Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No Mom, we are not getting a divorce

This recent post got a comment which led me to believe I may be driving off my readers (all 2 of them). Hopefully this post will reassure you a bit.

From the comments:

Reading this blog has begun to depress me. In particular, that separate account thing doesn't sound good to me. Sort of like a "just in case we break up, at least I'll know what's mine" provision.

Part of the problem is that we are moving and trying to adjust our lives. Remember we have spent over half our married life away from each other and we just moved into a new house. Of the six major life stresses, we had two last year (marriage and moving), so I expect some time will be needed to adjust.

Still, I think we should just have one account and be done with it. I am not sure why she wants to have separate accounts. I only have a part time job and we could not afford to pay the bills on my money alone, so she pays most household expenses.

If she is planning to "get out", it would be in her best interest to merge everything.

I think the separate account thing is more about some sort of left wing, "I am my own individual" thing. However, she did take my last name so that doesn't really make any sense.

There were two things I wanted to do in writing this blog. The first was to get some experience writing, to see if it was a career I wanted to pursue. The second was to highlight the problems of two people who love each other but hold different political views. I hoped this might provide some humour to my readers and show that every marriage/relationship has ups and downs, conflict and difference of opinion. And to show that those things can be worked through.

At least I think they can. I am not sure, since I have not had a relationship last over 3 months in the last 15 years.

This is a bit of unfamiliar territory to me.

Hopefully I will be able to give you a final accounting in 40 years.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canary in the Coal Mine (4)

The purpose of these posts is to regularily interview someone I caonsider a fairly typical Ontario Liberal voter who can be swayed by the campaigns. The idea is to follow the attitudes and perceptions of this person as a barometer to how the campaigns are going and what the composition of the government might be after 23 Jan.

The Canary is my Father. See the below posts for past info.

Canary in the Coal Mine

Canary in the Coal Mine (1)

Canary in the Coal Mine (2)

Canary in the Coal Mine (3)

Election day voting.

Dad decided to “give Harper a chance” and voted Conservative. I think this may be what many people from Ontario are thinking.

If there is going to be a long term political shift to the right in Canada, similar to what we have seen in the US, it will depend a lot on what the Conservatives are able to do as the government.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Post deployment readjustments

Things have not been going super smoothly since I got home.

To be honest, I expected a bit more things done around the house. I was gone for almost 5 months, and we still do not have curtains or a set of drawers for the bedroom. There were a few things I asked her to do when I was gone and they were not done.

Before all the femanists out there get all uppity, these were things that most women like to do. It's not like I asked her to chop a winters’ worth of firewood. These things were all, what a friend of mine likes to call, "pink" things. Buying curtains, getting some stools for the kitchen, buying a chest of drawers for the bedroom, buying a pot rack. I said buy one thing each month or about 5 major items. I said try to keep it down to about $500 per, but use your judgement. I expected I would see some overpriced stuff, but better to have something a pay a bit more than have nothing. Or she could buy nothing.

Now I fully accept that I would have to do something when I got home and I was ready for a pile of what I call the "blue" things waiting for we when I got back. These include such things as putting up the curtains, moving the dresser, chopping wood, etc. But there are no "blue" things to do. In fact, it seems the only major thing the wife did was chop firewood (she did a lot of firewood), which is a blue thing. She did buy a few other things, the biggest being a small liquor cabinet (low priority) and some Leggo at a garage sale, for the kids. Since we don't have any kids, and if we did have one tomorrow it would be at least 5 years before he/she could play with it, this is an even lower priority.

Suffice it to say, things are not were I thought they would be.

Now, in her defence, she says that she was very busy at work and did a lot of overtime. If this is true that means we should have a ton of money to spend. I want to buy a new, fancy TV, one of those LCD 32 inch types. The one we are watching now is at least 8 years old and is 26 inches. If you know me, you know that I am cheap. I do not want to spend a cent if I do not have to, especially on big ticket items. I don't mind spending money on something it if we need it, otherwise I sock money away. Now, we do not need a TV. The present one is old and doesn't fit in the space, but we could survive without it, so this is a tough purchase for me. I am wracked with guilt, as demonstrated by having been into a number of stores a number of times looking at the thing and always putting buying it off for some reason. So you would thing the wife would be a bit more supportive as I struggle with this purchase. Not so. She keeps making comments about how we do not need a new TV. I know we do not need a new TV. When you get right down to it, we don't need a TV at all. Sure, we could continue to leave the TV in the center of the room, on the coffee table, so close to the fireplace that the plastic melts. That's not the point. The point is how can a woman who did very few of the "pink" things criticize when I want to buy something to get the place in better shape? Especially since we are rolling in so much money after all this overtime.

That's another thing. The wife still insists on the "my money, your money". I say we put it all in one account, she wants separate accounts. To be honest, I really don't care, since we divide up all the bills anyway. But how can I be sure there was overtime. Maybe she found out I asked the neighbour to watch the house while I was gone and shoot any strange men that were around. Maybe this "overtime" was really a cover for an office affair.

This weekend is my birthday. If she gives me trouble about buying the TV this weekend, I will know she had an affair.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Can this Election get any more Buzzare?

Just after posting the below and discussing Buzz Hargrove with my dad, I go back on the net to read the following, courtesy of Andrew Coyne:

Buzz Hargrove and why Quebecers should vote for the Bloc

Buzz on Alberta

When I spoke to Dad and told him that Buzz says Quebers should vote for the Bloc, he mentioned he did not see that.

I wonder if it will be in the Liberal endorsing Toronto Star tomorrow.

Update: Yes it can!

Liberal Campaign Caught Falsely Accusing Conservative Candidate of Sexual Abuse

Via Nealenews

Canary in the Coal Mine (3)

The purpose of these posts is to regularily interview someone I caonsider a fairly typical Ontario Liberal voter who can be swayed by the campaigns. The idea is to follow the attitudes and perceptions of this person as a barometer to how the campaigns are going and what the composition of the government might be after 23 Jan.

The Canary is my Father.

See the below posts for past info.

Canary in the Coal Mine

Canary in the Coal Mine (1)

Canary in the Coal Mine (2)

Jan 8 to Jan 18. Turnaround in the works for the Libs?

I had a bit or trouble contacting the Canary this week. My parents have been out a lot, babysitting for my sister. I was only able to speak to my Dad today, so this includes everything up to this point.

I hate to go against the conventional wisdom, but I think the Liberal attacks and the "scary" Harper stuff is getting some traction, at least in my father's case.

Although Dad says that there were no significant election stories this week and he states that he is still leaning towards the Conservatives, he sounded less sure about voting Tory this week than last. He read the Toronto Star endorsement of Martin, and said they made some good points. The fact that the TStar admitted Martin made some mistakes seemed to mitigate the whole Liberal corruption, adscam, etc, in his eyes. I specifically asked him about the corruption, and he said, "Scandals are hard to stop". I guess this is the old "everyone is corrupt" argument.

Still, he thinks that Harper has "conducted himself well" but his is concerned that Harper may not be a Red Tory. He wishes Harper was less conservative. Since I was wearing my journalist hat, I had to stop myself from biting through my tongue to keep myself from attacking that statement.

Dad seems to still have some deep seated feeling in his gut that Harper is still "scary". He couched this by saying he was scared about some policies, specifically that Harper would give more power to the provinces. I don't believe there is anything in the Troy platform about more power to the provinces, perhaps just about the feds no longer stepping on provincial toes. It shows that there is still some of the scary Harper meme left over from the last election.

We discussed the polls indicating a possible Conservative majority government. Dad does not want to see that happen and still thinks it will be a Tory minority. He thinks that, once in the booth, many Liberals who were thinking of voting conservative (such as him) will "chicken out" and vote Liberal on Monday. He was quite ready to admit he was in that position.

We shall see what happens on Monday. I hope to talk to him after he votes and find out which way he voted.

Dad has not seemed to consider voting NDP. Strange considering Oshawa is a strong GM town.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Liberal Anti-Military Attack Ad

With this attack ad dominating the news this week and being a member of the Canadian Forces, I thought I would comment.

Firstly, this is rightly perceived as an attack on the military. How is a CPC policy of adding a few hundred soldiers to various major centers a threat? The ad seems to imply "Soldiers. With guns" are somehow a threat to civilians. Perhaps they are in various lawless dictatorships where our soldiers are often sent, but I cannot see how anyone would believe this would be a serious threat in Canada. This ad revels to me that the Liberals seem to think that soldiers (meaning me) are a threat to democracy.

Yesterday, I was at my military office doing a bit of work. This young journalist from the Edmonton Journal came in looking for some comments on the ad. He had already been to the Base, trying to get comments from passing soldiers at the Robin's Donuts. I laughed. I asked him how he did. He completely struck out. I explained to him that soldiers are told that they can speak to the media (as soldiers) about things that they have direct knowledge about. If you are a journalist and want to do an article on how a machine gun works, they will be happy to get someone who knows everything about it. However, the reverse of that is soldier are told not to speak about something they do not have direct knowledge of. If a journalist asks me to comment, as a soldier, on the CPC policy of stationing a few hundred soldiers in major centers to help with disaster relief, etc, my reply would be "I don't know". And I don't. I, (Marcel, private citizen) have thoughts on the policy, but as a soldier, I have nothing to do with disaster relief policy. The basing of soldiers, the costs involved and relative merits, are not my area of expertise.

That said, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what a soldier would say about the Liberal attack ad. My perception of that ad is one that almost everyone would agree with, Liberal candidate protestations to the contrary. Soldiers are fairly well educated and you would be hard pressed to find a serving member who did not have at least a high school education. Most military members would come to the same conclusion as I.

Now, here is a bit of a tip about Canadian soldiers. They really believe the "good guy" stuff that we have been feeding them these past 20 years. Very few see themselves as instruments of coercion for the state. They see themselves as peacekeepers. So, now Martin and his bunch are saying that soldiers are a threat to democracy.

How would that make you feel?


Of course, no soldier would give this journalist what he wants. Why would they? It should be blindingly obvious what a soldier would think about the ads, so why risk punishment by breaking the rules? And punishment is likely. We see ourselves as defenders of Canada and that means it is important to be above politics. We defend the country, not any political party. Showing favouritism to any particular party calls that into question. Even me, who despises the Liberal party and what it has done to Canada and the military, would have no problem reprimanding someone who broke this rule.

That said, I noticed a few letters to the editor in the paper where serving military members spoke out against these ads and included their rank. This is a bit of a risk. That even a few are willing to state their opinion and take that risk should say something to every Canadian on what we think of this issue.

The Liberals have been destroying the military since 1993, when they cancelled the EH 101 contract. Everyone knows this, military members experience the effects of Liberal policies on a daily basis.

I think you would be hard pressed to find any serving military member who would vote for the Liberals in this election.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Values Values Values

Post Debate thoughts

Blah Blah Blah

If I hear the world "values" once more, I swear I am going to scream. The arrogance of certain party leaders is unbelivable. They talk as if there are certain "Canadian Values" that every single one of the 32 million people in Canada ascribe to, and we all agree. If that were so, there would be no need for democracy or voting, and indeed, this blog would not exist.

I am not going to talk about who won or lost, because that doesn't matter. Most people did not watch the debate, so what really matters is the spin being put on it right now and the headlines in the papers tomorrow. Rather than tell you who I think won, I am going to talk about the performance of each.

Paul Martin: The guy comes across as desparate. He talks fast, as if he is trying to throw enough facts and figures and "great programs" at you so you won't as him about the sponsorship scandal. The guy was the least Primeministerial (sp?) of the bunch. And his statements were so choppy. It was like he would start into some point, some program that he had brought in and they just trail off into something else, never finishing his point. My distinct impression was of someone tap dancing on hot coals in bare feet. And enough with the values crap. As if I really expect the leader of a political party to hold the same values as I. I can't even find a wife with my same values, never mind a political party. It's hard for me to be open minded with PMPM, as the only value I can think about whenever he says "Values" is skimming money from taxpayers and funneling it through the Ad agencies of your friends. Can anyone trust anything this guy says? Twelve years after making the promise of a child care plan it is finally coming in?

Stephen Harper: I thought he had the best performance. He was focussed, stuck to his points and spoke calmly and clearly. The oly value I want in a politician is someone who will do what they say. After than, tell me what you plan to do and I will decide if I think it is the best thing for the country and for me. I am not sure if Harper will do what he says, but he couldn't be worse than the Liberals.

Jack Layton: One of the "average Joe citizens" mentioned that Jack seemed a bit wooden and stiff. I thought he did well and he talked less about values than the other guy. At least he was more calm and cohearant that Martin. Unfortunately, I can't take the NDP seriously. Jack seemed focussed on convincing his potential supporters not to abandon the NDP to stop the Conservatives. All the stuff about giving us enough MP's to make Parilment work. The NDP is a regional party like the Bloc, except instead of a region, they have "victims". All the people who are thought (by them) to be underrepresented or disadvantagesd in some way. I don't buy that crap about the government "protecting" and "helping", so I can't take them seriously. Besides, I suspect that, deep in his heart, Jack knows that the members of his party are right out to lunch when it comes to the serious issues, such as the economy, and he knows that he would mess it up. He secretly hopes for an economically conservative Liberal or Conservative party to win, so he can lobby for his precious social programs. If the NDP formed the government, they would destroy the economy, just like they did in BC. the difference being, at the federal level there wouldn't be anyone else to pass the buck to and pay for health care, child care and all those other ineffiecient programs.

Giles Duceppe: This was fun for him, as he knows his real audience will be watching tomorrow. The only thing he need to do is come across as rational, so as to made this separation thing not like an idea from a bunch of crazies. He made some good points, especially in his attacks on PMPM, unfortunately, is english is a bit weak, so it comes off as disjoined and hard to follow at times. He needs to polish up his english.

It's all over but the spinning.

Update: SDA reminded me of the quote that clearly demonstrates my point about PMPM. At one point they are talking about poverty and he says the root causes of poverty are Aboriginals. Now, I am sure he did not mean to say that, and I assume that what he meant was, umm, I am not sure. The point is the guy was nervous and all over the place, rushing from point to point. He definately came across as desperate.

Canary in the Coal Mine (2)

The purpose of these posts is to regularily interview someone I caonsider a fairly typical Ontario Liberal voter who can be swayed by the campaigns. The idea is to follow the attitudes and perceptions of this person as a barometer to how the campaigns are going and what the composition of the government might be after 23 Jan.

The Canary is my Father. See the below posts for past info.

Canary in the Coal Mine

Canary in the Coal Mine (1)

Christmas to 8 Jan 2006. First week back.

My father did not pay much attention to the election over the holidays, which was to be expected. He reports that he has pretty much decided to vote Conservative, provided nothing significant happens in the next two weeks. I am assuming this would have to be something sever, such as proof that Stephen Harper is the Anti-Christ. From discussing it with him, Dad is feeling comfortable with the Conservatives and said "Give Harper a chance".

No issue raised by any party since after Christmas has resonated with him, nothing has made him reconsider his choice.

When I spoke to him today I asked him what he thinks the final result (seat tally) will be. He thinks a minority Conservative government with Conservatives 125 seats and Liberals 120 seats. He doesn't really care about the rest.

After talking to him, I mentioned that a new poll had just come out today (which he had not seen) which put the Conservatives ahead by 8 points. I am interested to see if this affects his thoughts next week. I am guessing that he is comfortable with a Conservative minority, one where the other parties could easily keep the Conservatives in check. If the Conservatives start to run away with it, his vote may change.

Not to repeat the usual MSM refrain, but I think Dad thinks exactly what newspapers such as the Toronto Star thinks he thinks. The Liberals have been bad, and my father thinks they need some time in opposition to learn their lesson. His vote is not a "I like the Conservatives" vote, but a "teach the Liberals a lesson" vote. If it starts to look as if that lesson may be too harsh (ie. Conservative majority) he may change his mind.

This week will be interesting, especially after the anticiated Liberal "dirty ads" come out.

Dad says he will watch the debates. I will report on his impressions.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Canary in the Coal Mine (1)

See this post first.

First three weeks of the campaign (up to Christmas).

The first interview was late, as I did not get home until half way through the campaign. My father voted Liberal in the last election (2004) but cannot remember which party he voted for before that (20000). I will bet it was Liberal as well.

He describes himself as liberal (small l), but does not vote religiously for any one party. His primary source for election information is from the Toronto Star (subscription, about 80% of his information) and the CBC: The National (20%). Twenty years ago, when I lived at home, my father was falling asleep at about the time the news came on (my father is the reason for the ill fated movement of The National from the 10 pm to 9 pm timeslot some years ago), so I doubt it is much different now. Consider it closer to 100% Toronto Star.

After the first three weeks of the campaign, he says he will not vote Liberal. I still classify him as undecided, but he says he is leaning towards the Conservatives. The two biggest issues in the campaign: The GST cut, (he really likes that), and Liberal corruption. Adscam has really hit a nerve with him.

I was hoping this would show some big change over the course of the campaign. It seems the Natural Governering Party(tm) is in trouble right from the start.

Recent poll numbers seem to confirm this. Come back tomorrow to see if the Christmaas break and 1st week back has had any change.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Back to Full Strength

In this post I mentioned that our oldest cat died.

Last week we added to our family by going to the Edmonton Humane Society and adopting a kitten, who we named Orion. Being in the country, we need a good mouser, so I have high hopes that he will live up to his name. The older cat is doing a good job in that department, as she caught a mouse last week. However, at 10 years old, she can't last forever, so we have to start training the next generation now. So far, Orion shows promise. He attacks everything in sight and is very fast. However, he is also clumsy. He knocks down everything, climbs on top of stuff and frequently falls from over a 4 foot height. You know how they say cats always land on their feet? Not this guy. I have frequently observed him land on his back numerous times.

Having a kitten is a bit like having a child. Orion cannot spend 2 seconds without being nearby. As I (try to) write this, he keeps walking over the keyboard and attacking the cursor. It is interesting to see him realize he cannot get it and look behind the monitor to see if it is there. As is typical for kittens, he goes 1 million miles an hour, then suddenly crashes, sleeping for 30 minutes before starting the cycle again. He also has to be underfoot, going where you are going. As a result, I have often almost stepped on him or kicked him. Don't tell the agency.

Speaking of the agency, I am very supportive of what they do, but they treat you a bit like a potential criminal. I mean, people used to drown kittens by the sackful, so I figured I would be doing these guys a favour by taking a kitten. Perhaps I was, but the process you have to go through. It took about 1-2 hours to adopt Orion. I signed a contract, the main thrust of which was that the Humane Society is not responsible for anything. I had to initial beside statement such as "I am aware that any future medical related costs must be borne by me.." and "The Edmonton Humane Society is not responsible (insert anything here)...". I suppose it must be done, but the extreme lengths people must go to protect themselves legally is absurd.

After the legal mumbo-jumbo, you fill out a questionnaire which asseses your fitness to be a parent. Questions such as "How will you react if your pet ...". I mean, give me a break, do they think I will dance a jig if the cat pisses on my new shoes?

After that is the interview where they go over your answers and re-educationing begins. This is where you realize that a good swift kick is not the right way to deal with a kitten that has done something wrong.

That said, Orion is very cute and just about impossible not to love, even when misbehaving. It's nice to have a cat that wants affection, instead of one that thinks all humans are disease-bags.