Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's - Overrated?

We're coming up to New Year's Eve and I must admit it is not one of my favourite holidays. Don't get me wrong, I'm okay with it, but I have never gotten too excited about the countdown and the hype surrounding the beginning of a new year. In part, as I've blogged before, because it doesn't really seem January is the beginning of anything. It's more like the dog days of winter.

My fondest New Year's memories are probably from when I was a small child and never stayed up past about 9 pm, but on New Year's Eve at Grandma and Grandad's house my little brother and I stayed up till midnight (either that or we went to bed and then were woken up for the big countdown). When the clock struck 12, Grandma would step out on the porch and bang on a kitchen pot like there was no tomorrow. We would join in with the festive noisemakers she had provided. It was quite a striking event as it was quite out of character for Grandma to do anything flashy or attention getting. Unless you count hammering on a piece of beef liver to tenderize it for the cat.

As a younger teenager I first learned the true meaning of the New Year's event when I accompanied an aunt and uncle to a party on the Mt. Washington ski hill. This is where I learned that New Year's is a time when everyone drinks enough so that they can be uninhibited when it comes time to do the New Year's kiss.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Extra, Extra, Read All About It - Christmas Light Thieves Apprehended!

In this time of festive Christmas decorations adorning homes everywhere, I harken back not to hear the angels sing, but to my Dad's battles with the Christmas Light Thieves.

My father, when he was still with us, was always big on Christmas lights for our house. He would put them on all of the bushes in the front yard and on the house itself. Unfortunately, someone would keep taking bulbs out of the strings of lights. At first this not only annoyed, but confounded my dear ol' Dad. Confounded until he found evidence of light bulbs being smashed on the ground around the neighbourhood. Someone was getting a kick out of the popping sound they made when thrown on the ground. A lesser man may have decided that this was just the cost of doing business in the house decorating department, but my father was a man of action.
How do you catch a Christmas light bulb thief? It is simply really. You string up fishing line criss-crossing the yard and attach one end to a bell inside your bedroom. Then in the middle of the night when the thieves come on their rounds, they can't see the near invisible fishing line and ding-a-ling, you spring into action. This plan also requires you to have the skill to quickly get into your clothes and run outside, something Dad was adept at. He was able to track the ne'er-do-wells to what was known as the "Newspaper Shack", where the teenage boys who delivered the morning paper got their stack of broadsheets to deliver early each day. It was these employees of the local paper who were the culprits. And the light bulb crime spree was brought to an end by the efforts of one fan of Christmas.

Somewhere ex-paper boys are sitting around a bar drowning their sorrows and telling the tale of the time their promising careers in the journalism industry were crushed by some sports fisherman who tracked them down for stealing his Christmas lights.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Little Less Zoom-Zoom

While we're on the topic of vehicle safety, here's something that bugs me. Advertisements for cars that focus completely on how fast and racy the car is. Like we should be driving super fast in our cars.

We don't need to go any faster in our cars than a run of the mill car can go. Maybe you want a car that's a little more sporty than that, but the cars are being promoted as capable of unnecessary feats of speed. Then out on the roads you've got people racing along in an unsafe manner. Of course, as I've said before a lot of these people aren't in the "fast" cars, but in their SUV tanks that seem to give them a sense of invulnerability similar to NFL players who lead with their helmets.

According to a study by Transport Canada: "The number of victims killed and injured in speeding crashes is comparable to the number of victims from alcohol-related crashes. Drinking and driving is widely viewed as socially unacceptable, thanks to enforcement and public education. Considering the magnitude of the speeding problem, endangering road users by driving too fast deserves the same stigma as drunk driving."

So, at the risk of being an old geezer, I encourage you all to chill out and take your time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Problem Solved

There seems to be quite a battle going on in our province and other places over the issue of drinking and driving. Here in British Columbia the government basically decided to tighten up the rules and effectively lower the legal limit from 0.08 % alcohol to 0.05%. There is some controversy over the end run they have done around the legal system by going to a fine and suspension system rather than battling drivers in court. I dealt with that in an earlier post. This time I want to look at a different facet of this debate.

The problem with these drinking and driving laws is that people don't really know when they are over the limit. If the rule was no drinking and driving it would be easy, but whether the limit is 0.05, 0.08, or something else, how do you know when you're over it? You guess. Cautious guessers won't go afoul of the law, but some will. Why the guesswork? It would be like if we didn't have speedometers in our cars but were expected to stay under speed limits. Would that be fair or even possible? So the answer is to have a way for us to know what our blood alcohol is before we step into the car and not to find out once we're at a road block. How expensive are these breathalyzers anyway?

Google it! I found this website:

Hmmm.... For a $100 bucks you can get one. $200 to get a good one. That doesn't seem like much given the importance of the issue. This should be promoted as a solution to the problem and breathalyzers should be in common use by all of us. Who wants to get me one for Christmas?