It is Thursday morning and I should be sending out my newsletter but instead, I am scrapping almost everything I had written. It was largely a rant about the woeful state of the self-proclaimed “Greatest Democracy” but by this time next week, I think that we all hope that we know the outcome of the election in the United States. Watching US News has become a painful obsession and I long for the days when I could tune in once a week to catch up with the goings-on south of the border and to make sure that adults remained in charge; and, when 50% of BBC newscasts were not dominated by American election coverage. After all, I subscribe to the BBC to see what else is going on in the rest of the world.
So for this week, a collection of completely random thoughts:
I am always surprised when it is suggested, as it is frequently in the media and by politicians of all stripes, that someone must be a good person because he or she is a person of faith. The Catholic church has covered up child abuse and paedophilia for decades. Sexual and financial scandals have plagued the US evangelical movement, from Jim and Tammy Bakker to Jerry Falwell, Jr. Men and women of faith have perpetrated war crimes in the name of their beliefs. The KKK espouses Christianity. Examples of people of faith being bad are endless.
The use of the word greatest, as in “We have the greatest doctors” drives me crazy. That would mean that there is some kind of recognized criteria for establishing levels of great when most times there aren’t any. I have been on property tours with land owners who claim to have the three best or greatest sites in the city, maybe even the world. They may all be great sites but they can’t all be the best or the greatest.
In Issue 16, I made a case for consistency and rigour in COVID 19 messaging and the application of appropriate sanitary measures. Canada has been relatively sane with provincial leaders and the federal government (and opposition politicians) singing from the same song book but we can be a better choir.
I always thought that governments across Canada should have taken a leaf out of Winston Churchill’s WWII handbook and copied his all-party “war cabinet” approach for COVID management. If this had been done, there would be no distracting WE scandal and bickering about messaging, transparency, and government assistance programs.
Coronavirus news got you down? Try body and soul warming “Spaghetti al Limone” with a flinty Sicilian white or “Crispy Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Brown Butter” with a Barolo, the king of wines.
I would also suggest a Cassoulet but so much work and so much food if there are only two or three people in your home to eat it. Just eat foie gras and drink a nice Bordeaux or a Côte-Rôtie . Or maybe enjoy Canadian foie gras with a nice Ontario ice wine or a Québec ice cider. Remember to support local producers.
Or maybe a great hamburger or smoked meat sandwich with great fries? These go well with a great IPA but maybe even better with Vodka. Try Cirka , distilled in Montréal.
Do you find it harder and harder to get out of your pyjamas? There are days that it is an effort but I have always been too fastidious to appear on Zoom in a nice shirt and my underwear. I have to exercise, shower, shave and get properly dressed every day.
Propane heaters are impossible to find. Bio-ethanol fireplaces are available. The models on the linked page are free standing and can be used both indoors and out.
Another difficult find is exercise equipment. Does anyone have a set of weights for my 14-year old grandson who is working on his conditioning just in case there is a basketball season.
Use Amazon as a search engine but try and buy the products found from its site direct from the manufacturer or the smaller retailer that is listed on the Amazon site. Their service is better. Amazon (and Walmart) often act as middlemen and never touch the items that you buy on their site. If there is a problem with these orders, good luck! And why would I want to give either Walmart or Amazon a percentage of the maker’s or small retailer’s profit?
When I could travel, I used booking.com and other hotel similar websites the same way. Find a property on their web site and then book directly, particularly when dealing with boutique properties.
Armed militias and permitted concealed firearms at polling stations, politically biased judges ruling on election rules to suppress voting rights, voter intimidation, this must be Nicaragua, Guatemala, or Belarus? No – it is somewhere a little closer to home! Hey – I had to rant a little!
Read or watch a news source that really turns you off. I read articles from the New York Post and the now truly cringeworthy Wall Street Journal. I have tried to watch Fox News but the drooling adoration is just a little too much for me. Occasionally Fox drops its veil and admits that it is not designed as news but designed as entertainment. It just keeps a few real journalists like Chris Wallace and John Roberts around to give it some semblance of legitimacy. It was hilarious when a judge threw out a libel suit against Tucker Carlson because he couldn’t be considered a credible source and therefore no one should feel slandered by anything he may say. I like bow ties but Tucker has ruined them for me. He just can’t pull them off.
Buy craft beer but more importantly, drink it.
Treat yourself to a bag of potato chips.
Go for a walk and smile at the people that you pass. There are far too many snarly faces on the sidewalks.
Italy has the best potato chips . I know, it was a surprise for me too.
I warned you that this would be just a collection of unconnected ideas but it has been fun.
Shop local, support local businesses, buy from local farms, and support local artisans and manufacturers. As always, wear face masks as required, wash your hands, practice social distancing, hydrate, and exercise.
We Should Know Better
August 26, 2023
I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]
Not in My Back Yard
August 4, 2023
Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]
Glasgow – That Dear Green Place
July 31, 2023
We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie and Norry Wilson. So, we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]
Vienna on Top Again
June 25, 2023
Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]
From Hot Bedding to Superblocks
June 20, 2023
Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land. Or a vertical build-out that […]
Vienna – the World’s Most Livable City
June 16, 2023
Vienna had been a poor city even before the First World War. “Normal” housing arrangements meant six to eight people sharing one room and a kitchen. Then, in early 1919, just after the Armistice, the cost of living tripled in two months. Bed lodgers could no longer afford their 8-hours a day in a shared […]