Monday 28 November 2011

Working in Alberta this week --Mouse Hunt

Good day gentle readers, this week I will be working in Alberta, first Edmonton and then Calgary. I will be accessible via email and cell and Lync with some frequency.
Sorry in advance for the extra wordiness today.  Am sitting on a long flight to Edmonton and the words kept flowing although I did take a break to eat some pancakes and watch a movie.
So, today's topic?  IMF plans for a 600 billion € loan for Italy, Spain?  NATO air strikes on Pakistan? Egypt's political Frankenstein, their electoral process?
Nope, nope, nope.
We have a mouse.  Not the Royal We, not God and I, not you and I, not you, but me -- Sharlene and I.  He showed up quite recently and sans invitation.  My first indication was Sharlene calling from the kitchen, "Daniel, we have a mouse!".  I did appreciate that she stated "we" instead of "you" which did make it our problem instead of solely mine.
I reviewed the evidence that lead to Sharlene's conclusion and although I did not perform an extensive examination of the feces being pointed to, I was satisfied that they belonged to a member of the Mus family of small rodents.
Small tangent here, the common house mouse is one of perhaps thirty members of the rodent family genus, Mus.  they showed up somewhere between 10 and 5 million years ago during the late Miocene period.  Hey, that's almost 10,000 in fundamentalist years. (not picking a fight with Creationists, I think that we have evolved past that :)
Some weeks ago I had filled with expanding foam a few large air gaps in the basement wall where AC lines, a few water pipes and some electrical connections passed through, so I re-examined the basement for possible fortification gaps, infiltration passages as Carlo the exterminator might call them.  Yep, you got holes, as his straight talking sidekick Bob calls them.  I had Carlo and Bob around earlier as I had some squirrels in the attack.  I had chased them out by placing a ghetto blaster tuned to 107.1, volume at max up in the attic.  Bob scampered up on the roof to repair the missing shingle and the small hole the squirrels fashioned. Bob is one of those sure footed guys that can work at the edge of a roof in the rain up 25 feet off the concrete patio without flinching.
For this current foreign incursion, my sense of master of the house, lord of the manor, king of the castle actually prevents me from calling in an exterminator after all by all indications there is but one small mouse.  I detected no problems with the holes that I filled, but it looks like I have some gaps around the dryer vent duct, and the vent cover itself fits poorly.  This will need to be patched up on the weekend.
My attack started out last night utilizing what has been described by Jennifer as the only acceptable method, the humane mouse trap.  This is a plastic contraption, effectively a box with one open end and a door that swings down insecurely should a mouse venture inside and cause the center of balance.  Yes, I said insecurely.
I had placed some small pieces of nacho chip, pretzel, and Cheetos! into the enclosed end and placed two of these contraptions on what I figured was a likely mouse pathway.  And then went to sleep.  6 A.M. I opened one eye.  Slid one leg out carefully to the floor.  Then the next.  I quietly creeped downstairs to the front line.  Joined the Sgt. in the trench and asked for a report.  Seems there had been activity but all was quiet now.
The doors were both closed.  Had I caught two?  I picked up one then the other, giving a slight side to side shake, I determined that both were devoid of Mus musculus.  I opened each to find that they were both empty.. really empty, no mammals no chips no Cheetos! there was however an appreciative note thanking me for the Cheetos!.
So next I am afraid that on my return from points west I will need to bring out the lethal ordinance.   --the Victory brand wooden and spring mousetrap.  Recognized by all from its large, red 'V' inked into the wood platen.  And this is my regret.  You see I have no desire to kill a mouse, spiders, hell yes, but not mice.
We had a mouse once when we lived in Etobicoke, but I caught him with a pair of tongs --really -- and tossed him out the front door to the bewilderment of Nova the cat who watched the entire display from the sidelines.  We had a mouse in the spring and I had (the very bad) thought that I could simply vacuum up the little feller once I cornered him in the powder room.  It was a quick decision and thought it would survive the process and I would simply free him outside.  Poor guy died somewhere in transit through the vacuum hose.
And now I will need to engage in this severely unfair and lopsided contest again.  I would feel better if was a fair fight, if the mouse was 6 feet tall and sported a few hundred pounds of rippling muscle then I could claim, "hey, it was him or me, could have gone either way!".  But no, not a fair fight at all.
I think that somewhere in my mind, I will be thinking of Mr. Jiggles the mouse that befriended Delequa in The Green Mile or the lovable Pinky of Pinky and The Brain fame.
"Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
"The same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the world!"
and Amos in Ben and Me; Atomic Mouse; Mighty Mouse; Basil and Dawson; Three Blind Mice; Socrates from Willard --oh wait, he was a rat; Benjy mouse and Frankie mouse in Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy; Jerry Mouse of Tom and Jerry; The Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland; the Hickory Dickory Dock mouse; Itchy on The Itchy & Scratchy Show; I would have mentioned Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse but the Disney guys are real sticklers on copyright infringement; Mortimer Mouse in Outland; Morton the Mouse in Horton Hears a Who; Pixie and Dixie in The Huckleberry Hound Show; Speedy Gonzales --damned annoying little bastard; The Space Mice from Voltron: Defender of the Universe;
and I just can't remember the name of the mouse or the book that I read when I was maybe 8 about a mouse that drove around in a toy metal car..  nope.. It's gone, but I'll be thinking of him too.
Have a good week.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Working in Montréal today --Something is Amish!

Good morning good people,
In the "I just can't make this stuff up" department,  7 members of an Ohio Amish community were arrested yesterday on a criminal complaint charging them with cutting off hair and beards of fellow Amish over a religious spat stemming from a division in their group back in 2005.
Seems the men conspired to carry out a series of assaults against fellow bearded Amish chums with whom they were having a dispute, presumably religious in origin?
The 7 restrained several other men, their number a bit unclear and cut off their beards and hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers.  In additional to the hair clipping, other assorted injury was sustained to all concerned as well as others that attempted to stop the attack.
Officials said the attacks were meant to humiliate the victims --no duh!  The attackers have been charged with religiously inspired hate crimes and face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
And now, let's rewind.  "battery powered clippers" ?  This alone makes the story interesting and one wonders about the underlying disputes.  Since the Ohio Amish tend to shun modern technology like the electric toaster and any colour save black and white, one wonders if using the using the battery operated device was a deliberate irony?
One does wonder.
But how about that life imprisonment risk?  I am all for laws that treat racial and religious intolerance harshly but I question the use of this law in this circumstance, let the punishment fit the crime.  Perhaps a beard shaving of the accused upon a guilty verdict accompanied by a yellow lightning bolt tattoo on their foreheads identifying to all that they have embraced the Englishmen's demon electricity?
Speaking of religion in the news.. The courts have reached a decision, Canada's Anti-Polygamy laws are constitutional despite the constitutions provisions for religious freedom.
I think that perhaps some persons are confused by Canada's laws about religious freedom. Our laws don't say that you can do anything your religion dictates without regard to society and acceptable conduct.
Our laws such as the Charter's section 2 and 7 protect your right to your beliefs, and the autonomy of your person, section 1 however allows reasonable limits on those rights as long as those limits are demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society (I think that is the text)  so even if your particular brand of faith requires you to shave the head of your neighbours when in conflict with them, it is a reasonable limit for our laws to say, 'fraid not, your religious freedom ends at the tip of my nose.
Have a good day.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Working in Ottawa today --Balls, Porn, and Growing up

Good morning folks, Not withstanding my earlier email (a legalese way of saying this new info trumps the previous) I will be working in the Nation's Capital.
Here's a shout-out to Toronto's Manpreet, Happy Birthday!
So I was going to write about this barrage of hoax emails that certain school principals, wine merchants, retired firemen, grocers, heavy equipment sales guys, computer repair dudes, data system managers (the guys I play Racquetball with on Wednesdays and Sundays not to be confused with the other set of people that I play Squash with on Mondays and some Saturdays) forward to me.
Particularly George.  George sends me two kinds of emails.  Porn, because apparently George thinks that there is a shortage of quality porn on the net, and should he find some, promptly forwards it along to everyone he knows.  I have tried to explain to George that the Internet is actually assembled from collections of porn, and that all other activity accounts for only perhaps 40% combined, and if I wanted to surf porn, I am more than capable.  But send, send, send he continues.
The other email the George sends out is right wing fundamentalist Christian propaganda.  Mostly false attacks on Christianity and why everyone should vote Republican.  I was going to explore the underlying strategy of straw man arguments and false flag attacks and the odd pairing of George's two hobbies then something caught my attention this morning.
Schools banning balls.
Eh?  Oh yes, schools in Ottawa and Toronto have started banning baseballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, footballs, basketballs, etc..  Except..  The NerfBall.  Oh, and a school in Ste. Catherines has banned cartwheels and other gymnastics.
The reason of course is that someone could, and a few have, got hurt.
I find this absurd.  Yes, one could get hurt, that of course is not the intended result of playing with a ball, but shit happens.  That is part of growing up, of learning.
When I was in grade 4 and my brother David was in grade 6, we were playing baseball at recess back at St. Pat's in Lethbridge.  I was on 3rd base waiting for a hit to bring me in when a pop fly when up towards David playing shortstop.  Bam!  David tried to catch the ball with his face.  Instead of bringing in the run, I went to see if he was okay.  Bloody lip.  He lived.
Two things were learned that day.  David never tried to catch a baseball with his face again, if it had been a NerfBall, that lesson would have been missed.  And I learned that tending to a hurt brother was better than bringing in another run.
We do our children a severe disservice if we shield them from all chance of injury, hurt feelings, disappointments, failure.  When I was kid I played Hockey and Basketball (I used to be taller).  When we lost, we lost, no "Yay, we're all winners" bull crap, loosing sucks, that's why we try to win.  A child's brain is still in that rapid development stage, when it is taking all in and developing the base set of Stimuli/Process/Responses.  If we delay all of the best lessons till adulthood we will end up with some really screwed up adults.
Getting hit with a ball in the face hurts, that's why you should avoid it.
Have a good day, throw a ball at some kid.

Friday 11 November 2011

Working in Montréal today --Remember

Good morning folks,
I will be working in Montréal today.
In 1915 Canadian doctor and Lietenant Colonel John McRae wrote In Flanders Fields the day after the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer.  However it was American Professor and Humanitarian Moina Michael that we owe the tradition of wearing poppies to honour and remember our fallen soldiers and injured soldiers.
Michael had written a poem in response to McRae's, We Shall Keep the Faith and after the end of World War I she had taught a class of disabled servicemen and realized the need for financial and occupational support for veterans.  She pursued the idea of selling silk poppies to raise the needed funds.
In Canada we continue that tradition on Remembrance Day and in the U.S. on Memorial Day.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Have a good day.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Working in Ottawa today --Cash 4 Cats!

Good morning folks,
I will be working in the nation's capital today. to the gate and my previously upgraded ticket (on points) was reverted back to econ as the airline had switched to a smaller plane.
But the system had just stripped the seat (was 1A, Airbus 319 has a 1D and F but no row 1 on the port side) without regard to status of the flier's Aeroplan status.
The gate agent realized that I am super elite and the system kept an elite upgrade in 1F.  Oops.
So the agent had to call the other passenger up to the gate and inform her that her upgrade was being rolled back because a super elite was present and wanted it.
Of course the gal, tall slim 20's blond with icy stare, slightly tilted her head down and gave me that, "are you proud of what you have done?" look.
Have a good day and remember, no eye contact, just keep moving :)
In the news of the weird department, I have been alive for 5 decades and in that time I figure I have burned through somewhere around 150 tooth brushes.  This is a non-audited number --just off the cuff, but the point is, none of them ever exploded.  Really.
But apparently the Colgate-Palmolive 'Motion' electric toothbrush explodes during regular use.  Heath Canada is warning Canadians to stop using them.  The company states that no long-term injuries have resulted and don't really understand what all the fuss is about.  "it's not like any permanent teeth were blown out by the explosions" stated a company representative.  Okay, I made that part up.
Hey, do you have a bunch of unwanted and extra cats in your house?  Now you can get rid of those broken and unused cats and get cash!  That's right, Cash4Cats!  Just place them in our specially designed cat envelope, drop in a mail box and in 4 to 6 weeks you'll get CASH!