Thursday, June 22, 2017

Post 3590 - The Weekend Is Here!

Ah. That's better.

I am off until Monday. Three days away from work.

Tomorrow we plan to have breakfast, likely in the Smitty's in the downtown. We both have errands to take care of in that part of the city, tomorrow.  By suppertime we will be at a Toastmasters barbecue. Really looking forward to that.

I have a bunch of other plans this weekend. I will tell you about them as they unfold.

I just got a notification on my Facebook that someone had updated the Darian O'Toole RIP page. It made me think of the Raven-Haired Radio Wench, so I jumped over and clicked on the videos section. I can now say I have seen the infamous section of "48" Hours in which she appears discussing how she had been fired from an American radio station for having lied about her credentials.

Very long time readers will recall that this here blog got its first big exposure in April of 2008, when Darian/Karen died. I had some lingering issues regarding Karen that went back to 1990, and I attempted to work through them here. For some reason, some of those posts went... well, maybe not viral. But people googling information about her found those posts and began to add comments to them, which are still there if you want to go read them.

What a talented woman she was. Fired for lying on her resume, but she would never have got to the States to take on Howard Stern if she had not grossly exaggerated her credentials in the first place. That incident, plus her drinking and not working hard at her craft, caused her career down spiral. Getting fired from Q104 in Halifax in 2004 must have really stung.

What a terrible waste of talent. She coulda been a contender.

I think I will turn in. Lots to do tomorrow.

See you then.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Post 3589 - Sigh

Sometimes you wonder why you bother. Know what I'm saying?

The time was, not all that many years ago, when I volunteered for a lot of organizations. The Buskers. Jazz Fest. Tall Ships. Other places. I did it for a few reasons, but the main one was, at the time I had a job that I absolutely despised. I hated getting up in the morning. I hated being at that job. I looked forward to going home with an enthusiasm that I cannot describe using polite terms.

I figured that if I volunteered for those places it would give me a sense of purpose, of belonging, and that my efforts would be appreciated.

I was dead wrong.

Most of the time I was given the crap jobs to do. I felt taken advantage of. One time, another guy and I had the task of walking from one end of the Halifax waterfront to the other, only to turn around and repeat that process. All afternoon. It was a boring, monotonous, literally thankless task. By 2007, after an especially brutal experience with the Tall Ships festival, I pretty much swore off volunteering my time, with the exception of Operation Rednose.

I learned a lot about myself volunteering for those places, and a great deal about the organizations. I cannot understand how any organization can build its financial model around having a certain percentage of volunteers working for them. I just can't. It doesn't make sense.

I find it vaguely insulting when someone asks me to do something on spec, to do it without any kind of compensation. Someone once reasoned with me that since I spend time on this here blog, that it should not make a difference if I do free stuff for them. My rejoinder to that would be that I do this blog for me and not anybody else. If you want me to work for your for free, then I guess I can ask my plumber to work for free, or my lawyer to do pro bono work for me, or to ask my tax accountant to waive the hefty bill she sent me recently.

Not sure where I am going with this. I suppose it is that, the older I get, the less inclined I am to do things for other people, unless there is some kind of financial or spiritual gain for me.

I will keep the above in mind after I retire.  I'd rather stay home and read a book or go for a walk or do something for me, than devote my energies to someone's for profit enterprise that is too cheap to pay me anything.

Trying to figure out how to write about something that has been bugging me for quite a while now. Let me figure that out in the coming days. It is a topic that may really tick some people off.

See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Post 3588 - Is It The Weekend Yet?

Two days in, and I am beat.

We are off this coming Friday. Supposed to be at a Toastmasters barbecue Friday night, the first such thing in a few years, but not many are going. Sigh.

I mentioned some wingnut bicyclists here on the blog a few days ago. Now it's time to discuss some motorists who need a refresher course in driving.

On the way home tonight, we went through the Armdale roundabout. We entered it from Quinpool, and stay hard right to go up the Saint Margaret's Bay Road to Timberlea. The guy in the next lane, to our left, who should have been going to Purcell's Cove Road by rights, instead sped up, past us, and on to Dutch Village Road. If he had been going a little slower, if we had been going a little faster, then there would have been an accident.

I see more and more of this: impatient drivers not giving a rodent's rump about the rules of the road or the rules of common decency. They feel perfectly entitled to drive every which way, and woe betide anyone who gets in their way. I don't understand these people.

I live in fear of an a-hole motorist encountering an a-hole bicyclist. It will not be a pretty sight.

I promise I will soon write a post about a-hole pedestrians. There are more than a few of them, too.

See you tomorrow.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Post 3587 - Done

This will be brief.

I just finished the latest revision to the latest true crime piece for the next issue of Frank. My editor thinks this is one of my best articles. All I can say is that I didn't work any harder on this piece than I did on any other one, but my interest in this case goes back many years, so maybe the passion showed through a bit more. I look forward to sharing it with you next week. The changes tonight were mostly to include some comments from the police regarding the case, plus the addition of a brief sidebar to the piece. My editor may elect to incorporate it in to the actual article, but the subject is different enough that maybe it should be a sidebar. His choice, of course.

We have been watching episodes of "Riverdale" over the last couple of days. We did not like the pilot at all, but people have been going on and on about it, so we decided to give it a second chance. The second episode was not much better, but the third one, about slut shaming, was riveting, so we kept going. We are on episode 10 now, I think it is. May finish watching it tomorrow night.

I heard from Heather today, regarding the Al Riggs' painting. His widow decided to give the painting to Heather's eldest son, who took an earlier painting his grandfather had done and turned it into a tattoo. Now this young man has an actual painting his grandfather did to cherish.

And we are still looking for a painting of a guy bent over in front of a hovel on a wind-swept day. So, you know, help us out if you ever see such a painting I can buy for Patricia.

I think I will turn in.

See you tomorrow.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Post 3586 - A Father's Day Gift

Well, hello there.

I'm sorry I didn't write on Saturday. Things got away from me.

I had a Toastmasters thing in Dartmouth in the morning. I had arranged to meet up with a woman whose father was a member of my club, back in the 1980's. He died suddenly. More on that later. And after he died, the family gave one of his paintings to our club. But I'm getting ahead of my story.

For many years, up until 2005 or so, we gave out the "Al Riggs Award" to the member of the club who best exemplified the spirit of Toastmasters. The recipient would get to keep the painting for a year before returning to the club so it could be awarded to someone else. I don't know how it was done before I joined, or for several years afterward, but we eventually developed a point system, one that excluded members of the executive, because the executive was the ones who gave out that painting, every year.

One year, around 1995, the recipient of the Al Riggs award/painting was a man who up and moved to British Columbia, I think it was. We barely got the painting back from him before he left town. I think we had other close calls over the years. Eventually, our club membership began to suffer, to the point where there might be only two or three or four club members who were not in the executive. And, maybe, those people were new to the club or did not exemplify all of the traits that we wanted people to have. The decision was made to include executive members in the process of determining who would get to keep the painting for a given year.

By 2004 or 2005 or whatever it was, I got the painting. The point system was abandoned because nobody wanted to do the job any more to figure out who the next recipient should be, and we can't even recall where that point system is, either.  The painting was all-but forgotten about by members, who came and went, went and came. The painting kept hanging on the wall of my dining room.

Here is what the painting looks like:

Al Riggs was a sales manager at Ben's Bread in Halifax for many years. He joined Toastmasters sometime in the 1980's. He was an amateur, and very talented, painter with paints as well as with pastels. I can still go to a Ben's Thrift store anywhere in the province and talk to an old-timer and drop his name. And the employee will smile and tell me an Al Riggs story.

The painting was there on my wall for many years. One time I asked club members who knew what I was talking about, what to do with the painting. Should we reinstate the point system, rotate it among members? They just told me to hold on to it. It was where it should be.

It made me uncomfortable.

The family wanted us to give the painting out to a deserving member every year. We had not done that in many a year, and realistically, we never would again. It did not seem right, or fair, or just, for me to keep that painting into perpetuity.

Last month, I decided to contact Al Riggs' family and offer the painting back to them.

I had spoken with Al's daughter once before, back when we were giving out the painting, to see if she and other family members would like to see us give out the painting to that year's recipient. They declined, but I remembered her name. Which is weird, given how I forget names all the time.

I reasoned that she would be on Facebook. She was, using a hyphenated last name which included her maiden name, so she was easy to find. I messaged her. Told her who I was and asked if she remembered me and where I was from. I took the above picture of the painting and emailed it to her.

I told her what I just told you, how the painting was no longer given out, how it was hanging on my wall, and how it occurred to me that it would be her father's wish that if we were no longer giving out the painting that he might want it to go back to the family.

She went away to talk to her family. Her mother, Al's wife, is still alive. Heather told me that the family would love to have the painting back if we were not going to use it any more.

She lives in Dartmouth. I'd be in Dartmouth on Saturday. I knew we'd be on break from the TM thing I was attending around 10:45, so she said she'd be there at that time for the hand off. I put the painting in the backseat of the car. It was in a bag and wrapped in a towel to protect it from the spits of rain.

Two other club members were there with me. I told them what I was planning to do with the painting, and they readily agreed. The three of us went out to the parking lot around 10:45 yesterday. Heather and her husband were there waiting for us.

We chatted for a moment. I went to the car and retrieved the painting. And we walked to the entrance of the meeting place, a church, to do the hand over. Here are two pics:

That's me on the right.

Heather and her husband, who told me his name twice and which I have forgotten twice, told us some tales about Al. We had had the impression that Al was running around Dal Plex when he suffered a heart attack and died on the spot. We thought it was around 1986. But Heather said no, that he died in 1988. He was at home. Got up one morning and went into the kitchen, and collapsed and died then and there.

They told us about the house he was building at the time of his death. It still stands and would have a studio with a lovely view to inspire his muse. His work in pastels was so good that one of his works hangs in a gallery in Toronto to this day. He was a forward-thinking guy, at one point warning his colleagues not to produce bread for other brands like Sobeys because it would diminish the Ben's brand, which it eventually did, because Ben's no longer exists, its plant closed and about to be torn down there on Pepperell Street.

I can't remember the last time I saw two more grateful people. 29 years after his sudden death, Al's family gets one final piece of their father, one more memory to cherish, one more item of his that they can pass from family member to family member. With or without a points system.

And it was done the day before... Father's Day.

It felt good. It felt right. I don't regret the decision at all.

I just owe Patricia a painting of a guy bending over in front of a small home on a wind-swept day, so if you know of any, let me know.

See you tomorrow.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Post 3585 - Grr!

Don't you just love it? The drama.

I share one meme on my Facebook timeline, and people go crazy.

It is this one.

Let's step back, and unpack this.

Here in Halifax, we have some pretty narrow streets. There are not as many parking spaces as we need, and some councilors decided that they would take some of those parking spaces away and replace them with bike lanes.

By Dalhousie University, on University Avenue, many, maybe even most, of the parking spaces ain't there no more. They are replaced by a bike lane that is likely not used all that much. But, fine. It's happened and isn't going away. I can accept that. I don't like it, but I can accept it.

What I cannot accept is how some bicyclists do treat the road as their plaything. They ride on sidewalks, which is clearly illegal. They dart in and out of traffic. They ride abreast with cars and keep them from passing, making traffic worse. Traffic lights are a suggestion at best.

I have been nearly knocked over by people on bikes, as I was walking across the street. Dammit, there are irresponsible bicyclists. There are also irresponsible pedestrians who walk out against traffic or ignore oncoming traffic, expecting cars to stop as if by magic, and getting insanely ticked off when the cars cannot accommodate their unreasonable demands. And, of course, there are irresponsible drivers who wreak havoc on our roads, flying through red lights, nearly running over pedestrians who were clearly at cross walks, and blithely ignoring people on bicycles.

On the other hand, in Halifax, bicyclists have nearly been killed in traffic over altercations that were not their fault in any way, shape, or form. It is horrible carnage for them. I feel their pain.

The roads belong to all of us, not some of us. We all have to get along out there. All of us.

The above meme might be overkill, but there is some truth to it. And people on bikes have to realize that.

That's all I'm trying to say.

You can rant and rave on my Facebook, email me here, or leave a comment on my blog. Have at it.

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Post 3584 - An Early Night

Don't mind if I do.

Have an early night, that is.

Patricia remains off work. I left for work before 7 and arrived there shortly after 7. I supposed I could have ducked out a bit early this afternoon but hung around until 4:30.

Tonight Patricia made some kind of beef dish with potatoes for dinner. I had two helpings and will have the rest for lunch tomorrow.

We watched what is rapidly becoming one of our fave shows, this evening. It is called "I'm Dying Up Here". It is about standup comedians and their struggle to learn, and use their craft in 1970's Los Angeles. People think I have a sense of humor and some have wondered why I did not attempt such a career. I point to this show and tell them that this is why.

It is a quantum leap from being witty and urbane and going up in front of people and say something funny. I like what a friend of mine said years ago. He said that most stand up comedians should sit down and shut up. But I guarantee that everyone of those people thought they were funny and thought they might have a future in the business, if only they could get that small break. "I'm Dying Up Here" is all about those people and those elusive breaks. I really, really like this show.

Even though it is not yet 9:30, I think I will turn in. I think I am fighting something.

See you tomorrow.