Saturday, May 30, 2015

Air Kissing

Air Kissing


I think the “greeting” police created a new “Silly Department”. It governs the behavior particularly of socialites, celebrities and talk show hosts. Well that’s not entirely true neither. I think they got the idea from Government heads of state, particularly in the middle east an’ in Europe.

What I’m talkin’ about is this business o’ “Air Kissin’”. Here’s how it works: It involves firstly a hug (of sorts) between two people an’ then placin’ their cheeks next to each other and givin’ a big lip smack to the air beside them. I’m even not sure if their cheeks touch while they’re doin’ it. They do it on both sides o’ their faces too. An’ men do it to men and to ladies too, to people they’ve never even met before for heaven’s sake! What kind of silliness is that?

Well I can understand not wantin’ to plant a smacker on every Tom, Dick an’ Harry (or Norma or Alice) for that matter, specially if they’re strangers. But puttin’ on all this rigmarole just for show is ridiculous. Well okay, maybe ya don’t wanna taste the odd = flavored breath of the kiss-ee in question, but holee, why do ya gotta go through all that nonsense for heaven’s sake? Like, who’d wanna kiss the air in, say Beijing? That’s got to be as poisonous as anythin’ comin’ outa anybody’s mouth. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned handshake anyways?

Speakin’ o’ handshakes, now ya got yer fist bumps, yer high fives, an’ I even saw one the other day that was a backwards low five. Mind you them’s a series of congratulations, not to be confused with greetings (although it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference).

Well the whole gaul dang business leaves me cold. Couldn’t we simplify things to just a simple handshake, for example? I mean, you could adjust the pressure to suit people with arthritis, you could also do it at arm’s length to avoid somebody’s bad breath, an’ still convey the same greetin’ without all that complication. Me, that’s what I do anyways an’ so far it’s worked fine for me an’ all those I greet too. An’ if somebody wants to plant a kiss on me, it’ll dang well be on my lips for us both to enjoy. Of course I make sure I’m properly shaved, unlike them movie stars who only shave once a week so I don’t get no complaints about whisker burn. I sure don’t never want to meet any o’ them “Air Kissers”. I’m afraid I’d bust out laughin’ at their goofy antics. Maybe if we got some kind o’ standard practice of how to greet one another, we’d all get along a bit better. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin’.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Evolution of Treadmills

The Evolution of Treadmills 

Originally treadmills or tread wheels was used to harness human or animal power to do grunt work like millin’ grain or pumpin’ water. That was well before the time of powered machines by about four thousand years or so. I suppose in a sense it marks a major development of human kind in transferrin’ energy from one source to another in order to get a job done more efficiently and with less manpower. Treadmills and tread wheels was at the start of the industrial revolution.

Well never mind about human evolution. Lets talk about the evolution of treadmills instead. Out at the Mennonite Village in Steinbach there’s one o’ them contraptions where you got a horse hitched to a long pole which is attached to some machinery in the middle that removes the wheat from the chaff. Pore ol’ Dobbin goes around in a circle all day long, bein’ driven by the farmer who sits on his duff an’ tells the horse what to do. I guess that’s what you call yer raw power twice removed. Just down the road from there is a big wind mill that works on the same principal, but usin’ the wind as the power source instead o’ man or horse power. Of course you got yer water mills too doin’ the very same thing. An’ that leads to the huge big hydro projects which in turn leads to the use of fossil fuels as the energy source to power the giant turbines needed to create the electricity which leads to the defeat of creatin’ renewable energy. But that’s a whole other subject.

Now before you go judgin’ mankind as bein’ just totally stupid, there’s still a few people what got some brains in their heads. In fact, we got one o’ them at our house. She’s not only smart, but she’s sneaky too. See I got one o’ them treadmills in the bedroom that I use to keep myself in some sort of shape. It’s one o’ them collapsibles what stands upright when it’s not in use. It’s got handles on it all over the place. Well if that ain’t an invitation to hang clothes up on, I don’t know what is. My missus, she jumped on that like a magnet. No sooner had I put the treads in the upright position than there was pants an’ jackets an blouses hangin’ all over the dad blamed thing. Well she had to make room in her closet an’ since I wasn’t usin’ it all that much no more, what was the big deal anyways?

Should I argue about it? NO! My treadmill had become a bit of a burden to me an’ I was lookin’ for an excuse to get rid of it an’ there it was: an open air walk-up-to closet an’ I didn’t have to do nothin’.

So now the treadmill has a brand new function it never had before. Talk about yer evolution. I rather suspect that there’s a few more missus’s out there who’s husbands ain’t that keen on workin’ out have adopted the same idea. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin’.  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Middle Class

The Middle Class


“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul”. That being Shaw’s political principle, is an extremely telling and true statement. In fact, it’s the foundation on what government (and society as a whole) is based on. That became evident when the NDP won a majority in Alberta and Paul suddenly donned a new mantle. A panicked Kevin O’Leary was seen to remark: “RUN!” when he heard the outcome. The shock of the “Others” suddenly being in control of the province’s resources and capital sent waives of fear through the elite community. The flight syndrome set in immediately as the elite prepare to take their money and run to other places where it can be preserved without interference from the socialists, communist sympathizers, and pinkos.

It all boils down to the old “Us” vs. “Them” game. “Us” are the entrepreneurs, the captains of industry, the bankers and the governments. How they got to where they are is immaterial. What is important is the degree to which they covet their social stations and their wealth. O’Leary’s statement shows just how far they’ll go to protect their entitlement. Given that there is only a finite amount of wealth around, once this group of people have their hands on it, it is not that easy to get a piece of it – witness the 1919 Winnipeg strike. You could lose your life by bucking the system.

Everything has its risks of course, no less in attempting to garner an equitable share of the world’s wealth. It all depends what one is willing to sacrifice for it. That’s where the picture becomes clear. The elite community is totally focused on amassing as much wealth as possible, forsaking everything else in the process or at best, only paying lip service to those other things. Money is the glue that holds them together.

The middle and lower class has different priorities. They need a roof over their heads, groceries to feed their kids, and those kinds of basic things. Amassing wealth to them is winning the lottery rather than a way of life. And of course the diversity of needs diffuses the focus and as such there is a whole array of priorities. This week celebrates the ninety-sixth anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, giving a sense of how far we have (not) come in the intervening years. The momentary gathering of the middle and lower class has come to nothing in particular and we seem to accept the name calling of the elite of “pinkos, fascists and communist sympathizers” as our lot in life. The unions have fallen far short of their objectives or perhaps their objectives were not far reaching enough in the first place. Somehow we have never got to the point where we are united enough to form a government and force the changes we need to make society fair and equitable. Not that it can’t be done. You just have to look at Frank Stronach’s empire to see it in spades. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin’.



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Every Day is VE Day

Every Day is VE Day


I remember it like it was yesterday. We were all sitting in the classroom of our one room schoolhouse when Mrs. Harrison, our teacher announced the war was over and that school was closed for the day.  We didn’t quite fathom the significance of it, being in grade four at the time, but Freddie Anderson did. It meant his dad was coming home! Even “Ooui Kazooie Buzz Bomb” – that was Freddie’s dog who came to school more often than Freddie did, was excited enough to actually leave the building with his young master.

Well that was a long time ago, but it was never to be forgotten. There were days and weeks and months of commotion what with service people coming home and the whole world reorganizing itself into a new normalcy. Finally it all folded into our lives so we didn’t think about it any more except for special days like anniversaries. It wasn’t until the other day though while we were watching the VE Day celebrations in the Netherlands on television that it all came together for me and the missus. You see, my wife was a child in Holland when those old soldiers first marched into the Netherlands to liberate the country. She didn’t arrive in Canada until 1956. A lot of wonderful things happened both in the Netherlands and in Canada since that time and eventually I married the little Dutch girl – on May the eighth, of all days. At the time we didn’t consider the date as significant other than it was our wedding day. We had other things on our minds.

But over the years, two things struck us. Firstly ours was a flourishing union based on love and true friendship between a Dutch girl and a Canadian man and that nothing but good things could come from it. That strikes a chord in describing the relationship between the Netherlands and Canada and my Dutch bride and me. The thing is that with the initials of my names as V and E we celebrate VE day in a fashion that was not prompted by World War II. And if the bond between Holland and Canada is as strong and unbreakable as it is between me and the missus, it will last an awfully long time.

We don’t think often enough of the young men sleeping in the well kept cemeteries over there, or even of the Dutch people who were starved to death by the Nazis, nor do we remember the young people over there who regularly tend these graves and give meaning to this special bond, but we should for it would alter our feelings toward those who have suffered so needlessly. And it might well serve as an example of how we should be.

I know there’s no connection between what happened in Holland and me and the missus, but the accidental coincidence of our anniversary and VE Day may not really be so accidental after all. It’s worth sharing.

Victor Epp

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The CRTC and Dementia

The CRTC and Dementia


Situations creep up on us when we’re goin’ about our business, not payin’ much attention to anythin’ in particular. Then all of a sudden we notice somethin’ we hadn’t seen before an’ say, ‘HOLY CRACKERS, this ain’t right.’ Happens all the time.

One o’ them things is dementia; the gallopin’ affliction affectin’ people around the world, not just in Canada. Statistics about it vary accordin’ to who puts ‘em together, but no question, it’s fast becomin’ the number one hazard to our very existence.

That’s all well an’ good, an’ there’s plenty o’ people workin’ on ways to cope with the thing that robs people o’ their memories an’ cognitive skills. An’ there’s also lots o’ people workin’ tirelessly to give aid to these people in their dilemmas.

It’s a huge problem that I don’t wanna talk about except as it relates to the government. An’ it is leakin’ into our government too. They got this department called the CRTC that regulates everythin’ what goes on in radio, TV an’ everyone an’ everythin’ associated with it. Far as I know it’s a huge big department that got it’s eye on every move that anybody in the business makes. They’re like a giant police department what tells everybody what to do, how to do it, an’ how much they can charge for their services. So you’d think they’d have control over what gets shown on the TV.

Well they might have that control, but what they’re missin’ is the quantity of programs the stations got to offer. I mean, how many times can you watch Victor Borge before he ain’t funny anymore, or how often must you watch Stephen Segal arrest the same drug dealers? Even Peter Mansbridge’s interviews with celebrities bein’ played three times a day get pretty boring. It seems these stations have about three programs that they play over an’ over, sometimes a few times on the same day. What – do they figure we won’t remember from one minute to the next what we just seen – that we all got dementia so it just don’t matter? Or are they tryin’ to promote the condition?

What it appears to be is what each of the TV stations have done is to buy maybe ten programs an’ then fit ‘em in between equal amounts of time for advertisin’ an’ figure that’s good enough for the viewing public. Well even the advertisin’ has got stale. It’s about time in my mind, for this big department to do an assessment of itself to make sure it ain’t suffering from memory loss an’ make an effort to provide opportunities for the talent that is out there to display its wares if it wants to continue existing. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin’.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Senate Business 3

Senate Business 3


I was just listenin’ to Rex Murphy on the TV harpin’ about the decorum of the Senate. It used to be that there was “character, conscience an’ dignity” in the chamber. I wondered where he’d got that idea from so I started by readin’ the biography of William Lyon MacKenzie from the early eighteen hundreds. That of course was before the formation of the Canadian Senate. It was also one probable reason for the formation of the Senate – to stop rabble-rousers like him from tippin’ the Tory canoe.

I got a lot more outa that exercise than findin’ or discountin’ decorum. I found that there was really character, conscience and dignity in those times. Them characters had to, in all good conscience, flee the country from time to time to preserve their dignity. The traits Murphy refers to had more to do with the journalists paraphrasin’

 about the times than the characters themselves, an’ that’s a fact. Hence the decorum and civility of the members.

Well, once they got all the rules o’ engagement sorted out, the Senate could begin lookin’ after business, the first order of which was to deal with contracts under the old Dominion. That sounded a lot like a bankruptcy hearing to me an’ I’m sure a lot of people (other than the senators) got screwed in the process.

There was a fair bit o’ business to get through. There was the Maritime business with shippin’, lighthouse keepin’ an’ maintenance, a place for distressed sailors to stay an’ be looked after, not to mention the postal system, bankin’ an’ the militia, especially the militia. The thing was that them Americans across the border couldn’t very well be trusted. An’ it’s a good thing too because the Fenians had organized thereselves to take over Manitoba as hostage for the freedom of Ireland from Britain in 1871. Well, not only Manitoba, but elsewhere across the country, but I mention Manitoba ‘cause that was where Louis Riel was operatin’ at the time an’ you know how that ended up. The Fenians by the way never succeeded in any o’ their raids. I don’t know if that says somethin’ for the militia or against the Fenians.

In any case, the Senate was getting’ into the full swing o’ things an’ it looked like they was goin’ to be successful at it. Or at least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin’,