3
Nov 19

Canadian bananas

Imagine if Alberta was famous not for its prodigious oil reserves, but for its banana plantations.

It’s a bit difficult to picture banana trees carpeting our northern prairie, but it might have been possible once.  Forty million years ago Alberta was a tropical paradise, rich in ferns and fauna.  Giant sequoia trees stood watch as dinosaurs roamed.

Then the climate changed.

Imagine, for the purposes of this essay, if it had not.  Imagine that modern-day enterprising Albertans took advantage of the fertile environment to grow bananas.  Not just ordinary bananas, but the most succulent and delicious of fruits, and organic to boot. Read the rest of this entry »

28
Oct 19

Black Swan

Everybody knows that snails don’t run.

But no one told Sam.

Sam arrived in our household along with Soda, a colourful betta fish we picked up from the local pet shop as replacement for Ollie.  (Ollie succumbed to fishy old age and was transitioned ceremoniously into compost in the garden, under the grand epitaph: “Here Lies A Good Fish”.)

The pet-store guy threw Sam, a finger-nail-sized “mystery snail, in for free.  Selecting companions for betta fish can be a bit tricky: otherwise known as Siamese fighting fish, they aren’t known for their affability.  But betta fish aren’t threatened by snails, we were assured.  Plus, snails keep the water clean.

All seemed well, at first.  Soda simply ignored the tiny striped mollusk meandering around his space.  The only thing he attacked was his food.  Until the night he drove Sam clean out of the bowl. Read the rest of this entry »

19
Oct 19

Behind bars“The truth shall set you free,” advises the old canon.

Unless you’re a criminal, that is.  Then the truth will land you in prison.  That’s how the justice system works, most of the time.

Roughly 40,000 convicts are presently locked away in the fifty-three federal and provincial prisons scattered across Canada. The vilest of the perps (the murderers, the rapists, and the pedophiles) are punished with lengthy consignments to the most secure of these institutions; eight federal maximum-security prisons are needed to house them all – and almost all of them are men.

Women commit crimes too, but at far lower rates and attended by much less violence and predation, a fact reflected by the lower security and gentler living conditions typical of female prisons (there’s not a single dedicated maximum-security institution for women in Canada).  The Institutional Mother-Child Program even allows incarcerated mothers to raise their children in prison until the age of four. Read the rest of this entry »

16
Oct 19

splintersWhen “hanging chad” popped up in the headlines in November of 2000 I assumed, at first, that a hardened criminal named Chad was about to be strung up for murder or some other heinous crime.

But the chad in question wasn’t a convict; it was an innocent circle of paper meant to be punched from ballot cards by Floridians voting in the 2000 presidential election.  Sun-baked citizens encountered some difficulty popping those bits of paper free, however: thousands of chads were left “hanging”.

Seniors were to blame, I’ll bet.  Retirees make up a higher percentage of Florida’s population than in any other state.  Imagine Mildred and Ernest, frail and bent, vision dimmed by cataracts, ballots clutched in arthritic, trembling hands, vainly stabbing at the paper circles. Read the rest of this entry »

14
Oct 19

monkey assBefore legendary Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens died on September 11 at the age of 91 he penned a farewell letter, to be shared after his death.

In it, this advice:

“Be humble.  I always believed the higher a monkey climbs in the tree the more people below can see his ass.  You don’t have to be that monkey.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, perched at the pinnacle of Canadian politics, has become that monkey, sadly. Read the rest of this entry »

6
Oct 19

Choose I’m a very tall man.

That short claim will elicit a chuckle or two from those of you who know me.

But it’s really just a matter of perspective.  The key to tall-hood, according to the Ordinary Man – found amongst the pages of that timeless classic The Phantom Tollbooth - is to surround myself with midgets:

You see, to tall men I'm a midget, and to short men I'm a giant; to the skinny ones I'm a fat man, and to the fat ones I'm a thin man.

Speaking of perspectives, some time ago my daughter joined debate club.  A host of volunteers are required to run regional competitions, and in the democratic way in which these things are decided at my house I was informed that I would be a judge. Read the rest of this entry »

4
Oct 19

Birds of a Feather

I’ve taken to watching TED Talks, lately, in my little home exercise room, to stave off the boredom of staving off the middle-aged bulge.

I ran out of interesting things to watch on Netflix long ago.  I talk intermittently and bravely of canceling it, since it’s no longer of any use to me, but there’s zero chance of that happening.  My kids won’t let me.  I’m the boss at my house, but my children make all the decisions.  I’m all hat and no cattle; or, to put it in political terms that non-redneck Canadians will understand, I am to patriarchy what Justin Trudeau is to feminism – we’re both faking it. Read the rest of this entry »

13
Sep 19

Canadian robberI robbed a bank yesterday.  Waltzed in there, incognito, uttered a few threats, and made off with a cool 500K.

Why, you ask?

Well, life is tough.  It’s not that my doctorly cash flow isn’t reasonable - it flows in the front door at a pretty good clip.  The problem is the furious rate with which it exits the back door.  It’s like navigating Class 5 rapids.

Money management wasn’t a key component of the curriculum in medical school; it wasn’t in the syllabus at all, come to think of it.  Between funding the needs - and the much larger wants - of four children and keeping up with the Joneses (and the Smiths and the Millers and the Browns) I’m having trouble staying afloat.

Hence the heist.
Read the rest of this entry »

12
Sep 19

not equal parties

On the face of it, the fact that a middle-aged white heterosexual male of Roman Catholic persuasion is making a credible run in 2019 at becoming Prime Minister of Canada (the most insistently “woke” country in the world) is patently absurd.

Absurd, that is, until you consider that his opponent, the incumbent, is also a middle-aged white heterosexual Roman Catholic male.

One of these men, however, is truly scary – a regressive, intolerant, misogynistic, homophobic reprobate.  Or so we are told.

The other is the ultra-hip, feminist-extraordinaire Justin Trudeau, our current Prime Minister and grand-master of the Liberal Party smear machine that is ruthlessly (and with some success) painting Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer as a dimpled menace. Read the rest of this entry »

11
Sep 19

let us never forgetThis is the short speech Andrew Scheer should deliver today... not because of political calculation, but simply because it's the decent thing to do:

“My fellow Canadians:

Today is a solemn day.

Today we stand in solidarity with our American friends and with those around the world who lost loved ones in the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Today is a day to remember.

For many, it is a day of profound sorrow.  For all of us, it is a day to hold our loved ones close, and to be grateful for the freedoms that we share, and to celebrate the bravery of first responders who put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe. Read the rest of this entry »