Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Millions of Leaves + Lots of Rain = Plugged Storm Sewers and Flooding

I was sitting my car trying to make my way to the office.
Unfortunately the driving is very slow this morning around Fredericton.
Many streets have been closed due to flooding from all of the rain.
The weather report on the radio this morning said that it's going to be like this all day.
I hope that this doesn't go and flood a bunch of homes, especially the houses that have barely recovered from the nasty spring floods.
The way I see it is that the problem is not that the sewers can't take all of the water. It's that the water is not reaching the sewers because of all of the fallen leaves.
Those things clump up and stick like pieces of paper mache when they get wet.
If the city wants to get ahead of this they had better send their staff out in raincoats with brooms and shovels.
That's a little harder than raking the leaves.
Hopefully there aren't any problems in New Maryland with water backing up.
If there are I'm sure I'll hear about them soon enough.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Perfect City

If I could afford to live in this town, I would live in this town.
I am in Vancouver right now and got here on Thursday night.
Today I skipped out of the afternoon of talking and speeches and boring things and rented a bike.
My hotel is right beside Stanley Park.
I rode around the Beach wall trail.
And the trees were huge!
The best thing of all is that as I was about to fall asleep a few minutes ago I heard a train!
Loud and clear and in no danger of being ripped up from the landscape.
I just wanted to say that before bed.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Completes My Family?

This one is really long (sorry Charles). I actually started it 3 days ago but I put it aside.
I don't mind writing about my feelings, whether good or bad, but I prefer that the feeling not be too intense at the time that I'm writing.
This one isn't about politics.
It's about one of the most emotional things that many people face in their lives.
Family pets.
I was brought up to love and treat animals well. It is difficult sometimes living in a province with so much hunting.
One of my best friends is a hunter and loves to tell his stories. I'd love to share the enthusiasm but I can't.
He created an amazing multi staged geocache with a hunting theme. It puts the cacher into the role of a hunter tracking the kill.
My son and I really enjoyed it.
But it's just pretend. The blood is paint and we knew that.
Regardless, Sporty is a good friend and I would not judge him by his activities if I don't share them (as he doesn't judge me for being a politician).
Besides, he has a great dog that he and his wife treat as their child.
This dog goes hunting with Sporty but only if he's up to it. Otherwise Sporty goes solo in the woods while Archer stays home and guards the fort.
It is by the kind gentle nature of this dog that the characters of Sporty and his wife are revealed.
I have found over and over again that if a pet shows hostility or fear towards people the chances are good that the animal has been abused at some point and has yet to recover.

Over 19 years ago my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved into an apartment together in south Mississauga, Ontario.
We agreed that a pet would make a great start to our family.
My mother was very involved in the Alliston and district humane society and arranged for us to go and pick a cat.
We looked around at the beautiful cats we spotted 2 that had similar colouring but were not related.
It made sense that we take two of them since we would be at work all day. They would be company for each other.
We named the boy Lester and the girl Maggie.
The names fit them perfectly.
For the first few months we ran back and forth from Mississauga to Snelgrove, Nobleton and points in between to the vets for various ailments.
When all that had worked out we were good as gold.
Lester was a lovable suck right from the start. He was daddy's boy.
The picture is him sitting on the toilet waiting for me to finish my shower.
To say he was friendly is understating. Everyone who knew us also knew Lester. He said hello to everyone.
Maggie was more timid and nervous.
I don't recall their backgrounds but I know they weren't nice.
There are so many situations out there of abusing animals that it makes me sick.
But right away Lester was willing to give humans a chance to be as nice to them as he wanted to be to us.
I appreciated that and made sure that I was worthy. Les was my little pal.
He always said hello when I came in the door and asked me about my day.
We had a couple of scares but the vet always sent them back home with us.
Once, we had to leave Lester at the vet overnight. He was not happy about that but forgave us as soon as he got home.
It was funny whenever he was really happy and enjoying a good stroke his mouth and nose would scroonch up. We knew then that all was good in his world.
If I was in bed on my side Lester loved to scoot in beside me to demand some loving. If I stopped for some reason such as to sleep, Les bopped me with his paw to get my attention.
If he was right up close to me having a really good time he gave me little bites.
These tended to be on my nose.
I couldn't even see for the tears and pain.
Lester had a heart murmur so purring was pretty rare from him. He never really needed to purr to express himself though.
Maggie was a less outgoing but still very lovable little girl. She was much mellower.
They were perfect for each other.
The two of them loved to lie there and give each other a long wash.
Most times it would end in Lester getting too playful and biting Maggie to get her stirred up. She would go along with it but when she didn't want to play anymore she told Lester in no uncertain terms.
Lester and Maggie followed us all along our trail of houses and apartments.
It was a nightmare when our apartment on Mississauga Road was flea infested. Someone before us had left us this gift.
We got out of there as soon as possible.
We ended up leaving my favourite sofa as a sacrifice to the fleas.
Lester and Maggie were always indoor cats so we took them from the flea palace directly to the vet for a flea bath before being taken to our new condo off Southdown Road.
It was while we lived here that we were married.
The next step was to buy our house in Meadowvale and go for the next part of the family.
Through every step, Maggie and Lester just bounced along with us and made themselves a home where we landed.
Just over 10 years ago we did something that created some concern among the kitties.
We had not 1, but 2 babies. At the same time!
During the first couple of blurry years Lester and Maggie were there for us whenever we wanted to stop and talk for a few minutes but stayed out of the way whenever we didn't. I was surprised that Lester hid whenever the kids were tearing around but Maggie stayed and didn't mind the two whirlwinds running rampant in the house.
As time went on and the boys got older the cats started to come out for longer periods.
The peppy little lad Lester didn't always like to be where the action was.
Maggie just strolled by on her way to chill out somewhere.
Almost every night as soon as the boys were in bed Lester would pop out to rule the roost again.
In January 2003 our family moved out here to New Brunswick.
We didn't have our own house bought yet so we stayed at my father's house outside of town.
Dad has always had plenty of cats and dogs so it wasn't a good idea to throw Lester and Maggie into the mix.
My mother and step-father Tom offered for our kitties to stay there until we had our own house to move into.
A couple of months later we had that house and were ready to introduce the furry kids to the maritimes.
While this was going on Tom began to get sick. First the doctors thought it was a back problem then a lung problem before realizing that he had cancer.
There were discussions of the best action plan to help him.
My mother told me that herself, my sister, Tom's daughters and the doctors were planning a meeting to decide treatment. I was to sit out here in New Brunswick to wait for the date of this meeting before heading to Ontario. One night I was in bed and said to my wife "I'm not going to wait. I'm going to see Tom now."
I packed up my little Suzuki Aerio and off I went to Ontario.
This turned out to be one of the smartest plans in my life.
I spent some great time with Tom talking about everything. He knew I loved him like a father and he loved me like a son. We also both knew this would be the last time I would see him.
Harsh reality is good for clarity but does nothing to ease the pain of a loss.
Thinking back I think I should have left the cats for a while longer instead of taking them home with me.
Mom had been through an awful lot and having the happy cats around certainly helped cheer her up a bit.
But I packed up a big metal cage with the litter box, food and water bowls for the kits. Very early on the morning of April 1st 2003 Lester Maggie and I said goodbye to Tom for the last time and my lonely mom and trundled to the east.
A big nasty ice storm was crashing into Ontario from the west that morning so I spent my first several hours watching it in my rear view mirror as it followed me towards Quebec.
Lester lay on top of the litter box lid and Maggie lay on the towel in the bottom of the cage.
Every time I turned my head to look their way they both said "Meow! We're still here with you keeping you company! You're doing just fine."
The ice storm got further and further back until it was gone just before I hit Montreal.
With that off my mind and I had time to reflect on my Ontario visit.
I'd like to think that Lester and Maggie knew how sad I was feeling since they stayed right there behind me talking to me the whole way to cheer me up.
It was so funny the way that Les would reach out of the cage to tap me on the shoulder when he figured that I should pay a little less attention to the driving and more to them.
The arrival home was a great reunion for us all. Cheryl and the boys were so happy to see the kits.
The kits took some time to explore the new digs but must have recognised our stuff and that was good enough for them. The place was all theirs in no time.
It was back to the old routines in a new place.
Tom did pass away shortly after my visit. The timing of my visit had been perfect.
The SARs scare hit Toronto at that time and when Cheryl arrived there she couldn't get into the hospital to see Tom before his passing.
The boys and I met Cheryl at the airport when she came home from Toronto and I got right on the same plane to head back to Toronto for Tom's funeral.
Tom's death hit me very hard. I had lost one of my best friends to cancer years before but this felt worse.
Cheryl and the boys were a great help but I was still in a sad place for quite a while.
One thing that remained totally constant was the affection that Lester and Maggie gave.
They never cared what was going on. They saw us as the people they were growing up with and were happy with that.
The following year Cheryl took a trip to Ontario to see her father. The trip was overdue for her and well timed.
The boys and I took care of business while she was away and Lester and Maggie took care of everything else.
For a while we thought that Lester was becoming hard of hearing or scared of being left alone. Many times in the night we would hear him yelling from some part of the house.
Often we would call him and he would come running to our voice and all was well. If he was further away in the house and didn't hear us I would get out of bed and find him.
As soon as he saw me he was thrilled and came along with me to chat. Even if it was really late or far too early.
Maggie would look to see what was going on but return to her napping once everything was okay with Les.
One night when Cheryl was in Ontario I heard Lester yelling. I called him and he didn't yell again.
I don't recall if he came to see me but I must have gone back to sleep.
The next morning I got up and went in to wake the boys up for school.
When I came back into the hallway I saw Lester lying on the living room floor. He never slept there.
"Lester, what are you doing sleeping there?" I asked.
He didn't move. Right away I knew that something was wrong and said "Oh no."
The boys both heard me and asked what was wrong.
We went over to Lester and he was gone.
It looked like he had lay down at that spot and went to sleep. That's all.
Maggie came into the room but didn't seem to react at all. I wonder if they know what goes on at times like this?
We cried and called Cheryl to tell her. It was very upsetting to us all.
Before heading to school the boys wrote letters for Les telling how much we would miss him and not to worry about Maggie since we would take good care of her.
And we did. We took care of Maggie and she certainly took good care of us.
She was graciously patient and tolerant with us when we disrupted her life and moved her again to another house.
For years Maggie slept between Cheryl's legs at night in a ball which felt like concrete.
One night Maggie looked over at me and decided that she wanted to sleep between my legs instead. She walked over and did just that from then on.
Did she know how much I missed Lester?
I was her new pillow.
If I wasn't there or was sent out of the room for snoring Maggie played it smart and stayed with the bed.
From that time on Maggie became more and more lovable.
Any time I sat down to do something she was right there ready to jump up and get comfy.
We developed a nightly routine.
After I had put the boys to bed I would go out into the living room and lie down on the couch.
No matter where she was in the house Maggie would know. She would jump up and lie on me while I read, watched TV or typed on my Blackberry.
We agreed that if I had to get up I don't do it suddenly. She needed to dismount properly.
Every day she would come to the door to welcome us when we came in.
I would pick her up like a little furry ball and she didn't resist as when she was younger. She always trusted me that I would put her down safely. I'm proud to say that I always did.
The picture was taken less than a year ago while was lying on me.
I'm convinced that we were her pets.
We placed cups and bowls of water through the house so she was never far from a drink.
The recent passing of my sister has affected me worse than anything to date. More than Andy or Tom.
Since returning home from the funeral in Ontario many people have given me space to sort this out. I appreciated that.
Maggie, on the other hand would have none of that and jumped up on me where I landed.
My job had was to be her pillow and in return she'd let me.
My grief wasn't going to keep her from giving me loving.
Who would have known that hers was the best idea to help me feel better?
Her cuddling and purring made me forget about feeling sad for a few minutes.

Over the last year or so we found spots of blood here and there once in a while.
Early in 2008 the vet decided it was likely a bladder infection as he did not see any tumours or blockage.
We gave her pills which helped.
We knew deep down that it could not last forever. She looked like a kitten but was now 19 years old.
She was as loving as ever but moving a little slower every day.
Maggie still purred like crazy but it was quieter now.

The most worrying change was when she started losing weight.
She wasn't eating or drinking very much. I got some cans of the food which she loved but it just sat in the bowl.
I tried mixing up water and milk. She had a tiny bit but went for a nap.
She stayed on our bed all of the time.

It was so cute when she lay in the sun in dining room bay window. I called her little sun bunny. If I looked at her at the right angle she reminded me of a rabbit.
I would come home and she would be in the window but when I came in the door she was there yelling hello and waiting for her stroke.
She wasn't doing this as much anymore.

Over this last Thanksgiving weekend I became very concerned. She was not well.
I had hoped for a miracle but on Monday she didn't look good.
I decided to go to the emergency vet. We talked to the boys and explained what the outcome may be.
Cheryl drove and I held Maggie in a blanket.
The vet confirmed that she was dehydrated and too thin.
We didn't know why.
The vet took her out for a blood sample. When she came back Maggie looked awful. She couldn't even move.
The poor little girl looked so sad.
The vet came back saying that they needed more blood in order to do tests. They didn't have enough.
I looked at Maggie lying there and said "No, we can't do that to her."
Then I looked at Cheryl and the boys and said "I think it's time."
I told Cheryl and the boys to say goodbye to her. We spent a few minutes.
The looks on our faces said it all. We didn't want this but this was about Maggie. She had a great run but it was time to go.

She was taken out to put the catheter in her leg for the needle.
I talked with Cheryl and the boys about staying in the room or not.
At first I thought they should leave but knew how sad they would feel if they weren't there and wanted to be.
We all stayed with her.

I held her gently while the needle was put in.
I almost stopped the vet.
Maggie pulled back a bit as the needle went in. I said "it's okay". I didn't want her to hurt.
A second later the vet said "she's gone".
I looked at the boys and Cheryl who were crying and walked over to try and comfort them.
I was worse than they were.

I was the last in the room with Maggie. I put my face to hers like I always did and said "I'm so sorry sweety. I just wanted the best for you."
Then I left her alone in the room on the steel table.

When we got outside we all cried.
We quietly went home.

Maggie had been helping me get over my sadness and now my sadness includes her.

It will take a very long time to get over her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh no!

The weather report on the radio just said FLURRIES for tomorrow night!
I'm not ready yet.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's been quite a week, hasn't it?

It's been an interesting week, hasn't it?
The most newsworthy and talked about item was the passing of Canadian music icon Frankie Venom of Teenage Head.
I am kidding about being the most talked about but not with the newsworthy comment.
I mean this as no disrespect to Stephen Harper and Keith Ashfield and all the others who struggled and worked so hard and long to become our upcoming parliament.
I am merely putting some perspective on the news of the week as it relates to that which has an impact on our lives.

Hear me out please.

When I was in high school in Ontario (about 30 years ago) we elected a punk rocker named David Disher as Student Council President (Davey Danger as he was known with his band, The Notochords).
We didn't take our politics too seriously back then. Or did we?
Davey turned out to be the best President the school had ever seen. That's probably true to this day.
Well, one of the highlights of his term was the Halloween party we had.
It started will a screening of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" in 3D!
I kid you not! We were all given our official blue and red (election reference??) lensed glasses and sat in rows looking silly.
What an amazing movie. I'll never forget it.
After the movie we had a concert by none other than Teenage Head.
I didn't know them too much before but never forgot them after that.
Frankie Venom had so much energy and stage presence. He more than made of for the lack of movement of bassist Steve and guitarist Gord.
My friends and I had been solid rock and roll fans up to then but came to enjoy some Punk after that.

At least for its party value.

I recall that night that some thugs from another school were there and beat up two of my friends when they went outside to get some air.

The rest of us inside didn't even know it happened until the police arrived. That was certainly memorable.

That wasn't the only time Teenage Head would be involved in my life.
On Labour Day weekend in 1980 my friends and I went to a day-long concert at Mosport. This used to be a racetrack east of Toronto.

The concert was known as Heatwave and would become known as one of the best shows Ontario has ever had.
I find it amusing that Teenage Head opened that morning and Talking Heads ended the concert that evening.
Many of us felt that both of these acts stole the show from all those in between.

Coincidentally I ran into the bass player earlier in the summer while I was working with a construction crew on Queen Street in downtown Toronto. He found it funny that a guy dressed in construction gear was a fan of theirs. He was high or something at the time and he signed his autograph Steve Head. When he told me they were opening at Heatwave I didn't really believe him.

I don't even remember all of the acts but the B-52s were touring to support their first album.

The Clash had been booked to appear but couldn't for some reason.

Elvis Costello was still in his rocker phase.

Other acts that I recall we're Nick Lowe and Rockpile, The Kings, The Pretenders and The Rumor. There were others but I don't remember who.
That was an amazing but totally exhausting day.

A few years later I was friends with a girl that lived in Florida. She became a huge fan of Teenage Head when she came to visit me once.
I ended up buying her a cassette of the "Frantic City" album which she took back to Florida with her.
She and her friends loved it and I'm sure that at least a pocket of southern US fans was born.

Sadly, Frankie Venom died at 51 years old of cancer this week. That makes me quite sad since I have so many fond memories not only of the band but of everything connected in my life at the time that I can associate with the band.

Many may know the answer to this question but far more can tell you who Frankie Venom and Teenage Head were.

What party was in power in Canada when I was in grade 10 and 11?

Better still, who was the MP for my riding at that same time? I really can't remember.

I'm just saying.

Take Care,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Take a number and wait your turn please...

I can honestly say that I knew all along that Keith Ashfield was going to win in the Fredericton riding.
I didn't get a chance to meet his opponents but from what I could see I never felt that they would be able match the hard work and dedication that Keith has always shown since I have known him.
Several years ago I was the Home and School president at the kid's school.
There were a few occasions that we needed some help and guidance in dealing with the system, preferably by someone within that system.
Following a phone call or two Keith would be there to meet us within a day or two and help us out.
I never forgot that.
This isn't to say that the other candidates wouldn't do the same thing under the same circumstances.
It's just that Keith has already had the opportunity to show us.
If Keith did that for our little Home and School I am certain that he did it everywhere else in his riding as an MLA.
These little things mean a lot. He didn't even know that he was campaigning for his future MP bid but he did the right thing because he wanted to.
I always felt that he took it personally and dealt with people's concerns the way he would want his dealt with.
It seems to have worked out quite well for him.
I wonder what's in store for our provincial riding now that Keith is gone?
Well, for the last little while we have seen the signs for Conservative candidate Jack Carr and Liberal candidate Debbie McCann in New Maryland.
It may have been confusing for some amid the sea of signs for the federal election.
From what I understand the NDP and Green parties have yet to announce candidates. I'm expecting this to be pretty interesting and a tad bit exciting.
You see, Jack Carr has a twin brother Jody who is already a Conservative MLA for Oromocto-Gagetown. If Jack wins there will be twin brothers serving in the legislature which I believe will be historical in North America. (I suppose my twin sons will have to be second if Jack wins.)
Wouldn't it have been something to talk about if Jack and Jody were in DIFFERENT parties? Imagine the discussions over dinner at family gatherings!
I expect we will all be meeting these candidates soon if we haven't already as the byelection is November 3rd.
Actually, I met up with both Jack and Jody last night.
I knew where the best party in the city was going to be so I showed up at the Fredericton Inn where Mr. Ashfield had rented out the ballroom to celebrate his victory and watch results on the big screen.

Me Surrounded by the Carr Boys

I was the only Councillor from New Maryland there. This surprised me considering all of the good work Keith has done for our village.
I was happy to see Fredericton Councillors Tony Whalen, Stephen Chase and my young pal Jordan Graham there.

It was fun but I had to leave around midnight to get some sleep.

Future Premiere - Jordan Graham (center), Deputy of Whatever Jordan Wants me to be - Me (right), and The Guy Who Actually Gets Us There (Really!) - Mike Stockford (left)

In case you're wondering about the title of this blog I was wondering what exactly happens with those folks who have been MPs or MLAs for several years and suddenly lose their position?
Do they have to go down to the Unemployment Office like the rest of us?
That would be depressing having to write your previous occupation as "previously elected representative of the people who, it turns out, didn't like me as much as they first thought they did".
Does the Prime Minister sign their separation forms?
That would be a real pain if their family members require dental work or their kids need braces and they lose their benefits.
Does the RCMP stand over them as they clean out their desks?
I hope they make sure to check that all of the office supplies are still there.
"Excuse me, could you please put down that pencil? It's company property, not yours!"

Take Care,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The View from Here (my camera)

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Yes, I'm a little busy these days.

I did say that this was likely not going to be a daily thing so I will miss some here and there.
I have about 10 minutes though and would like to mention the visit yesterday with Mr. Harper at Fredericton airport.
It turned out that I missed Mr. Dion's arrival by a few minutes at the same airport. That was too bad. I would like to have met him too.
I'm not sure if the NDP or Green leaders dropped in but I didn't hear of it so I never met them.
I did see Jack Layton and his wife Olivia once in Toronto years ago when they were both on City Council.
I never did like him too much then but he may have changed.
As for the Green Party leader there is no way we could ever see her out here in the Maritimes since she does all of her travel by train.
We don't have any trains out here anymore!
I'll make this quick. I waited with all of the others to see Mr. Harper.
We waited a long time really. If there were small kids there they would have gone crazy. As it was there were only a few.
When he did arrive Mr. Ashfield introduced him, he gave a nice pep talk for the troops and said how important it is that we get people out to vote (I know about that).
A few of the local media folks were there except for Charles it turns out was swimming in a pool of Liberal red this day.
There were a monster horde of media who came off of the jet with Mr. Harper and set up very quickly.
They had started in Prince Edward Island that morning and were skipping their way to Calgary.
In the end we waited for Mr. Harper to talk to his local boys like a coach in between periods.
Then we all got to wave goodbye and see he and his wife off.
Oh yes, I got 2 pictures of myself with him.
I held my camera up and snapped.
I wasn't the only one taking shots of me.
I found out that it was on the National last night as well as page A7 of the Globe and Mail today, PLUS here on the internet.

I guess they like me, they really like me.
I have to go but we'll see how Steve does tonight.
I can call him Steve. We put our arms around each other like old buddies after all.


Monday, October 13, 2008

So much for a secret!

At this moment I am standing in the Capital Airways hangar beside the Fredericton airport with a whole bunch of folks waiting for Prime Minister Harper to arrive at this "whistle stop" as he frantically makes his way around before the election tomorrow.
I should get some good pictures but maybe not one of me and him.
We'll see.
I found out that the Liberal leader Dion was here early this morning. I missed it due to sleeping and not knowing about it.
That would have been fun too.
Anyhoo, we have about 5 minutes before he gets here.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had a complaint about the length of my rambling blog yesterday.
Sorry about that.
I suppose this is the danger of having the ability to write a blog while reclining comfortably on the couch with a purring cat on your chest.
If I was sitting at my desk I would be more inclined to rush to get it done so that I can go and recline on the couch with a purring cat on my chest.
I'll do my best to keep that in mind for future posts.
If I do happen to forget and ramble again, so what? Its my blog.
One thing before I close this. I had an inside tip on something and I'm going somewhere in the morning to try and see someone.
If I'm successful I will put a picture up here tomorrow.
If I'm not successful I will still write about it tomorrow.
So mysterious aren't I?
Take Care,

Blue and Green?

Personally I don't watch a lot of televised sports. I know this may seem strange to many people but I have always preferred being at a game in person, either playing or watching it.
Ever since I was a kid I always felt the magic with the smells, lights and sounds surrounding you at the stadium or arena.
I remember what a rush it was when the Blue Jays began in Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
My buddies and I and often my dad would always go over to the local Dominion grocery store where they sold 2 dollar tickets for the Grandstand "cheap seats".
I say "cheap seats" with the quotation marks because these seats were the farthest away from home plate but everyone had an amazing view.
Whenever there was a rain delay we had to sit there to await the official word if the game would be called off.
If anyone left and the game started up again they didn't get a replacement ticket for another game.
Well guess what? The Grandstand had a roof! We didn't mind sitting there for hours watching it rain.
They used to sell hot dogs that were over a foot long for 75 cents and huge containers of pop for $1 or so.
The pop containers were like big cartons that were loaded up and clipped closed.
If we lucky enough to be going during the Canadian National Exhibition we would be sure to stop into the Food Building first for some snacks at insanely low prices.
I can never forget the Honeydew drink that also came in those cartons at the Food Building. It was a type of orange drink I believe. I loved it.
If there were a few of us we would get a couple of drinks and get little cups to share it.
My dad ALWAYS took peanuts to the Blue Jays games too.
So you see, we could stay all day in the shade or dry while the folks with the expensive seats baked or got rained on.
I can still remember the smell of being at the ball game. What a great memory that is!
As for hockey, Maple Leaf Gardens was the best place anyone could ever watch a hockey game.
The hallways were always jam packed and there were hundreds of pictures everywhere on the walls of the history of hockey in the Gardens.
The history of this place just oozed out and hit you.
I loved looking through the names to see if I knew these old timers.
I could find guys like Syl Apps, Conn Smythe.
In the 1970's I remember seeing a pictures of King Clancy in his late teens or so and realizing it was the same guy as that really old man who sat in the little room with Harold Ballard at every game.
The old Maple Leaf Gardens had these huge troughs along the walls in the men's washrooms as urinals.
When I was 7 or 8 I spotted Tommy Hunter having a wizz and asked for his autograph on my program. At the time it was such a thrill meeting and getting his signature but when I think of it now I really should have let him wash his hands first! Eww!
Now that I am a hockey parent I feel that charge again when we get to the rink with the kids.
Sitting at home watching isn't quite the same.
It's different these days. Suddenly I'm in a house where everyone wants to watch the hockey game.
So tonight we watched Montreal beat up the Maple Leafs 6 to 1.
Years ago my Uncle Richard worked for the Habs as a scout. Naturally I supported my uncle and was a Canadiens fan.
Being a fan of Montreal in Toronto was weird but I got to celebrate Stanley Cup wins. They didn't.
A few years ago the Montreal organization was bought by a beer company or something and cleared out the existing staff, Richard included.
Since then I have waffling betweens teams.
Tonight was pretty good.

The Blue in today's title was for the Maple Leafs.

The Green is about all of the Green Party campaign commercials during the hockey game tonight.
I was very impressed by the frequency and timing of them. Initially I thought they would all be the same but noticed some variation.
Very smart campaigning for a party that isn't one of the "mainstream" parties.
If they keep going as they have been this election they could be a serious contender in the near future.
You heard me predict it here first.


Friday, October 10, 2008

What is really important? That's easy, Rock and Roll and Politics. In that order.

This one is going to be a little different. It's about politicians and rock stars.
It's nothing personal against the wonderful politicians that I have met and know but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for rock and roll.
I am also of the opinion that the two do not mix well. (I appreciate what you do for those less fortunate Bono, but leave the political dealings for someone without sunglasses on all of the time.)
Okay, I will start with the political thing.
The other day we had an all candidates debate in Fredericton. Unfortunately I missed it but it was very well covered by the media, especially blogger Charles LeBlanc who took plenty of photographs and some videos of interviews with some of the candidates.
Check this out http://charlesotherpersonality.blogspot.com/2008/10/charles-interviews-fredericton-pc.html.
Of particular interest is the video of Charles' interview with Conservative Keith Ashfield.
The other day CBC radio host Terry Seguin tried to nail Keith down as to his position on abortion.
Keith answered by not really answering. He drew considerable criticism for this. Many said that the voters have a right to know the candidates' position on this if they want to be truly represented.
There were varying opinions that day from every direction.
Following the all candidates meeting Charles hit Keith straight between the eyes with the big question.
This time Keith's reply was worthy of political admiration.
He replied that his party is clear on the topic and that the Prime Minister will not re-open legislation on the abortion debate.
Charles asked if the voters had a right to know. Mr. Ashfield replied that if elected his duty is to represent the citizens and make decisions based on their input.
His personal opinion stays personal and does not direct his actions.
Does he support gay rights? Keith replied that he does since they have been addressed by the courts and the decisions implemented.

He's good!

Speaking of good. Let's talk about Rock and Roll.
On Canada Day my family went down to Officer's Square in Fredericton to see the fireworks.
We arrived about 15 minutes before they were to start.
Over by the barracks building a stage was set up for musical acts all day.
As we were walking by toward the firework area I heard the band that was playing.
As I listened I thought "these guys are good!"
They had a hard rock, slightly "Our Lady Peace" sound which I love so much. My little drummer guy and I decided to watch the band while the rest of the crew found a spot to watch the fireworks.
I REALLY liked their music.
The lad wanted to get closer to see the drummer since he sounded so incredible.
As we tried to get closer the music ended.
I grabbed the monkey and we headed toward the back of the stage to at least see the drum kit.
I was thinking we could get the drummer's autograph or something.
When we got close the drummer turned around.
"Pat!" I said. "Hey, how's it going?" he replied.
You see, my drummer monkey has been taking lessons for a couple of years now from local drummer extraordinare Al Hovey.
Until recently the lessons were at a spot called Musiplex which houses lessons, shows and sales.
Whenever we were waiting for his lesson to start or if I was waiting for it to finish I sat around waiting.
The other drumming teacher was Pat Pelltier.
Pat would often come out and we would chat as he had a smoke or waited for his next student to arrive.
He's a very nice guy and certainly didn't act like someone on the verge of getting a big break.
So it turns out that Pat is the drummer for Age of Daze and I like them a lot.
Last night the band kicked off a nationwide tour here in their hometown of Fredericton.
They also debuted their first professional music video for "Afflicted".
Yesterday I decided that my sons and I were going to see our first rock concert together. I realize we saw Blue Man Group but that was different.
This was Rock!
What an amazing show it was! The lads and I had a great time and the music was outstanding.
I tell you to keep an eye on this band. I have high expectations and feel quite confident that they will not disappoint.
Oh, Pat did a 7 minute solo that brought down the house.
I wish Age of Daze the best of luck on their tour.
When they get back we will be seeing them again.

Image Courtesy of http://www.ageofdaze.com/

Take Care,


Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Website of Note as Remembrance Day Approaches

Several years ago my best friend Mike pointed me to watch a video on Atomfilms called "Letter from the Western Front".
This animated short was done in 1999 by a young man based in New York City named Daniel M. Kanemoto.
I can't begin to describe how touching this film was.
It follows a young soldier named John as he writes a letter to his love back in Milwaukee.
I have taken this plot summary from The Internet Movie Database - www.imdb.com.
(I would bookmark that if I were you. It has everything about every movie or show ever made.)
"In Belleau Wood, France, during the Great War, a soldier named John writes a letter home to his wife Sara in Milwaukee. He writes that her picture "helps me remember what it was like to be me." He tells her about sorties into No Man's Land, and that they have orders tonight to charge. Then, his letter becomes a report of that charge: toward an armed German soldier who doesn't fire, even when John reaches him and jumps into the trench beside him. What happens next brings silence and an end to the letter.
I won't bother ruining it for you but to say that what happens brings silence is an understatement. In reality it brings tears.
After I watched it on Atomfilms I sent the link to my family and friends.
My sister had recently been to France and the beaches of Normandy. She told me that it was tremendously emotional, especially at the monument.
When Hayley watched the film in struck a nerve.
I have not been to Normandy and it made me cry. I can only imagine how Hayley felt.
The bad news. I have spent ages looking for this video online again. For some reason it is gone from Atomfilms and nowhere else seems to have it.
The good news. During my hunt I discovered Daniel M. Kanemoto's myspace page at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=43004224.
I was glad to see that Daniel has a new film entitled "Articles of War" out.
I watched the trailers at www.articles-of-war.com and this looks like another highly emotional film.
This lad is very very talented. It appears that he is on his way to the big time.
His blog discusses him sending copies of the new DVD to film festivals everywhere.
This may explain the disappearance of the film from Atomfilms.
It is likely that we need to pay to see Mr. Kanemoto's work.
In my opinion that is just fine. His work is worth any price.
Have a look.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'd rather not say if that's okay

One of my friends made a comment last week that I wanted to address but haven't had a chance to yet. You'll recall a while ago I commented on the local federal candidates and their thoughts of the York Street station.
My good friend noted that it appeared that I was expressing support a particular way. This was not to be the case and I did not intend it.
You see, as a municipally elected individual I feel this is a dangerous thing.
If I do support one party over another I should not broadcast it.
Municipally we are not officially affiliated with any party.
If I have a sign on my lawn for a candidate I risk alienating village residents that don't feel the same way. I also risk losing their support when the next municipal elections come around.
So I prefer not to broadcast my leanings.
I do recommend that we elect one of the candidates that has publicly announced their support for the restoration of the York Street Station.

These pictures are courtesy of Steve Boyko at http://www.frederictonstation.com/ (Thanks Steve)

Saying this also runs the risk of alienating my potential supporters but I'm willing to take this risk.
Surely everyone who knows me or knows of me knows where my heart lies.

I want to say something here that is not saying I support or do not support anyone.
Let's just consider it passing on advice once given to me by a man than I consider a wonderful person and friend. I had not lived here very long when Les Hull was Fredericton mayor or an MLA but I think he has enough experience to qualify for giving advice.
When I was not elected to Council in 2004 I wasn't too happy about it as you could guess.
I was introduced to Les by my Uncle Richard who was in town. We were at Mazuccas on a Saturday morning so I had time to chat and get to know Les.
He told me that the most important thing of every campaign is to get out there and pound the pavement to go to every single house.
This spring I did that. I went to every house in New Maryland.
And I was elected too.
So, in our house we have received the Liberal, Conservative and Green party fliers. I don't know which were hand delivered and which arrived as a mass mailing.
Either way this indicates an interest that the candidates appear to have taken with my personal home. Perhaps it was the candidates themselves who dropped them off or perhaps it was a volunteer.
No matter.
To date I have not seen a single trace of the NDP candidate Jesse Travis or Canadian Action Party candidate Ben Kelly.
It would be my recommendation to these lads to spend less time getting your volunteers putting up signs (the Liberals and Conservatives have that contest locked up) and get yourself and every volunteer knocking on doors everywhere!
This would only help since these lads are with struggling parties anyway.
Am I wrong?
Let's see on October 14th.
Another word on my support as evidenced by my public profile.
If you get a chance have a look at my Facebook friends. I have people from everywhere as my friends. For example, Ken Dryden is there as is fellow Liberal Kelly Lamrock. But then I have MLA Carl Urquart and party leadership hopeful Dave Alward from the Conservatives. If you see my photos I have pictures with New Brunswick Liberals Premiere Shawn Graham and MLA Rick Miles but just this weekend met Canadian Minister of Defense Peter MacKay at St. Johns airport and took a nice photo with him. In fact, my good friend Brian works for Mr. MacKay and was picking him up at the Halifax airport that day.
There are no NDPs or Green or Canadian Action Party folks but I don't know any yet. If any request friend status I will give it.
Facebook knows no borders or colours and as a municipal elected official I'm not broadcasting any either.

Take Care,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

St. Johns is quite nice

I just wanted to note a bit about my weekend trip to St. Johns, Newfoundland.
This wasn't the first time I had been to the province. In the early 80's I attended a provincial Boy Scout jamboree in one of only a couple of groups attending as guests from Ontario.
I remember that it was chilly all of the time and it seems that it was always raining.
We met some good people and had some fun but it wasn't one of the best trips in my memory.
Plus, we spent the entire time near Gander and didn't get to explore very much.
This time I wasn't in a tent in a wet field. I was in a nice hotel looking toward the St. Johns' harbour.
It didn't rain at all! The winds were frighteningly high a lot but the sunshine dominated the daytime. It makes a huge difference.
The entire Saturday morning was taken with the meeting. It was quite good really.
The lunch and afternoon event was to be a speaker.
I decided that I wanted to look at the sunshine and harbour from the other side of the window so I stepped out and took my GPS down to the Harbour for some geocaching in the city.
I'll tell you, this harbour is amazing.
If I was part of an attacking force coming into this harbour I would not like my chances of success.
Attackers would be sitting ducks.
This is not an original thought.
The history of the area reveals cannons and artillery have been placed in the mountains for hundreds of years up to World War II preparedness.
My target was to reach the top of Signal Hill. To claim the find of the Earthcache one needs to take a picture with the GPS held up in front with the Signal Hill tower in the background and answer some questions of the geology of this area.
I started my walk around the path off of Battery Road. At the end of the road the path around the mountain began.
I felt that it would be a simple path since everyone needed to use it to get to the top.
Wrong! This was a nasty goatpath on a narrow trail along the rocks.
It was scarier than that cliff that Frodo, Sam and Gollum climb to get to the spider's lair in Lord of the Rings!

The wind was blasting though the whole time. (not that it would have pushed me too far but the balance felt difficult).
I staggered about 3/4 around this cliff before I realized that I didn't see a road up to the tower.
So I decided to preserve my life and go back.
When I got back to the road I knew that there was no way I could walk all the way back about 6 kms.
So I acted the way a city slicker would and called a cab.
As we were leaving I told the driver what I had hoped to do.
He said "why didn't you just take the road?"
I lied and said I was in it for the exercise.
He drove me up in about 3 minutes and I gathered the details for my earthcache find and returned to the hotel.

That evening we were going to a comedy club dinner theatre so I just went back to the hotel and relaxed.
The dinner was a chef prepared affair and was very tasty.
I don't eat fish very often but when I saw that the cod involved sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese I was sold.
If only the portions were a bit larger.
The first act was Greg Malone who used to be on the CBC show Codco. He was pretty funny but seemed to be trying to sound and look like Scott Thompson of "Kids in the Hall".
I mentioned this to another person at the table and he said that "Scott Thompson was always trying to act like Greg Malone. I'm not sure I agree with that.
The second act was a woman singing a loud opera sounding cabaret thing.
I really didn't enjoy it so I went to sit down and relax in the bar.
When I sat down in the comfy bar chair one of the bartenders asked if it was okay that he closed the door so that they didn't have to hear the singer. That was fine with me.
Following the show I just returned to the hotel to sleep since I was exhausted from the day.
Some of the others including the CCTT president and Newfoundland's president went to party hard on George Street.
I would like to note that the president of Alberta and a representative from Ontario attended this weekend. I didn't realize that they were coming.
If you read my blog the other day you understand why this was quite interesting.
Could they have been there to gather support from Newfoundland for a national reorganisation plan?
I guess we'll never know since neither Alberta or Ontario had any time alone with Tony who is Newfoundland's president.
I'm glad that Stephen the CCTT president was there and partied with Tony.
I had a good chat alone with Tony and he was quite supportive of concerns brought up by myself and our E.D. Ed to the national thing.
I'm really looking forward to the national meeting in Vancouver in a few weeks.
I wonder if everyone will be polite to me or ignore me as is going on at present?

Finally, on Sunday I had a chance to visit a very nice park to walk and find some geocaches.
When it was time to leave I went to the airport with CCTT Steve who was also going to Halifax before going to his home in PEI.
I had a little chat with Canada's Minister of Defense, Peter MacKay who was also heading to Halifax to go home.
He was talking to Prime Minister Harper on his BlackBerry but asked him to hold on while he smiled for a photo with me.

A good friend of mine Brian Macdonald works for Mr. MacKay and was to be picking him up at the Halifax airport.
Unfortunately I didn't get to see Brian but had a quick phone chat.
I'm going to try and put in a link here to my Facebook pictures. I took some great shots of the sunset from above the clouds as we headed to Fredericton.

That's all for now.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Run For The Cure

Most who know me personally know that my beautiful little sister Hayley passed away from cancer about a month ago.
Hayley felt strongly about the Run for the Cure.
I was in St. Johns Newfoundland yesterday and was unable to get back to Fredericton in time to participate.
It's probably just as well. There would have been far too much emotion for me. I'm having difficulty just typing this.
My wife and twin sons joined in the Fredericton walk and completed 5 km.
I am so very proud of them.
My brother-in-law, step-sisters, their husbands, kids and my mother's friend from England walked in Toronto.
Between us all we raised over $7000 in Hayley's name.
My brother-in-law Ronnie forwarded this link to a video on the Toronto Sun website. He is in it speaking about Hayley.
I hope that this link works.


In addition, there is an article in the Toronto Star with Ronnie talking about Hayley. It mentions that we raised over $6000 but $7000 is what I have heard most recently.


The article also mentions my mom who is in hospital right now.
She also has cancer and is trying to beat it.

I have to go. I prefer not to talk about this any more right now. Sorry.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Blog While I Wait

I'm sitting in the Halifax airport right now.
I left Fredericton about 5 o'clock and got here around 45 minutes later in our little Beech 1900D.
It was certainly a noisy flight with the propellers and the high winds shook the plane around pretty well.
Regardless, I was still hungry when we landed. I didn't eat very much today.
Now I'm going to have to hang around here for almost 3 hours until my flight to St. Johns, Newfoundland leaves. I'm on my way to the 40th Annual Conference and General Meeting of the Association of Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc.
I was invited to attend as I am president of the New Brunswick Society of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists.
Geez that's a LOT of typing! Small names don't exist in the world of engineering.
There are 2 big reasons why I feel very strongly about attending other associations' AGMs if invited.
First, this is AETTNL's (that's much better!) 40th anniversary and as far as I am concerned everyone should attend from everywhere to congratulate others on milestones.
It's a show of unity and feeling of family.
The second reason is a little more sinister.
The national arena of our associations is regulated by the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists which consists of an Executive Director and run by representatives from each provincial group.
Every member of every represented association pays the same amount to be a member of CCTT which is collected while paying our provincial annual dues.
This may get a little fuzzy here. It has been to many others.
If every member pays exactly the same should every province be considered equal at the national table?
The big guys, Ontario, Alberta and BC have the opinion that since they have far more members than the other provinces that they should control what goes on.
To try and put it in perspective consider this.
When I lived in Ontario I was the Chair of the Peel Chapter of the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT if it's okay with you).
The Peel chapter was one of numerous chapters in Ontario. Granted, it is the biggest.
In the Peel Chapter there were more members than the entire province of New Brunswick.
I accept that the big boys pay more into CCTT than us little guys.
But, how do you tell a member in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island that all of his decisions are being made by Ontario when this member pays the exact same as the member in Ontario?
We have a problem here and there is no easy answer is there?
At this very moment the big guys are meeting and strategizing how to take over.
The only chance the rest of us have is to group and add our numbers together.
A few months ago the "big 3" leaned on the rest of us to have a "neutral" third party consultant analyze and recommend changes, if any, to the way the national body was run.
Initially I was naïve and didn't realize what the biggies were in cahoots.
I can't be so good looking and smart together all of the time. Sorry.
NBSCETT's executive director received a letter from the big 3 EDs talking about how they were meeting and talking and suggested that other associations may want to do the same.
This was pure stupidity but good luck on our part. I have no idea what they were thinking by sending that.
Our ED, named Ed funny enough, was mad and made me proud by sending a letter back copying everyone in the world.
Ed slammed them for conspiring to control the national direction. He was right.
I immediately withdrew my support of the "third party" review process.
I haven't heard anything back from anyone.
In a few weeks I will be attending the CCTT AGM in Vancouver. Everyone will be there.
Can you tell that I'm looking forward to it?
Where was I? Oh yes.
By going to Newfoundland and strengthening relationships I think this should help in Vancouver.
Perhaps I'm mistaken.
Doesn't matter though. I get to go to Newfoundland for the weekend on someone else's dime.

That's all for now. I'm going to call my mother in Ontario now to see how she is.


Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Thursday, October 2, 2008

If you are in the area and looking for something to do...

I received the message below from artist friend Bruce Newman this morning.
Bruce and I first met on Remembrance Day several years ago.
My family was returning from the parade in Fredericton and were driving past the York Street Station. We spotted Bruce standing there with his easel in the empty lot beside the station.
We got out and chatted with him for a while. The wind was icy cold and blasting in our faces.
Bruce was in the process of doing a painting of the station in its sad state.
The resulting painting was entitled "Heritage Lost" and is one of my favourite paintings ever.

My wife bought me a signed print of "Heritage Lost" as a gift which hangs directly over my desk in the basement.
Recently Bruce completed another painting of the station from the east facing west to the building.
This one is named, again very appropriately, "End of the Line". You can see it on his web site.
These are not "feel good" paintings by any means. They do not illustrate the York Street Station in its former glory as do other paintings that I have seen.
Bruce's paintings show the harsh reality of a once vital part of the city's past that has been neglected and ignored for too long.
Bruce's web site is http://www.brucenewman.com/. You can see an excellent profile of Bruce at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bruce-newman.html .
If you are in town I highly recommend that you attend this exhibition.
I will be out of the province this weekend but if you get there please say hello to Bruce for me.

"Just a short note for anyone in the Fredericton area to invite you to the opening reception of the annual Fall Exhibition of The Fredericton Society of Artists on Friday evening, October 3, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at 151, a new gallery located at 151 Aberdeen Street in Fredericton.
The Fredericton Society of Artists was founded in 1949 and typically has two major shows a year, one in the spring and the other each fall. I have been a member of FSA since 2000 and I have five works entered in this year's show.
In the event that you are not able to make it on Friday, this exhibition will run until Thursday, October 30. Gallery hours are:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 12:00 - 5:00 PM
Wednesday: 12:00 - 5:00 PM
Thursday: 12:00 - 7:00 PM
Friday: 12:00 - 7:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 - 7:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 - 5:00 PM

I hope you can stop in for an evening of art on Friday! On-street parking is somewhat limited but the Exhibition Grounds are only half a block away."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Blog of Note

I hope that people are taking the time to visit the new Fredericton Friends of the Railway site that Steve Boyko has created.
He has far more detail than I do of what is going on and is far more involved every day than I could ever be.
If you haven't then go visit.
If you have, go visit again.