Archive for January, 2009

A Hard Day’s Night, Why Not Let It Be?

January 30, 2009

I love the information superhighway that we call the Internet.  It truly has inspired a myriad of responses from yours truly.  Of course, not everything we read is true and must be taken with a grain of salt, or can be out and out lies, for that matter… so the reader must use discernment.  But I am amazed and also amused at some of the things we see and hear.

One thing that mystifies is the constant craving for celebrity that our society seems to find insatiable.  Not the actual DOING of anything to justify such acclaim, just the desire to be famous for gracing God’s green Earth with their presence.  What a let down when we discover that we are mere mortals after all.

But sometimes with all this research and discovery something happens.  It is similar to looking back and seeing how quaint our beliefs were.  Remember when we were easily persuaded and gullible enough to be  believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?   Ignorance sometimes is bliss and the cold reality of knowledge a rude awakening.   We lose the charm of an event when we learn the mechanics of it.  Sort of like when learning the magician’s slight of hand isn’t really magic… then the thrill is gone.

It is the unknown that drive us, the mystery that entices us.  An explanation sometimes causes the belief to lose it’s luster.  This was well illustrated in one of my favorite movies,  Inherit the Wind.

I like both versions I have seen, but the remake with Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas has become my favorite.  The inspiration behind the film was the real life Scopes trial ( Scopes_Trial) that put the teaching of Darwinism to a court decision.  The State of Tennessee took the debate all the way to their Supreme Court.

But it is the movie version with Jason Robards as the defense lawyer that helps to make my point.  His character  talks of progress and enlightenment this way…

“Sometimes I think there is a man who sits behind a counter and says, ‘Alright, you can have a telephone… but you’ll lose privacy and the charm of distance.  Madame, you may vote… but at a price.  You lose the right to retreat behind powder puff or your petticoat.  Mister, you may conquer the air… but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.’ ”  With progress comes a loss of innocence.

When I read of the search for the lost chord that George Harrison played (apologies to the Moody Blues In_Search_of_the_Lost_Chord) that begins the song, A Hard Day’s Night and how it was done, I wondered a bit. The fact that the Beatles were geniuses (see: they-are-dumbing-down-our-rock-n-roll ) has been made even more apparent because nearly 45 years after the song was released we finally know how that chord was devised and struck.  Wow, that is a great revelation.  But I didn’t need a mathematician to tell me that.

SB123325321424929493

While filming the Beatles movie, Help! there was a bit of a controversy on whether they could use H-E-L-P or not since the word had been used in another movie title prior to theirs.  The legal department decided with the added exclamation point, it could be done without any lawsuit.  So the producers and director approached John Lennon and Paul McCartney with the news.  Okay boys, the name of the movie is Help! now write us a hit song.  They came back with the title track for the movie the next day.

Let’s put the powerful minds of the 21st century on that feat, shall we?

I am thrilled that the Beatles music is still relevant today, but that they had a unique sound was never in dispute.

This?

–                                                     –

or THIS?

–                                                     –

I marvel at modern technology and learning of the wonders and depths of the universe, but leave a little mystery and charm in the music, could you?

Suffice it to say it was a hard day’s night for some, but for the Beatles… it’s just another day in the life.

peace.

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BHO (breaks his own) Rules?

January 28, 2009

I never intended for this to be a political commentary blog… it seems so pointless to complain that I wonder why I should even bother.  I mean, why flitter away precious energy that could be channeled towards more interesting things like my Shades of Hemingway series… right?  Okay, sorry.  I wasn’t going to bring THAT up again until the Spring.  (Beware the Ides of March)  But in light of what I just posted about last  (The Comedy/Drama Behind Barack Obama ) I just couldn’t reconcile what has happened since. McCain.Lobbyist And just when I was feeling all warm and fuzzy…

Didn’t we hear BHO declare before the world that the old ways were being put aside for a new, transparent form of government?  Obama.Ethics.and.Openness Didn’t he say that special interest groups and lobbyists would have no place in HIS administration? And didn’t he set sweeping new rules in place to make it so?  And didn’t I say I wanted to believe, close my eyes and click my heels together with my fingers crossed and declare “There’s no one like Obama” three times?  Yes, I did.

So why does BHO break his own rules with this William J. Lynn guy? Fact.Check.Obama.Ethics Mr. Lynn has been a top lobbyist for the firm Raytheon, one of the largest military contractors for the U.S. Government.  lobbyist Now (coincidentally?) he  is being tapped for Deputy Defense Secretary.  Hmmm…  smacks of Dick Cheney and Haliburton, doesn’t it?  (ouch!)

I read a little about Mr. Lynn (on the Raytheon website bio_lynn.pdf) and he has impeccable credentials as far as lobbyists go.  The White House spokesman for President Obama has said that the rules must be bent to accommodate men of Mr. Lynn’s caliber in order to do service for the American people.  But I wonder…

Why make rules only to bend them?  Why make statements that make us feel good only to go against them?  Why give a facade of breaking clean from past political structures only to build them anew under a variance of your own guidelines?  I don’t get it. Some time ago my kids used to say this or that rules! Like Batman rules!  or Superman rules!  or my team rules!  meaning they are the best or the top of the list or no one can compete against them.  Now  BHO rules!  Breaks his own rules, that is…  and that is a darn shame.Obama.Reform.Promises

Possibly Mr. Lynn is an okay dude, but stick to your principles, President Obama.  You set the principle, you set the standard, you set the example.  Were there not other qualified men to fill this position who are not lobbyists?

Let’s say the playground has been over run by hooligans and the new Principal of the school has declared a “No More Hooligans” policy.  Hooray!  The playground is declared safe and sound for little Johnny and his friends.  But then the new school Principal decides to allow the biggest, baddest, most fearsome hooligan of them all in under the guise of: “He’ll keep the lessor hooligans off the playground.”  Would your little Johnny feel secure hanging with the dude that masterminded the short changing of his underwear?  I mean, folks…  you don’t get any bigger than a military contractor lobbyist.

By my lovely wife’s suggestion I checked out www.whitehouse.gov (remember I said I bookmarked it?)  She thought President Obama might have addressed the reasons why he usurped his own decision to exclude lobbyists in Mr. Lynn’s case.   So I did.  I got to hear and read President Obama’s first weekly address!  I thought that was remarkably cool, something I said I would do if I was the Prez.  As a matter of fact, I think I remembered posting that suggestion to Hillary back when the election was all but in the bag for her.  (see post, Hello Hillary posted on 6-10-07 … it IS in there!  whoa!) Maybe the Senators exchanged ideas and this suggestion of mine slipped in there.  (I’m not taking credit… I’m just thinking out loud here)  Anyway, when I discovered this very cool feature and commitment from our new President I was thrilled and almost forgot the other thing (lobbyist William J. Lynn for Deputy Defense Secretary)  though it was not mentioned there.  (sigh)

So enthralled was I that I decided to “contact” President Obama by way of e-mail.  (there is a provision on the site to do this… really, you should check it out)  Since I heard on the news that the Homeland Security people agreed to let Barack keep his Blackberry I thought, “Why not?”  Hopefully when he received my 500 words or less  I wasn’t interrupting another compromise of principles but anyway… After I told him how cool I thought it was that he was enabling me to e-mail him I invited him to read AMRFP.   Since then I have felt a little nervous.  I have been keeping my eyes and ears open for black helicopters,  ninja styled military personnel on zip cords and wire taps on my phone.  (not that I have anything to hide)

Why draw attention to myself, you ask?  Well, I figure I can always recant anything that appears offensive or contradictory as “bending the rules.”  I’m still politically neutral and I intend to remain “transparent” in everything I do on AMRFP.

But if I happen to disappear in the middle of the night…  shhh!  listen…  chudda chudda chudda

peace.

The Comedy/Drama Behind Barack Obama

January 23, 2009

A year ago he was one of many vying for it… Tuesday Barack Obama assumed the position of President of the United States.  At long last the mission is complete and now we can get down to business, i.e. after the gaffe at being sworn in was corrected.  But not to worry, if that is the worst he does, BHO will be an incredible President.  (and Chief Justice Roberts took the heat for that one so it doesn’t really count… so why mention it?  Well… if I didn’t we wouldn’t have a basis for this post, would we?  shsssh!)

The day of the inauguration I tuned in just as the quartet Inauguration.Recorded.Music began the composition by John Williams leading up to the swearing in of our Chief Executive and the President’s address, so my timing was impeccable.  Not that the rest of the pomp and ceremony wasn’t important, because it was.  To see such a tradition with the whole world watching and hundreds of thousands in attendance was not only a historic moment, but a proud one.  We were mesmerized by the throngs, the well wishes, the tears, the thumbs up and the support of nations around the world.  It was a source of optimism that we so desperately need right now.

And what an address!  That delivery was spot on and the content very reassuring that picking hope instead of fear was going to pay off in dividends for the American people.  I particularly enjoyed the reference to George Washington’s stand against the enemies of our Democracy at such a crucial time in our history.  That was inspiring, masterful… I had tears in my eyes.

I am living in another country now, just over the border in Canada and even THEY are enthusiastic over the beginnings of the Obama administration.  Local television had several people commenting on the comparison to their government and how they wished they had a figure like BHO.  Read “The Bridger” at crrz07.wordpress.com.  Some even declared they wished they were Americans!  This is unheard of in Canada’s citizenry because for the most part, Canadians are very proud of their heritage.  But their government seems to be lacking in some areas and that disillusions a lot of people.

Anyway, my French Canadian sweetheart came home from work and immediately we began a discussion over the events of BHO’s inauguration.  I remarked that the ceremony was very moving (except for the gaffe) and I hoped that Barack lived up to the hype alluding to the fact that the simple delivery of a speech does not a political leader make and blah, blah, blah.  My fair Chantal turned to me and asked, “When did you become such a cynic?  You of all people should be optimistic, because that is what you are!”  This astute observation deflated me a bit and created an introspection that 48 hours later I am still trying to rebound from.  I AM an optimist. I always have been.  What is it that has soured me on hope?

Perhaps it is because the process leading up to the election was so long.  Political aspirations were announced some 20 months before the November elections, that is a long time to have to listen and endure, sift and decide through hours of rhetoric, and witness the most expensive election campaigning in our history… nearly half a billion dollars spent for an office that only pays $400,000.00 a year.

We got to see party disunity and accusations, character assassination attempts and belittlement.  Background checks not withstanding; muckraking, defamation of character and guilt by association was the norm in our news in the U.S. daily.  I still don’t know much about BHO’s association with Bill Ayers, what influence Ayers had or how much Barack knew of his background.  I’m not sure about ACORN’s influence on the elections and since Obama had been a lawyer for them at one time, how much of their shady deals did he know about?  This thing with Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac is far from over, but they contributed heavily to Barack Obama.  Members of his Democratic party became rich while the system was falling apart and failed to sound the alarm.

But maybe my memory is too good, after all… it’s just politics, right?  The means to an end?  Justifiable when everything works out?

I didn’t think it was fair that Barack agreed to use public funding then left McCain holding the bag when he realized more money could be raised privately. (4-5 times as much)   I also didn’t like the fact that Barack Obama was a media darling (Barbara Walters calling him “sexy” on The View was appalling)  and John McCain was made out a war criminal instead of a true American hero.  (Democrats “questioned” his P.O.W. status.)  Given equal consideration on T.V. meant bad publicity for John McCain ( Joy Birdbrain from The View told John McCain, “I don’t HATE you… I just don’t LIKE you!”)  Another endorsement for BHO. When the media moguls are trying to sway public opinion and are biased in their reporting, I question the validity of it.

I realize that the world had had enough of George Bush and his policies;  I did, too.  I used to argue in favor of the Democrats because I was so against King George.  (See the post: An Evaluation of the Bush Administration ( 2000-2008 ) posted on 1-18-08 )  But you know what got me turned around?  Learning about the Democratic Party itself.  The very politicians that say stop the war are making money off of the war.  The ones saying to go green and pass the laws to make it so are poised to make money of off that enterprise.  The things that I find appalling the Democrats revel in (practices so disgusting I won’t mention them here) and they would sell their souls to get the vote.  Embracing the activity of illegal aliens for the sake of new converts to their party strikes me as a criminal conspiracy.  (See the posts: The Illegal Immigration Solution parts 1-3)

You might say that is true in all political schemes and I’d have to agree with you.  Why anyone would want to be the head of government is a mystery to me because you cannot help but be tarnished by it.  Even a good, honest man has to compromise otherwise he would not get the support of his party.  It is like passing through a hallway in an apartment building.  Even though you move past the doors of many families with different incomes, beliefs or morals if just one smokes it gets on you.  My beautiful girl has come home reeking of cigarettes having only passed through the halls of our building.  Our political structure stinks and I can’t help but feel sickened by how we are being duped by the influence of celebrity endorsements and unrealistic promises.  Yet despite these hurdles and to his credit, Barack Obama is confident in his ability to make a change for the better.

Barack is right about one thing… the fear factor.  We are being swayed and controlled by it.  If not by terrorism then by the bad economy or the  worsening environment.  It is funny, but government needs a crisis to justify it’s position over the people and we get continual reminders of how badly we need our government to take care of us.  To me it smacks of totalitarianism.

I AM optimistic about the sun rising tomorrow and that it is a day for new beginnings.  I hope Barack Obama is the best President we ever had.  He has said that he will lead in making our government more transparent, which I think is so great I bookmarked: www.whitehouse.gov so maybe I can be swayed by our left-handed 44th President.

I laughed when BHO got a “thumbs up” from his daughter after his address.  I appreciated the fact that the First Lady wore American made clothing by J Crew as a sign of support for the American economy.  Also Barack and the children followed suit in keeping the attire locally made.  People obviously pay attention to that stuff.  Watching our President and his First Lady dance their first dance to the song, “At Last” originally recorded by Etta James was very moving.  Later clips showing them dance with supporters had me half way expecting to see a disco ball drop down and the refrains of “Funky Town” to be played.  I understand the Prez has got some moves on the dance floor, but was more subdued and Presidential this night.

I feel a little like ‘Red’ Redding in the closing moments of the movie The Shawshank Redemption when I say this but…  I hope my misgivings are all for naught and fade off into the fearful night of the last administration.  I hope a new dawn has arrived and American politics become open, fair and honest.  I hope Barack Obama’s pledge to work with members of both parties of government for the good of the country is realized.  I hope we give him a chance and do as he suggests,  rise to the task of rebuilding our economy and give the world that beacon of a free and democratic people again.

I hope for a better world… I really do.  I just wonder if it is within our grasp to achieve it as imperfect human beings.  Change for the sake of change may make a change for the worse.

Maybe the Kingdom of God is our real hope… that would be a cool change.

If you have read this far, perhaps you’ll take another 5 minutes and watch the enclosed video from YouTube.

peace.

Jon Gruden, We Heartily Knew Ye

January 18, 2009

I have been a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan for a long time.  I know that many people say that about certain teams, saying things like,  “Oh, I liked them waaay before this or that…”  But with the Bucs, we old timers went through a lot of pain… more than any fan should have to endure.  We were the underdogs and if we lost it was expected of us but when we won… it was so sweet.

During our first two seasons we couldn’t win a game.  On one such loss coach McKay was asked about his team’s execution and he fired back with, “I think it’s a pretty good idea!”  Brief successes only twisted the knife in those early years, we couldn’t get a break even with coaches like Ray Perkins and Sam Wyche.

I remember watching Doug Williams play.  He brought excitement every time he touched the ball and could scramble out of the pocket and throw on the run better than anything.  Unfortunately we lost Doug because of a salary dispute with Hugh “tight purse strings” Culverhouse (he was being paid less than some backups playing the position) and he eventually went to the Redskins, winning a Super Bowl.

But in those early years there were some highlights.  Steve DeBerg at quarterback was one of the toughest guys I have ever seen play the position and remains to be one of my all time favorites.  Ricky Bell, James Wilder and Lee Roy Selmon were our earliest stars.  I remember during one game Archie Manning of the Saints (Payton and Eli Manning’s pop) had declared “It would be disgraceful to lose to the Bucs” only to end up losing the game to chants of “It’s disgraceful!! How disgraceful!” from our defense.  Still makes me smile.  8)

We drafted Bo Jackson but he refused to play for us and sat out the season playing baseball instead.  Which was too bad because when he did play finally (after being traded) he suffered a career ending injury.  We lost Steve Young who went on to win the Super Bowl with the 49’s.  Come to think of it, we dumped Trent Dilfer who went on to win a Super Bowl with the Ravens and we dumped Tony Dungy who went on to win a Super Bowl  with the Colts.  Actually both Dungy and Dilfer COULD have won a Super Bowl together in 2000 except for a play called on the field that was reversed and cost us the game when we were playing the Rams for the NFC Championship.  That pass interference call should have put us first and goal and we probably would have scored because we had the momentum.  Such is the life of a Buccaneers fan, a lot of what if’s or if only’s.  What if Vinny Testaverde would have had decent protection?

I remember players like Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Brad Johnson, Simeon Rice, Joe Jurevicius, Dexter Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson…  all gone now.  I remember players like Brad Culpepper who played his guts out only to be traded to the Chicago Bears.  Warren Sapp kept his seat open on the bench the year he left.  That was class.

We did, however, win one Super Bowl in 2003… and what a game that was.  There has never been a #1 ranked defense (Tampa Bay)meeting a #1 ranked offense (Oakland) in a Super Bowl before or since and we clobbered them.  But our chance at a dynasty was short lived.  For some reason the following season our first game was a road game, which was unheard of.  Usually the reigning Super Bowl champs play their first game of the season at home, but such is the life of a Buccaneers fan.  We had to go play the Eagles first up.  The Eagles were sore at us because we bounced them out of the playoffs and usually they handle us pretty good.  So the probability of meeting them on their turf and beating them was shaky but we did it!  We played the Falcons and beat them.  We lost a very close game to Carolina which we should have won (missed the extra point that would have won the game) then had a buy week.  Our next game was at home with the Colts and facing our old coach, Tony Dungy.

Tony Dungy did remarkable things for the franchise, he made us contenders and like I said, we should have been in the Super Bowl in 2000 under his direction.  But here he was facing his former team under the coach who had somehow managed to get his job from him, Jon Gruden.  We were mopping the floor with the Colts.  For 3 quarters it wasn’t even close, 31-3.  We had this game locked down and were sure to embarrass our former coach and the much bally-hooed Payton Manning.  Then something weird happened.  Our defense wasn’t in the game anymore.  We let them get close and they took advantage of us.  The end result?  34-31, a loss.  A crippling loss, one we never recovered from, causing us to have a losing season that year.

Under Jon Gruden the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had their most success.  Before Gruden was Tony Dungy and HE was our most successful coach.  But football is  about winning games and no matter how popular a coach is, winning is what it is all about.  Never mind that players get hurt or bad calls are made on the field that you have to live with.  I don’t think there is a person out there that put more effort into coaching than Jon Gruden, he made the game exciting to watch and our “Chucky” was a source of pride for several years.

But this year when we were 9-3 and tied for the division, we needed to win only one more game to make the playoffs.  ONE MORE GAME!  We had beaten Atlanta before, but lost to them on the road.  We had beaten Carolina before and lost to them on the road.  We played Oakland and San Diego (both teams had losing records at the time) at home, where we had been 6-0 this season, and lost both games.  We finished the year at 9-7.  We had winning back to back seasons for the first time since Jon Gruden became our coach, but it wasn’t enough.  Gruden got a contract extension in 2007, but was fired after the 2008 season.  Winning games ultimately is the deciding factor, not contracts or promises.

Is it a coincidence that defensive coach Monte Kiffin announced that he would be leaving on November 30th and we lost ALL our games in December?  I don’t know, but I will say it was ill timed.  You don’t make announcements like that while the season is in play and expect players like Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber not to be effected… but such is the life of a Buccaneers fan.

Coach Gruden will not have any problem finding a job and I would not be surprised to see him win another Super Bowl based on how others have found success after their time in purgatory with the Bucs.  Williams, Young, Dilfer, Dungy … each man moved on and had that belief that he could achieve greatness.  Jon Gruden has that belief and love of the game that will show once again that when a door closes the window of opportunity opens.

Jon brought the exuberance of youth to the Buccaneers.  I still remember his hoarse voice when Jon handed the Lombardi trophy to Malcom Glazer declaring, “How ’bout that, Mr. Glazer?”  and Jon Gruden is still one of the younger coaches in the league… even though his successor, Raheem Morris, is only 32 and never been a head coach before.  I suspect that even Mr. Morris will eventually meet up with the turnstile that has become the norm at One Buc Place as he tries to rehabilitate the team.  This is no cause for alarm because there have been cases of extreme euphoria from former employees of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at other locations and times in their careers.

Coach Gruden I wish you all the best.  You are a model for other coaches to emulate.  You are a student of the game.   Thanks for your time at the head position of my team and the excitement you brought to us each week.

Where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be this time next year is anyone’s guess.  I hope we are winners, I hope we are contenders.  I hope we stick it to all those naysayers and make another run at the Super Bowl.  We may meet Jon Gruden at the opposite side of the field and wouldn’t that be ironic?  But based on our history, it is not inconceivable.

Such is the life of a Buccaneers fan.

peace.

what?

January 16, 2009

music-fabfourfotos

very cool pictures of the Fab Four

music-rollingstonecovers

Interesting that the first cover was of John Lennon.

.

I read this article the other day and decided to include it here, as well as the two links above because they are all kinda connected.

I find it interesting that the Beatles continue to make the news, nearly 40 years since their break-up but I have a hard time blaming them for the slump in the music industry’s album sales. I am willing to bet that if the music is good the people will buy it.

I have written about this before. (see, They Are Dumbing Down Our Rock and Roll, posted on 5-10-08 -) but now there is a little twist. In the link below the author concludes that when the Beatles started producing hits then the public jumped at purchasing their albums and killed off 45 rpm records. Except for the fact that nearly every song recorded on those albums was worthy of an audience. I can only think of two songs that we really could have done without and might not have stood alone. Flying, released on Magical Mystery Tour and You Know My Name (Look Up My Number) which was on the flip (B) side of the 45 rpm single, Let It Be. Otherwise each song was a classic and garnishes airplay to this day.

I love the CD Live At The BBC and I would recommend it for any Beatles fan. Not only are there performances of their own songs recorded on the air “live” but they also cover other songs not heard of on any other albums, including Anthology.

I suspect the music industry is a lot like the publishing industry. I read recently that there are 60,000 books published every year. 60k! Of those published, it is hoped that some will become best sellers. Perhaps the music industry is trying for the same thing, producing an onslaught of artists in hopes that some will be hit makers. I suspect that the movie makers do the same thing but here is the glitch.

You read a book what? Once, maybe twice…? You see most movies what? maybe once or twice…? You listen to your music what? several thousand times? The public might forgive the book publishing industry for printing a rotten book. The public might even over look stupid movies. But music is something different. I don’t know how many times I have liked an artist’s “hit” only to rush out and buy their album (CD) and find that the only decent song was the “hit” that I have heard on the radio repeatedly to where I have it memorized.

Now that iTunes has enabled us the ability to download individual songs we can sample what we like and reject what we don’t. Very cool. I like the substance of buying a CD and having something tangible in my hands, but not at the risk of having mediocre music. I’ll download the tried and true every time.

And the fact that the music industry kept CD prices high over the past few years is another reason to not buy from them, no one likes to be gouged. It stands to reason that as the CD’s became more prevalent and more people were buying them the cost would go down. The major manufacturers kept the price up at a premium for way too long.

So here is a suggestion. Find some real talent. Don’t be fooled by thinking you are giving the public what they want because obviously you are not… otherwise you wouldn’t be in the doldrums right now lamenting sagging record sales. Too many lackluster artists are spoiling the stew.

The Beatles were truly a phenomenon, as have been others past and present. Cultivate more artists, stay away from that “star” formula that has permeated the conscious of young America, it is killing you softly.

I have loved rock for a long time and the old songs still do it for me, but I am also capable of learning new artists and enjoy their stuff, too. Music is like that, we can never get enough of it IF the music meets our standard criteria, what ever the individual’s tastes are. Don’t let artists get lazy. John, Paul, George and Ringo never rested on their laurels… and their music still sells at a premium, you never see it at the bargain racks.

The recording industry needs to embrace the new media and make it better. Like Bob says, “Your old ways are rapidly fadin’…”

Check out the link below and let me know what you think…

http://www.comcast.net/music/blindedbythehype/4509/blamethebeatles/blamethebeatles

peace.

ameriCanadian

January 13, 2009

Relocating from the U.S. to Canada is an adjustment, not only in attitude but in thinking. I have to admit my knowledge of the Great White North area is limited. As I venture out I am stricken by the similarities and the contrasts to SW.Florida, where I have lived for the past 36 years. They have Walmart, Mc Donalds, Shell gasoline and Sears. We don’t have Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Petro Canada or Zeller’s. In SW. Florida we have palm trees; straight, flat landscapes and miles of white, sandy beach. In Ontario they have Maple trees; winding, hilly streets and miles of dark, jagged rocks. They have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and seagulls, we have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and… seagulls. Hmm, what do these birds know that we don’t? Common ground. There is more to my adjustment here than meets the eye.

As I write this the wind is howling, whipping the tiny snowflake frisbees into a frenzy. The temperature is a frigid -19 but with the wind chill they say it is -31, that is in Centigrade. In order to convert to Fahrenheit you take the degrees in C. and multiply by 1.8 then add 32. So zero degrees C. equals 32 F. So that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? -40 C. equals -40 F. In other words, cold is cold… in any language. It was the first time since 1971 that the entire Canadian landscape enjoyed a white Christmas. People here say it was for my benefit. One of the most frequent expressions I have heard since I have arrived here is, “It’s not too bad outside” contrary to what you might hear further south, “It’s friggin’ colder than a well diggers ass!” I don’t know if that makes Canadians tougher than Floridians, maybe they just take it in stride. I have been on the beach in SW. Florida in January and heard visitors from up North complain of it being cold at 50 degrees F. So again, cold is cold no matter how you feel about it.

Since I live in Ontario there are many French speaking residents and they have their share of advertisements. It is odd to look at a box of Grains entiers Lucky Charms Chocolat or to see road side signs in kilometers and the French equivalent impasse. Kilometers are slower than miles per hour, right?

I am also told I have an accent. I have maintained my Mid-western drawl but embellished it with a southern ya’ll that kind meshes into a Mid-west/southern golly gee willickers. Generally I look like most Canadians do but when I start speaking I get the, “You must be from the States, eh?” or others say they would have guessed my country of origin after listening to me speak a while longer. Which, of course, makes me feel self conscious and also a little bit superior. I don’t know why that is but my French Canadian sweetheart tells me that we Americans have a superiority complex. We have to be the best at everything. For example: our championships are WORLD championships even if there are none other than American teams playing in them. But I’ll post more about that at some future date.

Most people cannot believe I would re-locate from sunny SW. Florida to the frigid North. Usually it comes out something like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” which isn’t at all accusatory … just blatant bewilderment. I have enjoyed what I have seen so far and the people I have met have all been very friendly. In Florida we put up with 5 months of summer and in Ontario they put up with 5 months of winter so it kinda evens out. I suspect I’ll like Canada even more when the snows melt away and my clothing is not 4 layers deep. I also suffered my first cold in over a year and a half as an initiation of sorts.

The currency resembles Monopoly money and they have no $1 bills. There is a $1 coin (the loonie) and a $2 coin (the toonie) which always makes me feel I am getting short changed. I like the all French television channel even though I cannot understand what they are saying. And don’t even get me started on hockey… Canadians LOVE hockey and I have found that I enjoy it, too. (go Habs!)

One thing I did marvel at that probably would not have happened in the United States was while we were shopping in a liquor store buying wine. There was music being piped in over the intercom that I wasn’t really paying attention to until I heard, Sweet Little Shoe by Jesse Winchester. Canada was his adopted home for a number of years and when I recalled that, all my apprehensions swiftly dissolved away. I knew I could make a home here with that sort of recommendation. In fact, there is a virtual treasure trove of Canadian artists I might never have heard of (and some that I have) if I had not relocated here… which kinda sweetens the deal.

It will test my mettle, I have no doubt but I do it for love and that is the soundest, most relevant motive I can think of. I do it with humility and good old fashioned Yankee ingenuity, along with the unfaltering support of my beautiful girl… which makes any test worthwhile.

Aurevoir!

peace.

Reality Check is Not in the Mail

January 5, 2009

getmsg


Windfall Tax on Retirement Income

Adding a tax to your retirement is simply another way of saying to the American people, you’re so darn stupid that we’re going to keep doing this until we drain every cent from you. That’s what the Speaker of the House is saying. Read below……………

Nancy Pelosi wants a Windfall Tax on Retirement Income. In other words tax what you have made by investing toward your retirement. This woman is a nut case! You aren’t going to believe this.

Madam speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to put a Windfall Tax on all stock market profits (including Retirement fund, 401K and Mutual Funds! Alas , it is true – all to help the 12 Million Illegal Immigrants and other unemployed Minorities!

This woman is frightening.
She quotes…’ We need to work toward the goal of equalizing income, (didn’t Marx say something like this?), in our country and at the same time limiting the amount the rich can invest.’ (I am not rich, are you?)

When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied:
‘We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market windfall profits taxes could go a long way to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as ‘Americans’.’ (Read that quote again and again and let it sink in. ‘Lower your retirement, give it to others who have not worked as you have for it’.

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I just received this e-mail today and it kinda falls in with my last post. This is the woman who stands to make millions on the alternative fuel initiative that she is so heavily invested in. Is it safe to say our politicians are losing touch with the citizens of these United States?

Is this accurate? My comment from Karen begs to differ so you decide … check this out.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/pelosi.asp

Then I read a comment on my last post and thought I’d give you the link. Thank you cheryl.irisheyes for sharing this with me. (see, I DO read your comments!)

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http://www.wooddigest.com/publication/article.jsp?pubId=2&id=1391&pageNum=2

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If these things bother you let your government representatives know now, it will not be easier later on.

peace.

(raise the tax on gasoline?) You Have GOT To Be Kiddin’ Me!

January 2, 2009

So have you heard the latest? Because fuel consumption is way down our government wants to RAISE the fuel tax! RAISE THE FUEL TAX! What the hell? Just a few brief months ago they were telling us that if we just cut our usage the cost of gasoline would go down and bring relief to our crippled economy. NOW they say because we aren’t buying enough gas we are going to have to raise taxes to make up the difference? I say hell no. HELL NO!

They tell us that the projects that need to be done are under funded. I say, where did the money go when times were good, when the economy was roaring just a couple of years ago? What about THAT money? That money should have just recently gone into our coffers and be ready to be put to use, we have only just recently cut our consumption, remember last summer? That is when the talk was if we dropped in oil purchases the cost of oil would go down. We did the work, (some of us were forced) and now this bullshit. Am I to assume when the cost of oil goes up (and you know it will) and fuel consumption decreases further, we will be taxed more?

If you recall this whole downward spiral began when fuel prices shot up. Industry is directly effected by the cost of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc. The cost of shipping goes up. The cost to travel goes up. The cost to survive goes up. Whether it be because of the guys that project futures on Wall St. are lining their pockets or the government is levying higher taxes that increase the price of gasoline, it is bad for the consumer… especially now. We are RECOVERING from a RECESSION. Don’t kick us when we are down and trying to get back on our knees.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I say cut government expenditures, if we don’t have the money for projects then we don’t have money for government officials that head useless departments that have no money to operate. It is that simple. Downsize our government employees. Sorry, revenue is down so we can’t afford to give you Senators and Congressmen LIFETIME salaries and health care anymore. Revenue is down, sorry, we can’t give you all that across the board raise you all voted unanimously for.

blagojevich-government-salary-oped-cx_rw_1210wilcox.html

In fact, all you government fat cats now need to give back to US. Time to work for free, give us a year of working for minimum wage and see how it feels to have to cut out things like food because you cannot afford the gas to drive back and forth to work.

The argument is that unless you pay these politicians vast amounts of money, nobody will want to run for office. I say bunk. What ever happened to just wanting to do service to the community?

A friend of mine bought a hybrid vehicle a while back. He was very pleased with the fact that he was doing something good for the ecology of our planet and isn’t that what we all should be thinking right now? cut out fuel consumption, ease our carbon footprint, think green? Well, my friend took his good feelings down to the county tax agency to purchase a tag for his lean, green, hybrid machine and guess what? Because he wouldn’t be buying as much fuel he had to pay a surcharge for his license plate… a $400.00 surcharge to make up for the difference in the tax revenue the government would be missing out on because he has cut his purchasing of fossil fuel! This is ludicrous and I don’t mean the rapper of the same name.

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-general/20090102/Gas.Tax/Gas.Tax

Calling this a carbon tax doesn’t change the fact that it is a crazy way to do business. We need an initiative to do the right thing. Our government has a way of throwing our money at a problem without really fixing anything. For example:

Did you hear about these bank executives that got their bonuses out of the bail out fund?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081221/ap_on_bi_ge/executive_bailouts

It seems hard to believe, doesn’t it?

I am all for paying my fair share and taxes should be spread out to those who use a certain service or require assistance.

But if this is the road to recovery that the Democrats are pushing, then that may be what we end up doing… pushing our vehicles because no one will be able to afford to drive them.

DO NOT RAISE TAXES IN A FALTERING ECONOMY! History shows us that it does not work. Let people keep their money and they will spend it. We don’t need the government to take it and spend it on themselves.

Oh, and another thing. Did you know that the economies of Iran, Russia and Venezuela (all oil producing nations) have based their economies (and spent accordingly) on the projected value of oil at over $100.00 a barrel? When oil dips to below $40.00 a barrel nations like Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia still can make a profit because their projections are far lower, around $25.00 a barrel. Notice that these nations that have an interest in higher oil prices are governments that are not friendly towards the U.S. and it is these nations that are hurting the worst right now because of lower oil prices.

peace.