For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sometimes, having a junker car is a good thing...

What a day we had today!

It's turned out to be day when I not only got to really appreciate my kids, but am appreciating that we have a $50 car. *L*

As the girls and I entered the parkade to head out for the day, there were some people going through their car parked closer to the door than our spot. Seeing us come in, the gentleman called out, "did your car get broken into, too?" !?!?! When I said I had no idea - we hadn't seen our car yet - he told me that quite a few had been broken into. My husband found out later that the total number had been six.

Our own car was untouched. It's not exactly the sort of car that would be targeted as having anything of value. With it's "character" marks on the outside, the chopped up dash board cover (the vinyl cover had come unglued and curled up, blocking the car's ability to defog the windshield, so Dh just cut the curled up part off. It looks weird, but it works. *L*), missing gas cap cover, and so on... About the only thing we'd have to worry about is if we parked on the street and someone stole it for a joy ride. The thing isn't even worth stealing for parts. *L*

One of the things we did today was meet my husband for lunch at a Boston Pizza near his work. We won't be going there again. We're fairly regular there - maybe once a month, though we've found ourselves there twice in one day in the past. We're there often enough for some of the wait staff to know us. They certainly aren't the problem. The problem is in the kitchen. Today was at least the third time they've screwed something up. A past example was when we decided to have a couple of deserts. After the waitress went into the kitchen twice to get them for us, she ended up having to plate them herself, because the kitchen staff never got around to it. Dh was late getting back to work because of that.

Today's screw up was with a quesidilla (not sure how to spell that) we ordered to share. We specifically asked for no tomato. I can tolerate tomatoes if they're in a sauce or paste, but that's it. I've tried to eat them but ... well, let's just say my gag reflex works really well at times. When we asked for no tomatoes, the waitress made note of it, saying it was an allergy, just to make sure they'd pay attention to it in the kitchen. When the quesidilla gets to the table, I take a peek, just in case. Sure enough, it had chopped bits of tomato spread all over. I couldn't even pick them off.

When the waitress came back, she was surprised when we told her there were tomatoes in there, since she'd been VERY clear when she wrote down our order. I even watched her to it, too. She offered to take it back, but since it was just me that was effected by it, and this was more of an appetizer for the 4 of us, I said I was ok with it. I really didn't want the extra time added on, since we did have to get my husband back to work. I should have accepted her offer, though. Eldest tried some and didn't like it. Youngest doesn't like tomatoes. I thought she was ok with them. Oops. That left Dh being the only person who could eat it.

When it came time for the bill, the waitress told us she'd talked to the manager on our behalf and that he said not to charge us for the quesidilla, which we thought was nice of her. As we left, Youngest and I headed to the car to warm it up (and get the windows clear of snow) while Dh and Eldest waited in line to pay for our meal. It took them a lot longer than I expected. Sure enough, Dh asked for the manager and had a talk with him. He simply told the manager that we weren't coming back. He made it very clear that we had no problems with the wait staff, just their kitchen staff. The manager started to make offers to placate my husband, but Dh told him he wasn't after anything. No discounts or whatever are wanted. We're just not coming back. I doubt the manager is too happy with his kitchen staff right now.

The hard part is going to be finding an alternative place to meet Dh for lunch that isn't fast food, is relatively inexpensive, and close to Dh's work.

After dropping Dh off at work and doing a bit more running around, the girls and I headed home. I didn't stay long, though, heading out again to do more running around. The last place I needed to go to was back downtown - just up the block from the BP, actually. LOL

Now, the weather today hasn't been the best. It was fairly cold with a light snow pretty much all day. That made for some messy roads. Not icy - it was too cold for any melt on the roads - but with plenty of dirty ridges of loose snow in between the tire tracks. The plow trucks are out, but they just can't keep up with an all day snow. Rush hour was just starting as I headed into downtown, too, so traffic was pretty heavy. I get to an intersection where I needed to make a left turn. It had a turning lane and an advance green arrow. I was several cars back from the intersection, and the vehicle ahead of me went through even though the arrow had turned yellow. By the time I got to the intersection, the green arrow was gone. Facing traffic now had the right of way. So I stopped.

The car behind me didn't.

Yup, I got rear ended.

I had to pull a bit forward, into the cross walk, to give some space between our vehicles since the driver behind me made no effort to back up. I doubt he could have given me more than a couple of inches anyway, with vehicles close behind him. I then turned on my hazard lights and get out of the car to see the damage. Only when I get to my own bumper does he get out to take a look, too. His bumper has a few scratches on it. Mine's cracked and caved in. Mentally, I'm thinking... it's a $50 car. We really don't care too much. Still, the damage is enough that if we did fix it, the entire bumper will need to be replaced.

At that point, the guy gets to me, starts looking at his bumper and mumbles something about the damage not being too bad. I point out that *my* bumper is damaged quite a bit - enough to need replacing. We're going to have to exchange our driver's license information. Then he starts to shift the blame onto me by saying that I'd stopped. Well, all thoughts of letting it slide disappear as I point out that of course I stopped - I no longer had the light! Then he scuffs at the road surface and says something about the conditions, and how his car just kept going. I didn't bother pointing out that the road surface he was scuffing wasn't slippery at all. I just went into my car and found something to write our information on. As I went past him to get his license plate number, I asked him if he had something to write on (hint, hint). He says yes and goes into his own car. By the time I'm done, he's writing down my license plate number, too.

I should point out that he wasn't at all belligerent or aggressive or anything like that. He just seemed to *really* want to act like nothing happened, and unsure of what to do. Which turned out to be very accurate. As I bring out my own driver's license so he can get my information (then he starts digging for his), he starts asking why we're doing this. Is it for the police? I told him that no, it was for the insurance company. So what happens next? he wonders. He's never been in an accident before. I have no idea. I've never been rear ended before. Well, not quite true. I did get a bump once, many years ago. That one didn't even result in a scratch, so I've never had to do paperwork for this sort of thing before. All I know is that we call our insurance companies and it goes on from there.

To be honest, I'm not sure I'm going to bother. As far as I know, because I was rear ended and it was clearly his fault, my insurance won't be effected, but his will. The thing is, I have no interest in getting it fixed. Why bother? My deductible is probably higher than the car is worth. The damage is to one corner of the bumper on the driver's side. I still have a functional bumper - as long as I don't get hit in that same spot again. To be even more honest though, the biggest reason I have to report this is the other driver's behaviour. I mean really - trying to shift the blame to me for stopping when I didn't have the light? Along with the whole "it's not that bad" commentary when he's only got a few scratches and I've got a crunched in hole in my bumper? I don't think so, Buddy!

I don't know. I'll have to think about it for a bit longer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Relevant to these times

I was browsing through comments on another blog when I found this. I thought it was quite relevant to what we're going through these days.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

-Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Random thoughts - on metaphors and Christmas breaks

Just popping in quickly while going through my morning news.

People have been using a lot of metaphors to describe various elements of our current political fiasco. One I've seen a few times now is the coalition being called a "three headed hydra."

I disagree. The coalition is not like a hydra at all.

The hydra is a multi-headed monster of mythology. It was a snake-like creature with a varying number of heads - by some accounts, many hundreds - that acted with one mind. As one head was destroyed, another would grow in its place.

Clearly, this is a metaphor that does not fit the coalition. There is only 3 of them, they don't act of one mind and, as seen by the resignation of Dion, they don't "grow their heads back" all too well.

A more accurate metaphor would be the chimera. Though the chimera is described as being female, while all the coalition leaders are male, the chimera has three very different heads. One is the snake instead of a tail (Layton, with his deal making with the Bloc while at the same time saying a coalition would never happen during the election campaign), the lion (Duceppe - the only one of the three that you know exactly where he stands - for Quebec, not Canada) and the goat (Dion, the sacrificial offering).

Another thing that seems strange for me is the reaction to proroguing the government. Pro-coalition folks are making a whole lot of noise about how undemocratic it is - which is really rich, since they're the same ones objecting when people call the coalition undemocratic.

Prorogue happens regularly. Prorogue simple means to suspend parliament without dissolving it. It's done every summer. It's also done every winter for Christmas break. Parliament was set to prorogue Dec. 12.

For 7 weeks.

I knew they were off for about a month, but 7 weeks? I hadn't realized it was for that long!

Anyhow. The GG simply prorogued parliament 5 days early.

Pro-coalition folks say that this is undemocratic because it allows Harper to "run away" from a confidence vote. Here's the thing. The CPC had already backed off from the things the coalition supposedly formed against. They'd made the concessions. This would have been a good time for the opposition to back off and claim victory, leaving the CPC to deal with the humiliation of looking weak. The opposition parties refused to accept those concessions and formed their coalition anyways. To my mind, the reason is pretty obvious. Especially in light of Layton's groundwork, laid long ago (we really need to have the time line of this made public!). The coalition's sole goal is to oust Harper. It's not about the economy, stimulus packages, or even funding. It's a personal vendetta against one person. The only thing the opposition parties hate more than each other is Stephen Harper. Not a stable basis for a working relationship.

Because of the timing - with Christmas break coming up anyhow - it wouldn't have made sense to dissolve parliament and trigger another election. It wouldn't make sense to accept a coalition that's tearing itself apart already as a new government. Prorogue was, really, the only choice. Step back, give the coalition time to either work things out or self-destruct, while the CPC puts together a budget.

People are also upset over the 2 month "holiday" our MPs are getting. Quite a few throw out some variation of how they wish they could get a 2 month holiday from their own jobs, too.

Here's the thing. Parliament may not be in session anymore, but this is no holiday. Neither is the summer break. Prorogue simply means the MPs aren't required to show up at parliament on a regular basis. They're still working. MPs of all parties are going back to their ridings, where they have to face their constituents. The CPC have to put together a budget, which will be introduced the day after parliament re-opens. A Sisyphean task, since the NDP has already said they won't support it, no matter what's in it, and both the NDP and Libs have rebuffed the CPCs request for collaboration.

Anyone still think the coalition isn't just about overturning the government?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Local Rally for Canada

Eldest daughter and I went to our local Rally for Canada today. We didn't get home until fairly late, as we were out and about afterward.

It was a touch on the chilly side, with the weather not quite sure if it was raining or snowing. We took the train and found ourselves heading to the legislature grounds with a group of people. At one point, I found myself walking beside a man who wasn't quite sure if he was at the right place. When I told him that, yes, this was where the rally was going to be held, he told me that he wasn't supporting Stephen Harper, then asked if I were going to the same place. When I said yes, he didn't say anything and started walking faster. Later on, I saw him take out an anti-Harper and anti-GG sign invoking Mugabe that had me laughing out loud. I suppose it was meant to be insulting, but all it really did was show off his own ignorance. But hey, each to their own.

There was quite a crowd already gathered, and it grew quickly. Ours was one of the smaller demonstrations in Canada - something over 500 people, I've read. Along with Mugabe guy, there was another counter-demonstrator with a "Fire Harper" sign, and something about perogy on the other. A play on the word prorogue that was supposed to be either insulting or funny. He was walking back and forth in front of the crowd for a while, until some people with signs against the coalition started walking along right behind him, step for step. At one point he yelled out something about us all being Quebec haters, which someone promptly corrected. Not wanting to deal with separatists is not the same as hating Quebecers. Eventually, he found a high spot in the middle and held his sign. Every now and then, during the speaches, he'd shout something out about "padlocking parliament" and the like. I would like to have asked him if he was protesting like this the last time parliament was prorogued - at Paul Martin's request,* so as to avoid the ad-scam fall out.
*correction: It was Chretien that prorogued parliament; Paul Martin was left holding the bag as PM after Chretien stepped down.

There was one guy that got into a shouting match with both the counter-protestors before things started. Of course, with each one, the tv and newspaper cameras came running along to record it. It's unfortunate that this happened. The counter protestors have as much right to their opinion as the rest of us, and shouting at them is not only disrespectful, but counterproductive, what with how it would end up being portrayed in the news. It's certainly not going to change anyone's mind.

When things got started, we opened with the singing of Oh, Canada! Shortly after, there was a moment of silence to commemorate the 3 soldiers that died in Afghanistan recently, as well as the Montreal Massacre.

There were some more speeches, with the whole thing lasting under and hour. We closed off with another singing of the national anthem. My daughter noted to me later on that Fire Harper guy was the only person she saw that wasn't singing. Mugabe guy was standing with his back to us, so I have no idea if he sang along.

When things broke up, most of the crowd headed over to where a table was set up, giving out copies of a petition against the coalition, so that people could get signatures, which are to be sent in by Dec. 12. While looking through the crowd, I noticed on Western separatist sign a guy had, as well as one sign a woman carried that suggested Quebec should separate.

While we waited for my husband to come and get us, a family group walked by with their large, professionally printed signs. I asked them where they got the signs from and they told me they'd found a printer that was able to do it in 6 hours for them - and that they cost about $50 each! These were printed on both sides with a lot of text, too. You know it means something when people will toss off $150 for signs that can only be used once.

All in all, I left the rally feeling somewhat encouraged. It helps that the coalition looks like it's already breaking apart. We'll see how things work out over the next while. Parliament would've shut down next week anyways, so it's just a few extra weeks closed than it would've been. Layton is already saying the NDP won't support the budget, no matter what it is. And people say Harper is the one who's being stubborn and a bully? How can the CPC work together and be concilliatory with a party that intends to work against them no matter what?

We're definitly living in interesting times.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sites of interest.

Just a quick step in to post some links Canadian readers might find useful.

First, a simple poll - do you agree or disagree.

Coalition Opinion

At the time of this writing, there' still less than 1000 votes.

There's also the Rally for Canada site I posted about earlier.

If you're on facebook, you can join this group.
Canadians Against a Liberal/NDP Coalition

This group grew by about 5000 members in the space of a couple of hours between my visits.

You can also sign a petition.

Canadians for Democracy

If you want to write you Member of Parliament - or write to all of them - you can find their info here.

Members of Parliament

If you want to write to the Governor General, contact information is here.

Let your voice be heard.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Rally For Canada

I don't really trust myself to write on the subject right now. Instead, I'll direct you here.

Rally for Canada.