Monthly Archives: December 2009

Airport Security: A Make-Believe Tale

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but you’re going to have to get rid of the water bottle.”

“What? Why? I just bought it at the airport kiosk. They said it would be okay.”

“Nevertheless…” The guard checks her watch. “Regulations changed, again, ten minutes ago. No water.”

“But it’s a long flight.”

“You can buy some water on the plane. Next.”

The guard looks at the man’s passport and runs it through a computer. She pulls out plastic tie downs. “Put your hands behind your back.”

The man does. “But why?”

The guard ties his hands together. “It says you have a black belt in Judo. We can’t be too careful. You’ll have to ride the flight like this.”

“But–”

“Take it or leave it. We could just cut your hands off.” The man swallows and walks through, trying to grab his shoes and briefcase best he can. “Next.”

The guard holds up her hand. “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but your baby must go through alone.”

“But he’s three months old. He can’t walk or even crawl.”

“Sorry, regulations.”

“How do you suggest he’s going to move forward?”

“Just put him in one of these bins and send him along the conveyor belt. The process is painless.”

The baby screams as it disappears into the dark bowels fo the X-ray machine. The mother looks distressed and tries to go through the detector. It whoops.

“You’ll have to go through again and remove your shoes.” The woman does.

“Oh and no liquids. You’ll have to get rid of that.” The guard points to the woman’s chest.

“What?”

“No liquids are allowed on board.”

“Are you talking about my breasts?”

“You’re breastfeeding. No liquids.”

“You want me to get rid of my breast milk?” People are beginning to murmur.

“We can’t be too careful. You can go behind that screen and collect your baby once you’re through.” The baby is screaming, lying in a bin by the guards scanning laptops. One runs his explosives detector over the distressed baby as the woman runs behind the screen. The guard’s earphone beeps. She listens and tells the rest of the guards something. They bring out a box of latex gloves.

The next man has already removed his shoes, watch and ring and steps through. The guard motions him back. “Please remove your tie, belt and socks.”

“My tie and socks? Why?”

“New, updated regulations. Oh and roll your pants up above the knees.”

The man does so and steps through. The guards gets out a magnifying glass and inspects his feet, running the explosives detector up and down his legs. “You should trim your nails. I just have to take a sample from…under…here.”

“Ow!” The man yells and hops up and down holding his toe as the guard takes the gouged out bit of flesh from under his toe nail and drops it in an analyser.

“Okay, open your mouth.”

“Open my wha–”

The guards sticks a tongue depressor in the man’s mouth, shines a light around and swabs the teeth.

“What the fu–”

“Regulations.”

“Look, how long is this going to take? I’m going to miss my flight.”

“About another twenty minutes to analyse these swabs.”

“But I’ll miss my flight!”

“It’s for everyone’s safety, sir. Why are you getting so upset? Do you have something to hide? You should have come four hours before your flight.”

“Four hours!”

“Now please go behind this screen and drop your pants.” Another guard snaps on fresh gloves and grabs the lube.

“What! I’m not carrying anything! You’re metal detector hasn’t beeped once.”

“Nevertheless, we must check everyone now. No liquids, shoes off, pants rolled up, teeth examine and all cavities checked.”

“But why?”

“Someone tried to smuggle in a bomb in their anus. We can’t be too careful.”

“Forget it. I’m not flying.”

“You’ll still have to go through the search.”

Six months later someone swallows a bomb and tries to smuggle it on board.

The guard stops the first person and hands her a hospital gown. “You’ll need to change into this prior to surgery.”

“Surgery? Are you crazy? I’m trying to get on a flight.”

“Regulations. We must inspect everyone before they get on. You should be ready to fly in a day or two…”

Six months later fifteen airlines go out of business and airport kiosks close down. US congress listens to concerns but thinks security still isn’t tight enough. Welcome to the brave new world of enhanced airport security. Of course, we’ll all feel far more protected now.

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Vintage Christmas Ornaments

This is going to be picture heavy and text light. I already wrote about my favorite Christmas ball and how when it broke I was heartbroken. A few years ago a I found a replacement. As more of these wonderful balls of eras past are being brought back, I find I want more ornaments but I have a small tree and it’s already festooned. The ball on the left was around when I was a child. It has three indentations. In those days, Christmas lights tended to be green, blue, yellow and red, and bubble lights. The indentations were made to collect and reflect light. The gold ball has three indents at the top and the glitter effect (if you click on the picture and enlarge it) is a result of the flash on the camera, but the glaze is solid. The one on the right is a modern version but replicates the indentations, the wacky shapes and the glitter painted on the balls.

The pipe is darkening at the top and will eventually break there.

The oil lamp is the last of its kind. I remember we used to have more of them. But as glass ages it can become brittle. I also have one last silver pipe left. It would have had a noisemaker in it at one point. We also had little trombones or trumpets and you could blow in them making little horn noises. They were quite delicate, the noisemaker going first and the looping stems breaking. These super thin ornaments were all blown by hand (and mouth!) and it’s easy to put your finger through the glass as it ages.

I still have some coffee pots. There used to be stout, little round tea kettles but they all fell apart.

I have one blue pot that has double handles.

The green coffee pots have little swatches of pink glitter. Then there are the two handled pots, all with a painted design. Since all these ornaments are around 50 years or more in age, the paint, glitter and even the blown glass coating, is wearing off in places. The green pot also has the glitter effect in the glass which might be caused by the color begin to crack with age but again, it is a solid color only. I also have a burgundy pot, a blue one and a pinkish-red pot.

Bell garland w/kissing angels in background.

Two other antique items I have are the remains of glass garlands and glass birds. The garlands are extremely fragile. Neither are even six feet long anymore. One is just a rainbow of color beads (shown to the right with one

Old umbrella and bead garland.

of three remaining old umbrellas), and the other has beads that are fused as doubles, and it has small little solid bells (which reminds me that we used to have bells too). I treat these with extreme care but they are getting shorter every year.

A rare swan.

The birds were always a favorite. The old ones had the stiff fiberglass tails and were on a spring above the clip. It was always the tails and the springs that went first. Birds have come back big time now but with real feathers on them. You’ll not find those stiff fiberglass tails at all. I have about four birds left and one is a double of another, with no tail. All of these antique ornaments I treat with utmost care. I wrap them in bubble wrap and store in a box. There is carpet under my tree so if they fall, they won’t break as easily. But no matter how careful I am, they will eventually deteriorate. It’s partly for posterity’s sake that I record these now, while they still exist. I still wish I had that original ball that had all the memories of Christmas tied up into it but there are still many ornaments to appreciate.

A modern bird w/feathers.

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Empty Head

That’ me. I have an empty head. Well, not completely. It has a brain, devoid of any pertinent thoughts right now. And it has a mucous production factory, that if it were oil, could solve the world’s resource problems. Courtesy of course, of a cold. And really, as colds go, it’s not so bad. Not the 3-box of tissues wonder I had last year. My neck muscles have only grown a bit sore from blowing my nose and the chafing from the rough toilet paper is already starting to heal.

But, between the cold and being incredibly busy at work, and the seasonal craziness (I just got my tree decorated and hope to take pictures of some of the antique ornaments and post them here.), which includes shopping and baking and cleaning, well, I’m just running out of time to write.

The next few weeks will probably see sporadic posts as I go off to do things or party too much or don’t party enough. Oddly though, this weekend involves two turkey dinners and a third dinner, then I know of nothing for the next while. Things sort themselves out and I’ll bake some cookies next week.

I’m also going to decide if I should keep writing daily on the blog. Although I do minimal research as I’m not paid for this, it can still take time and it’s sometimes hard to fit it in a day. But that’s for the new year. Right now, look for sporadic posts in the next two weeks.

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The Skinny on Fat

The fashion industry has a lot to answer for. I may have posted on this before. In fact I did from the perspective of the fashion designer who used “plus-size” models for a show. Those supposed plus sizes were between size 8 and 12, hardly plus at all and normal for most women.

Well, I also came across the following article by a writer. who dressed in a fat suit to attend several fashion shows. The attitudes about skeletal models and towards overweight people that she experienced just highlights the unrealistic world of fashion. The writer, Kate Faithtfull, is normally a size 10-12 and that would be too fat for being a model. Yet, if you look at her picture, beside one of her in the fat suit, she looks perfectly healthy.

As a child with an eating disorder and therefore a pudgy exterior, I have well experienced the attitudes of people to those not of normal size. Interestingly, when I look back on those pictures of me as a teenager I was pretty near normal size. I have a European, peasant body and will never be stick thin without serious surgery to remove calf muscle from my large, overdeveloped calves (finding high boots is nearly impossible and women with smaller calves than me have problems too), as well as trimming the hips and thighs down to a size I’ve never seen on my body.  I’m sturdy, I have childbearing hips and I will always be curvy. I wear between a size 8 and a size 10, even with this shape.

Now Faithfull padded her body out to size 22 and found some clothes to wear, commenting that it was a good thing her breasts were foam because she’d have trouble finding a bra otherwise. Her male friends were more intrigued by the curves and yes, men often like more curvy women. Black men especially seem to like a woman with some “junk in her trunk.”

Now in recent years that crept up. I was no longer a small in my tops, going to a medium. My size 10 pants were too tight to do up. I should say here that there are a whole host of pants/jeans, which could be size 14 and I would still not be able to get them over my calves. Many jeans that I can get over my hips are then far too big in the waist, because, yes, I’m curvy. It’s not easy for many women whose proportions are not the 36-24-36 proportions to get clothes, though I would argue these days the measurements are more like 36-28-32. At my smallest I 34-22-38.

The fashion industry was never selling to me and I’m not sure who they sell to with their stick thin models in size 2, which a very small majority of any population can wear. Most women are between size 8-14. Many wear larger than that. Just by dint of being tall, can pop you up a size or too.

When I got into watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer  TV show I was made even more uncomfortably aware of my size by all the teeny women. Willow and Buffy were diminutive, yet Tara was more of a normal size. I’m sure some people thought she was fat but she wasn’t and I bet she wore a size 8 or smaller. After all, she said she weighed around 118 lbs and is around 5.5″. That’s not much weight for that height. Between Hollywood and the fashion world, people are freaked out about being 120 or 150 lbs when those are more natural ranges for people from 5.4 to 5.8. I don’t have the national average in front of me but I know many women who weigh 140-150 who don’t look fat at all.

What hit me over the year or two was that my clothes weren’t fitting. With a great deal of effort (a natural, balanced diet and working out 3-4 times a week) I’ve lost around 20 lbs this year. I think I could lose another 20  though the doctor says 10 maybe 15. We’ll see but I can say now that even if I lose that weight I’ll still have hips and big calves. It’s the way I’m built and it would take a truly anorexic frame to eliminate this and I’d be getting rid of muscle mass.

It’s hard being in a culture that ridicules people for being fat yet seems to reward those who starve themselves. Marilyn Monroe would be fat by today’s standards and she’s still a sex symbol. Oddly the model Twiggy, presenting an anorexic shape in the 60s that took the fashion world by storm (why, I still don’t know) started a trend that doesn’t seem to have ended. I’ll work always at being healthy but give me the Selma Hayeks and Sophia Lorens over Callista Flockhart and Twiggy. Curvy is healthier.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1155735/What-happened-sent-fattie-London-Fashion-Week-Kate-Faithfull-reports-week-fatwalk.html

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Head Lice and Shame

I grew up in Alberta. There, the winters are cold enough that the only animal that had fleas would be mangy and often diseased. And head lice were unheard of. Perhaps the cold worked at keeping the numbers down there too.

Then I moved to BC, where there was a plethora of insects and other buggy vermin: spiders that flew in the wind on their spinnerets, spiders the size of your palms, slugs as long as a foot-long sub, moths, aphids, fleas on every animal if the summer was humid, mosquitoes year-round even if they didn’t bite, horseflies, black widows, bugs, everywhere!

The fleas were a horrid revelation and took some getting used to. I was particularly sensitive to the bites and after spending a summer of scratching my legs to bloody, I saw my doctor for something to stop the itching. That, and I moved out from my messy roommates and into a place on my own. Oh yes, keeping things clean can make a difference in the virulence of an infestation. Vacuuming regularly kept the eggs at bay and then it was a matter of making sure the cat was flea-combed or giving it some anti-flea liquid. Fleas are one of a host of vampiric bugs, commonly known as parasites, which include bedbugs, mosquitoes and lice.

Lice have been close buddies of humans for three million years. Which means we may never be able to eradicate them without eradicating humans. Why am I talking about lice? Because I had the utmost misfortune of encountering them. I was once visiting friends who had kids. I slept on the floor, on a mat, in a sleeping bag and played with the kids while there.

A week later, I had a bit of a rash on my neck but I have sometimes got the same thing from mild allergies so it didn’t seem unusual. But one day I was reading a paper, scratching at my head when this bug fell on to the paper. Frantically I began shaking my hair and ruffling it, watching in horror as more vermin fell to the page. Little beige, eye shaped vermin. There is nothing more disgusting than finding live critters crawling on your body.

I don’t remember what I did next but I found out pretty damn quickly that they were lice. Next was going to the pharmacy and wincing as I said I had lice and what should I do. They sold me some tarry shampoo, which I ran home and used. I’ve read you can coat your hair in olive oil, which is supposed to work. Any other oil in a person’s hair and it takes forever to remove. Supposedly olive oil is the only oil that can be shampooed out. Reading the little pamphlet, it said to use the comb afterwards, the special louse comb to remove the nits, which are the eggs of the little vampires. I did but having fairly long hair, there was no way I could be sure that I got them all.

I didn’t relish shaving my head, which is often what happens when kids get lice. So I shamefully called up one of my best friends and asked her if she would be so good as to comb through my hair. I sat outside, luckily in summer and she took a couple of hours to comb through all my hair. I used the shampoo several more times. But I also had to wash any bedclothes or clothes lying about. I had to bag every cushion or anything else of fabric for weeks. I had to vacuum feverishly.

Luckily I got rid of them. But I also did the responsible thing, although I felt ashamed for getting lice and felt dirty. I contacted everyone I had been around and told them what they had to do. I was also extremely pissed off at the friends whose place I was at because they never bothered to warn me, knowing their kids’ school had lice and that their kids had had them several times. That they could be so disrespecting of their friends and so uncaring of their children truly stunned me.

Then about a month later I picked up the lice again because I was around the same people and I had to inform everyone a second time. These people said nothing. Were they too ashamed to admit it? I don’t know but I had to say where I had got them so friends could check themselves. But I can say that I never ever visited or stayed at those people’s houses ever again. 

As far as I’m concerned they should have felt shame for not informing their friends. It’s the same as picking up any contagious disease or illness (like STDs) and not letting the people you came into contact with that they could be infected. That being said, we all manage to pass colds on from one person to the next but by the time you realize you have a cold, you’ve already infected others and with colds all you can do is bide your time. Infestations of vermin are another story and they can get out of hand if not controlled.

Having been fed on by mosquitoes, fleas and lice, I can say I would miss these bugs if they disappeared off the face of the earth. I’ve paid my dues and given enough blood.

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Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods, Oh My God, Tiger Woods!

You would think by all the hullabaloo, the prime time furor and general gossip that no one ever ever ever has cheated before. Certainly not those famous people, our modern gods: rock stars, movie stars and sports stars.

I don’t read the paper or watch TV but do listen to enough radio news (daily) to be up on current affairs. So when I’m being inundated with Tiger Woods this and Tiger Woods that, you know it’s hit a high saturation point in the media.

Past Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said that “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” And likewise, the media has no business in the bedrooms of individuals. You would think we lived in a puritan world where every marriage is sacred until death do they part, with fidelity the center, and love binding everyone close. You would think there wasn’t a divorce rate at about 50% for first marriages (higher for subsequent marriages) in North America.

You would think that every two couples who read the news would be mum or offer no comment because probably one of them is cheating. Not all divorces mean people cheat but infidelity is the number one reason for divorce. So why does everyone care about yet another celebrity caught with his pants down and another woman involved? Because, like the rubber neckers that have to stop and stare at every accident, we revel in the misfortune of others, in the dirt and the downfall of the mighty. Because we’re petty and we want to see those more successful than us fail so that we can say they’re no better than us. Of course, if it wasn’t for media and the population putting these people on pedestals in the first place, their indiscretions would not matter as much.

When it was reported that Kennedy had an affair with Marilyn Monroe it titillated somewhat but that might have been after the fact. With Clinton’s blow job or not from Monica Lewinsky, the US government spent millions investigating it, yet polls showed the majority of the public didn’t give a damn. That Tiger Woods is taking  a break from pro-golf over this is frankly, ridiculous. What does his personal life have to do with his professional life, unless he’s an emotional wreck and can’t play? If he could still play, being caught in coital indsicretions shouldn’t matter. I don’t care if he runs around in pink panties and oinks like a pig. What matters is that he plays golf. Now, overall I don’t care one iota about golf, and I equally don’t care about Mr. Woods’ private life.

But what gets me over and over again is that anytime some famous personage has been found to be doing something naughty everyone titters and gasps and is “SHOCKED.” And yet the two-faced standard is that most of those who are aghast have the same indiscretions. And really, can it even be helped when most ads for everything from clothing to booze use sex to sell these items. All you have to do is look at a billboard or a magazine to see women and men in provocative poses with sexy pouts upon their faces. You’ll be popular, you’ll have sex, the beautiful people will loooove you if you buy this product.

Does this mean we live in a culture of loose morals? To the true fundamental puritan types, yes. But it doesn’t mean those people lead any happier of a marital life. It’s just their culture might not allow divorce or for a person to have frequent sex or for anyone to be trained in how to give sexual pleasure. In all cultures and cases, whether people of fame, infamy or unknown to anyone but their friends, what happens in the bedroom should be of concern only to those in the bedroom (barring of course abuse) and anyone they’re in a partnership with.

The biggest culprit in all this is the media, creating a frenzy, and chewing over Tiger’s life, sharks in bloodied waters. It is voyeuristic in the extreme and all the “in-depth looks” at Tiger’s life, wife, mistress, the sordid interviews, the speculation should just be stopped so that we can get to real news. If the media is tittering over infidelity, then they should turn the spotlight on themselves and ask why they have such a kinky, unhealthy and unwholesome interest in his life.

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SF Writer Beaten and Arrested at US Border

I say US border because it turns out, in Port Huron, one must go through a US checkpoint before the Canadian checkpoint when leaving the US. SF writer Dr. Peter Watts was beaten and arrested by US border guards this week when they stopped him to search his car and he asked them what was going on.

His belongings were seized (notepad, flashdrive, computer, rental car, coat) and he was released on foot after being arraigned and charged into Ontario’s winter snowstorm in nothing more than shirtsleeves. Luckily, he didn’t die of exposure. There have been cases of people picked up by police and then dropped off in extreme weather to then die of hypothermia. Frank Paul was one.

Thankfully Watts wasn’t tasered as the BC RCMP did to Robert Dziekanski. He will thus live and get a chance to refute the charge by the US Homeland Security office (a name that has always raised my hackles and reminds me of some Nazi-esque terminology) that could land him in a US prison for two years.

According to his words he didn’t resist and didn’t fight these border thugs but that didn’t stop them from asserting more power than was needed and abusing people because they feel they’re untouchable. I have never had problems with the Blaine border crossing except for one jerk (oops two) who were more interesting in threatening than in being reasonable and most border guards are people who just do their jobs. Some are friendlier and some of cold and efficient. And a few throughout the US and Canada take their power and push it like dictators.

Perhaps Peter Watts can get the appropriate minister or MP of the government of Canada to help him out. When you look at Canada’s record with Canadians stuck abroad, or, like Maher Arar, allowed to be taken to another country and tortured so that the US and Canada could pretend that they wanted torture, it’s not that good. Watts is white though and not Muslim so he might stand a better chance. Harper’s government isn’t exactly known for being compassionate towards those who are white.

He now faces a long and scary road through the US legal system and if it’s anything like here, the police or US guards are rarely found in wrongdoing. How many cases of people killed while in police custody have ever resulted in an officer being charged and the case not dismissed as accidental? Not many I tell you. Watts will probably have to spend more money than he has to try and save himself, and in the end, if he doesn’t serve time, he may still be blacklisted from ever entering the US. Good luck to him and I hope our government will intervene but we can’t count on that anymore.

Following are the articles at BoingBoing and Watts’ own blog:

http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/12/11/dr-peter-watts-canad.html#more

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Ho Ho Ho Ain’t Just For Prostitutes

One of the stupidest things I’ve heard in recent years in regards to Christmas was that Australia banned their department store Santas from saying, “Ho ho ho,” because it was derogatory. Who made this decision; a twelve-year-old? That’s a fine example of political correctness taken to extreme idiocy. It’s like saying, you can’t say Merry Christmas but can still celebrate it.

Granted there are other religious celebrations at this time of year but if someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah and another wishes me Merry Christmas and a third wishes me a Cool Yule, I get the sentiment. I don’t have to push my religious beliefs or superiority down anyone’s throat. I take it in the spirit of the sentiment.

I was also told by one co-worker once that her children (at their school) were told to say Merry Xmas not Merry Christmas because Xmas wasn’t making it Christian. WTF? There are so many things wrong with this statement (and I don’t know if it was this woman’s or the school’s). One, Christmas is, well…Christian. Duh! X is an old symbol for cross, as in crisscross, the crossroads, railroad Xing. It’s not because trains make X’s at that spot; it’s because they cross the road at that spot. The pronunciation of Christ in Christmas is “kris” and hence the X is a shortened form of writing “Christmas”. Really, how dumb can people get?

But Santa, he’s as Christmas as a shopping frenzy. When I was a kid, we of course had the obligatory trip to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap. I can’t remember any of those visits really, nor what I asked for. My childhood greed and wants changed every year I’m sure. The only Santa visit I truly remember was the last one.

(Spoiler alert on Santa’s existence.) I had already figured out that Santa wasn’t real and really was my mother storing gifts in her closet. Not yet at the stage of wanting to preserve the magic and the harmless lie, I said I didn’t want to go because Santa wasn’t real. My mother made me go because my little brother, two years younger, still was starry-eyed over the white-bearded gnome. Of course, somewhere along the line I blurted out to my brother that Santa didn’t exist and my mother was not pleased with me.

But she shouldn’t have made me go to see the fake. I think if a picture still exists of me on Santa’s lap it shows a sullen child. My little brother probably went first and then me. As I’m sitting on Santa’s lap and he asks me what I want for Christmas I notice the fake beard, and sticking out of it near his lip is a tag that says “Made in Hong Kong.” That cemented the truth for me, that Santa was an impostor.

Coca-Cola's first Santa

Many years later, Santa has morphed. He was of course a very Victorian image (though versions of Kris Kringle, Sinter Klaus, Pere Noel, etc. existed before that) and was hugely popularized in North America by that American institution Coca-Cola. He was first commercialized (and fattened up) in 1931, and he’s never looked back since.  Santa keeps changing and just as there is the summer flash mob that forms around a zombie walk, there are the winter flash mobs of Santas that swarm the streets, sometimes passing out candy and kisses and stopping in every alcoholic watering hole they can find.

I once ran into the flashmob Santas, from skinny to fat, tall to short, male and female. A few elves were along as well. It was fun and just brought a smile to my face. Unfortunately this year I had a previous engagement; otherwise I would have been romping with the Santas. And these days, do I believe in Santa? Well, I think I believe in the spirit of giving, for joy and fun but not because you must or it’s expected. And certainly not with a price tag that says, oh you didn’t love me enough because you only spent $20 not $80 on me. If I could I would give more including donations to charity as I found it gave me a profound sense of goodwill when I did.

But as for ho ho ho, Australia and all you other politically correct Nazis, loosen up. Ho ho ho could be ha ha ha or hee hee hee or even hardy har har. It’s the sound of laughter, which obviously those places in Australia forgot.

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Parking Nazis: The Price You Pay

Parking in Vancouver has been annoying for a long time and is probably this way in most major cities. In some areas there are two (0r one) hour parking zones but they are few and far between and becoming more limited. These are usually in residential areas with high populations, such as the West End or around any commercial streets. The two-hour zones have gone down in recent years as the city puts in more and more metered parking.

Right now those meters run at about $4 an hour. That’s a lot of change but you can pay by cell phone with many of them. However, it was only a year or two ago that the city raised the price of parking, including their EasyPark lots. EasyPark’s mandate is supposed to be affordable parking and while the city said they were raising meter parking to encourage people to not stay in those spots too long and open them up for others, there was no reason to raise the price of parkade and lot parking. Except there’s that Olympic thing, and the deficits that would not happen.

So here we are a year or so later and the city is talking about raising street parking again, to cover their budget deficits. And we all know, once a price goes up it rarely if ever goes down. It will be $6/hour at least. You can bet the city-run EasyPark parkades will follow suit or be ordered to do so. If they really wanted to help with encouraging people to leave their cars at home, then running the SkyTrain later that 12:30 would help and lowering the price of the transit fair especially for going to the downtown core would be an incentive. I believe Calgary does this.

But what’s even a more surprising and sneaky move, voted on quietly behind closed doors was that TransLink will be raising the tax on parking in the New Year. How can one raise a tax when the PST and GST are set amounts. Well, TransLink thinks they are a power unto themselves and have voted in to raise the PST to 21%. How they can do this when it’s legislated by the government? I don’t know but I’d like some answers. So consider this: when you park anywhere in the lower mainland next year, if it’s run by EasyPark or possibly even the metered parking, the cost will reflect 26% in taxes (5% GST). How this will change with the GST might be even higher.

Translink has said they don’t have the money to build anymore lines but were still spending millions on doing the studies. Well now we know where those millions and where those possible future lines will come from: nearly a third from people’s pockets just for taxes and illegally done at that. They are an arm of the provincial government I believe though it’s been hard to find that and the provincial Liberals are overbugdget on the Olympics too.

Let’s add in that the government will be taxing us on things not previously taxed with the HST and you’re looking at a province that won’t be spending as much. If you eat at a restaurant with ther liquor tax and the HST, that’s going to be at least 12% plus 15% tip and that will be near 30% on every food bill. If you’re parking, it will be nearly 30% on every parking spot.

We’ve hit a new era and the only thing difference between TransLink, or the provincial government and a thug’s is they’re not holding guns to our heads but they’re robbing us on the sly nonetheless. If you don’t want to be taxed to death, protest the HST, write your MLA and MP and ask for accountability from TransLink. If every merchant of anything refused to charge HST, then the government would be stuck but in this case being Canadian will be our downfall, where we’re too polite to truly protest.

http://www.easyparkvancouver.com/

Translink

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From Kyoto to Copenhagen: Will it Make a Difference?

In 1998 when I was researching fuel-efficient cars for Technocopia.com I came across the Kyoto Protocol. Already in place it was an agreement between developed countries to try and lower emissions to 20% less of 1990 standards by 2005. This amount varied depending on the country.

Each industrialized country that was initially included in the discussions was to ratify the agreement. Ratification means that they confirm their committment to or give official sanction to something. In 1997  it was adopted, and ratified in various countries over the next eight years. During that time Bush came into power and based on the advice of his Exxon comrades (that the US State Department thanked for their input into  climate change policy) did not ratify the Protocol. Uh, right. Neither did the previous Clinton government, nor Obama to date.

Once ratified the member countries would be responsible to uphold their commitment for lowering emissions and I suppose, be fined if they didn’t meet them; but by which regulating body, I’m not sure. After all, the US has gone many years without paying its United Nations dues so if there are no teeth, how do countries live up to the Protocol’s agreement? You would think because it is the right thing to do, that it could save the planet and the future health of millions.

Canada took a long time to ratify the Protocol and it took effect in February 2005. Most countries have agreed to lower their emissions by a certain percentage to below what they were in 1990. For Canada, that would be 6%. However, in the US and Canada, emissions have risen between 21-28% in recent years. That’s a whole lot more of a concern on the health of people and the continuation of many species that we depend on for nutrition and are becoming toxic to us and themselves. And that means decreasing emissions by some 30-odd percent to pre-1990 standards.

If all these countries were already aware of emission issues, then how could they let emissions rise? Because there is money in it. It is shown today that most emissions are coming from factories and agriculture. Cars actually trail behind that but they are a huge contributing factor to the overall air quality. In the past ten years we saw the advent of bigger SUVs, Hummers and trucks, which were exempt from the same emission standards as cars, because those big vehicles are farm vehicles? Right, all these people in the cities probably haven’t even seen a farm but this was a loophole for vehicle manufactures and if you buy that monster, macho status symbol, you’ll get a break in climate taxes and the manufacturers make more money. Europe’s has had tiny cars (like the Smart Car) for a very long time but the big car and oil companies were happy to have us squander money and resources.

The US being one of the most significant countries to not sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol said it was because developing countries were not being held to the same standards as the industrialized countries. So instead of making some in-roads and setting a good impression by example, they decided to play the “it’s not fair” game. They whined that China did not even have to control their emissions although China has now become the biggest greenhouse gas emitter. However, it’s not that simple. Per capita, the US still emits more per person than China. Yet China and India, which between them hold a third of the world’s population must also take some responsibility.

It’s not a matter of you go first in this though. If every country doesn’t pitch in, the world is going to go down hard and we’ll all be eating soy to the end of our days, if we’re lucky. The highest emission continent is that of North America, with Canada also showing shameful controls on emissions. The Harper government started out with a plan, when they needed the votes. That’s when they admitted the environment was in trouble. But since then a minister of the environment announced that Canada had no hope of meeting its Kyoto Protocol committment and Harper has cut the funding towards such work.

In the meantime, other governments within Canada continue to look at ways to tax the individuals when it’s the corporations (including vehicle manufacturers) who are most responsible. Individuals may need to pay a bit of tax but not the continual onslaught. The government needs to bring out other ways of helping and healing the environment and that’s lacking a great deal. Raising the climate taxes on gas guzzling vehicles more would help. Yes tax money could go towards programs but I’d like to hear more about the programs and innovations such as hybrid buses and Smart cars for government employees who use a car on the job.

And Copenhagen? Well I predict that Harper will stall and refuse to change; that the US, despite Obama’s promise of change, will continue to stall on getting involved, just as they did in WWII. But they’ll still want everyone to play by their game. Will it help? Only if the countries truly commit. This should have been started fifty years ago, let alone twenty. And here we are taking ten years to ratify an agreement and maybe get around to it in another fifteen years.

I’d like to believe we’ll see change and that we can all pull together but I have seen too much obfuscation and political maneuvering of the things that matter by various governments to believe that anyone will take it to where it needs to go. And as our children’s lifespans shorten and more people get allergies, asthma and other conditions, and as many species die or contain toxins so virulent they’ll kill us, we’ll start to live in the cautionary tale of our science fiction writers. I really hope it won’t be a reality but I’m still waiting to see real change.

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