Tuesday, January 15, 2019

There's a word for this mess

And I'm not referring to this blog of mine as a mess, or even the pile of dictionaries all askew on my table. Rather, to the state of things going on -- or, actually not going on -- in the U.S.

Weird though it may seem, one of the books I've been reading is all about words. Ammon Shea did the rest of us a favour and devoted a year to reading all twenty volumes of the OED. His resulting book, Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages is more entertaining than its title might suggest.

But back to the current mess, and the word I found in Shea's book: Kakistocracy. Its literal meaning: government by the worst people.

And to go with this new-found word (new for me, at least), a piece of newly penned doggerel:
Trumpty Dumpty wanted a wall,
so he shut down the government, paycheques and all.
No one in Congress or on CNN
could get him to start things over again. 

Monday, January 07, 2019

Rule of three

Not just because today is Orthodox Christmas (which is part of it) but for several other reasons, I'm celebrating.

One cause to celebrate is that today was garbage day in our neighbourhood. As you can see, we have three separate bins -- and ours (unlike most everyone else's) come in three sizes which I suppose you could call Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear.

Because we always have plenty of green waste -- branches and other debris from the many trees in our yard -- as well as food scraps from the kitchen, we have the extra-large size for organics.

The middle-sized one (standard issue from the city) is for recyclables. Because we still subscribe to a print news source, there's always plenty of paper. Tins, plastics, cardboard... well, there's always plenty of other items to put in there too.

The littlest one (a rarity, was even difficult to get from the city) is out and out garbage. Like the recycling, it only gets collected every two weeks.

This week, it was Mama's turn, the blue bin. Pretty much overflowing, mainly due to the crazy amount of (over)packaging from Christmas gifts. It got me wondering when all this plastic and cardboard and styrofoam nonsense began.

For sure, it had something to do with trying to prevent shoplifting. Remember those oversize containers for music CDs? A lot of that had to do with making it awkward for you to walk out of the store with a handful of them under your jacket, something that hadn't been such a problem when albums were still on vinyl.

And then there were the crazies who thought they were clever by messing around with bottled pills. Tampering with pain meds was the big one that got companies scared enough to add safety measures (packaging).

And the most recent excuse seems to be our addiction to online shopping, with the resulting packaging required for shipping.

When the blue bin went out this morning, it wasn't the only one on our street that looked to be overflowing. My resolution was to get rid of stuff, but this wasn't the kind of 'stuff' I had in mind. Still, I am grateful that the city has trucks that pick it up and take it away. As for where it goes, I can only hope.

But really, my main cause for celebrating this sunny Monday? For sure, my best reason of all is that a friend's cancer is beginning to retreat (yay!).

Tuesday, January 01, 2019


The start of a new year, arbitrary though its 'newness' may be, based as it is strictly on the calendar, always seems a good time for taking stock.

Looking back at 2018 is sure to bring some sadness, but hopefully joys as well. There's plenty to be glad about having behind us -- for those of us here in BC (as well as for people in California) the wildfire season was horrific, one we certainly hope won't be a repeat. 

Although some predictions are zanier than others, looking ahead generally seems to inspire hope -- at least that's the direction I'm looking in.

As for resolutions, mine (probably be a repeat) is to get rid of stuff.

In my case, that's mostly old clothes and too many books. Something I'll have to report on twelve months from now. In the meantime, I need to get back to sorting the items I pulled out of my desk today -- everything from stamps and coins to unusable floppy disks!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Not a white Christmas here (photo from last year), but that's fine with me. A lovely one in so many ways, too many to list.

However you celebrate this season, I hope it is festive and stress-free.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Comin' back

Once again it's time to observe (and celebrate) the return of the light, an observance that goes back to a past much more ancient than Christmas. Just imagine the significance of someone realizing the turn of shadow that must have meant the sun, with its warmth, was coming back again.

After so much discouraging news this autumn (especially with yesterday's turn of events in Washington), we need all the light we can get.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Ya gotta have art...

Every now and then, it comes to my attention that the arts community doesn't get the respect it deserves. I'm not sure why this is, as it's hard for me to imagine what life would be like without having art in it.

Not long ago, the city where I live changed its mayor and council. It was all above board, a civic (and mostly civil even) election, nary a Russian influence peddler in sight, I am sure.

But along with the change of persons, it seems as if the new government may have lost its heart, especially when it comes to the A-R-T part of that word.

Tomorrow night the Council will be voting on their new budget, a pared-down plan that withholds funding for so many of those things that enliven and enrich our lives. The proposed plan fails to allocate monies to just about anything that might be deemed cultural -- the expansion of community centres, libraries and museums, even athletic facilities.

With our city's population growing by 1,000 people every month, it seems short-sighted in the extreme to be taking this hard-nosed stance. After all, isn't the administration of a city supposed to be there to benefit its citizens?

So why, you might be wondering, did I post a photo of a choir?

Besides being safely camouflaged in among the altos, I'm pleased that, as a result of our annual winter concert, we helped raise money for an important community-serving group whose funding has been cancelled, the Volunteer Cancer Drivers. Audience members made donations which were matched and then topped up by anonymous donor, resulting in a total of $8,000 for the cause.

I can only hope -- in particular during this season that's supposed to be about giving -- that tomorrow night's meeting will see a reversal of the current mindset and will loosen the purse strings to the benefit of everyone who lives here.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Fallen soldier

This week the first person who comes to mind for most people when they read today's subject header must be President Bush the Elder, George H W. And while it was good to hear the way he was eulogized on Wednesday, the fallen soldier I have in mind to day is my dad.

Had he still been alive, he'd have been turning 100 today. He was born in 1918 on the date that would later be called the Day of Infamy, Pearl Harbor Day.

It's hard to picture him being 100, as he died a long time ago -- by coincidence, at the same age I've now achieved -- and I can't imagine lasting to be 100 either.

Not long ago, while cleaning out old items from the attic, we came across an ancient suitcase -- one he'd used decades ago, complete with fading stickers affixed. Most of them were fairly straightforward: souvenirs of towns he'd visited, a university he'd briefly attended, and several others with meanings long gone obscure.

One I managed to track down was a sticker from C&S Air Lines. Another -- one I haven't been able to identify -- is, I suspect, from when he piloted a bomber during WWII. I'm guessing it as maybe meaning Overseas Bombing something-or-other.

It's hard for me to try to think of what life might be like (though I'm hoping human life will still exist) in 2118. And I'm sure that no one in 1918 could have envisioned what today's world would be. Happy what-would-have-been-your-100th-birthday, JB.