Our not quite so excellent adventure……….

It’s been a rough year for my family. Lots of change and upheaval. I won’t get into it here because frankly its none of your business, but it has been difficult to say the least.

So I decided to take my kids away for a long weekend break to a cottage up north close to Burks Falls. Part of the weekend included some hiking and viewing the fall colours in Algonquin Park. When we arrived at the park we were shocked to discover the place was absolutely packed with bus and carloads of predominately Asian tourists, the line up to get into the park stretched back about a kilometer so it took us about 45 minutes just to get in and pay our $17 just to hike in the park. I thought this was a little rich but did not want to ruin the day by complaining. So we proceeded to 25 km marker where our hike started. Every parking lot along the way was full to capacity with on street parking the only option, cars were doing U-turns and zipping in and out of the trail head parking lots. All very disconcerting and dangerous.

We eventually parked, got geared up and fought our way through the crowds and started our hike. The first thing that struck me was the amount of Asian people strolling in their city clothes and totally inappropriately dressed with pointy designer shoes, leather jackets and lots of Gucci and Armani being the order of the day. We actually felt a little out of place in our hiking attire, walking among the procession of well heeled day trippers with the same idea as us, taking in the fall colours.

We persevered and the day trippers gradually petered out as the terrain got a little more difficult to negotiate, the culmination of our three hour trek ended up at the top of a granite ridge of a similar type to Metcalfe Rock but twice as high. The views were spectacular across Algonquin Park and well worth the climb. We had some lunch then headed back to our car reaching the parking lot around 2 pm, we fluffed around for a while hitting the bathroom and getting the car packed up. I was parked on Highway 60 facing east and we needed to go west to get back to Highway 11. I drove east for around 4 km’s finally found a safe place to turn around. I noticed a large tourist bus pass with a line of 20 cars dragging behind it, then a break but more cars were approaching from the other direction. After around 5 minutes I managed to get into the stream of traffic and we proceeded to drive back to our cottage.

We drove for around 10 km’s came around a corner and as per earlier, the traffic was snarled to a halt. We thought it was similar to our earlier experience, just people lined up this time to leave the park, but unlike earlier the traffic was not even moving. I turned to motor off and we sat and waited and waited. A young lady passed us walking, so I asked her what the problem was she said it was an accident but had no other information other than that. So as you do with teenagers getting restless and squabbling, in these types of situations, I sent the youngest two on a full reconnaissance mission to find out what was going on. After about ten minutes they returned with bad news the bus we had seen earlier was across both lanes of traffic and an SUV was in a ditch. An official looking chap then walked along the road informing drivers that there was a fatality and serious injuries in the crash ahead and the road will be closed for some time because emergency services had not even reached the location yet.

Those of you that are familiar with this area will know that there are no options to get from that part of Algonquin Park to Highway 11 other than Highway 60. This is the main road from Muskoka area to Ottawa. I had a dilemma on my hands, we checked the map and to get to Huntsville and Highway 11 meant driving east along Highway 60 to Airy, south on Highway 127 to Bancroft, west to Haliburton, then north on Highway 35 back up to Highway 60, a horrendous detour to cover around 20 km’s. Or wait out the emergency services in a fatal collision. Much to the chagrin of my kids I chose box number 1.

2 hrs 45 mins, 267 km, $50 in gas and 3 grumpy teenagers later we pulled onto Highway 60 from Highway 35, around 20 km’s away from where we were stopped in traffic earlier. The police still had Highway 60 closed and as we found out the following day did not reopen it until 2.30 am the following morning, 12 hours after the accident. So I had made the right choice.

The moral of this story? The above put a serious dent into our weekend plans. Not quite as much of a dent as Jing Xu’s though, he perished on that highway Saturday afternoon.

News report below:


Hopefully Ontario learned its lesson through “Windbag”

Watching this current federal election I have become increasingly confused. The NDP has become the fiscally conservative middle ground party and the liberals are now the socialist party of the left. But it seems that the “progressive” electorate is tone deaf to this fact and is now throwing its support behind the “hair apparent” Justin.
I was amazed after the CPAC leaders debate, when the talking heads on CTV came to the unanimous conclusion that Justin had a “very strong performance”. I thought, as per usual, he was long on the dramatic sound bites and very short on substance. He is however, becoming a chip off the old man’s block. PET was the first Canadian prime minister to experiment with voodoo Keynesian economic policy. Even when the economy did not need stimulating, Pierre created structural deficits that arose out of permanent spending commitments unrelated to the need for economic stimulus. He never saw a borrowed dollar he didn’t want to spend. In all his time as prime minister of Canada, Justin’s father did not balance one budget, on the premise that commodity prices would stay high for ever. Oh yeah I can hear all you Liberals screaming “Neither has Harper”. Well actually he has, the first two years he was PM and now this year, plus the Cons deficits were used to help us get through the worst economic crisis since the great depression. One fact that most socialists conveniently seem to forget is Dion, Layton and Duceppe threatened to bring down Harper’s minority government unless it borrowed billions of dollars, it took 7 long years to climb off of that deficit merry-go-round.

One thing that you have to say about Justin is at least he is being honest, unlike Smiling Tom, he has said in no uncertain terms he is going to run $10B deficits for the next three years. This type of talk should scare the hell out of anyone from Ontario, we have been subjected to this type of economic incompetence for close to 13 years and have become the most indebted per-capita non sovereign jurisdiction in the world. Even at the current historically low interest rates the third highest expenditure in Ontario’s budget is interest on our debt. If and when interest rates do eventually go up to the historical norm, that line item will very quickly become Ontario’s biggest budget expense. At that point forget about health care, education and social programs, we will be on the same treadmill that Greece is on right now. Similar to Greece, Ontario’s deficits are now structural, so at some point someone with a better grasp of economics than “Windbag” will have to come in and clean up her mess and austerity will be the order of the day.

But I digress…… Justin seems intent on taking us federally down that same economic road to ruin. Anyone paying attention must have seen a minor item in the news cycle this past week, that all this talk about recession was just wishful thinking by Justin, Smiling Tom and a media intent on kicking Harper to the curb. Canada is now back on the path to economic growth, so Justin’s reasoning for stimulating the economy via deficits, just flew right out the window. Also reading his parties economic platform last weekend, which strangely enough was released on a Saturday with very little fanfare by Justin’s minions and not Justin himself. There is very little in that document that actually stimulates Canada’s economy, no road or bridge building, no water treatment plants for the beleaguered aboriginal communities up north, just more socialist engineering.

I have stated quite clearly in this space that I don’t particularly like Harper. But he has balanced the budget through very hard economic times even with Canada’s main source of income, oil at historic low prices. Unemployment is around 6 or 7 per cent, the economy is picking up because of our lower dollar. Why would we want to change things?

There but for the grace of God………..

I am sure that many of you like myself were horrified by the death of the three young children and their grandfather at the hands of an impaired driver on Sunday evening.

I am also sure that many of you at some point in your life (also like myself) have driven a motor vehicle as impaired if not more so than Marco Musso was on Sunday afternoon. How do I know this? Because I constantly see it. Drive past the Beaver and the Bulldog on a Tuesday evening “wing night” and the parking lot is overflowing out onto the street. Are we saying that every single person in that pub is drinking soft drinks and coffee? Not a chance. I won’t mention any names but I know a few people that drink and drive on a weekly basis, not just a couple of beers either, four, five, six pints of beer and not think twice about getting in their car and driving home. It doesn’t seem to matter how much myself and others try to stop this from happening, those people never seem to get the message. I will now try to use this horrendous situation as a teachable moment.

These days I never drink and drive, even if I have had just one drink. The Marco Musso situation is and has always been one of my worst nightmare scenario’s. Apparently he was at a stag in Vegas drinking the whole weekend, the media has been making a big deal about him being twice the legal limit at .16 mg of alcohol per litre of blood, which sounds like a lot but actually represents around 4 pints of beer or 4 glasses of wine within around 2 hours. This should put things into perspective for some of you ready to string Musso up from the nearest lamppost. Another thing that has had very little air play is that Musso had the right of way and the van pulled into Musso’s Range Rovers path from a stop sign. That’s the reason the injuries of the vans occupants were so devastating, side impact collisions are always the worst because seat belts and air bags offer very little protection. Rightly or wrongly because Musso had that amount of alcohol in his system this ends up being the deciding factor in this unfortunate situation. This should be an interesting one to watch because it will be up to the crown to prove that Musso’s blood alcohol level caused all this devastation and I am sure his family will provide him with a heavy duty legal team.

One last thing for all of you to ponder before you go out to dinner and have a glass of wine. If Musso had blown even .05 mg which represents around one and a half bottles of beer or one and half glasses of wine, he would still be facing similar charges, because impairment does not hinge on blood alcohol level. Also try having an accident with a couple of drinks in your system even one that is not as serious as the one above. The first thing that will happen is your insurance company will try not cover any damage to your vehicle.

So ladies and gentleman take a little advice from someone that has been as bad if not a worse person than Marco Musso (just luckier is all).


Where’s the hidden agenda talk now?

As many of you know I am a political junky, I can’t get enough news on politics. Whether it be municipal, provincial, federal, American or even British. I have watched with a growing sense of horror as Canada’s electorate seems to be considering giving the keys to 24 Sussex Drive to “Smiling” Tom Mulcair and his inexperienced, dope smoking, union organizing, in some cases twenty something, socialist hoards. I have nightmares most nights, about a federal cabinet that includes the squawking Peggy Nash.

I nearly choked on my morning Tetley the other day when “Smiling Tom” said that when he forms a new federal government he would not be running deficits and would balance the budget. I did notice that his hands were behind his back, so his fingers were probably tightly crossed, I also noticed that his nose grew around an inch while he made that statement with a straight face. Pinocchio would have been very proud of “Smiling Tom”. The truth is as Margaret Thatcher once said “The problem with socialists is they will always run out of other people’s money to spend”. The money we are talking about will be the same money Windbag and McGuilty have been spending since they took power in Queens Park, our kids, grand kids and probably great grand-kids money.

At some point in the near future, the above statement, about balanced budgets, will very quickly be forgotten as soon as Tom gets to look at the books and realizes what “a mess Harper has left him to clean up”. We have all heard this song and dance before and the 10 or 20 billion dollar deficits per year, will be nothing to do with national all-day kindergarten (free babysitting), or gutting our natural resource industry to save us from imaginary man-made climate change and thereby choking off Canada’s revenue source, or any of the other social engineering projects that a federal NDP government will thrust upon us. It will be Harper’s fault for cooking the books for years to come (remember Mike Harris).

I also noticed that “Smiling Tom” when asked the other week about raising taxes, he said very carefully that he would not be raising “personal” income taxes. And a gullible media were too busy gloating about all the nuances at the Duffy non-scandal trial to ask what I was screaming at my TV “What about carbon taxes and sales taxes???”. For some reason, probably because the mainstream media of this country despises Steven Harper and the movers and shakers have decided that regime change in Ottawa is now the order of the day. The preferred choice was Justin, but seeing as he has turned out to be what most of us that were paying attention already knew, a vacuous dolt with continuous “Foot in mouth disease”, the next best option seems to be “Smiling Tom”.

If you don’t believe me, think back to every election that Steven Harper has won, we always heard about the imaginary “Harper’s hidden agenda” the talking heads of the media were always talking about it. Apparently he was going to ban abortion, throw gays in jail, chain woman to the kitchen sink where they belong and open up gulags in Nunavik to throw all his political opponents in. None of which ever came to pass. I would wager that the “hidden agenda” talk probably cost the Cons at least another majority or even two in previous elections. The place I am going with this is, why is there no talk about the real hidden agenda of the socialists whom are leading quite handily in the opinion polls right now? If I may be so bold I will answer that question for you, the media and the press are biased, if they weren’t they would be asking “Smiling Tom” a few questions about the $2.7 million 68 of his MP’s swindled the Canadian tax payers out of. Or how he plans to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting services? Or national carbon taxes that will put a final nail in the coffin of our already faltering oil and gas industry. Or what is his position on gas and oil pipelines? It’s too bad “Smiling Tom” will never show his face in Collingwood, because I believe Simcoe County will be one of the very few bastions to stay tory blue and he will never waste his time campaigning here. Because I would love to ask him a few of these questions that our national fawning media will never ask.

To insure prompt service……..

Are any of you getting sick and tired of the current tipping situation in restaurants?

TIPS stands for “To insure prompt service”. These days waiters and waitresses will sometimes provide absolutely abysmal service in a restaurant and then look down their nose at you, if you have the temerity to only leave a 10% tip.
I was reading about a situation in New Jersey last week where a group of 8 people went to a restaurant and it took over an hour for their meal to arrive. When they paid the bill they did not leave a tip and wrote in the section where it says gratuity “LOL – an hour for food”. As is the norm these days the offended waitress took no ownership for the crap service her and her employer gave and posted the offending receipt online, blurring the person’s name. This went viral and the local mayor even weighed in and berated the offending restaurant patrons. A tip in a restaurant should not be a human right, it is and should continue to be at the discretion of the person being served. So if we as patrons at an eating establishment get poor service, it should be quite acceptable not to tip.
This situation is quite unique to North America. Most places around the world seem to be immune from this phenomenon. When dining out at restaurants overseas, a tip does not seem to be expected and very well received when given. I can not in all honesty say that restaurant service is any worse in those jurisdiction’s than it is here in North America.
One of the reasons tipping seems to have got so out of hand, is wait staff now have to pay tax on an extra 10% of their salary whether they received that amount of tips or not, so that is probably the reason for all the moaning. It seems that this happened because in the past there was a lot of tax fraud in the restaurant industry, with wait staff not declaring their tips as part of their salary, so the RevCan clamped down. Now it is the problem of the long suffering restaurant patron to pick up the slack in this service industry.
I have no problem tipping well if I receive a meal that is well prepared in a timely manner from a friendly waitperson who is attentive but not bothersome and happy not grumpy. But I am damned if I should feel obliged to tip a minimum of 15% however the food is thrown in front of me. Another thing that I find quite annoying is when I am served by an owner of an eating establishment and they expect a tip as well, tipping has now got completely out of hand and needs a complete makeover.
I have an idea that would make the whole going out to restaurants a much more pleasant experience. Restaurants should start paying wait staff and restaurant employees a more appropriate wage of say $15 – $20 per hour instead of minimum wage, then increase the prices in restaurants to cover this increase and get tipping back to what it was originally meant to be “To insure prompt service”.

The Nothing “Scandal”

Do any of you remember Seinfeld, the TV sitcom about nothing? That’s what this Duffy “scandal” reminds me of, a scandal about nothing. I don’t really give a damn whether Harper knew about the $90,000.00 cheque or not, and he more than likely did know about it. In fact I would have gladly chipped in some of that $90,000.00 to shut Duffy’s smirking fat pie-hole up. But the media and the Harper/Con haters are having a field day with this thing, breathlessly reporting on every minor detail coming out of this trial.

During this election campaign I have not heard the name Mac Herb mentioned. He was a former liberal senator who will be on trial for swindling the long suffering taxpayers of Canada out of over $230,000 in illegal expense claims. He was actually supposed to be in the same court that Duffy is in right now, but he was conveniently granted a continuance until December when this current election will be long forgotten. The media seems to conveniently forget his name when talking about “Conservative” senate expense scandals. Another thing that the media might want to do if it were fair and balanced, is ask the question who is paying for Duffy’s $1 million defence in this case? He couldn’t afford to pay back the $90,000 that he swindled us out of, so how is he paying $800 per hour for his top notch legal team? Now that is a question worth asking but I have never heard anyone mention it
In the scheme of political scandals this Duffy situation pales in comparison to AdScam, but it seems the media are trying to give it as much credence as that multi-million dollar scandal and as far as I remember, during the 2006 federal election campaign, didn’t get anywhere near the same coverage and bad press as this “scandal” seems to be getting. Another scandal that has been buried by the media is a little closer to home and involves the federal NDP. 68 (NDP) members of parliament, inappropriately used parliamentary resources for certain employment, telecommunication and travel expenses, to the tune of $2.7 million. They were ordered by a parliamentary committee and the speaker of the house of commons to pay this money back but they continue to refuse to do so. Now that’s a scandal, but good luck getting the CBC or CTV to report about it, or ask “Smiling Tom” any questions about it. Maybe in a similar manner that they continue to grill Steven Harper about who knew what, where and when in the Duffy case.

But then again Steven Harper is not as warm and cuddly as the media’s choices for the next prime minister “Hair Apparent Justin” or “Smiling Tom”. In fact the media seems to despise Harper, the body and facial language of the reporters make it quite obvious when they report anything about him. The fact that the current PM has done an adequate job running the country through some fairly difficult times seems to get lost in all the rhetoric that gets put out in the daily news cycle. I don’t particularly like Harper, he is probably the kid at school I would have taken great pleasure in bundling him in his gym locker and locking the door. But I am one of those strange voters that can vote for politicians without actually liking them.

All this nonsense is doing is driving the undecided voters into the smarmy opportunistic arms of “Smiling Tom”, who strangely enough is no longer “Angry Tom” since this current election campaign has started. I just checked the latest polls and the NDP are moving towards majority territory. God help us all. I have lived through some of the worst NDP/Socialist regimes in this world the Glen Clarke NDP government in BC sent me scurrying out of that province to Ontario. The Jim Callaghan Labour government sent me scurrying out of the UK to Australia. Then the Bob Hawke Labor government sent me scurrying out of Australia to Canada. The problem I have now is I don’t have any more scurrying left in me, although a “Windbag” provincial government with a “Smiling Tom” federal government might send me packing to a grass hut and beach down south somewhere.

I don’t expect the media to ignore this Duffy situation, but it is not up to the media to decide that this country needs a regime change and then be selective on what it reports about in an election campaign. Fortunately this Duffy trial will be over in a week or so, just in time for the voters in Canada to really start paying attention to this federal election, hopefully at that point we can start to hear about the real issues that matter to this country, not faux political scandals.

Don’t panic I’m still alive

I have had a few people contact me to see if I am OK. One person thought I might have been sued (I haven’t). Another thought I had been abducted by aliens (I was but they returned me unharmed and decided to look for a better human specimen).
The fact is I have also had some personal stuff that I am dealing with and I am out of town a good chunk of the week and very busy with my business.

I have to “feel” it to write about it and I haven’t “felt” it lately.

I will return better than ever folks so just hang tight. The fact that people have asked and seem to care makes me want to come back and continue, so stay tuned.