Thursday 28 March 2019

Poolside Chats: Pt3.

Naples is a nice "little" city. that has traffic like a big city. (This from a guy used to driving the 401!). Many of the roads have four lanes in each direction and the speed limit within the city is 45mph, miles not kilometers. I actually looked up the population and was amazed to find hat the year round population was a mere 25,000 or so, with a seaonal peak of about one third of a million (less than the city I live in!). Most of the drivers seem to ignore the speed limit and just drive at whatever speed they want, usually closer to 60mph than 45mph. Quite apart from that they tailgate, hop lanes and seem totally averse to signalling. Hardly a day went by without witnessing at least one collision. Was this just me getting a little older ? However, I was doing my laps in the pool one day, eavesdropping as I always do, (if I'm close enough to hear) when I overheard two fifty-ish men talking poolside about local traffic conditions.
Man # 1: "Roads here are a real hazard, aren't they? I'm a little nervous on these roads."
Man # 2: "I can't believe the speed they drive at. No signals, changing lanes without warning,cut you off regularly. I think I've seen an accident every day I've been here."

"Hey!" I chipped in as I swam by, "I just thought it was just me getting old."
"Hell no," man one answered, "and we're used to crazy drivers, we're from Chicago!"
I felt much better that it wasn't just 'old fogiism!

I got to know them over the next weeks while lazing around the pool, so when I found them in animated conversation while they were sitting sunning themselves I thought I'd better chip in.  
"Hey, what's up?" I smiled."You guys seem a little worked up."
"We're both managers in a steel works, different companies so we're comparing problems we have to deal with. One of our biggest problems is serious accidents in the line workers usually due to intoxication on the job. It's a huge problem and likely to become greater now that marijuana products will be more available. "
We had discussed the legalization of marijuana in Canada and they were well aware it would be coming their way soon.
"Yes, " said Steelman 2. "We've had some really horrible accidents. We had a woman decapitated recently. Guys roll in after their lunch stoned out of their mind but unless it's pretty obvious we can't do much about it. They have a strong Union and they usually succeed in curtailing any disciplinary action except in the most outrageous cases. Soon they'll be rolling in with a prescription for Medical marijuana from their doctor demanding they need to smoke a joint on the job."
"Ah well," said Steelman 1, " I'm retired this year with all my medical benefits. To tell you the truth, I would have retired a couple of years ago if it wasn't for my medical plan. The only problem is my wife is a few years younger than I am and she can't retire yet or she would lose her medical benefits and that's a big thing.. Looks like I am going to be spending the winters down here by myself a lot of the time, while she's freezing in Chicago."
"So you are down here by yourself?"
"Yes, we bought a condo here last year and we don't want to leave it empty. She comes down here for a long weekday, or sometimes four or five days, whenever she can get away but then she has to get back to work. Just last week her flight back was cancelled so she had to get a regular flight back, which set us back $600 instead of the $199 it usually cost on sale, but she had to get back to work! Once she retires we'll probably move down here permanently." 

"That's nice."
"Yes," He pulled a face, "but June, July and August are hell here, so we will have to experience a summer here before we make the final decision to move."
"Tough!" I said, only slightly sarcastically, but then I was going home to the arctic temperatures the next day!
The trip home was uneventful apart from the lengthy trip from Pearson International to the domestic flights which must have been over a mile, for the forty minute flight to London. Counting the layover time, I could easily have driven the distance in half the time!

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Poolside Chats.

   I'm too old now to search  out excitement when I go on  vacation.  Instead, I like to hang around the pool, kidding myself that I'm staying fit by doing lengths in the pool and chatting with folks from various parts of the USA and Canada.  We tend to generalize when we think of folks from different regions, as though they were all the same and similar in views and aspirations.  When talking to  individuals, one is reminded that everyone is different despite what the 'Elites' suggest and that under the gentle warmth of the Florida winter sun that people tend to cast aside their natural wariness of others and talk surprisingly frankly of how they feel about things.  I think that particularly applies to more mature (of course I  mean older) folks.
   Before the present scandal affecting the Ivy League Universities in the U.S.broke, I was sitting at the edge of  the  pool chatting with a guy from Boston named Jack.  He was a little younger than me and he was whining about the  miserable winter in Boston and I was 'one-upping' him about the frigid Canadian climate.  He asked me where I was from and I, as usual was starting to  explain I was from London, Ontario, near Toronto,don't you know.
   "Yes, I know where London, Ontario is, in fact I was there once!" He said, shocking me with his knowledge of Canada.  "I went to a hockey game to see the 'London Knights'! " he added.
   We chatted for a while.  He was a nice talkative guy, like me and after a little while I  felt comfortable with springing an naive question.
   "So, what do you think of the way the President is running the country?" I asked innocently..
   He leaned over to me and dropped his voice several decibels.
   "I come from a long line of Boston Democrats," he said.  "My parents were democrats, my grand-parents were democrats and all my siblings except one brother were Democrats, he was Republican and was a bit of an outcast on that account.  Other than him, I don't think any member of this family wasn't a Democrat."
   He smiled sadly, leaned in a little closer and dropped his voice another couple of decibels.  "Stan, I probably wouldn't tell you this if you were an American, but in the last election I voted for Donald Trump!"
   I wasn't quite sure what to say, so I said "Wow!".
   I slipped back into the water and swam a couple of laps.  I put on my sunglasses and hat and lay back  on the lawn chair, next to Jack and picked up my novel.
   "By the way," said Jack, "You've got quite a clown leading  your country too!
   We ran into each other by the pool on several  more occasions.   In the course of our conversation it became apparent that Jack knew more about Canada than  I would  have expected.  I asked him how he came to be so much  more knowledgeable than most of his fellow Americans.  (I framed the question carefully of course).
   "My great grandmother emigrated from Ireland to escape the famine in  1848 and lived in Nova Scotia for a few years before coming to America, so  I've always been sort of interested in  Canada and have visited various parts of the country over the years."

   My last note on Jack relates to the recent University scandal.   While chatting about our respective families, Jack  mentioned he had a son who went to Harvard.  He was not bragging.
   "We were going through some difficulties at home and he wanted desperately to go to University away from home.  He applied to seventeen Universities, of which Harvard was the one he least wanted to go to .
He was rejected by all of them EXCEPT Harvard."
   Go figger!  But I did wonder how that might fit into the context of the 'Great Universities Scandal' ?  

Thursday 14 March 2019

Oh for a cupful of the warm South!

"Oh for a cupful of the warm South!"

After the short flight from London, Ontario to Toronto Ontario we finally got on to WestJet Flight WSWS1172 to Fort Myers, Fla., (A Boeing 737-800 of the recent variety, by the way!). It was no easy task. Travel certainly doesn't get easier as one gets older! Just as one requires a little more comfort, travel has become increasingly uncomfortable. Until recently I drove anywhere it was possible to drive. It was great, You left when it suited you, you drove until you were tired. You had a nice meal. If you had to line up, you were sitting in the comfort of your car. You were in control. Now, at 83 I am hesitant to take transcontinental safaris as a single driver.
A couple of years ago I decided it made more sense to fly. Once upon a time, I did travel frequently by air. Even traveling economy was an event for which most folks groomed themselves meticulously. Flying, in those days, was an activity for which one dressed up not down. Before the great reversal, the rich traveled by air. The poor traveled by sea and emigrated in relative poverty, in steerage, the class below third class. Now it is the rich who dress in rags. They actually do dress up in rags, for which they willingly pay a premium to have fashionably designed 'wear and tear' inflicted on their exorbitantly priced 'rags'. If you don't believe me, check out your local airport - or shopping mall.
Fortunately, I had requested wheelchair assistance for my wife because when we landed from London Ontario at Toronto airport the distance to the international terminal was unbelievable. I am sure it was at least a mile although I have yet to confirm that. Fortunately, a golf cart type trolley was eventually available, otherwise we wouldn't have made the connection. Getting old isn't fun.
Finally, after two or three of the usual flight delay notices, we boarded Flight WS1172 about ninety minutes late. I had the Isle seat and Irene had the middle seat of a three seat row. One always hopes that the third seat will remain unoccupied. My heart sank as I saw a middle aged attractive woman with a delightful little terrier type dog in her arms marching straight towards us.. Now, I like dogs and they like me. (My last really close doggy friend was a Rottweiler, ask her!) Nevertheless, I wasn't looking forward to a three and a half hour yappy, snappy trip.
The woman edged her way along the Isle of the aircraft towards row 15. That available window seat was to be occupied by woman and dog. The dog was to be domiciled in a neat little portable cradle that its Mom could wear on her back like a backpack. Like me, Irene likes dogs, so I didn't anticipate any nightmare, and the cute little doggy was placed in its container that neatly slid under the seat in front of it. We took off only an hour and a half late.
Soon after we took off, we started chatting with the Dog's owner. Although for various reasons I usually avoid confessing that I was once a physician, somehow it slipped out that I was once in the Health Care business.
"I used to be a nurse," said the Woman.
"I used to be a Physician," I confessed.
"I am a Physician," she confessed. "After several years as a nurse I decided that I wanted to go into medicine and I graduated as a physician after being a nurse for ten years."
"So, this is your winter holiday?" I asked.
"Not exactly," said she. "My husband is in the real estate business in Florida, so we have a home there. I have a very busy practice in X" - she named a mid sized town in Ontario, not very far from Toronto.
She broke off for a moment and took a treat from her purse, fed it into the container where her little dog seemed perfectly content, gave the dog a little stroke, then returned her attention to us.
"How do you manage your practice when you are away for a week every month or so? Aren't your patients dissatisfied when they need advice or attention when you are away?" I asked.
"Oh no," she answered. "They all have my email address and if they have any problems or questions they email me and I answer their problems or refer them to emergency, if necessary. They are very satisfied with the arrangement: it seems to meet my needs and theirs."
The clatter of the refreshment cart interrupted us as they offered us peanuts or cookies to sustain us through our three and a half hour flight.
"I'd like a Chardonnay and some pretzels," said
our new friend to the attendant. "Can I offer you one?" She asked us.
Naturally I acquiesced.
The rest of the trip flew by, both literally and metaphorically.
We chatted about how she managed her very large practice while she was at home and away. We discussed modern medicine and the amazing changes both better and worse.
All the time the cute little dog was quiet and magnificently behaved. Every now and then her owner gave her a little treat and a pat on the head. So much better than having a whining kid in the next seat!
We arrived at Fort Myers, Florida near midnight, about two hours late. I went straight to the Thrifty Car rental, to pick up the mid sized car I had pre-booked and pre paid.
"Sorry, Sir, We have only mini-vans left."
I looked at the Behemoth they wanted to give me. " I can't drive this thing. I booked and paid for a compact."
"Sorry sir, we rented five hundred and seventy-eight cars today, that's all we have left. There isnt a smaller one left on the lot."
I took the keys, went over to the van and started loading up.
"You can't drive that thing!" said Irene.
"That's all they have." said I.
Irene exploded. "I'm going to talk to them!"
Well, they may have thought they hadn't a smaller car left on their lot, but by the time my wife was through with them they found a little car parked off lot, that 'they didn't think was there!' (Obviously parked just off-site in case they had a difficult customer!) So I ended up with a nice little Nissan Sentra.
It was 2 am when we pulled off the I 75 at Naples heading for our final destination.

Saturday 9 March 2019

The New Morality.

Murdering Babies seems to be okay with many women nowadays.
When the governor of New York legalized infanticide he did inestimable damage to the United States and to the world That is toxic masculinity ! The fact that many woman, so long portrayed as the kinder nurturing sex so willingly embrace infanticide, not only of other people's children but also of their own, comes as a bit of a surprise even to this old curmudgeon who firmly believes that killing a a third trimester fetus is no different than killing a newly born baby. Indeed, there are those who believe that murdering a newly born baby is also acceptable. Women in dire straits either physically or mentally resort to whatever solutions they deem necessary in their desperation. I understand that. Women who have been careless or thoughtless or indifferent about birth control and would rather kill the baby than put up with the inconvenience of rearing it are quite another story.
The 'me' of the Metoo movement is exactly what it says. 'Me' and to hell with everyone else. Infanticide, character assassination, denial of due process are all okay with this gang. Anyone accused has to prove innocence, a contradiction of the very essence of a free society. No woman must be doubted no matter how outlandish and dubious her accusations. People who take exception to the doctrines of the 'Me' movement are obviously sexist and racist. No man can safely close the door of his office when he would be alone with a female colleague or employee because of the irremediable damage that could result.
The left claims to be seeking equality when what they really seek is special treatment for the groups they approve of. They claim to embrace diversity when what they really want is sameness and uniformity (and a little special treatment for themselves!) They want all to be equal as long as they are just a little more equal. They need that so that their elites can fly their executive jets to the meetings to change the world in the way they see fit. They need it so that they can tax creative and hardworking citizens to provide an income for those who prefer not to work at all.
The new crop of left wing loonies reared in the permissive age of no consequence for anything, are fomenting hatred and racism and incubating a batch of politicians who's rabble rousing may well result in consequences they cannot imagine. The folks whose hard work and creativity gave us the prosperous world we enjoy today are growing disenchanted. The lines are being drawn in the sand. Let's hope it will not take a civil war to sort things out.  

Meanwhile, the decline continues.