Friday, December 23, 2005

Canary in the Coal Mine

Long, log ago, before even cell phones and video games, canaries were used to warn coal miners of deadly gases in coal mines. The canary was place in a cage at the top of the mine tunnel and if the canary showed signs of distress (or died), the mine would be evacuated.

Consider this election a coal mine on Liberal rule in Canada. I have decided to pick a canary. If this canary is convinced to dump the Liberals, then they are surely doomed.

The Canary: My Father

Vital Stats:

My father is 66 years old and a retired english teacher in Oshawa, a medium sized town (about 150,000) about 30 minutes from Toronto and in the 905 area code.


His parents escaped from the war and moved to Canada from Yugoslavia in 1948. Having seen what the Communists did in Yugoslavia (the shooting of enemies of the state, such as the only educated brother of my grandfather, a doctor), you would think my father would eschew the Liberal/NDP communist/socialist crap. Not so. Buying into the whole “won’t someone please think of the children!” propaganda put forward by the left, my father is supportive of these ideas, but is not set in his political ideology. He is an excellent example of a swing voter. He is not a member of any party and he can be convinced to switch his vote. Last election he voted for the Liberals and he thinks he voted for them in the 2000 election as well. Coming from Oshawa (Ed Broadbent's old riding), I would guess that he has votd for the NDP, probably when Ed was leader.

My fater is an enigma, as the rest of my immediate family is solidly on the right side of the spectrum. My mother, brother and sister, all lean towards the conservatives. That said, they are not ideologically set either. My mother votes for the person, while my brother strongly supports the idea that people should work for a living and not live off the state. He is particularly outspoken in his views. When Mike Harris was premier in Ontario, my brother was seen on an episode of Speaker’s Corner, saying he was glad Harris was going to kick out the welfare bums, who would now have to work for a living, just like him. My sister is a nurse and my brother works in the auto industry. I would say the daily influences on my father are sure to mention Liberal corruption often over the course of the election.

While my father’s daily influences are on the right, he balances this by a subscription to the Toronto Star and watching the CBC (although he usually falls asleep watching TV after 8 pm, so the influence of the CBC is somewhat limited). In addition, my one aunt and five uncles are mostly on the left. Three are teachers and one is a school principal. They are more likely to support the NDP, but some probably voted strategically Liberal in the last election. Discussions at family holidays were interesting at grandma’s house. The whole family is loud, mostly due to the fact that you have to yell or you will never get your point across. Debate was particularly vehement during the Harris years, with my aunt and uncles convinced he was the antichrist. This Christmas should be quite interesting at grandma's house.

The Plan

I will ask my father a few questions about the election each week, such as the most important story of the week, how he plans to vote, etc, and see if he can be convinced to vote something other than Liberal. He is representative of one type of typical Ontario voter, so if he goes over, the Liberals are dead.

Hey, it's just as scientific as a poll.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cock of the walk (Not)

Yesterday was another beautiful day. Sun shining and +5 degrees C. That's right, I said plus five! Now you see why Alberta is for global warming. This is usually Calgary kind of weather.

Unfortunately for me, I speand the best part of the day Christmas shopping. I really only have to buy for the wife, as we exchanged gifts with my family a few days ago when I was home. Also, I kow just what to get her, as she has been very open about what she wants. This year we are exchanging a few small gifts. The house is still fairly empty and we need about a million things just to get the place up and running, so the gift bonanza fro us will start after Christmas, when we will go on a spending spree buying stuff for the house.

I only spent 2 hours a this local shopping park, and I was worn out. It wasn't even really that busy, but the driving, parking watching all these people rush around, all I could think of was "Why?". Probaby just an attack of pre-Christmas anti-consumerism.

The wife is part of this dancing group and they have a tradition with newly married couples. There is this big wooden rooster call the fertility cock, and it is given to the couple that is supposed to get pregnant next. I'm not one for superstitions, butthe thing works. Going back as long as can be remembered, the one with the cock is always the next to get pregnant. Now, you are supposed to keep these things a secret, as you don't want everyone coming up to you and constantly asking "Did it work?", but the wife and I are trying to increase the family by more than just one cat. Let's face it, we are not getting any younger (especially her, tick, tick). Perhaps this thing is supposed to work by magic, as the wife has been wearing her armour to bed. I could understand it if if was cold out, but at plus five, we could basically sleep outside. To add to that, the other cat has been very affectionate (for her) since we have been back. She is either the second or third thing in bed at night. If second, she sleeps on my side and I have to kick her out just to get in. If she is third, she promply placed herself between the two of us (maximum warmth) which, as you can imagine, a bit of a cramp on my style. I would leave the cat outside all night and she would be happy to be left outside, but the neighbours have lost three cats in the past month, they suspect to coyotes. Although I suspect this cat could survive anything, the wife would not want to risk it, and would be quite out of the mood if I were to suggest it.

Right now, we are counting on the power of the fertitlty cock only.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Home at Last/Our Family is Reduced by One

I love Alberta.

Thrity minutes after the plane lands at the Edmonton airport, we are in the car and on our way home. Contrast this with the 2 hours it took just to get our luggage in Toronto.

Today is a beautiful -4 degrees C, and the sun is shining, making me wonder why I ever wanted to leave this place. The wife and I moved some wood into the house for the fireplace and took a tour of some of the property. As everything is so overgrown, it is now possible to see into the forests and better assess the land. I used to say that I could heat the house for 3 years on just the deadfall. It seems to be more like 10 years. I have a lot of hauling and cutting of logs to do this year. Time to buy that chainsaw.

As you can see from this post, Koko our older cat died about 10 days before we got back. He was sick before I left, and got much worse while I was gone. The wife almost took him to the vet for the "long sleep" a few times, but every time she was going to do it she would spend some time with him and he would rally back, enjoying the day, moving around, and going outside. He seemed to sense what might happen, so put on a good show to last a bit longer. The few weeks before he died, he was so sick that the wife said she had to check him after coming home from work to see if he was still alive.

I was hoping he would make it until I returned, but I am glad he lived out his natural life.

After Christmas, we are off to the animal shelter to get our strength back up. Beside, the other cat needs something to keep her busy. I am already getting tired of constantly letting her in and out of the house.

The circle of life continues.

Monday, December 19, 2005

In Memory

Farewell to Koko the Cat

1990(?) to 2005

Declawed on all four paws, taken in because he was too difficult for some, Koko passed away quietly after a long illness sometime during the evening of 8 December, 2005. He will be buried in front of the house, near the porch where he spent his last days, in a short ceremony at 3 pm.

He is survived by his human mother, human step father and feline sister, Bizzy. Those who knew him will agree that he is likely be reincarnated as a brutal dictator, capable of genocide, or a drag queen. Koko spent his time on earth as the residence Walmart greeter, customs agent, and Guard Cat, all of which he took very seriously.

The family asks that a donation to the SPCA be made in lieu of flowers.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bias? What Bias?

Via Nealenews:

Running for coverage

...Stephen Harper received the most negative coverage of the four main party leaders, even more negative than the coverage he got in the disastrous final week of the 2004 election.

Initial coverage of Paul Martin was not only less negative, it was more positive than the waning days of the last campaign, when the Prime Minister rebounded to pull out his narrow victory.


The sample sizes are small...and the findings are based on reports and opinion pieces published before any major policy announcements had been made, including Harper's blockbuster pledge to reduce the hated GST.

It will be interesting to see if the Main Stream Canadian Media (MSCM) can keep their boy in power.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Once more up the Peak

Well, I have pretty much reached my minimum goal. I went up the hill enough times to equal twice the height of Mount Everest.

I wanted to get more in, but with my bad knee and all the we were not in Newcastle due to rain, landslides, etc, 52 ascents is good.

The wife replied to email recently saying she was "game". I am not sure if this means she wants to go up the Peak once when she is here or if she is agreeing to do some kinky stuff of a sexual nature that I had suggested.

I will find out in three days.

Hello pot, this is kettle, over

This is the funniest thing I have seen in some time.

Check out this quote:

Belinda Stronach, whose stunning defection from the Tories last spring poleaxed the Conservatives and saved the minority Liberal government from certain defeat, blasted Stephen Harper on Monday as someone willing to put the country at risk for selfish political gain. (emphasis added)
How can she make such a comment with a straight face?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Liberal Media Bias or Poor Conservative Communications?

Consider this article. It would be hard for the Liberals to get better coverage if they wrote the article themselves. But does this happen? Is it liberal media bias or poor communications on the part of the CPC communications staff?

Let us look at the article in detail.

The first six paragraphs are filled with quotes from Paul Martin which demonize Stephen Harper and the conservatives, all of them in areas which are thought to be ones Canadians are most sensitive to.

"Stephen Harper's policies are different than mine, they're different than yours”

"I'm beginning to understand, however, why you never hear Stephen Harper talking about the issues of our day," Martin said. "It's because he and the Conservatives are on the wrong side of every national issue."

And this one:

He then suggested Harper would move Canada backwards and create a health care system that would require a "credit card" among other things.

So it would be reasonable to assume that the next six paragraphs would be Stephen Harper saying nasty things about the Liberals, or some Conservative representative refuting Paul Martin’s assertions.

Not so. The article then goes on to speak about how the Conservatives believe the Liberals “crossed a line” when the questioned Harper’s patriotism and to detail that event.

Any rebuttal of Martin’s characterizations are not in the piece.

The question is quoted in its entirety

"The Prime Minister outside of Rideau Hall spoke of his values, beliefs, a future for the country, promises. You speak of accountability, taxpayers' change and scandal. I wonder, do you love this country?"

Notice the juxtaposition of values, beliefs and scandal and the blunt, “Do you love this country?

The absurdity of the question is without bounds. Even if a politician hated the country, is there any other answer than yes. No one would spend the long hours and media scrutiny to be a politician if they hated the country. Unless they were evil and had some hidden agenda worthy of a Hollywood movie. For someone such as me, an Albertan, such characterizations are absurd. However, voters all over the country have been told numerous times about the “scary” Stephen Harper and his “hidden agenda”. Although most people in Ontario are not likely to believe these characterizations, they plant small seeds of doubt that slowly grow.

Unfortunately, the response by Stephen Harper quoted in the article is “I said Canada is a great country”. Anyone who has dealt with children knows this is a non-response. It is an indirect response to a direct question and appears to be evasive. Again, the hidden agenda.

The article goes on to talk about the Conservative response to the questioning of Stephen Harper’s patriotism. This takes the form of a demand for an apology as an “unacceptable personal attack”.

Firstly, this appears weak. Strong, tough leaders don’t demand apologies, they take action. And why is this an unacceptable attack? American Republicans are always questioning the patriotism of Democrats, so it’s not like we haven’t heard these types of attacks before. With the suggestion that Stephen Harper is scary and has a hidden agenda to destroy Canada (or at least our way of life), the Liberals would be remiss not to question Harper’s patriotism. The Alberta firewall comments serve to reinforce this perception.

The next quote is Jason Kenney’s response:

Paul Martin may disagree with Stephen Harper on many issues, including the Liberal Party's record of scandal and waste," said Kenney said in a statement. "But he would never question Paul Martin's love for Canada."

First sentence, excellent. It reminds voters of the scandal and waste. However, the second is wrong. The Conservatives should hit back. Based on the stealing of taxpayers’ money, and the damage that Adscam has done to the cause of federalism in Quebec, Conservatives should turn the tables on the Liberals and suggest that perhaps that, due to their actions, they want to break up Canada.

This next statement is also very damaging.

A Conservative source told Politics Watch they were stunned when they heard the Liberal war room was spinning that Harper doesn't love Canada.

No one in a war room should ever be “stunned”. Their job is to anticipate what the other side will do and be prepared to respond. We all know the campaign was going to get dirty. Is the war room not prepared for this? If they are not, they should keep it to themselves. The correct response to this would be: “We knew the Liberals planned to fight dirty, and I am not surprised. They will state any lie to maintain their corrupt hold on power” followed by a strong counterattack. This feeling in Canadian society that we do not like negative campaigns is incorrect. The Liberals did very well last election with their scary Stephen Harper TV adds. There is a line that Canadians feel should not be crossed, and the Conservatives crossed it last campaign by suggesting Paul Martin supports child molesters. If Conservatives are unsure of the line, they should be safe countering any Liberal attack. Canadians know politics is a dirty business and any attempt to suggest you are above that, just makes people think you are better at hiding it.

Bias or not getting the message out?

There is no doubt that the above article is slanted towards the Liberals. The first six paragraphs have Paul Martin questioning the values of the Conservatives with no rebuttal. When the Conservatives side is finally presented, it is not a counter to the Liberal message, but a discussion of another issue.

However, this type of media reporting should not be a surprise. The pro Liberal bias of the press is well known. This means that Conservative Communications has to be at the top of their game at all times. They must make no mistakes.

Knowing the circumstances, success or failure lies in the hands of Conservative communicators.

Sometimes it can be an advantage to play as the underdog.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jamaica - 30 Nov 2005 - Mail call

Every Wednesday in Newcastle we have our own BBQ dinner instead of going to the mess. Afterwards, we usually watch a movie. Shortly after I arrived, I came up with the idea of showing some episodes of Trailer Park Boy or Corner Gas, to give some of the guys from other countries a taste of Canada. I asked my wife to mail me some of these DVD’s, which she promptly did.

They arrived yesterday. It took only 3 months and 5 days. Tonight is our last BBQ before the end of the course. I would like to slam the Jamaican mail system, but I think the fault lies with the customs SOB’s. Perhaps they kept the package for over 2 months to ensure all the anthrax was inert.

Jamaican Canadians must send their Christmas presents in September.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jamaica - 27 Nov 2005 – Leaving Shoreham Green

Of course, it being our last day, the weather is perfect. The sun has come out, there are only a few white clouds in the sky, and there is a slight breeze.

I spend the rest of the day writing and going for a dip in the pool. This is the best weekend I have had since I got to Jamaica. There is something about floating in the pool and looking up through the palm trees at the beautiful blue sky.

An excellent weekend. The cost was about half the cost of a Hedo weekend, and that includes food. Mike let us drink his booze, provided we did not drink it all. We brought some of our own and left what we did not finish.

If I did it again I would bring a bunch of people and get a driver. Mike, (and everyone who runs a villa) know trustworthy people that they recommend. This is probably the best option for me and the wife. Quiet privacy with the option of doing a bit of travelling.

Villas get the MLWGF seal of approval.

I know. I keep wanting to say “Shoreham Green is people!” too.

Asia Honeymoon (8) - War Museum/Reunification Museum

For previous posts, check here

22 March

We meet our guide, Chong and the one other person on this portion of the trip, an older Australian woman named Susan.

The tunnels are very interesting. We start the tour with an old VC propaganda film, which is so obvious it is funny. I can only make it through the first 100 meters before claustrophobia sets in. The tunnels were not made for 6 foot, 200 pound westerners.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Asia Honeymoon Summary

I am finally getting around to putting up the posts from our honeymoon. I will start posting them on a daily basis.

Here are the first few posts.

Asia Honeymoon (1) - For Better or for Worse

Asia Honeymoon (2) - International Airport Tour 2005

Asia Honeymoon (3) - Vancouver Airport

Asia Honeymoon (4) - What day is it?

Asia Honeymoon (5) - More Airports

Asia Honeymoon (6) - Ho Chi Min City

Asia Honeymoon (7) - Cu Chi Tunnels

Jamaica - 28 Nov 2005 - "And I now declare him as Spanish Town's hero"

Gangster buried in Goshen, Clarendon

Bulbie was buried this weekend.

Government involved with organized crime? Check out the money quotes:

"...the gangster, whose Clansman organisation supports the ruling People's National Party,"


"In the aftermath of his death, the Spanish Town police said that Bennett had support from elected officials of the ruling party, but did not give names."

I guess that is the difference between Canada and Jamaica. The Jamaican political parties are not as good at hiding their criminal connections.

Either that, or the Jamaican media isn't in the pocket of the ruling party.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Jamaica - 26 Nov 2005 – Villa Valhalla

As I write this I am sitting on the veranda of our villa, overlooking the ocean. It rained all day yesterday, forcing us to drive through water up to our wheel wells in some places along the coastal highway. The sun is just starting to come out and there is a slight breeze. Although we are not beachside, I can still hear the surf. This place is almost perfect.

Shoreham Green is owned by two guys, both from Calgary. The guy who runs the place, Mike, is a Canadian who arrived 10 years ago and hasn’t left. His partner is still doing a regular job in Calgary, but Mike says he could never go back to wearing a tie. I don’t blame him.

Mike is very friendly and accommodating. Anything we want or need, he will get for us. His staff is very good as well. They are pretty much invisible. Dinner last night was excellent. Everything was home cooked and dessert was the best cheesecake I have ever had. Unfortunately, I was so full I could not finish it. You need to know how much I love a good dessert to realize how strange that is.

The villa has seven big bedrooms, a pool, huge veranda, and living room. I can see how a group of seven couples could easily live in a place like this for a week. A bird sanctuary surrounds the villa, so my alarm clock this morning was the chirping of birds.

The grounds are immaculately kept. You really get the sense you are living in a jungle paradise.

Today Mike drove us into Port Antonio for a quick look around. The place has some noticeable tourists challenges. The word is that they spent a large some of money to improve the port so that cruise ships could dock, and one of the guys mentioned he saw one there last year. Unfortunately, the port authority, (they must have been smoking drugs), did not allow anyone from the first few ships to leave the port area. They must have been trying to keep all the tourist money for themselves, instead of letting people explore the town. As a consequence, cruise ships don’t come to Port Antonio anymore. It’s too bad. Port Antonio has a real small town feel to it, and the people even more friendly than Jamaicans usually are. The town needs some work, but with a regular influx of tourists, the place could quickly become a rival to Ochio Rios.

I can easily see how renting a villa for a week would appeal to many for a vacation. From where I sit, I can see a number of other villas, all for rent. It would be quite easy to find one which suited any need. In addition, a week at a villa is noticeably cheaper than a resort.

Anyone thinking of a Jamaica vacation, consider a villa.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Jamaica - 25 Nov 2005 - Port Antonio Weekend

This weekend we are heading to Port Antonio. We had planned this trip early in the course, but a number of people have pulled out at the last minute, so there will only be 3 of us.

We have rented Shoreham Green. The cost is actually less than going to Hedo and everything is included, booze and food. It is the off season, but the prices seem reasonable even in high season. We are getting a bit of a deal as we have contacts with the locals, the place is empty and the guy would rather have it used than not as he has to pay his staff.

There are tons of villas in the area, enough to suite anyone's tastes. It appears to be a less well known and cheaper alternative to the resorts. I will report back on how it goes.

I talked to the wife again last night. I was watching some sappy romantic movie and I started to miss her, so I though I would give her a call.

Things are getting better. It was a full 15 minutes before she tried to get rid of me. A 25% increase in time. I managed to push the length of the call to 19 minutes with some fast talking and by giving some instructions about our vacation.

Perhaps she misses me as well. Or she has seen the vote on the sidebar going against her and has decided to change her ways.

I confirmed last night that the one vote for "Men are pigs" is hers. She also mentioned that the vote did not let her vote more than once. Shame on you honey, trying to cheat.

I have not told her about deleting cookies.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Additions to the Blogroll

I have been meaning to point out that their has been a number of addition to the blogroll in the sidebar.

In particular, I want to point out Sean’s new site, The Urban Refugee. About the same time as Sean and his family fled the city, my wife and I moved to 20 acres outside Sherwood Park. Many of the problems/experiences I read on his blog resonate with me, as we are going through the same thing. Or, I should say, I would be going through them if I was home. His blog makes me homesick for my own place, so I try not to read it too often. If you want to see what I would be writing about if I was not in Jamaica, go visit his site.

In the spirit of basking a bit in the reflected glory of others, I have meet the great Sean McCormick in RL (that’s real life, for the unhip). We met early in my bloging career (about a year ago), I think through the comments on another site. As we were both living in Edmonton, we met for coffee one day to compare notes about bloging.

That’s it. I guess that story is not as interesting as I thought.

Sean, you are a creative guy. Maybe you can add something to that story to spice it up. Flying monkeys are always good.

But seriously, check out Sean’s work and buy a calendar.

Gun violence solutions for Toronto

Angry in the Great White North has some interesting infomation on the reasons for crime and a possible solution.

I am not saying it would work, but at least someone is talking about solutions that are simply cries to the government to "do something".

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jamaica - 23 Nov 2005 - A quiet, rainy day

Everyone left this morning for a 3 day TEWT. The wind started up last night, rattling the windows and making it hard to sleep. My windows are so loose, it's like one of those horror movies, with the ghosts trying to get in all the time.

With everyone gone, today will be nice a quiet. A fog has come in and visibility is down to about 50 feet. As I look out my office window, I can only see to the trees that are past the flagpoles.

I love it when the weather is like this.

Update: Maybe not.

It was really cold today, the coldest it has ever been since I got here. In addition, due to the wind, the power went out at about 4 am. I did not mention it as the generator was going in the morning. This lasted until about 9 am when they turned it off. I spend the day sitting in the dark. Just about everything here need electricity including the hot plate and microwave. I had a piece of cheese for lunch. They have just turned it back on (about 5 pm) and it will be on until 10 pm. I had best get some warm food in me before it is too late.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jamaica – 22 Nov 2005 – Bits and Pieces

This will be a quiet week. The students were in town yesterday and this morning for a TEWT and go down again tomorrow for the rest of the week. All the other staff go with them. This leaves me unsupervised. We have a bit of work to do to get ready for next week, but it’s not really 5 days of work. So the days are pretty slow, we us trying to make the work last for the week and taking numerous breaks from work.

After about a month of no PT, I have started going back up the Peak. I am at 37 ascents, fifteen to go to meet my minimum goal of 52 (twice the height of Mount Everest). The month I missed was due to rain, hurricanes, and landslides, so my own laziness is not the only factor. I need to do one ascent per day to meet my goal. I should be able to easily reach that, as we have only one more weekend off and the 7 days of straight training.

There is this murder of crows living just outside of our building that are starting to annoy me. Jamaican crows are similar to the ones back home with the exception that their beak is noticeably thicker at the base. This gives them a slightly more prehistoric (and evil) look. These crows usually hang out it a bush in some tall grass, right by where I walk at the same time every morning. And every morning, as I get about 10 feet from them, all but one fly farther away. The one must be the leader. He gives me the evil eye and makes this squawking noise as I pass, which has to be some sort of warning.

Today I went up for lunch and must have surprised them, as they flew out of their bush much more agitated than usual. The one stayed and kept his eye on me.

The lot of them are up to something.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jamaica – 21 Nov 2005 – Surely I am worth 12 minutes?

I called the wife last night. Getting her to talk about anything is like pulling teeth. After about 9 minutes of asking her about all our friends, family, cats and anything else I could think of, I started to get the sense that she wanted to get me off the phone. Guess what? I was right. She told me straight out she wanted to hang up. She was leaving on a last minute business trip in the morning and wanted to pack.

So I barely rate a quarter of an hour of her time? It’s not like I called at 3 in the morning, all drunk and incoherent. It was just after 9 pm her time. I had not had a drink in 8 hours.

Let me give you my point of view: After just spending the weekend resisting the temptation of naked and semi naked women, some of whom would be happy to have sex with anyone while their husband filmed it, I come back to our deserted camp in the middle of nowhere to call my wife who I miss very much and who I can’t wait to hold in my arms once again, only to be told to get off the phone, as she has more important things to do, like packing socks.

So let’s go over this from her end: Your husband of 8 months, (who has been away for half of that time), whom you have not seen in 6 weeks, calls you up from a few thousand miles away and you can’t wait to get him off the phone so you can go back to packing?

What is wrong with this picture?

Ok, in her defence, this was a last minute trip and she has been very busy lately, putting in a lot of extra hours. Still, 12 minutes is not much to ask.

Oh, and this is the real kicker. Not only does she want to get me off the phone, but she has to get a dig in there as well. When she says she wants to hang up and I mention that we just started talking, she says, “Well, I still have to finish packing. I don’t want to be up all night like someone.”

This is obviously a reference to me when I was packing for this Jamaica trip. First of all, it wasn’t all night, it was only about 1 am. This is a bit late if you have to get up at 5:30 am for a 7 am flight, but it is not as if she was overly inconvenienced. She got up, drove me the 20 minutes to the airport and was probably back in bed with the cats before I got through security. Also, at the time we had been in our new house for 2 weeks, so stuff was still all over the place and I spend much of that time unpacking, not packing for my trip. To top it off, we had a housewarming party for 20 people, which started some 18 hours before I was to leave. I didn’t start packing until 9 pm and I was going away for 4 months, not on a 2 day business trip.

The woman is going to drive me to drink.

So, there is only one way to settle the question of who is right and who is wrong. Tell me what you think, gentle readers, by answering the poll on the sidebar.

Vote early, vote often.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Jamaica - 15 Nov 2005 - In the News...

As we are treated to the Liberal government in Canada using its power to bribe voters, the use of political power against one's enemies is much more direct in Jamaica.

Check out
this story from today's Jamaica Observer:

POLICE yesterday tear-gassed protesting Jamaica Labour Party mayors and councillors who were on their way to Jamaica House, drawing outrage from the Opposition.

Just to set the stage and give a bit of background:

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is the opposition in the national parliament. The People's National Party (PNP) controls the government. While most municipal councilors in Canada may have little to do with the federal parties, not so in Jamaica. So, often local councilors will get in on the national scene by taking their problems to the feds.

100 local councilors and eight mayors were marching down the street to deliver a letter of protest to the Prime Minister. The police decided this was illegal and that the proper response was to use tear gas.

The cops say...

"They were advised that they cannot assemble or march within 200 yards of Jamaica House," said the police officer. Later in the morning it was reported that members of the group attempted to march beyond the 200-yard distance which is in breach of the law.
Tear gas was among the options used to disperse them," added Ellington.

The councilors say...

"Permission to do what? To deliver a letter? We did not go within the 200 yards of the compound; we were at Devon House," he said.

".What we saw was blatant criminality by the police," said the mayor. "It speaks volumes when you are walking on the street to deliver a letter and come under attack by the police from Devon House....700 metres away from Jamaica House," said McKenzie.

In another case, a police officer testifies that he saw two other officers collect a gun and a Superintendent plant that gun at a murder scene.

And nightly vigils continue for known Clansman gang leader "Bulbie", killed two weeks ago in a shootout with police.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Jamaica – 13 Nov 2005 – How dumb do they think we are?

Last night we were having a drink at the beach bar at Breezes. It was the last night for a group from Iowa celebrating the wedding of their friends. They had been having a good time for quite some time, as evidenced by one guy chugging a 4 litre jug of beer and another guy taking off his shorts to demonstrate his “manhood”. This isn’t Hedo, where that kind of thing is encouraged. This should give you an idea of how drunk these people were.

Just after this, two women from the group sidle up to me at the bar. Someone in the group has decided that everyone will do a shot called a Flaming Bob Marley. One women doesn’t want to do the shot so she asks me to do it for her. Now, being that all the booze is free, if I wanted to do a flaming Bob Marley, I would just order one. They have obviously anticipated this remark, as the other women, trying to appeal to my lower male nature, quickly adds words to the effect that, if I help her friend by consuming her shot, she will show me her breasts, presumably in gratitude. While this conversation is going on, both are encouraging me by rubbing my back, neck and arms.

(Disclaimer: I have very little practice dealing with aggressive women and so have little practice fighting them off. They approach me so infrequently that my usual response is one of shocked paralysis, so the wife should forgive me for not getting rid of them immediately.)

Now, I haven’t felt a woman’s touch for about a month and, quite frankly, it felt good. These women were reasonably good looking (but nowhere near as attractive as the wife) and was half ready to help this poor “damsel in distress”, just to feel like a man that women desired. Then my brain examined the other side of the equation. If I was single I probably would have taken the shot, hoping it was an opening for something else. However, I am not single and the group was all couples, so these two likely had husbands/boyfriends somewhere. My conclusion: This was simply women practicing their feminine wiles on someone other than their husbands. It’s a bit of personal pride for me to not be so easily taken advantage of.

Then again, there is the other side of the coin: I would see breasts!

I judged she was drunk enough to keep her side of the bargain. But still, more damn logic. What exactly would I be getting for falling for so obvious a ploy? Did they do tricks? Do rockets shoot out of them? Change colours? Tell jokes? I mean, would I really see anything I have not seen before? After a small number of relationships, seeing more nude women at Hedo and, through over 10 years of military service, countless porn magazines and movies, would I really see anything new? Sorry to say so ladies, but breasts are pretty much all the same. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look at them, but with only some variation in size, shape and colour, there is not much difference from pair to pair.

So, the offer is to drink a nasty shot of something for a split second look at something I have probably seen before.

My reply: “If I let you have the shot you will probably get drunk enough to take off your top anyway?”

Score one for man in the battle of the sexes.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Jamaica - 11 Nov 2005 - For Your Tomorrow They Gave Their Today

I hate fisking the lefties. They are usually all over the map and lack even a semblance of logic.

This article by Clay McLeod was posted to and appeared on Nealenews on 10 November 2005.

I wrote a reply to this, but was not happy with it. This is either due to my poor abilities as a writer or because if you start with crap, you still have crap at the end.

We had a small, short ceremony at the Up Park chapel on Friday. The padre concluded the service with this one sentence:

For your tomorrow they gave their today

It is in honour of this sacrifice that we should wear a poppy.

Also, see what I wrote last year about Remembrance Day.

Jamaica – 10 Nov 2005 – So much for take out and a movie

As I write this it is almost 10 pm and I am still on the hill. We were supposed to leave at 6 pm but vehicle did not show up. I appear to be the only one here, so it seems I am wrong. Needless to say, I am not happy at being left behind. The Sgt and I spoke to the Admin guys directly and we set a 6 pm pickup time for everyone. The students finished early, but I did not. I was still getting things ready for Friday and Monday. If they changed the time they failed to tell me. A vehicle is on the way to pick me up. It will probably be midnight by the time I get to the hotel.

I am getting a bit tired of these screw ups.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jamaica – 10 Nov 2005 – Hedo weekend cancelled

We are not going to Hedo this weekend. The place was full when we tried to book this week. Two weeks ago, the place was at 75% occupancy and somewhat dead, two weeks before that it was at 60% occupancy and dead. High season is beginning. I guess this demonstrates that timing is everything at these places.

So we are going to Breezes Runaway Bay instead. It is, as usual, dead there. Going to Breezes this weekend may be a blessing in disguise. Our intel reports that a convention of hermaphrodites has been at Hedo. I am not kidding. Men/women who have parts of both sexes. Not sure if they are still there, but might not be worth the risk. I consider myself open minded, live and let live and all that, but I don’t want my face rubbed in it. Public nudity I can tolerate and, in fact, appreciate provided she is attractive. Don’t really want to see some other guy’s “thing”, but I am getting used to it. Public sex still makes me uncomfortable, so naked men with breasts or women with “things” is a bit over the line for me.

We are proceeding down to Kingston Thursday night. The students are having their TGIT (Thank Good It’s Thursday) tonight. Not sure if I am going to attend. There are several reasons for this. First, I never have much fun. The theme is always extremely loud music and young girls dancing. I like to watch the young girls (detecting a theme here?) dance. (Jamaicans have defined “booty shaking” to a fine art.) However, I am too old for music that loud. Secondly, being a Captain, I am the same rank as many of the students. In Canada, although junior to me, these students would be my peers. They would not be calling me “sir”. Yet, I am a member of the staff, so, to them I am the “enemy”. I can never have a proper friendship with any of them while on the course. So having fun at a party is out of the question. It’s like the boss at the Christmas party. He can never completely relax and let his hair down. The rest of the staff are Majors, so they are also not my peers either. Besides, I see them everyday and, to be honest, we are all a bit tired to talking to each other. The third thing is the way the thing is run. In the Carribean, parties do not start until late. Most people would have a nap in the evening and not go up until around midnight and party until 5 am. Since I (and the students) have to get up at 6 am and am old, by the time the party is starting I am going to bed. But that is not the worst of it. The party is supposed to start at 7 pm. For the first TGIT, I thought I was being fashionably late and showed up at 7:30. I was the first one there. Damn embarrassing. Not even the organizers were there yet. The second one was a bit better, I showed up at about 8:30. Still pretty empty, but at least the organizers were there. Figuring I had cracked the code, two weeks ago I arrived just after nine. I spent an hour staring at another instructor. Ten o’clock and the bar still wasn’t open. Just to add insult to injury, they take our rations for Thursday evening and use it towards the party. This means you have to go to get the meal they are supposed to feed you and wait until 10 pm for dinner. Then they ask $10 to help defray the cost. So, I am paying 10 bucks to go to a party where I have no fun, to see people that I cannot be friendly with, and that doesn’t get going until I have to leave. All to (maybe) see some attractive, booty shaking girls who I cannot touch.

Sure, perhaps I am being a bit of a grouch, but it has been a month since I saw the wife. Our conversations have been infrequent and short of late. She has been busy at work, so the regular emails she normally sends have dried up a bit. To be honest, I find it frustrating to talk to her. I want to be home. Husband and wife should be sharing their daily lives, not living thousands of miles apart. If I was learning something or felt I was contributing significantly it wouldn’t be so tough. Less than a month left and I am counting down the days. I dislike feeling like I am just marking time, waiting to get on with my life.

Tonight I think I am going to give the whole party thing a pass, get a bit of take out and watch some TV in the hotel room.

I wanted to post this yesterday, but our phone lines were down. This was not the usual destruction by nature, but was administrative. Rumour has it (not confirmed) that it had something to do with the JDF not paying their phone bill.

Will wonders ever cease?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Jamaica – 8 Nov 2005 – A weekend on the Hill

I spent the weekend in Newcastle. Just took some “me” time. I didn’t see anyone or talk to anyone. It was actually quite refreshing just to do nothing. The plan is to go to Hedo again this coming weekend. I think I will appreciate it again from having a weekend off.

Yesterday I sat in on one of our cloth model exercises. A cloth model exercise (CMX) is similar to playing army men as a kid. We put a piece of cloth that has rivers, trees and roads painted on it and use it to demonstrate some sort of military operation. Yesterday it was a withdrawal.

I forgot how much backstabbing goes on during these courses. What happens is that each group comes up with a plan and then presents it to the rest of the group. The other students, supposedly your friends, then attack you and pick on every aspect of your plan. It can be fun to watch individual techniques used when a person doesn’t know the answer. A standard one used is repeat the question. This is to stall for time while the student figures out what to say. Another one that you see a lot is when someone brings out some little detail that you did not consider. In this situation, the student usually just dismisses the question with a comment such as “That would be coordinated at a lower level”. This is the old somebody-else’s-problem response.

These are all individual techniques. The more advanced backstabbing avoidance techniques have to do with where you go in the order of presentation. Conventional wisdom is to go last, so that you can learn by the mistakes of those going before you. This has merit, however, trying to change a presentation that 4-8 people have planned on the fly can be difficult. Also, your brilliant ideas are not as appreciated, due to the feeling that your presentation should be good, since a number of others have already gone. I prefer to go first. This allows me to get “revenge” on anyone who asks difficult questions. I call this the Old Testament technique. The key thing with this technique is to inform everyone beforehand. You let them know whatever they do to you, you will do to them.

Of course, after you skate through your presentation, you can still hammer them.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Jamaica - 4 Nov 2005 - Crime and Jamaica

This article, although not about specific crime numbers, states the present number of murders in Jamaica.

In this post from last week, I speculated on the final number of murders for this year in Jamaica.

It seems I was a bit conservative in my estimate. The number of murders in Jamaica for this year is just over 1400, with still 2 months (or about 1/6 th of a year) left.

It is safer to be an America soldier in Iraq than a Jamaican citizen in Spanish Town.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Jamaica - 3 Nov 2005 - Peace and Quiet

Yesterday and today have been very quiet. The course has been on their first TEWT (tactical exercise without troops) for the past two days.

When the students and rest of the staff are up here my office is a constant parade of people, most of whom have some sort of problem. Usually, the problem is easy to fix, which I find more annoying than the hard problems. People are so lazy they do not even make the most rudimentary effort to solve their own problems. A few days ago, someone came in my office to tell me that the internet was down. I sat down to check out the problem and noticed that the little icon in the tray showing the internet status was not there. The guy could not get the site he wanted and didn't even bother to check if the dial up was connected.

The majority of questions I get have to do with various upcoming classes. Let's face it, I am lazy. I am not going to review in detail the requirements for some class that I am not responsible to teach. The person who is responsible should be doing that. Yet people often come up to me asking questions about classes they are responsible for, as if I have memorized the course and every class in it. We all have the entire course information on CD, so if they ask me a question, I have to pull up the files and figure out the background before I can attempt to answer. Since my only knowledge is what is in the files, I end up agreeing with them that the answer to their question is not in the files or that the files are not clear. Then we usually have some lengthy discussion of how the class should be taught or where the missing information might be found.

I guess I should be flattered that I seem to have this reputation as the "answer man" but I cannot figure out how I got it. It's not like I was here last year and know from experience what is supposed to happen. Everyone asking me these questions are senior in rank to me and know their students better than I. They are in a better position to figure out what to do then I.

Back to TEWTs. How do they work? We set up a scenario where the bad guys are attacking us and the students are told to come up with a plan for defending that area. They present that plan to everyone and discuss it. I am not involved in this portion, so I have stayed up in Newcastle. The place is just about empty, and I have to say, I am enjoying the quiet. I think that, if I were to live in Jamaica, I would find a place near the top of the mountain. The weather is not too hot for a cold climate guy like me and you get away from all the people. Kingston is crowded and it stinks, usually of diesel or burning garbage.

I can see why Ian Flemming moved to such a place like this to write the Bond novels.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jamaica - 2 Nov 2005 - So you think PMPM has Problems?

How about the problems this politician has?

The cops want to talk to his son, who they link with the Clansman, the gang that Bulbie was the head of. The politician's son, known as Devil, has been implicated in a number of murders in the area over the past few months.

The PNP are presently the ruling party in Jamaica and have been for over a decade.

The following quote demonstrates the link between political parties and these "gunman":

Clansman, whose members are known to be aligned to the ruling PNP, and One Order, whose members support the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, are the two main gangs operating in Spanish Town and have been engaged in deadly fights for turf and control of the city's extortion rackets.

Scores of people have been killed in the fights, which often take on a political complexion, involving communities that support either of the two major parties.

On Monday, at the height of the unrest in Spanish Town, Wade said that Bennett (Bulbie - ed.), who had eluded the police for a decade, and his gang had received some support from the PNP.

"We can't deny that," Wade said on radio. ".We have persons who are fully elected members supporting the criminal activities of this man."

I think it unlikely that this politician will hand over his son. To do so would threaten his base, ie. the Clansman gang.

I will follow this and let you know if "Devil" is handed over.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jamaica – 1 Nov 2005 - Post riot

Gangsters rule

I saw a news report about the riots last on TV. These riots were pretty typical. Garbage and debris placed to block roads, fires and the occasional gunfire. A woman was shot and killed and a policeman was wounded. The first thing that happens whenever there is a riot is that the local people claim police brutality. It is very interesting to hear the claims on the news. They are always presented by the media as and interview and in the own words of the person. Some of the claims are pretty hard for a Canadian to believe. It usually goes with the person claiming the person was just minding their own business, walking down the road, and the police came up and shot them. Of course, if you listen carefully, the claim never makes any sense. The person makes it sound like the area was nice and peaceful, birds chirping, the police drive up and shoot. The reporter never asks probing questions and the subject is invariably of low education and would not be able to talk around the inconsistencies in their story. Usually the interviewee destroys any credibility they have immediately after with some sort of statement about what a “nice guy” the killed criminal was. For example, the police think the guy killed yesterday was responsible for 100 murders over the last two years. This is about 5% of all the murders in Jamaica over one year. I spoke to one of my Jamaican colleagues about this. His attitude, which I think reflects the attitude of most educated Jamaicans, was that these people are lying. It would be easy for anyone with an ounce of logic to poke holes in these claims.

However, it is known that police are not well paid in Jamaica and easily bought. In addition, the policeman who was shot yesterday was not on duty, but was standing outside his home. I did not catch what the guy said, but it seems he is considering taking action, like suing the police. Doesn’t seem a good career move. Part of the problem is the police public affairs guys. The police never comment on anything, while the local people make all sorts of wild claims. As news reporters have nothing to counter the “man on the street”, that is what gets airtime.

I think someone could make a lot of money as a public affairs consultant to the Jamaican police.

Note: We usually go through the Spanish Town bypass, seen burning in the article, on our way back from the north coast.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Jamaica – 31 Oct 2005 - Bulbie is Dead

This article demonstrates some of the problems facing Jamaican society. Certain criminals become so powerful that they run the neighbourhood. In fact, many are treated like heroes by the locals, as they provide things that the government does not.

You can see the depth of the problem in this quote from the article:

Bennett's name, or more so his nickname, 'Bulbie', as well as his goings-on, came to national prominence when Robinson, then a ruling People's National Party (PNP) Parliamentarian for South St Catherine, used him as a metaphor for the emerging politically-aligned "dons", about whose dangers she warned and from whom she told her parliamentary colleagues to stay away.
Robinson, in the sectoral debate, related how Bennett had sought her patronage and sponsorship to become the "leading don in Jamaica", but told the House she was incapable of giving birth to a 'don"….

Robinson resigned from the legislature the following year over a rift between herself and PNP councillors in her constituency over the kinds of persons with whom they were willing to be associated. (bold mine)

When the garrison communities were set up, it was political strongmen who ran the communities to ensure the people voted for them. This would be done using the carrot and the stick. Lately, criminals are getting so rich through drug smuggling, that they are trying (and seeming to be successful) at buying politicians, as is implied in the above bold portion.

Nothing is in the papers yet, but on the TV news this morning the first 15 minutes spoke about rioting in the area, with the general sentiment being from the local people being “Yes, he was a criminal, but he protected us and gave us stuff. There was no reason for the police to shoot him”. Rioting in Jamaica usually means people blocking traffic and burning tires/garbage. Perhaps some gunfire.

Tomorrow I will see what is up and post details about the riots.

Jamaica – 31 Oct 2005 - Happy Hedowe’en

Hallowee’en is supposed to be quite the party at Hedo. I cannot say for sure, as we left yesterday and the party started last night and is supposed to go all day. Hurricane season is just about over and the high season is Jamaica is starting. Hedo was the busiest I have seen it, and the people there were certainly there to party. The quad pool, which is clothing optional, was much more optional than clothing. There were also 2 large groups there this weekend. One seemed to be a couples or swingers matching service, with a large web presence. The other seemed to be just a group of people who regularly go to Hedo every year.

Anyway, my weekend was fairly relaxing. However, I am getting a bit tired of the whole thing. Five more weeks to go and I have gotten just about everything I am going to get out of this place, professionally speaking. Now I am just counting down the days. I should really have learned that lesson by now. One of the reasons I got out of the Army was because I was bored. Even the exciting things had too much boredom before and after them to keep me interested. Yet I am still taking various military “opportunities”, thinking each one will be different from the last. It is like thinking that, maybe this time, my spouse is telling the truth and will never hit me again. Once this is over, no more fooling around for me.

Time to get the nose to the grindstone and get myself on some sort of path.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jamaica - As We Approach 2000 Dead

As the casualty count of American soldiers killed in Iraq during the war and insurgency approaches 2000, a number of left-wing groups have talked about using the 2000th soldier killed to push their political agenda.

Lets examine the "cost" in lives for this war.

The war has been ongoing since March 2003, say 30 months. Over that time 2000 American soldier have been killed, which is about 67 solders per month.

How does this compare to the murder rate in someplace like Jamaica?

links to the murder rates on Jamaica is listed as number 3 per capita with 887 murders in 2000 and a per capita rate of 37. This info is sorely out of date.

article quotes the Jamaican murder rate at 60 per 100,000. The population of Jamaica is about 2.3 million people.

article puts the total number of murders in Jamaica at over 1100 over 2001 and this more recent article has the total number of murders for 2004 at 1030 on October 3rd, 2004, three quarters of the way through the year. Extrapolating to the end of 2004 would put the murder rate at 1373 for 2004

The Jamaica murder rate has been growing over the past few years, and I would bet the homestead that the number of murders in Jamaica will exceed 1100 for 2005.

This puts the murder rate of US soliders in Iraq at about 800 per year for the entire period of the war, significantly less than the 1100 Jamaicans killed every year. As more Iraqi forces are training and they take over more of their security, I am sure that the US killed rate has been dropping.

2000 America soldiers killed so that 24 million Iraqis could be free.

What do Jamaicans have to show for the approximately 2750 people dead over the past 30 months?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jamaica – 25 Oct 2005 - We did it!

Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and there are minimal clouds in the sky. We have not had weather like this for over a week. Perhaps I can continue my daily trips up the peak again. It sounds a bit wimpy, but if it is too wet, I don’t go up. I have almost slipped a number of times, and a wet road greatly increases that chance.

I think I was a bit annoying to the rest of the staff the first week back from our break. During the break I spent some time with my parents, brother and sister. My siblings have two kids each, ages 3, 2, 10 months and 2 weeks. With 4 children that age in one house during holidays, you can’t avoid childrens’ programming. In two days I watched countless hours of Dora the Explorer. The show is quite funny, actually. Sneaky Swiper the fox tries to steal stuff and this is the first time I met Hero Star, the strongest star (He is the only Star with big biceps, and is obviously their leader). But my favourite is the little purple dinosaur/lizard guy who only speaks Spanish. Every time the group makes a decision to do something, the little guy repeats “yay”, “good” or “ok” in Spanish. Or something like that. My Spanish isn’t very good, but by the look on his face and what he says, I am sure he is repeating what Dora says. At the end of the show when they find complete the map or whatever, they always sing this song that goes “We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it!” etc. Anyway, I could not get the song out of my mind. Imagine being in a car for 7 hours with a guy who started singing “We did it! We did it! We did it!” after every successfully negotiated puddle.

I even pissed myself off after a while.

Update: Checking out the website, they even have songsheets you can print out of your favourite songs (I quote). No songsheet for the "We did it" song. Who needs a songsheet for three words.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Jamaica – 23 Oct 2005 - Minimal Posting and Hurricane Wilma

What a week. Hurricane Wilma has been causing havoc in Jamaica and with our plans. The weekend at Hedo sucked. It rained most of the weekend. Time at a resort is no fun unless there is some sun. The sky was very dark and gray the entire time. Let’s face it, no one goes to Hedo for the wet weather program of bingo and you can only sit in the hot tub for so long while getting rained on. At least we get one day free.

Although Jamaica was not hit by Wilma, we got the edges of her. This means constant rain and flooding all across the island. The trip to Hedo was a nightmare. It normally takes us 4 hours to travel the approximately 80 km. This time it was 7+ hours. We had numerous detours as flat bridge was impassable. To add to that, everyone and their dog was trying to get to the north coast at the same time. It doesn’t take much water to flood the roads. Whoever built them didn’t take into account drainage. In addition, the roads are about a half inch of asphalt over crushed rock. This means they can’t take much traffic and there are potholes everywhere. Add rain to this and the potholes quickly become swimming pools.

On Monday, the roads were so bad we decided to stay another night at Hedo. This would normally been great, but by this time the rain was so steady I did not even want to go outside. Luckily I brought a bunch of books to read, else I would have gone crazy.

By Tuesday, the road to Newcastle had been cleared by all the landslides and it was thought we could make it up. We drove back to Kingston and Up Park to meet up with the rest of the course for the trip up the hill. At about the ¾ mark, we hit another landslide. This is about 9 pm and it is already dark. The call is made to wait a bit and to try and get the JDF Engineers up here with their front end loader (FEL) to clear the slide. Not really a good idea in the middle of the night, in my opinion. After about 4 hours packed in a bus in the dark on the side of a mountain, we find out the FEL cannot make it up to the slide. We head back down the mountain and spend the night in a hotel. I get to my room about 3 am. Quite a long day.

On Wednesday it is decided not to further risk the trip up and we will carry on starting Thursday at the base in Kingston. This means a trip up by helicopter for a small number of us to get clothes for the students. I need to get a bunch of training aids for classes the next day. In Jamaica, nothing does smoothly and on time. To make a long story short, we had planned to fly up at 1pm, give ourselves a good 3 hours to pack up all we need, and fly back down at 4pm. Due to a bunch of things, including a casualty evacuation, I get back at 9pm. To top it all off, at about 6pm we find out the road is now open. How do I find this out? I am sitting there waiting for the chopper and this van packed full of people drives up and they get our cheering. Great passage of information.

We had planned to have classes in an old building on the base. This room had no AV equipment, so my Sgt and I went up to bring this stuff down. This is a big pain in the ass, as we have to pack up and weather proof a bunch of laptops, a projector, 2 printers, speakers and all the cables, powerbars, etc that goes along with this stuff. Thursday morning the decision is made to move the class to the JDF Air Wing. We rush over there in the morning to recce the place. It is completely wired for A/V stuff. All the stuff we brought was not needed.

What’s that you say? Stop complaining, the new location was much better. You would think so. Have you ever tried to teach/learn about 100 meters from a flight line? Since rescue operations were still going on, helicopters were taking off and landing all day. To top it off, and this is just great, the Air Wing was hosting the JDF inter unit volleyball tournament. The classroom exits right to the hanger floor, where the games were being played. I kid you not, the game was going on 10 feet from our room. You had to be careful exiting the class, as you could get a spike in the head. And Jamaicans love volleyball. People were yelling, screaming, and cheering. I did get to see some good volleyball. Overall, it was a comedy of errors.

After two days of that, I was tired of the place and just wanted to go home, so we came up to Newcastle on Saturday. The ride was quite easy, and we actually made it up in record time. It’s funny that I am starting to think of this place as home.

Hopefully we will be back on track on Monday. The course hasn’t been up here for over a week and it is starting to have an effect on everyone. The two days in Kingston were almost a waste of time. I think the students didn’t really absorb what they were taught, what with the noise, the distraction of girls playing volleyball, and the wild dance bars of Kingston calling them.

We shall see. I bet the instructors will have to crack the whip tomorrow.

On a more personal note, I thought the wife might still be mad at me for what happened on our vacation. I had no emails from her when I checked on Wednesday. I finally got her on the phone on Friday night. She is not one to hold a grudge and we had a nice conversation, so I think things are back to normal.

I guess I have staved off divorce for another week.

Jamaica – 14 Oct 2005 – Vacation Aftermath

My 4-day long weekend in Toronto was enjoyable. I met the wife at the hotel but we did not do much on Friday night as I arrived at about 10:30 pm. On Saturday we went to Second City, the comedy club where such people as John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and Eugene Levy got their start. I had never heard of any of the comedians, however, their show was pretty good. If you see it look for the lizard skit and the lesbian skit. My two favourites.

Sunday we went to visit my parents and have Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s house. We took the GO train, but missed the first train and had to wait an hour for the next one. It was quite maddening, as the whole scene was like a movie. The train started to pull away just as we got there. The reason we missed our train was the huge line ups to get tickets. Actually, it was quite funny. We missed our train by about 20 seconds. As we were waiting, this lady begged someone ahead of us to let her in, saying she needed to get on the next train. Join the club. We probably would have made our train if she had not been let in. Whoever runs the trains knows little about gauging how many customers to expect on a holiday Monday.

Of course, I screwed up with the wife. We have this ongoing disagreement about something. I tried to get my way by putting her on the spot in front of my parents. I knew she did not want to talk about it at the time and that I was putting her on the spot, yet I still did it. I was wrong. I apologized after but I don’t think she has forgiven me yet. She after I apologized, she said to me “You are just engaging in damage control”. I don’t like that way of putting it. “Damage control is something that politicians do when they are not really sorry but want to contain the “damage” of what they have said or done. I don’t want my wife to be upset. Not because I am afraid of what someone might think, but because she is my wife and I love her. To have her be upset make me upset. So, you say, why did you do it? What can I say, I am a man and therefore, I don’t think before I speak. I am working on it. If I was perfect, she would have nothing to “fix up” and would never have married me.

The wife and I should formally set up a system where she can signal me to shut up. Perhaps that fake coughing thing where she coughs and, under her breath, says something like “Asshole” or “Insensitive Jerk”. Or we could have a safety word like those S&M people have. Saying the word means stop everything. Come to think of it, we already have that sort of thing. Whenever she does want to talk about something she says, “We will talk about it later”. She was saying it during our discussion. I just ignored it.

Honey, if you are reading this, I am sorry. I still don’t think you are right, but I won’t put you on the spot in front of my family again.

This weekend we spend at Hedo. Since Monday is Hero’s Day, the course is getting the day off so we will be staying at Hedo until Monday.

It will be nice to have an extra day.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Those Mentally Ill Albertans

Maybe this is because we are working so hard to keep the rest of Canada economically afloat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

Who am I kidding.

This article says that, despite the massive increase in health care spending over the last year, wait times have decreased only marginally.

Is anyone surprised? How long will the politicians continue to ignore the experts? We need to change the system, not sink more money down a bottomless pit.

In other news, sorry for the infrequent posting. I spent the long weekend at Hedo, which was extended a day due to Wilma. We then got caught in Kingston, trying to get back to Newcastle. Right now I am stuck in Newcastle, having gotten here by helicopter. We wait for our ride back, but it had to carry out a search and rescue or casuality evacuation, both higher priority than us. We are spending a few days in Kingston, as the roads to Newcastle are not safe due to landslides. Once we get settled in Kingston, I will propertly update the blog.

Wifey, I will try to call tonight.

Friday, October 14, 2005

In that a Commenter asks…

When am I going to join the war in Iraq?

comment is the usual leftist crap about the war in Iraq and uses the usual “if you like it so much, why don’t you join”. I purposefully ignored this portion of the statement, as I felt it was a bit childish. However, now I feel like addressing it, so I am going to. It’s my blog and I will do whatever the hell I want.

So, when am I going to join the war in Iraq? Nothing is for certain, but probably never.

Firstly, my country is not involved. I am not a mercenary. I joined the military to protect and defend my country. I definitely believe we should have got involved and have said so to anyone in discussions about the subject and on this blog. If Canada was involved, would I have gone? Certainly. Most young people who join the military have visions of adventure in their eyes. I had that, but I was also fully aware of the risk I was taking. I knew could be sent to any conflict my country got involved in. There were no wars going on when I joined but the job is never safe. Over 100 soldiers have lost their lives in the past 20 plus years on peacekeeping missions. This does not include the guys in Afghanistan. I feel the posters insinuation that I am not willing to risk my life for something is false.

So, when am I going to join the war in Iraq?

Why should I? Should I go and risk my life for a bunch of ungrateful people like the poster? Part of the contract between members of the military and civilians is that soldiers risk their lives and civilians give them respect (monuments, etc) when they pay that price. Does anyone else sense that that contract has gone by the wayside? Why would I want to risk my life for these people when they just slag me for risking my life, what I consider to be the ultimate sacrifice. You don’t have to agree with the war or reasons for it to respect the risk that the person is taking for their beliefs.

Besides, in my old age I am becoming more Canadian. We have been riding the coattails of other countries since confederation, why change now? Does anyone remember the Cold War where we shaded ourselves under the safety of the American nuclear umbrella? I had a professor of Canadian Defence history who used to describe in detail how cheap Canadians are when it comes to Defence. My favorite story is how, just after confederation, the Canadian government hired a bunch of retired British generals to come up with a plan for the defence of Canada. As good military officers, they came up with 3 options. The first option was what they recommended; it provided a good plan at a reasonable cost. Option 2 was a bit on the cheap, but if you did not want to spend that much, it provided some defence which would likely serve us well. Option 3 was not recommended, but it was the absolute minimum that had to be spent. Guess what the politicians chose?

Wrong. They chose option 4, which was to take option 3 and spend about half that. We can't defend ourselves, but no one hates us.

With even Ontario now saying that it is not getting enough back for what it puts in, soon Alberta will be the only one putting in more than it gets back. Welfare, free child care, cushy government jobs. It seems the Canadian way to freeload. It can’t last forever, so we might as well enjoy the ride. In a pyramid scheme, it doesn’t pay to be the last guy to jump aboard.

If this is the way we are with money, why not the same with defence?

Perhaps the only way to save the country is to let everything go to hell in a hadbasket. Maybe then everyone will realize how sick the system is and agree it needs to be changed.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who is Rachael Ray?

Who cares?

All I can say is I know what I am getting the wife for Christmas and it isn't a cookbook.

Via Nealenews

I Am Just Happy To Be Nominated

Small Dead Animals is hosting a Best Blog Awards and this blog has been nominated in the Best Canadian Blog category. I am not sure why but I think they needed to fill out the field a bit. Anyway, it is nice to be nominated. The primary reason I started this blog was to get a bit of writing experience. The secondary reason was to let other guys know that they are not the only ones who have trouble dealing with women, especially when that woman belongs to the community of moonbats. (Another benefit of this blog is that I can (perhaps) win an argument, if not with her, then in the court of public opinion. We take our victories where we can get them.)

I suppose I could ask you all to vote for me, but in truth, I don’t think this is the best Canadian blog. There are a lot of good blogs on the list. Over half are already on my daily reading list, and I am sure to check out the others. I did not start this blog to win an award and I would much rather be offered a writing job with high pay and little work. So, if anyone out there works (I use that term loosely) for the CBC, think of me.

The daily traffic for this site has quadrupled since the nominations were announced, so I want to welcome the new readers and I hope that you enjoy some part of what you find here.

Vote early and vote often.

Update: Check out this post for updates on the results.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Damned if We Do, Damned if We Don't

Here is a great post by VDH on why we must fight this war versus Islamic Fundamentalism.

Jamaica – 6 Oct 2005 – Homeward bound

It has been raining a lot here lately. Normally we get 30-90 minutes of rain each day, but lately it has been a few hours at a time, several times a day. This has been due to the Hurricane that recently hit Central America, as we are catching more rain from the edge of the storm.

We had our usual BBQ last night and watched a local Jamaican made film called Third World Cop. Actually, it was pretty good. The production values would be considered low for Hollywood, but overall they were fairly professional. The movie gave a good look at Jamaican society and the police. I would recommend it for anyone interested in how Jamaica sees itself and the relationship between the police and citizens. Some of the tricks used by the bad guys in the movie to smuggle guns are actually used (or were used) by criminal elements.

36 more hours until I meet the wife in Toronto.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

News Round Up

Here are a few recent news articles with I find quite interesting:

US aiming at Syrian regime change - I quite enjoyed meeting Syrians when I was in the Golan. I found them to be friendly, hard-working people who I think would benefit from and enjoy some freedom. I hope regime change comes and not too many civilians are killed.

Liberals rig Parliamentary calendar to avoid early election - Well, the Liberals have pushed the opposition days back to avoid the chance of a fall election. These guys cling to power like a man gripping a ledge by his fingernails.

Alberta earns more from private liquor sales than Ontario and Quebec - Private enterprise triumphs again. Why is the government selling liquor?

Does anyone out there think that the only reason Dingwall gets a plumb severance package after quitting is to keep him quiet?


Here is a great little example of how the media can present a certain spin to a story but using one image over another. Thanks to Zombietime.

Jamaica – 3 Oct 2005 – Hedo III Wild Weekend

This weekend was the wildest I have seen it at Hedo III. This weekend they had the Miss Black Nude Something Something Something Contest. I didn’t pay much attention after the Nude part. Anyway, it was quite wild. They always have the big shows on Saturday night, so the main stage was turned into a strip show, as each of the seven contestants strutted their stuff.

Later, at the disco, things got even wilder. Saturday night the theme is “bare as you dare”. You can imagine what that means with a bunch of strippers in the bar. If you can’t, I can tell you. It means get naked and have simulated sex with anyone who is willing. For some of the strippers, this seemed to be their area of expertise. Again, if Hedo is the kind of place you want to go, be sure to go when something good is going on, or during high season. The type of people who are there can greatly affect the type of time you have.

Hedo III recently hired a new head chief, Joseph, who is from Niagara Falls, Canada. He seems to be working hard to improve the food. Let’s face it, the majority of people who go to Hedo are not going for the food, but for the “extracurricular” activities. This is why I am impressed with his effort. We have noticed an improvement in the food over the last 6 weeks. I was saying that the food at Breezes is better in quality and quantity. If he keeps this up, it will only be quantity.

The vacancy rate at the resorts has been high this season. Hedo III is still averaging about a 30% occupancy rate. The Italian restaurant, Pastafari, has been closed the last few weekends. This is unfortunate for us, as they serve the best food. I particularly like their antipasto bar and the Caesar salad.

Three more work days until I go to visit the wife. When this task started, I had decided that I would not see her at the mid course break. However, since we are still technically newlyweds and this is the longest we have been apart since we were married, I decided that it is important for our relationship to see each other. $600 for me to fly to Toronto for 4 days is a bit much.

But it is worth the money to keep our marriage healthy.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Jamaica – 28 Sept 2005 – If It Bleeds, It Leads

Every Wednesday we have a little BBQ, just to get a break from the monotony of chicken and rice. Today we broke the BBQ monotony by ordering some pizza and patties. As we are eating (about 7pm) we watch the local Jamaican news. There were 4 murders in the last two days in an area of east Kingston called Mountain View. Two women and a 3 month old baby were killed yesterday. Today, as many people were moving out of the area, packing clothes and stuff into cars, shopping carts, anything with wheels, another woman was shot and killed. She had packed some stuff, went back into the house to get a few more things, and was killed. She was 22 years old and the mother of five children, ages 9 years to 5 months. Now, usually the people who are targeted are involved in some sort of criminal activity and the word in the community is that these acts are a “reprisal”. Jamaica is somewhat of a macho society, so I do not think these women committed any crimes, but were likely related to other criminals. I am told that it is not unusual for revenge to be taken against a person by killing their entire family. The newspaper mentioned that the grandmother of the dead woman, 65 years old, has left the community because she has received death threats.

I do not condone any type of criminal murders, but even Tony Soprano leaves the women and children. What did the 3 month baby do? Or a 65 year old grandmother? Some of this stuff makes me sick. I am not a big fan of death squads, but it makes you want to just sweep through the city with a few good men and kill the type of people that would kill a 3 month old baby. The pictures from Mountain View show the area under a curfew and crawling with cops and soldiers.

After that happy story, they go to an item about a 10 year old boy who was hit and killed by an SUV. His grandmother is on the news, talking about what a nice boy he was, how he called her on the phone to tell her he was coming home, how she went to meet him at their usual spot and how she called him on his mobile phone when he did not show up on time. She then went looking for him, noticed a commotion down a street and, when asked, was told that a boy had been hit and killed. She immediately knew it was her grandson. Depressing.

I cannot comment on this particular accident, but I have to say, we were driving a few weeks ago, and three boys, about 10 years old suddenly darted in front of our van. The driver, a JDF soldier, slammed on the brakes and managed to miss them by a few inches. He actually had been slowing down, seeing the kids at the side of the road and anticipating that they might try to cross. That said, we have had drivers who are not so cautious, and I have personally seen many examples of people who drive recklessly. The only surprise is that more people do not get killed. A bit of advice passed to me: If you ever get into an accident where you have hit someone, don’t stop, and drive directly to the police station. Jamaicans tend towards the mob mentality, and there have been instances of people getting hit or killed, the driver stopping to help and a mob literally tearing the driver apart. No trial, no appeal.

One of the Jamaican officers watching the news with us mentioned that for many years he did not watch the news as it was too depressing. I can see how that would be. The last story was about a woman who had her baby stolen. This sounded like the usual mentally unstable women who asks to hold you newborn and then takes off. After this piece, the anchor gave an update to the story saying the baby had been found. One good story after all.

My faith is restored until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Jamaica – 26 Sept 2005 – That’s more like it

I had a nice, relaxed weekend at Hedo. The entertainment this weekend was more to my liking. Instead of the Red Hot Male contest, this weekend the Extreme Babe Swimsuit Calendar girls were doing a photoshoot. These girls were hot, with a capital H. Tight bodies like you would not believe, all of them very cute and young. They significantly raised the cuteness factor. As always, the blondes dominated the top 3 spots at the “contest” they had on Friday night. The redhead had my vote.

I think the key to Hedo is getting there on a weekend where something is going on and there are lots of people. The attitude of the guests really effects the type of weekend. If the people are wild and fun, the place will be hopping and you will meet a lot of interesting people. If the crowd is not as friendly, you might not have as good a time. If you were going to a couples resort and just planning to spend time with each other, everyone else doesn’t matter. Half the interest for Hedo is the other people. I would definitely recommend going to Hedo during high season, so as to experience the wild side of it.

The wife and I have finally come to a compromise. Instead of one of us travelling 24 hours for a 4 day weekend, we are both going to fly to Toronto and meet there for a romantic getaway. Not sure what we are going to do, but I will ask her to bring a bunch of stuff for me and will send back some stuff I do not need.

It’s only 4 days (she might get only 3), but I think we need to spend the time together.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Jamaica – 21 Sept 2005 – Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

So they say. I have always viewed this saying with suspicion. Absence does make you appreciate the one you are missing but there are limits to this. There is something to sharing your life with someone else. I mean sharing the daily small things. Making meals together, sleeping in the same bed, bumping into each other in the bathroom. Getting used to having someone around everyday can be a strong reinforcement to the love you share. So, while I appreciate the wife more now that she is not around, I am getting used to her not being around. I am reverting back to my bachelor ways.

I actually miss my wife more now than during my last tour, which was two months longer. I think it is because during my last tour we had only just met, had be dating for a few months and not living together. We have been living together for over a year now, with only a maximum of two weeks apart. This is the longest I have been apart from my wife since we started living together.

I have decided to take some steps to address the situation. We have a mid course break coming up, so I have suggested the wife and I meet in Toronto for a little romantic weekend. I bit expensive for only four days, but what the hell, it’s only money. I think it is worth it to keep our relationship on the right track. I even promised not to let my family know I am in town. This will be a true romantic getaway.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the wife will be able to get out of Edmonton for the weekend due to work. The only other option would be for me to fly home. I am not keen on taking two flights of 3-4 hours each (probably a minimum of 12 hours travel time each way) for a four day weekend. So we are talking about going from a 4 day to a 3 day weekend due to travel time. Add on to it that the wife may have to work for 2 of those days, and it becomes a waste of time. Besides, she would probably have me hanging curtains or something of that sort.

Not my idea of a vacation.