Posts Tagged ‘Sudbury Ontario’

True Colors

December 26, 2009

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City
True Colors
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I went job searching recently.  I know what you’re thinking.  I’m supposed to have a job BEFORE I take up a writing career.  How can I be told after someone reads my column, “Don’t quit your day job ” if I do not have a day job?  In the States we call it having something “bass ackwards,” quite likely you have a similar phrase in Canada.
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I am an electrician by trade.  We are supposed to be one of the professions that needs recruits.  Our numbers are dwindling, there will not be enough electricians in the next few years to meet demand.  When the power fails and your lights go out, who ya gonna call?  Imagine trying to watch television by candle light.  But that was before the Great Recession of 2008-_____?
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I decided to use the local assistance organizations at my disposal, one of them being the Sudbury Vocational Resource Centre.  The nice folks at the SVRC help you with making a resume`and preparing for job interviews.  They provide resources like newspapers and computers to aid you with finding that perfect place for employment.  There are programs that direct you into different related fields you may be qualified for and help you adjust to the working environment.  One such program is called, “True Colors.”
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True Colors helps to identify your personality traits and how you will mesh with co-workers.  There are four colors; Blue, Orange, Green and Gold, sort of like the four basic food groups or even…  the name of a rock’n’roll band, B.O.G.G. (Get bogged down, boggles the mind, all you need is bogg, the possibilities are endless! )
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To help determine what your color is, first you are asked what color you THINK you are; Blue being romantic, Orange adventurous, Green cerebral and Gold conservative.  I picked blue because I feel that I am one of those thoughtful, warm, tender, passionate, kind, selfless, and affectionate guys.  Then came the questionnaire.  It had five rows, each row had four boxes, each box had three traits.  You had to decide which of the boxes in each of the rows best described you.  Naturally, I wanted to get as many right as I could, so I picked all the ones that fit my romantic, creative and unique side.  Turns out, I AM blue!  Now comes the part about getting along with others. So I did some mental calculations on blue screen.
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If we compare employment to an artist, his palette will contain the primary colors; blue, red, yellow, but you have to blend primaries to get orange, green and gold.  If I am blue, I am a primary example of my trait.  If the oranges, greens and golds are secondary, they are subservient to the primary, which is me.  All Oranges, Greens and Golds are therefore inferior to Blues.  In the rainbow of the workforce, Blues are the predominant color of the arc.  Planet Earth is blue and there’s SOMETHING I can do!   I’m livin’ on blues power!    I shouldn’t be applying for a job, I should be running the friggin’  company!
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Shucks,  I’ll fit in anywhere.

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watch?v=NbS8JK4TS8Q

Canadian Yoga Class

December 19, 2009

Two Cents’ Worth in the Nickel City
Canadian Yoga Class

I braved my first winter in Ontario and I did not come out of it half bad.  In Florida, the winter season  means part-time residents and a giant influx of tourism.  In Sudbury, it means being shut in for four months.  But I have become acclimated now and to prove it, I went out and joined a yoga class.
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To the casual Canadian observer this might not seem like much of a cultural leap, but let me explain.  In the States, we don’t take up an exercise class  now, in the Spring;  we do it in January.  That’s right.  In America, exercising is part of our New Year’s resolution.  It is Spring now.  You don’t take up exercising in Spring because you have no excuse to quit.
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Back home, everybody breaks New Year’s resolutions by February.  It is like a do-over, sort of a ‘get out of jail free card’ for commitments you should have thought twice about before making. Americans have a reasonable excuse to stop exercising in February because we were caught up in all that New Year’s hype.  Everyone you knew was making a resolution to improve their lives in some way so you thought you’d make one , too, just to fit in.  By February the polish is off.  By February everyone has started smoking, eating bon-bons and watching internet porn again so it is only fair that you stop exercising, too.  February is full of American New Year’s resolution re-thinkers.
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But here it is, Spring, and I thought to myself, “What better way to get out and meet Canadians than to do some social networking?”  I had been cooped up all winter, frosting my breath on window panes like some sort of Rorchsach test and waiting for the thaw.  This way I could meet people AND stretch out those lethargic, atrophying muscles.  I figured I could just “blend in.”
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I knew I was in trouble when I sat down on my mat and watched the people in my “beginners” class.  They were breathing, cooing and stretching, mentally preparing for the class.  I thought the class was all about  beginning to THINK  about breathing and stretching, the actual exercise being what Americans call the “advanced” class.
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I had selected a little out-of-the-way corner so I would not be too obvious in my discomfort of being “the new kid.”  It was kindergarten class all over again, where you don’t know anybody and you’re the only one to “brown bag” your grub while everyone else has those spiffy Lone Ranger lunch boxes.   We laid down and took deep breaths to let the cares of the day just ebb away, like in the Beatles’ song “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  But my strategic location backfired.  I could not stretch my hands above my head without slamming them into the wall.
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My classmates had no trouble  keeping up.  I think Canadian yoga must be different than American yoga.  Did I mention the majority of these people are seniors?  Yoga is a stretch for me, but Canadians seem to be a hearty bunch, right down to their (argh ) toes.

16 Again!

December 12, 2009

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City
16 Again

I received my Ontario drivers’ license recently.  It felt like a big deal because I was giving up my Florida license and becoming a full fledged Canadian occupant.  I am officially a permanent resident and have my social insurance number, I have a checking account and the all important library card.  But finally came my drivers’ license.  The last vestiges of my American identity had just been turned over and a new driving record was being established.  Technically, I am sixteen again!
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The lady was very friendly and of course, asked the inevitable “Why did I move here?” Most people I meet are still having difficulty understanding why I would make the transition from paradise to paradox, but I just smile.  Then we began trading war stories.
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“You’ll find summer a little different here.”  She offers soberly.
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“Oh really, how so?”  I respond cheerfully.
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“It is cooler in the North.”
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“Better than the heat and humidity in the South.” I volunteer.
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“Well… you won’t like the bugs, the mosquitos are awful.”
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“Do you have mosquitos?  In Florida we have an army to combat the mosquitos; trucks, airplanes, helicopters.  We are at war with mosquitos! ”
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“Really?”
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“Really!  Mosquito Control is a multi-million dollar industry in Florida.”
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“Wow, well… we have dangerous animals, like bears.”
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“We have bears in Florida… and panthers.”
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“Really?  Well… you can’t be too careful here, the animals are wild.”
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I thought of a snappy come back, like not all the animals in Florida come from Disney World, but I refrain.  It is time to take my picture now.  I wonder why in Ontario they request you keep your mouth closed and don’t smile for identification photographs on passports and drivers’ licenses, so I ask.
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“Why do they tell you not to smile?” I ask; smiling, feeling defiant.
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“We have to make you look like a criminal.” She answers matter-of-factly.
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That sounds reasonable to me, I guess if you are pulled over by the O.P.P. or the R.C.M.P. the last thing you would feel like doing would be to smile.  Imagine the officer asking for your identification then forcing you to smile, just to make sure it WAS you smiling in the picture. I figured it would just be too difficult and awkward.  So when she told me not to smile, I thought about something unpleasant: income taxes.
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“There,” she says afterwards, “that wasn’t too bad.”
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“No,” I agreed, “that is the best face I have.”
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“It’s not a bad face.” She smiles.
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“Well… it got me this far.”
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It was time to go and I throughly enjoyed my time at the drivers’ license outlet.  The nice lady wished me good luck and happy driving.  I thanked her and turned to leave.
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“Watch out for bears.”  She reminds me.
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“Oh, I will be very careful.”
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I know she felt like she trumped me with that “wild animals” qualifier and  I could have brought up Florida alligators as my ace in the hole, but I resisted the urge.
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I walk out smiling, 16 again

The Pen is Mightier than the Swine

December 5, 2009

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City

The Pen is Mightier than the Swine

It seems that with every Spring a different mutation of the flu virus rears its ugly head and then the pharmaceutical industry races against time to come up with a drug to vaccinate the masses.   First, it was thought that the “swine” flu was caused by some inerrant association with pigs, but not the pigs themselves.  Then the WHO (World Health Organization, not the rock band) decides that the term, “swine flu” is detrimental to pig farmers and changes the “official” name to H1N1, (no relation to R2D2) because the flu is not being spread by pigs and eating pork is okay.  NOW  pigs in Alberta are being infected by the flu formerly known as swine by HUMANS.  Do we need to change the name again?  Is it safe to say that eating humans is not a good idea?
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Contrary to popular belief, pigs are rather clean animals and fairly intelligent.  Pigs take to the mud because they have no sweat glands and this enables them to stay cool.  It also helps to rid them of insects and parasites.  Pigs protect their young, tend to congregate, and are choosy about where they leave their feces.  While most domesticated animals will just go when the mood strikes them, pigs choose a designated area all on their own.  On the list of creatures with the most intelligence on Earth;  pigs rank 4th  behind dolphins/whales, 3rd, primates (monkeys, apes, etc.) 2nd, and human beings, 1st.  So pigs are smarter than cats, dogs, and horses, but do not make good pets because they get bored easily.  Harry Truman, 33rd president of the U.S. was once quoted as saying, “No man should be president who doesn’t understand hogs ”  It seems pigs are often misunderstood.

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WHO has estimated that 2 billion people could become infected with the swine flu.  That is a pandemic that would rival the Spanish flu of the 1920’s and the Hong Kong flu of the late 60’s.  With all the modern advances in medical research and preventative medicines, I thought we would see another wide spread flu like this again when pigs could fly, but hold on.  Now the WHO says that the swine flu has mutated with the bird flu.  We may have an entire animal farm flu before long.
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As of this writing, the human/swine/bird  flu has been widely spread throughout Canada due largely from traveling back and forth to Mexico, where the flu is rampant.  They say that in order to prevent spreading the flu you should wash your hands (like your mother told you to do) after using the toilet and before eating.  It makes me wonder if we are being subjected to viruses simply because people are not educated about sanitary provisions in the work place?  Dirty handed workers handling pigs?  Oh!  The humanity!  How could this be?  We are first on the intelligence scale!  Cleanliness is next to godliness!
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Now realistically, we cannot expect wash basins and soap for every hog lot in North America, but will somebody please give those Alberta pigs some disinfectant wipes?  

Common Ground

November 28, 2009

Two Cents’  Worth in the Nickel City
Common Ground

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Relocating from the U.S. to Canada is an adjustment and a test, not only in attitude but in thinking. I have to admit my knowledge of the Great White North is limited. As I venture out I am stricken by the similarities and the contrasts to Florida, where I am from.  You have Walmart, Mc Donalds, Shell gasoline and Sears. We don’t have Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Petro Canada or Zeller’s.  In  Florida we have palm trees,  straight, flat landscapes and miles of white, sandy beaches.  In Ontario you have maple trees, winding, hilly streets and miles of dark, jagged rocks. You have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and seagulls.  We have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and… seagulls. Hmm, what do these birds know that I do not?  Common ground.

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This past winter 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 digger’s 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 Florida in January and heard visitors from up North complain of it being cold at 50 degrees F.  Cold is cold, no matter how you feel about it.

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I am also told I have an accent. I’ve maintained my Mid-western drawl but embellished it with a southern “ya’ll” that kind of 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?”.   Most people cannot believe I would re-locate from sunny Florida to the frigid North. Usually they get a glossy- eyed expression and ask the inevitable, “WHY DID YOU DO IT?”  But I just smile.

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One thing I did marvel at that probably would not have happened in the United States was while my wife and I 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) had I not relocated here… which kinda sweetens the deal.

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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 unwavering support of my beautiful girl… which makes any test worthwhile.

First Pitch

November 21, 2009

Two Cents’  Worth in the Nickel City
First Pitch

As an American writer, I imagined once how it would feel to approach the editor of a big city newspaper and “pitch” an idea for a new column.  I had read somewhere that the best way to partake of any new venture is to play it out in your mind first, like a dress rehearsal.  By doing this you would take into consideration the method of accomplishing your goal, what obstacles to avoid and the unforseen circumstances to overcome.  That way when you get around to actually doing the deed, it will come to you as if by rote, automatically.

I am new to Canada, there are a lot of contrasts compared to the American way of life.  Politics, entertainment, social issues, each one affects us in different ways.   There is the climate factor, employment, the language, all sorts of fodder for my creative mind.  But in my plan for submitting this idea,  I would not be a meek and mild Clark Kent of the Daily Planet.

The black- and- white scenario that projected in my mind made me the Curt Schilling of pitching new ideas.  I would stride into the corner office and my very presence would metaphorically scream, “Stop the presses ” as I hurled well placed salvos like filet-mignon wrapped with the ribbons of originality.

My initial idea?  To write about “nothing.”  I could just “Forrest Gump” my way through the sights and sounds of this Canadian community reporting my American reactions while using my usual flair for resplendent detail.  What could be a more creative way to give my two cents’  worth?  But my projector threw a belt and the film started to unceremoniously melt on my mental screen, causing the reel on the loose spindle to spin and snap its celluloid tail.

“Already been done.”  would be my future editor’s fatalistic response.

“Been done?  By who?” Or is it, by whom?

“Jerry Seinfeld, 1989-98.  You’ll need to come  up with something else.”

Of course, I do what every other self-confident professional would do in a similar situation.  I stall.

“What do you mean, come up with something else?”

“Something different.”

And right then and there I would curse syndication and American programming.  What place does it have on Canadian television, anyway?  Now the wheels are turning.  The boss wants something fresh, different, and readable.  I need to make an appeal.  I require foresight and depth.   That is where you, dear reader, come in.

As an American from Florida currently residing in Sudbury, surely you have a question or two about why I am here?  Something on your mind?  Just feel like venting?  Don’t care what Americans think?  Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.  Anything is better than nothing, right?  Besides, that was my concept.  It’s not my fault that Seinfeld came up with my very own original idea first.  So you cannot just sit back and do nothing and I think you know why.

Because nothing has already been done.