Saturday, September 23, 2017

The show must go on...

A couple of the juniors from the Jewish side came up for the weekend because their Bubby was in a play.

At 87 years of age Bubby retains her love for the stage. She's lived and breathed live theatre all her life. It's something she was born into. Her family was deep into live theatre in the old country, which happened to be Poland. Various relations landed in the bigs; Broadway, film, and TV.

She never made the bigs. Instead, it fell to her to start up a theatre company in a small town a couple of hours north of Toronto, and that company is going strong to this day.

Ironically, her family hails from the same small town in Poland as my mother's folks. What are the odds? Here I am with the Farm Manager living the good life at Falling Downs. Eighty years ago our respective forbears, her's Jewish, mine nominally German, were co-habiting the same shithole shtettl in Poland.

But back to the play. The theatre company she co-founded over fifty years ago was putting on a stage adaptation of "Gas-Head Willy," a novel by a local author. What we didn't know was that the theatre had an air conditioning failure last Thursday.

You'd like to think that would have been fixed by Friday at the latest, but such was not the case. I overheard some admin types talking amongst themselves and it seems they can't get a contractor on site till Monday or Tuesday.

What the hell? You've got a veritable emergency and you can't get a HVAC contractor in under four days?

Go into the trades, dear young people...  It's gonna be at least another hundred years before a robot comes out to fix your air conditioner.

Meanwhile, we've been having a heat-wave in these parts. Yup, we've been setting record high temperatures most of September.

Heat wave.

Record high temperatures.

No air in the theatre...

But the show must go on!

And it did. Not that I particularly noticed or cared. I was fading in and out of consciousness for most of the evening. Luckily, I was alert for Bubby's lines, so I didn't completely disgrace myself.

I've had the privilege of having the Bubbinator in my life for ten or fifteen years now. Every time we go to see her in a show, we figure it could be the last time.

And we'll keep going as long as she keeps going!

Air conditioning or not, the show must go on!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Government of Canada selling off surplus Porsches

Ya, I know what you're thinking; Neumann's making shit up again...

And I can't blame you. After all, the pot-addled hillbilly isn't always the most reliable narrator.

But check this out; Environment Canada has this beauty 2010 Panamera 4S on auction, minimum bid $38,000. Apparently they needed it for "emissions testing!"

Of course they did!

If you're a SUV kinda guy, maybe this 2014 Cayenne with a mere 15,000 clicks on the clock is more your speed. More "emissions testing," of course!

No matter how you feel about wasteful government spending, you gotta tip your cap to the smoothies who slipped these purchases past their superiors!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Me and Elvis

When I was over at the Cobble Beach Concourse last weekend, I tried to take a picture with my phone, a picture with the Farm Manager posed alongside a very pretty 1934 Bentley.

Although I thought I took a couple of dozen pictures, only one turned out, and it featured the torso of the FM alongside that pretty car. Back in the day of real cameras and real film, you wouldn't have claimed that "turned out."

But with the new technology, everything is good all the time, right?

I bring this up only because I miss that old school 35 mm stuff.

The first time I was in rehab they pounded into me the importance of having something to do when they graduated me. You had to have a hobby or an interest or a passion or something, otherwise you'd just fall back into your old ways...

So I took up photography.

It almost became a passion.

There are people who have Neumann photographs on their walls to this day, and not all of them are relatives.

 My photography career peaked when the Bookshelf Cafe offered me their walls for a couple of months. That was the good news.

The bad news was I'd have to share those walls with another photographer.

I was mortified. Share those Bookshelf walls?

No way!

Long story short, it wasn't long before I was taking another crack at rehab.

That's when I found out I wasn't the first repeat customer. According to the old hands at the place, Elvis used to go there all the time!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Google's commitment to a free press; Big Brother tightens the noose

I see where Google Canada has found half a million in spare change to fund a media literacy program at the Canadian Journalism Foundation. This will equip Canadian youngsters age 9 - 19 to better ferret out "fake news" and develop a "deeper understanding of the role journalism plays in democracy."

Of course it will. After all, a free press is the very cornerstone of our democracy. Just ask the CJF if you don't believe me. Here's CJF chair David Walmsley; "fake news accelerates distrust in our institutions, including distrust of the trained media who spend so much time trying to hold the powerful to account."

Oh, so that's what they've been doing! If that's the case, they've been doing a slovenly job of it over my lifetime. As near as I can tell, trust in mainstream media was on a downward spiral for decades before Trump and Putin allegedly invented fake news a couple of years ago, and for good reason; the typical news consumer figured out long ago that if and when media hold the powerful to account, it is by accident rather than by intent.

No, there are many agendas that have priority over that particular mission, and they're generally the agendas of the rich and powerful.

Be that as it may, we're truly going down the bunny hole if we buy into the notion that Google or anybody else in Big Tech has the slightest interest in saving journalism or promoting truth-telling. These outfits are now the richest and most powerful entities on the planet, with the exception of a handful of nation states.

It's safe to say that holding themselves to account is not a plank in their program.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The temp agency - slave traders of the 21st century

I wrote a post a few years ago sarcastically applauding Canada's enthusiasm for "temporary foreign workers."

Some poor schmuck in Indonesia who has a limited grasp of English, or at least a limited grasp of sarcasm, tweeted my blog to all his buddies and before I knew it I was inundated with queries on how a welder from Indonesia or Malaysia or half a dozen other countries might make their way to Canada.

Had I fewer scruples and more ambition, I might have replied to those queries by offering some bullshit "immigration information package for qualified welders." Yup, for a mere five hundred bucks I could have sent them stuff they could readily find on the internet for free. And thousands of them would have bought it.

I could have become a labour broker! Those desperate migrant welders could have made me rich!

That's what temp agency's are; labour brokers. Calling them slave traders is a bit of an insult to slave owners. Slave owners made an investment and had a vested interest in maintaining or enhancing their value. That required them to feed and house their slaves. The modern corporate employer has no such obligations, and the temp agency that sources the vast majority of employees today has even fewer.

Here's a story from the New York Times that contrasts the career trajectory of a worker in the pre-temp era to what's going on today. Forty or fifty years ago employers generally had some sense of duty to their employees. I remember when I was hired on at Kearney-National in Guelph back in '77, the woman in the HR office telling me, "welcome to the Kearney family."

I'm pretty sure nobody hears those words when they're handing in their paperwork at the Acme Employment Agency today. In the event, I moved to a better-paying family after a couple of years, but the point remains that the hiring process was qualitatively different when the employer was directly responsible for the hiring.

But, as Neil Irwin points out in that NYT story, the temp agency has allowed the corporate greedbags to run a more efficient ship.

Fuck the worker, and may God bless the bottom line!

The golden age of gas fumes

Did you know that in 1927 Cadillac offered 50 different body styles from a variety of coach-builders, and a whopping 500 different colour combos?

I didn't either.

That's just one of many nuggets of automotive miscellany I happened upon while strolling the 18th fairway at Cobble Beach today. It's a little overwhelming to take in so much automobile history at one go. How do you fully appreciate a Cord Speedster when you're already overwhelmed by a Stutz Bearcat and a bevy of vintage Bentleys?

There were a number of cars on view that were over one hundred years old. I can't imagine that anyone is going to be restoring and showing a 2017 Cadillac a hundred years from now, but I suspect the Type 55 will still be going strong two hundred years after it left the factory.

That's because they don't build stuff like they used to. The idea that you took pride in what you built and made it to last has pretty much gone out the window. Guys like Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler put their actual names on the cars that came out of their factories. They staked their reputations on the quality of their products.

Times have changed, and not for the better.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The winter-beater

Lot's of good stuff in my Globe today. Liz Renzetti kicks things off with a beauty take-down of Facebook on A2.  Also in the first section we see a nice tribute to "The Rock" and how being cut from the Stamps practice squad twenty years ago helped make him the A-list commodity he is today, and a moved-me-to-tears profile of a young actor who inexplicably checked out when everyone around him believed he had it all going on.

Further in we've got Doug Saunders, aka "Mr. Renzetti," with a lengthy polemic on why we need another sixty-million immigrants to properly colonize this great land the Indians so generously gifted us, so lengthy in fact that I've had to put it aside for later while I mollify the Farm Manager with a display of "doing something" around the place. For once I do not begrudge The Korean his $6.30.

Now that summer's over we're finally getting some decent summer weather. Me and the FM spent some quality time on the patio at Dockside Willie's yesterday afternoon, watching the melancholy spectacle of a few die-hard pleasure boaters try to wring the last drops of pleasure from the summer that wasn't.

Picked up an older Subaru last week. I'd set out to find a set of snows for the current ride. For not a lot more money, I got a practically new set of snows with a Subaru attached. Overall I've had good luck with them. Of the three I've owned, two took me well past four hundred thousand clicks. The other one was a lemon. This one has about eighty thousand fewer kilometres on it than the GM product that's been my daily driver for the past few years, so with a little luck I've found a winter-beater that should last for pretty much however many winters I've got left.

Must do something with the summer vehicle situation. The Mustang 50 is a nice enough car, but I'd never have bought it had I known the FM was done her driving days. For a thirty year old car it's impeccable and has lots of jam, but if I'd known, I'd never have bought one with an automatic. For me, a sporty car is just a whole lot sportier with a manual. Also, I've only had one ragtop in my life, a '64 Bonneville with a 348 4bbl and four speed, and I figure it's high time I did that again. There's a very pretty '69 Dart GTS (big block, four speed) convertible at Cars-on-line that's been calling my name, but the Farm Manager swears it's really shouting "denouement."

It's Concours weekend at Cobble Beach, so there's been some inspirational traffic going by Falling Downs today. Maybe we'll check out the show tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, I better get on with "doing something," - re-arranging the parts vehicles behind the barn... and maybe see what I can do about the mirror on the Ninja. If the FM gets into her Netflix, maybe I'll have a shot at a 10k blast around the block.