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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Different Worlds.

The United Nations has given Palestine the status of a Non Member Observer State. Hmm.  This is like Romans claiming they’re still entitled to parts of Scotland. No wonder thinking people have lost respect for the UN. It’s almost laughable. The sad part is, the violence will continue in the Mid East. Some people there still think it’s okay to kill Israelis because of ancient history. I was reading the Jerusalem Post newspaper today… reading the comments of Israeli citizens who are worried about more rockets being fired on them from Gaza. Amazing how different our worlds are. I think the most I worry about is icy road conditions. I don’t know if I’d want to sit in the line-up at Tim Hortons if high explosive rockets were being fired at me.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Great Reading ...

I just finished one of the best novels I have enjoyed in a long, long time. Armageddon by Leon Uris. I remember seeing it on the coffee table when I was a kid. Dad was also a reader who liked to devour book after book. The reason I remember this particular novel is because I had no idea what the title meant.  By the way, it has nothing to do with the movie of the same name that was made several years ago, about an asteroid.


 This novel is amazing … one of the best novels of the 20th Century. This is the same author who wrote Exodus, Topaz and QB-VII.  Uris is a brilliant writer of historical fiction. I should have known … his other books were fabulous. I have to warn you, Uris does incredible research. The book might seem slow at first, but he sets you up with all the details and research you will need to know.  Wow, what a story.
So now I am in some sort of withdrawal. This book consumed me for the past two weeks. Every page was like a treat, but I knew, with pending dread,  that as I turned each page I was inching closer and closer to the end of the book.
The story is a modern tragedy set in post war Europe, mixed in with several love stories, adventure that will get you cheering, along with anger and sorrow at our human weaknesses. The characters drove me crazy. Some were incredible, others I hated. And I was devastated when some of the characters died … it was like a personal loss.
So I dare you … grab the Kleenex, a fresh bottle of whiskey, and TRY to read Armageddon.  I say try because it will overtake you.

Armageddon, Leon Uris.
672 pages.
Doubleday and Company, Inc.
New York, NY - 1964

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's really not so cold anymore ...

Today was an odd day. It was cold, sure, but I am used to that. It was cold enough this morning, minus ten, that I decided it was time to wear my winter parka. I pulled it out of the closet and took off the plastic. I had it dry-cleaned weeks ago. As I pulled the parka on, I realized how warm it was … it seemed too warm. But when I got outside, it was just right. But then, as I was driving through town and running errands, it became too warm again. But my other coats seems a bit too cool for this weather. Or I have to wear a bulky sweater.  So I compromised by walking around with this big bulky parka, but I didn’t zip it closed.  I kept my toque on though.

The weather is definitely changing. I remember November from years ago, back in the 1970s as being much colder. Back then I would chum along with the fellows from Austin Airways on their flights up north to Hudson Bay and beyond. On a few of those flights, we were in the venerable DC3, those twin-engine workhorses that kept the Canadian North open. And once we got into the Eastern Arctic, we would always land on the ice. There were several airstrips close to coastal villages … the thing is, there was always ice from early November through to early April.  Now I am told that in some places Hudson Bay doesn’t freeze over until January.
I have some of my own photos and slides of those flights, but they’re packed away in boxes. This photo is from Archives Canada. I am not sure, but I would bet the DC3 in the background is an Austin plane.

 By the way, for some reason I still prefer propeller planes. I just find them more comforting… and I was always able to sleep comfortably with that incessant droning noise of a prop engine. The whine of a jet engine doesn’t seem the same. Airplanes now are far more reliable than the old birds like the DC3, but I still enjoyed them.  I will have to dig out photos from my last DC3 flight from several years ago.
Here’s a little reminder from this blog from back in 2009.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I talk too much ...

Talk a lot or what? I had to get a prescription renewed today. I went to the grocery store to drop it off – because the supermarket has a pharmacy. It usually takes about ten minutes. But today, the pharmacy assistant said it would be about 30 minutes. He pointed to a stack of prescriptions and said there was a backlog today. Oh well, I could always go sit in the truck and read for a bit. Or I could turn on my phone to see if there were any voice mails. In the meantime, I grabbed a grocery basket and decided to pick up a few things. Suddenly I was bumping into people I had not seen in awhile. So I had to chat. Move on, grab some laundry detergent. Oh, there’s the guy who owns the store. More chat. Business is great he said. He moved to Timmins just a few years ago and can’t believe how strong the economy is. Nice to hear. Then we talked about the new gold mine. Things sure are looking up.  Then we talked about the tourist outfitters doing great business because the drilling crews are staying in all the tourist lodges. Then a former mayor walked over to the aisle we were in. More chat. That new gold mine is really going to change the look of the downtown eh. Break away. Pick up some lettuce, but I don’t like the tomatoes. Oh there’s whats-her-name … a lady I used to date. So howzit going? It’s all good. Yeah, the weather sucks right now... but hey, it's November. Spring is on the way! Time to check out. Neighbour lady is there at the cash counter. I left my debit card there once. Now every time she sees me, she says loudly “don’t forget your debit card eh!” I just smile and nod.There's sister-in-law standing outside the store with some groceries. Need a ride home? Nope, hubby's on the way. Okay, keep smiling! Put my groceries in the truck and look at my watch. Sixty minutes! I spent a whole hour in the grocery store … time to pick up the prescription. Yeah, I talk a lot... but that's one of the nice things about living in Timmins. You can talk to people.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Do you remember?

I remember.

St. Phillips School. Toronto.
Mr. Marshall’s class. Grade 4.  Just before lunchtime.
November 22nd, 1963.
Suddenly the P.A. came on the classroom.
The principal, Mother Mary Agnes said all students had to go to to chapel to say prayers.
President Kennedy had just been shot...


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lighter phone book; fewer names eh ...

Just got in the front door when I noticed something. The new phone directories were sent out in Timmins today. Did you notice the change? Yup, the books are lighter. So I pulled out last year’s directory. Here are the stats. White pages for last year 217 pages; for this year only 192 pages. Yellow Pages last year at 145; Yellow pages this year at 107.

I think I know why. I am meeting more and more people, myself included, who have cancelled their landlines and are now using cellular phones.  It’s not scientific. But I will snoop around this week and get the right answers.  By the way, Steve Zuzic is still the last name in the white pages.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Live and let live (what a rant!) ...

I really try not to worry about international politics. I have enough on my plate right here at home. But I am indeed getting worried about all the crap going on in Israel. It bothers me even more to hear people commenting on it, and getting it wrong.  People like to change history when they talk. But history doesn’t change, just the perceptions change.

And so we have Israel all set to take on another aggressor that plays to the world stage. I am talking about Hamas. They’re a group of racist killers who are intent of forcing Israel into a war so they can try to win world sympathy. Prime Minister Harper won’t talk to Hamas, neither will President Obama. Thank Christ for that! Hamas is a Palestinian word that translates as Terrorist Assholes.
    So here’s the thing about Israel. It won the right to form a country back in 1948. Since that time, every damned country around it, (All non-Jewish by the way) have been trying to destroy Israel. Israel realizes that this isn’t some little skirmish. Every time Israel goes to war, it is fighting for its life. And so the Israeli armed forces don’t fool around. When they go to war, they go to win. And since 1948 Israel has kicked the living shit out of every Arab nation that has attacked it. And so the camel kickers go running back to their tents crying about losing their rights and losing their land. 
     All those dummies have to do is learn to live and let live. That’s all … live and let live.  But no. They want to fight the battles of the Bible all over again.  In the past month Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel. By the way, Hamas has a tactic of firing its rockets from civilian areas, knowing that Israel will not likely respond to the rocket launchers. And so last week Israel had enough. It sent up a drone aircraft that found the leader of Hamas driving his car. The drone fired a missile that sent the Hamas asshole to hell. One shot, one kill. And now people get all upset saying Israel is so bad. It they want to find out how bad, just keep pissing off Israel.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Funerals ...

One of the things I like about Timmins is that people pull over to the side of the road when a funeral motorcade passes.  I noticed that today coming down Pine Street. I saw the hearse and the long line of other cars, so I just pulled aside for a few minutes. I was pleased to see other motorists doing the same thing. It’s just a simple way to respect the grieving family I suppose. The other thing I noticed was that I knew the family. A couple I know lost their 25 year old son this week in less-than-normal circumstances. Police were called and drugs might have been involved. The issue is still with the police. I feel terrible about it. Parents should not have to endure that kind of pain. The other thing I feel bad about is that I did not go to the funeral home to pay my respects to the family. Because the issue is in the news, I didn’t want anyone thinking I might be there snooping around. I know most people would have known better, but with all the family has to deal with I didn’t think they needed any extra anxiety for any reason. Another nice thing about Timmins is that the town is small enough that you see the people you know quite often. When the time is right, I will be sure to say something kind to the parents.

       This Saturday is a bit slow for me. But that's good. I had a full house last night over for dinner. I spent all day Friday preparing a nice pasta supper. There was 12 of us altogether. That was the easy part. The real work was preparing all the appetizers, the salads and anti-pasto befrore anyone showed up. I wanted to do a nice dinner. I think it worked. We all munched and drank litres of red wine until 9:00 p.m. Then we had dinner! Talk about big appetites. We had two sittings for the spaghetti!  But the company was nice. Also, I didn't have to worry about calling a cab to get home. By 1:00 a.m. everyone was gone and I did one load of dishes, pots and pans before going to bed. I had two more loads this morning. Had to recycle seven wine bottles. Give the neighbours something to gossip about eh.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Still jumping ...



I was pleased this week past to see a nice photograph on Facebook of young brother Ronald. Young, … hah, who are we kidding… he’s catching up. He just had a birthday. Anyhow, there was a nice photo of Ron, with his wonderful wife Lani and their son Matthew. And they were all in uniform. It was nice to see. I sent Ron a note on his birthday and he let me know that he was not at home in Comox, but over in Wainwright Alberta on some sort of a training mission. He even mentioned that he had recently been para-jumping! I remember spending an afternoon with Ron some years back as he was preparing for a jump. I even went up in the plane with him. When I asked why he would jump from a perfectly good airplane, Ron answered back: “There’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane!”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Only a month late eh...

I know I am getting older when my daughter gives me heck ... I must learn to be a bit more regular with my blog posting. Thank goodness Jenn has a sense of humour. She mentioned that she checked my news website on Friday to reassure herself that I am still alive! Oh yeah, okay, I get it. (Memo to Self) Phone more than once a month and update the blog.
Today was a good day, not just because of the chat with Jenn, but also because it is November 11th and there was a nice big crowd out in Timmins at the local cenotaph. There was snow on the ground, slush on the streets and it was chilly, but I was pleased to see so many people out to observe the ceremonies.
By the way, Jenn is doing well in her studies. She has a 4.0 GPA and says she finds the courses easier than she expected.  So that's a good thing. Scott has moved out of the shop and into the front office at his company. That's a good thing too... but I mentioned to Jenn the hardest thing about moving up the ladder at work is that he will be leaving some comfort zones behind. But he is a pretty bright guy so I am confident he will adapt.
I have been too busy at work now that we are expected to keep our news websites up to date more often. This is like rolling back the clock to my early days in news when I had to send in regular news reports to CKSO Radio in Sudbury. Every few hours, we had to file a new report. So I am back in one of my comfort zones.
There's lot of news stories in Timmins, despite it being a small town, and I find the more I get done on the website, the more the demand grows.
There was a time, back in the 70s, we would write a news story and then update it the next day. Now people want fresh updates three or four times a day on the internet.  It can be a bit demanding when there is only one person in the "newsroom" ... me.
Timmins is still struggling with the question of the new open pit gold mine. Goldcorp, the mining company, has been planning the new mine for the past six years, but true to form, people have waited until the last minute to voice their concerns.
It's what a lot of people are talking about. I am confident the new mine will be approved, but people will still grumble.  It is understandable, because the pit will be huge, as you can see in the photo, all of Gillies Lake would easily fit into one corner of the pit.
 On the other hand, gold still glitters in this town. Timmins never had to endure the Great Depression of the 1930s.  While the rest of the country had hard times, Timmins had lots of work and economic stability.  So it's hard to get too upset about gold mining.  Things will be different for a few years and then when the pit is mined out, there will be a new park with a new lake in the middle of town.
If I still have this blog ten years from now, it will be fun too look back and compare eh.