Ignatieff’s Error

Before the summer, Michael Ignatieff threatened to bring down the government over changes it wanted to EI. He went into negotiations with Harper and came out with a promise of a ‘blue-ribbon’ panel to study the issue over the summer. Citing his great concern for ‘ordinary working Canadians’ Michael Ignatieff seemed relish his role as the champion of unemployed Canadians.

Parliament is now back in session and it seems that Ignatieff has done some ruminating over the summer BBQ scene. He has now decided that he and the Liberals can no longer continue to support the Harper Conservatives. Ignatieff is now threatening to bring down the government over proposed changes to EI that would see benefits flow to some workers for a longer period of time. Instead of trying to ensure that ‘ordinary working Canadias’ receive extended benefits he has decided that he would rather bring down the government.

The NDP have looked at the proposed legislation and has decided to support it. This legislation will pass with the support of the NDP and the BQ. It is doubtful that the NDP would be supporting this legislation just to prevent an election. The NDP would not be blamed for bringing down the government – that would fall on the Liberals. So there are really no political consequences for the NDP if there is another election. The NDP cannot really afford another election right now but I doubt that is why they are supporting the proposed legislation. The NDP is supporting the proposed legislation because it is good for unemployed Canadians.

The Official Opposition is very important to our democracy. Without it governments would run amok. However, oppositions have to be careful that they are not opposing things for the sake of opposing them. Carole James and the BC NDP learned this lesson the hard way when they opposed the Carbon Tax in BC. By opposing the tax and making it a central tenet of their campaign they alienated key supporters of the NDP. They bled a lot of votes to the Greens and allowed the BC Liberals to win again.

Ignatieff seems poised to make the same mistake. If he and the Liberals are really concerned about ‘ordinary working Canadians’ and ensuring that EI benefits are flowing to as many as possible, for as long as possible then they will get off their metaphorical high horse and support the legislation. If they are succesful in triggering an election then we may well be saddled with a majority Conservative government.

My heart was singing!

This morning after I let the little girls out Zoe decided she wanted to play. So we had a rousing game of ‘go away little dog’. This game consists of pushing away and then when she comes back you gently move her from side to side and then push her away again. Well she loved it! We played on the couch and she would run down then jump off then jump back up then flip over for a belly rub. She was batting my hands with her paws. She reminded me so much of the Chunk it was scary. We need to get some better pics of Zoe but in the meantime here is one of the Chunk in all her glory!

The Chunk was quite the hedonist!

The Chunk was quite the hedonist!

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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Switching…

My new iMac and desk!Recently I had been doing some research about Mac computers. My first computer was a Mac Plus back in 1989. After a couple of Macs I had developed my tech skills quite a bit but knew I needed to learn PCs if I was going to be able to start a business (The Glitch Doctor). I never did start the business but I did learn a great deal about computers. However, I was finding that I was becoming increasingly annoyed by how my Windows machines would always degrade over time. It seemed that no matter how much RAM I had in them they became slower and slower. My last PC had 3 gigs of RAM and with just a browser window open I was starting to get the ‘low memory’ warning. I decided it was time for a new computer. I also had a Toshiba laptop. If you have ever typed on one of those you would quickly notice that the shift key on the left is in the wrong place – it is one key over. They put the back slash key there instead. Highly. Fucking. Annoying! Deb had been making noises about wanting a Mac so we decided we would get one for her. I was also wanting to get a different laptop. Once I found out that I could run Windows on a Mac (thanks @penmachine) either natively or along side Mac OS X – I was sold. We went to London Drugs (where all good things come from) and bought Deb an iMac and me a MacBook Pro.

I started to set up Deb’s iMac and I was immediately impressed by the quality of the graphics. Going between my Windows machine and her iMac was quite noticeable. I was also impressed by the overall solidness of the iMac. I liked that the computer was built into the monitor which means you do not have the morass of cords that you have with a PC. The only thing I did not like was the corded mighty mouse. I was able to network her iMac into our existing PC network with a little difficulty but only because I was unfamiliar with how to set things up on a Mac for networking. Once again @Penmachine came to the rescue answering all of my questions patiently. I transferred all of her data over. Used an iPod to move her music library. I was able to get it set up, all updates down and all data transferred in less than a day.

Now, on to MacBook Pro. I love it! It is solid and Apple clearly puts a lot of thought into their designs. I love the trackpad. I am not even tempted to use a mouse on the MBP because the trackpad is so intuitive. I love the 2 finger scroll and the bottom right corner right-click. I also love how the end of the power cord is magnetized so that if your cord gets pulled it will come out easily rather than landing your MBP on the floor. I thought I would miss my taskbar but I actually like the doc better.

Here is a list of my favourite features:

1. I love iPhoto! You can put your camera card into a card reader, open iPhoto and it will import your photos. You can then upload photos to Facebook all in under a minute. It is by far the easiest photo program I have ever seen.

2. I love the integration between Mac OS X and other apple devices like the iPhone and iPod. In Windows I always had to restart my 80 gig iPod to get it to come into iTunes – not anymore.

3. I like how everything is customizable in so many different ways – from size to animations.

4. Setting up a network with Airport Extreme was so much easier than setting up a PC network. Plus the PCs just seemed to come in so much more easily than with a PC network.

5. The Apple keyboard is very fast. It makes other keyboards feel clunky. Plus i love the metal, sparse look.

6. I loved boot camp. I remember how long it used to take to partition a computer hard drive. Boot camp was fast and relatively easy to use.

7. Parallels is awesome. I like being able to have a Windows window where I can play games.

8. I love the Time Machine backup utility. Automatic and complete backups.

Things I don’t like:

1. iTunes still does not play my phone messages from shaw, which are just wav files, without freezing. I have to use Windows media player.

2. I have not been able to get the printers networked. I have called Apple and they have elevated the issue to the ‘Snow Leopard Developers.” I know I am not the only one with this issue as someone else has posted about it on MacForums.

3. The Mighty Mouse. I could not stand the mouse! The scroll button was so tiny. In order to get a right-click it seemed that you had to lift your other finger off of the mouse. I used a wireless version for a week and finally gave up on it.

4. The iMac keyboard does not include the number pad and the other keys in the middle of a standard computer keyboard. I think that is cheap on Apple’s part.

5. The lack of games for the Mac is a bit annoying.

6. I wish that some of the widgets from the dashboard could be visible all the time. I do miss my Windows sidebar with my analog clock and google calendar widget.

7. Safari sucks! I can’t believe it does not support opening multiple tabs and it does not work well for Facebook.

It has taken about 2 weeks to get my machines how I want them. Now that they are all set up with a browser I like, plug-ins, virtual machine working well I am a happy Mac Camper!

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 11:50 am  Comments (2)  
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Reality?

It would be an understatement to say that this was the worst visit we have ever had to my mother’s. I am pretty sure the reason is because my sister was there.  My sister is miserable and she hates her life and she tries to bring everyone else down around her. Even my mother, who has the people skills of a gnat, noticed that everyone was ‘walking on egg shells’ because of Kathy. She goes out of her way to bring people down by insulting them. She does not dare do it to my mother. Although, ironically, after my mother said something snarky to me Kathy told her to be careful with what she says as ‘her words can hurt people.’

All this lead in to discuss one of the most hurtful things ever said to me by a member of my family. After I had spent 6 or so hours fixing her fucked up laptop she said thank you and then added: “We wondered for years if you would ever be of use.” Be of use? WTF? I was so completely stunned by her comment that I could say nothing. As I thought about it I became increasingly angry. This comment from a woman who’s greatest educational achievement was to barely graduate as a legal secretary. She got a job at a real estate law firm then screwed something up so badly that it cost them $50,000 and they fired her. She waitressed for a year or two after that and has not worked in over 10 years. I could go on and on about her and her screwed up life but there is no point. I realized that while Deb and I have grown, changed, dealt with our issues head on – she has not. She is still the 5-year-old girl, who I had to look after when I was 7, who came home from grade 1, took all of her clothes off and proceeded to watch TV and who refused to go back to school. She has the same coping skills now as she did then – have a temper tantrum and yell and scream if you don’t like what is going on.

The other favourite pass time they have when I visit is trying to push my buttons by saying extremely racist things – this visit was no different. However, *I* was different. I was affected by a post by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville which basically said being an ally is about always standing up and challenging racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic etc views. She goes on to argue that it is the ultimate expression of privilege to decide when you will say something and when you will not. I chose to be a real ally this time and to challenge the racist vitriol that spewed from my mother, my sister and my mother’s gardener (who we really liked and now we are not so sure). I won’t go into the details of the discussions as I will not give my voice to their racist comments. I chose to handle it differently this time and instead of telling them that they were wrong I told them that I choose to be respectful of other people and what they were saying was offensive. They didn’t get it, I didn’t expect them to but I could not let it stand. I also did not care if the atmosphere became very uncomfortable for a while either.

During this visit it became very clear that my mother and sister are stuck. They do not challenge themselves to grow and change. I am more forgiving of my mother as she is 73 but my sister is only 42. It is really very sad. I now know that nothing she says to me is rooted in the reality of 2009. We are still back in 1972, where I am the older sister and she is not going to do what I say. The interesting thing is I really have nothing to say to her about how she lives her life. It is not my business and she would just get mad at me if I ever said anything anyway.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 10:54 am  Comments (4)  
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Welcome to Hell

Well we have been here two nights now and we are on our second full day. It has been worse than I imagined it could be. Here are the highlights (or lowlights) to date:

1. My mother had to tell the story to her gardener (again) about how we would go backpacking. This of course is the infamous story where I refused to go any further and was left before a fork in the path. I got to the fork evenutally (I was maybe 10 or 11) and I went the wrong way. She thinks this was hysterical. I did ask “who leaves a kid at a fork in the path?” I got no response. Then it went on from there. The experience of being left in the backcountry and not knowing which way to go likely led to me having severe abandonment issues my entire life. What is really disturbing is she finds this funny.

2. My sister is so angry. She is stuck looking after her ailing husband who has had a stroke and seems to have lost most of his cognitive functioning. She storms around the house because he pisses her off because he is very inconsiderate. Well, newsflash, he was always inconsiderate why would he change after a stroke? It would only get worse.

3. The best comment so far is that we use more toilet paper because our asses are bigger.

I have to cut this short because I am being watched as usual. Thankfully we go home tomorrow.

I did manage to fix my sister’s b0rked (h/t to Dr. Beth for the word, it is such a great word!!) laptop.

Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Comments (4)  
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McDonald’s Iced Coffee = Epic Fail

mcdonalds iced coffee image

I stopped at McDonald’s for a burger for lunch. On my way there I had seen someone with an iced coffee and thought it looked good. Once in the store I decided to get one. I ordered a large vanilla flavoured thinking it would be much easier than making coffee once I got to the office.  I took my first sip and could not believe how utterly disgusting it tasted. I waited a bit, thinking the ice just needed to chill it all and took another drink. This stuff is quite honestly the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted in my life. That they can get away with calling it coffee is a testament to our lax regulatory bodies when it comes to food products. Avoid this stuff at all costs!

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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My Trip to Staples

I love going to Staples!  However, note to self, never, ever go to Staples the week before school goes back! WTF was I thinking???? Loads and loads of screaming kids. One kid, after being bossed around and bullied by his older brother, let out this ear-shattering scream. Everyone in the entire store stopped and stared at him and his embarrassed mother who hustled him out of there pretty quick.

I enjoyed looking at everything and bought a bunch of stuff for work. I also got a laptop case on rollers for my new MacBook Pro. I hate taking a laptop anywhere because I find them heavy. Not anymore! Now I can roll it along.

In my browsing I came across a pretty disturbing trend. First, I saw ‘anti-bacterial’ pens. I am not sure why anyone would want an antibacterial pen. How does it work? Is there some kind of germicide on the pen? What happens if someone touches the pen and then touches their mouth? What if you chew your pen? Does it even work? Then I saw ‘anti-microbial’ scissors!! Why do scissors need to be ‘anti-microbial’? I think this antibacterial germ-phobia is going way too far. There is no research I am aware of that indicates that these things are any more effective than washing one’s hands regularly.

All in all, my Staples trip was fun. I also found Sharpie highlighters!! W00t!

Published in: on September 1, 2009 at 4:54 pm  Comments (3)  
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Federal Election?

So Michael Ignatieff has decided that the Liberals are tired of propping up the Conservative government and is threatening to table a motion of non-confidence at the first opportunity. I am no fan of the Harpie and his merry band of Cons however, Ignatieff’s ‘reasons’ for the motion of non-confidence are spurious at best. There isn’t a big issue, like say a budget, to hang their hats on. Instead they are looking at the entire Harper record and deciding that they should force an election. When the Coalition threatened to bring the government down over the budget I supported that action. There were serious problems with that budget and they deserved to lose control of government. However this time it is different.

If the Liberals force an election it is going to be seen for what it is: a grab for power. I am not sure who is advising Ignatieff but calling an election now would be a really bad idea for the following reasons:

1. There is no galvanizing issue. Saying that the Cons have provided bad government for 4 years is not going to cut it. Those people who would support the Liberals would likely do so and those who support the Conservatives would probably still vote for them. It is the undecided voters who would need to be convinced. It is unlikely that the Liberals could command this group.

2. Generally speaking the party that forces the election is usually punished at the polls.

3. We just had an election. Frequent elections are a de-stabilizing factor on democracies. Given that our economy grew by a slight amount in the last quarter, an election may derail this nascent recovery.

4. I dare say that most voters are not really convinced that Ignatieff can actually lead the Liberal party. Personally, I find him ‘smarmy’, a bit like a used car sales person (no offence to used car sales people). I think he is a rush to fulfil his own ‘manifest destiny’ and Canada will not benefit from this. He should take a lesson from Paul Martin’s playbook – wanting to be prime minister just to be prime minister is not a really good way to lead a country.

I sincerely hope that Ignatieff changes his mind. I believe that if he forces an election now the Liberals would likely lose seats and then he will bring us one step closer to a Cons majority – a truly scary, scary option.