an apology from our Prime Minister

Hello all: I should note that the subject line is rather misleading as this post will actually not contain any direct wording from our greatly esteemed PM, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper is the guy on the right, in case you had a problem figuring it out.

WARNING/ATTENTION/ACHTUNG: this post will contain a political rant which might offend some Canajan readers, and which will probably make no sense to readers from other countries.  You may, accordingly, wish to skip to the (blurry) photos at the end.  Consider yourselves warned.

Mr. Harper has, however, spent lots of time in recent months apologising to all and sundry for stuff which happened away back before he was born.  Most recently (and in fact, he managed to pull off this one on a long weekend when people aren’t typically paying all that much attention), he apologised for an incident that took place in 1914 – 376 Sikh and other people from the Indian south continent came into Vancouver on a boat and were not let in to Canada.  Many were murdered upon their return to Calcutta, after spending two months on a dock in the Vancouver harbour.

Now, it’s not for me to say that the Canadian government shouldn’t apologise for that, really.  But, in fact, the community he tried to apologise to has rejected the apology, saying it should come from the House of Commons rather than from Mr. King Stephen Harper trying to gain favour in their community when he shows up for a festival.

And, frankly, I don’t know if these apologies matter whether they come from the legislature or not.  However, it seems that he should have figured this out by now because he’s already issued apologies to the First Nations (without offering up any cash to back it up.

He’s also apologised to the Chinese-Canadian community for a head tax imposed on newcomers between 1885 and 1923 – and offered compensation to those who actually paid the tax, or their children.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t most people that got penalised under this old system be dead now?  And I’ve had at least one client who tried to negotiate the compensation scheme and was told “without original documents, you get nothing.

Now, I think that Mr. Harper is actually quite shrewd (or rather, that his advisors are geniuses) by hitting on a great way to deflect from what’s going on now – just apologise for what has happened in the past.  I mean, we are a nation of people who are socialised to say “sorry” if someone else bumps into you on the street.  And – they say “sorry” too and everyone moves on.

So, the apology as a political concept makes a lot of sense… and hey, the guy is apologising for stuff which happened well before he was even born!  How Canadian… and how dishonest.

Why dishonest?  Because this party is doing a whole hell of a lot of stuff right now that someone fifty years down the road will no doubt be apologising for.  Stuff such as decimating our health care system, reducing public pension entitlements for those who have paid in for 40 years or more, and so forth.

But hey, someone’s sorry – so that must count.  But you don’t see him shedding any tears either:

So, Mr. Harper, thank you for apologising, and I’m sorry too.  In fact, I’m sorry that you’re not offering some of my homemade preserves to those who have been wronged in years past, such as my tomato jam:

… or my jalapeno/green bell pepper jelly:

So, Mr. Harper, should you read this, have my people call my people and we’ll set up a proper “apology basket” for you to give to everyone who has been historically wronged.  JJ is, after all, retired, and has lots of time to can produce.

Happy Tuesday!

Wanted: Christmas in July

Amazing! With only nine days left in the month, what did I spot yesterday in the street but this joyous scene?!?

All right, all right, I’m lying to you – again. This photo was actually on the Globe and Mail website yesterday. This was the caption:

Santas gather to make their way in a parade through Copenhagen on Tuesday during their annual three-day congress. Now in its 51st year, the World Santa Claus Congress brings together 136 red-clad delegates, mostly from Scandinavia but also as far away as Russia, Japan and the United States.

Now, there’s a new one for me – a Santa Conference. How come I don’t get to go to fun conferences like that? The last one I got to attend was called, I believe: Feudalism in the Modern Age – How to Deal with Ontario’s Many, Many Landlords – or something along those lines. Not a red suit to be seen or “ho ho ho” to be heard. Sigh.

Oh – a little Christmas in July tip, while I think of it? Do yourself a favour and read The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. It’s his account of working as an elf in Macy’s department store in their Santaland one year. Hilarious. If you’re a podcast type, you can also listen to him read it here.


Another example of the Christmas in July spirit in Europe – they’re giving away Vauxhall cars at the Tower Bridge in London!!!

Um… not really. Actually, this appears to be a publicity stunt for yet another new model of car. But my explanation of the photo is far nicer, no?

Personally, though, I think that this is a far nicer shot of the Tower Bridge, with a very rare sighting of one of Canada’s most esteemed intellectuals and artisans.

(In seeing this photo again, I hasten to say that I am not one of those pretentious wankers who insists on wearing shades all the time, even in winter. Instead, I have those eyeglasses which get dark in the sunshine. This was a bad move on my part in retrospect as I can no longer pretend I’m in the washroom 10 minutes every 45 minutes hour and a half when I’ve actually snuck – sneaked? – outside for a smoke. Sigh.)

But not everywhere in the world is lucky enough to have me and my benevolent presence strolling around, sadly. One place that could really use some benevolence right around now, not to mention a few Santas – Zimbabwe.

Apparently they just issued new money over there because their currency is completely in the toilet. This means that one egg costs $35billion Zimbabwean. This $100billion note is not enough to pay for the three eggs depicted in the photograph.

My math is horrendous – but this must mean the new Vauxhall car would cost… er… something like $200billiontrilliongazillionandquadrillion in Zimbabwe. Sigh.

Considering this, we really don’t have it all that bad over here. However, one thing I’ve noted – the cost of gas has risen well more than a quarter since the real Christmas month in 2007. Witness this photo I took in mid-December:

The blur is due to me shaking with rage because the price of gas refused to go under $1 (CDN) per litre.

And today? That same litre costs between 126.9 cents and 134.7 cents per litre, depending upon what part of the city you’re in (I like the way they still use “cents” to make you think it’s not all that expensive. Well, that little trick, I’m here to tell you Big Bad Gas Companies, doesnae work.) Apparently in some parts of the country it is nearing $1.50 and a couple of weeks here in good old TO it was $1.38.

In other words, not billions – but I find it very difficult to understand how the prices have gone up more than a third in the past seven months, really.

It’s enough to make me want to rush back to London. Forget Tower Bridge (although I can think of a few dozen top-level people who should perhaps be taken across it in legchains and left in the old prison there!). I’ll be looking for this place:

Will I find some answers there? Will I, hell. But I’ll be able to work up some guid big old rants, I should think.

Happy Wednesday and may Santa be kind to you all.

tips on surviving meetings, etc.

Well, the types of meetings I must go to these days, I can’t be seen to be taking knitting/crafts, alas. Some people (not my immediate coworkers, I will hasten to add) have decided that it does not look like I’m paying attention, despite the fact that I’ve told them time and again (and again, and again) that needlecrafts help to focus my attention in meetings. 

So, instead, I take this:

This, people, is one of the most brilliant tools I’ve seen for getting through two and three hour meetings and looking like you are actually doing work.  Meanwhile, you are reading jokes, doodling with suggestions and generally having fun. 

My genius partner JJ bought me this at the airport when leaving for London in December, saying “This wuid be a grrrreat thing for all those meetins ye have to go tae, right?”.  His less genius partner agreed, and even took it back to the office in January – only to lose it in a pile of paperwork until quite recently.  But recently, it emerged, and has provided great hilarity. 

(Now, I really must confess… I wanted to bring my copy of Wreck This Journal to the ubiquitous meetings.  

However, I thought that even in the relatively laid-back work environment I enjoy, people might look askance at my ripping/pouring coffee on/stomping on a book during a meeting – particularly since they are all legal researchers for a living, and consequently love books.  But this begs the question, while on this topic – Holly [who put me onto this book in the first place], what’s up with your own copy??)

Anyway, if you need something to pass the time during work meetings and you can’t knit/crochet/otherwise craft/scheme there, pick up a copy of the Procrastinator Doodle Pad.  You won’t regret it, I promise.  

Now, although I suspect this is not the case for most of my regular readers, I, however luddite, am aware that there is a work-meeting-acceptable device already on the market.  I think it’s called a “Blackberry”.  Anyway, whatever it is called, Brouhaha, the Voice of Wisdom, is here to tell you all: 

Just because you’re diddling with an electronic device under the table, people still know what you’re doing – you are checking your Email, talking with your girl/boyfriend, wife/husband, etc.  Don’t pretend you’re actually doing work. If you were actually doing work, you wouldn’t be in this meeting.  And, by the way, there is no way you are so important that the person who sent you that urgent E-mail can’t wait another hour for a response.

(The following will only apply for those who are over 31 years of age.  Please correct me if I’m wrong about this, by the way.  I’m turning 38 shortly and for some reason this is bothering me.)  Surely you are old enough to remember the days where there wasn’t even any voicemail and people had to take down messages on paper slips.  Forget about the computer age.  Just give yourself some time to focus and relax and hark back to a time where others didn’t expect an immediate response the minute they pressed “send” on their message. Meditate upon a time that there was no “send” button at all. 

I do realise that the above message was rather hypocritical given that I am communicating it to you on… a blog!  However, relative luddite that I am, I still believe that we should use technology rather than technology using us.  I’m also a firm proponent of the idea that, when killing time in boring meetings, it should be kept non-tech.  So, pick up a pen and paper instead and doodle.  And, just in case you thought you were saving the environment by not doodling… it’s possible, for example, to doodle on newspaper.  

When I become dictator, by the way, I will authorize all sorts of activities to be done globally during meetings, including knitting and crafts.   (And, on that topic, I will promise an actual knitting related post on Monday 30 June… really.  I still do knit.  Honestly.)

Why, you may ask, will I not just ban meetings altogether when I become dictator? Well, I’ve thought about it… and the fact is that I believe as humans, we need to meet.  And talk.  And be bored. It’s part of the human condition and partly, I’m sure, what has led you to this blog. 

Thus spake Brouhaha. 

Wishing you all a great Friday and weekend.  And, to those who may have other reasons to celebrate this particular weekend, happy Pride!

Oh, and a PS – I do hope Spain wins the Eurocup.  The Greeks and Turks having been eliminated, this is the last dark and swarthy team I can cheer for (I would say “root for” but my Australian friends would snigger and tee-hee, and JJ would then get upset). 


Viva Espana!

 

 

 

fun crafts and weird phone hotlines

Well, it’s back to the grind – but what better to kick off my working week with some craft ideas, one quick, one interesting if you’ve got a tortured brain like mine? (Besides, I figure I’d better have some craft content on here before my 10 or so regulars wander away).

First up: you, too, can look like a lace knitting genius in ten minutes or less* by making yourself a
fancy lace bracelet:
:

* more than 10 minutes if you actually want to knit the lace… but why not just pick some up and say you knitted it! and don’t quote me, either!

And now for another tip which has haunted and fascinated me since I came across the concept: a tutorial onHow to knit backwards:

And speaking of “backwards”, now for a wee rant. Sometimes I just hate reading the paper. You see, I learned this morning that our Minister for Public Safety, the Honourable Doris Stockwell Day:

in his infinite wisdom, had started up a snitch line for us upstanding citizens to report illegal immigrants by way of anonymous phone call. The Canadian Border Services monitor this line, and they say that “no information, however trivial it may seem, is too small.”

Well, guess what? According to today’s Glib and Stale Globe and Mail, that endeavour has apparently generated a large number of bizarre calls.

Why? Well, some people apparently like to make crank calls. Others, no doubt, are mentally challenged, wandering aimlessly without treatment since they started to defund certain medical services and close beds in certain facilities and are merely looking for company.

And… some other people like to make crank calls. I know this might be shocking to you, but it’s true. Of course, I personally have never made a crank call – unless, of course, you count those ones that we made from the church hall payphone when we were all about 12 and resenting having to go to Greek lessons – we’d phone 411 information and ask for “Hooker Heaven”, etc. and hang up giggling. And let me tell you, the priest was not best pleased when he found out we were doing this. But I digress.

Anyway, here’s the types of calls they’ve been getting:

  • Caller wants personal information about her husband, but doesn’t know when or when he was born.
  • Caller says that psychiatrist is forcing caller to take illegal medication
  • Caller says he is illegally in the country, and demands to be deported.
  • Caller states he has a problem. His wife’s family is interfering with his marriage and he doesn’t want them to come to Canada.
  • Caller would like to deport a couple of people from Canada and she would like the website address to fill out the proper forms.  Caller is advised that it is not her decision who gets deported. Caller does not care.

I particularly like that last one.  I can think of a few people I’d like to get deported, Stockwell Day and his boss Stephen Harper being at the top of that list!

Hmm… where is that website?  I need to get hold of that hotline number!

Happy Tuesday!

“Advised him to speak with his wife.”

neatness: just say no!

While at the office yesterday, I was quite tickled to read this tagline to a story in the Toronto Star:

You may see a disaster, a desk that looks hurricane-ravaged, strewn with papers and debris. Josh Freed sees creativity in the making.

This is the office of Josh Freed, a journalist who has just made a documentary about the “evangelism of neat freaks”.  He suggests that they worship at big churches otherwise known as container shops.  But he’s had it with being judged as a lazy slob just because he is messy.

His theory: a messy office means a creative mind:

I find almost everything fairly quickly. I think the issue with a mess is the aesthetics. There is an organizing principle underneath. I work with the archaeological system – the farther down in the pile, the more years back. While thrashing through, you find other things that give you ideas. It creates accidental thinking.

I love this guy! So, there is a method to my madness in not cleaning up that spare room after all!

Now, ironically enough, the head office of the organisation I work for just instituted a “clean desk policy”.  Ordinarily a neat freak myself at the workplace, I’ve noticed that clutter seems to have built up on my des, perhaps as a form of rebellion.  How dare some big shadowy boss/CEO make rules about how I organise my work, anyway! Sheesh!

Perhaps I could bring a constitutional challenge on the grounds that the clean desk policy stifles my inner creativity… hmm.

Anyone care to join me?!

Happy Saturday.  Now that I don’t have to tidy up the house, I’m going to indulge in some knitting.

social responsibility and … booze?

Well, summer has arrived!!!

How do I know? Because the LCBO has come out with its early summer issue of the Food and Drink magazine!

Now, this has got to be the best free mag going! Not only does it have lots of free yummy recipes:

(A note: if you’re trying to diet, never, ever look at this magazine. Although the photos look so good that you could probably end up eating the paper they’re printed on…)

…but also lots of important lifestyle tips. I mean, I don’t know how much longer I can survive without buying some chocolate covered sunflower seeds:

…Dufflet chocolate bark:

…or a $32.00 lemon juicer!

(But here, gentle reader, I must confess that I actually now own one of these. In my defence, JJ bought it for me as a gift, knowing how much I love lemon, and it cost quite a bit less than $32.00 where he got it.)

And, here’s the perfect hostess gift for the next time you need one: a “chip ‘n dip” set

Only $240.00!! (Hmmm… how many bags of chips could I actually buy with that, though – and hey, they taste the same coming right out of the bag, no?).

Now, the only reason that the LCBO can actually offer this mag for free (which, by the way, has in past inspired a complaint to the Ombudsman from companies which actually sell their magazines) is that it is government controlled.

That’s right, folks – here in Ontario the government sells us our liquor. At a premium, of course.

What cheeses me off more though of late is that we’re also paying to get lectured while buying booze these days. For example, the LCBO used to have plastic bags like this:

Now, let me tell you, these bags were famous. They were the best plastic bags ever. This was the topic of many of those banal smoking area or elevator chats. Seriously. You could have a whole five minute conversation on “Don’t the LCBO have the best bags?”. I even know one landlord rep who used them as briefcases!

Well, alas, no more. Seemingly overnight, they discontinued the plastic bags in order to save the environment. So, instead, you can get either a free (paper) bag – great if you’ve driven in your gaz guzzling SUV to the liquor store, not so great if you are walking any distance – or, you can have one of these “enviro-bags”:

…which costs $1.95.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a good idea to do away with plastic bags. However, because they didn’t bother to announce that they were doing this but landed it on us, I was actually forced to buy one of their bags when I stopped in on the way home from work one day.

But then perhaps whinging like this is not socially responsible of me. As a consumer, however, I’m just getting tired of corporations taking the moral high ground, lecturing me about my (lack of) commitment to the environment, then turning a profit from it.

It strikes me that if the LCBO were really serious about encouraging people to use these bags (rather than paper, which as I understand it, involves trees being cut down), they would sell them at cost. And although I don’t know for certain I would venture to say that the LCBO does not itself pay $1.95 for each bag.

I mean, it’s not as though they’re hurting any!

The LCBO transferred a record $1.275-billion dividend, not including taxes, to the Ontario government in fiscal 2006-07. It is the 13th straight year the LCBO has increased its dividend to the province and the fourth consecutive year the dividend has topped $1 billion.

I’d love to know how much of next year’s billion plus “dividend” (is this a fancy word for “profit”?) relates to the sale of enviro-bags, myself.

And is it “socially responsible”, pray tell, to hawk $240 chip bowls rather than encouraging people to donate that kind of money to – oh, I don’t know – Mothers Against Drunk Driving, perhaps?!

Humph.

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