Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Busy times around here...


Our call volume has reached the level where I can't even consider posting anything on this site. The stampede created by the Transport Canada ad campaign of 2 weeks ago, has not abated. If anything, it has snowballed into this avalanche of calls on a daily basis. Training starts today for the new group of Information Officers who will be tending this line during the spring and summer months. They have only hired on 4 to handle the calls for the whole of Canada. I can see losing at least one due to burnout. I hope they're ready for this.


Yesterday was my military daughter's B-Day, which she celebrated by taking a day off with her man. Good for the both of them. Big changes on their horizons, as they make their way to the kind of life they want to lead. I believe both of them will be leaving the military, in favor of a more 'agrarian' style of life. I personally am all for it. They have both done their share in the defense of this country and have certainly earned a more tranquil lifestyle.


Sunday saw us trekking to Montreal, uniting with the rest of our clan to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday. A grand time was had by one and all. So nice to see my brothers and sister, nephews and other relations. Rain on the way back that evening but all arrived home safe and sound. All in all, a very good weekend. Our trip to the Maritimes is looming. Can't wait to have my feet back in 'God's country' and walk the seashore again. We will visit Halifax/Dartmouth while down there, but probably spend most of our time down in 'The Valley'.


The forecast this weekend is for temps in the twenties. Grand weather for a road trip, what? And the registration for Alex Bay's 4th Annual 1,000 Island River Run (TIRR) has been mailed. Life is definitely good these days...


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So you need a boaters' card...?


So the folks at Transport Canada have taken out ad space in newspapers across the country, advising boaters to be ready for the coming season. They remind people to make sure their boat is licensed if need be (anything with a 10hp motor or greater), that they have all the appropriate documents and safety equipment as mandated by the Small Vessel Regulations and that they, as the operator of the pleasure craft, have their required proof of competency. This proof of competency is a necessity for ANYONE THAT OPERATES A MOTORIZED PLEASURE CRAFT OF ANY DESCRIPTION!!!! And by 'motorized', that means whether by an electric trolling motor or an internal combustion engine.

Needless to say, this has caused a stampede amongst 'the great unwashed', very much like a gunshot in the midst of a large herd of cattle. It really shouldn't come as any shock, however. It's not like the government has 'just come out with this'. Many people believe that simply because they are older individuals ("I've been boating for 80 years, now..."), that there is no requirement to have this proof of competency. When asked what they know of the Canada Shipping Act, most will balefully respond by asking you what that is.


The fact that you haven't died on the water yet, is not a testament to your navigational skill. Just because you may have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by better boaters than you, does not mean that you are either an experienced or a savvy boater.

I will always remember that one caller I dealt with a few years back, who wanted to speak to someone in authority. He was 'a very experienced boater' and was madder than Hell that the Safe Boating Guide dared to suggest that there was such a thing as 'the right of way' on the water. His major concern, according to him, was that this would create mass confusion amongst boaters out there. Clearly this 'very experienced boater' didn't know the first thing about the Rules of the Road (Collision Regulations), which are the very basic building blocks of knowledge for anyone that intends to command a boat. He was a shining example of an incredible level of ignorance.

As a conservative guesstimate, there are probably tens if not hundreds of thousands of boaters out there, who share this very same level of ignorance, when it comes to knowing anything about boating. And that would certainly include many who actually hold a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Canadians as a whole (except for those who might actually merit being called 'boaters'...), also seem incapable of wrapping their heads around the basic boating terminology involved: The LICENSE is for the boat... the CARD is for the operator. THERE IS NO DRIVERS LICENSE FOR BOATS IN CANADA!!!

The Pleasure Craft Operator Card (hereinafter referred to as the PCOC), is simply the tangible proof that the holder of said card, has taken and passed a very basic boating safety exam, somewhere in Canada. Period. It is good for life and does not have to be replaced every few years, as it is NOT A LICENSE...

"Proof of Competency", is required for EVERY boater who is operating a motorized pleasure craft of any description, on any body of water in Canada. There is a great long list of certifications that actually provides "proof of competency" for boaters. This ranges from the PCOC, to professional Marine Safety Certificates, to military proficiency certifications. The complete list of 'proof of competency' certificates, is available at the URL below:

Don't bother telling me how small, minute, minuscule your motor is... it doesn't change the regulations. A motorized vessel is a motorized vessel. The regulations apply to ANY form of propulsion, whether it be an electric trolling motor or a 250hp Black Max.


If your boat is licensed, it MUST BE licensed in your name. Not only that, but you are required to have the paper copy of the license ONBOARD WITH YOU. That means that if you bought the boat in 1986 and have not yet had the license transferred, you are liable for $250.00 fine for not having transferred the license over. What? You're operating the boat without having transfered the license? Another $250.00. And if that's the case, you certainly don't have the paper copy for the license onboard, so tack on another $250.00 fine. (Contravention Regulations).

What...? No PCOC...? That's another $250.00 fine. You can see for yourself how things can add up rather rapidly.

You may want to check out some of the Contraventions Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act, just to see what all you've been missing. You'll no doubt find that besides being painful and fatal, being ignorant can also be a very expensive proposition:
Scroll down to Schedule I.1 (Sections 1 to 3):

This whole situation with the changing rules and regulations dealing with pleasure craft operators, have been coming into force for the last 10 years now. And still, we are consistently greeted by the opening statement: "Yeah... I'd like some information about these NEW REGULATIONS...".

Dude... after 10 frikkin' years (going on eleven, now)... Gimme a break!! These are anything but new.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remembering the summer of 1972...


In the summer of 1972, I attended a Rolling Stones concert at the Montreal Forum, which was located at the corner of Atwater Ave. and Ste.Catherine Street in Montreal's downtown. It was right across from Cabot Park, where many of us young folk would meet and hang out. Of all the tours the Rolling Stones made across North America, the 1972 tour was probably the most outrageous, most provocative tour ever. For a number of reasons. For a synopsis of the tour itself, you can visit the link below, which provides an 'unofficial' bibliography:

http://www.culturecourt.com/Ajo/media/CBlues.htm


The concert itself was epic, held during a veritable heat wave on July 17th. The temperature inside the Forum, jammed to capacity with delirious fans, soared into the 100s. It wasn't long before many of the young women in attendance began hauling off their tops. Sticky Fingers had been released in April of 1971 and was still horrendously popular, when they followed this up with the Exile on Main Street album in the spring of 1972.


Following this concert, some young French nationalist asshole, planted a bomb under one of the Stones' trailers, which were parked out back of the Forum on De Maisonneuve Blvd. It detonated and destroyed some of the Stones' equipment. Mick Jagger quipped: "Why didn't the cat leave a note?"


What followed was a musical drought for the cultural ghetto which Quebec had become. There was not a single group which toured North America for the next 17 years, that would play in that province and rightfully so. No civilized person has to deal with that kind of xenophobic bullshit.

It wasn't until 13 December 1989, that the Stones would deign darken the province of Quebec with their shadows. It was during the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour, when they played Montreal's Olympic Stadium for the first time.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

A very nice morning surprise...


It's funny how things happen. I had been thinking about my eldest daughter this morning, ever since I first got out of bed. As I made my way into work, I had just stopped at a traffic light as I rode down Jeanne D'Arc this morning, when all of a sudden I heard this "beep" behind me. Looking in my mirror, I see a little blue Mazda 3 with a young woman waving at me. It took but a second to figure out it was my daughter and I signalled to her that I would go around the corner when the light changed.


I pulled a couple of hundred feet down the street, before I stopped the bike at the curb and put her on her jiffy stand. My daughter pulled up behind me. I noticed she was dressed in civvies so she had a day off. We hugged and chatted for a bit. She confided that she had been following me since I left the Shell station at Innes and 10th Line Road. She had apparently beeped then, but I had been oblivious to it. She had recognized the bike and upon seeing my vest, concluded that it could only have been me. We talked about her recent decision to 'pull the pin' and submit her release papers from our military. I of course told her that I was completely behind her in her decision, if that is what she chose to do.


She talked about future plans that she and her man had, as well as the other decision of him opting out of the Forces as well. I mentioned that we really have to take a trip out to Syracuse, NY, to sample the fare at the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Q. She agreed and mentioned that they both had been recently talking about just that. I checked my watch and told her that I had to get underway. We hugged again and wished each other a great day.


The rest of the ride in was made that much more pleasant, thanks to this chance encounter. We swooped and flowed along the Parkway, unhindered by either BCICs or Milton the Mountie. It was just a super way to start a Thursday... :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yes, we know... You're from Toronto...


So, this call comes in not long ago and I give our standard greeting, identifying who we are.


This voice from an older man comes floating through the receiver: "Yes... I'm phoning from Toronto. I'm looking to contact the M&D Towing company."


Me: "Umm... What you have reached here is the general enquiries line for the department of *****. We're actually part of the federal government of Canada... And you're looking to contact a private towing business???", I asked just to make sure I had heard right.


"Yes... that's right!"


I ask him how he found our service and he explained that through Google, he was led to our number.


"Well, sir... We're actually **** so I don't believe we would have that information."


"Hmmm... I see", he replied. Then after a pause: "You wouldn't know if they're still in business, would you...?"


In my mind's eye I pictured Walter Matthau on the other end of the line, just yanking my chain and trying not to burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter.


I once more situated him and again informed him that we would have no information whatsoever on private companies, whether in Toronto or any other part of the country.


I suggested that he might try availing himself of his local 411 services.


He informed me that he had and that they could find nothing on said company.


"Well" I suggested, "it doesn't seem as though they are around anymore, does it?"


Seemingly satisfied that he had covered all available bases, he thanked me and hung up.


Toronto callers... besides our paranoid, pot-smoking, conspiracy driven callers from the Left Coast, they're just the best.


Yeah...Yeah... Happy St.Paddy's...


So yes, today is St.Patrick's Day. It's also known and revered as 'The Second Christmas', for practising alcoholics out there. In a maze of Irish pubs near our place of employment, known locally as 'The Irish Village', you would have seen a line-up outside their door this morning, anywhere from 0930hrs on...


This world phenomena (and it is, really...) is rather intriguing. No other day in any civilization's calendar, sees so many males adopt a tolerant attitude towards wandering around in crowds naked. There is also this sudden invasion of every drinking establishment, by hordes of jiggling, giggling, pseudo-Irish 'slut-o-chauns', sporting t-shirts either advertising their breasts as being "magically delicious" or simply demanding: "Ass-rape me... I'm Irish!!".


I credit all this simply to the power of alcohol, rather than any true world endearment for the Irish, whose only real contributions to the world have been bad whiskey (the Scots actually make the very best stuff...), Guiness, Riverdance and self-genocide (referred to by the Irish themselves as: 'The Troubles'). I am neither Irish (nor do I want people to think or believe I am...), nor a 'sheeple', nor a practising alcoholic and therefore, I do not 'celebrate' St.Patrick's Day. At all...

Here at work as in many workplaces around town, we had the option of a dress-down day and if you wore something green, you could participate in a draw for something or other. A new stomach pump or a liver donor... something like that. I decided to take a pass on that and dressed in black instead.

As with all other 'festive occasions', the roads will be full of drunk drivers when I leave here tonight. Yet another wonderful by-product of this yearly international insanity. Here's hoping one of those brainless fuckers doesn't take me out for good this time, as I make my way homewards.

It will be interesting to note the absenteeism rates for tomorrow morning, of those who are suffering from self-inflicted wounds.

Yeah... St.Paddy's Day. Ya gotta love it...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More West Coast retardation...


This day simply would not be complete without a call from a Left-Coaster who fits the profile. Sure enough, at 10 minutes past 4:00 Pacific Time (when the local offices are now closed), I get the call. She is from West Vancouver and she wants to know how she can find out if some shoreline activity has been authorized by DFO. Large dump trucks, rocks, soil being dumped, etc. Actually, a pretty valid concern.


So I inform her that the regional DFO offices would have had to approve such a project. I then provide her with their location, their phone and fax number and the hours of operation for the line and the offices. There is silence. "But it's now 10 minutes past four", she replies to this information. "Yes...?", I respond.


"Well can you phone them up or e-mail them directly?" I situate her as to where we are, who we are and what service we provide. "Yes but you must have some sort of direct number for them where you can reach them...?"


"Madam", I intone. "As we have discovered, it is presently past 4:00pm. They are no longer there. Not just for you, they are also no longer there for me. They have gone, period. I promise you I do not have any secret number to contact them, nor would I have their personal home numbers, to be quite honest."


And then, the howling ignorance, that incredible level of bone-headed stupidity kicks in:


"Well... you sure are providing me with some good service, aren't you?", she starts.


"Do you know there are more DFO employees than there are fishermen?"


"It's sure nice to know that we're paying youse all that money...yep. You sure have been a big help!"


And then she hangs up...


I don't know at what point she might have realized just how stupid she sounded. That's obviously what brought on the rant.


It's funny how when confronted with their own stupidity, many folks will try to hold you responsible for it.


In this case, no... YOU, lady... were the one who waited too long. I have been waiting here all day for your call. Where were you? This object in my hand is a telephone... it's not a time machine. I can't go back in time so I can reach your local DFO people before they left work! Are you retarded?


More DFO employees than fishermen...? Undoubtedly, since DFO provides 150 other programs across the length and breadth of this country, not just the coasts. This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.


You are the one who'se been keeping DFO financially afloat? Well, I always wanted to meet that person. Thanks for having such deep pockets there, Ma'am...


As if you actually had a clue of what you were talking about...


What is your time worth...?


So I'm talking with this lad this morning, from Sudbury, Ontario. He says he needs a number for DFO in Sudbury. So I ask him, for which section of DFO, sir? For which program or service...? "For DFO', he states.


So I inform him that DFO is not exactly like Sears. There IS NO single number for "The DFO". I finally manage to haul out of him that he's looking to contact the Fish Habitat Management Program. Turns out he called us earlier and obtained the number for the local office in Sudbury, which I confirmed with him.


"Well I've been trying to reach that number for 4 hours now and there's no one there!!" I offer the e-mail address and the fax number as well, informing him about who we are, where we are and what information we provide. "I know all that", he rants... "I had a number for one of their biologists but he's on vacation right now. There is an urgent matter that has to be dealt with here and I can't get anyone on the phone!!"


Always the devil's advocate, I suggested logically that the offices themselves were in fact there for in-person service. "Yeah? Well there's no one there!!', he bellowed. "That biologist must have a supervisor", he pleaded. "Don't you have a number for him?", he asked. I had to advise him that there was no way that I could know the names of every DFO/CCG/CHS employee from one coast to the other, as well as their phone numbers. "You mean to tell me sir, that you have already physically gone to the DFO offices in Sudbury and you found absolutely nobody there...?", I asked incredulously.


"Well, no... I haven't been there, but I've been phoning and nobody answers the phone!" I suggested that perhaps the phone wasn't being answered because the staff on hand were occupied dealing with people who had actually showed up there. I further suggested that there is no way that I personally would waste 4 hours of my life on a phone, attempting to contact someone. My time, I advised him, is far too valuable for me to even consider doing something of that nature.


He then conceded that he had phoned once in the morning and then again three hours later. "So you're initial statement of having spent 4 hours trying to contact someone at that office, not so much?", I enquired. He admitted that it was so.


It constantly amazes me how lazy people have become, or how little their time means to them. No doubt there are those who will think nothing of actually spending hours on a phone, where there is no one to answer on the other end. Maybe because people have yet to realize that you can't get anything done over the phone. Most times, you just gotta be there...

Monday, March 15, 2010

On the murder rate in Juarez...


For any and all of you who still lamely defend your usage of illicit drugs as being a "victimless crime", I want you to check something out.


By way of comparison, GlobalSecurity.Org lists American military casualties in Iraq from March 2003 to December 2009, as 4,287 dead. Iraq, for those of you who may NOT be in the know, is a bona fide war zone.

Now read the stats for the body count in the miniscule area of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for the year of 2009 ONLY:

"Ciudad Juarez, population 1.3 million, is a major point for smuggling illegal drugs into the United States. It is immediately across the border from El Paso, Texas. More than 2,600 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez in 2009 in drug-related violence.

The war between rival drug cartels to control major border crossing points, as well as the government's attempt to crackdown on the cartels, has killed more than 15,000 people across Mexico over the last three years, according to government figures."
In Iraq, the US lost 143 troops in 2009. Are you following this? That's one hundred and forty-three personnel... In a war zone. In that same year, in Ciudad Juarez, more than 2,600 people were murdered.

The total figures of people killed across Mexico over the last 3 years are almost 3 times as many as the US military has lost in Iraq, over the last 6 years. And that's only the ones they've found... What do you think the actual figures are world-wide...???

A victimless crime...? But then again if you were to be honest, I'm sure you didn't need me to show you how fucked your reasoning is.

First Ride...


So I was remiss in posting on Friday last. Friday morning was my first ride of the year for 2010. I rode into work and back home again. The weather was wonderful, though quite a bit cooler in the evening. There were no near-misses, no heart-palpitating moments, other than the ones which should be there. They started with thumbing the engine to life and backing her out of the garage.
The ride was unhurried and I savored it. I kept myself attuned to every motion and sound of the bike, as we wound our way down Innes, Jeanne D'Arc, St.Joseph and finally the Rockcliffe Parkway. The breeze was light and cool, though for +2 degrees, it felt decidedly warmer than that. There were only a few other vehicles on the Parkway at that time of the morning and all were well behaved. As we wound our way up the hill past the American ambassador's house, I noted the perennial wet spot on the other side of the road, where the stubborn ice-falls remained. Something I would have to contend with on the way home that evening. Not that it posed a problem, but I would have to clean up after having passed through it. ;)
The ride home at the end of the day was equally blissful and uneventful. No sight of deer along the Parkway, unfortunately. It did however feel very good to realize that the season might once more be upon us. The hibernation is over...
This week, the weather witches are calling for wonderful temperatures. I took advantage of same to ride in this morning and it was just grand. We'll see how I fare returning home this evening, as I finish considerably later this week. Still... what a nice way to round off a Monday, what...? :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Agent 99...


Okay, so a little bit of trivia for this Friday evening. Today is the birthday of none other than Ms. Barbara Feldon, better known as Agent Maxwell Smart's (Don Adams) sidekick: Agent 99. I know there are literally herds of males from my generation, who had the proverbial 'horn' for the adorable Ms. Feldon. She played many other roles during her prolific career, but it is that one endearing character she played, from 1965-1970, that engraved her into the hearts of millions.
So wherever you may be in The Big Apple today, Ms. Feldon, do have yourself a happy one! Even though there has never been any connection between the Toto song "99" (written by keyboard player David Paich) and Ms. Feldon's character, I cannot hear that song without a series of vignettes of her, rolling through my mind. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Battlefield: Bad Company 2...


So lately I have been keeping myself well entertained, with the much-awaited sequel to the Battlefield: Bad Company franchise. Only this morning, I finished the game on 'Normal'. Now it's time to go back and start it all over again on 'Hard'. After I'm done with that, then begins the real fun: the ONLINE play!!

Yes, I know there are many out there who cannot help but compare any new game with the benchmark Infinity Ward's master game, Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2. I have successfully resisted this compulsion, because in my mind it is like comparing apples to oranges. CoD - MW2 can only successfully be compared to CoD-MW. Period.

An absolutely fair and objective analysis is achieved, when comparing B:BC2 to B:BC. The main characters which make up the squad are the same. Marlow, Haggard, Sweetwater and Sgt. Redmond are once again united, to find themselves tasked with more improbable and hardcore missions. There are some new villains this time around and no, "The Legionnaire" is not among them. There is also one kick-ass secret weapon, which is guaranteed to give you the creeps. It is termed as a Scalar Weapon, codename 'Aurora', which was intended to be the Japanese's "be-all and end-all weapon", near the close of WW2.
The main characters are however more mature, darker than their goofy, slapstick former selves. 'Hags' in particular (Pvt. George Gordon Haggard) seems to come into his own. True, there is a bit more profanity in B:BC2, but far less than you would hear in any actual combat infantry unit. Sergeant Redford is his usual irrascible self, Sweetwater has filled out quite a bit as a personality also.
I really like the addition of Flynn, the 'pinko, liberal, commie-hippie, pacifist' chopper pilot. I actually find myself hoping he might make a comback in the next sequel, even though that chopper crash after being hit by the Javelin, did look pretty final ("Thanks for the smokes, Brother!"). The maps are great, although not as spacious and far-ranging as I would have liked. The graphics are gorgeous and the sound, even better than the original which in itself, was a standout.

The storyline is great. The missions are well thought out, the progression logical. The plot twists and turns are well done and provide a couple of surprises along the way. I liked having to ferret out the M-COM stations and the collectable weapons. I also appreciated the fact that there were more ammo lockers this time around. The ability to bring down buildings, comm towers and other large structures, was one of the biggest changes. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The AI is getting better all the time. Those elite troops you meet in the later missions, don't often miss. They soon teach you to use any available cover and not to get too cocky.

All in all, this was another great purchase and I am really quite happy with this new edition. The ending leaves one with no doubt that rather than going on that long-awaited fishing trip, the Sarge and his boys will soon be heading up Alaska way to see about heading off hordes of invading Russian troops. Hm-mmmm... What's halfway between Alaska and the USA...? :)

Stand by for Battlefield: Bad Company 3-Eh!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An early spring...?


So last weekend we were treated to beautiful sunny weather and highs of 9 to 10 degrees celsius. The snow has been steadily relinquishing it's grip on lawns and fields, the roads were clear and dry and there are no really big heaps of sand or gravel haunting any of the curves out there. Needless to say, with this kind of weather there were bikes out a-plenty.

Baby however, was not one of them. I will admit to being lazy this year. Yes... I freely admit that I have neither changed the oil and filter, nor replaced the brake pads and/or bled the brake and clutch system on my trusty steed. I will even go so far as to confess that I have not even washed and re-oiled the K&N air filter, or even properly washed down the bike following her last ride of last year. True, she still looks fairly pristine from last season and there are only one or two bug carcasses on her windshield...

Still... I have properly cared for both steeds under my supervision. They are both full of fresh fuel, have been started up recently and have had their batteries maintained in tip-top shape. Following an inspection and topping up of their tire pressures, both steeds are road-ready as I sit writing this. There are no small, furry critters which have taken up residence in any of their airboxes or exhaust systems, they have not become a condo haven for myriads of homeless spiders. If truth were known, I have fussed more around my daughter's bike this winter, than I have my own.

I have no doubt that Baby will find her way out on the roads this week at some point. A little romp in the countryside would be just the thing for clearing away the cobwebs of another winter's hibernation. Yet all in all, it really hasn't been a very bad winter. Maybe that's why this spring, there isn't the same sense of urgency for getting back out there...?

Friday, March 5, 2010

On the Armenian genocide...


So reading through CNN's website today, I found the following article. It is high time that the US (and consequently the rest of the world...) finally recognize the slaughter of the Armenians at the hands of the Turks. This is like, ancient history by now and it is only just being recognized. Somehow Turkey's not wanting to be branded as a fucking barbaric nation, even though the evidence clearly shows they in fact were, should play absolutely no part in whether a bona fide genocide is termed as one or not.

Turkey recalls envoy to U.S. over panel's 'genocide' vote March 5, 2010 -- Updated 0905 GMT (1705 HKT)

Washington (CNN) -- Turkey recalled its envoy to the United States following a vote by a congressional panel passing a resolution calling the killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey genocide.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly passed a measure Thursday recommending that the United States recognize the killings as genocide.

The measure passed 23-22 and will now head to the full House.

In response, Turkey ordered its ambassador to the United States home for "consultation," foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told CNN.

The nearly century-old issue has placed Congress and the White House in the middle of a political minefield, balancing moral considerations with domestic and international concerns.

The Obama administration had urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee
not to pass the resolution, warning it could damage U.S.-Turkish relations and jeopardize efforts to normalize relations between Turkey and its neighbor Armenia. The two do not share formal diplomatic relations.
"We are concerned that the possible action ... would ... impede the positive momentum that we see in the Turkey-Armenia normalization process," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters ahead of the vote.

He added that the United States was concerned about the effect the vote could potentially have on U.S.-Turkish relations. Turkey, among other things, is considered a strong American ally and is home to a critical U.S. air base.

Armenia's foreign minister, Edward Nalbandian, said his country highly appreciates the committee's vote. "This is another proof of the devotion of the American people to universal human values and is an important step toward the prevention of the crimes against humanity," he said. (Bullshit!! If that were in fact true, the vote would have been 42-3 in favor of the resolution... - Crypt.) The Armenian National Committee of America said the passage of the measure shows that "Turkey doesn't get a vote or a veto in the U.S. Congress."
Turkish officials vehemently opposed the measure. (Suggesting perhaps that they have not changed one iota since then... - Crypt.)

"We condemn this bill that accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed. The people who support this bill have adopted a wrong and unfair attitude, ignoring the differences of opinion of expert historians and historical facts. The bill has been prepared with tangible historical mistakes regarding the 1915 incidents and with a completely subjective attitude," the statement said.

A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman recently issued a public warning that passage of a resolution labeling the World War I killings as genocide "would harm U.S.-Turkish relations." Turkish officials have also warned that passing the resolution could hurt a historic agreement aimed at normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia, and reopening their long-closed border. (Again, suggesting perhaps that they have not changed one iota since then... - Crypt.)

"It would harm the normalization process," spokesman Ozugergin said. "And it is wrong. The substance is also wrong."

Turkey officially denies a genocide took place in the last days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Ankara instead says that Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians massacred each other on the killing fields of World War I.
Historians have extensively documented the Ottoman military's forced death march of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians into the Syrian desert in 1915. Every April 24, Armenians worldwide observe a day for those killed. (To say nothing of the countless Armenians slaughtered in their homes, in the streets, in prisons, etc... - Crypt.)

The killings decimated the Armenian population in what is modern-day eastern Turkey.
The government in the Armenian capital of Yerevan and influential Armenian diaspora groups have been urging countries around the world to formally label the events of 1915 "genocide."

"I don't pretend to be a professional historian," Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-California, said ahead of the vote. "But the vast majority of experts ... agree that the tragic massacres of the Armenians constitute genocide." (You don't need to be a 'professional historian'... you just need to have a clue! - Crypt.)

Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, acknowledged that Turkey is an "important, strong [and] necessary ally of the United States." But "overriding all of that," he said, "is the issue of justice and the issue of history. ... History has to be righted." (Hear...hear!! - Crypt.)

Opponents of the resolution had expressed sympathy toward the victims of the 1915 killings but said current political concerns took priority.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, praised the committee's "sincere effort" to illuminate "a dark chapter in history" but said the committee should not pass the measure. (Another spineless politician heard from. Sure, why not falsify history for the sake of political expediency... - Crypt.)

"I do not minimize the horror that took place," he said. But "now is not the time for this committee of the American Congress to take up the measure that is now before us." (You're not trying to minimize the horror, you're trying to completely ignore it... - Crypt.)

Turkey is a strategic partner of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pence said.

Furthermore, the logistical support provided by the U.S. base in Incirlik, Turkey, is a "staple" of American power in the Middle East, he said. "In a time of war," the United States should not "take the relationship [with Turkey] for granted."

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia, said Congress should not do anything to undermine the Turkish government, which is a "secular alternative model for the Muslim world." (Thermonuclear devices are a 'secular alternative' for the Muslim world. - Crypt.)

"I hate this vote," he said. "The United States has a great deal at stake in the Turkish relationship," and passing the resolution would jeopardize that relationship. Congress shouldn't "pontificate on this issue" and then pretend "there will be no consequences," he said. (If a simple statement of truth can jeopardize such a relationship, then it is not a relationship. Rather, you are being held hostage. - Crypt.)

Last year, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia signed a series of protocols aimed at establishing embassies in Ankara and Yerevan. The U.S.-, European- and Russian-backed agreement also called for the creation of an international committee of historians to examine archives and "restore mutual confidence between the two nations."

In October 2009, Armenia's president traveled to Turkey to attend a historic soccer match between the two countries' national teams. Despite this round of "football diplomacy," the diplomatic overture between the two capitals has slowed in recent months.

In 2007, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a previous resolution recognizing the Armenian "genocide." The Turkish government protested by temporarily recalling its ambassador from Washington.

The resolution did not make it to the House floor. (I guess this time around, someone finally found their nutsack and manned up. - Crypt.)

NOTE: It strikes me as uncanny that Turkey doesn't care one bit that this genocide actually took place. No, no... They have absolutely no problem with that. Their objection is to the fact that it is being labelled as such.


Now... what I'd really want to see, is the United States House recognize and acknowledge the First Nations genocide which took place from 1637 to 1918.

Uh-hh, pot... you're black!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Lassie come home...!!!


So as per usual, M-A got the best call today. Truth be known, it's probably already the best call of the week, hands down.

A young woman who shall remain nameless, but who is calling from an MP's office in Peterborough, ON, has a question from one of her constituents. She is sounding very officious and self-important, as these types of people always do. "I work for someone who is important and powerful, therefore by extension, so am I...", and other such rubbish.

So, she asks M-A: "Are there any rules, regulations or limitations in Canada, regarding the amount of time a Canadian citizen can spend outside from Canada...?"

M-A: "Uh-hhhhhhh..... So-ooo, you want to know if there are limitations on how long people can leave Canada for...?"

Her: "Yes...".

M-A: "Um-mmm... I've never had this question before..."

Her: "Yeah, I know. Me neither..."

M-A: "Well... I really don't think there is such a thing..."

Her: "Well... we have restrictions as to how long people can stay here in Canada..."

M-A: "Yes, but that's because they're NOT Canadians. They're not from here. We have immigration laws that regulate that... Their visas dictate how long they can stay here. It's not like their own governments call them home after a certain time."

Her: "So where can I find this out..."

M-A: "I really don't know what to tell you... 'cause..."

Her: "Well...okay...".

M-A admitted he really had no idea how to answer her, without making her look stupid.

"Relax, my good man", I told him. "For her, it was already too late"

***************************

Hilarious! As though after a certain date, we send agents around the world to round up all the truant Canadians and bring them back home. Dude... it's not like we live in Cuba or China...

That's as good as the female caller I once got from Toronto, who announced imperiously that she wanted the number for the Canadian Embassy...

"Why certainly, Ma'am... Canada has embassies in hundreds of countries. In which country were you looking to contact our embassy?"

"Why... For HERE!" she demanded.

"And which country might you be calling us from, Madam...?"

"From Toronto, Canada!!" she practically screamed.

I love this job...


Federal boating laws... yes, they're for real!!


Ya know... it occurs to me that we get a lot of calls from people, asking us if the information that they have read on a particular federal government website, is in fact true. Take boating safety regulations. I can't count the number of calls I have received over the years, where a person will begin by asking me if such and such a regulation is true.

My most recent caller was from Qu├ębec. "These regulations which call for boats 6m - 8m to have so many flares onboard... are these true?"

Now what the Hell am I supposed to answer to that? "No, no... we're just pulling your leg!" "We're just havin' a bit of a laugh at your expense, mate...".

"Absolutely, sir! You require every item that is listed under the 'Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements'.

As it turns out, his boat is actually 19 feet, so it falls into the class of vessels "not over 6m".

The section on DISTRESS EQUIPMENT states:

- a watertight flashlight

- three Canadian-approved flares of type A, B or C

Exception: The flares are not mandatory if the craft is operating in a river, canal or lake in which it can at no time be more than one mile from shore, or if the craft is taking part in an official competition or in the final preparation for an official competition and has no sleeping arrangements.

"Are these new or something...?", he asks.

"No, sir", I reply. "They've been around literally for decades now... even longer!"

"And which bodies of water do you normally navigate?", I then ask him.

"Well... the St.Lawrence, occasionally Lake Ontario...".

"Then I would strongly advise you to have them onboard, sir." "Lake Ontario is definitely more than a mile across."

The funny thing about all this, is that these are the same people that will likely believe the weirdest, most outlandish and totally bullshit story to be found on the internet. But let them start reading about federal government rules, laws and regulations...? All of a sudden it becomes just too much to believe...

People are messed up... :)