A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 January 2005

Hi. Are You Busy?

I am.

Let's see. I recently completed my first-ever transverse-mount clutch job. It's no small feat to remove a transmission that was fitted into an engine compartment sideways. The shop manual suggests eight hours for the job. I didn't have every single tool I needed, so it took longer, what with locating and borrowing all the bits.

I've been a knuckle-basher mechanic for well over a decade, and every time I do a job I learn something new. In this case it was "The manual has never been updated". The manual for this car and the job at hand had a section called "updates for post-1981 vehicles". But it did nowhere mention that the assembly that in 1980 required merely the removal of two bolts to disassemble now requires a big hammer and the use of a "pickle fork" to take apart.

Which is the problem with manuals anyway. The latest set of instructions is never quite up-to-date until the item has been out of production a few years (see: Micrososft, Ford, GM, Procter-Gamble and their new partner, Gillette).

Who says blogging never gets you anywhere? I just (keeping fingers tightly crossed until the contract is signed) picked up a contract doing some work for BLive, supervising and editing their company blog. I'm excited and terrified all at once. I mean, here I can just scribble down whatever pops into my head, not quite so at work. Although the boss has assured me that my tone and writing style are just what the place needs. Oh I hope so!

Oh--seen the news? Another Canadian heritage company has bit the big one. If it's any consolation, their partner has been haemorraging market share as well. But I can't help wondering what they'll use for a new slogan: "I WAS Canadian"?

The new 'glomerate will be 55% Molson-owned, but run from Colorado. Note to the Coors people: You should finally be able to learn how to brew a reasonable keg of panther sweat. Coors generally, but Coors Light doubled and redoubled in spades, is prarie dog urine; Thin and fizzy, it must be served ice cold so as to numb the taste buds before they actually get a sample of the flavour. Molson Canadian is the Canuck equivalent, it's the draught beer available everywhere. But it has a lot more body and taste.

The encroachment of American ethos into Canada is an old trend. But lately the pace of the cultural piracy has speeded up. Flagship moments include the day this outfit was allowed in.

Here's a really scary thing. Not only have we decided to copy prejudicial law enforcement practices, we picked the worst possible state to copy. In fact, profiling is illegal even in Texas! If stopped in Canada by a man with a Texas accent, I will presume he's a foreign carjacker in a fake uniform and run him over.

Lastly, a dose of divisive political rhetoric. Harper only had to keep his mouth shut to let Paul Martin dig his own hole, but of course he had to bring up the illogical "slippery slope" argument. The party formerly known as Conservative is sliding into divisiveness in the Washington mode.

There are a few good reasons to oppose polygamy, but they're nothing to do with same-sex marriage. Oh--and same-sex marriages are already in existence even in the USA.

What do you think? More.

The US seems to be undergoing one of those difficult periods that precedes great and striking (and hopefully positive) social change. I hold out hope that sanity will win out. Canada can avoid the major conflicts by legislating gay marriage and decriminalizing pot now.

24 January 2005

Nasty Surprises

We all feel it. That stomach-dropping feeling at the sight of our credit card bill. In some extreme cases, just the envelope can trigger fight-or-flight instincts. People of my acquaintance have tossed bill after bill onto the front hall table unopened because they're so afraid of what's inside.

I pay my bill off every month, usually. And I thought I'd made it through Christmas unscathed, even after the purchase of a new computer for the SO.
Alas, it is not so. Yesterday I checked on my balances and discovered that I am a significant portion of my monthly salary in the hole. Just under two weeks' pay in fact.

The real shock came when I decided to sort out where all that money had gone and discovered that my erstwhile internet provider of 2002-2003 had decided not to stop charging me through 2004, and was trying to rack me up through 2005.

I paid a heavy cancellation fee to break free of the contract I was in, and to find that I had since been billed for ten months' worth of service I wasn't using was almost funny.

So today's project is prying loose the $284.96 they owe me.

Plus a little interest, if possible.

22 January 2005

Ever Notice?

I spend a lot of time driving around my town, and in the course of a day I am exposed to a million peoples' opinions on posters, bumper stickers, and spray-painted on walls.

Yesterday a gigantic poster blared at me: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you"--God.

This wasn't one of those plain black billboards. Instead it had a picture of a gappily-smiling baby, sitting in a blanket.

I don't really want to address the whole question of speaking for a god. After all, people from the Khans of Asia to the Tsars of Russia to George W. have claimed to be god's instruments, or at least his tool.

But what I was thinking about was this: One never sees a crack baby on an anti-abortion poster. In fact, it's rare that one sees a black or hispanic baby. So who's the audience?

Shouldn't there be some requirement for truth in advertising? Along with "Abortion stops a beating heart" shouldn't the posters say: "Looking after a severely retarded child will cripple you emotionally and financially", or "We'll fight like demons to enforce your right to raise four kids on welfare"? How about: "Have the baby now, you can always euthanize it once it's a teenager"?

Don't get me wrong. I dislike abortion. But to me, it's a failure to adequately educate children that leads to adults.

I want honesty in education. Children should be given an unemotional perspective on sexuality, free from the influence of religion or embarrassment of parents. And someone needs to stump up and point out that creationism is a fallacy, less likely than evolution.

I've been thinking a lot about religion lately. As a lifelong penny-pincher, 17-year-ex-catholic and comparison shopper, I've been trying to apply a parsing approach to my spiritual life, such as it isn't. Watch this space for further announcements.

17 January 2005

It's 1:30 AM. Do You Know Where Your Blogger Is?

Earlier, I said I'd post about the recent transit fare hike. Here's how it breaks down:

If I get in my '04 Ford Focus and drive the 22 Km (14 Mi) to work, it costs:
1) Fuel: 2 litres at about 80¢ each
2) Approximately forty minutes of my time each way.

I owe nothing on the car, but there's wear and tear, plus the fact that the warranty will be shortened. Since it's five years or 100,000 Km, whichever comes first, each kilometre I drive beyond 20,000 per year adds to the maintenance cost of the car. Follow me?

So: Based on an annual maintenance cost of $500 (cost of four oil changes per year plus the "level II" and "level III" servicings required under warranty) plus approximate depreciation per kilometre (8¢). Oh, and there's about $1400 per year in insurance.

3) Operating costs per day:
    Insurance: $4.16
    Mileage (22 Km to and fro): $3.52
    Depreciation per day: $4.38
    Total: $13.66

On the other hand, if I take the bus:
    Tickets (both ways @ $3:00): $6.00

Seems pretty simple, no? Well not quite.

You see, included in the above is the unwritten assumption that my time has no value, and that convenience, ease of travel, and reliability are of no worth. But these are false assumptions.

My boss figures my time is worth money. For the sake of argument, let's assume I'm worth as little as $16 per hour. I'm actually worth a hell of a lot more, but let's pretend.

Convenience is valuable. If the bus stopped outside the door of my workplace, it would be convenient. Unfortunately it's roughly a fifteen-minute walk from my stop to work. Likewise, if I could board a single bus, or transfer only once; but I board an elevated train, then get on a bus, then transfer to another bus following a ten-to-twenty-minute wait, which takes place in an area with no bus shelter. And at the current outdoor temperature, that's an issue.

Ease of travel: Just how convenient is it to board the bus, and how enjoyable is the trip, compared to driving? Actually, based on some of the freaks I find I have to share the highway with, the bus may have the edge here. On the other hand, consider that some of the people on the bus are too freaky to have a driver's license.

Reliability: From my boss' standpoint. How often do I show up late?

Overall, here's what I need to consider. To catch the bus, I must get up at 4:45 AM instead of 5:45 to drive. I also arrive home roughly half-an-hour later than by driving.
Costs: 1.5 Hr x $16/Hr = $24 over and above driving cost of 1.75 Hr, or $28$.

Convenience: How to measure my walk in? Why, the same way as I reckon any other time figure. .25 Hr x $16 = $4. Also, since the temperatures are hitting -10 there's another factor to consider.

Ease of travel: I have to take totally different busses going out and coming home. I must transfer a minimum of four times daily. I can't cost this, and I won't try.

Reliability: The real thorn in my side. I start work at 7. I like to be into the shop no later than 6:45. If I take the bus, the walk at the end gets me in between 6:45 and 6:59. That's if there are no delays.

If I miss my first bus, I can get the next one, but that's it. If I miss the second bus, there is no other leaving in time for me to arrive at work on time.

The first day I took a bus, there was a delay on the rail line between my first and second transfer points. I missed my first bus and arrived twenty minutes late. I can't afford to do that twice. How do you cost something that can cost you your job?

So based solely on the cost factors I've listed, and factoring in my time costs:
  • Car costs: $41.66

  • Bus costs: $56.00, Plus or minus my job.

  • That's based on the rate that the bus used to cost. The fare went up by 25¢ a few days ago.

    I want to be a clean commuter, I really do. The SO and I have only one car, and since she's providing my marvellous meals I'd rather leave the grocery-grabber with her. But I'm actually considering the purchase of a used car (which could reduce the per-day cost to under $20).

    Because to commute on public transit, I have to get up at an hour I don't want to contemplate, let alone actually arise at, in order to catch a sequence of vehicles that drop me about a mile from work. If I miss any of the connections, I could become unemployed rather quickly.

    And now this quality of service is going to cost 50¢ more?

    If there was a single bus I could ride from my house to work, and if I could guarantee that I'd arrive at work on time every day without fail AND if I could do all that by getting up at five-thirty every morning, I would fork out the fifty cents and be hanged to it.

    But the stunning inconvenience of it all is really just unsatisfactory. As it is, I get by by alternating driving and busing. Under the circumstances, I'd really rather drive. Every day.

    Post scriptum: It's not as though I'm getting a bus out to cattle country. I work in a major industrial estate, where many businesses get off to an early start. And at least three or four of my fellow commuters make the same trip each morning. COuldn't we boost the numbers to one busfull by having a service that actually went where we need to go?

    Recently, there's been a hell of a fight going on about whether to extend the elevated rail south of the city to the airport, then into the suburb I work in. If I thought it would go anywhere near where I work I'd be more enthusiastic. But it'll probably just stop at the mall. Still, I'm for it. We need more and better public transit. Quite badly.

    16 January 2005

    ₤µ€λ! I Hate Being Honest!

    Today I returned to the aforementioned Swedish store, where I selected:
  • 2 pairs cheap lucite bookends, 99¢ each and
  • One pair snazzy steel bookends, $1.49 each.

  • "That'll be six-twenty-two." said the clerk.
    "Um," I replied "I think you punched the steel ones in as a pair for $1.49."

    Why do I insist on saving this place money? Over this weekend I could have saved the $3 to make it worth the gas I used for the second trip.

    15 January 2005

    God, I Hate Being Honest

    I was at a certain Swedish furniture store today. Why is every new, funkily-designed furniture flogger now branding themselves as "Swedish", by the way? I was there to buy bookends.

    It seems to me that one could make a great deal of money specializing in bookends--they are the item you always need, but can never remember to buy, or when you do remember to search for them, never ever find. Hence my trip to a place where you can buy three different types for under $3 a pair.

    I chose five sets:
  • Two cheap lucite pairs at 99¢ per set
  • Two pairs of wire bookends, also at 99¢ a pair
  • A single pair of L-shaped steel ones at $1.49 each piece

  • So we're looking at around $7, plus the 14.5% in federal and provincial sales tax. I might therefore have reasonably expected to pay approximately $8. My math being what it is, I was looking for about 9.

    "Six forty-four" said the clerk "have a nice day."

    Upon my receipt of my receipt, I examined the list of items. This rather nice young man had rung in the steel L-shaped units as a single $1.49 item, and had apparently seen nothing incongruous in the idea that I might have been buying an odd number of plastic bookends: He'd rung up three of them (total:$5.45 plus tax or so).

    I get this a lot. Between computers and bar codes, a checkout person is required to know a million punch-in item codes, but only enough math to count his or her toes and arrive at the correct answer twice out of three attempts.

    The usual reaction is mild astonishment that someone has challenged the Great Machine. Sometimes I'm wrong. Usually, I'm right. On occasion the clerk becomes even more confused. This guy didn't bat an eye, just added the couple of bucks to my total again.

    But it made me wonder: How much merchandise walks out the door? Or conversely, how many people are living in houses full of furniture that they actually paid for two of without thinking twice?

    And why in the name of all that's unholy can't I just accept my good fortune and say "screw 'em"?

    To Service You Better

    Pennies count, although I wish like hell we'd abolish the stupid things. But while pennies exist, I will pinch them.

    Speaking of stupid things: Our fare city just raised the price of transit (more on this anon).
    I assume this was done for the usual "to serve you better" reason. This is the phrase used when you're getting seriously screwed.

    The ultimate in this absurdity was the bank whose machines I use to access my account; since speaking to a human is now a "Premium Account"-only type of service and costs roughly as much as the hourly wage of the teller in service charges--or put another way, approximately one billionth of the bank's declared profits for last year--I do machines, and only machines.

    One day I arrived at the branch of this bank, which shall remain nameless, closest to my house. It was firmly locked. I frowned at my watch, then noticed the notice on the door:
    "To serve you better, we will now be offering banking services from our First St. branch."

    Ah, I see. In order to serve your local customers better, you moved the bank into the branch at the top of a 1:15 grade hill and a mile away? If you were dentists, presumably you'd serve your customers better by giving them lollipops in the waiting room. Thank god you're not proctologists--although in a certain specialized sense . . .

    I have a washing machine to repair, a transmission to replace, and a mountain of dishes to do, so chow for now.

    13 January 2005

    This Is Not Good

    The USMD has apparently become a political issue again.


    First, against whom will this cumbersome assemblage of nearly-workable technology be used? The "Axis of Evil" countries? North Korea may have a couple of nukes, but no long-range delivery system. Iran is proceeding with nuclear research, but seems to be a couple of years from a bomb (and besides, no-one wants to ask how they came by their plans, or at least not while Pervez Musharref is still a loyal ally). And Iraq? Well I suppose it's just possible that those WMD will turn up, although certain agencies don't seem to think so.

    Russia? Unlikely. Though Vlad "The Impaler" Putin is the most backward premier, um, president, for decades, he seems to have confined his most base depradations to his own countrymen, and generally seems engaged with the international community.

    India and Pakistan? Both nuclear-capable, but it's hard to think of them developing the sort of problem that would cause them to nuke Canada, although they may take a shot or two at each other one day over Kashmir.

    China? You mean the nation that's holding onto a continually-redefined communism while buying up the natural resources of the entire globe? Again, what possible advantage would they gain from importing radioactive coal? Far more likely that they'd attempt some sort of economic coup (PDF file).


    Of course there's one other nuclear-capable nation whose behaviour of late is of some concern, whose leader is known for believing God told him it was okay to go to war. But the atomic umbrella won't protect us from that particular nation. And normally they're damn fine neighbours, on the whole.

    Of course, Al-Qaeda may have an intercontinental ballistic missile facility cunningly concealed somewhere, fully stocked with long-range missiles as well as several atomic warheads with which to tip them. Sure.

    Secondly, what exactly does Canada get out of the idea? Apparently the notion is that we put in money until it works, THEN we'll be protected from possible emerging imminent developing potential threats.

    Thirdly and most importantly, as noted in reasons one and two IT DOESN'T WORK! The last test proved yet again that this is so. But remember, in the first few tests, faced with a target containing a locator beacon that screamed "come and get me", the system hit the target less than 50% of the time. That's "hit the target", not "eliminated the threat". There seems little evidence that IF the target gets hit, and IF this stops the missile carrying it, that this will stop an atomic warhead from going off.

    By the way, a quote from the CBC News Indepth article says:
    "Just as Canadian military leaders were left out of the planning for the 2003 Iraq war, Canada could find its position in Norad severely reduced."

    Um. Yeah. We're really busted up about being "left out" of Iraq. I hope Dubya checks this site every night before bed. Sleep well, George.

    I'm an ex-soldier, and my sympathies lie not with the inventors of the "threat", or their mean-spirited, demagogic, and short-sighted policies, but with the poor bloody Tommies and Joes who have to have to enforce them.

    There's no reason not to co-operate with the US on a viable continental defence grid. That's what the DEW line was all about. But there are serious reasons to think twice about getting into bed with this particular administration on anything, and especially on this. It's akin to buying a cure for the rarest disease on earth which works only 20% of the time; and there are better uses for our tax dollars.

  • Late-breaking news: Prince Harry following in his father's embarrasing footsteps.

  • 08 January 2005

    Uh, more on resolutions and blogging.

    I forgot resolution 7: I need to do a little spiritual research as well. Big questions, starting with "Do I believe in a god or gods?" More of this anon.

    Right now I wanted to hold forth on blogging and some of the features of the blogging genre. By the way--here's a new award for blogging, courtesy of Mr. Barefoot.

    It's tough to pin them down. The corpus of available material is huge beyond comprehension. Never before have so many written so much with (sometimes)so little meaning.

    Usually we could analyse the text of a given selection of blogs, but even good blogs vary enormously. We defined a few basics in an earlier post; basically blogs are immediate, intensely personal, and written in a functional form (grammatical English in the case of this particular sample of blogs).

    But normally we'd analyze deeper, sift the actual text for metadiscourse. That is, what is it that people are saying, not only by what they write but in the ways that they choose to phrase it?

    However, that would require a team of research assistants, and I'm only one person. So I'll confine myself to a few things I've spotted with my educated eyeball (the left one, the other is quite, quite ignorant).

    A glaring omission is modality. Modality, basically, is the admission htat you might be wrong, and is signalled by the presence of words and marker phrases which set conditions on what is true and when; such as "in this situation" [X is true], "whenever"[this is true, X is true], or even "basically".

    But bloggers don't go a bundle on modality generally, it seems (modality marker--I could be wrong). Even some of the best seem to state their cases with, apparently (I'm really big on modality), an assumption that either they're 100% right, or that the post is taken as only their humble opinion. Late-breaking modality marker: IMHO.

    From BlogsCanada (prettily done template, dude):
    Political opinion in the US is much more polarized than here in Canada with bloggers on each end of the political spectrum more strident and less willing to listen to the other side's point of view. This could indicate a level of frustration that is exemplified in more opinionated blogging.

    Of course this limits the terms of possible discourse. Apparent absolute certainty tends to put people off.

    But where blogging often scores over "normal" means of communication is that sometimes we get that rare nugget, an expert in the field. This is especially true with industry insiders. This is the great service done for us by the first corporate blogs, until the inevitable limitations were slammed into place shortly after the first internal critiques appeared.

    Now the line between PR and corporate blog is being deliberately smeared, as companies, and indeed their PR departments, set up "blogs" for the sole purpose of advertising or promulgating certain approved information. This will change the genre, as such blogs become less obvious, more subtle and cunning.

    Now as to the look and feel of good blogs. Going on my own perception, coupled with a few elements observed during the great blog search: The text of a good blog, oddly, is small. This may be due to the enormous screens that people are beginning to display them on. The sidebars are narrow and the posts short and usually fairly pithy. The colours take second place to the text, but cannot be neglected.

    If I am to improve this blog to the standard I'd like, well I'd have to quit work. But I can make a few good changes; today the text size. But really, the trouble is that I need a whole new template. Much as I like this one, it's getting too stringy with all the lines of HTML I've been pasting in just anywhere.

    I also need to start writing shorter posts. Although some folks get away with long ones, they mostly create intro sections.

    Resolution number 8: Learn HTMl well enough to create my own blog template from scratch.

    Resoultion number 9: Shorten blog posting until I can include sectional teaser-type intros.

    In keeping with which: So long.

    New Year's Resolutions, and More on the Genre of Blogging

    When last we chatted, I was turning over some ideas for New Year's resolutions. I don't actually do NYR's, but I do have things I'd like to accomplish in any given year, ideally pre-mortem.

    So here's my short list:

  • 1) Continue living, and (metaphorically) growing with the SO. She's been good for me, I think.

  • 2) Get my Nash finished--aim for August 2005. By a combination of semi-competence and rare bad luck, the engine is sitting all over the basement floor in a totally different dwelling. I had it together two years ago, but had to track down a broken piston ring, which led to the re-disassembly.

  • 3) Continue to learn new things. Since I can't be a full-time student any more, I want to take some of the community ed courses locally available. Current notions include Basic Drawing, Fencing, and a few others. The narrow life of "Go to work to get the money to buy the food to get the strength to go to work to . . ." is not for me.

  • 4) Follow and finish "Guitar for Dummies", even when the lessons bore me. I must remember that I have a great deal to learn.

  • 5) Refuse to give up on writing, and finish my novel. Even now, my name resonates around the globe. Or at least as far as Alberta. The Barrhead Leader has no web page--seems less than professional for a major news organ. But my interview with Santa Claus was in there.
    My 3-Day Novel hasn't won the contest, but at least now I know I can write one, and in three days. Like the old, old commercial says "Could you imageine a week?".

  • Is that enough? Oh yeah! I forgot:

  • 6) Continue blogging, and strive to improve some key points of this blog.

  • My cousin, whom I'll call Bookum, and I haven't seen each other since I was about twelve. He would have been about seventeen, at a guess, and just outgrowing setting fire to model airplanes. He has since become an aviator with the US Armed Forces. After my aunt died last Fall, I felt it was important to re-establish some communication.

    As part of this, I naturally sent him my blog address. His return note pointed out that our political views are somewhat different, and that he clearly feels my blog travels a bit too far to one side.

    This doesn't fit for me. I wanted this blog to be "Fair and Balanced"™ in the exact same way that Fox News isn't. But Bookum seems to feel that I wear my heart somewhat visibly on what he would consider the left sleeve.

    Thinking on this, I realized a couple of things:
    1) Politics in the US and Canada are related species, but totally different animals.

    The wonderful tradition of free speech in America, while definitely beneficial, has led to a radicalization of discourse: The louder people yell, the crazier their ideas, the more exposure they can get. This applies to Michael Moore too, although far less so than to, say, Michael Savage. Canada's hate speech laws have traditionally kept the discourse slightly more civil, or so it seems to me.

    2) I have trouble with the terms "liberal" and "conservative", likewise "left" and "right". In George Jr's America, what used to be "left" has moved so far "right" as to be without meaning, and the trend in Canada is toward a deepening rift between formerly centrist political parties.

    As regards the "conservative" and "liberal" labels, the problem is that most people don't travel in straight party lines. We hold subtle, shaded, nuanced positions. I tend towards social policies that would get me labelled "liberal", but fiscal policies that are regarded as "conservative". I believe in the free marketplace and support globalization (another charged word), while pushing for "social justice". So how can any label sum up the essence of me?

    But to return to Bookum's point--can I re-balance this blog? I've made some strong and heartfelt statements, usually backed up with reference and incontrovertible argument, in favour of my positions. But I sometimes don't provide access to opposing points of view. This is partly because, for example, "because God hates fags" is not a cogent argument against gay marriage. "Gay marriage will produce negative social effects" might be, but since only two nations have it on the law books, and neither of them shows any signs of collapsing (or being scoured by holy fire), I don't consider that much of an argument.

    The difference is that I'd try to listen to someone who asserted the latter in a reasonable tone. But I wouldn't link to godhatesfags (a real website run by a foaming maniac--did you know that God caused the terror attacks at the World Trade Centre to punish the New York Fire Department?).

    But Bookum has a point. I'd like to link to sources of thought other than my own favourites.

    To start with, here's the National Review. The best I can honestly do here is reserve my judgement, since the journal is associated with Ann Coulter. Again, I can't comment. I haven't read the whole thing, and the headline article "Enviro Whackos Rejoice over Tsunami Devastation" is difficult to read with equanimity.

    I also have difficulty with any paper that includes Rush "Oxycontin" Limbaugh, Bill "loofah" O'Reilly, and discredited morals maven and 1973 nude pic subject Dr. Laura. But I'm truly trying to read it. By the way, the "nude pic" link links to (guess what?) nude pics of a serious opponent of pornography. You may wish to exercise caution if you have your hypocrisy meter turned on.

    {Later. Sorry, I can't do it. It's just too crazy for me. Not so much the content as the tone.}

    Day By Day. Bookum claims it's much funnier than Doonesbury.

    This is a first attempt to present another side of the various arguments I present here. I don't promise I'll always do it, and it's a violation of the genre rules for blogging, but as an inclusive sort of person, I need to create room for dissent.

    Oh. Rules for blogging? Uh, lemme get back to you on that. Next post, I promise.

  • A friend of Bookums and serving Army Officer. Interesting and direct perspective on the current war.

  • Bookum's own "watchblog". I'd never heard of the term before, but I like it.

  • 01 January 2005

    Happy New Year

    A difficult and tumultuous year behind us, and ahead of us what?

    There's nothing I can write about the tsunami that hasn't been said already.

    I resolved to try and make my last act of 2004 a worthy-ish one, so I donated one day's pre-tax pay to the Canadian Red Cross. Not specifically for the tsunami relief, but "where the need is greatest". Which seems to be the same thing.

    One day's worth of my pay, a small drop in my personal bucket and an even smaller one against the scope of this disaster.

    The Canadian government said it would match up to $25 mil in private donations, plus $14 M for specific work. Since then, companies and private donors have exceeded that figure by some $7 million. And the feds, for once in my life, came through and matched the higher figure.

    And it's still not enough.

    Still trying to decide what I want out of this new year. How about you? Any ideas?