The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

February 23, 2009

The Easy-Off of Life




Or, honestly, getting to other blogs I like to visit.
So I'm trying a little catch-up here.

I was going to try to do a true Snippets from Spaceship Orion with, well, snippets of what's been going on. But not much has been as winter wears on into spring and nothing much changes.

I realize I've lost touch with some of you, and I lament that, but with some of you I'm actually more in touch through FB. I'm just seeing what fits best and, well, it is what it is.

I was thrilled, though, when Canada got BAMMED by Obama last week.

I thought he was charming during his visit. He doesn't deserve the crap he's getting from the Reflublicans who left him the mess he's in now.

I LOVED Bill Mahrer on Larry King Live last week.

I think he's the most brilliant human being on the planet right now and if the power-brokers actually listened to what he said, we'd all be better off.

The book I'm reading now, Rogue Economics by Loretta Napoleoni, is quite depressing, actually.

It's very complicated.

But basically it's all about how the fall of the Berlin Wall, globalization, free trade, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the internet has turned the planet into an economic free-for-all that is destroying us all.

But enough of all that.

I'm proud to say that while I received a shipment of Valentine's Day crapola that I could really make no use of because of my consistently stubborn single status, my son is a comparatively speaking Don Juan.

Here is a portion of the love-related package I received at work from some promotion company trying to trump the swimsuit edition of Maxim Magazine.

But in real life, I'm proud to say that my son did all the right things with the cute little squeeze he's quite serious about, buying her flowers and taking her out on the town, with good old dad as the chauffeur...

I know he doesn't look very happy in this pic, but they had a good time...

Here's the flowers he gave her, which I had to keep alive for three days...

Now, onto another topic, my annual stove-cleaning disaster.

Wouldn't it be great if we could just spray a product like Easy-Off on all the mistakes we had made in our lives, heat up the oven to 450 and wipe them clean?

Just rinse all of that crap out in a plastic pail and pour it down the toilet?

And end up with something that's more or less clean again, all the dirt from the past erased?

February 14, 2009


CHARDON, Ohio - A woman has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in Ohio for exercising her 73-year-old husband to death in a swimming pool.

Police in Middlefield, Ohio, said surveillance video showed 41-year-old Christine Newton-John pulling James Mason around the pool by his arms and legs and preventing him from leaving.

Mason had a heart attack June 2 after the extended swim session.

Newton-John pleaded guilty Thursday and faces up to five years in prison.

Police Chief Joseph Stehlik says Mason's death was investigated because of previous complaints that he was abused.

Mason was a longtime friend of his wife's family.

He knew her as John Vallandingham before she had gender reassignment surgery in 1993 and changed her name. They married in 2006.

February 9, 2009

Fire and Brimstone, Snow and Ice



I do not believe in the Bible or anything that it says, especially the absurd interpretations of it by the Religious Right in recent years which have served to make it more of a comic book than a guide for life.

I do not believe in the church, because it's a frail, human concept that fills us with guilt, promises us salvation but only in return for believing in the unbelievable, and it has more charlatans than any other group.

But I DO believe in some sort of sentient being that created all of this or at least that is watching over it all and at times laughing at our idiocy or frowning upon it.

And I'm offering up the theory that this being is frowning upon us now and that it is demonstrating that through the only means it can, this entity it controls which we call Mother Nature.

As of this writing, more than 160 people have died as a result of wildfires in Australia. Now this is not a new phenomenon in the least, but its ferocity and the toll it has taken certainly aren't the norm.

Now you combine that with last week's freak snowfall in the UK, one which we in Canada might have been snickering at to some degree (aww, that's NUTHIN'!) but which shut down schools and paralysed the people.

(Well, some had fun with it)

Now, add one more freaky occurrence to the list (and I haven't even talked about hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis or any of that sort of thing over the past year or two or three).

Overnight and today, in Winnipeg and other areas of southwestern Canada and the northern U.S., in what should be our coldest time of the year with average temps of -20C or whatever, it rained.


This isn't the UK or Vancouver or Victoria. It's the frickin' Prairies.

The forecast high for today was plus-3C. And it caused havoc all day. I could barely walk to my car today with slipping and sliding all over on my wonky knee.

The rain coated our streets with a layer of ice that shut down highways, schools, forced people to stay home from work -- basically similar to what last week's snowfall did in the UK.

To see a really cool (short) video done by my newspaper, go to

Here are a few pix of people and vehicles slip-sliding all over the place, including into ditches.

So the world's in an economic crisis, the Middle East is a mess, Barack Obama's being shit on for everything he hasn't been able to do yet to fix George W. Bush's disaster and the planet, generally, is in a surly mood.

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, this thing people like to call God isn't exactly overjoyed with the situation either and maybe is showing us that by making it rain where it should be snowing and snowing where it should be raining?

February 8, 2009

Between rocks and a cold place


Especially when it's in February, which means that I'm almost invariably covering a provincial championship for what in Canada we like to call the Roaring Game, a winter sport I'll get to later.

Suffice to say, I was not even supposed to be covering this event. But our regular writer on this beat couldn't make it due to a death in the family, so I was seconded on an emergency basis.

Rather than whine and cry about it (I've already done enough of that on Facebook, and you won't entirely escape it here), I opted to make this a roadtrip whereupon I could enrich my historical perspective.

The place I went to is on the sign in the picture below. I don't want to spell out the name here because anyone Googling its name could wind up here and possibly take offence where none is intended.

But if it helps, the name of the town, spelled backwards, is awapeeN.

And while this town is known for producing hockey players, it is most famous for being the birthplace -- and now the burial site -- of renowned Canadian author teragraM ecneruaL, who wrote Stone Angel, among others.

After being stricken with cancer, she committed suicide rather than force her loved ones to endure what would have been her long, drawn-out death.

The town, about two hours northwest of Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway, has preserved the house she grew up in and there are signs all over directing tourists to it.

Of course, I did not drive by it. These are pictures I pulled off the Web.

So now that I have become historically endowed with this knowledge and enriched by my proximity to even the spirit of such a writing icon, there are a few other observations I must make.

Why is it that everyone in these small towns parks on an angle with their rear bumpers jutting out into the street? Why can't they just park parallel to the curb? They all have to back out into oncoming traffic.

Yes that means more vehicles can park in a block. But join the 21st century! Maybe they still think their vehicles are like the horses they could tie up when they went into the old saloon?

And everybody goes 25 kilometres per hour in a 50 Km/H zone. Hello! It takes 90 minutes to go through the McDonald's Drive Thru!

Other observations...

--It was a new experience for me to see a Hutterite woman working at the Dairy Queen...having to wear a goofy little DQ hat over her little black bonnet thingy they wear on their tied up hair, and the DQ outfit over her long, black dress.

--The local radio station is called The Farm. They had a van next to the competition venue blasting out the same old country tunes every minute of every frickin' day I was there, I'm still having nightmares...

Now, having said all this, the people in this town are beautiful and friendly and always smiling and welcoming. But now on with our story...

So on Tuesday, I find the motel. The proprietor is a guy from the UK who's telling me all about the snow that has wreaked havoc in his homeland. His name is Bob.

I ask him, already afraid of his answer, but I ask there any way I might be able to access the internet with my laptop computer from my room. He amazes me by telling me he's got wireless set up.

I'm ecstatic, of course. Because this place looks like it was probably built in the 1950s, maybe even before I was born.

He hands me my room key.

My heart sinks. When they have to write down your room number in ink on a piece of masking tape, doubt tends to creep in.

I could barely unlock the door to No. 6, but when I got in, it was like I had been transported back to the 1970s...ugly wood panelling and the like, although the place was equipped with a microwave and other amenities.

It was, as it turned out, OK, even though it was a shared hot water tank that often resulted in cold morning showers.

Not sure what the hieroglyphics on the mirror said (below), but I'm going to get an ancient Egyptian expert to try to decipher it...

So OK, I'm there. The wireless signal only worked for the first two nights, but I could still get the signal if I went to Bob's office, right next to their copy router or whatever.

And what was I doing in this one-traffic-light town? I was covering a bunch of women throwing 40-pound chunks of granite down long sheets of ice, trying to get as close as they could to the button.

And no, no men were injured or killed in this endeavour.

The problem with this sport is it happens on ice. And with four draws a day of eight teams each, going at 8:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., that's a lot of time to be sitting and watching...and freezing.

And trying to write. And interviewing players while your teeth are chattering and appendages are starting to malfunction or even fall off.

But hey, it's all part of life's work.

I COULD be down in Texas or Arizona or Florida, where they don't even know what this sport is. Or in Australia or New Zealand, where cricket and rugby and Aussie Rules rule.

Bob was telling me about how his family back in the UK were shocked at the 14 inches of snow they received this past week, paralysed and unable to function.

It's all what you're used to, Bob. It's all what you're used to.