Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Flu, and Computer Viruses (virii)

The Flu, and Computer Viruses (virii)

Advice: Buy Glaxo-Smith-Kline - http://www.gsk.ca/english/index.html

OK. Here’s the thing. Since the invention of this thing we now love and hate called the “Interweb”, our world has permanently been changed. We are now no longer able to listen to the sage advice of the Harvey Kirk / Lloyd Robertsons or the Walter Cronkites of the evening news. We can’t go through our days with the dull bliss of reading the morning paper re-hash of the day before. NO! Our “news” is thrust into our synapses at lightning speed (even faster if on cable!) We get so much information, that we cannot afford the time to check the source (something that was done for us in days gone by). In today’s ultra-speed world, stories fly on and off the web so fast that there’s no time for the obligatory liable suits “for misquoting my client”, that would have happened just 10 years ago. With all this speed and newfound competition between “News-sources”, stories get mixed, exaggerated, hyped and pushed out before the “Value” of the items has been evaluated. Suffice it to say, the most “popular” stories are the ones that make it to airtime.

Am I being jaded? Maybe. Am I angry? After the past two weeks listening to the same crap, YES!

Let me come to some point. H1N1, sometimes referred to as the “Swine Flu”. As I work in the healthcare industry, I hear about many of the communicable diseases and maladies out there. But this one... this year... has me flummoxed. All the regular worry-warts at work have been buzzing around the coffee urn talking up this “epidemic”. “My son’s whole family has swine flu!” “My daughter’s Hockey coach has it!” “It’s so terrible!” “I got the shot, and I can’t come in to work!” “You can die if you get the shot!” AAARRRGGG!

OK, ok... After divorcing myself from the BS at work, I do a little research of my own. This latest version of the flu (that’s all this really is), is no more virulent than any of the others. Since last year, when this H1N1 version was first isolated, there have been fewer deaths directly attributed than TB (Tuberculosis) or Hep C. More people die from heart disease daily than do from this strain of the flu. Huh. Then I look back; “Asian Flu”, “SARS”, and way back in 1918: “Spanish Flu”. These also had people dropping.

In my own history (which pretty much mirrors the use of television as a media), I never can recall seeing such huge lines of people standing in the rain waiting for the chance to get vaccinated against a “Flu”. Preposterous! What makes this ever more ironic is the fact that such close contact with other strangers increases the chances of becoming infected! HA! I’d laugh if all those idiots waiting for the shot, actually contracted the flu!

I think the real “Virus” here is the viral way that this H1N1 has become the news. It has all the politicians dancing round each other, sucking at the perceived “constituent teat”, wondering which way to play this headline... Opposition: “Our leaders are rotten jerks for not protecting the people!” Government: “We’re doing what we can, but the backlog is severe!” (GSK: “Just keep those blank cheques a-coming in! ) Not that I’m a conspiracist, but If I was..!

Bottom Line: Do yourself a favour, Wash your hands, cough into your sleeve, and don’t believe all you hear.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Canada Day

Forethought, Planning, Rights, Privileges… These things are the subject.

Recently, the local transit board has come up with a decision to stop its customers from transporting liquor via the bus on July 1st, Canada Day. This has many of the usual suspects crying “Freedom-smashers!” “Our Rights!” “What’s NEXT?!”

Let’s first take the side of the transit people. They are simply concerned for the safety of the passengers and their drivers. The kind of people who would be “transporting” their own liquor on the first of July, would more than likely be the kind who might also consume said liquor prior to boarding, or even during the trip (as has been the case in past years). The safety of the rest of the passengers who do not need to be intoxicated to celebrate, or feel the need to carry booze to their stops is good enough for me to have this one day ban. BC Transit has already stated that the day’s schedule is to be modified to extend service for the evening, and has given ample notice as to this decision to stop alcohol transport for this one day!

If you need to have alcohol at your “place of celebration”, then transport it on June 30th! Simple! If you want to celebrate Canada in an inebriated state, then stay at home (for the homeless people who read this, please, just go to your nearest back-alley or bar). If you must be one of those who, shirtless, wear the flag as a “super-dude cape”, stagger through the crowds down by the Inner Harbour, whooping and drinking cheap hooch, from a paper bag… then I suggest that you take the day off early, and simply walk.

I have thought out my “Canada Day celebration” well in advance. I will be partaking in some adult beverages. But these will be purchased at my place of celebration. I probably will walk from my house (in Vic West) to James Bay, where the party will be. I’ve driven this before, but the return trip has taken so long that it is better to walk (faster, too!). If I wasn’t going to a party, then I would buy the booze that I need now!

To be fair, I should look at the side of “Rights and Freedoms”. Firstly, why should July 1st be any different from any other day? It shouldn’t, of course. If I was dependant on BC transit for my transportation, and I had recently gone shopping, who are they to search my property, and deny me passage? …I, uh… I can’t go on with this side of argument… Sorry! THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT! Public transport is, and never will be part of the charter of rights and freedoms! If you are handicapped and require some way of getting your booze home, then you probably plan your life a little better than this! I am sure that If we had those arcane liquor laws that we had prior to Expo ’86 (remember?), when there were no bars, pubs or cabarets open on Sundays or Holidays, we wouldn’t be crying about this at all!

We have idiots, and we have rules. We have these rules because we have so many idiots! In modern countries throughout Europe and Asia, they celebrate with alcohol in public! Do they have fewer idiots than we do here? NO! Do they have problems with their drunken idiots? YES! Do their drunken idiots cause the downfalls of their society? No, they deal with them on a more personal level. For the most part, society shuns these idiots, or the idiots’ friends deal with them.

While in Japan, I witnessed a beautiful time of year, “Hana-mi” – the cherry blossom festival. At this time, groups of friends, co-workers and families would stake-out the best spots in the local city park. They lay out blankets, tarps cooking supplies and sometimes huge kegs of Sake! They gather with each other, sing, drink, eat and make merry! All while enjoying the blossoming of the trees! Is there rowdiness? Sometimes, but usually calmer heads rule and most have a wonderful time.

Festivities happen this way throughout many countries in Europe as well. Many involve booze! Are their societies dying off? NO! Are the rights of some being challenged? Maybe. But they somehow manage to live another day.

If the worry-warts and PC liberals who immediately start screaming when they feel violated would pause… And take the time to think why… Temporary rules like this “One day Ban on Transport”, probably would never happen in the first place. Take care of each other! If you know of someone who needs to have booze taken to a friend’s for the party that evening, then take the time that you spend screaming about “Violated Rights!”, and use it to deliver that six-pack of wine coolers the day before!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Letter To A Friend

Two nights ago, I went out with the “Boys”. The first stop was an open-house at a local brewery to sample one of their fine ales. We spent enough time there to get fashionably warm (never mind the extreme heat of the day), but the wee 4 oz beer-snifters were going down fast. Eventually the crowd seemed to sense danger and started moving quietly to the exits. So did we. We decided to head to the next stop which was one of Victoria’s many ocean-view brew-pubs. There were four of us, and we had a beer inside while waiting for a table outside in the beautiful setting sun. We had a bite to eat, and did the usual small talk. There was “Brandon”, “Jimmie”, myself and “Toni” (not their real names). I have known Toni only off and on for about ten years. She is an attractive, fit personable young woman who can hold her own joking or debating with the “Boys”. As the evening wore down, “Jimmie” got a call and headed home, leaving “Brandon”, Toni and myself. The conversation eventually circled round to me and family; how I raise my kid(s). Then she dropped a bit of a bombshell.

Toni wants to have a baby. She wants to raise a child alone. She wants to enquire about AI (Artificial Insemination). She asked what I think…


“This is wrong”… was my initial reaction. Why does she want this?

“Are you financially stable?” I asked her. “Do you own your own home?” (I knew the answer).

“I have a good job” she said. “No, I don’t own a house.” Yes, she does have a good job. Working full time, she could pull in about $60,000. I don’t think she’s there yet, though. When you look at your yearly income, it seems like a massive bag of popcorn that you can grab huge hands full at a time snarfing down with great verve! Truth is, when you consider all the bills; food, clothing, Hydro, Cable, phone, cell-phone, Property taxes, utilities, entertainment, emergency, insurance and all the other hidden things, it soon comes clear that one income only stretches so far.

I look at my own world and see that we barely eke out our own existence. We have a mortgage for $390,000 which has a monthly payment of $2,250. With two incomes, this is OK… barely: On my own… Impossible! This mortgage keeps a modest 1100 square foot, two bedroom duplex in our possession. Without this roof (and shower and laundry facilities!), a permanent job would be impossible. This house also must be maintained for my son, on the off chance that he has some debilitating accident and cannot work. If we die (The wife and myself), there is an insurance policy which pays off the mortgage and gives a modest income for a time. This insurance costs about $90 per month (it used to be $150 when we were smokers). These two bills alone eat up my entire income. If I was a single father I would never be living in my own home, or insuring myself to pay out anything. For me it would be renting… probably with a roommate, or working two jobs to try and get ahead (thus never seeing my child!)

Money… Financially Toni is better of than I am, I understand. But there are other things to think of other than money to raising a human being. This is important to understand: a child is a human being, not a toy or a possession that ceases to exist when they turn 18. “Children” never stop being dependant on their parents. (I could go on about a few of my friends here, but that’s a different subject) Some lucky folks have brilliant children, who work hard in school, study well, find a career-path early and head down that path as soon as they are finished high school. Some parents, however have normal children who become entangled in school cliques, skip out, fail final exams, give up early and spend two to five years struggling after school ends to try to “Find Themselves”. We refuse to let our ten-year-old become on of these “Self-Finders”.

Debate… The one thing that I think is vital to raising a child to be a worthwhile member of society, is the ability to make qualified decisions. Without the ability to reason, a person continually will fail. With two parents in the home that the child resides in, there will always be some discourse: whether good or bad, there will be different opinions! In a house with only one parent, there can never be (without the appearance of said parent going nuts!) any true debate! How can one parent give two answers? My wife and I always have varying ideas. She wants a perfectly spotless house, I want the boy to be polite. Sometimes I am too lenient, sometimes she is. This give and take is witnessed by our son daily! If it was just I raising my son alone, there would be days of “Nice Dad” and days of “Angry Dad”. This may appear to a young child as “Flip-flopping”: the ability to trust may be tougher to engender.

Day Care… in the early years of a child’s life, they require more care per day than they will later on. Finding that care is difficult enough for two working people, let alone someone who is… well… alone! I realize that there is EI (employment insurance) which gives you one year off, but after that… there are no guarantees. There are no other government programs available to ensure an infant has care while the parent(s) are at work.

There are subsidized housing programs, and I have met many Single mothers who have had to use Subsidized Housing and their children have grown up healthy strong and vital. But even though the kids have moved on, Mom is still in an apartment, never having been able to buy a house.

Internal Clock… “My Babymaking Clock is fast running out!” This is a myth, and in itself for me is the worst reason of all to feel the need to procreate. There are girls having babies at 14. Is this an appropriate time? There are women having kids well into their sixties. Good Idea? There are parents with learning disabilities having children. Wise? There are some families who have sixteen kids and are grandparents when they have more. Would this be considered a good thing? None of the examples here have my vote of confidence. The truth is there is never a great “Biological Time” to have a baby. No more damned Murphy Brown ideals, please. Can we all stop living our lives according to some magazine or TV show? When you are financially and emotionally secure and have support from your community… this is the best time to make a baby.

I have thought about trying to raise a child as a single parent, and every time I do, I always come back to the fact that it would be so tough. In the ten years that I have spent with our boy, there have been great times of learning and fun, and equal to these, there have been times of great trouble and sadness.

I think that my final advice to anyone who wants to become a parent by themselves should… Buy a puppy. I am serious. I don’t mean to sound cruel or insincere. A puppy would show you how difficult it would be to answer all my questions. Housing - try and find an apartment that takes dogs: the same for kids. Day Care – a puppy will require as much attention as a human. Responsibility – If after you have this puppy, you find yourself leaving it locked up in the kitchen while you go out to the pub, perhaps you should rethink “having” a human being. One difference between a dog and a baby is that a dog is probably going to die before you do. Dogs for the most part don’t talk back to you. Dogs are fiercely loyal, and don’t have a lengthy puberty or go through “Teenage Angst”. Dogs might turn vicious, and you don’t feel shame when you “Put them to Sleep”.

If Dogs aren’t your style, or you suffer from a short attention span, then try a gerbil or hamster. Maybe a bird? How about a pet snake?

Anyway… I don’t want to sound demeaning. I have put some serious thought into this subject. I think that everyone wants the best for their kids. For me, this means planning ahead. FAR AHEAD. Think of everything. Think past your own years. Imagine the world of the future. Imagine your son or daughter growing old. If after all this, you can still see “creating a new human being under your protection” as a good thing… Go ahead!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Life is strange.

As I grew into a strapping young man, through trials, tribulations (what the hell is a tribulation anyway?) and other life hurdles, I always had in the back of my mind the notion that I would be better than my parents.  I would be different.  I would never be as selfish and negative.

I grew up being one of the “Marrying Kind”.  I always liked the idea of the “perfect union”, the picketed fence, the two kids, the dog, the yard.  It never really found me until I moved to Victoria, got my own place, and settled down.  As a bachelor for a few years, luck never seemed to go my way.  I never really had a girlfriend… didn’t all through high school.  It wasn’t till I was in my mid 20s that I started seeing somebody.  After a few unsuccessful attempts at relationships, I eventually found a very (I mean VERY) young girl who seemed to think that I was kind of nice too.  She was a cute little thing and we had quite the flinging good time together.  We eventually decided to get married and with the 50 % permission of her parents (her mother seemed to hate me) we were wed soon after her 19th birthday.  I was 25, an underachiever, and fairly broke, but I gathered as much “gumption” I could and kept the bills paid, food on the table and that roof up above.  We struggled as she tried to search her niche out, and soon the bump in her belly ended her career search.  We had our Son in September of ’93 and were as happy as could be… for a time, anyways.  As time went on, however, things seemed to grow colder between us; my friends wouldn’t “hang” with hers and “hers” with mine.  Eventually I came home one day to the “Letter”.  The “Letter” stated that she was through with me: I was no good, she was taking our son and leaving.

My bitterness seemed to know no ends.  I wanted to be married.  I didn’t want my son to have the same crappy life that I remember; living between parents.  She left me with no reason.  I didn’t cheat, like my father had.  I didn’t drink all the money away.  I didn’t beat her.  What did I do wrong?  I may never really know.

The custody date came and went.  She, having no penis and no visible track-marks up her arm, won full custody (as she asked, and her mother’s lawyer demanded!)  I was allowed visitation rights and child-support payments.  Eventually I was “allowed” to see my son once, on her birthday in 1995 to baby-sit for her to be able to play.  This was the last time I saw my baby boy.  We had a great time together, “G” and I.  He was a quiet, shy, baby, but could be brought to such contagious laughter!  I remember the tears and heartache I felt when I took him back to his mother’s.  I couldn’t go through that again.

It was then that I made the most difficult decision of my life.  Many of you will disagree with this choice I made, thinking it foolish, selfish and cruel, but I swear that this was for the best: I chose to never see or communicate with my son “G” again. 

I recall the bitterness from my own mother, as she spoke to me of my “jerk of a Father”.  I remember the prodding questions, “What kind of house are they in?” ”What kind of car does she drive?”  I remember waiting impatiently riding my bike up and down the street, waiting for him to come and pick me up and take me away.  I remember taking the Greyhound once a summer to visit him, only to feel frustrated and bitter when I got to his house.  The same kinds of questions were at his end, “How’s your step dad?” “What kind of junk has he bought now?”  These may have been innocent questions to them, but for me at the time, they were inquisitions that left nothing but pain and resentfulness.

I would NOT let this happen to my son.  …At least not from my side.  If my “ex” bad talked me to him, said that I abandoned him, called me a liar, traitor, jerk or asshole, I would not be able to defend myself to him.  I could let that happen.  I wouldn’t be able to dispute this, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to stoop down to that level.  I would never be filling his head with the lies or self-loathing talk that would be bound to happen.  I wanted to be able to be proud of my actions in the end, not ashamed…

Eventually my bitterness towards all women subsided.  I met, fell in love with, and remarried my wife of 13 years.  We have a beautiful boy, “H”, and are quite content.  Through her initial struggle, carrying me while I sought out the good job that I now have, we now are doing as well as can be.  “H” goes to his grandparents in Japan every year.  We are managing to stay ahead of the “Joneses”, and keep are noses clean.  We have planned out our lives to retirement and beyond.

Some time ago.  Before I got married again.  I remember a conversation with my good friend Brian.  I recall trying to convince him (more myself) that things between myself and my son “G” would prove to be OK.  “G” would find me when he was ready.  It might take years, decades, but it would happen.  I had this feeling that when he turned 16 he would want to “find” himself.  He’d want to meet his real dad.

Got a strange phone call last week.  It wasn’t expected for about a years’ time, but nonetheless it came.  I didn’t quite have a bet running with my friends, but I should have.  It was about 4 pm and I got a call from a local area cell-phone.  I answered.  The (young male) voice asked “Is this Morgan Onda”?  “Yes”….  “Hmmm”?  Very strange!  Twenty seconds later: same number rings again.  (Same young man’s voice)  “Is this Morgan Onda”?  “Hello, yes.”  “Do you know a ‘G’?”  “Yes, I do”.  “He wants to talk to you”, followed by a fumbling of a phone, then a deeper voice saying “Hi, it’s me”.  One of his friends told him he needed to find his dad.  I am so glad he did.

The two boys get along great!  They love the idea of having an instant brother, one 10, the other 15.  So far “G” visits a lot, goes home and doesn’t talk much.  I keep my head clear and logical.  I want to know everything!  But keep a closed eye to the other side: I don’t need to open up old wounds.  I hope the other side can do the same.

This is my weird life, and it’s good!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu, Allergies and Health

Allergies, Sickness and Food.

OK, let me start by stating a few things:

1.      I am not a doctor. (Though I am smarter than my family physician.)

2.      I do have allergic reactions from time to time. (Usually flowers, like Lilies)

3.      I also react unfavourably to many of the same caustic and corrosive chemicals in the same way that most, if not all other human beings do.

Here’s where Darwin and I get off.  I am sooo freaken’ tired of hearing about another allergic or disease “pandemic” spreading fast throughout the world. 

At the moment we are being news-hounded with the latest “Swine-flu” which has ruined vacation-goers lives .  An advisory against non-essential flights into Mexico has been set by some Ontario gov’t.  People everywhere are starting to wear particle-filtration masks.  I’m buying my family plastic bubbles right now!  Hogwash!

There have been outbreaks like this before.  We have survived them all.  The weak ones, maybe not, but Humans, yes!  Spanish Flu circa 1918-1919, 9-20 million dead!  Asian Flu 1957, 60-70,000 dead.  Hong-Kong Flu 1968-72, 2 million dead.  SARS Feb 2003, 800 dead.  Influenza of various strains kills 250,000-300,000 people annually, through its ability to transform and mutate.  Diseases like the Flu are bothersome, but for the most part not what I personally worry about.  Things like Polio, Tuberculosis, Small pox and Meningitis are far more scary to me!


When I was and adolescent growing up on a small farm in rural Haney (Maple Ridge), I was in contact with everything.  I mean everything!  We had almost every kind of farm animal and pet.  There were dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and Guinea pigs.  We had geese, ducks, chickens and turkeys.  Horses, cows, pigs, goats and rabbits.  We had a fleet of incubators which we used to brood wild ducks and geese (Canada geese) and Sandhill Cranes.  As a child I used to swim in the pond with the 50 or so baby Canadas: something that I’m sure the local Health Authority would lock up my parents for today.  Cleaning out Dog kennels was also part of my chores.  The pig pens also needed to be “dunged-out” occasionally.  Not to mention the horse stalls.  Yup, being in close proximity with poo is something that was part of my life. 

We didn’t use many Chemicals on our farm; no need to.  But there were things like Warfarin to control the rats, “Round-Up” for unwanted weeds, Gasoline and oils and hydraulic fluids.  Potent cleaners like Lye and Bleach were sometimes used (for freezers, and sterilizing butchering tools).  This was before anyone considered “organic” as the wave of the future. 

Now, when I grew with all these things, I never had any huge Illness.  I had the odd cold that went around, but never for any great length of time.  Strepto-viruses on occasion, yes.  I was a boy!  We never washed our hands as well as we should!  The one thing that was bad for me was Haying Season.  Every summer we cultivated the hay that we’d need to feed our livestock for the winter.  Some of the Hay-grasses that are in the lower-mainland of B.C. drive my nose insane!  And to top it all off, in the late seventies-early eighties, the only antihistamines available were things like “Chlor-tripalon” which would work a little bit, but made you sooo sleepy!  This was brutal on me.  I could help with the outside work, but put me inside the loft, and I’d be itchy and “gumping”, (“gumping” is what mom called it; closed-mouth forcing air through to your nose, which vibrates the tongue acting like a scratching motion against the soft palate.) which helped ease the pain a little.  Hay-season and when the Cottonwood trees would bloom were the only things that affected me.  As I have grown older, however, I have noticed that fewer and fewer grasses bug me.

Today, after moving to the Island, there’s not much in the way of pollen that bugs me.  Once a year, when the trees that run along Pandora (in front of John’s Place) bloom, or when I mow the lawn in late summer.  Other than this… nothing. 

There was one thing that wasn’t around as I grew up that’s here now that really bugs me though: Allergy Doctors.  Ok there were doctors studying allergies back then, but there wasn’t a Specialist with his shingle set up in the plaza, ready to tell you exactly what to avoid.  There seems to be a huge increase in the amount of Doctors who have “specialized” to focus on the latest syndrome-flavour-of-the-month.  And what’s more is the Family doctor is just too eager to refer you to one of these.  Seems like a little bit of palm greasing going on to me.

Let’s look at one of my own family’s stories.  My lovely wife works as a housekeeper (ok,ok… “Room Attendant”) in one of Victoria’s biggest hotels.  Last winter she came out with a strange rash on her face and inner arms.  She was very itchy.  An aside here for a second – She is highly susceptible to many allergic-type reactions and up to this point had taken antihistamines daily, against my advice… This reaction at work that she got had all the ear-marks of an allergy, swollen face, red blotchy marks on her face and hands and arms.  She went into the walk-in clinic in the neighbourhood, where the doctor referred her to an “Allergist”.  Two months later her appointment with this specialist happened.  Of course by this time, her problems were cleared up; the company that does the laundry for the hotel had started using a stronger cleaning agent on the sheets, which was reacting with one of the cleaners that she uses.  This of course took six months to figure out:

1.      The hotel management was loathe to get the cleaning chemicals from the cleaning company. Protecting their liability interest. Took 3 months!

2.      The appointment with the “allergist” slowed it down another two months.

3.      The results from the lab took another month and a half.

The end result of all this?  Well, it wasn’t an allergic reaction.  It was a Caustic reaction between two chemicals, which when she wiped the sweat from her brow penetrated her epidermis.  The final answer?  Be more careful.

Pretty stupid if you ask me.  We have grown into this society of over-protection, which in the long run is making it easier for more people to become sick.  Antibiotics, Antihistamines, Medicines for daily life!  Alcohol gels to use before, and after entering any Hospital (the place I work too!)  Anti-bacterial soaps advertised as the latest and greatest! (News Flash!  All soaps are and were anti-bacterial!) 

New pseudo-governmental Big Mother agencies (like the CRD and VIHA) writing rules, and edicts on cleanliness and health-related topics.  (Sorry to some of my friends who work in these government-funded jobs) 


When I started working in the restaurant industry, there was no such thing as the “BC Foodsafe Program”.  This is a pseudo-legislation, for those of you who don’t know, that trains cooks, wait-staff and other food service industry people about the hazards of food-bourn illness.  In the early part of my career as a cook, cleaning the kitchen simply made good economic sense!  Without the enforced “Clean-police” of BC Foodsafe breathing down your throats, keeping the kitchen clean meant a more efficient work-space.  Less chance of unhappy customers, and plain… common-sense.  This Foodsafe thing hit BC in about 1985, and (don’t get me wrong, I agree it is somewhat of a good thing!) became part of the training at all college level cooking schools. 

On the other hand, I have travelled and worked in other places in the world where “Foodsafe” might be something not high on the list of priorities.  In Damascus, there were open stall eateries.  Pita bread stacked man-high from the floor up.  Shwarma stands, with sheep flank stacked on a spit slowly roasting around. Candy shops with the seller shooing away the flies with a palm leaf.  No sign of the local DRD (Damascus Regional District) Health Inspectors! 

I have seen many a tiny kitchen in Japan, where cleanliness might be considered “questionable”.  Not that this is true everywhere, the Japanese are the cleanest people of the world.  But their understanding of the Foodsafe “danger zone” for temperatures is not that great. 

After being trained with “Foodsafe” and visiting these places, one might think that the entire population would be constantly sick, or dying.  However, this just isn’t the case.  People just don’t go to restaurants that “appear” to be unhealthy.  Word of mouth and common sense prevail.  Why can’t we let that happen here anymore?

Before licenses for operation are handed out, strict rules must be enforced.  Why not have the CRD enforce a sound Business plan too?  This would stop bankruptcies which are a burden on the taxpayer.  Or why can’t all our food be prepared and shipped shrink-wrapped from Calgary to save on cost?  Oh yeah, our Hospitals already do that!

I realize that common sense is not inherit.  It must be taught.  The only way to teach it is by example.  And many “Professionals” do not posses it.  How many practising Doctors do we have who barely passed the exams?  How many four week training courses does it take to become a health inspector?  How many Peanuts is it going to take before you are allergy free again?  How many News companies are going to sensationalize and twist the story so they can get more hits as the top headline on Google?

My common sense is this:

-        Don’t take any medicine for anything that lasts less than a day. 

-        Don’t eat in a restaurant that has dust in the candy dish or twice used parsley.  Don’t eat Sushi from a place with a clientele-base of ten.

-        Don’t wrap your children in plastic bubble-wrap; but let them drink out of the toilet or eat a cricket once in their life. 

-        Teach your children that fire is hot, alkali and acid don’t usually make “good bedfellows”, and slugs hate salt.

-        Live with that little headache, and understand that having a positive outlook or being negative is contagious. (I don’t want to know how crappy you feel about being at work.  If you hate your job so much… QUIT!  …I love my job!)

The worst thing about the “Health” of ourselves is the fact that we have everyone telling us we are so unhealthy!  We have more sources for “news” now than ever, each one trying to vie for that all-mighty advertising, or tax dollar.  When you (yes you! ) realize that you are responsible for your own healthy state of being, and that there is no agency, organization or company that is able to “fix your woes”, you will live a healthy life.

Oh… except for some Cancers… that’s just bad Karma!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cave Cube

Here is one of the earliest examples of what could be called "Art".  In this example, found on the stone wall in a cave near Lascaux, France.  This shows that early man saw what he covetted and painted it in all its glory.  Shortly after inventing the wheel, he obviously invented the car.  But this painting shows that merely inventing the car was not good enough, early cave-dwellers wanted a vehicle that was utilitarian, sporty, and above all, STYILIN'!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte with a Cube

Sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte with a Cube, by George-Pierre Seurat, is one of those lingering, melancholly pieces that wraps around you and can totally envelop one's thoughts.  The detail becomes the art, the art is the detail.  Done entirely with dots of paint, this eventually blurs into a relaxing look into a time of tranquillity... And then, there... almost hidden in the center... is a juxtaposition of modernity and function.  The Nissan Cube has been interspersed as if to state that its functional beauty should also be enjoying the gently groomed gardens.  A brilliant painting which will undoubtably become a timeless classic.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gambling and Cubes

Gambling has been part of human nature for millennia.  Games of chance have been played on every continent, with many different devices.  One of the most popular methods is “dice”.  Here we see many different forms of dice.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Leonardo da Vinci and the Cube

Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the renaissance man, a man whose unquenchable curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention.  Here, we can see some of his most famous pieces, complete with his most favourite model, The CUBE.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Japan Holiday

During our last holiday to Japan, we visited Kyoto, which by all accounts has to be one of the prettiest cities in Japan.  It is unique, rich in tradition and history, with countless sights and things to do.

The Emperor's Palace in Kyoto is magnificent, and a wonderful piece of history.  The pride in which it is kept is obvious!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

M C Escher CUBE

While doing a bit of research, I came across some more interesting examples of very compelling Automobile designs from some very well known artists.  Here is some of the work of the famous Dutch artist M C Escher (doon, doon-doon-doon. Doo-do, doo-do. Can’t touch this!) 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What a Day!

One day, while cleaning out my closet, I came across an old box. Since we were going to have a garage sale the next week I thought I'd better get rid of a few unused things. And what to my surprise! I found an old Gaming Console that I stopped using. It was my old Nissan Game Cube! I used to love playing that in my old bachelor days. It was still in great shape too. I wonder what I'll get for it?

I had some old High School chums round for coffee the other day. Things were going swimmingly, until I got out the sugar! I was sooo embarassed! The sugar I had all went to CUBE! Last Night I made the most delicious clam chowder. I started sauteeing seven rashers of thick sliced bacon, cut small. Then one and a half medium sized onions, CUBEd. Three peeled, CUBEd carrots. Four stalks of celery, CUBEd. And about two ounces of butter. I sauteed all these ingredients with a dash of Thyme, Nutmeg, Fennel seeds and one teaspoon of salt. When the onions were translucent, then I added about two ounces of flour, stirring off the heat. Adding about two cups of milk (I actually used water and skim-milk powder!), brought it up to simmer, then added two peeled, CUBEd potatoes. Then once the potatoes had simmered till they were tender, i poured in a ten ounce can of baby clams:juice and all! Finished with two Bay leaves and fresh chopped parsley! DEELISH! Remember to CUBE, not dice!

I just watched one of my favorite episodes: I guess I didn't remember how it went as well as I thought. There was this scene, just before the "Bad-Guy-Alien-Robots" attack. A strange voice comes over the communicator, "YOU WILL ASSIMILATE!" Not exactly as I remember.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cubist Cubes

Cubist Cubes

A little known piece of history seldom told is this; turn of the century artists, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso started designing automobiles early in the 20th century.  They collaborated with early European auto pioneers "Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles" as well as others.  This design is one of their later design initiatives.  Known as the 1910 Cubist, we can see their use of Ochres, Umbers and "Natural" Colours as well as the sharp clean edges that spawned the later "DADA" movement.  Clearly this design can be seen to overlap boundaries of style and even compare to the modern auto: even 100 years later!

The most interesting phenomina concerning this early design may be the synchronous design that has occured in of all places, urban Japan!  This "new design" was recently spotted posing beneath the Tokyo Tower in front of an Edo period Ginga.  The similarities are striking- to say the least!  But we'll just have to chalk it up to happenstance.  Pure coincedence!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tax Time

Tax Time.

‘Tis that time again.  Grumble grumble!  Snurffle Phorp Frazzle-futzitz! Gord-Dimmed Fupping Thiefs!

These and other bitter sounds one might expect to emanate from one such as me.  Alas, no! I actually don’t fear the tax-man! 

I am glad that I pay taxes.    No, really!  Let me explain.

I have been one of the fortunate people who has grown up in a lower-middle-class, working family.  Able to see my peers growing up in better surroundings, with better toys, nicer clothes, and shinier families.  When I left the town and bitter memories, moving away from it all, I thought I was near the bottom of existence.  Boo-hoo-hoo! POOR ME!  It took a couple of years to snap out of my blue funk, but eventually I did.  I went to College; Chef School.  I was there recruited into the Naval Reserve, eventually able to apply for a posting with the U.N. Peacekeeping mission in the Golan Heights.

This was the first time I had ever travelled abroad, and for a young kid of 23 – still wet behind the ears, full of vinegar and urine, it was a great opportunity.  I didn’t know what to expect.  We were flown into Montreal from all over the Country to spend two weeks orientation-training.  Then after our brief stay, getting to know each other and the Streets of Montreal, we were flown to Tel Aviv Airport.  We landed and were acclimated to the late-summer heat of the middle-east as we waited to clear customs inside the CF Jet (a 737 I believe).  We then boarded one of the two CANLOG UN Busses which took us on the long trip to the base.  As we drove through Tel Aviv, there didn’t seem too much different with what we were used to; traffic, stores, gas stations, people, billboards. The Cars were mostly Japanese or German (Subarus or Mercedes for the most part!) The people were mostly brown-skinned and dark-haired with UZIs and MP5s.  The billboards mostly in Hebrew, with Arabic and a hint of English.  But overall, Tel Aviv looked like any other Major centre.

As we left the City, however, it was apparent that the infrastructure stopped, or at least hiccupped!  Along the rural roads, litter, potholes, scrub-bush and the like was the norm and the further you got from any town, it was quite obvious that services from any government agency lessened. We got to CANLOG (Canadian Logistics) Camp Zouanni which is situated on the Israeli side of the temporary border between Syria and Israel.  The roads to the camp are kept quite well, but not quite to the standard that we in Canada are used to. 

After staying and working there in CANLOG for the first couple of months, and being able to travel around as much as I did, (we cooks worked 10 on and 4 off: every 2 weeks was a long weekend!) I saw the countryside of Israel and was able to get to Damascus in Syria too.  Everywhere I went, there was not what I’d call abject poverty – they hid it well! But rather, the people didn’t know of the things that we would take for granted. Things like street-lights, sidewalks and covered sewers. OK, ok… it wasn’t like thiseverywhere, but it wouldn’t take anyone too long to be able to see and feel the difference.

I was able to catch the weekly flight from Tel Aviv to Lahr, Germany for my leave.  I rented a car and drove around Europe.  It was an obvious change from the Middle East. Germany was clean and well kept! (The countryside was rich and green!)  Austria: mostly the same!  France: dirty and grey (well at least it was where I went!).  I was in Europe at a very special time in its history. It was late January, 1989, and the Berlin Wall had been broken just two months previous.  Now as a member of Her Majesty’s Canadian Forces, I was not permitted at the time to go to any country that was a member of the Warsaw Pact. However, this time in history was never going to come around again, so I and one of my CANLOG buddies, also on leave, drove to Berlin.  At this time, Berlin was locked inside what was then East Germany, and we had to drive on one of the “Closed Highways” which was a direct route from Leipzig.  As soon as you passed through the gates at the border it hit you: the Poverty!  East Germany’s landscape along the highway was barren and bleak. Grey and still (yeah, yeah… it was in the middle of winter… I know!  But it’s true!), there was an obvious change from the clean crispness of the west to the raped eastern landscape. When we arrived in the city (West Berlin), things seemed to go back to how it was in West Germany; clean streets, manicured gardens and no litter.  The transformation was obvious.

Holiday over, I went back to the Golan.  Back to the job. Back to seeing what the world could become if nobody cared. That is what it is there.  Sure, there are people who care. They care for themselves.  They might care for there families. They might care for their own fences.  But the neighbours?  In the Middle East, fences, walls and borders are what they care most about.  And especiallywhich side of the post the razor-wire is on!

I have brought back two signs from my travels, one from the Golan, the other from West-Berlin.  The Israeli sign is sadly obvious, the German one also (if you can read German).  The Berlin sign is painted on a phosphorescent background (ready to glow at night!) and says something like “Caution, when there is snow and ice, it gets slippery!”  Both signs warn of danger.  Are both from civil nations?

Tax time always reminds me of this point in my life.  When I was young.  When I went travelling.  When I saw reasons to feel as fortunate as we all should be.  Next time you walk to the corner store and don’t worry about being suicide-bombed, be happy that you pay taxes.

…deductions from space 17 on your T4c go on line 153.  Subtract line 153 from line 152…