Monday 24 December 2018

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Ten Pounds of Ass Pain!

Do It NOW. Later is Too Late

Everyone must have experienced one of those "If I had only …" and suffered great regret when you didn't. Here are some examples:

If I had only :
  • sold (or bought) that stock
  • asked that girl (or guy) to go out or marry you
  • not had that extra drink
  • bought that house years ago
  • saved those playing cards or comic books
Here is my recent and really agonizing experience. I lost my wallet and most of my ID. What a pain. There is a lot you have to do to minimize risk and loss. You probably know the obvious ones - they all involve calling various parties to report the loss and get replacement cards and ID.

My big regret was that I did not strip my wallet some time ago of all unnecessary items. I once did this. It needed purging again. You really only have to carry ONE credit card and possibly one debit card for financial purposes. Do NOT carry more.

Years ago I did put the following into practice and it helped me when I finally lost my wallet:
  • Carry my cash in my pocket, not my wallet. This time I slipped up and lost $50 which was in the wallet
  • Keep a valid debit card in my pocket with the cash so that I can still obtain cash from a bank machine after the wallet is lost. This I did have.
  • Keep any other credit cards safely at home
  • Do not carry my social insurance card, birth certificate, or health card in my wallet. I had lapsed into carrying my health card and all of my credit cards.
  • Display personal contact information in the wallet. In this case it has not yet helped.
The good news is that there appears to be no fraudulent use or attempts to use my cards. That probably means somebody took the money and trashed the wallet or that it is still not found.

Here is the really, really bad part - the part that can benefit YOU if you act now, not later. This has happened before - 3 times and I always found it. Once it was in my house and twice honest people turned it in. 

So I advise:
  • Put the above practices in place
  • Keep a list and photocopy of everything that you DO carry with you.
  • List the contact numbers of all companies and authorities you will have to call to report the loss. DON'T KEEP THIS IN YOUR WALLET!
  • The big Kahuna: Buy a good tracking device and use it. This is what I failed to do. They can help you find it and even alert you when it gets too far away from you. The better ones will not only track your wallet, keys, purse etc. but in reverse, since most of them run one component on your phone, you can use that wallet or purse gadget to find your lost phone!
  • Finally as a guy - but women could also do this - I no longer carry a wallet. I bought 2 very inexpensive leather card holders just larger that a credit card. They are like a mini wallet or billfold. In one I keep my driver info - licence, insurance, and ownership. It goes deep into one pocket. In the other will go one credit card and one debit card. It will be inserted into a separate packet. These are quite flat and not bulky. I will continue keep my cash separate.
In closing let me say DO IT!    DO IT!    DO IT!    NOW!   NOW!   NOW!

The Brewster

Lose Weight on Zero Dollars

Discipline is the Best Diet

We are almost at that time of the year when so many people make resolutions and don't keep them. Many of these will be about weight loss.

I must say up front that my genes - most likely my father's - keep me reasonably slim naturally. So yes, the following is easy for me to say. I maintain however that an extra 5 - 10 pounds on me shows more than the same 5 - 10 pounds on a much larger person. It is all relative.

Perhaps I have a second advantage. In the early 1970's I worked in London England and at that time they were experiencing a severe sugar shortage. I had to do without. I did and now I don't miss it. I learned to like coffee and cereal with zero sugar - even oatmeal. You get to TASTE the ingredients. OK I confess to real maple syrup on my oatmeal. They also went through a "bog roll" or toilet paper shortage. I might have lost a few pounds searching for it.
I definitely do not miss that. 

Having stated the above, I am proud that I work very hard to maintain my weight and fitness even if I don't have a "weight" problem. I am not a fitness expert but I believe what I explain below is common sense and applies to anyone.

So here is my simple approach. One thing is assumed throughout - you have the discipline to follow these recommendations:
  1. You do not need to pay a fitness instructor for classes or lessons. Many people do so anyway and they are happy with the results. Good for them. I do this on my own. 
  2. You do not need to spend money on special food or to join a points club. Many people do this also and they are happy with the results. I don't.
  3. Exercise alone is not the solution. You also have to control what you eat. This goes for any eating or exercise routine. You need both.
  4. Learn this measurement and USE IT: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. (It is actually 4.2 grams but make things easy on yourself.) 
That's it. The big one for me on the food side is number 4. Just look at the INGREDIENTS list on packages. In Canada we have laws that mandate this information. Search for sugar and divide that number of grams by 4. You get teaspoons of sugar.

Take a look at some of these common items for starters and be prepared for a shock:
  • Any non-diet pop (soda)
  • Fruit juice
  • Muffins
  • desserts
  • milk - that's right, milk.
  • sweetened cereals
  • ketchup
I used to drink a lot of fruit juice and thought it was healthy. In moderation I am sure it is. Then I started applying the formula. YIKES. Now I try to stick to Tomato Juice or V8 types of fruit cocktail. They are lower in sugar.

Here are the things that I think help me most. I : 
  •  rarely drink pop - maybe in a mixed drink
  •  never put extra sugar (except for that maple syrup) on anything
  •  always read those sugar labels and avoid the heavy hitters
  •  rarely eat dessert anymore - that's not NEVER but it is not a regular part of a meal
  •  seldom eat fast food
  •  drink lots of water 
Now for the exercise part. I go to a gym 4 times a week - early morning works best for me. As a side benefit most of the people with whom I now socialize I met at there. Yes I do pay a membership fee but I don't feel the need to hire personal trainers. If you are not a gym person find something else you like - walking; riding; jogging; squash; tennis; swimming; sex. Anything to burn calories and keep your body - especially the abdomen and intestines -moving and contracting. A side benefit here is rare constipation.

Once you get to the point that the above is routine and habitual it will be much easier. I have for may years been the same weight as I was in university. I receive compliments - "for my age". It is very rewarding and that is an incentive in itself.

In closing I refer again to the heading. It takes discipline - lots of it - not money. If you are paying someone for an easy solution they are stealing from you.

Live Long an Perspire!

The Brewster

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Happy and Very Merry Holiday

Live Long and Prosper Perhaps?

Here it is December and already I have seen several articles against using the greeting "Merry Christmas" or even the use of Christmas colours and symbols in public. Some of you will have noticed by my spelling of "colours" that I am not American. I happen to be Canadian but more on that later.

This debate is complex and you could add new angles to it from many directions. Here is my contribution.

The good news is that it probably happens in any multi-cultural society. Many feel that the existence of such societies alone is admirable. I believe that there is a more basic problem here. Our annual debate occurs in multi-religion societies and the religious element of culture tends to surface at this time of year. Other elements - language; diet; dress; music; traditions; other religious festivities - continue throughout the rest of the year. Sometimes they also cause problems. I have not resided in one, but I suspect that countries that enjoy only one culture including religion have no such debates.

For many years now Canada, its politicians and its citizens have placed me and my fellows on some kind of international pedestal as a model of multi-culturalism. That is partly true compared to other countries but there are still ill feelings just below the surface. I have written about this before and it is a topic unto itself. Talk to any tenant who lives with cuisines other than their own that result in pungent, pervasive, and to some, offensive odours in their building. You will hear a lot of words that do not support the notion of the Canadian Oasis.

It can be said that anyone who emigrates to Canada and becomes a citizen has to expect such differences and that nth generation citizens should not have to change our traditions and laws to accommodate them. The opposite is also true. If we are going to encourage multi-culturalism then we should support it fully. All of us in this country originate from immigrants with the sole exception of true indigenous peoples.

It wouldn't hurt any of us who happen to be Christians to learn several greetings beyond "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Hanukkah". On this point, Christians and Jews have long co-existed in Canada and tolerated our religious differences. It also would not hurt non-Christians and those who are more secular to be more tolerant of long-held Canadian Christmas traditions and greetings.

If any one religion is so passionately against another that its followers feel violence and hatred for others then I suggest such people chill out. I would even say they don't belong.

The solution has always been right there within reach for almost any problem on this globe: The Golden Rule. For those who don't know it you must look it up. I just read that most religions include some similar tenet. Now if all of us would just follow it ...

I was not a Trekkie but perhaps Spock nailed it. We should just say "Live Long and Prosper" at this time of the year.

Beam me off Scottie

The Brewster

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Capital Punishment is Sometimes Justified

Throw Them into the (Hungry) Lions' Den

We Slaughter four legged animals by the millions every day, birds and fish in higher numbers. Recently here in Canada two vial, despicable, slugs who once crawled out from under a rock are back in the news.

In 2008 Terri-Lynne McClintic and Michael Thomas Christopher Stephen Rafferty abducted, raped and killed with a hammer a sweet, innocent, and trusting eight year old girl, Victoria Elizabeth Marie "Tori" Stafford. The youth trusted McClintic who led Tori away from school.

Found guilty and imprisoned, our wonderful justice system has recently seen fit to move both of these creatures to more comfortable surroundings. The female and murderer - McClintic - to an indigenous "healing" lodge, and the male and rapist - Rafferty - from a maximum to a medium security facility.

They both deserved to be removed from this planet - permanently. The lions' den comment was a facetious one but both of them would have had a better chance of escape and survival than poor Tori.

Some will say that taking a life as punishment reduces us to animal status. I offer an animalistic reply - BULLS__T! If they knew they would pay the supreme penalty lowly cowards like this would not have committed the crime. A seasoned criminal might have and that person should also have been removed from the globe.

Some crimes deserve it and we who remain would all be better off. Wrongful conviction was not an issue here. Nor was it for Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. That's another story but VERY similar in nature. 

They waste valuable global resources with every breath they take and every drink they consume. I know that is not politically correct. Neither were their callous crimes. We can only hope that prison justice will prevail.

The Brewster

Friday 7 December 2018

Fake News and I Fell for it!

This Gets Under My Skin!

OK - I got suckered in and I admit it.

I don't usually click on anything that looks phony or will involve having to scroll through endless pictures or snippets of some topic or issue. These are designed to keep your attention and smother you with advertising.

Three times now - yes THREE, I was a sucker.

The first one indicated that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) was taking some time away from her royal duties to pursue her own career - a line of skin care products that had proved to be very lucrative. It was causing problems with the Queen!

The second on another occasion shortly after the first involved the real reason that Megyn Kelly lost her job as an anchor and talk show host on FOX. Guess what - she left to pursue her personally developed line of skin care products! Go figure. At that point I realized I was taken.

These were last month. Then, just today, I read that a much more local media person, Lisa LaFlamme - most famous here in Canada as an anchor on CTV news was leaving the network!. That's what got me. I like her. When I clicked on the story - guess why! To spend time with her "family" but also … yada, yada, yada. Different name but probably the same skin care product line!

Is there no way we can shut down this garbage? Will I ever live this down?

The Brewster

Thursday 6 December 2018

The Truth About Pollution and it Stinks

It is all in your mind - Literally

Sometimes the truth sucks and this is one of those times.

I maintain that it is not the cars or the smokestacks or the industry waste that is ruining our world's environment: the air we breathe; the water we drink; the food we eat; and the nature we enjoy. WE are the polluters. The buck stops here.

Just like any problems which we want our governments and regulators to solve, we are willing to approve and back whatever is proposed - as long as it affects those other guys and not us. Go ahead and cut the budget but I still want my piece of the social pie. Tell everybody else to buy smaller cars or take the bus but I still need my 300 horsepower muscle car or truck to get to the supermarket or drive to work - by myself. Let those guys drink city or Britta water but I'm sticking to my bottled water and the 365 - ??? plastic bottles of waste that I generate all by myself every year. So what if a few fish swallow some of them?

OK I hope you get my point.

Many years ago despite a huge amount of protest and pushback, the idea that smokers can't pollute the air in public places finally took hold. I don't know what percentage of people used to be smokers so pick any - 50%. The point is that a certain percentage of the population eventually won out over the others through a combination of legislation and common sense.

Here are 10 things for starters which it seems to me involve even larger percentages of the population than those smokers meaning more of us are the guilty parties. Now if we could only manage to convert enough of them to match the percentage of the non-smokers back in the day, imagine what could be accomplished with the holdouts! Most smokers - albeit begrudgingly - finally respected the new rules and attitudes and for them it was indeed a big inconvenience. Surely a similar result could be accomplished with some of the following:

1. Stop drinking bottled water - completely. Companies banned tobacco smoking - do the same here. It should only be permitted for humanitarian and rescue operations. FIlter your own and carry a re-useable bottle.

2. Ban fossil fuel engines of a certain size in passenger vehicles. Permit them only for commercial vehicles, public transportation; industry - like bulldozers; agriculture; military and emergency vehicles; commercial flights. For the rest go four cylinder maximum until electric takes over. Yes I just kissed many jobs goodbye.

How am I doing so far? I can just hear the groans.

3. Stop the "sport" of racing any fossil fuel powered vehicles including boats, monster trucks etc. It will cost some jobs - a few paying millions to drivers and organizers - but a relatively small number.

4. Crack down - REALLY crack down - on those vehicles which are permitted to use internal combustion engines but are spewing smoke and other pollutants.

5. Shut down industrial polluters. This is probably the toughest because they always buy their way out and once again WE the purchasers of their products and services will be inconveniencing ourselves!

6. Completely ban all retail plastic bags for groceries etc. Paying a small fee for them did very little.

7. Ban ridiculous packaging. Plastic should be at the top of the list. This problem should improve as retail stores disappear and more product is delivered since much of the hard shelled stuff is to inhibit theft. Also direct shipping from manufacturers should require less packaging. There will be less displaying of large inventories of products on the shelves of stores. Just package and send.

8. Litter. There are countries in which it is a crime - ethically or by law - to litter. Like smoking, this is a cultural change. One of the best in my opinion is a ban on spitting out your chewing gum. I still can't accept that so many people do this. Anyone caught littering on video should pay severely - no court time required or allowed. (added thought: all gum manufacturers should provide wrappers for disposal as part of the packaging even though I might be violating my own #7. They would still have to be dropped into a litter box.)

9. Households. Turn off anything electrical that you are not using. This is a no-brainer.

10. I don't know much about managing forestry but surely for every tree taken one or more should be planted. Perhaps this is already in place.

There are many, many more that any of you could name. I simply wanted to test the waters and provoke some thinking. How much are you willing to sacrifice?

To summarize we could all cut the crap - or at least some of it - if we took action ourselves.

The Brewster

Saturday 1 December 2018

President H.W. Bush

Read My Lips

As a Canadian I have a somewhat remote attachment to any U.S. President. I do think that their 41st was one of the best. I believe many of my American neighbours share my feelings.

If the "Read My Lips" comment about no more taxes is the worst entry in his legacy then it is one to be admired. Since he raised a son who became President as well I believe that puts him into a very unique league.

He was a strong leader and apparently a devoted husband. His wife was highly admired. The man had integrity, guts and loads of experience including serving as Vice President and I just read head of the CIA. If there were any scandals, he was smart enough not to get caught. I remember an interview once in which he took the host to task for even hinting at scandal. The look he gave that anchor said it all. The topic was instantly dropped.

America and the world need more of the likes of him, Reagan, Kennedy, and yes - Obama.

So again I fast forward to the present and say to the voters south of me: "What were you thinking? After men like this? Give your heads a shake!"

The Brewster

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Demise of Petroleum Fuel Cars

Facing Reality is Extremely Tough

Yesterday November 26th, 2018 many families were shocked to hear that their livelihood with General Motors would soon disappear. GM named 3 car production plants - 2 in America and 1 in Canada, and 2 transmission plants in America that have been scheduled to close.

This must be devastating news. The truth is however, that it is inevitable and probably overdue. The internal combustion engine and the entire industry that produces its fuel have to wind down. They are killing or will be killing either us or our future generations - our kids.

I have to think that the families of all those associated with steam locomotives; coal miners; horse-drawn buggies; tube driven electronics; the Telex and telegraph services; taxi driving; and paddle wheel water craft to name a few all felt similar emotions.

We only have ourselves as consumers to blame. To their credit countries in other parts of the world at least have a history of driving much smaller and more efficient vehicles than the North American gas guzzlers and muscle machines. We all should have been pushing governments and industry to provide us with less polluting alternatives years ago. Many cities elsewhere also made sensible public transportation a priority.

An Indian company - Tata - produces a vehicle powered by compressed air. I just viewed a list of 10 cars from India, China, France and Italy all priced under $10,000. At present however, most North Americans would turn their nose up at the prospect of driving these. And there is the biggest problem.

We have generally moved away from the monster cars of the '50s and '60s but it is time to downscale again. It will be much easier to power such vehicles on other energy sources like electricity.

I suggest that one way government(s) could help out is to create a division whose sole purpose is to find inventions and technology being pursued by others elsewhere in the world and to make it known to us. Then they should state areas of priority and make money available to private individuals and corporations to develop our own versions of them. 

Another objective should be to cooperate and form relationships with those other countries to develop and enhance these potential products together. This seems to work well in the space industry - why not transportation here on earth?

Governments throw money at problems usually resulting in more reports and studies - aka stalling. It is time for a leader who can deliver some new solutions and the jobs associated with them. JFK boasted that America would land on the moon within 10 years. They did.

The Brewster

Friday 16 November 2018

Hazing Etc.

Sick: Too Much Harry Potter?

Recently in the local Toronto news was a story that unfortunately is all too common both in Canada and beyond. It described a so-called "Hazing" or initiation incident at a local and generally highly regarded private school for boys - St. Michael's College School.

The event apparently involved new students being subjected - sick as it is - to being forcibly sodomized by more senior students with a broom handle while others watched, pointed their cameras, and did nothing. Many of them now have this video on their cameras.

In the feature it also mentioned similar incidents where the victims were new football players at the university level at a different institution of "higher learning."

I was a "Frosh" once at university. Yes some just plain silly and sometimes humiliating things were done to new students. Never were they forced and never did it involve these kinds of acts. Participation was expected but voluntary. Sometimes you wore silly clothes; sometimes you were to repeat embarrassing phrases about yourself; often you were to pretend you were a dead horse with arms and legs in the air. Violence was rare and somebody would step in if it went too far.

The above however is just plain sick. To their credit the school involved police and parents after the media published the story. The police have now said this meets the definition of child porn and recommended deleting any copies of it. 

In my view, the perpetrators should be immediately expelled - apparently some students were - and perhaps the parents should forfeit their tuition or a large portion of it. I would even favour mandatory court-imposed counselling. What else will change future behaviour? Maybe responsible parents would warn their kids of the consequences.

Some will say this reaction is extreme - they were only having fun that got a bit carried away. Carried away? What is fun about pushing a piece of wood up someone's anus against their will while they are held down? What kind of mind even conceives of such stuff? Is this some quirky Harry Potter syndrome - the all powerful broom? (No offence intended to all the legitimate readers and fans.)

There have been cases over the years where young people have been seriously injured and died during such rituals. Surely it doesn't matter if it involves men, soldiers, women,  or teammates of the toughest character - it is sick. Try it on anyone outside of a school or team environment and you will end up behind bars for assault.

Maybe it is just that Harry came after my childhood. Anybody hold similar views?

The Brewster

Thursday 25 October 2018

Bombs in the Mail in America

Where is Capital Punishment when you Need it?

There are some crimes for which I wish the death penalty still existed and was automatic. The current campaign of pipe bombs being delivered to specific addresses is one of them. Imagine opening one of these or just being in its proximity and suffering the effects of its detonation.

Other such crimes to me are first degree murder, terrorism resulting in death, and kidnapping, whether the hostage is returned unharmed or not if the victim or their loved ones were told the victim would be killed. Just try to feel what hostages feel not knowing when and how they are going to die.

Many will take up the usual cry about punishment not working because statistics show that criminals still repeat their offences after punishment blah, blah, blah. To them I say - not after this punishment they won't! We do not need these people in our lives and they have zero respect for ours.

By all means make it humane but make it effective and well understood. 

The Brewster

Saturday 20 October 2018

Annoying Commercials

Worse than Fingernails on a Chalkboard

How about hearing from you as to what TV commercials annoy you the most. Here are a few that I can't stand. Who comes up with these and the characters?

Full kudos to the actors. I will avoid their personal names. This is not about them. If they annoy me so much they are probably doing their job. It is the people that think some of this idiocy will incent me to buy their product or service that I dislike.

Captain Obvious - This guy is featured in commercials and I can't stand them. I have not seen one of them that even makes me grin - I just groan and hope it will be over soon. I had to look him up to recall what company he represented - how effective is that?

Trivago - These are right up there - or down there - with Captain Obvious on the groan scale. I think they started in 2013 - great for this guy who must be rich by now. I have to admit that in this case I did remember the company and actually did refer to the Trivago site because of it. I didn't use it but it must have worked. Now if they would just teach him how to dance! That 360 he does looks like a five year old being instructed by his mother to turn around while the camera is rolling. Thankfully I am not seeing him as much anymore.

Toronto Dominion Bank (TD Bank)
- This one might be known to Canadians only. There is a guy who is supposed to be a TD financial advisor. He has black hair, large dark framed glasses, and a full black beard that somehow looks phony. It is his voice that gets me the most - makes me cringe. Please TD - put him back in the vault somewhere. I really want someone to pull his beard just like they did with Donald Trump's hair one time just to see if it comes off.

Ruby Tuesday - Worst of the bunch for this company is the actress in the red dress playing a keyboard. I won't waste any more words on this. I will say when I travel in the USA I do really enjoy their menu and buffet - despite the commercials. I happened to visit a location long before I had even heard of them and I have returned since. There you go. Now pay me instead.

All Lawyer Commercials - I probably dislike these the most - especially the classic ambulance chasers. Just imagine - here we have people raking in a fortune on the backs of the death or serious injury of others. Featured in most of them are one or more of the principals who, if they are actually intelligent, must realize that hiring a professional actor would be more effective than making asses of themselves on TV. There is at least one case here in Canada where I know the dignified man on the camera is a professional actor (he used to do a cannonball in a vacation commercial) and he does a great job - far more attention getting than the "we care" images of others. As might be expected they are starting to implement regulations whereby it must be stated that such a person is indeed an actor.

Other "Professionals" - Everything that applies in the previous entry about lawyers also applies to the Trustees In Bankruptcy people. They probably can help certain people but wow does it ever cost! I have to include here all the commercials that feature a person wearing a white lab coat and posing as a dentist, doctor, or pharmacist. Again there should be a very clear statement if they are actors, that they are not qualified professionals in their particular discipline.

Pepto Bismol - Not a really big country music fan but include it in a commercial with some western singers mentioning nausea; heartburn; indigestion; and then upset stomach and diarrhea while turning their butts to the camera - surely that would put anyone off. Perhaps there were complaints because now there is a more hip group of three doing synchronised movement while dressed in PB pink! Still not a fan. Maybe that is the plan - now I reach for the stuff before I ralph my guts out!

What are some of your most disliked?

The Brewster

Friday 19 October 2018

Another Royal Wedding. Another Royal Pregnancy

Is There a Contest?

You have to wonder whether there is some Windsor family contest about which we know nothing. For a long time there was little Royal news unless someone had a birthday, was sick, owned or resided in a castle that burned or upon which someone encroached.

Now there are royal weddings and pregnancies every time you turn around - and most of them are Majors to coin a golf term - British Royalty! Who even knows about any others other than perhaps Holland or Monaco. Did the Queen offer up a prize or something?

Methinks Her Royal Highness et al have been watching too much Hollywood / Celebrity news and realized the main players are on to a good thing!

Each time we all go gaga. On the other hand they have been at it for centuries so maybe the lesser celebs learned from them. I think it is time for a steamy Royal affair or Me Too type of incident. How about a Royal Family reality show? What is Sharon Osbourne up to? She won't get away with all the "F" bombs this time though. The more I think about it the more I like it. I had no interest in any of the others including the Osbournes but this would gain instant success. After all who isn't tired of the same old: hospital; cop; fire; ambulance lawyer; sitcom; game; politics; and let's not forget the dozens of designer / reno shows? Other than some golf and news, I don't watch anything anymore.

A fly on the wall in Buckingham Palace? Not THAT might be a hit even I would watch. Think of the fees they could command (no pun intended).

Long Overdue. I must say however that the new generation is handling it all very well. Just won't be the same if Charlie ever does make it to the throne. There is a bad joke in that somewhere. People will be saying "Charles who?" "What did you say her name was?"

On CNN: "Breaking News! There are rumours just in that there has been a British royal coronation - you remember what that is?. This is not yet confirmed but we are in the process of fact checking it. Stay tuned."

The Brewster

Thursday 18 October 2018

Fashion Gurus - What Planet Are They From?

Who Said This Was Stylish?

Do you ever wonder where the people who say a certain style in fashion or home decorating come from? Who are these people who suddenly declare that something is "IN"?

One I will never agree with is the wearing of brown shoes - especially light brown ones - with navy or any blue or grey suit. They look horrible. Will one of you fashion divas please face up to this error and declare it uncool or simply render them OUT again?

While you are at it - the long thin skinny pointed ones that eventually curl up at the toe make the wearer look like a court Jester! I always look for a clown hat on their head to match - you know the ones with the bobbles like you see on Jesters in Henry the VIII's time.

They used to say that blue and green should never be seen but I think blue and brown is worse!

The Brewster

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Cherish Your Castle on Dry Land

Enjoy High and Dry While You Can

I just viewed a brief video showing yet another Tsunami hitting the streets in Indonesia. It reminded me of similar horror I saw in Japan demonstrating again just how powerless we are against Earth's natural forces. In the same timeframe we are seeing the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and witnessing many on the Gulf coast in Florida fleeing Michael.

I am high and dry in Toronto, Canada. In fact other than a major, major rise in the level of Lake Ontario, I am pretty fortunate and VERY grateful.

However, it does make me wonder and even fear what the future holds. Some people deny it but ocean and sea levels are rising. I am actually glad that I do not live on the coast of a major world body of water. Storms seem to be getting worse. When you think about the millions of people and structures both residential and commercial that exist at or just a few feet above sea level, what will ensue if these levels continue to rise slowly or even worse - suddenly? 

In the past history tells us that if one nation wanted the resources or strategic advantage of another's, then they sent in an army and took what they wanted - providing they won. In fact recent history - World Wars I and II just to name a couple of examples - demonstrated the same trend. 

Does this mean that survival of the fittest will once again be the norm when millions of people are without a safe place to live but you and I own such a place? Will wars over food and shelter rage within our own countries? Should we all build moats and drawbridges? Desperate people are capable of horrendous crimes.

I am not a fan of guns and the right to bear arms but if the above events actually happen, home and land owners just might need to defend themselves with more than words - something to think about. 

There again, people could start to get serious about climate change and protecting the environment and stop voting for those who just don't give a damn about the future living only for their own short term greed.

The Brewster

Sunday 30 September 2018

The Best and Worst of the American Political System

Democracy is Alive and Well - for Now

A few days ago I was watching CNN and the ongoing dialogue about Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It was the day before senators were going to vote and they were outlining how they would be voting and why.

I happened to catch 2 senators' speeches and I was extremely impressed with both. The first was Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, and immediately following Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Two days later I observed the elevator incident with Republican Senator Jeff Flake and later his tapping the shoulder of Senator Chris Coons - his friend and Democratic rival - for a private conference.

I make four points :

1. When I saw and heard Leahy I must confess I was expecting another lengthy yada yada drawl by some old guy (OK - I am also a senior.) Was I wrong! This guy articulated his points with precision and great timing and convinced me that the Judge should NOT be confirmed. I can see why he became a senator.

2. Next Lindsey Graham whom I have seen several times was also very well spoken and had me thinking he was also going to vote "No." Then he did a complete about face and lambasted the Democrats. He accused one of them of leaking the name of a female complainant to the press and brought out another fact which was new to me. The Doctor had apparently been offered the chance to avoid publicity by testifying in private at her time and place but she never received this offer. He convincingly stated that he believed her when she said she was not aware of this option. He then powerfully questioned who had intercepted the offer - her legal team or more Democrats? Whoever it was they certainly did not have the Doctor's best interests at heart.

3. Hopefully many people witnessed the elevator incident with Senator Jeff Flake when a couple of women accosted him in the elevator preventing the door from closing and dragged him through the coals over his apparent attitude towards female abuse. You could see the emotion on his face and theirs.

4. Finally we saw him return to the committee room to ask his friend Chris Coons to meet with him privately. Apparently he changed his mind on the need for an FBI inquiry.

Wow! As a Canadian I too enjoy a democratic form of government and I am frequently critical of it. Often Canadians are smug about our system vs. the American one with its open and brash institutions and decisions - the O. J. Simpson trial comes to mind.

However look what happened to me. By having a system in which four people (in my example) were able to speak freely without repercussions, I changed my mind at least twice. These people are still alive as far as I know and not confined to slave labour for their outspokenness. In other countries they would not be so lucky.

But the main point is that finally two senators from opposing parties were able to compromise for the good of their country. THAT is what Democracy is supposed to be about. Where was this when the Republicans stonewalled Obama? Where has it been with the Democrats to date with this issue?

THAT must never change. It is the heart of Democracy.

Now if only the person elected to their highest office shared this belief!

The Brewster

Monday 10 September 2018

Serena: Did she break a racquet or a racket?

Who was Guilty of Bad Behaviour Here?

I did not see this match, but I heard and then read ALL about it. I have to admit that when I heard about racquet smashing and back talking to an official, my first reaction was - there she goes again. She got what she deserved! Serena has definitely lost it before.

Now my thoughts are mixed, especially hearing from other legendary players both male and female.

Initially I was thinking "Give me a break (no pun intended)." Spoiled tennis brat behaviour has gone on too long. Some people argue that top athletes just get heated and will act like this occasionally and we - including officials - should accept it. Did Bjorn Borg carry on like this? Martina Lavratinova? Does Roger Federer? 

It is true that in every sport there are those who express their anger and frustration openly, verbally, and physically and those who don't. I happen to prefer the latter because I think it is more difficult to keep your cool and  play your best simultaneously. It is all about being a good sport and good sportsmanship. Some people love the Jimmy Conners and John McEnroes - I don't, preferring the Federer / Gretsky / Palmer styles of classy behaviour. 

Then I read on. I was not aware of the "no coaching" rule. What's with that? Imagine baseball, football (both types), hockey, car racing, or boxing without a coach yelling or signaling from the side? Is it just one of those traditional, stately old tennis idiosyncrasies like the once "white uniforms only" rule? Is there another sport with such a rule?

If the rule stays then it should be respected. Serena is right however, to protest if the rule is overlooked when male players are guilty. She was NOT right o break her racquet or call the official a thief and neither are any men who do the same thing. I agree that if men are warned first, then she should be also. That is the "racket" part of this - apparently a racket to the advantage of men. I don't buy in to the proposal that this particular official got upset just because it was a woman who spoke to him in such a manner.

A lot of people do not like Celine Dion or Tiger Woods when they are off the stage or the course. I try to separate the personalities from the talent. That I will always admire and wish them success in their profession. The same goes for Serena -  she is a fantastic tennis player.

Is there a conclusion here or am I just lobbing balls over the net? OK - I have to agree that some overdue good will come out of this. Eliminate silly rules or clarify them and apply rules equally to ALL players. The sad part about all of this is that the moment should have belonged to Naomi Osaka who most observers say would have prevailed regardless. Her moment of glory was tarnished. THAT I blame on Serena.

The Brewster

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Microsoft and Hacking

Bill Gates & Co. Have the Solution to Hacking

More Russian hacking? If you can't believe Bill & Microsoft, who can you believe? It must be true. 

The solution is simple like all things MS. You want to STOP it? Press START! … Duhhh. Where have you been? 

Now if this were Steve Jobs and Apple, the solution would not be so simple. There would be no button, START or STOP. You would have to: tap it - maybe once, twice, thrice; stroke it; shake it; pinch it; stroke with 2 fingers; stroke with a frick'n feather; shout at it; spin it; spit on it; swear at it; flip it; throw it; stomp on it … get the picture Apple? Give me back my buttons. I refuse to titillate my device with foreplay just to make it work!

The Brewster

Monday 30 July 2018

Fires Burning Out of Control

The Thorn Birds Relived

In my opinion one of the best mini series on TV was The Thorn Birds many years ago (1983?). Richard Chamberlain played a wayward priest who breaks his sacred vows for the love and passion of Rachel Ward whom he first met when she was a child.

In one episode after she has grown there is a raging bush fire in Australia in which Rachel's father dies. When she is angry at God for taking her father, Chamberlain does what all priests would do and points out that God sent the rain that put out the fire.

She immediately comes back at him with a point he seems to have conveniently overlooked: God also sent the fire.

In California, Northern Ontario, and so many other places, where is the rain?

I am not a religious person but please send it. Somebody.

The Brewster

Sunday 29 July 2018

If Mother Earth Could Talk

"Are YOU from the Same Planet as ME ?"

I suspect that today or some day soon Mother Earth or Mother Nature (don't know one from the other) will say or probably shout something similar. It might be followed by "Give your heads a shake!"; "Wake up and smell the stench"; "Give me a break - PLEASE!"; and more than likely multiple "What the F_ _ K's". Who could blame her?

Who gave humans the right to destroy so many of the other living organisms on the planet we all share and to mess up the planet itself the way we have?

Denying that climate change is real is right up there with maintaining that Earth might very well be flat. I think that one has been pretty much put to bed by satellite shots of - a round Earth! Unless you doubt the validity of every one of those videos or photographs, let's assume the earth is not flat. We have seen its shape with our own eyes.

Therein lies the problem with those who maintain that things like global warming; the melting of the polar caps; the disappearing ozone layer; increasing levels of carbon dioxide etc. have all been repeated many times in history. SHOW ME THE SATELLITE SHOT! Studying drilling samples, exposed layers of rock etc. is not the same as photographic evidence such as the many shots of our round earth . I hate to borrow this term but this is all "Fake News" -  theories of Geologists and other scientists.

The problem with any such argument is that millions or billions of years ago billions of humans did not exist. (OK - how do I know? You got me!) More importantly neither did all of our industrialization with its pollutants pouring into the air, onto the land, and into the oceans. When someone tries to compare today to a period before any of us existed it is a classic case of comparing apples to oranges.
There is no reliable evidence - just a lot of theory. What there IS however is common sense:
  • Would you climb to the top of any modern industrial chimney and breath in its gases? Why not? 
  • Would you consume food grown in the middle of an industrial waste site? Why not? 
  • Would you drink water known to contain waste from the same site (remember Erin Brockovich.) Why not?
Modern society has been doing all of those things on a trickle basis over hundreds of years. Millions of years ago this simply did not happen - unless an entire industrialized society also disappeared with the dinosaurs. Maybe the dinosaurs had steel mills and automobiles?

Most plants do not grow in the dark. They require sunlight. Block the sun with industrial pollutants and … what's going to happen? Hello?

Most living organisms need water to live. Pollute the crap out of that water and … what's going to happen? Hello?

Most freezers need some kind of insulation to maintain their temperature - a lack of heat at least. Let the heat in and … what's going to happen? Hello? Anything frozen melts. Try it sometime if you don't believe me.

Cut the crap. The only people who deny global warming and all the other damage we are doing are those who make millions from industrialization - in all of its forms - the ones who just don't give a damn about future generations. Oh yes - and their paid politicians. They didn't exist millions of years ago either - I hope.

The Brewster

Monday 9 July 2018

Bravery Rewarded in Thailand Cave Rescue

A Hearty Hip, Hip Hooray

What a Fantastic result - first four and now eight of the trapped young souls have now been brought out of those caves. I couldn't help but think of the song "What a Wonderful World" when hearing about the bravery of each and every one of those divers, decision makers, and everyone else involved.

Imagine what it would be like during the initial dive down that long tunnel in near darkness; surrounded by water; not knowing what might be ahead; and not knowing if you will become stuck and possibly never get back out. Now imagine several kilometers of this! Not since the Great Escape or hearing and reading about tunnel rats in Vietnam have I visualized such terrifying conditions.

The tragic death of one of those divers is all the proof needed to confirm the extraordinary nature of the people involved and the danger they ignored. His name was published as Saman Gunam. Let us hope that everyone who heard this sad news devoted at least some personal thought to the man and his family. He deserves that and more.

I have no doubt that there will be one or more books and movies based upon this entire drama. To their creators, please depict things accurately. As a result perhaps in the future people of all ages will think twice before undertaking such an adventure.

So far this entire ordeal has been very well managed. We must all hope it continues for a few more days. As I write this please hope with me that the remaining boys are now nearing the completion their exit journey.

Let's wish them well.

The Brewster

Saturday 2 June 2018

Rosanne, Trump etc.

The Difference between Fun and Nasty

There is a lot being made about Rosanne's comments, her show and naturally, the current President. I have never had any respect for this person (the actress but OK the President as well) - simply crass with no class. She is not funny to me. Perhaps she is to many others. Fine. They probably voted Trump.

A lot is also said about how her show was such a novel one - soap box podium for the Right. Really? No-one seems to be mentioning the immensely popular and very controversial show "All in the Family" with Archie Bunker and the subsequent "Archie Bunker's Place." The shows made some of the stuff on Rosanne seem mild by comparison. Archie specialized in all kinds of racial, gay and homophobic, male chauvinist remarks just for starters that simply made everyone laugh.

It was actually based upon a British sitcom called "'Till Death Us Do Part" both created by Johnny Speight. In this case the Archie character was Alf Garnett. The difference in all cases was the humour. They made even the victims smile and when the actors were interviewed in person, it was obvious they were only role playing on the shows.

Rosanne is not. What you see is what you get and I for one, don't like it. Her mockery of the anthem and the spitting said it all.

Right back at you lady. You belong in a Walmart video.

The Brewster

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Netanyahu Pitch Déjà Vu

Did We Not See This Movie Before?

In watching Prime Minister Netanyahu unveil his shelves of files and diagrams of warheads it all looked familiar. 

The last time however, it was the USA doing the talking and wielding the pointer. The subject was the same - nuclear weapons. Remember the images of trucks and buildings supposedly carrying and hiding weapons of mass destruction? The entire world watched. It was supposed to be justification for invading Iraq.

Now you have a Middle Eastern country trying the same technique to convince the United States to invade - the Middle East!

How ironic is that?

The Brewster

Sunday 29 April 2018

Press Corps Dinner Bombs

Trump Gets It Right This Time 

I was looking forward to the annual Press Corps dinner / roast last night. The one featuring Obama with Trump in the audience was great. That is to say Obama was great - Trump not so much.  What a letdown this year. Trump stayed away again. In hindsight I don't blame him. It sucked big time and that is not fake news.

Things started OK but the current president of the group, nice as she seems, was not a great speaker. She appeared to lose her place a lot. The remarks and awards were sincere enough but the agenda, if there was one, was completely disorganized throughout. There should have been a professional MC to keep things flowing and on track.

Unfortunately I was watching CNN at the time and they oversold the guest speaker, Michelle Wolf. The CNN anchors also suffered from poor dinner scheduling. I lost count of how many times they said that Michelle would be coming on in "Just a few minutes!" I was beginning to think she had cancelled.

As it turned out perhaps she should have. This guest was horrible. Any stand-up speaker who relies heavily on the "F" bomb and other vulgarities in a vain attempt at humour is a failure from the outset - in my opinion. That was matched only by her far too personal attacks on various attendees.

It is very difficult in any of these "roast" situations to strike a balance between poking fun and hitting well below the belt. It takes class to accomplish this. Wolf had none.

Shame on the Press Corps. Their members deserved a lot better. The worst thing - you played right into DT's hands.

The Brewster

Saturday 28 April 2018

Incel? What a Crock

Hell Hath No Fury Like a MAN Scorned 

Before the horror that recently unfolded on Toronto's Yonge Street North, I had never heard the term "Incel". Now that I have, as a man it leaves me speechless. There are so many things wrong with looking for any rational "motive" for what this animal did that I don't know where to begin.

It reminds me of "Road Rage". Please! Every time people demonstrate totally unacceptable and often illegal behaviour someone invents a new name, disorder, or syndrome for it. In the case of so-called Road Rage I have seen guilty women as well as men. They don't usually punch each other out on busy streets but their driving and anger can be just as unacceptable.

Does that mean that we will soon see sexually frustrated women annihilating people in as violent a manner as they can muster out of sheer rage against men? I seriously doubt it. They would have far more reason to do so than most men given the disparagement that women have traditionally experienced socially, at home, in religion, in the workplace etc. However can anyone imagine a female slaughtering others just because she isn't getting any?

Some things never change. For the most part if a woman of any age won't go out with a man there is usually a good reason for it. The same goes for losing interest in him or saying no to sex. Frequently he is just a jerk. On the other hand men think nothing of saying NO to even dating a woman based upon physical appearance alone. Will such spurned women start shooting soon? I hope not.

This is a male problem guys - time we started facing up to it. If you hear another guy talking spitefully about a woman just because he struck out engage him in dialogue. Share an experience when you were rejected as well. Try to gauge just how angry he is.

Who would have thought that the old slang term getting "Shot Down" would some day be so poignant?

The Brewster

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Florida Judge's Despicable Behaviour

Tasmanian Devil Judge

The recent video we saw of a female Florida judge chewing out a young girl at the other end of a video feed was outrageous. 

I don't know all the circumstances surrounding this but I don't have to. What I saw was behaviour that was totally unwarranted towards anyone but a misbehaving hard criminal or arrogant lawyer or prosecutor in her courtroom. I saw neither.

It almost looked as though she was auditioning for yet another "reality" court program (as if we need another "Judge Suzy Q"  Jerry Springer wannabe show.) 

Her early retirement was appropriate. If she just got up on the wrong side of the bed now is her chance to stay there for a long sleep.

The Brewster

Wednesday 18 April 2018

They Don't Make'm Like Barbara Bush Any More

Now THAT'S a Lady

Just like your grandmother (at least those in my generation); Angela Channing on Falcon Crest (Jane Wyman); or Kate Lawrence on Family (Sada Thompson), this was a lady who exuded respect, control, and grace from you or any of her family members.

I was very impressed with the tributes I heard last night after her passing. Most of us did not know Mrs. Bush but now I have much more of an appreciation for the person. When I saw footage of her husband's inauguration her eyes were just glued to him the entire time like the adoring wife she was.

However she managed to walk a line somewhere between the '50s stereotype housewife like June Cleaver and the '60's burn your bra feminists apparently not taking static from anyone lightly. She supported her husband throughout all of her endeavours and I suspect her husband would have done the same in return.

There will no doubt be some great documentaries or specials to follow. I hope I don't miss them. They were probably the ideal American Dream couple.

The Brewster

Saturday 14 April 2018

Space and the Cosmos - The Great Equalizer

COSMOS: the world or universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system

The above is a real definition. Having just viewed a recent video of a live broadcast between the space station and Queens University featuring Dr. Drew Feustel, it represents a tragic irony.

What I saw and heard was a magnificent example of astronauts from the United States, Canada, Russia and many other nations all working together in perfect harmony in that fascinating unknown - the Cosmos (or Space). What I heard was awe inspiring.

Yet here on this tiny spec we call Earth in that Cosmos, those same nations or their leaders can't get along and even scheme to destroy each other. Both Russia and the USA have cooperated to shuttle each others scientists to and from that station. Surely there is a lesson here. If they can be colleagues up there, why can't their political leaders at least get along down here?

Such thoughts inspired the following:

With mortal sight we do behold
This awe inspiring vision.
Mysteries of our sky unfold

Immaculate precision. 

A home away from home we share.

Depending on each other.
When we return how will we fare?
Will I still call you brother?

We share this vast celestial sight.

It casts on us a spell.
We fear our heads of state just might
Change Earth to living hell.

As we observe these planets far

In this communal space,
Are we being judged from distant star?
Have we used up our grace?

If our great leaders would agree

To take a turn up here,
As one team they soon would see
That trust surpasses fear.

There will come a time when we

Will have to conquer space.
Cooperation will be key
To live beyond this place.

Sunday 8 April 2018

Lives, Loves, and Futures Gone in a Second

Humboldt Broncos Remembered

Do you have sons or daughters of any age? Think about all of those families now grieving who will no longer share your good fortune. Everything you cherish can be gone in an instant.
Now would be a good time to give them a long hug and to tell them that this horrific tragedy makes you realize how lucky you are to still have them with you.

The Brewster

Sunday 1 April 2018

Please! Your Perfume Stinks!

Did You Bathe in that Stuff?

Perfumes, colognes, after shaves etc. have been advertising for decades. No problem. What is a problem is that some of them reek! It seems that the people who purchase the inexpensive products are also prone to practically bathing in the stuff.

Isn't it time for some clever ads from the better name brands featuring for example people choking in an elevator or office because of somebody wearing a horribly strong and offensive scent? If enough of them ran these kinds of ads maybe people would begin to get the message.

There are lots of commercials that feature bad breath; perspiration stains and wetness; yellow teethe etc. Let's have a movement to eliminate cheap and overpowering fragrances. 

By getting that message across ever so subtly followed by a scene showing the application of just a little dab of their brand, they would do us all a huge favour and probably sell more product as a result.

The Brewster

Thursday 29 March 2018

What about a "G7" on Advertising?

Possible Side Effects "... Can be Fatal." Really?

Isn't it time for a governing body for advertising? Normally I only see the North American ads but I am sure all members of the developed world are subjected to similar assaults involving falsehoods and blatant lies.

If nothing else, isn't it insulting how many companies seem to consider us to be total imbeciles? To be fair I suppose some people out there probably do need to be told not to ingest a particular product, even when they already know they are allergic to it!

After many decades don't you wonder just how many times a leading laundry detergent can be "New and Improved?" If they are going to persist isn't it time to see a man doing laundry and holding up his sparkling white sheets with a glowing smile on his face as though he just won the lottery - the highlight of his day? Really? Aren't women somewhere just screaming about this?

What about all of the CYA statements made right at the end of an ad at some ridiculous speed that sounds like someone pressed FF on the recording.?This stuff might be legal but it is impossible to hear. The scary thing is that's the way they want it. Really?

Here is another I have mentioned in my Pet Peeves posting: commercials that are programmed to broadcast several decibels higher than the rest of a broadcast. At least one network stated that they can't control this. Really?

One of the chemical cleaners that is supposed to remove lime, rust, calcium and just about everything else should be kicked off the air. Stains in some fixture or on some wall that look like they are ten years old and impregnated right into the material disappear with a single swipe of the sponge! Really?

The worst has to be those - and there are many - which actually do have a narrator you can understand but when you hear the possible side effects, phrases like "possibly fatal" or "side effects that have included death!" are included. Am I going to buy this? Really?

There is a great documentary about the VW diesel scandal where false claims were made for years about how clean burning their latest diesel motors were. This is an example where eventually - after years - there were huge fines and some prison time imposed. Their customer base probably took a big hit as a result. Well deserved.

It is doubtful whether any government involvement is likely to occur or to be effective. This might be possible within a given country but probably not internationally. In the VW case they actually found that several European administrations were OK with it. Really?

It would be nice to think that an international consumer group would be effective but who has the private funds for that? Some billionaire(s) could take it on - as long as affronts such as those above didn't help to make them their billions in the first place

Best of all the large corporations should police each other and bring the guilty to account for false claims. The group would be self-funded by membership fees for example. Companies willing to do this might indeed win customer loyalty. The great thing is that this would probably be the cheapest method and therefore the most likely to have an effect. Shutting down the false claims of one company would surely benefit those bringing the charges. Companies would have to join to be a member and presumably forgo any right to sue the association or any of its members if a ruling goes against them.

The toughest part would probably be to get consumers to actually band together to stop buying the guilty company's product. If we did you can be sure it would work. Likewise companies that refused to join such a group should also be blackballed by consumers.

This solution places the onus back on the perpetrators to solve the problem. Some self regulating associations - in finance for example - don't work but that is usually where the "crimes" can be covered up by the group. In this case  the group itself would censure its own members. There might be some dirty manoeuvering and internal collusion between companies but at least it would be THEIR problem.

Anybody got any other ideas?

The Brewster