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!