Home again and other musings

I’ve just returned from helping deliver a boat from Platsville New York to Toronto Canada. We navigated .Lake Champlain, the Eire Canal, the Hudson River, Lake Onieda, the Mohawk River and finally across Lake Ontario. We were blessed with good weather for most of the trip, but the final leg across Ontario was definitely on the chilly side.

I had a few firsts, including baking Chocolate chip cookies in the middle of Lake Ontario.The locks on the Eire were a bit forbidding for someone used to the somewhat smaller locks in Ireland, but we soon got the hang of them. We had a few frazzled nerves in a couple of places, but generally the trip went off according to plan.

The one thing that I would really like to note was the friendliness of the people of New York State. Everywhere we went the people were lovely and went out of their way to help us, whether it was in the Rochester Yacht club, the lock keepers on the canal, the cashier in the supermarket in Waterford or the on-duty personnel at the Red Neck boat club on the canal. Everyone was .helpful and had a smile on their face. For me, it was the highlight of the trip.

Smile for the day

truck-sheepThe news over the last little while has been either black or dark gray depending upon whether you are a glass half full or glass half empty type. The weather has been nasty and spring is refusing to arrive properly. So, lets try to lighten things up just a little with something sublime or ridiculous. Lets talk bizarre driving laws

In Montana it’s illegal to have sheep in the cab of your truck unless there’s a chaperone—but luckily it’s legal to keep Dolly inside the passenger cabin without supervision. In Nevada driving camels on highways is prohibited.

Spam on the menu

I suppose I should be chuffed that this blog has reached the attention of the spammers and the trolls.

Now, oh joy oh bliss, I have the fun job each morning of looking through the comments and deciding what is or isn’t spam. There is a lot, and some quite sophisticated, so if your comment doesn’t make it, then you didn’t manage to pass both the automatic spam checker or my own eyeball.

I don’t delete responses based upon any political bias, in fact I love a good controversy, but boring, repetitive rants with bad grammar that aren’t funny or provocative won’t make it through. I regard internet trolls at the same level of spammers and hate filled drivel is at least as offensive as posts that are attempting to advertise cialis.

You have been warned, so please feel free to put your humor or sarcasm hat on and I will guarantee your post will get in, otherwise…………….

Herr Cuttz

In the whacky world that is North Korea, emulating the dear leader has just taken another step.

the haircut

kim jong un

Male university students in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un, it is reported.

The state-sanctioned guideline was introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, Radio Free Asia reports. It is now being rolled out across the country – although some people have expressed reservations about getting the look.

According to what one source tells Radio Free Asia

Our leader’s haircut is very particular, if you will. It doesn’t always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes.

Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China says the look is actually unpopular at home because people think it resembles Chinese smugglers. “Until the mid-2000s, we called it the ‘Chinese smuggler haircut’,” the Korea Times reports.

It seems that haircuts have been state-approved in North Korea for some time – until now people were reportedly only allowed to choose from 18 styles for women and 10 for men. Earlier, North Korea’s state TV launched a campaign against long hair, called “Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle”.

However, there are conflicting reports over the haircut mandate, with the NK News website reporting that recent visitors to Pyongyang did not notice a change in hair styles.

Late leader Kim Jong-il, who ruled North Korea for 17 years, sported a bouffant hairstyle, reportedly in order to look taller.

The next addition to the state-sanctioned guidelines will be to add greasy burgers as part of everyone’s breakfast, so that the whole population can be overweight and also fit with the profile of the dear leader.

I would imagine that this whole story is an internet hoax. North Korea may be whacky, but they don’t have a sense of humor, so this fails the smell test, but it does make a great story.

Hot to trot

amishbuggyPennsylvania cops are hunting for the driver of an Amish buggy that was involved in a hit-and-gallop accident Sunday evening.

According to state troopers, victim Michelle Cooper, 36, was driving her Honda CRV on a Mercer County road when an “unknown actor driving an Amish buggy” damaged the vehicle “by running into it twice.”

“The Amish buggy drove away from the scene” and was last spotted “near Orchard Road and #8 Rd,” a police report notes.

While the left side of Cooper’s car was damaged by the buggy, she was not injured during the collisions.

Police have classified the buggy accident as a criminal mischief incident, so it appears unlikely that the perp would face an additional charge of trotting from the scene of a crime.

You gotta love it!!

The joys of travelling

I have just got back from a sailing vacation in the area of the BVI’s and St Martin.

It was a fabulous vacation – the sun was warm, the sailing was great and the company was even better. The only fly in the ointment was the travelling. It is a little like using public transport around a city, in that if you are travelling between major centres you can get there reasonably efficiently and quickly but if you are travelling to less popular places, your options are a lot less pleasant and can be extremely slow. On the way down, it took 18 hours and 3 changes of plane.

Hey – that is the way it is, and unless you are one of the fortunate few that can afford a private plane, that is what you are stuck with and there is a lot of time spent sitting around airports being ripped off to the tune of $4 for a muffin.

The luggage however had a much more interesting time. It took a side trip to Sao Paulo in Brazil (I hope it enjoyed Carnivale) on the way down and missed the connection in Charlotte on the way back. Going off to Brazil was a Delta problem, they simply put one bag on the wrong plane. Coming back was courtesy of the TSA.

The outbound mishap meant that we had repeated trips to the airport in Beef Island, where the Cape Air representatives were less than helpful. I’d call them incompetent, hopeless and lacking in one iota of customer service, but that would be understating it. Can you find out what has happened to our luggage? No – you will have to contact Delta yourselves. Delta says they have passed it on to you – when will it arrive? When we feel like it – we load current passenger luggage first and then if there is space we will bring yours but it may take a while. Can you check with your agent in Puerto Rico to confirm you have it? No. It is a bit of a pain to keep coming back to the airport – do you know which plane it will be on? No.

In total it took 4 days to get the luggage. At least on the return trip it was only 2 days late, and all it did was miss the plane due to the TSA deciding it needed to be inspected.

Travelling by air is a wonder. You cover immense distances very easily and it is incredibly safe, but the hassle imposed by the airlines, security screenings and poor customer service make the whole experience painful and frustrating.

And a 6 from the russian judge

Skating at the Olympics has been surrounded in controversy many times. There was the vote rigging in 2002 involving Salle and Pelletier, which was the most obvious, but it has been pretty clear that the fix is in too many times. In Sochii, there have been rumours of collusion between the US and Russia (who’d a thunk it), but the one that gets me was the Russian vs Russian.

In the pairs competition, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov claimed the gold, while Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took home the silver. I was watching this, and the scores didn’t match the performance. Yes, the two Russian pairs were the class of the night, so at least the right pairs were on the top of the podium, but on the day Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov blew away the other pair. They skated with flair, poise and passion whereas Tatiana and Maxime looked stiff and had a few minor bobbles. The scores however didn’t reflect that.

No one seems to care about this, as it was Russian vs Russian, but it is just another example of what is wrong with skating judging. Don’t get me wrong, skating itself is a sport full of grace and athletic prowess. It is the judging that is as foul as week old fish left in the sun.

The olympics – the good

There have been a number of examples of the Olympic spirit in Sochi. The one that stands out for me the most to this point isn’t the speedskating story with Junio and Morrison. It is the story about the Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth fixing Russian Anton Gafarov’s broken ski so he could finish the race.

This was purely a spur of the moment act of kindness that should be played again and again. No thought of country, just simply allowing another human being their moment with dignity. To set the stage for the story, Gafarovski had crashed on a quick downhill corner and broken a ski. Then he’d crashed again. A long, thin layer of P-Tex had been skinned off his ski . It was now wrapped around his foot like a snare. Gafarov was not skiing to the finish. He was part hopping, part dragging.

Wadsworth looked around. No one was moving. Everyone just stared, including a group of Russian coaches, so he ran down and fitted one of the spare skiis from the Canadian team to the Russian, who was then able to finish. It brings back memories of Sara Renner in Torino 2006, and the Norwegian official who tossed her his own pole once she’d lost hers. Renner won silver for Canada. Norway finished fourth.

It is an Olympic moment that we should all think about. The twist of this tale is that Justin Wadsworth was born an American.

Stop bitching

Bud Konheim has a message for all of the 99 percenters: You’re luckier than you think.

Konheim, CEO and co-founder of luxury-fashion company Nicole Miller, said on CNBC’s ” Squawk Box ” on Wednesday that Americans not in the top 1 percent would be considered wealthy in most of the world. He said the 99ers should stop complaining and understand how lucky they are.

Erm no – what they should do is to stop buying your ridiculously overpriced products so you can see what living on $35,000 in the USA is like. Yes, in many areas of the world $35,000 is a huge amount of money, but it is all relative to costs and that means that in the USA, $35,000 is living very close to the poverty line. Having some rich, entitled luxury goods seller mouthing off about “how good it is” to people that couldn’t afford any of his products makes me think that maybe cloning of luxury goods isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Go suck an egg

The National Post reports that a Hamilton, Ont., mother has launched a human rights complaint against her six-year-old daughter’s school for failing to remove eggs and dairy from campus to accommodate the child’s allergies.

“I’m not looking for a guaranteed allergy-free environment because I know it’s not possible,” said the woman fighting to have eggs and dairy removed from the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Elementary School. “But reasonable accommodations that fall in line with our doctor’s diagnosis is just plain common sense.”

First it was peanuts and now it is eggs and dairy? While I understand what the mother is attempting to do, it is a long way from understanding to agreement. This is an example of moving responsibility from the individual to the group. My child is allergic, so lets eliminate the allergen from everyone, as opposed to my child is allergic, so how can she and I deal with the situation. Cars can run people over, so lets eliminate cars. Electricity is potentially dangerous, so lets eliminate it. You can drown in water – lets dry out the world. Yup, those are ridiculous statements, but so is eliminating eggs and dairy. I thought that banning peanuts was wrong too.

The only issue I see here is that a Human Rights Commission is now involved, and that can lead to some interesting results, and not many of them make any sense