Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today is September 11th, 2010 which is the ninth anniversary of the day that likely set the course of the world for many years to come. Even when the environment and energy shortages knock us silly September 11th will be in our vernacular.
The big news was that the small town pastor from Florida, Terry Jones, was going to burn the Koran / Quran. At first I thought that the story was a bad joke by the Welsh Monty Python actor / director Terry Jones . Then I realized that in fact that this Reverend Terry Jones was a small time minister who indeed wanted to burn Islam’s Holy Book on September 11th to show his fear of Islam. As I write this blog in the evening of the 11th, he has backed off the threat and there have been no extraordinary attacks or actions as a result of the Florida Jones’s actions.

So what do I make of this? Well Terry Jones the minister has every right to mock Islam and the Koran. American’s can desecrate the Koran, the Stars and Stripes, the Torah, the US Constitution, the Christian Gospels, pictures of Britney Spears and just about anything else. We can even do this in Canada with our flag and just about anything else. The Monty Python Jones directed The Life of Brian which some Christians would likely regard as offensive. Some people have argued that was Jones given a ridiculous amount of publicity: A small town hick is on the front page of all the major newspapers – why? I think the answer is that he is newsworthy because he is so amazingly stupid, dense, insensitive, naive, egotistical, malleable, annoying, tactless and just plain dumb. He makes for example, make the Woman Who Claims to be Our Member of Parliament look like a Rhodes Scholar. That is why it is news.
So in a way his ranting is a celebration of our western freedom of speech and the remarkable intelligence and decency of just about everybody else. Not a bad way to commemorate this day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I just went shopping online. No, not for a iPod, Pad, or phone. Not for a vacation or a shirt or chocolates or mushrooms or truffles or trifles. Nor did I order up porno or anything that was on promo.
I went shopping to give money to Pakistani flood relief. Here is a partial listing of choices:

• Canadian Red Cross
• Oxfam Canada
• World Vision Canada
• Save the Children Canada
• Care Canada
• SOS Children's Villages
• Doctors Without Borders/MSF
• UNICEF Canada
• International Development and Relief Foundation
• Development and Peace
• Islamic Relief Canada
• UNHCR - the UN's refugee agency
• Human Concern International
• The Humanitarian Coalition
• Focus Humanitarian Assistance
• The United Church of Canada
• Action Against Hunger
• World Food Program
• Relief International

What's more, the federal government is matching until September 12th, dollar for dollar what we, the great unwashed, donate. So $10.00 becomes $20.00, $100 becomes $200 and $500 becomes $1000. At the risk of offending, that makes me uncomfortable. If the government thinks that our tax money should be spent on humanitarian relief, be it flood, earthquake, or tsunami then they should go ahead and spend the money. They should pick a number, be it a million dollars or ten million or one hundred million and go ahead and spend it. Or make a decision to spend nothing. It is their moral and ethical duty to make the decision. They will be judged by Higher Powers, the other countries of the world, and the electorate. But they are elected to decide.

But to tie their obligation and decision into the whim and will of the donating public lacks courage, moral fortitude, and responsibility. It is not only cowardly, but I think smacks of electioneering. It also ties all the recipients to be , at least to a degree, beholden to the elected government. I am likely just about the only one in Canada that thinks that way.

I decided to donate to one outfit that does not get accept the matching gift and that is MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (MSF)or Doctors Without Borders. Check them out at

I am glad that I did. Plus the talking heads that you see on morning TV that head up the Big Boys in the charity and aid biz always sound like sleaze balls. That last comment was unnecessary and unfair but that is the fun of having my own blog.

So I feel like I have done a little to help the world tonight. I will enjoy the moment that I have been given with a bit more vigour

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So like I am off to Ottawa for an important meeting and just as I am about to leave the driveway, my wife, who is walking the beagle, flags me down and points out that my front right tire is a bit low on air. I have lots of time to stop in at the gas station (that has free air) and I stop to fill up. No sooner than I am filling up I hear a strange hissing - I back of the filly thing and "whoosh" ; the valve from the tire goes flying out and the tire deflates like Stephen Harper's dream of a majority.
I call the 800 number that comes with the car and the guy comes to put on the donut tire but cautions me not to take it on the highway. I drive to town and the tire guy replaces the valve for $30 bucks. He tells me that the valve was badly rusted

And then I think - what if this had happened on the Queensway? But for the grace of God .......

Monday, September 6, 2010

It is Labour Day. I could write the Where Did Summer Go comment but there would be nothing novel about that. My wife and I are just back from Montreal and I always feel a bit guilty after a vacation away. I certainly feel no pang of remorse about not working as I am innately lazy. I am not feeling bad about overindulging in food. Even though I ranted last post about my Smoked Meat sandwich I know that eating like this on a regular basis is fatal for me (and indeed most of us) and I will treat this like the nutritional statutory holiday that it is.

What makes me guilty is the very expensive briefcase / carrying bag that cost something like $2890 at Harry Rosen's store in Montreal. Of course I did not buy the bag. I could not afford to pay that kind of money for a big pouch with a strap on it and I would view anyone who made that purchase with equal amounts of disdain and jealously. After all, just think how much that $2890 would help the flood relief in Pakistan?

How much indeed? I have given zero dollars to the flood relief. I gave to the Indonesian Tsunami. I gave to Haiti. But why not a dime to the Pakistani Floods? Am I a racist? Do I somehow think that the people there are "less than"? Do I think that the size of Pakistan's military and its capacity for nuclear war makes it unworthy? Or is the flooding a bit too slow for me? It is not a Hollywood disaster, coming out of the clear blue, with a swath of destruction? Or maybe I think that Pakistan is not really our friend as it is way too cozy with the Taliban.

I think of the money that we spent on the train to get to Montreal. At $120 return for the two of us I think of it as an environmentally friendly bargain but $120 is $120. We had our anniversary dinner at Gibby's in Old Montreal - $145.00 before tip (and the place was jammed). Our accommodation was free (we used points)but we had meals and admission charges and Metro (mind you $7.00 per person for unlimited travel 24 hours), That is a lot of aid money.

I am not sure about final judgments and the settling of one's accounts at the end of your life. I have an innate feeling that you do go through some sort of check out as you check out. So how would I explain the weekend to a child that has lost her home and family and now has no medicine to combat a simple intestinal disorder that is killing her? I am sure that she would lump me together with the man who buys the three thousand dollar purse.

I do have to make a choice, do I not?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Smoked Meat, no not smoked meat, but Montreal Smoked Meat: The secret, spiced, salted, flavoured, not so lean beef, thinly sliced in between two slices of rye bread, slathered with French’s Mustard; sandwich à la viande fumée. And French Fries or pommes frites, shoestring style; hot , greasy, and salted. Oh the agony and the ecstasy. How many calories? How many grams of fat? How many grams of saturated fat? How many times the daily maximum of sodium? How many milligrams of nitrates? But the ecstasy of a nutritional free fall: Do not count calories, points, NDA of fat or sodium. Just inhale the meat, inhale the thin, crisp golden thin wisps of fried in hot grease potatoes.
When in Montréal do as the citizens do. We walked, we walked a lot. My wife and I were there for our eleventh wedding anniversary. We took the train on Friday and experienced three seasons of weather while we were there for just ever 48 hours. From a high of 33 C on the Friday to a low of 15 on Sunday morning, from dead calm on Friday to winds of 60 km/h plus on Saturday from dry to rain we saw it all. We saw doves of peace and love and a man with a gaze seeing something that we could not see wearing his skull covered jacket. We saw men on the streets carrying garbage bags that likely contained their life’s possessions and a singular leather man bag at Harry Rosen’s for $2800. We dined alone and we dined with strangers (in the jowl to jowl intimacy of crowded Montréal restaurants) and we dined with a dear friend. We took the Metro and we walked the Botanical Gardens and we towered above the city atop the old Olympic Stadium. We did it all.
But my once a year (okay, maybe twice) free fall into the nutritional abyss was worth it. I will not name the deli, but it had a name common with my Cardiac Surgeon. So it must have been okay.