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