May 28th 2003
Canadians are absolutely besotted with polls!
At least that is the impression I get whenever I read a newspaper or watch the TV news. It seems that every day there is another poll commissioned by a vast array of research companies that populate every big city here.
The flourish with which every poll and its findings are presented makes me believe that most of these polls are commissioned purely to be presented to the masses to keep them quiet and in their place.
You have to live through a Federal election to witness the continuous mind rotting garbage that is presented every day as a fact-finding opinion poll. What the man in the street really thinks!! Which considering that the man in the street around Toronto has elected the Liberals for the last four elections is indicative of a sad lack of any ability to think at all!
The Globe and Mail recently ran a full article culled from about twenty different sources that pretended to show what Canadians are really like.
It was a real eye-opener I confess. Because if some of the results really are indicative of what Canadians are like then this country is in far worse shape than even the Canadian Alliance believes!
After all if I had known before I came here that only 1% of Canadians say sex is their favourite pastime I would have been a bit worried. It does however provide a reason for why Immigrants may be necessary. It also plays to the worst fears of those Canadians who don't like immigrants. After all if Canadians aren't procreating then it is up to us buitelanders to fill the gap (so to speak!) and ensure future generations of taxpayers!
Which given the diversity of immigrants in shape form and size is probably why I see so many sour looking women walking around downtown Toronto. Of course they could just be that 1% who have discovered that the other 99% aren't interested in them.
Or, as I have just noticed that 33% of women believe that thong underwear is their idea of the ultimate Christmas lingerie gift, they could be the other 67% who have just discovered why it is called `anal floss”! Thong underwear as the ultimate Christmas gift. There's a thought.
In fact I am tempted to see if I can't track down a fair percentage of those women. If for no other reason that that it would solve two presents in one go.
I would be more than happy to have my Christmas present wrapped up in a thong! Which no doubt would then put me into that one percent! Knowing that 33% would actually look forward to receiving such a gift certainly narrows the odds somewhat as well!
What astonishes me the most about some of the findings is why anyone would actually fid it necessary to ask the question.
It doesn't surprise me that people answer them! Nothing surprises me in that regard. I've lived here for a while now.
Which is why no doubt 27% of young Canadians seem quite happy to admit that they steal flowers from public property or a neighbours garden. But why was the question asked in the first place? Did some Neighbourhood watch commission a probe into the disappearance of the flowers from Mrs. Smiths garden? Is the Parks and Recreation Board in danger of going over budget this year?
Consider this as well.
49% of Canadians disapprove of the idea of a Friday afternoon office beer cart! An Office Beer Cart!! I mean who actually thinks up theses things? Of course 49% disapprove. Most of them would be management or the happy-haters. But does this mean that 51% actually approve of a beer cart or, even better, actually have a beer cart? I think we should be told. If for no other reason than that we either apply for a job there or make a wide berth when it is closing time and a horde of erratic drivers weave their way home!
At least 16% of them would drive home drunk. Interestingly and even though it is only 5% the amount of women who thought they were impaired when driving has doubled in the last year.
Of course this is nowhere near as frightening as the 97% of Canadians who say they suffer from intestinal gas. That's right. 97%!! Which of course could explain why only 1% like sex! In fact 15% say they have cancelled a meeting or even a date because of having gas!
How do you explain that to your intended date? Or the Chief Executive?
Maybe it explains the unhappy women in Toronto though. They're trying to walk with a thong creeping up their bum, which is clinched tight trying to stop a fart!
No more lifts for me I tell you.
It may also be the cause of the depression that 8% of Canadians suffer every year. Which given some of the other polls could be caused by a variety of things.
51% of Canadians say they are upset by pet excrement left in public places. No doubt by the other 49% pets! The point here is that I very rarely see a dog owner out walking their dog without the obligatory plastic bag pooper-scooper and a wrinkled nose. So where is all this excrement that every one is upset about? I don't see it on my walks. Even if there are 3.5 million dogs in Canada. And just for the record 39% of dog owners let their pets share their bed with them. I'm presuming they meant dogs as well as human.
The one poll, which I enjoyed and which explains a lot about the Canadian Parent, has 72% believing their teenagers are “above average”. Which is statistically impossible but very typical. Even if it does slip from up in the 90's when little Johnnie is in his early years. Which is of course even more mathematically improbable. Just don't ever let on to the parent that their little Darling is any thing other than a pure genius though. Not of you wish to walk away without any wounds! At least 96% believe that their children are “happy and well balanced”!
But there are one or two of these polls that are believable. The first is that 94%of Canadians believe that Canada is the best, or one of the best, countries in which to live. Which accords with my view entirely
The other is that eventually 100% of all Canadians will be asked a question by a pollster!
I just hope when it is my turn it will be a reasonable question or I will be forced to side with the unspecified number of respondents that lie to the questioner!
May 21st 2003
Ah yes! It's spring and a young mans thoughts turn to …..
OK. There are two parts of the above comment that actually need to be clarified.
I am, for instance, aware that it may, or may not, be spring! I missed the initial report stating which day it would be but apparently the statement that spring was here at last was an over-simplification of the trend toward warmer weather.
The second comment is that a young mans thoughts turn to whatever takes his fancy. I will admit that being slightly older I have to be a bit more careful about eyeing the young ladies who start shedding clothes, and inhibitions, as soon as the sun forces aside the cloud cover and the temperature goes into the plus side of 0 degrees! I'm rapidly approaching `dirty old man” age which means I must be a bit more circumspect about ogling the very beautiful creatures that bounce along the lakeside!
So in order to carefully circumvent the perennial question I will stick to food. Food, after all, being the way to a mans heart. That, and alcohol for most people.
Besides which I like Maple Syrup. On everything!
Well not quite everything but on everything that needs a good syrup.
Pancakes and vanilla ice cream being my particular favourites.
Maple syrup production in Canada dates back to the pioneer days and I am pretty sure even further back within the First Nations history.
In fact the collection of the sap, followed by its transformation into syrup by boiling, is a very old custom inherited from native Indians. They were the first to recognize it as a source of energy and nutrition.
The First Nations have a name for the thirty-day period that starts at the beginning of spring and during which they tap the sap and start the confectionary process.
It is known as the ”Maple Moon” and this season only ends when the maple buds begin to sprout. At which stage the syrup acquires a “green” taste. Don't ask me what a `green” taste is because I don't know.
In early spring, they would pierce the tree trunk with a tomahawk, placing a wood chip under the hole to channel the maple water into a bark receptacle. They then boiled the sap in clay containers to obtain maple sugar. The Indians used clay pots to boil maple sap over simple fires protected only by a roof of tree branches.
Nowadays, in early spring, maple producers tap their trees. They bore holes 5 cm deep with a drill 1 cm in diameter and then drive a spile into the hole. This spout directs the maple sap into a bucket. In early spring the changes in temperature starts the sap flowing.
Nowadays a “pump “ is used which means more sap can be obtained.
Producing Maple Syrup remains almost the same today as it was all those years ago. The major part of the whole process being that it is done naturally and so there are no preservatives or chemical agents!!
Maple water is transformed into maple syrup in a sugarhouse, or "sugar shack." In this building, the sap is boiled in a large pan. Most of the water in it evaporates during this process, leaving concentrated maple syrup.
Almost forty litres of maple water must be evaporated to produce one litre of syrup! Which is why Maple Syrup is expensive. That is a lot of sap when you think about it. And a little amount in return!
Black, Red and Sugar Maple Trees produce the best syrup. This is because of their high sugar content apparently.
Of interest is that Sugar Maple Trees are only found in North America and must be at least forty years old before you may harvest them for sap. The question I would really like to know is, why? Why forty years? Who decided on that time limit? Why would anyone plant tress like that knowing that it will only be the next generation that can do anything about it?
They do say that trees with trunks less than 25 cm in diameter should not be tapped at all. So I suppose that maybe it takes 40 years to get to that trunk thickness?
Most of the Maple Syrup that you see in Canada comes from Quebec but there are many maple producers here in Southern Ontario as well and depending on when spring comes around we have festivals and places to visit where you can taste, experience the making of, and buy maple syrup.
Just down the road from me is Bronte Creek Park who have a maple syrup festival during March while the Bradley Museum in Mississauga has displays and information as well. There is the Horton Tree Farm festival out in Stouffville, White Meadows Farms in St. Catherines and one in Sunderland as well. Of course if you drive around many of the back roads during spring you will also see signs up offering “home made” syrup for sale. I haven't stopped to buy any yet and one day I must do so merely to see if they taste any different.
However one of the tidbits I did pick up was a recipe for a maple syrup based BBQ sauce to be used on pork spare ribs. This is just crying out to be tested and as I watch the weather warming up is getting tantalizingly close to fruition.
For those of you who like to dabble in burning meat here are the basic ingredients.
175 ml (6 fl.oz.) Pure maple syrup
15 ml (1 tbs.) Chili sauce
15 ml (1 tbs.) Worcestershire sauce
15 ml (1 tbs.) Red wine vinegar
1 small onion, finely chopped
1.25 ml (1/4 tsp.) dry mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Can't type anymore. I'm getting drool on the keyboard.
May 12th 2003
SARS, and its impact on the National psyche of Canadians has made me think for a bit.
I have made reference in the past to the way that the Nanny's have an iron willed rule of terror around here.
If it isn't the anti-smoking nazi's, or MADD, or whatever is the PC equivalent of the flavour of the month, then it is some nosey old baggage moaning about children having too much fun. Or not as the case may be! Considering that they are always moaning about the weight of children and how much TV they watch and how much noise they make it is amazing that they actually have reasonably sane adults around here.
Actually it is even more amazing that any of us made it this far at all!
I was thinking of all the stuff that I have done over the course of my life, which at the moment would have those nannies in full rage continuously.
When I was a youngster I walked around outside without a nappy on. As did my children and I am pretty sure most of your children as well. In most cases the nappy was the cloth towel type and we actually washed and reused it. Sometimes for more than one sibling as well.
I can't remember “child-proofing my house and I am pretty sure that my parents didn't do it to their house. Aside from what I would classify as normal safety procedures that most sane parents took.
Even still we rode our bikes without helmets, ran outside in the rain and splashed in the mud. Or the sand if you lived further to the west!
Which for some reason seems to really freak out the nannies here. I don't know why.
I still like to walk barefoot in summer. Here in Ontario where the grass is thick and lush it provides a pleasant cushioning effect anyway.
And when it got really hot we used to drink out of the garden tap or from the hose. Most of the time putting our mouths on the end. Before or after our friends did the same. Can you remember passing around a bottle of cool drink when everyone would take a swig and the only real attempt to make it “cleaner” for the next person was to wipe the top with your hand or sleeve? Which probably had more germs on them than your mouth anyway.
Mind you it wasn't only drink that was shared. Food was a communal commodity to be tested and explored by all and sundry. “Oops me some” being heard far more than the now current “no double dipping”!! We also loaded up on drinks and food that would be classified way off the Heart Foundations good guidelines today and yet thanks to all the exercise we got playing with our friends outside we never got fat or suffered any diseases. (Although I fear that it might be catching up with me now!)
. I was lucky enough to grow up when there was no TV in South Africa so we had to rely on our imagination, and the Saturday Matinee, to provide the basis of all our daily activities.
Outside was where we spent a good part of the day, and quite a large part of the evening as well, indulging in activities that acted as a sound base for future interactions in life.
Actually most of the problems that we had came about as a result of being outside and enjoying ourselves I can't remember anyone in my little group of potential terrorists who didn't suffer broken bones, scraped, torn or twisted parts of the body, and clothes, and the terrible indignity of getting so dirty that sometimes it really was necessary to have a bath if only to identify if we were in the right house!
We “raided” the neighbours fruit trees, made go carts that had no brakes, or steering sometimes, dammed up the local spruit, teased snakes in the veld and dogs in their yards, shouted and screamed until we were hoarse and throughout this time I can't remember anyone ever being sued or even threatened with a lawsuit.
Mind you being threatened with my Fathers “persuader” was sufficient threat for me, and every one of my friends had the same terror to face when we knew that we had to face some form of penalty for some stupid action we had taken.
Guess what? We took responsibility for our actions then! We owned up, said we were sorry and took that punishment. Oh sure we moaned about how unfair it was and how nasty our parents were but deep down we knew we were the ones to blame. Which is why we compared welt marks later!!
We even had fights!! Black eyes and bruises on both the body and ego being prevalent. We got over it! Being one of those types who was smaller than all my friends, with a bigger mouth, my lot in life was to be beaten up every so often. Mainly because I wouldn't shut up! So on numerous occasions I would be persona non grata for a while until my friends decided that I was more valuable inside causing kak than outside causing kak. Or someone else had annoyed the majority and it was their turn to be ostracized. It happened to all of us at one time or another and all of us learned to deal with rejection and disappointment. And failure!
Failure including the fact that at school, in our exams and when trying to join a sports team, we didn't get an automatic pass. We had to work for it! Some people were too dumb or lazy to do so and they failed! Imagine that! No one rushed around worrying about how much damage it did to their poor little psyche's either.
We rode our bicycles without helmets, two-up sometimes, and on one memorable occasion, without brakes down a hill. My face still has faint scars from one escapade where I was hit by a car. Which in retrospect was one of the times in life where I learnt a valuable lesson. Namely, that 100 lbs of boy is NOT stronger than a ton of metal traveling at speed! Something that many of the youngsters in Canada would do well to heed!
They didn't have seatbelts or airbags in cars and we were allowed to sit on the back of a bakkie. (Although I have never quite found out why dogs like sticking their tongues out in to the wind). It was always so much more exciting sitting on the back with the sense of freedom whistling around your ears. We always felt it was easier to jump clear if anything happened!
So having eaten all sorts of disgusting, and sometimes tasty, animals and insects, flora and fauna, broken far more bones in my body than I really should have, swapped knowingly (and unknowingly) various body fluids, flirted with accidents, retribution and punishment continually I can happily say that it was great fun after all.
The youngsters nowadays don't know what they are missing.
I have the sneaking suspicion that the reason so many Canadian children have so many medical problems is precisely because they are so molly coddled and don't have the chance to build up immunity.
What worries me the most though is where the tight-lipped little nanny-fuhrers come from. I want to send them back!
May 7th 2003
It is always a bit tricky to write an article about a current event generally because by the time it is printed the event has either faded from memory or, and this happens just as often, something emerges to change the context in between writing it and reading it.
The current SARS epidemic in Toronto is a case in point.
I still stand by my original contention that the SARS epidemic has been blown out of proportion but just yesterday the whole city was put into quarantine!
The whole city was effectively quarantined by the WHO (World Health Organisation)!
Yes! I realise that this was a travel advisory by the WHO but let's be realistic shall we? When the WHO tells everyone around the world to be careful about traveling too, or having contact with people coming from, Toronto, then it is as good as saying “ Put a ring of steel around the place and keep those disease ridden people away”!!
Oddly enough, while this coincided with the announcement of the 19th death of a SARS patient, it appears that the disease has in fact been contained by the local authorities and that new cases are declining!
Which is probably why the local health authorities got so upset by the announcement.
It did have the effect of galvanizing the local politicians to get off their well-protected backsides and actually say and do something for a change.
Aside from the obligatory photo opportunity dash through Chinatown that is. Where such luminaries as Mayor Mel, Ernie Eves the Ontario Premier and of course Hizzoner “I'm off to play golf in the Dominican Republic” old Jolly Jean Chretien, rushed in to sample a piece of Sweet and Sour whatever, smile at the cameras and rush off again!
The most ludicrous and gratuitous event being that of Mayor Mel giving one of the shop owners a tongue lashing for wearing a face mask!! Bad television to show someone taking precautions against the illness.
Although given Mayor Mel's propensity to spread body fluids maybe someone should have warned him that it wasn't only females at risk! That way we wouldn't have had to listen to Mel waffling on about no SARS risk here and trying to shake hands with all and sundry! Which is where someone should definitely have pointed out that the reason some people didn't want to shake his hand was actually political and not hygienic!
I must put a lot of the blame for the hysteria on the media this time. The headlines and masses of column inches going on about SARS tended to be very sensational.
When a nurse traveled to Toronto and back on the GO train the media went to town on identifying the trains, the times and then went totally overboard in the fear factor by leaving most of the details very sketchy to say the least.
To this day we don't know which carriage this person was in, what sex they were and of course what race they were. This is Toronto after all where stupid little incidentals like that go against the politically correct sensibilities!!
Which is another reason why the general impression around is that only the Chinese have contracted SARS at the moment.
We have absolutely NO knowledge of who has been affected here in Toronto. We do know that SARS started in China and was bought back to Toronto from Hong Kong but at no stage have I seen anything resembling statistics regarding which race, if any is the major contractor of this disease!
So because the TV showed mainly Chinese people being affected in the beginning the belief that this is only amongst the Chinese community has taken hold.
Sales of takeout No 17 suffering tremendously as a result!
Which is no doubt why every political photo opportunity by every politician was down in Chinatown!
I have watched this whole epidemic with interest and I can honestly say that while I am aware of the symptoms, the history and the story about the spread of the disease I have absolutely no clue as to who, where and why here in Toronto.
It's those little green men that live here I tell you! They have SARS!
But is it a specific community? Is it a certain group? Is it only among certain races?
We will never know. Multicultural imperatives take precedence!
Reading between the lines I can see that any person living here in Toronto can catch it. That those most at risk appear to be the elderly and especially those with further complications. That many of the people who have SARS appear to come from the Chinese community but even that I can't be sure of.
But most importantly it looks like the outbreak has been contained. There have been no new reports of people with SARS in the last week. This is despite the fools who have broken quarantine, traveled on public transport while sick or in one of the more stupid cases, gone to school to write an exam.
In fact I am amazed at the cavalier way many of the people who have been told to go into quarantine have moaned about it or even ignored it! At one stage it looked as if heavy fines were about to be implemented to enforce the stay! Sanity prevailed though. This was after a Doctor, of all people, had refused to go into quarantine and even attended a funeral service. Which of course meant that the authorities had to track down all the people who had also been there and then quarantine them!!
I will state again that I thought that the local health authorities acted quickly to contain the outbreak and they should be congratulated for their actions.
It must be particularly annoying to them, just when they thought they had turned the corner to be told that WHO has effectively said they haven't.
At least we may get some action and money from the Federal Government now who, as I said before, have been particularly noticeable by their absence. Obviously there isn't an election in the near future!
So for the next three weeks I'm not allowed to come out and play.
And you can't come in and get the ball either!