Friday, January 30, 2009

My new favorite room...

So last night after returning home, we made a couple of side trips, to obtain the last of the components which would be required to set up our new TV. This behemoth was going in the bedroom, at the foot of our king sized bed. All we needed was a Roger's HDTV box and 2 sets of HDMI cables. I also splurged on an RCA flush mount power box with built-in surge suppression.

The TV itself is a 46" Toshiba Regza LCD Flat-Panel HDTV (46RV535U), 60Hz and 1080p resolution. We shopped around quite a bit before finally settling on this one. There are so many makes and models out there, but in the end it all comes down to picture resolution. There are plasma and LCD to choose from, 60Hz vs 120Hz and then there's the matter of size. We wanted the best of both worlds. We went with the LCD because of the flat-panel screen with no glare. Plasma TVs are heavier as they have that big pane of thick glass on the front, which can also create glare when it's struck by a light source.

The difference between a 60Hz and a 120Hz picture, despite the elaborate and misleading in-store video representations of this, is negligeable. Realistically though, it will mean paying $500.00 - $700.00 more in the price of your TV if you go with a 120Hz model. Oh... and you get to brag that your TV is a 120Hz model. When we bought the TV we also snagged a Samsung Blu-Ray DVD player (the BDP1500 model), as these days you can't really justify having one without the other. I began by setting up the Blu-Ray player on one end of the dresser and the Rogers box on the other. I left the centre section clear for the TV.

I have no doubt that very shortly, ancillary components such as Blu-Ray players, cable boxes and things of the like, will come totally without cables of any type. Perhaps at some point, they will become integral to the TV unit itself. But in the meantime, the advent of HDMI cables is a vast improvement over S-Cables and AVI component wiring. For the uninitiated, they carry both audio and video signals in one simple cable.

If you purchase your cables at a store like, say... Future Shop or Best Buy, you can expect to be raped for the price you will pay for a set of these lovely cables. In truth the price varies according to the length and the amount of 'bling' that you want. You can expect to pay anywhere from $54.00 to $275.00 for one cable. Seriously... I'm not lying. Speaking from a purely technical point, the only difference between the less expensive ones and the really, really expensive ones is bragging rights. That's it!!

Now... if you were to go to someplace reasonable like Wal-Mart, you can get perfectly good Phillips HDMI cables for all of $24.95 each and believe me, they work just great. Anyone who tells you different is a lying sonofabitch who is either selling them, doesn't know squat about electronics, or is one of those people who paid way too much for his cables and doesn't want people to realize what a jerk he is for having done so.

So... the hookup consisted of connecting the power cords to the power box, the cable to the 'IN' port on the Rogers box, one HDMI cable from the Blu-Ray player to the TV (HDMI 1) and one HDMI cable from the Rogers box to the TV (HDMI 0). There are still 2 HDMI input ports available on the TV.
That's it... All done. No bag of snakes as far as wiring goes.

I spent literally the better part of a half an hour waiting for someone on the Rogers line to take my call, so we could get the HDTV box activated. I could have set up a half-dozen TVs in that time, easily. Finally, I was connected to one of their reps and provided him with our account info and the box's serial number. He assured me (as they all do...) that the illuminated dash marks on my Rogers box would be replaced with the correct time, a sign the box had indeed been activated, within the next 10-20 minutes. "Thank you for calling Rogers and have a great evening...", he finished off.

I informed my spouse of our status and suggested that while we waited for the cable to be available, we might view one of the 3 free Blu-Ray videos we had received with the TV, just to see how it looked. Our choices were 'I, Robot', 'The Devil Wears Prada' and 'Kingdom of Heaven'. We settled on I, Robot, as the CGI effects were made specifically for digital viewing. Even though I had seen the movie not long after it's initial release in 2004, I had long since forgotten most of it. On this particular screen, it was just great! The image was razor sharp, the colours outstanding. Okay, we still haven't sprung for a surround-sound system yet, but in time we will get something suitable and overall, the sound quality from the Toshiba itself was just fine.

I shot a glance over at out Rogers box... it was still in hibernation mode. Gr-rrrrrr... Okay, maybe after we watch another movie. On went 'Prada'. I thoroughly enjoyed it as Merryl Streep was simply flawless in her role.The movie ended at 2355hrs. Ah, crap! I was gonna pay for this come morning, with a 0515 wake-up in the cards for me. Still no signs of life from the Rogers box, by the way. The same condition existed when I left home for work this morning.

Needless to say, my better half is totally enthralled with the new set-up. As am I, actually. So simple and yet so rewarding. We may well have created a new 'favorite room' in this already comfortable and well-appointed home of ours...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On drone strikes in Pakistan...

NOTE:  The above-captioned picture is incorrect. The Predator drone has downward-facing rear stabilizers. The version pictured above is actually a Reaper drone.

So I'm reading through Pakistan's Dawn newspaper today and I came upon this article:

January 29, 2009
Safar 02, 1430
Unilateral US decision not binding on Pakistan: Rabbani: Drone attacksBy Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, Jan 28: The Senate was informed on Wednesday that the government had not been informed by the United States about its decision to continue drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Speaking on a point of order raised by Professor Khursheed Ahmed, Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani rejected the claim of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates that a message had been conveyed to Islamabad about Washington’s decision to continue the attacks inside Pakistani territory.

“Till the very moment no written communication of this nature has been received by the Pakistan government from the US administration,” he added. He said that what Mr Gates had said about the US plan was a unilateral decision which was not binding on Pakistan.

If any operation was required it would be carried out by Pakistani security forces, he added. Mr Rabbani said Pakistan being a sovereign state would not tolerate any aerial or territorial attack and the government was well aware of people’s sentiments. Sons of the soil, he added, would lay down their lives to defend the country if a need arose.

He said the PPP-led government had launched a diplomatic offensive to get the drone attacks stopped. He said the Parliamentary Committee on National Security would also firm up its recommendations on possible options to deal with the situation if the attacks were not halted.

Professor Khursheed said it was no more a question of understanding when it had been declared by the US that the drone attacks would continue. He said the government should be prepared to take retaliatory action against any future air violation.


There has been a very large amount of feet-dragging by the Pakistanis when it comes to dealing with the Taliban and Al Qaida elements in the Northern Tribal Areas. There can only be two possible reasons for this:

1. They are cowards and afraid to take them on (let's face it, entire garrisons surrender to a dozen or so militants); or

2. They still aid, support and abbet them and any incursions into their territory are half-hearted, theatrical affairs at best.

In either case, their statement that "Pakistan is a sovereign state", is a farce. A joke. It is a country that, willingly or not, has been hijacked and held captive by the forces of an insanely militant few. If one is to believe that the new government is not once more in bed with the Taliban itself, that is. I myself do not trust the new Pakistani elect any further than I can throw them.

The Taliban and Al Qaida own Pakistan. They own their Intelligence Services. As far as the US carrying on with drone attacks in the lawless Northern Region, I see no reason for them to stop. They obviously share that opinion. God knows the locals aren't taking care of business. Never send in a slave to do a free man's job...

These clowns are saying that the decision for the US to carry on with it's pre-emptive and punitive strikes in their Northern Region, was a unilateral one and not binding on Pakistan. Isn't that like overstating the obvious? Hasn't it always been unilateral? If it were up to Pakistan, the US would be relegated to sitting across the border in Afghanistan (just like we are...), waiting for the scumbags to waltz across the line before they could dispatch their psychotic asses to Allah. Pakistan doesn't have to go along with it... just don't fucking get in the way, is all.

Remember the old saying: "Friendly fire... isn't!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On cruising foreign waters...

I received one of those rare calls this morning, which make this job worthwhile. It was a gentleman from Alberta who had just purchased a 42-foot boat in Florida. He was looking for information and guidance with regards to what he should do next and intimated that he was thinking about cruising Bahamian waters.

Finally, someone who actually wanted some information, rather than trying to impress me by how much he didn't know. We first covered vessel registration, as licensing would be a no-go for this one. I then asked him about the electronics fit on the boat. What it had as far as navigation gear, radios, etc. He informed me that the boat had a complete navigational suite, as well as a marine VHF radio. I then informed him that for as much as many States didn't require boaters to have a license to operate a marine VHF radio, we here in Canada required a Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime). I also strongly suggested that he verify with the local countries' whose waters he intended to cruise, as to what their regulations and requirements were.

We then discussed whether his marine VHF radio had DSC capability or not. I explained how the system worked (simply keying a button on the receiver transmits your position to the chain of COSPAS-SARSAT satellites which orbit the earth geosynchronously...) and what a lifesaver it could be under certain dire circumstances.

I told him that I didn't know what his competency level was with regards to navigating or chart reading went. I proceded to describe the Canadian Hydrographic Service, as well as the products they offered: charts, list of lights, buoys and signals, the sailing directions to accompany various charts and other associated publications. I briefly touched on the fact that there had been people in that area who had sailed for the Bahamas, only to find themselves being accosted by a Cuban gunboat... (our Toronto brainchild from a previous post...).

I further suggested communicating directly with the US and Bahamian authorities, for detailed information on cruising in their waters. They will be able to provide him with specific information on their coast guard, harbour authorities, communications procedures, radio channelization, customs clearance, etc... There are many cruising websites, government and private, which also offer excellent and complete information on these very procedures.

I started thinking about what if I were sailing the open ocean, cruising through the territorial waters of the Southern Seas. What would I have aboard? Knowing what I know now about how the world works, what would I haul along to keep myself safe and informed? What kind of kit would I have on my boat, to see me through a multi-month voyage around the Caribbean? I made up a short list of absolutely must-have equipment.

The boat itself.

Lesson one: The sea is not a place to be caught unprepared. The ocean floor is littered with the countless wrecks of those foolish enough to believe that they could challenge it's might. Just when you think you can run from one island chain to the next and keep ahead of that leaden line of clouds, nature has a way of proving you wrong in the worst of ways. Your vessel is the very first consideration when it comes to the preservation of your safety at sea.

I would say that a 42-foot vessel would be a minimum size for such ventures, whether you prefer a sloop, a ketch, or a power cruiser. If a sailboat, one would have to ensure that it also had a secondary means of propulsion, such as a reliable marine diesel engine. This would provide not only motive power should you be becalmed, but also a source for powering your 12-24VDC battery bank, on which all your electronics and electrical appliances work.


On the vessel itself, I would make sure I had one of the following critical instruments. The make, model and associated cost are merely examples:

ICOM M304 Marine VHF-DSC Radio: Range: 60nm/111km. ($164.95 CDN)

The reason for DSC-capable marine VHF radios:

ICOM IC-M710 MF/HF Marine Transceiver: Range: Thousands of nautical miles. ($1,529.00 USD)

ICOM MXA-5000 AIS Receiver: ($480.00 USD)

ICOM IC-MR-1000TII 'India'-Band navigational radar (48nm): ($3,595.00 USD)

FURUNO GP-7000/NT GPS navigation system: ($1,380.00)

KANNAD 406Mhz Digital Auto-EPIRB - Distress Beacon: ($924.00 USD)

NOTE: The older analog 121.5Mhz EPIRBS are being phased out. They will no longer be operational as of 01 February 2009.

Hard-mounted 6-man, auto-deploying Canister type Liferaft, w/hydrostatic release. ($1,859.99 USD).

I would of course also ensure that I had a copy of the paper charts and accompanying sailing directions for the waters I intended to transit. Having one's electronic navigational equipment die, without being able to navigate 'handraulically' (old school), is the same as having no navigation gear at all. You are lost. And being lost at sea is not something you ever want to be. So you would also need a sextant (and know how to use it...), a set of chartworking tools (compasses, parallel rulers, dividers, etc...).


Because life is not all lollipops and sunshine away from our home shores, I would make sure I also had one of each of the following onboard and readly accessible:

Wilson M4-T tactical carbine: ($1,995.00 USD) Ammo: 5.56x45mm FMJ NATO ball ammo. 3x30-round box magazine.

Light, compact, large magazine capacity and ease of manoeuvrability in tight quarters, make this a very versatile weapon for both stand-off and close-in engagements. More effective on soft targets.

Or perhaps as a more preferable alternative:

Fulton Armory/Garand M-14 rifle: ($2,499.95 USD) Ammo: 7.62x51mm (.308 Win.) NATO FMJ round. 3x20-round box magazine.

This weapon gives a very good long range, stand-off capability. It is highly accurate and possesses a round which will inflict heavy damage not only on soft targets (bad guys), but also on their boats/vehicles. When dealing with 'bad guys', the further away you can engage them, the better off you are...

Beretta 92_FS Brigadier INOX: ($799.99 USD) Ammo: 9mm 124gr. HPJ (+P) Remington Golden Saber Box. 6x15-round magazine.

This weapon is for very close-in defensive or offensive work, hence the choice of the 124gr. jacketed hollow-point ammo, to avoid the round blowing through soft targets and more to the point, to ensure that the bullet delivers all of it's kinetic energy inside the target.

Mossberg M500 Mariner (J.I.C.): ($547.00 USD) Ammo: 12ga. 00 buckshot, #4 Birdshot and SSG.

The perfect boarding (or anti-boarding...) weapon. Capable of inflicting exceedingly heavy damage on both soft targets and boats, notably when employing the SSG rounds.

This weapon would be used in conjunction with a SS15L Eagle Shotgun Shell Sling.


It goes without saying that it is imperative that you communicate with the local authorities to discover:

a) whether they allow weapons in their territorial waters (prior to sailing there, preferably...),

b) to advise them that you do in fact have weapons onboard. In these days of rampant piracy, they would probably be surprised if you didn't have any means of self-protection. NEVER be deceitful when it comes to communicating with foreign officials. It's the absolute fastest way to a jail cell...

c) In Cuba, you will be required to turn over your weapons on arrival and they will be returned to you upon your departure. In the Bahamas and in the US territorial waters off Florida, you are permitted to have a firearm onboard. You must provide the weapon's manufacturer, the serial number and an exact count of ammunition to the Customs officials. In the Bahamas, you may not bring the weapon off the boat unless you have arranged a permit from the Bahamian Police well ahead of time. Do ensure your weapons are stored under lock and key. The local authorities are very serious (anal) when it comes to enforcing these regulations. Don't mess with them...

This list is not exhaustive, as I would also ensure that I had a multi-person liferaft hard-mounted to the upper deck (auto-release model), SOLAS grade lifejackets, flares (which can also be used as a defensive weapon to deter would-be boarders), boat hooks and fire extinguishers. Besides the sea itself, a fire at sea is your deadliest enemy. In my humble opinion, NO PERSON should put to sea without first having been trained in firefighting techniques.

The storage of provisions onboard any type of vessel is a chore that demands a variety of skills. Much of this depends on the type of onboard appliances and space you are either blessed or cursed with.

On land, you have such luxuries as fridges and freezers. They are plugged into a wall socket and forgotten. Taken for granted, if you will. At sea, everything functions in the world of 12-24VDC. If you are fortunate, your vessel will have a galley with some storage features to it. Do not rely on these to hold what you will actually require for sustaining yourself at sea, unless you are only making day runs in coastal waters. Your eating habits will change radically while asea, I guarantee it...

To give an idea of some of the considerations involved with provisioning a boat which is about to get underway, check out these links below:

If I've provided a number of links on this particular subject, it's because it is in fact that important. For anyone who has seen the WW2 submarine movie "Das Boot" (The Boat), you no doubt recall them merrily provisioning the boat before sailing out from the submarine pens in Lorient, France. They had produce lining and cramming every conceivable nook and cranny onboard that sub. I can personally vouch for the authenticity of this scenario! It is an exercise in creativity...

And so equipped, I would be pretty much set to deal with any situation which might arise. Of course I'd probably want to have more than just myself onboard. The solitude of life under sail might be the perfect tonic for a select few, but for anyone else it would surely lead to madness. Besides, you're going to need someone else to stand watches with you while underway. You don't simply put the boat on auto-pilot and go for a good night's sleep... As a popular Navy saying would have it: "A collision at sea can ruin your whole day!" Collisions are always a real threat, whether you're on the high seas, sailing in coastal waters, in reduced visibility, or entering/leaving port. Risk of collisions include other vessels, sea life and running aground. Someone has to be on watch at all times, even when at anchor. ('Especially' at anchor in foreign waters...).

On the late Henny Youngman...

Henny Youngman died on the 24th of February, 1998. During his career as a stand-up comic, he provided the world with 41 years of hilarity and some of the most memorable one-liners ever. He was dubbed "The King of the One-Liners" and with good reason.

I remember seeing him perform on TV many times during my younger years. Accompanied by his fiddle which he would play as a filler between jokes, he was a class act. Milton Berle once quipped about him: "The only thing that's funnier than Henny's jokes, is his violin playing…".

I was fortunate enough to happen upon a website which contained some of his best material. I hope you enjoy the humour as much as I did...

Airline Jokes

Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, "Send one of my bags to New York, send one to Los Angeles, and send one to Miami." She said, "We can't do that!" I told her, "You did it last week!"

I was just in London - there is a 6 hour time difference. I'm still confused. When I go to dinner, I feel sexy. When I go to bed, I feel hungry.

The food on the plane was fit for a king. "Here, King!"

Doctor Jokes

A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.

My doctor grabbed me by the wallet and said, "Cough!"

The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back." Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"

The Doctor says, "You'll live to be 60!" "I AM 60!" "See, what did I tell you?"

A doctor says to a man, "You want to improve your love life? You need to get some exercise. Run ten miles a day." Two weeks later, the man called the doctor. The doctor says, "How is your love life since you have been running?" "I don't know, I'm 140 miles away!"

The patient says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Then don't do that!"

The doctor says to the patient, "Take your clothes off and stick your tongue out the window". "What will that do?" asks the patient. The doctor says, "I'm mad at my neighbor!"

A doctor has a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asks, "Doc, how do I stand?" The doctor says, "That's what puzzles me!"

"Doctor, my leg hurts. What can I do?" The doctor says, "Limp!"

Doctor says to a man, "You're pregnant!" The man says, "How does a man get pregnant?" The doctor says, "The usual way - a little wine, a little dinner...."

A man goes to a psychiatrist. "Nobody listens to me!" The doctor says, "Next!"

A man goes to a psychiatrist. The doctor says, "You're crazy" The man says, "I want a second opinion!" "Okay, you're ugly too!"

"Doctor, I have a ringing in my ears." "Don't answer!"

Nurse: "Doctor, the man you just gave a clean bill of health to dropped dead right as he was leaving the office".
Doctor: "Turn him around, make it look like he was walking in."

I know a guy who had his doctor say, "Take some weight off, go to a health club." The man lost 20 pounds in one week! The machine tore his leg off!

Drunk Jokes

A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk says, "Okay, let's get started."

Another drunk goes up to a parking meter, puts in a quarter, the dial goes to 60. The drunk says, "Huh. I lost 100 pounds!"

Golf Jokes

The other day I broke 70. That's a lot of clubs.

I was playing golf. I swung, missed the ball, and got a big chunk of dirt. I swung again, missed the ball, and got another big chunk of dirt. Just then, 2 ants climbed on the ball saying, "Let's get up here before we get killed!"

Hollywood Jokes

Hollywood called me, asking me, "How much to do a movie with Farrah Fawcett?" "$50,000" They called back, "How about $20,000?" I said, "I'll pay it!"

Farrah's dressing room was next to mine. There was a little hole in the wall. I let her look.

I'm now making a Jewish porno film. 10% Sex, 90% guilt.

Homeless Guys Jokes

A bum asked me, "Give me $10 till payday." I asked, "When's payday?" He said, "I don't know, you're the one who is working!"

A bum came up to me saying, "I haven't eaten in two days!" I said, "You should force yourself!"

Another bum told me, "I haven't tasted food all week." I told him, "Don't worry, it still tastes the same!"

Another bum asked me, "Can I have $300 for a cup of coffee?" I told him, "Coffee's a quarter!" The bum said, "Yeah, but I want to drink it in Brazil!"

I was walking down the street, and I found a man's hand in my pocket. I asked, "What do you want?" "A match" "Why didn't you ask me?" "I don't talk to strangers."

Horse Race Jokes

I played a great horse yesterday! It took seven horses to beat him.

The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary of the trip.

My horse's jockey was hitting the horse. The horse turns around and says "Why are you hitting me, there is nobody behind us!"

That was the first time I saw a horse start from a kneeling position!

My horse was so late getting home, he tiptoed into the stable.

I don't mind when my horse is left at the post. I don't mind when my horse comes up to me in the stands and asks, "Which way do I go?" But when the horse I bet on is at the $2 window betting on another horse in the same race...

Hotel Jokes

The hotel I'm in has a lovely closet. A nail.

There was a girl knocking on my hotel room door all night! Finally, I let her out.

I have a lovely room and bath in the hotel. It's a little inconvenient, they're in two separate buildings!

This is an elegant hotel! Room service has an unlisted number.

My room is so small, the mice are hunchbacked.

The room is so small, when I put the key in, I broke the window!


"What's the latest dope on Wall Street?" "My son!"

Was that suit made to order? Where were you at the time?

You have the Midas touch. Everything you touch turns to a muffler.

If you had your life to live over again, do it overseas.

She's been married so many times she has rice marks on her face.

She has a wash and wear bridal gown.

You have a ready wit. Tell me when it's ready.

You look like a talent scout for a cemetery.

You have a nice personality, but not for a human being.

The more I think of you, the less I think of you.

Where did you get your haircut, the pet shop?

Is that your hat or are you wearing a cabana?


This man dresses like an unmade bed.

Now, the band that inspired that great saying, "Stop The Music!!"

Those two are a fastidious couple. She's fast and he's hideous.

She's a big-hearted girl with hips to match.

This man used to go to school with his dog. Then they were separated. His dog graduated!

He is the only man I ever met with a seersucker face.

She must have Egyptian blood. Every time I try to kiss her she says, "Tut, Tut!"

His motto is "Love Thy Neighbor". His neighbor is an 18 year old hooker.

This man is frank and earnest with women. In Fresno, he's Frank and in Chicago he's Ernest.

Italian Jokes

A bomb fell on Italy. It slid off!

During the war an Italian girl saved my life. She hid me in her basement in Cleveland.

Why does the New Italian navy have glass bottom boats? To see the Old Italian Navy!

Jewish Jokes

A Jewish woman had 2 chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well.

A Jewish man pulls up to the curb and asks the policeman, "Can I park here?" "No" says the cop. "What about all these other cars?" "They didn't ask!"

Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They're worth it.

Why do Jewish men die before their wives? They want to.

Why don't Jews drink? It interferes with their suffering.

I asked a Jewish man, "Do you know where Michigan Avenue is?" He said, "Yes", and walked away.

A car hit a Jewish man. The paramedic says, "Are you comfortable?" The man says, "I make a good living."

2 Jewish women in New York. One says, "Do you see what's going on in Poland?" The other says, "I live in the back, I don't see anything."

Job Jokes

If my mother knew I did this for a living, she'd kill me. She thinks I'm selling dope.

I know a man who is a diamond cutter. He mows the lawn at Yankee Stadium.

Longer Jokes

A priest is sent to Alaska. A bishop goes up to visit one year later. The bishop asks, "How do you like it up here?" The priest says, "If it wasn't for my Rosary, and 2 martinis a day, I'd be lost. Bishop, would you like a martini?" "Yes." "Rosary, get the bishop a martini!"

A honeymoon couple is in the Watergate Hotel in Washington. The bride is concerned: "What if the place is still bugged?" The groom says, "I'll look for a bug". He looks behind the drapes, behind the pictures, under the rug - "AHA!" Under the rug was a disc with four screws. He gets his swiss army knife, unscrews the screws, throws them and the disc out the window. The next morning, the hotel manager asks the newlyweds, "How was your room?", "How was the service?", "How was your stay at the Watergate Hotel?" The groom says, "Why are you asking me all of these questions?" The hotel manager says, "Well, the room under you complained of the chandelier falling on them!"

A woman was taking a shower. There is a knock on the door. "Who is it?" "Blind man!" The woman opens the door. "Where do you want these blinds, lady?"

A man goes to a barbershop and asks, "How many ahead of me?" "Five." The man leaves. He comes back the next day and asks, "How many ahead of me?" "Four." The man leaves. He comes back the next day and asks, "How many ahead of me?" "Six." The man leaves, and the barber says to another, "Follow that man!" The man comes back and says, "He goes to your house!"

A man is at the bar, drunk. I pick him up off the floor, and offer to take him home. On the way to my car, he falls down three times. When I get to his house, I help him out of the car, and on the way to the front door, he falls down four more times. I ring the bell and say, "Here's your husband!" The man's wife says, "Where's his wheelchair?"

A guy says, "I'm so old that I forgot how old I am." An old woman says, "I'll tell you how old you are. Take off your clothes and bend over." The man does this. The woman says, "You're seventy four." The man says, "How can you tell?" The woman says, "You told me yesterday."

A man calls a lawyer's office. The phone is answered, "Schwartz, Schwartz, Schwartz and Schwartz." The man says, "Let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "I'm sorry, he's on vacation." "Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "He's on a big case, not available for a week." "Then let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "He's playing golf today." "Okay, then, let me talk to Mr. Schwartz." "Speaking."

A guy complains of a headache. Another guy says, "Do what I do. I put my head on my wife's bosom, and the headache goes away." The next day, the man says, "Did you do what I told you to?" "Yes, I sure did. By the way, you have a nice house!"

In high school football, the coach kept me on the bench all year. On the last game of the season, the crowd was yelling, "We want Youngman! We want Youngman!" The coach says, "Youngman - go see what they want!"

A little Jewish Grandma is at the Florida coast with her little Jewish Grandson. The grandson is playing on the beach when a big wave comes and washes the kid out to sea. The lifeguards swim out, bring him back to shore, the paramedics work on him for a long time, pumping the water out, reviving him. They turn to the Jewish Grandma, and say, "we saved your grandson." The little Jewish Grandma says, "He had a hat!"

An Israeli soldier who just enlisted asked the Commanding Officer for a 3 day pass. The CO says, "Are you crazy? You just join the Israeli army, and you already want a 3 day pass? You must do something spectacular for that recognition!" So the soldier comes back a day later in an Arab tank! The CO was so impressed, he asked, "How did you do it?" "Well, I jumped in a tank, and went toward the border with the Arabs. I approached the border, and saw an Arab tank. I put my white flag up, the Arab tank put his white flag up. I said to the Arab soldier, "Do you want to get a 3 day pass?" So we exchanged tanks!

A little man is running a jewelry store. A man runs in saying, "Okay, take my watch, put on a new band, install a new battery, clean the case, install a new crystal, and tune it up. I will be back in a half hour for it. Thanks!" and runs out the door. The little jeweler says, "C-C-C-Come in?"

A person asked me, "How do you prepare for the stage?" I told her, "Well, it's like this. You go to diction school. They teach you to fill your mouth with marbles and talk right through the marbles. Each day you take one marble out. When you've lost all your marbles..."

Polish Jokes

In a blackout, a Polish man was stuck on an escalator for two hours. I asked him, "Why didn't you walk down?" He said, "because I was going up!"

Have you seen the new Polish jigsaw puzzle? One piece.

Two Santa Clauses on the corner. How can you tell the Polish one? The one with the Easter basket.

A Polish terrorist was sent to blow up a car. He burned his mouth on the exhaust pipe!

A Polish man bought a zebra for a pet. What does he call the zebra? Spot!

Two Polish men at Halloween with burned faces. What happened? They were bobbing for french fries.

A Polish guy locked his keys in the car. It took an hour to get his wife out.

How do Polish people spell farm? E-I-E-I-O

Are you Polish? Okay, I'll talk slower.

A Polish man in a helicopter. Goes up to 800 feet. Down it comes! What happened? "It got chilly up there, so I turned off the fan!"

A Polish man had a bandage on each ear. What happened? "I was ironing, and the phone rang!" "What about the other ear?" "Had to call the doctor!"

A Polish man had his vasectomy done at Sears. Now when he makes love, the garage door goes up.

Relative Jokes

I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

My son is 21. He'll be 22 if I let him.

My son complains about headaches. I tell him all the time, when you get out of bed, it's feet first!

I wish my brother would learn a trade, so I would know what kind of work he's out of.

My brother was a lifeguard in a car wash.

My brother then opened a tall man's shop in Tokyo.

My brother then bought 1000 Japanese cameras. They all go, "Crick".

My other brother-in-law died. He was a karate expert, then joined the army. The first time he saluted, he killed himself.

Smart Guy Jokes

I know a man who doesn't pay to have his trash taken out. How does he get rid of his trash? He gift wraps it, and puts in into an unlocked car.

Wife Jokes

My wife is an earth sign. I'm a water sign. Together we make mud.

A woman says to a man, "I haven't seen you around here." "Yes, I just got out of jail for killing my wife." "So you're single!"

Take my wife, please!

I've been married for 49 years. Where have I failed?

I've been in love with the same woman for 49 years. If my wife every finds out, she'll kill me!

My wife and I have the secret to making a marriage last. Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, a little wine, good food. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.

Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won't be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.

I asked my wife, "Where do you want to go for our anniversary?" She said, "Somewhere I have never been!" I told her, "How about the kitchen?"

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

My wife has a black belt in shopping.

My wife will buy anything marked down. Last year she bought an escalator.

All my wife does is shop - once she was sick for a week, and three stores went under.

She has an electric blender, electric toaster, electric bread maker. Then she said, "There are too many gadgets, and no place to sit down! So what did I do? Bought her an electric chair.

My wife loves to shop at Bloomingdale's. I bring her mail there twice a week.

My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night. Only this time, I stayed in the bathroom and cried.

My wife drives the wrong way on a one way street. The cop pulled her over and asked, "Where are you going?" My wife said, "I must be late, everyone is all coming back!"

My wife told me the car wasn't running well, there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, and she told me it was in the lake.

My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea.

My wife is on a new diet. Coconuts and bananas. She hasn't lost weight, but can she climb a tree!

She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate.

She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, "Am I too late for the garbage?" "No, jump in!"

I bought my wife a little Italian car. A Mafia. It has a hood under the hood.

Three weeks ago, she learned how to drive. Last week she learned how to aim it.

I came home, the car was in the dining room. "How did you get the car in here?" "Easy, I took a left at the kitchen."

Uncategorized Jokes

God sneezed. I didn't know what to say to him!

2 Guys in a health club, one is putting on pantyhose. "Since when do you wear pantyhose?" "Since my wife found it in the glove compartment!"

If I had blood, I'd blush.

A tough guy told me, "I'll bet you $10 you're dead." I was afraid to bet him.

I had a nightmare last night. I dreamed Dolly Parton was my mother and I was a bottle baby.

I know a man in Ft. Worth with 100,000 head of cattle. No bodies, just heads.

I just finished my income tax forms. Who says you can't get wounded by a blank?

Last night I ordered a whole meal in French. Even the waiter was amazed - it was a Chinese restaurant!

For more insight on Henny Youngman, you can visit the Wiki link below:


Have a great Tuesday!

A Nazi Pope...? Sure, why not...

Yesterday was kind of a slow day, with nothing really outstanding to comment upon. True, we did receive that one e-mail from Spain, where in pigeon English the gentleman informed us he was looking to obtain a U.S. Coast Guard ballcap for his 9 year-old son. Apparently the young gaffer had viewed "The Guardian" (boy, there's something new...) and was all in a-tither over the Coast Guard and jumping out of perfectly serviceable helicopters...

Then of course there is Ottawa's ongoing transit strike. Day 48 now and still not the glimmer of a resolution in sight. I hope the striking drivers are well prepared for their role as the the city's newest pariahs, once they resume work. Don't be so stupid as to believe that all of us commuters will let bygones be bygones, so enthralled will we be to have our beloved bus service back. I hate taking the buson a good day. It is a necessary evil brought on by an equally evil season. The fact that I have been further inconvenienced by your greed, does nothing good for my 'usually-sunny' disposition at this time of year. I have cast every gypsy curse I could find, upon you and generations of your future offspring, which all going well will resemble freaks from another space/time continuum...

In other world news events, Pope Benedict the XVI has lifted the excommunication of one Bishop Williamson of the UK. This mental midget has been quoted as saying on Swiss TV: " "I believe there were no gas chambers.... I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers." "There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies!"

Initially this loser was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church for spouting such heresy. But ol' Benedict (Josepf Alois Ratzinger), a Deutscher who would have been a young, impressionable lad during the Nazi era, saw no problem in welcoming Bishop Richard Williamson back into the fold of the world's most singularly dysfunctional religion. Oh sure, the Muslims are just as heinous in their treatment of their fellow man (and even more so, woman...). But at least they're not hypocritical about it. The RCs...? Well... that's a whole other matter. Oh yeah... that young lad in the vestments in the top photo, the one giving the Nazi salute...?  Yeah, that's Pope Benedict...

I also understand there is a move afoot to canonize Pope Pius XII, who was head of the 'Holy Mother Church' during the rise and tenure of the Nazis. The children of Israel are understandably up in arms over this. Naming Pope Pius XII a Saint will not alter his fate. Let's face it, if there is such a thing as an 'afterlife' (which I reject...), Pope Pius XII is merrily roasting away in Hell. The Catholic Church (I.E.: the Vatican) stood by mutely as Hitler and his henchmen slaughtered the Jews in the millions. Why should they care? The Germans were cleaning up the 'competition'. For his complicity in this darkest of periods in human history, surely a 'God' would prescribe nothing less as his fate...

Speaking of 'darkest periods in human history', that puts one in mind of the Spanish Inquisition. And whom was at the helm of that particular bloodbath again...?

This was preceded by the Medieval Inquisition and the Papal Inquisition.

again... brought to you by: The Holy See!

It's little wonder that the acronym "RC" actually stands for 'Recovering Catholic'...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Save the World, please...???

So as I'm going through some of the mail we received today, I come across this little number:

Question: is the Canadian government doing anything to stop the slaughter of Sharks? (1)

As you know shark populations are quickly being reduced to practically nil around the world - for delicacies like shark fin soup.

Is the government banning the import of shark products? (2) and/Or Fining individuals who sell shark products (like fin soup)?" (3)

The originator of this missive had a distinctly Italian family name, but a '' address, so they could have been writing us from literally anywhere in the world. In any event, this shows a clear lack of understanding about what Fisheries and Oceans Canada is, as a Canadian government entity.

To begin, the mandate of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is to develop and implement policies and programs in support of Canada's economic, ecological and scientific interests in OUR oceans and inland waters.

How does it do this?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada develops and implements its programs and policies through the following branches and sectors:

- Canadian Coast Guard (ensures the safety and protection of the environment in Canadian navigable waters and provides marine search and rescue services)

- Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (conserves and protects Canada's fishery resources and assures the sustainable use of fishery and aquaculture resources in collaboration with stakeholders)

- Human Resources and Corporate Services (develops, coordinates and advises on human resource management programs and policies, and provides administrative services, coordinates departmental policies and develops regulations)

- Oceans and Habitat Sector (assures the sustainable development and the conservation of Canada's oceans and marine and freshwater habitats)

- Policy Sector (provides social and economic analyses, statistical services and policy advice)

- Science Sector (conducts scientific research to assist in the development of policies, regulations and laws regarding oceans and aquatic life)

Operations are carried out through six regional offices and the national headquarters in Ottawa.

A plethora of research institutes across Canada carry out scientific research related to fisheries and oceans.

Okay, there is also the International Affairs Directorate, which develops policies and coordinates relations and negotiations related to international fisheries management.

The Directorate also carries out the following activities:

- provides Canada with benefits related to the transboundary and internationally managed fish stocks industry

- administers international treaties and agreements, such as the Pacific Salmon Treaty

- negotiates with international fisheries organizations, such as the Northwest Atylantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas

- participates in international forums on the conservation and protection of fish, including wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon; and

- oversees the resolution of disputes related to fisheries management and maritime boundaries.

So... To respond to this individual in point form (as I've correspondingly numbered each of his questions...):

(1): If anything, through the International Affairs Directorate, DFO may be putting forth Canada's concerns with regards to the world's dwindling shark populations. Realistically, Canada has control only over the resources which are to be found inside Canada's EEZ.

(2): The legality of importing shark products into Canada does NOT fall within the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, unless they fall within the criteria for species protected under CITES.
(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - This is an international agreement).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Marine Protected Areas program establishes marine protected areas to conserve and protect unique habitats and endangered or threatened marine species in CANADIAN waters.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Aquatic Species at Risk program develops recovery plans for the protection of CANADIAN aquatic species at risk, promotes public awareness of related issues and coordinates the enforcement of prohibitions and regulations under the SARA (Species At Risk Act).

Importation of shark products as it stands, is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) - Fish and Seafood Products Inspection program.

(3): The fining of individuals who sell certain restaurant products in Canada, again does not fall within the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Small wonder we have so many mental midgets sending us e-mails overflowing with righteous indignation of how we have yet again failed to save the world from itself... you'd think by now they would be tired of barking up the wrong tree... but then again, to do that they'd have to have a clue...

The Canadian produced movie "Sharkwater", filmed in 2006 and released in late March of 2007, is slowly gaining exposure in cinemas throughout the world. It is introducing the world population, one country at a time, to the realities facing this magnificent marine species. One which, need it be said, is absolutely vital to the well being of the world's oceans and their ecosystems. I have yet to view this movie but I felt it would be relevant when it first began making the rounds.

This movie is also responsible for the "shark slaughter" e-mails we receive. People view the movie, discover what is happening in the world's oceans and then write us as though this was a newly discovered secret. Truly, there are none so wise as the newly-educated... Just because you've been living in the dark for all these years, doesn't mean that we all have, sonny boy. It is admirable and heartening though, to see more and more people becoming concerned about the oceans and their inhabitants. They must continue educating themselves however, to ensure that they understand whom to direct their concerns to, so that they reach the right ears.

Here are some ideas:

- Find out which countries are sanctioning this type of unregulated and indiscriminate fishing.

- Call the 1 800 O Canada line (1-800-622-6232, 8am - 8m), to obtain the points of contact for their diplomatic representatives here in Canada.

- Make your views known to their diplomatic representatives.

- Get as many other people involved as you can and have them do the same. Let's see how truly dedicated and passionate you are about saving the world's shark populations.

- DON'T bother contacting the UN or any other "world bodies". If you've learned anything over the last fifteen years or so, it should be that these organizations are absolutely facking useless.

The mustard seed...

There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and asked, "What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?"

Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, "Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life."

The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed.

She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, "I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me."

They told her, "You've certainly come to the wrong place," and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them.

The woman said to herself, "Who is better able to help these unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?"She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow.

But wherever she turned, in hotels, in cities, in villages small and large and throughout the land, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune.

The woman became so involved in helping others cope with their sorrows that she eventually let go of her own.

She would later come to understand that it was the quest to find the magical mustard seed that drove away her suffering.

This is just a reminder that we all have pain and sorrow. This is part of a plan to help us grow and channel our energy into helping others.

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On avalanches and snowmobiles in BC...

I took this article from today's CBC website:

Police ID snowmobiler in weekend avalanche deathLast Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 6:35 PM PT
CBC News

Police have released the name of a man killed in a weekend avalanche in northeastern B.C.

Kelly Roy Siemens, 30, was from the Hythe area of Alberta, Tumbler Ridge RCMP said in a news release Tuesday.

He was among six snowmobilers caught in a Saturday afternoon avalanche on Babcock Mountain in Tumbler Ridge, about 60 kilometres west of the Alberta border.

The other five members of the group were not buried by the slide, police said. They located Siemens with the help of other snowmobilers.

There have been 15 deaths from avalanches in B.C. this winter.

A 33-year-old snowmobiler from Edmonton was killed Friday in an avalanche in the B.C. Interior.

Two snowmobilers were killed on Jan. 12 in separate avalanches, one in southwestern B.C. and the other in the southern Interior.

One man injured in a B.C. avalanche died in a Washington state hospital earlier this month. He was caught in an avalanche while helicopter snowboarding on Alice Mountain near Terrace.

Two men died in separate avalanches while skiing or snowboarding in closed areas of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort on Dec. 31 and Jan 1.

In the worst event, eight men from Sparwood were killed in a series of avalanches while snowmobiling near Fernie on Dec. 28.


I know I'm going to sound silly when I say this, but can anyone out there besides me, spot some sort of trend developing here? Canadians from all provinces and territories love the outdoors and actively partake in all manner of winter activities. Yet they don't write themselves off with such lemming-like abandon.

Would it be particularily uncharitable to state what seems like the obvious here? Yes, I know... The friends and families of these unfortunates console themselves by proclaiming that their dearly departed "left this world doing what they love". If I happened to "love" sticking forks into wall sockets and this happened to lead to my own demise, I doubt very much whether those I left behind would remember me as being a "hero". I'd be remembered as an idiot. A dead idiot, but an idiot all the same. And may I hasten to add... rightfully so.

In the case of these individuals though, no doubt out of some sense of misguided political correctness, everyone seems to be tiptoeing around the huge elephant sitting in the middle of the room. To further compound the insult to one's intellect, they will go so far as to tell you that these people were 'seasoned veterans', who absolutely 'knew what they were doing out there'. Really? So if I understand, it was always their intention to die this way, was it? They were just looking for that perfect avalanche to come along??? Do you really expect any one of us to believe that??? Do you actually believe that??? No... My thinking is, if they were such consumate professionals, they'd still be alive and their families would not be mourning a loss which needn't have happened.

Clearly you would like to believe that they knew what they were doing. Were this the case, they would also be expert in not simply driving a snowmobile, they would also know something about the environment in which they were snowmobiling... the realm of avalanche dangers and avoidance of these. I can be a top notch swimmer, but if I get sucked under because I was deliberately swimming where I knew the strongest undertow occurred... guess what? I don't qualify as the sharpest pencil in the box. If I truly am as good a swimmer as I think, I will know where those danger areas are and avoid them. Therein lies the difference between 'an experienced person' and a neophyte. If you've been doing something wrong for 20 years, that does not make you 'experienced'. That makes you 'incorrigible'.

15 deaths this winter. That's since December 28th! And we're NOT EVEN THROUGH JANUARY!!! Jesus Christ, people. If you can't see the writing on the wall by now, there truly is no hope for you. Let the carnage continue...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whatever happened to...

You know, it's funny. I learned something over the weekend that I would have thought I knew already. The DJ on the local radio station was regaling us listeners with some vintage Peter Frampton tunes, predictably from the 'Frampton Comes Alive' album from 1975. There are many who are quick to dismiss Frampton as a lightweight in the world of guitarists, but they would be so wrong in doing so. Many have only heard the truncated, AM or FM radio versions of his work. The man can play some serious guitar, with or without the voicebox.

Over the years, Frampton had not only done some serious session work with such heavyweights as George Harrison, David Bowie, Nilsson, Ringo Starr and others, but was in fact a co-founder of one of my very favorite bands of all time: Humble Pie. He teamed up with Small Faces member Steve Marriott for this effort in 1969 (the year of Woodstock).

In 1971 at the height of their American tour, Humble Pie played New York City's Fillmore East. The performance was recorded and the resulting album: "Humble Pie - Rockin' the Fillmore", was easily one of the top-selling albums of that year. The track: "I Don't Need No Doctor", received the mosty airplay of any of the tracks and became a virtual anthem.

I then started thinking about other groups from around that era. Bands Like Mountain and their 1970 album "Climbing!", which featured the inimitable Leslie West performing "Mississippi Queen". The late sixties and early senventies brought us a veritable bumper crop of "Guitar Gods". In 1969, Johnny Winter released his second album 'Second Winter'. On it, he did a groundbreaking cover of Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited'. It still stands to this day, as one of the best slide guitar pieces ever played by a mortal. The album also contains Johnny's cover of the ol' Chuck Berry tune: 'Johnny B.Goode'.

In 1971, Johnny Winter did some live recording in several venues, including the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York and Pirate's World, in Dania, Florida. The resulting album was "Live Johnny Winter And", one of the best live concerts I have ever heard. There is an extension of the Stones' 'Jumping Jack Flash' and a stunning rendition of 'Johnny B.Goode'.

Another great band from that era was Savoy Brown. They weren't for everybody but they developed a large and retardedly loyal following. One of their very best albums ever released was the 1972 "Hellbound Train".

Still other highly influential bands of the day were the likes of King Crimson circa 1969. Their debut album; "In The Court of The Crimson King", was fabulous. I was fortunate enough to have caught them at the old Montreal Forum in 1972, if I remember right.

In 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer released their 1st album. Greg Lake (guitar, bass guitar and vocals) was fresh from King Crimson, while Keith Emerson (keyboards) hailed from the British band 'The Nice'. Carl Palmer (drums, percussion) was in fact the drummer at the time for the band 'Atomic Rooster'. They had initially approached Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but he was uninterested. He did pass on the idea of a collaborative effort to Jimi Hendrix himself, who showed an interest. Jimi however died before they could get together and so they pressed on as ELP...,_Lake_and_Palmer

They too developed a huge and loyal following. Their first four years were a creatively fertile period. Lake produced their first six albums, starting with Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1970), which contained the hit "Lucky Man". Their best known early performance had been a relatively modest show at the August 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, one of the last of the great Woodstock-era festivals. At the end of their set, Emerson and Lake lit two cannons either side of the stage.

Tarkus (1971) was their first successful concept album, described as a story about "reverse evolution". The March 1971 live recording (Newcastle, UK), of the band's next album Pictures at an Exhibition, an interpretation of Modesty Mussorgsky's work of the same name, was issued as a low-priced record, the success of which contributed to the band's overall popularity. The 1972 album Trilogy contained ELP's best-selling single, the understated: "From the Beginning".

Yet another of the most popular bands of this era was of course, The Moody Blues. They actually formed in 1964 in Birmingham, England. They were a virtual flagship band for the sixties era and were the constant companions of many, many stoners.

Another group which was symbolic of the times, was Pink Floyd. Formed in London in 1965 (that's 43 years ago, kids...), Roger Waters and friends have been keeping our brains ringing and our toes tapping for many, many years now. They seemed to surpass themselves, from one decade to the next. Their concerts were always a feast for the eyes and mind, as well as the ears.

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in 1968 by Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards) and John Bonham (drums, percussion). With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, Led Zeppelin are regarded as one of the first heavy metal bands. However, the band's individualistic style draws from many sources and transcends any one genre. Their rock-infused interpretation of the blues and folk genres also incorporated rockabilly, reggea, soul, funk, classical, Celtic, Indian, Arabic, pop, latin and country. The band did not release the popular songs from their albums as singles in the UK, as they preferred to develop the concept of album-oriented rock.

Almost 30 years after disbanding following Bonham's death in 1980, the band continue to be held in high regard for their artistic achievements, commercial success and broad influence. The band have sold more than 300 million albums worldwide, including 111.5 million sales in the United States and they have had all of their original studio albums reach the U.S. Billboard Top 10, with six reaching the number one spot.

Led Zeppelin are ranked #1 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Rolling Stone magazine has described Led Zeppelin as "the heaviest band of all time" and "the biggest band of the 70s".

You will find no such artists of similar caliber nowadays. I fear the days of truly great music may be on the wane. Thank God we still have the likes of Carlos Santana, who made his premiere appearance as a young Chicano with his band at Woodstock. Rolling Stone magazine has named him as #15, in the world's top guitarist and deservedly so...

The list of absolutely stellar groups from this time in history is almost enldess, Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Blue Oyster Cult, Buffalo Springfield, The Greatful Dead, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Jimi Hendrix, the incredible Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Jackson Browne, Steve Perry and Journey, Yes, Rare Earth, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), the Doors, Steve Winwood, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Canned Heat... where does one stop?

Why right here in Canada, our very own Myles Goodwyn (April Wine) and Kim Mitchell are reknown guitar virtuosos, who can hold their own with just about anyone else out there. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Be prepared to be amazed when you scope out these other Canadian marvels:

Illustrious company indeed... True, there were legions of Brits and Americans who were guitar legends in their time. But we have kept stride with them, every step of the way.

On this inauguration day...

Today is the inaugural day for the newly elected President Obama. Normally, I wouldn't even bother commenting on such an event, because...well, I'm a Canadian citizen. I don't make note of whenever any other world leader ascends to power, and the US President is no different.

A crowd of 4 million people are expected to attend the event. For security forces, it will be a nightmare. If any of America's enemies were looking for an ideal occasion to strike and inflict masive casualties on the local populace, this event would be tailor-made for them. To say nothing of those who may not think it's time for a semi-black President. There are expected to be some 4,000 Washington police officers on duty, plus another 4,000 security personnel, 20,000 National Guardsmen and yet another 10,000 regular force Army personnel. So, a staggering array of security personnel in the American national capital.

I hope that everything goes off without a hitch, for their sake. The media is making much about this inauguration and frankly, they shouldn't. It is after all, just another inauguration of an American President.

They claimed this morning that: "So many people are investing so much into this new president...". All I can say to that is that with great expectations, comes great disappointments. It is not only unreasonable (to be generous here...) to pin the cure for all the USA's and the world's ills on this one man, it simply isn't fair. Certainly not to Barrack Obama. Let's face it, you're setting him up to fail. He'll never get a fair run at being President if you expect ridiculous miracles from him. He's just another politician who was able to get himself elected to the top office. He's not The Messiah. He's not even 'a' messiah, all lower case.

Who are they trying to make him out to be? What kind of superpowers do they think this one man possesses? Are they really believing that based on his colour, he will make a better president than all of his preceeding white counterparts? Can they possibly understand how illogical and infantile this supposition is? Not to mention how impossibly racist...

Just to put everything in context, picture O.J.Simpson as president. Still a cultural hero for the vast majority of blacks around the world and certainly in the USA. Would it be logical or fair to assume that O.J. would make a wonderful president, save the economy, resolve the conflicts in the Middle East, end the war on terrorism and be able to solve all of the US's problems, at home and abroad, simply because he was a black man elected to the office of the President?

Don't like that comparison? Why not? We're not talking about electing the person, we're talking about electing his race, remember? Okay... So what about Morgan Freeman? Everyone loves Morgan Freeman. I could listen to him read for hours. He has a wonderful voice, is a great actor and I'm sure is also a wonderful human being. Could you see him at the helm of the nation? That's right... The answer is a resounding: "No!". Not without someone writing the script for him...

So let's give Obama his due, certainly, but for God's sake people... You can't possibly place such enormous expectations on this man, simply because of the colour of his skin. For one, he's not there to vindicate the blacks of America. It was not a race which was elected, it was a single man... Was it not after all Martin Luther King Jr. himself who stated on 28 August, 1963: " I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." That street runs both ways, folks... I still know nothing of Obama's character, or his abilities as the leader of a nation. And by the way, neither does anyone else...

He will do the job that he does. It's just that simple. I have a feeling that once the people and more to the point the media, see him behaving and acting as The President, the bloom will soon be off the rose. Unless he changes the water into wine at the Inaugural Ball. Then I might be willing that admit that there may be a shred of truth to the rumours...

On the Winter Blues...

I clambered into the van this morning at zero six dark, after having cleaned the snow and ice off the windshield and side windows. "It doesn't feel too cold out there", I commented to my spouse. We turned on the radio as we made our way in. "It's minus 16 degrees at the airport this morning...", the announcer stated. I looked at my better half and said: "It's a pretty sad thing when you can honestly say that -16 degrees actually feels balmy...".

Part of the national psyche here in Canada, has to do with how we deal with winter. It is at once a source of pride and grounds for a non-stop bitchfest, once the white stuff starts flying. Last week it hit -52 Celsius in Saskatchewan. And that was without the wind chill factor! Frankly, that's one bragging right they can keep all to themselves!

Wilfred "Wilf" Blezard remembers the coldest recorded day in North America's history. Now 82 years old, Blezard was one of four weathermen stationed at the Snag airport in Yukon, Canada, on February 3, 1947. On that day, the temperature dropped to 81 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

"We had six dogs that stayed outside the barracks," Blezard said over the telephone from his home in Grande Prairie, Alberta. "Their breath created quite a fog above them."

Blezard remembers tossing water into the air and watching it freeze into pellets before hitting the ground, and listening to the magnification of local sounds created by the severe temperature inversion.

"When a plane flew over at 10,000 feet, it sounded like it was in your bedroom," he said.

On that day, Blezard and his coworkers for the Weather Service of Canada filed a notch into the glass casing of an alcohol thermometer because the indicator within fell below the lowest number, 80 below zero.

When they later sent the thermometer to Toronto, officials there determined the temperature at Snag had dropped to minus 81.4 degrees F, the lowest official temperature ever recorded in North America.

Can you imagine??? "Yes, but it's a dry cold...", some would say. (As their ears froze and fell to the ground...). Sure... You can have it!

This puts me in mind of a skit once done by George Carlin:

"Have you ever been driving around during the winter, you know... Just trying to get here and there, pick up some groceries, maybe? It's snowing, there's spray coming up from the road, you have the wipers on, the blower for the windshield, the radio for some tunes... Just trying to take care of business you know? Getting through the day... Then you get out of your car and go inside somewhere for a while. When you come back out and start your car, THE RADIO IS THIS GODDAMN LOUD!!!

You find yourself staring in horror at the radio, wondering: "Could I possibly have been listening to this??!!?!??" But then you stop yourself and say: "No! I know what happened... Some asshole broke into my car and deliberately messed with the controls!!!" "There's no way I would have done that!!!"

I hopped into the van the other day after my wife had been driving around in it. When I started it up, it was as though a drunken 17-year old had been out in it. The blast of sound from the radio literally pinned me to the seat!! "Jeeeeesus H. Christ!!!", I wailed as I frantically stabbed at the steering wheel mounted volume control, bringing the level down below 'ear-bleeding' range.

Winter... Who's bright friggin' idea was this, pray tell? My body and my soul are crying out for a week on a beach in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana... the grounds of the Bavaro Princess, that endless sun-drenched beach that stretched for miles...those azure waters, warm and inviting, swirling around my ankles as we walked along. The wonderful array of foods, the evening entertainment. There are many other, more expensive resorts there, I have no doubt. But none could take the place of the Bavaro Princess.

I still have the pictures but I find it impossible now to evoke the actual feeling of being there. I used to be able to do that, but it's been so long now... It had been many years since I had been South in the winter, the last time we went. But once you go, you're hooked all over again. You know why people scrimp and save, and plan and scheme, to be able to escape winter for however brief a period. It is an absolutely wonderful feeling that I simply can't get enough of.

Ah well... in the meantime the sun is shining and there is nothing falling from the sky so far today. As they say: "Any day spent above ground, is a good day!"