and other daily necessities like new socks and underwear to a family shelter.



Spend time with your loved ones this Family Day. Play boardames, (sic) volunteer in the community or attend the Family Day Skate with Yasir Naqvi, MPP Ottawa-Centre at Mutchmor Skating Rink from 1 to 4 p.m.

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Um. Apparently the kindness club hasn’t heard of spellcheck…

Kindness is being touted everyone – but only now am I noticing. The signs in the bus ask “what do you choose to do?” and have the catchy text lingo banner “choose 2bk.” Wow. That’ll inspire the teens!

All kidding aside, I guess it isn’t a bad idea for the city to encourage it’s citizenry to be kind. What with the great service we receive from city-provided services like OC Transpo, for example, we should be kinder to those ever so pleasant drivers! And why not hug a Councillor today? Or give a flower to the by-law dude who just plunked a $50 ticket on your windshield because you were 5 minutes late getting out of the dentist!

Hell ya! Kindness for all!

But what if I don’t feel like being kind today? I am kind of grumpy. I didn’t sleep well last night. I have another one of those post-concussion headaches. And my right knee’s meniscus is acting up. What will happen if I’m not kind at all… maybe even UNKIND??

What if I tell the surly bus driver to get a life? What if I kick my Councillor square in the butt? What if I grab that by-law guy by the throat and….

No, no no. I won’t do that. The website implies that those things would be wrong.

After all, the man behind this intiative has lofty goals:

As spiritual leader of the congregation Machzikei Hadas and a well-known community leader around Ottawa, Rabbi Bulka is often approached to lend his name, wisdom and support to many community causes. On more than one occasion, he has been asked to participate in activities against anti-Semitism and other initiatives aimed at fighting injustice and intolerance.  “All very important causes,” the rabbi thought, “but I’d rather fight FOR something POSITIVE, than be AGAINST something NEGATIVE.”

So he set about meeting with other community leaders all around the city and across all sectors, engaging them in this common dialogue: what if we could make Ottawa a kinder community? Would we need to spend so much time on anti-bullying, anti-racism, issues of mistrust, and other nasty stuff?

So the theory is that by concentrating on the positive rather than the negative in a sense of building up kindness “capital”, then the bad stuff will go away. Nice idea, and I’m sure that the Crips or the Bloods will totally buy into it…

Yet, I’ll try to be kind. I really will…

But Harper or one of his robots is SURE to do something this week that will piss me off! And I will likely be a bit unkind in my remarks! Should I postpone my unkindness to sometime after the 19th?????

Must be kind. Must be kind. Must be kind.

So be kind Ottawa!

Dammit!

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Hey! It’s Flag Day and no one told me!

While I am not some galloping, flag-waving nationalist – I’m the old fashioned type of nationalist – I woulda thought that SOMEBODY would have pointed out that today is:

National Flag of Canada Day

Happy Birthday ya old red and white dude!

And while I’m getting all teary-eyed patriotic and stuff, check out the video that NBC did as an intro to the Vancouver Olympics as a tribute to Canuckland:

(But the Yanks are quite welcome to Celine Dion, thank-you very much)

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Where oh where should the G-20 be held?

Why would anyone really think that the Reformatories would consult with the City of Toronto about where best to hold the G 20 Summit?

As reported in many places, like the G&M, the feds and the city don’t quite agree on the locale. Harper’s minions want to hold it right in the downtown core – causing a few days of massive disruption to the residents of the area as well as the businesses. While the City thinks it wiser to hold it outside the core at Exhibiton Place.

Oh wait, they DID consult with the bank towers folks, cuz, well, they are much more important than those morons who had the audacity to elect a Dipper as their MP.

What, you say? Politics couldn’t come into play with how the ReformCons operate here, could it? Naw. The Harperites would never put partisanship ahead of sound logistics!

But, if my sense of direction is correct, the Convention Centre is in Toronto Centre – which is Olivia Chow’s riding … but could be in Toronto Centre – Bob Rae’s riding. Maybe someone could help me out.

NOT that this political stuff would matter to the Harperroids….

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How to write about we Canucks, eh?

Yeah, yeah… it plops down every Canadian sterotype out there, but  still kinda cute…

http://bit.ly/9X0CIg

Guess we should get used to the attention while all this Olympic stuff is on….

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The Olympics

Tonight, the ancient games begin again in Vancouver – also known as the least wintery city in Canada. What were they thinking???!

In the old days – in Greece, the Games were used as an occasion for nation states to stop warring with one another long enough to rest their soldiers for the next military campaign. Since I haven’t read anything lately about the Taliban or NATO forces putting down their arms and IEDs for the duration of the Games, I’m thinking that the old rationale no longer applies.

So, of what value are the Games? Is there a broad and worthy social purpose behind them? Do they provide social cohesion and sense of purpose… especially needed in these strange economic times?

Or are they simply a massive waste of money and effort that says more about the excesses of the modern world than about peace and fair play?

Sports have often been used as a tool for nationalists to sir up patriotic fervour – and perhaps distract the populace from the real troubles that a state may be experiencing. It’s a lot easier to see the citizenry on an unpopular idea if the masses are proud of their flag.

And, of course, the Olympiad of the Third Reich showed us that sport and the Olympics can be used for purely evil intents.

Am I for this spectacle of sound and fury or do I think that this all signifies nothing?

Not long ago, I was firmly on the pro-Games side of the line. After all, nationalism spurred on by the accomplishments of it’s elite athletes in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It can spur excellence and innovation. Plus, I do enjoy watching the Games and, like many Canadians and yell at the TV when one of my fellow Canucks is competing. Hey, I like sports of all types and I don’t apologise for it.

But I have changed my thinking a little.

What bugs me is the sheer massiveness of the Games in their current state. Something like $3 billion has been spent on thus edition.

3 billion.

And I can’t help but wonder what else that money could have been used for in a social purpose kind of way.

The Squid-dude listed some of the ways to spend this moolah in a post about a month ago:

  1. The government could bail out the pensions of all the people horned by the collapse of Nortel.  If bailing out the auto-workers is a good use of billions of taxpayer dollars, surely bailing out a few thousand computer geeks must be no big deal.  What is so special about the auto industry that they get cut so much slack while high tech gets told to suck on it?  This would probably cost less than $3 billion and benefit both the economy and thousands of people for the rest of their lives.
  2. A cheque for $100 could be issued to every man, woman, and child living in Canada.  This would benefit every person in Canada and the economy as a whole.  It would benefit athletes too, much more than any Olympic competition would as they could put the money toward equipment and training.  It might be enough to get some kids into a sports program that their families can’t afford right now.  Or it might just be blown on beer and pizza, but that helps the economy.
  3. An extra $3 billion could have been poured into an invested fund from which athletic programs in Canada could draw money instead of begging from the government for dribs and drabs.  This would also have cost less than the cost of the Olympics and would have the benefit of improving the quality of our athletes.
  4. It costs much less than $1 billion to have an election so that Canadians can get the government they seem to want and hush their bitching for a few weeks.  In theory, that would benefit everyone.
  5. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen could have a massive boost with $3 billion added to the defence budget.  We could solidify our arctic sovereignty.
  6. Imagine $3 billion being put toward research and development of clean energy.
  7. This is a back-of-the-napkin calculation, but I think that $3 billion would allow the government to replace every car and truck over the age of 5 or 7 years for every person who has one in Canada.  This would boost the auto industry, boost the economy, and clean up the air.  Every junker could be taken off the road.
  8. $3 billion could improve the quality of post secondary education at every college and university in Canada.
  9. $3 billion cold be invested in research and development generally, helping restore our place as a world leader in this area.
  10. We could use the money to annex the Turks and Caicos, allowing us a warm, sunny spot to go to without having to be subjected to US air security/paranoia.  $3 billion will keep the T&C operating for a long, long time.
  11. $3 billion could probably settle every outstanding native land claim, or cut the list down significantly.
  12. For less than $3 billion, every family in Canada could be given a decent laptop and high speed internet access.

So what do I propose happen to this travesty that has been driven by greed, excess and hyper-nationalism- not to mention the self-serving aims of that most elite of elitist societies, the IOC.

I’d like to see the Games continue, but not in it’s present form. So, in the Olympic spirit of giving, this is what I suggest should happen to bring the Games back to a place where peace and fair play is the goal.

And I won’t even ask for a seat on the IOC if any of them are used.

1) Get rid if the IOC. The UN is the only body I can think of that could coordinate a buyout of the trademarks etc to allow the Games to continue in some form. The IOC is a medieval and secretive society that simply must be replaced by one that is more transparent, less corrupt and more representative of the world as a whole.

2) Impose a strict budget ceiling on proposals and total expenditures. Hosting countries should not be chosen on the basis of how much money they can throw at the project; but rather their commitment to peace, fair play, democracy and human rights.

3) Take the pros out of the Games. Yes, I enjoy watching Canada’s best hockey players lay a good whoopin’ on the Yanks and the Ruskies as much as the next guy. But those dudes who make a gazillon bucks a year shouldn’t be there. They just shouldn’t.

What other solutions could make the Games a more sane event rather than the circus it has become?

Anyone?

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To serve the public, and be appreciated for it

Today is Employee Appreciation Day in my neck of the woods.

Yeah, I know most non public servants believe that the PS is a rat’s nest full of lazy and overpaid bumpkins, whatever.
Or as XUP put it in a recent post when talking about our pensions:

Our pay increases over the last decade or so have been below cost of living increases and our next contract will probably just maintain the status quo. We’ve had staffing freezes and freezes on all expenditures. This means we’re working on ancient equipment and sitting on broken down furniture in underheated or overheated buildings. What people don’t understand about government employees is that we’ve traded a lot for some sort of job and pension security. Entry level jobs probably pay better than the private sector, but after that we are equal to or less than what could be earned privately. You can work your ass off in the government and you will never get promoted based on merit, you will never get bonuses or incentives, you will never be rich. There will be no gold watch when you retire, no Christmas bonuses, no gifts, no perks. And our day-to-day job gives little personal satisfaction. We are tiny cogs in a big, impersonal machine. Our work will rarely be recognized. We will never be movers or shakers.And we can be working hard on something for months only to have the whole thing cancelled all of a sudden with no explanation. Have you ever had to deal with a government department for anything? Were you frustrated? Whatever frustration you felt, multiply that by at least 10 and that’s what it’s like on the inside. But we stay because security is more important than all that stuff and that’s seriously the ONLY reason most of us are still here. And everybody hates us, mocks us and thinks we have such a cushy gig.

But let me tell you about the folks that I’m in charge of.

This bunch is a collection of hard-working, intelligent and motivated Canadians. They’re folks who take what they do seriously, professionally and do it well. I am proud to work with them and mostly everyone else with whom I have had the pleasure to do so in my 12 1/2 years of serving the Canadian public.

They are my family beyond my family and when I do eventually retire (or am booted out!), I will have many, many years of great memories to take with me.

Are there those in the PS at large who fit that negative image that is so popular? Of course there are! But any very large organization will have staff of this ilk and we are no different. It’s just that the PS is such an easy target and one can easily overlook those lazy slobs that are certain to exist in companies like Xerox, Microsoft, Ford and the TD bank.

Except for the guy 4th from the right (who is an Honorary Member of our group), this is my team on the Canal at lunchtime earlier this week. Missing are three folks – one had another engagement, one of whom was on course and the other was ill.

Thanks guys!

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