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June, 2011:

The “royal” visit – and why I am glad I’ll be outta town!

I detest hero-worship in any form… and the fawning over the “royal” visit is the epitome of hero worship!

Not that I am implying in any way that they’re heroes at all but they occupy the same pantheon as movie and sports celebs. They are false heroes who get paid more than most of us can even imagine, enjoy all of the trappings of celebrity and do precious little to deserve it in real terms.

PLUS I have always taken offense to the fact that a foreign monarch is our Head of State!

PLUS, we taxpayers are going to get dinged at all levels of government for the costs associated with this visit!

I was going to keep my trap shut about this – I have cut back on the blogging a bit to give my ranting a rest – but I HAD to post something after seeing THIS:

HIS OWN EFFING FLAG???

WTF? Who authorised this? Who paid for it? WHO?

Oh. Yeah.

The flag is a testament to the special bond between Canada and the Royal Family and pays tribute to our shared history, traditions and institutions. It will be flown with great pride throughout the upcoming Royal Tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,” Harper said in an announcement.

On the lighter side…

 

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Turkeys! Lots of turkeys!

Turkeys are causing havoc…. HAVOC I tell ya, in the burg of Barrie, Ontario!

No, not the kind who you address as Senator or Minister, but the real feathered kind.

The yummy ones.

We in O-town also have wild turkeys that you see from time to time* but I would hardly call them havoc-makers.

Though a colleague was telling me yesterday about an encounter on the 417 that left one turkey as a mess of blood, bone and feathers while causing about $1,000 worth of damage to his car. Damn thing just wandered onto the 6 lane freeway!

At least the ones who you address as Senator or Minister are a bit smarter than that.

Right?

*Again, not the kind who you address as Senator or Minister…

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Friday, er, Saturday miscellany

OK. I didn’t get to the Friday Miscellany thing yesterday. My bad.

I was golfing in the afternoon – and dodging lightning – and had to work like the dickens to get some stuff done in the morning and over lunch so I didn’t get the chance to finish my Friday post! Gimme a break, will ya!!!!!

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The sister of a colleague of mine is being awarded with a Medal of Bravery for actions taken in January!

Congrats to Tara… not many of us would have the guts to do what she did!

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Winnipeg Jets. Damn, that feels good to say…

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Bye to XUP as she moves from O-Dot to The Big Smoke! Gonna miss our early morning chats on the 148… best of luck to her and XUP Junior!

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Chrysotile asbestos. It kills. It really does. Never mind those who vigorously state that if used correctly and properly monitored, it is perfectly safe.

If installed correct… and we are exporting this stuff to places who really don’t care a whole lot about health and safety requirements

If anyone believes the myth that developing countries with poor bureaucracies and widespread corruption oversee the substance’s use, then that person is engaging in willful self-deception.

Jeffrey Simpson called us the “Ugly Canadians”.

The Harper government could care less. It vigorously defends mining asbestos because of one little corner of Quebec, near Thetford Mines, where the asbestos is mined and shipped to developing countries, mostly in Asia. Stephen Harper’s top Quebec minister, Christian Paradis, used to head the Thetford Mines chamber of commerce. Mr. Harper campaigned in the area and supported the mining. He spent part of Friday, St. Jean Baptiste Day, in Thetford Mines, thereby reinforcing his government’s political marriage to asbestos.

This week, the Ugly Canadians stood alone against the world in blocking the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical under the Rotterdam Convention. At the meeting in Geneva, Canada had at first clustered itself among a small group of opponents that included such democratic stalwarts as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. Even these countries relented, however, and agreed to the listing. But not Canada. Not the Harper government. Not when there are jobs at an asbestos mine in Quebec.

What shame. Not only do we have a reputation for overlooking the environmental impacts of the tar sands, rioting in the streets for no particular reason and have the  worst record for greenhouse-gas emissions in the developed world, we refuse to ban the export of a substance that kills those who are most vulnerable.

And just for a few votes.

Shame on Harper. And shame on Jean Charest too.

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Jimbobbysez is having a photo caption contest. Go take a look!

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Your dishwasher may be trying to kill you and yours!

The research, whose findings are published in a super-coolly named journal called Fungal Biology, showed that:

62 per cent of dishwashers contained the fungi Exophiala dermatitidis and E. phaeomuriformis on the rubber band in the door. Both of the black yeasts are known to be dangerous to human health.

Kinda makes sense though, doesn’t it? Organic matter, warm temps, downtime to allow the bugs to thrive… perfect scenario, eh? But then again, this can be said for a number of surfaces in the kitchen.

So what to do? Some suggest to I put the dishwasher thru a cycle with a lot of white vinegar once a month using the topmost temperature setting. Plus, try to rinse as much food from the cutlery and dishes as possible in the sink  BEFORE putting them in the dishwasher.

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Finally, you wanna diss someone, but want to it creatively… how about doing it in Ye Olde English?

Choose one word from each of the columns below and add “thou” at the beginning. As in

Methinks you lie! Thou dankish, crook-pated, foot-licker!

See? Fun, eh?

 

 

 

 

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Just because this tune sooo rox…

And hearing it is a great way to start a Friday!

That is all.

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Brands that will disappear…

… some of them are rather surprising.

Check it out… A&W is particular holds a lot of memories for me. I remember rolling up to the drive in with my brother and parents and my Dad ordering a root beer… it came in a frosted glass mug!

2. A&W

A&W Restaurants is owned by fast food holding company giant Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUMNews) which has had the firm for sale since January. There have been no buyers. The chain was founded in 1919. The size of the company grew rapidly, and immediately after WWII 450 franchises were opened. The firm pioneered the “drive in” fast food format. A&W began to sell canned versions of its sodas in 1971 — the part of the business that will survive as a container beverage business which is now owned by Dr. Pepper/Snapple. The A&W Restaurant business is too small to be viable now. It had 322 outlets in the U.S and 317 outside the U.S at the end of last year. All were operated by franchisees. By contrast, Yum!’s flagship KFC had 5,055 stores in the U.S. and 11,798 overseas. Two massive global fast food chains are even larger. Subway has 35,000 locations worldwide, and McDonald’s has nearly as many. A&W does not have the ability to market itself against these chains and at least a dozen other fast food operators like Burger King. And, A&W does not have the size to efficiently handle food purchases, logistics, and transportation costs compared to competitors many times as large.

Seriously? That standard-bearer of department store????

5. Sears

The parent of Sears and Kmart — Sears Holdings — is in a lot of trouble. Total revenue dropped $341 million to $9.7 billion for the quarter which closed April 30, 2011. The company had a net loss of $170 million. Sears Holdings was created by a merger of the parents of the two chains on March 24, 2005. The operation has been a disaster ever since. The company has tried to run 4,000 stores which operate across the US and Canada. Neither Sears nor Kmart have done well recently, but Sears’ domestic locations same store numbers were off 5.2% in the first quarter and Kmart’s were down 1.6%. Last year domestic comparable store sales declined 1.6% in the total, with an increase at Kmart of .7% and a decline at Sears Domestic of 3.6%. New CEO Lou D’Ambrosio recently said of the last quarter that, “we also fell short on executing with excellence. We cannot control the weather or economy or government spending. But we can control how we execute and leverage the potent set of assets we have.” D’Ambrosio needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat soon. Sharex are down 55% during the last five years. D’Ambrosio’s only reasonable solution to the firm’s financial problems is to stop supporting two brands which compete with one another and larger rivals such as Walmart (NYSE: WMTNews) and Target (NYSE: TGTNews). The cost to market two brands and maintain stores which overlap one another geographically must be in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Employee and supply chain costs are also gigantic. The path D’Ambrosio is likely to take is to consolidate two brand into one — keeping the better performing Kmart and shuttering Sears.

My kids love this crap cereal. Good riddance!

7. Kellogg’s Corn Pops

The cereal business is not what is used to be, at least for products that are not considered “healthy.” Among those is Kellogg’s Corn Pops ready-to-eat cereal. Sales of the brand dropped 18% over the year that ended in April, down to $74 million. That puts it well behind brands like Cheerios and Frosted Flakes, each which have sales of over $200 million a year. Private label sales have also hurt sales of branded cereals. Revenues in this category were $637 million over the same April-end period. There is also profit margin pressure on Corn Pops because of the sharp increase in corn prices. Kellogg’s describes the product as being “crispy, glazed, crunchy, sweet.” Corn Pops also contain mono- and diglycerides, used to bind saturated fat, and BHT for freshness, which is also used in embalming fluid. None of these are likely to be what mothers want to serve their children in an age in which a healthy breakfast is more likely to be egg whites and a bowl of fresh fruit.

 

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Anyone that claims that climate change…

UPDATE – Yes, I should have included a table of historical values for reference sake. Too lazy this morning.Thanks to @RunnertheFirst for pointing this out… please see the bottom of this post.

The average daily maximum was 17.3 C.

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… is a buncha crap, should consider this forecast for Inuvik.

Yes, this is “weather” as opposed to “climate”. I know the concepts and terminology very well…. but if these patterns persist, then there will be some major social, economic and biological upheavals in the North.

And I don’t believe we or any other polar nation is prepared for that.

Inuvik average temps – 1971 – 2000

Temperature: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Code
Daily Average (°C) -27.6 -26.9 -23.2 -12.8 0.2 11.3 14.2 11 3.7 -8.2 -21 -25.7 -8.8 A
Standard Deviation 4.8 4.7 3.7 4 3 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.7 4.8 3.4 1.9 A
Daily Maximum (°C) -23.2 -22 -17.5 -7.1 5 17.3 19.8 16.1 7.8 -4.8 -16.8 -21.3 -3.9 A
Daily Minimum (°C) -31.9 -31.7 -28.8 -18.4 -4.7 5.3 8.5 5.9 -0.4 -11.6 -25.1 -30.1 -13.6 A
Extreme Maximum (°C) 5.4 5.2 6.1 13.8 25 32.8 32.8 32.5 26.2 15 10.6 5
Date (yyyy/dd) 1981/15 1989/25 1965/09 1995/27 1998/28 1999/17 2001/20 1994/02 1989/10 1969/12 1970/01 1973/31
Extreme Minimum (°C) -54.4 -56.7 -50.6 -46.1 -27.8 -6.1 -3.3 -6.1 -20.1 -35 -46.1 -50
Date (yyyy/dd) 1975/12 1968/04 1964/14 1971/01 1961/06 1959/04 1966/29 1966/13 1983/26 1965/29 1963/24 1964/31

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Trashy goes to Parliament!

For a political junkie like me, last night was one of those “special” times of my life.

Courtesy of an invite by an ex-NDP MP through a colleague of my spouse, I had the distinct privilege of dining in the Parliamentary restaurant and having a pretty damned cool private tour afterward.

I would love to post pics, but our host asked us to promise to NOT post any pics in the social media world – lest he lose his privileges as an ex-Parliamentarian… and I respect that…

So here is a non-pictorial summary:

  • Dined in the restaurant… wasn’t allowed to take any photos at all here. The setting was awesome but the food was, well, not so much. We were told that the restaurant is kicking into summertime shutdown mode because as soon as the House rises, the restaurant closes up shop.
  • Stood at the podium in the Press Gallery. Ranted for a sec, à la John Baird…
  • Went to the restored Library – that place always blows me away.
  • Hung around the House for a while. Sat in The Robots seat (the Universe is somewhat out of kilter this morning because of that), the Speaker’s chair, Bob Rae’s seat, Jack Layton’s chair… and the Bloc… they are but a wee piece of the floor space after May 2!
  • Stood on the floor of the Senate.
  • Toured the old PCO office – where the Constitution was kept and guarded when it was repatriated.
  • Saw John A’s old office… strange vibes there
  • Went through the infamous tunnels from Centre Block to East Block

Quite a night, indeed. And thanks to all who arranged it!

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When questions were answered…

Before scripted responses in QP. Before “messaging”.  Before every utterance from a Minister’s mouth had to be cleared by the PMO, sitting MP’s actually communicated directly with their constituents and other members of the public. All by themselves.

Yes. They did. I’m not making this up.

I know that on all sides of the House, there are Members who do good riding work…. no doubt. But in these days of über controlled messaging, rare is the MP who will just thrown out an email or letter in response to questions. No way. What if they said something that was counter to party lines? What if they strayed from the key messages that the PMO (or party leadership in the case of Opposition parties) wishes to convey.

The Resident Love Goddess was rummaging through some old boxes in the crawl space yesterday when she came across this letter sent to her by Flora MacDonald who was then the MP for Kingston and the Islands. She asked for some information to help prepare for a school debate.

She wasn’t even the MP for my RLG’s riding!

Imagine. Asking a number of specific question about an MP’s stand on different issues – some quite divisive – and getting a clear and unambiguous response… not a form letter sent by a staffer based on a template approved by the PMO.

Imagine.

And that is how it should be. Any and all elected representatives have as one of their duties, the obligation to answer questions posed to them by the public. MPs, MPPs, City Councillors and even School Board Trustees are obliged to communicate with the folks who elected them. They have a duty to go to community functions like association AGMs and other major functions, openings of businesses, breaking ground for a new arena and even school barbeques. My MP does a lot of this “riding work” and does it well. He was at our Community Association’s AGM last week and, just like I and several of other parents, flipped burgers at our local school’s year-end BBQ. (Oh, and for the record, our School Board Trustee was nowhere to be seen.)

In any case, the days that saw speedy and complete responses from our MPs are largely over. Public Servants like Mrs. MacDonald would have had a difficult time functioning in this climate of muzzles and straight jackets.

And just to note, the Honourable Flora MacDonald just turned 85 and is involved with a number of volunteer organizations.

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So that’s why the beach was closed!

The fam and I were going to head off to Britannia Beach the other day for some water-based recreation-type stuff. But, upon checking the City rwebsite, we discovered that the beach was closed!

I thought it was a e. coli thing but nooooo….. this was the real reason!

There was a massive sea monkey infestation!

Damned sea moneys… don’t care how cute they are… hate ’em!

Thanks to the O-dot for clearing this up.

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Pro soccer comes to Ottawa!

Even though we have known that this was coming for some time (tough to keep a secret of any kind in Ottawa), I am ecstatic to see a NASL team coming to the NCR in 2013 or 2014 – depending on when the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park and Frank Clair Stadium is completed.

OK – where can I get season tickets?

I hope Ottawa can get behind this team and kick its image as a one-sport town. It was tough to see the Lynx leave due to a horrendous lack of fan support. I spent many sunny (and not-so-sunny)  afternoons eating peanuts, drinking beer and watching some good baseball, and I look forward to be doing the same on Bank Street in a couple of years!

Now for a name… I hope the owners consult the community – hold a contest, maybe?

Me? How about the:

  • Ottawa Arsenal
  • National Capital United
  • Ottawa United FC (boring)
  • Ottawa Football Club, though I guess we’d have to go with the North American terminology, as in…
  • Ottawa Soccer Club
  • Ottawa Wanderers
  • Ottawa Rivermen
  • Others?

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