Thursday, September 28, 2006

Well, um, what you do, is... get the guy to throw in a truly kick-ass German cd player and sound system and - much more importantly - a great warranty with a $0 deductible so you're not so concerned about the car being five years old - and you follow your heart.

Meet our new car.

That's the thing about falling in love.

Sometimes when it really feels right, you just have to take a chance.

- ronnie

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This week's Quest... For... Car!

On a rainy Saturday, we canceled a shopping trip to Saint John (shopping in the rain: not so much fun) and test-drove some PT Cruisers instead.

And in doing so, we had a so-far completely-unique experience in our auto-shopping adventures to date: salespeople who actually acknowldeged my existence.

I know, I know. The bad old days of ignoring "the little lady" have supposedly gone the way of the dodo bird, but, brother, have I felt invisible at most of the dealerships we've visited! The two salemen we interacted with at - and I'm so impressed, I'm coming right out and identifying them by name - Wheels and Deals not only spoke to both of us, the dealer we were working with directly asked my name!!! And wrote it on the quote sheet he prepared for us! Right next to Husband's name! Oh my God! As if I was half of the decision!

And that, my friends, is the way to start out on the path to sellin' a couple a car!!!

I know we've talked about the incongruity of the PT Cruiser on our list, next to Mercedes and BMWs and Jaguars... the truth is, we can afford a pre-owned luxury car, but we have a soft spot in our hearts for the Cruiser. It was the first convertible we ever rented, for a trip to Halifax; the first really fun, head-turning car we ever drove. And after 18 years of our faithful Honda Civic, we have come to appreciate the value of a darned good, dependable little car, which the Cruiser is shaping up to be.

So, it's kinda like knowing that you can afford steak but if ya had $1,000,000, "of course we'd eat Kraft Dinner... we'd just eat more Kraft Dinner..." "With gourmet mustard..." "Mmmm... DIJON mustard!"

The first Cruiser we drove today was a 2003... the manufacturer calls this colour "burgundy" but we agree that we can't help but call it "grape".

We were both a little surprised that its handling, acceleration and ride were inferior to the ones we've rented. It just felt different. Ok, but not great.

After that we drove a 2005... hated the colour (kind of a goldy-beige) and, like the graple one, the ride and handling was merely adequate.

Astonished to discover that it didn't have A/C!

We had decided to approach the car purchase the same way we approached buying the house... we would each make a list of our "absolute must-haves" and our "would-be-nice-to-haves", which would save us time and effort chasing after things that didn't at least meet "absolute must-have" criteria... in the end, the only "absolute must-have" we both agreed on was "air conditioning"... and this 2005 PT Cruiser didn't have it.

Too bad but an automatic disqualification.

On Sunday we took a Crossfire out for a spin. (That's the one which I think looks like it has its bum in the air, but nevermind. Husband quite liked it and it is snappy looking.)

Not much impressed. It was kind of, I said later, like sitting on a skateboard. It was low, and it was kind of cramped. Since about 75% of the driving we'll be doing in this car is multi-hour road trips (Halifax, Moncton, Toronto, Montreal), the snap and speed factor realistically pales in comparison to the "this car rides and drives like we're sitting on the sofa listening to some CDs and eating chips and talking" factor.

So... what if we found everything we wanted ... a luxurious feel, lots of extras (heated seats, leather interior, sunroof), nimble handling, great acceleration, a great price, and that cute PT Cruiser styling in the same car?

Well... we did. Today we test drove - twice - this PT Cruiser Limited Edition. (This car was not at Wheels and Deals, but at another Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealer in the city.) We took it out for a spin at lunch and liked it so much we took it out for a longer drive after work. We liked it so damn much we popped by Mom O's place to make sure she found it comfortable to get into and out of (she doesn't drive, and since Dad O got sick the boys and daughters-in-law have worked as a team to chauffer her everywhere she needs or wants to go).

This car, for the first time out of all we drove, spoke to us. We like this car.

(And the dealer deals with me. Even phones me when he wants to convey information to us. I mean, that no reason to buy a car. But it doesn't hurt.)

It drives like a dream. It handles the way we remembered.

So it's perfect, right?

Alas, when shopping for cars, nothing is perfect. This little girl is a 2001. That's certainly the absolute oldest model year we'd consider. It even has a casette deck (but the first thing we asked the dealer for - and he immediately agreed - was that they'd replace the stereo with a new CD system). A cassette deck that immediately ate the copy of Pink Floyd's "Relics" that we brought along to test the sound system.

So it's more confusing than ever. Great price (and he offered us a surprisingly good trade-in price for Yvette); we adore the car; the payments are quite a bit lower than the others we've been looking at, which means more disposable income every month; but the car's already five years old (six, when the new model year comes out).

What to do... what to do... what to do...


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New job for former Premier Lord?

Someone recently directed me to Froglady's blog - hysterically funny commentary about Canadian politics, replete with wonderful photoshopped illustrations. (Or, as she modestly puts it, "Senile commentary about nothing in particular".)

This, however, nearly caused me to lose it:



Conrad Black wants to be Canadian again

He also said in the same interview that he has "settled into my new life as a freedom fighter."

Conrad Black can kiss my maple-leaf-festooned Canadian ass.

That is all.


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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Quest... for... Car!

I know our "Quest for Car" is hardly going to be riveting reading for y'all, but it'll be helpful to us to have a running record of impressions and photos as we make our decision. So I'm thinking I'll blog once a week with any test drives we did.

Thursday we test-drove a 2001 Mercedes-Benz C Class Sedan.

Power, agility and driveability: A- (slight shudder in the front end)
Driver comfort: A
Passenger comfort: A- (still only one cupholder; what's up with that? A benefit, however, is that you just push a button on the console and the cupholder unfolds like maaaagic, which almost makes up for it.)

Overall, we preferred it a lot to the Jaguar. Much more comfortable, felt more luxurious. The interior was more up-to-date and much, much snazzier-looking. (No birds-eye maple dash; but a very sweet black leather interior.)

It had all the luxury features of the Jag (sunroof; heated, electronic seats; CD changer in the glovebox). It also had several nice safety features the 2000 Jag didn't: side-impact airbags; three shoulder belts in the big, roomy back seat for when we're with the kids.

So the score stands at Jaguar 0, Mercedes 1.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Macaca, mezzuzot and munchies.

Now, darlins, I know all y'all don't have the macabre fascination with American politics that I do, so I'm going to take some time out of my busy day to draw your attention to what is rapidly becoming the most entertaining show south of the border (even more entertaining than Kinky Friedman's run at becoming Governor of Texas, which is looking less and less every day like an entertaining train wreck and more and more like a kind of sad bus crash).

Republican George Allen, a self-styled Good Ol' Boy and incumbent Virginia Senator, was expected to be a shoo-in for re-election when he first hove into national and then international view for making some odd statements to a young man. S.R. Sidarth, Virginia born-and-bred but of Indian descent, had been sent by Democrat Jack Webb's camp to follow him about and videotape his speeches - a not-uncommon tactic among campaign strategizers, who analyze these things like coaches poring over tape of last week's game. And so the games began:
  • August 11, 2006: At a campaign rally, Allen makes the following bizarre remarks in reference to, and to, Webb campaign worker Sidarth: "This fellow over here with the yellow shirt - Macaca or whatever his name is - he's with my opponent...Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

  • August 13, 2006: Video of Allen making the comments are posted to YouTube where they begin generating immediate buzz among bloggers; the story is picked up by the mainstream media. Allen can't explain why he referred to Sidarth as "Macaca", saying that it is just a nickname he - or someone on the campaign gave the guy following them around. His campaign workers spin that it may have something to do with Sidarth's "mohawk haircut". (Here is a photo of Sidarth around the time.) Allen denies there's any racial context to it, nor racial significance to his comments about "welcom[ing]" Macaca "to America".

  • August 14, 2006: It's pointed out that "Macaca" is a derogatory term for Arabs in Tunisian French. Allen's mother is a francophone Tunisian.

  • August 14, 2006: Allen apologizes in the press for calling Sidarth "Macaca". He neglects to actually apologize to Sidarth.

  • August 23, 2006: Nine days later, Allen remembers to apologize to Sidarth.

  • August 25, 2006: Intrigued by mention of Allen's mother and her Tunisian background related to the controversey, Jewish publication Forward magazine does a little investigation and publishes an article musing on Allen's probably-Jewish roots. (Allen has repeatedly mentioned on the campaign trail that his father was "incarcerated by the Nazis" during World War II "for being an Allied sympathizer". This wording seems a bit odd in retrospect as the elder Allen's roots are revealed - as Wonkette notes, "Grampa Lumbroso was almost certainly an 'Allied sympathizer', as the Allies were the ones who didn’t want to gas him".)

  • September 17, 2006: During a televised debate, reporter Peggy Fox gets Allen annoyed when she asks him if he'd ever heard the term "macaca" from his mother, but he absolutely blows a cork when she asks him whether he has Jewish forebears. Stuffing his foot even further into his mouth, he reacts as if he's been slapped and refers to the question as "casting aspersions" on him.

  • September 18, 2006: Jews around North America say some variation on, what the fark?"

  • September 19, 2006: Allen releases a statement stating that his mother was raised Christian and he was raised Christian. But he assures everyone he embraces his Jewish ancestry - which he says he found out about from the Freedom article and which his mother confirmed.

  • September 20, 2006: In an interview, Allen refuses to back down from his assertion that the reporter's question was offensive because "the question, the assertion, the offensive remarks that your mother taught you this slur, and that somehow it's because she has -- either she or her father was -- was Jewish." (She did not. She asked if he knew the term because his mother was French Tunisian. The Jewish question was her follow-up, and unrelated to the "macaca" question.)

  • September 20, 2006: Speaking to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in his ongoing efforts to show that he has the greatest respect for the Jewish people, Allen announces that "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops".
You cannot make this stuff up. And there's still six weeks of campaigning to go.



Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Test-drove this today...

2000 Jaguar S-Series.

Power, agility and driveability: B
Driver comfort: B- (cramped cockpit)
Passenger comfort: C- (cramped First Officer's chair; only one cupholder; glovebox door bangs uncomfortably against First Officer's knees if opened)

Dear old Yvette (who you can see in the background there) is about to turn 18 years old and we've been actively researching and car-shopping for a couple of months now.

We have three "fairly serious potentials" currently, which, oddly, are all pretty significantly different from each other.

(Did I say "oddly"? I forgot who we were talking about for a moment. Actually it would be surprising if there was any kind of logic to our choices.)

We're DINKS (unless you kount the kats), which gives us a lot of freedom in what we choose without having to worry about baby seats and sippy cup holders and so on. Even if we bought a two-seater, we'd just rent a minivan when we talk all the neiclings and nephlews somewhere.

So right now our thoughts are that we'll probably choose either a hybrid (Civic or Prius), for the environmental and fuel economy benefits; a PT Cruiser, because it has a proven track record and a good reputation, and we've rented several and really like them, or a "gently used" exotic or luxury car. Hence the test-drive of the Jaguar.

We're also less-aggressively looking at a couple of the new roadsters - Husband wants to test-drive a Crossfire (I think it looks like it's got its bum in the air, but I'm open to being seduced). We are considering convertibles but given our climate, only hard-tops. (The thought of replacing or repairing a ragtop every time there's a hailstorm, a wind storm, or icicles fall off the buildngs around a parking lot - a daily occurrance in the winter - is not attractive.)

If we went with one of those, we'd almost certainly lease - they're almost all new, with little to go on in terms of knowing which will sustain the long haul and which will turn out to be lemons, or will age poorly.

You don't need to point out the pros and cons of each to us - hybrids are still relatively unproven technology, the fuel economy varies, there are battery considerations and if we wanted to make sure we left a small environmental footprint there are other routes to go; foreign or luxury cars have parts and servicing issues; etc. etc. etc. We are doing lots of research.

But we also know that we are at a point in our lives where we've both sacrificed and been broke and driven a 1989 Honda Civic for a hell of a lot of years, and we are finally reaping some of the rewards of all those student loans and crap "working your way up" jobs; and right now we are in the best position of our lives to drive something fun before we have to start tying our transportation choices to retirement considerations.

Wish us luck - just test-driving and "shopping" is going to be a lot of fun.



'Tis International Talk LIke a Pirate Day, maties!

Yarrrrrrrrrrrr, me hearties, and tots of rum all round!



Final seat count:


Progressive Conservative


A new government for the province of New Brunswick.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Media all saying it's still too close to call...


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, "C"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As we do every year, in honour of "C"'s birthday, Fredericton invited some of the finest jazz and blues musicians in the world to to kick off autumn with a bang.

Last night, as has become tradition, we took in the "Blues Happy Hour" at the Mojo Tent together.

This year we heard an incredible performance from up-and-coming NB blues musician JP LeBlanc. (We left with that odd satisfying feeling you get if you have the experience of understanding that you've seen someone who is going to be great, before they are famous and lauded and un-seeable in such an intimate venue.)

Last year, the same concert - Colin Linden played - was the first live performance I'd attended since I had gotten my hearing back. It's a really special thing for me, and it is all wrapped up with celebrating the fact that the world is a better place because some years ago, C made her debut on the face of it.

Of all the friends who did amazing things when I went deaf, C did the most amazing things.

Of all the people who knew how to do and say the right things at the right time, who went way beyond the call of duty to help, who not only helped me keep my sanity but helped Husband keep his, who showed themselves to be true "friends in need" in the most fundamental sense of the phrase, C was the most outstanding.

She went out, after a demanding day's work, into the freezing Fredericton night, two nights a week, week after week, to learn sign language.

So that I wouldn't be alone.

I'm embarrassing her now :) .

So, to honour another tradition, here is this year's C birthday photo.

(Husband says we're both better-looking this year. I say he's right.)

Happy Birthday to one of the most outstanding women I know.

Thank god you're here.


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Friday, September 15, 2006


We were discussing National Anthems on a newsgroup recently and I mentioned that I was very fond of the Ode to Newfoundland. (Another poster responded that he "like[s] the brutal honesty of Ode to Newfoundland, which mostly is about how horrible the weather is and how the Newfoundlanders love it anyway".)

So because many people will have never heard it I thought I'd find it online, and I did, over still shots of my home province, on YouTube.

Not because of that conversation, but coincidentally, I'm terribly homesick tonight. It's been building since a trip home in late summer ended up getting postponed indefinitely when work went off the rails, and has been made much worse by the dreadful news that Canjet has canceled scheduled flights out of Moncton. That meant that overnight, the price of flying home leapt from $300 return to almost $600 :(


Thursday, September 14, 2006

It bloody hurts, and it makes no sense.

I've avoided blogging about this because the whole thing is so unsavoury to me, but there is a key observation that I've not seen expressed elsewhere and which bothers me.

It isn't the oddity. It's the normalcy.

Everyone knows by now that Kimveer Gill posted on Everyone knows he posted photographs of himself with guns and knives on the site, and talked about how "life sucks, school sucks, everything sucks" and how he wrote of living fast and dying young, and he liked playing a video game based on the Columbine massacre.

And we'll go round and round and round - again- about whether certain websites foster killers, or a certain genre of music fosters killers, or a certain video game fosters killers, or whether certain mindsets or certain religions foster killers, or...

But what nailed me this morning - after Gill's "profile" had been removed from but before his blog had been removed - was his blog entries, through the night of September 12th into the morning of September 13th, when he would allegedly murder one person and attempt to murder dozens of others.

A lot of the press have repeated that he started his last post at 10:41 on the morning of September 13 - the day he would commit these terrible acts - with
"Whiskey in the morning, mmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, good !! :)"
What they are not reporting is that he follows that with a boyish apology for using the term "niggahs" in earlier blog posts, saying that " doesn't have anything to do with their skin colour..." He uses it, he says, the way comedian Dave Chapelle does, as a term of endearment.

In his second-last post of that day - at 8:50 a.m. - he says,
"Woke up 30 minutes ago. I hate having to wait for my contact lens cases to air dry, cuz' they're just sitting on my desk now, looking messy and all.
Lemme go see what's to eat..........eggs and toast. yum."
My God. Then, two and a half hour later, this young man walks into a school and murders one person and tries to murder dozens more.?

I just can't understand it. It simply makes no sense.


"There's Front Row, and then there's On Stage..."

The Rolling Stones are coming to play Halifax this month (Sept. 23, to be precise), and Husband and I thought it would be a very nice 10th Wedding Anniversary present to ourselves to see them together. We've each seen them in concert separately, but never together.

Problem is, when we got this brainstorm - a month and a half ago - there was still the scattered show ticket available, but every hotel room within a three-hour drive of Halifax had been booked for the date of the concert.

And yes, that includes camping and RV sites as well. We checked.

Global TV is currently running relentless promotion for their "On Stage" contest, via which you can supposedly watch the concert from "On Stage". "There's Front Row, and then there's On Stage..." the ads trumpet.

My rueful comment to Husband was that "I could watch the bloody concert from Mick Jagger's lap, and I still wouldn't have anyplace to sleep once they turned the concert venue lights out..."


Aids Walk 2006

As promised, here are photos of the AIDS Walk, which Husband and I took part in last Sunday, September 10.

Mama Alice led the walk again this year. She's my "African Grandmother" - she is everyone's African Grandmother in the multicultural community around here. She's very involved with both AIDS NB and the local African community, which is why she's deeply involved in the AIDS walk.

She's very much a public figure in the area and has been interviewed and photographed many times, which is why I don't mind sharing her photo with you. She is an incredible, remarkable spirit who came to Canada from Lesotho by way of South Africa and I adore her. One of my favourite stories about Mama Alice is that Husband and I were leaving the grocery store one day and we saw her with another older lady sitting with all her groceries. Husband noticed her and pulled up and I said, "Mama Alice, can we give you a lift home with your groceries?"

"No," she said, her grandson was coming to pick her up, "but here, you can give my friend a ride home," and she hustled her friend, a Russian immigrant who we'd never laid eyes on before, with her groceries, into our car (over the good lady's flustered protests) so that we could give this complete stranger a ride home. Which we didn't mind doing, of course - but it was just another example of Mama's generous spirit and the way she "thinks different".

Crowds were bigger this year than ever and we raised some money for AIDS/SIDA NB and some money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, working on AIDS in Africa. This year's focus was The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, a program in support of the large group of older African women who are raising an entire generation of children, many HIV-positive, because the intervening generation - the Grandmothers' children and the childrens' parents - have died of AIDS.

And here, for the record (specially for those of you who coughed up $dinero$ to sponsor Husband or I), is photo evidence of the tired but happy couple at the after-walk Bar-B-Que in Officer's Square. Thank you, everyone, and I'll repeat what I said about this last year - if people only knew the sneaky little secret that you feel incredibly good after doing something like this, they'd be beating volunteers away from the doors with field hockey sticks...



Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nos coeurs pleurent.

Terrible news out of Montréal.

These mass, random school shootings have happened only a handful of times in Canada since our first at a secondary school in Brampton, Ontario, in 1975, yet Montréal has borne the pain three times - l'Ecole Polytechnique in 1989, Concordia U. in 1992, and now Dawson College.

There's little that can be said, at least until we have a clue as to the shooter's twisted motives. All I can say is that j'aime Montréal, et nous pouvons juste imaginer les sentiments qui vous habitent faisant face à une autre tragédie ce soir.


How you know you live next to a Canadian Forces Base:

Just a typical day in the ol' downtown core.


Well, was there music? Romantic music?

The Age offers one of the best articles about the gossip speculating on a potential romantic linkage between unattached US Secretary of State Consoleeza Rice and famously-unattached Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, Dr. Rice's self-described "fan" and the chap who convinced her to visit Halifax, then his home riding of Stellarton, as part of her 5th Anniversary 9/11 observations.

It included this highly amusing paragraph:

"'No, there were no candles,' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in exasperation when asked for further details about a working dinner. He pointed out that the dinner was not quite intimate: 14 aides and six security guards
were present. 'It was a well-lighted dinner, with electricity-based lighting,'
he said."
Well, Peter took her to a Tim's for coffee. If that isn't a date by Canadian standards, I don't know what is.



Florence's ferocious parting shot

My sister, somewhere on the south coast of Newfoundland, sent me this link to the current satellite photo of Canada's east coast on The Weather Network, along with a one-word message:


Hang in there, kid!


Monday, September 11, 2006

5 years.

Because I live in Atlantic Canada, just northeast of the US northeast, the weather on September 11, 2001 in my town was just about exactly like it was in New York City and in Washington, DC, that day: sunny, warm, and beautiful.

I walk to work every day - it's only a few blocks. I crossed the street - the better to catch the sun - and strolled down the sidewalk in the incredibly beautiful golden sunshine of a September morning. As I did, the little white terrier owned by the nice gay couple across the street and one house over, who'd been taken into the front yard by one of "the boys" for his morning constitutional, caught sight of a squirrel on their front lawn.

Suddenly, both dog and squirrel darted across the sidewalk in front of me - squirrel, running hell-bent for its life, dog, running hell-bent after it. And there was, at the same time, a car, driving too fast - as the commuters who use our street as a conduit to the downtown government and office district always do - roaring down the street.

It all happened in a fraction of a second. The squirrel darted across the street, the dog was blindly following it, oblivious to the white Chevrolet. The dog's owner, still on the front step, shouted. Shrieked, really, like you would. The car's driver hit the brakes - hard. The brakes squealed in agony. I was absolutely certain I was witnessing the traumatic death of a neighbourhood pet before my eyes.

But the driver stopped just inches before the dog met certain death, and the dog continued on to the opposite sidewalk, where the squirrel had scurried up a tree, the dog leaping around the trunk, barking madly. The Chevy's driver collected his wits, shook his head and drove on. I exchanged a few words with my frightened but relieved neighbour from across the street as he stormed over to his errant puppy and scolded him. And I continued on to work, under a crystal-clear blue sky. And I thought, swear to god, as clear as you ever think a sentence aloud in your head:

"Holy cow, this almost turned out to be a very bad day."

The irony, in retrospect, is breathtaking.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sweetie Baby Cookie Honey

...was the title of a briefly-popular novel in the 80s and is also the way I often refer to my two crazy, spoiled, much-loved cats. (Also Husband if I'm particularly pleased with him, like I am right now 'cause he raised $$$ and is doing the AIDS Walk with me tomorrow).

We're having a nice weekend - spent the evening yesterday with C. at the pub and just talked our asses off about the election and the Canadian mission in Afghanistan and about Kits for Kandahar (about which more later), and about yoga, which C. is quite into, and about ASL and the Bad Old Days when I was deaf and about Mom's Cancer and what's up with that, and about how I couldn't find "the book" I was looking for when I went deaf, the suddenly-deaf-person's "Mom's Cancer" to help me understand that our family wasn't going nuts and that this was perfectly normal; and about how maybe I even ought to toy with the idea of writing that book.

We watched "Blazing Saddles" last night (never gets old) and slept real late this morning, went for breakfast and ran a bunch of errands. And it was a really nice, warm day and we were going to the Big Potato for fresh corn, so we took Veronica (who just loves to ride in the car) along for the drive. So there's my sweetie baby cookie honey getting her picture taken with the Big Potato (and her Dad)!

Nice shot, kids!

Tomorrow, the AIDS walk and I'll post piccies from that of course. And, as promised, more about Kits for Kandahar, a project to gather model kits for military personnel serving in Afghanistan, which was begun by a Nova-Scotia-based modeler in an admirable effort to give the troops something to occupy their minds and hands in their downtime.

(Incidentally, their original goal was 500 kits - but the last post on the forum notes "3545 models thus far, and commitments for about another 250", and they are now looking for supplies [glue, paint, sandpaper, etc. and especially decals, as a bunch got ruined in a shipment] and not more kits. But as I said - more later when I have time to write about it properly!)


Friday, September 08, 2006

"No Knockout Blows"

"No Knockout Blows" the Telegraph Journal announces.

"Leaders play it safe in debates" the Times & Transcript concurs.

The Daily Gleaner noted that "Debate dominated by Orimulsion blame game" (headlining the same Shannon Hagerman article the TJ ran), and indeed the orimulsion fiasco, as it's come to be routinely described, was the only topic that seemed to create any genuine sparks at all between the leaders.

New NDP Leader Allison Brewer got in a dig about the behaviour of the Government and the Opposition in the legislature during the last sitting - the in-fighting and political maneuvering in a closely-tied house which allowed little real work to get done. Ms. Brewer called the behaviour "shenanigans that made us the laughing stock of Canada" and she was able to highlight the point with surprising vigor. Overall, she tried to and largely held her own in the debate, which was all she had to do, being a new leader who hasn't even been elected to the House yet. It would have been easy for her to have found herself sidelined during the free-for-all "debate" sections on each topic, but she jumped in there and tried to make her points (no doubt to the rue of Mr. Graham, who seemed thisclose to getting a "zing" moment when he asked Mr. Lord point-blank if he would apologize to the people of New Brunswick for the Orimulsion mess - when Ms. Brewer interrupted and, in doing so, got Mr. Lord cleanly off the hook).

Her prepared statements were shakier, showing her lack of experience in this kind of activity. She relied heavily on notes, which her two rivals were well beyond, and she had to search for notes several times, but overall she acquitted herself pretty well.

As for Mr. Graham and Mr. Lord, their experience showed as they both stayed on-message and remained unfazed. Mr. Graham's point was that "Mr. Lord will tell you the status quo is good enough, and frankly, I don't think that is acceptable", a statement he repeated at least five times during the course of the evening.

For his part, Mr. Lord stuck to the mantra that the province's unemployment level is at its lowest in decades (partly, Mr. Graham countered, because so many people had moved west for better prospects), that "the lowest small-business taxes in Canada" continue to create jobs, and that the minimum wage has been increased twice under his mandate and will increase twice more if the Tories are elected.

All in all, little to help make up the minds of undecided voters (although Allison Brewer's call for a third party voice might resonate) and nothing at all to change the minds of decided ones.



Thursday, September 07, 2006

Heh-heh-heh she said "Uranus"...

Spotted on the web today:

"They got Pluto. Uranus is next!"

I swear, sometimes I'm a 12-year-old boy at heart.


Goin' to the candidates' debate...

Well, not going, actually, but watching. Got beer, got potato chips, got laser pointer, got cats.

The potato chips will keep me sated and the cats and laser pointer to will be sorely needed to entertain me (at particularly crushingly boring moments I'll use the intoxicating red dot to send the felines to attack the leaders' heads on TV.)

I'll need the beer to make the debate itself seem entertaining.

Maybe we'll get lucky and someone will make a huge gaffe. Or maybe somebody will have a "you had an option, sir!", or a "you are not going to take my country away with some trick" moment.

Nah. I better get more beer.



Wednesday, September 06, 2006

With friends like these...

This fell out of my copy of the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal this morning.

Damn it, we're trying to bolster our declining workforce and our shrinking, aging population in this province and this region by every means known to mankind, including offering incentives to students and the recent creation of a provincial Immigration and Repatriation Secretariat devoted to nothing but encouraging people from elsewhere to come here, and people from here to return.

In spite of our best efforts, we're not doing well. The population isn't just stagnating, it's declining. Our birth rate is dismal. The immigrants we do manage to recruit seem to be on the next bus to MTV (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) - and increasingly, Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatchewan as well. Right now, one of the single biggest problem we are facing is the much higher salaries that are being offered in Western Canada - oil-rich and even more desperate for labour than we are. And here's 52 pages in full colour in the morning paper exhorting even more to go to where the streets are paved with gold.

Maybe it's reactionary to say that the Telegraph-Journal should have declined to distribute this insert. But the power of the press belongs to those that have one, and I've often defended organizations that have refused to carry certain stories or information by pointing that out - and also by pointing out that if someone wants information published in the internet age, it is easier than ever before to make it so. The T-J's decision to accept this advertising insert - developed by a career website, and chock-full of ads from Western employers looking for labour - doesn't seem very community-minded in light of a labour market shortage that has all the earmarks of turning into a crisis.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006


With the election just a couple of weeks away, I thought I'd share a few election-related blogs that I've discovered. While there are more blogs than these about New Brunswick in general and New Brunswick politics in particular, these are quite focused on tracking the election at the moment.

While the campaign to date has been a bit of a snoozefest, I have the feeling that things are going to finally get interesting in the next two weeks. When that happens, these will be good places to read the ground-level take on events as they occur, not only on the part of the bloggers, but their commentors.

Seems to lean Liberal but is working very hard to present a fair and unbiased view of the election campaign.

Spink about it
Probably slants more visibly to the right than he realizes he does :) but also tries to be fair.

The Campaign Trail - Liberal Leader Shawn Graham's campaign journal
(The hot question about this one is who's writing it? It's written in the first person, but the consensus is that the leader doesn't have the time to actually post an update every day. Queries as to authorship are so far met with the sound of crickets chirping...)

Campaign Trail - CBC political reporter Jacques Poitras' campaign blog
(Okay, one of you guys gotta change your blog name. You showed up at the party in the same dress.)

The Election Insider - CanadaEast's election blog (CanadaEast is the collective website for New Brunswick's newspapers), writtten by reporter Clarissa Andersen.

And, of course, Oldmaison - Charles LeBlanc blogs the election in his own entirely inimitable and occasionally barely readable, but compelling, way:



Saturday, September 02, 2006

What if the Trailer Park Boys...

...decided to install a spoiler on one of their vehicles?

That's what we asked ourselves when the answer plum drove past us at the supermarket today...

I've generously pixleated out the license plate


but note the JesusFish!! So we know the spoiler didn't evolve there...)

Edit: I have to highlight the comment left on this post by Emily, who amusingly wrote:

"If you look closely you can see from the feet that that's actually a Darwin fish, so presumably the spoiler did come into being through natural selection. Kind of like the dodo."