Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rust Goes Better

A few weeks ago, I dug a brand new pair of skates out of the closet.

They were given to me as a gift, but, at the time, I was already using another pair of skates.

You know how it is, once you find a pair of skates you like, you wear them until they can no longer be worn.

I had never worn the skates I found in the closet, but one of the blades had a patch of rust on it.

I had also decided I should take my son’s old skates to a buy-and-sell sports store. His little skates, which hadn’t been worn in years, had also developed some rust on one of the blades.

With possible products like CLR or Brasso in mind, I headed to a well-known hardware store. I found a clerk in one of the aisles and asked him to recommend a product for the removal of rust from a skate blade. He recommended CLR and gave me an aisle number.

I was perhaps thirty steps away, when he came running after me with the suggestion that I buy a 2-litre bottle of Coke instead!

I expressed surprise that he was recommending something we drank, but he insisted, rather enthusiastically, it would be as effective, and cheaper. As he put it, “Ca va faire top clean!”

It’s probably not wise that an employee of a well-known chain store is recommending a popular beverage for the removal of rust, which is why I’m not mentioning the name of the store!

Eventually, I bought the Coke, poured it into a plastic container and put the skates in it to soak.

I have heard stories about dastardly Coca-Cola eating away at screws, nails and coins!

I let the skates soak overnight and the next day, was able to remove small flecks of rust, but not the biggest spots.

Really, I’m no further ahead.

Whether we’re talking about Coke as a beverage or as a rust remover, I can't say for sure whether it’s the real thing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Happy World Freedom Day

Happy World Freedom Day!

Americans certainly took it to the limit.

This is also Cook Something Bold Day, but I get the distinct impression that with all their pot stirring, Americans went a little too far!

Hillary Clinton left it all out there; I’ll give her that.

Swallowing this morning’s bitter pill will be as difficult as the campaign she endured.

In spite of the clouds of corruption and familiarity that dogged her, she was a far more reputable candidate, although many will enthusiastically argue that with Bernie Sanders at the helm, the Democrats would have found themselves in a far different position this morning.

Does Donald Trump get the benefit of the doubt from me? Not a chance. He’ll have to prove he’s capable of displaying a shred of presidential behavior and, may I say, Barack Obama is a supremely tough act to follow.

Trump will have to prove to me and to half of American voters that he is trustworthy, diplomatic, credible and reasonable. From where I stand this morning, that seems hilariously impossible.

Photo courtesy Flickr
I still can’t figure out how this self-made chauvinistic pig, classless bully and impetuous, petty blowhard becomes President of the most powerful country in the free world!

Clearly, Americans were more than desperate for change.

They want the establishment to choke on Trump’s dust.

In four years, if he doesn’t deliver jobs and security, frazzled Americans may point to Donald Trump and bark, “You’re fired.”

Hopefully, if and when that time comes, the United States, with its lofty democratic ideals, is still recognizable.

Fifty of the G.O.P.’s most senior officials signed a letter several weeks back, arguing Trump would weaken the United States’ moral authority. They questioned his knowledge of and belief in the Constitution and stated he “lacks the character, values and experience to be president”.

They warned he would be “the most reckless president in American history” and this morning, with his macho talk of walls, balls and guns, he’s sitting in the big chair.

Could divisive Donald Trump have a hairy and do something horrendous?

Wait for it.

There are those illusionists who are telling a tale of two Trumps today, insisting the brutish Trump was out to win, and now that he’s won, a presidential Trump will emerge.

Wince and suck it in, we’ll all hold our breath together.

I fear issues important to Canada, such as climate change, natural resources, trade, border security and NATO, will come under fire from the White House.

I trust Prime Minister Trudeau, like all determined Canadians, will shore up our identity, values and policies, and brace for the storm of trumped-up politics.

Monday, November 7, 2016

These Dodos Are Done

No argument here; we’re spoiled.

I had mentioned in a blog before that a local snowplow driver would occasionally clear our driveway, free of charge. It took me a while to figure out who was clearing the snow.

I hadn’t asked anyone; we always shoveled it ourselves.

Once I discovered who it was, we decided to hire Steve for a winter to see how it would go.

Now, we can never go back.

It’s like having air conditioning in the house. We can never go back.

This is the third winter we’ll be paying for snow removal.

It’s great!

Snow removal loot
We were always under the impression it would be too expensive. We had also somehow convinced ourselves it was good to be outside, doing exercise.

Those days have gone the way of the dodo bird. In fact, we may have been dodo birds before hiring snow removal. Unless I’m walking, skiing, or skating, the extent of my being outside, doing exercise in winter, is shoveling the back deck.

I’m good with that.

Even better, we paid for this year’s snow removal by rolling loose change.

I bought the coin holders and a very determined Susan rolled change we had piling up in jars.

We stuffed all the rolled change into a red bag and I brought it to the bank, where I changed it into bills. Then, I went straight from the bank to the snow removal company office and paid for the entire winter!

Feels good.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Bylaw Bites

My wife and I can both remember teachers giving our classes detention, or depriving us of favorite activities, because some other student misbehaved, or caused trouble.

Even back then, I knew it was grossly unfair to punish good students for the acts of a bad student!

It showed a complete lack of ingenuity on the part of the teacher, and a lack of moral fortitude to do the right thing, namely, tackle the real problem, the misbehaving student.

It infuriated me then, and it infuriates me now, to see the city of Montreal punish all dog owners for the ignorance of a stupid few.

I agree there is no such thing as a bad dog; only bad dog owners.

It’s disappointing, and embarrassing as a Montrealer, to see such a great and cool city resort to a pit bull ban, and all that entails.

Far less progressive cities are repealing similar bans.

Photo: Wikimedia
Stupid dog owners are the problem, but the city lacks the moral fortitude, although it may argue it lacks the resources, to target moronic owners themselves.

We had a couple down the street who would let their pit bull run free. We would have to check carefully to see if the pit bull was outside as we walked our dogs by the front of their house.

We had exchanged unpleasant words with them, demanding they put their dog on a leash, as required by un-enforced laws.

Around the block from us, another guy still lets his Rottweiler run free. With him, we’ve exchanged harsh glares, and it’s just a matter of time before angry words go back and forth.

Our leashed animals have been charged by dogs that have been off-leash before.

I’ve gone to the police who, while confirming local laws require dogs on leashes at all times, apparently, don’t believe in prevention. They told me to call them when we see the dogs running free.

Great. By the time we place the call, provided the animal hasn’t attacked our dogs, the pit bull will probably be inside. Why not oblige the owners to restrain their dogs before there's a problem, and fine them when complaints are made.

Our society is twisted, with the rights of the guilty given far more protection than the rights of innocent victims. Responsible people who obey the laws get laughed at by people who ignore them.

I’m certain there are sweet Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and Huskies. I’m certain some of those sweet dogs are being euthanized because of the new bylaw.

The pit bull owners near us have moved out. That’s one less worry while walking our dogs.

We don’t go to the local dog park because stupid owners go there with their bad dogs, even though the rules on the door clearly state if your dog is aggressive, keep them out.

Those ignorant owners enjoy having animals that intimidate others - it makes them feel bigger. There's no doubt stupid owners can turn good breeds into bad dogs.

The city should make this right. Scrap the bylaw, then go after owners who mistreat their animals and train them to be vicious.

The stupid owners don’t have a care in the world, oblivious to what is reasonable and, in the case of this disgraceful pit bull ban, I think Mayor Coderre is, too.

Friday, September 2, 2016


Susan’s generous Uncle Barry gave us the money to buy a washer and dryer when we got married. Before we got those appliances, I would do the laundromat thing. 

I really didn’t mind it. It gave me time to think, although not hard enough, it turns out.

Here's what a laundromat dryer looks like
Our washer and dryer, the same ones we got when we were married, are currently indisposed. It had been a while since I’d been back to the local laundromat and apparently, since then, I’ve forgotten everything I had learned.

I emptied a dark load into one washing machine and a white load into another. I had brought loonies, twoonies and detergent. 

All good. I got this.

Both machines were whirring away!

Several minutes later, the first washing machine stopped, so I opened up the dryer beside it, confidently loaded in the wet clothes, selected “hot”, put change in the slots, and pressed “start”.

All good. Right on!

The second washing machine stopped, so I did the same thing and sat back. Snap! Look at Joe Cool (aka Joe Laundromat), with my headphones on my ears, listening to music.

All good. Then bad.

Why in tarnation was water splashing around in the window of the dryer?

Stunned and puzzled, I jumped to my feet and rushed over to the machines.

The machines I thought were dryers turned out to be slightly larger washing machines.

I was washing our washed laundry a second time! Uh, minus detergent.

After gritting my teeth, stomping my feet and pulling my hair (internally), I calmly walked over to where the attendant was folding clothes, confessed my mistake and asked if I could stop the machines. She told me, with a face as smirkless as she could muster, the machines lock until the wash is complete. She also explained turning off the electricity would stop all the other machines in the laundromat. No can do.

FYI - these are all washing machines
Resigned, I searched out extremely calming tunes on my ipod, and waited.

I went back to the attendant to ask for more change, because by then, my coin baggie was dry.

For reference, machines that are bigger than washing machines aren’t necessarily dryers. The machines I thought were for dry cleaning, because way back when, larger machines at the laundromat were for dry cleaning, may well be dryers.

In case you find yourself in a laundromat, I hope that helps.

Here I thought I was being brilliantly efficient. At one time, I remember being brilliantly efficient in the laundromat! The convenience of household appliances has clearly knocked me off my game.

I told my wife what I'd done, which is nearly always a mistake! She told two people, who told two people…

For those of you who haven't heard yet, I thought I'd beat her to the punch.

Live and learn.

Doubt me if you must, but up until a few days ago, my laundromat proficiency record had been spotless.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Look Before Flocking

Those of you who bravely subject yourselves to the ramblings contained in this blog, already know we have bird feeders ("Goldfinch Gold Mine" May 3, 2016).

You likely already know, too, that after resisting the idea of acquiring the feeders, I am the only one who looks after them ("Feeder Fodder" November 30, 2010). I have been the only one who *&%$#@*!~ looks after them for many, many, yes - that many - years!

Four seasons a year, sometimes every second day, I fill them with seed!

At considerable risk to my sanity, I fight tooth and nail with greedy squirrel intruders to protect the feeders, and my wallet, from bottomless rodent appetites.

Hey, the birds are depending on me.

Our neighbours have moved away. They never wanted a fence between our houses and, in the beginning, that was fine. After we bought dogs, however, we always wanted a fence, so the beasts could have their very own dog run.

This week, we got a fence installed.

The delighted dogs run themselves silly, even in this heat! Their kingdom has expanded, although they eat way too much of its grass!

The new reality
The birds that know our feeder are not used to factoring in dogs when they visit, and yesterday, the second day we could let the dogs run around the yard, Bear, our Australian Labradoodle, pounced on something and then picked it up in his mouth. My wife and son pried open his mouth to find a little swallow inside.

We scolded giddy Bear, but I could tell he was oblivious.

The bird flapped, rose for a short distance, and then landed back on the grass, her breast heaving.

We called the wonderful people at Le Nichoir, the rehab centre for songbirds.

They agreed to stay open until my son and I got there with the swallow.

We were instructed to put the bird in a covered, dark box, with something like paper, or a towel, on the bottom.

After arriving at Le Nichoir, my son filled out a form and we waited to hear whether the bird would be ok.

Catherine gave it to us straight, telling us its femur had been broken and because bird bones are hollow, there would be no way to heal it.

She told us the bird would be put down.

We asked, reasonably we thought, whether it could survive with one leg and she explained that perching birds, perch.

With one leg, it would lack sufficient grip to perch where it wanted, fall to the ground, and break its wings.

On that rather somber note, we thanked Catherine, made a donation, and left.

Our new reality, and the new reality for birds visiting our yard, is that our dogs want to swallow swallows.

My son vowed to stand by the feeders when we allow the dogs into the yard.

I suggested we hang a gong on the back deck and then bang it, to scare off birds and squirrels, each time we let the dogs into the yard.

Birds of a feather can flock together, I just hope they have a look around before they flock here.