Monopoly and Jail

My kids love the game Monopoly.  They play it on the computer.  The other day, one of my boys was playing against the computer.  He had the game won.  He owned every piece of property.  The computer opponents could do nothing.  My son commented how the only safe place left for his opponent was prison.

Now, I have had this feeling lately that Monopoly is a better model of our economy than we might think possible.  I mean, when the game is over, you have to put all the things back in the box.  All those houses and hotels.  All those utilities and rail roads.  All that glorious money.  It all goes back in the box.  It’s not yours any more.  It never was yours and you can’t keep it when the game is over.

When I was a child, my big sister would play Monopoly with me.  When it came to the point where I knew that I was not going to win I would try to concede.  My sister did not want the game to end so she would ‘loan’ me money to pay for my bills.  Thinking about this as an adult, as I was looking to consolidate some credit card debt, it struck me that the bank is helping me stay in the game.  At that time, I thought I had lost a game that I didn’t even know I was playing.

Now, my 10 year old made his comment about jail.  I was struck again.  For the poor people, is it getting to the point where jail the only option left to them?

I fear that we are trapped in a game of Monopoly.  We didn’t choose to sit down at this table, but it’s the only table we have.

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Ontario’s Sex Ed Curriculum

I recently found a site on Facebook called “Parents Against Ontario Sex-Ed Curriculum”.  This group, for some reason, seems to be very much against the new Sex-Ed Curriculum…  So, I tried to figure out why… and I wrote about it… and I posted it to this site.  It should be interesting to see the responses I get.  I’ll post them here…


Hello all. Sorry, but this is going to be a bit of a long post… I hope you stay with me on this… there are some concerns here.

According to a Global News summary of the new Sex-Ed curriculum…

Grade 1: Identify body parts, including genitalia, using correct terminology. Recognize caring behaviours and exploitive behaviours.

– This is despicable. I want my children to only use the terms “woo-hoo” and “ding-dong” when referring to their genitals. As well, if they know the difference between exploitive and caring behaviours, they may start to think that there is a problem the relationship I have with my wife.

Grade 2: Outline the basic stages of human development. Identify related bodily changes. Explain the importance of standing up for themselves. Describe how to relate positively to others and behaviours that can be harmful in relating to others, including both online and face-to-face name calling.

– I almost fell into the trap of thinking this was going to teach our children about puberty at way too young of an age, but when I read the curriculum, it talks only of classifying the stages of life… such as ‘baby’ to ‘child’ to adolescent’ to ‘adult’. Like you, I think this should be talking about puberty…. my kids need to know what’s going to happen to their woo-hoo and ding-dong.

Also, let’s be clear — my kids are to be seen, not heard. I want them to _not_ stand up for themselves.

Grade 3: Identify the characteristics of healthy relationships, including those with friends, siblings and parents. Describe how visible differences, such as skin colour, and invisible differences, including gender identity and sexual orientation, make each person unique. Identify ways of showing respect for differences in others. Develop safety guidelines for Internet use.

– Healthy relationships with friends, siblings and parents?? Come on, let’s get real here. And, hey, let’s make sure we keep all those who are different from us as far away as possible… this way, we can dehumanize anybody who has a different skin colour, gender identity, sexual orientation, or whatever makes anybody unique.

Grade 4: Describe the physical changes that occur at puberty, as well as the emotional and social impacts. Demonstrate an understanding of personal hygienic practices associated with the onset of puberty. Identify risks associated with communications technology and describe how to use them safely. Describe various types of bullying and abuse and identify appropriate ways of responding.

– My kids are going to learn about puberty the same way I did — by having it happen unexpectedly in a terrifying, shameful way.

Also, what do the schools have to do with bullying? Isn’t it our responsibility as parents to ensure that our children can dominate any situation and their peers?

Grade 5: Identify the parts of the reproductive system. Describe the processes of menstruation and spermatogenesis. Describe stresses related to puberty and identify strategies to manage them. Explain how a person’s actions, either in person or online, can affect people’s feelings and reputation, including making sexual comments and sharing sexual pictures.

– What does a 12 year old need to know about puberty for? Let the kids be kids… and if any of these kids start to go through puberty at this time, then they should be shunned and bullied as the children learned in Grade 4.

Grade 6: Identify factors that affect a person’s “self-concept,” for example stereotypes, gender identity and body image. Describe how to lay a foundation for healthy relationships by understanding changes that occur during adolescence. Assess the effects of stereotypes on social inclusion and relationships.

– At the age of 13 a child, specifically girls, should be reading fashion magazines and forming their own body opinions based on that information.

Grade 7: Explain the importance of understanding with a partner about delaying sexual activity and the concept of consent. Identify common sexually transmitted infections and describe their symptoms. Identify ways of preventing STDs and unintended pregnancy. Assess the impact of different types of bullying or harassment, including sexting.

– This is the time for sexual experimentation. Let the kids be kids, for God’s sake. Delaying sexual activity? Why would we teach that? This Liberal government and it’s extreme Left Wing agenda…

Grade 8: Identify and explain factors that can affect decisions about sexual activity. Demonstrate an understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation. Demonstrate an understanding of contraception and the concept of consent. Analyze the benefits and risks of relationships involving different degrees of sexual intimacy.

– I think 15 years old is way too young to be talking about sexual activity. These kids should be shamed into hating themselves and the feelings they have.

Also, if any kid is having problems with their “sexual identity” there are plenty of ‘re-education camps’ that they can be sent to… I don’t care if those things have been proven not to work, it just means that those kids are wimps.

You know, forget it… I’m going to tell my wife’s going to home school our kids.

Obviously I’m joking about this…. however, if you’ve stayed with me on this, what is it, specifically, that people disagree with? Is it teaching kids to respect themselves and others, despite their differences?

I mean, do you want your children learning about sexuality from some VERY graphic pornography they got off the internet?

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Linux Mint

I have recently taken the plunge into the Linux world.  I can say that our house is completely Windows free.

It was pretty scary at first.  When you’re a tech guy, a big change like this can really shake things up.  But, we’ve been here and all seems pretty good.  There is nothing that we have wanted to do that we can’t do with our computers.

So, what are the advantages of switching to Linux, you ask?  Well, right away, the first one is that it’s free and all the software I’ve gotten is free, too.  It’s amazing, the open source movement is almost overwhelming!  Programs like Libre Office and GIMP amaze me.  I think I’ll write something about those to programs later.  If you’re interested, they are worth googling.

Second advantage I’ve found is that Linux runs faster than Windows.  This means that I can use my computers longer.  I really like this as it means that I’m putting less technology into the landfills.  It’s a fantastic feeling.

Thirdly, and this is actually the first reason I switched — there are no viruses for Linux.  I browse with impunity, without a virus scanner and without worry.

Now, this is not without some issues.  I can’t run all the software that everybody else does — for instance, iTunes is not available.  Not to mention, this change is not for those who are afraid to leave the net of Microsoft behind them.

If you have had enough of virus scanners, slowing computers, and expensive software, then I encourage anybody to take the plunge to Lniux.  It’s worth it.

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Looming Provincial Election

In less than two weeks now, Ontario will be going to the polls to elect new representatives and a new Premier by extension. It seems to me that most people realize that we don’t actually elect a premier but rather an MPP — somebody to go to Queen’s Park and represent our community’s interests in provincial matters. I guess it doesn’t really matter since all the representatives belong to one party or another and do, in fact, have to vote along party lines.

Oh well.

But, that’s not why I want to write today.  I want to write today because every time an election roles around, people keep going on about wanting a majority government.  Everybody wants to see one party dominate over all the others.  This is seen as a clear mandate from the people and it gives the ruling party licence to do what they want.

Nobody seems to want a minority government.

I understand why any political party would want a majority — this way, they can push their own agenda and nobody can do anything about it until the next mandatory election.  They don’t have to worry about making anybody happy but themselves for the first couple years and then drop into damage control and pacify the people so they hopefully get elected again.

But, what about the minority government?  I have heard people complain that nothing get’s done in a minority government — the party’s are too bogged down with trying to negotiate or cut deals.  They can’t get any legislation passed that they want.

Good, says I.

Consider that we have three main parties — Liberals, PC’s and the NDP — all represent points along the political spectrum with the PC’s on Right, the NDP on the Left and the Liberals in the middle. Now, if any one party get’s a majority then that is the type of government we can expect.  This will always be the case.  There is never going to be any meaningful debate.  There is never going to be a second look at any policy or legislation because there is no threat of defeat of any motion brought up by the leading party.

The Opposition parties will complain and they will ask questions but when it comes down to it, the party with the majority does not have to listen to anybody.  They can do what they want.  Sure, lots of legislature get’s passed but is it good?  Is it benefiting all of Ontario?  Is this legislation well vetted?  Are these policies going to drive this province into the ground?

Now, if we have a minority government, then that changes.  Every peace of legislature or policy will have to get the support of two parties, at least.  If the parties can’t agree on a bit of law then that law doesn’t come to be.  Suddenly, when the opposition brings up opposition to some proposal, there is real threat that it will not be passed into law.

This strikes me as being messy and complicated but in the end makes for a government that more closely represents the will of the people.  This law represents a compromise between at least two differing political ideologies.  What could be more Canadian than that?

Anyway, whatever you believe, make sure that you get out and vote.  It’s important.


Filed under Politics

Why Do I Still Get Forwarded Email Warnings?

It amazes me, that in our world of Google and Bing that people still forward dire warnings of horrific dangers.  I mean, it only takes a couple seconds to type the heading into Google and get a bazzilion web sites telling me that there is no truth to the story.

Facebook seems to be the new forum for delivering these messages.  It is easy to ‘share’ a post to your own time line and it get’s proliferated throughout all your friend’s time lines.  Most recently, I saw one warning that the police are warning drivers not to flash their head lights to another car that doesn’t have their headlights on.  The result will be that you will instigate a gang initiation ritual that will result in your getting killed.

Dire warnings, indeed!

Maybe I’ve just been ‘on-line’ so long that I’ve seen it all before.  Maybe with the advent of the iPad and the smart phone, people who never had a computer before suddenly have access to this information.  And, they don’t know the power of Google and the existence of sites such as

So, what’s my point with all this?  I mean, it’s just an email, it doesn’t hurt anybody or cost anything?

I would argue that there is a real cost to perpetuating such stories.  The first is that it costs the person who forwards it or shares it — it makes them look gullible and nobody wants to look like a gullible fool, do they?  It also costs my time to look at this email and delete it.  It clogs up my in-box and my time-line.

I would also argue that there is potential for real injury here.  I believe that if we keep bombarding people with horrible stories, people will become increasingly paranoid.  It continues to erode our faith in humanity — we see enough of this on our local news, we don’t need it in our in-box.

The story about the headlights is particularly scary for me.  Let’s just imagine that I took this message as true and decided that I was not going to flash my headlights anybody from now on.  So, I’m on my way home and I notice a guy who didn’t have his headlights on, but I don’t flash him.  He drives around the corner where there are no street lights and ends up running over a couple out for an early evening walk.

You know, there are so many of these stories out there, I could write a series on them and why I think they are insidious…  It would be a sort of series…  I think that from now on, each time I see one of these, I’m going to write a blog post here about it and why it’s not only wrong, but dangerous to forward it!

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Filed under Email Hoaxes, Technical Stuff

Fall’s Here, Time To Start Thinking About Winter

Well, as some may know, we have recently moved out of the big city into the country. It’s awesome — we went from a small house to a huge house… from a decent back yard, to a huge 2 acre back yard.

However, it’s not all peaches and cream… there is a price to be paid for this. We have to order our water to be delivered to our cistern, and that’s not much fun. It really is bad when the cistern runs dry. It’s an all day event to get it going again. When the car breaks down, it can be a serious pain to get it fixed in a timely fashion when they have to order parts for my ‘exotic’ car…

But the worst is the fact that we don’t have cable. The antenna works fine until it rains. And the satellite internet is okay until it rains.

Over all, though, I think the pros out weigh the cons.

But, we need to get ready for Fall… or Winter, really. I have alot of things to do around the house. There’s maintenance that needs to be done and we’re running out of race track.

So, what needs to be done? Well, I have to paint all the trim around the windows, fix some broken siding, patch a hole in the facade of two of the pillars on the porch, put the kids’ pool away, mow the lawn, put the patio furniture away, clean out the garage and burn all the broken bits of wood that I have collected over the summer. Oh, and that reminds me, I need to get some cinder blocks to complete my fire pit.

So much to do…

And none of it’s going to happen this weekend… my dance card is full again this weekend.

Oh well.

We’ll get done what we can get done. With a little luck, the important stuff will get done before the snow flies… oh, that reminds me, I need a snowplow blade for my lawn tractor:)

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I’m Not ‘That Guy’

I found out something about myself last night that I am not real proud of.  Maybe that’s too strong of a phrase, maybe disappointed would be a better way to describe my feelings.

Allow me to explain.  Have you ever watched a movie where a guy goes to visit with his terminally ill buddy?  And they end up sitting in the hospital laughing at all the great times they had, telling stories about the crazy adventures and hitting on the nurses?  Well, I found out last night that I’m not ‘That Guy’.  I really wanted to be ‘That Guy’, but I’m not.

It turns out that I’m the guy who shows up and immediately can’t speak.  I’m the guy who starts blinking repeatedly as soon as he sees one of his best friends with tubes coming out of him, slowly raising a spoon full of soup to his lips as if it’s the most heavy thing in the world.


I’m the guy who is very glad his buddy’s sister is there to distract him from the raw pain that he’s experience.  I’m not the guy who can ‘take it like a man’, apparently.

When given some alone time with his friend, I’m the guy who can barely gurgle out “I love you” while hugging his sick friend.  And, it turns out that I’m the guy who’s very sick friend has to comfort!

I really wanted to be the other guy.

I should know better though.

It turns out that I’m also the guy who can’t write a blog post about this st

uff without sobbing like a baby.

Well, that’s enough of my poking at this very fresh emotional wound.  Maybe in time, when it scabs over, I can pick at it some more.  But until then, this is enough.


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My Riding Lawnmower

When we moved out to the country, I had to buy my first riding lawnmower.  Everybody I talked to said “Go to the local place and get one that they service there”.

So, I went to the local tractor place and got me a big riding lawnmower.  It’s a big monster — 25 horsepower, 54 inch cutting deck…  I want to grunt like Tim Allen whenever I talk about it.  It’s orange, too!  Made with pride in America, no less.

Unfortunately for me, it has been trouble almost since I got it.  The first mowing was okay, but the second time I ran it, it seemed to be really getting bogged down in any kind of grass.  I got a grease gun and added some grease to the mower deck hoping that might help it out, but no, the next time, it was worse.  I couldn’t get it to cut anything.  I called up the dealer and they came and took it back to the shop.

They ‘cleaned out the fuel system’ and brought it back.

It didn’t work any better.  I called them and they came again to get it.

This time they adjusted the ‘deck’ because it was pitched slightly forward.

Really, said I?  That’s crazy.

It didn’t work any better.

This last time they kept it for a week and gave me a “loner” to cut my grass.  That one worked well.

So, now it’s back.

They had to adjust the ‘float’ in the carburetor.  Apparently it was running too rich and causing the problem.  I, needless to say, remain a skeptic.

I   have just finished mowing the lawn.  It ran pretty good.  Cut the grass like it’s supposed to.  It could be that they have fixed everything and this was the problem the whole time.

The problem is that I’m very much paranoid about it now?  It’s like when you sprain your ankle, you’re always over cautious about using it?  I believe that I’m going to be overly concerned about this machine for the rest of it’s existence.  Any little thing that goes on is going to make me jump right over the top.  And, I’m afraid that I’m going to have more problems and more problems until the warranty runs out and then I’m going to have to start paying to fix a problem.

I got to thinking about what would alleviate me of this first world burden…  The first thing would have been that they send it back to the factory and give me a brand new one.  If there was something seriously wrong with it, say it needed the engine reconstructed, then I would not want that mower — I bought a ‘new’ machine, not a factory refurbished machine.

Therefore, it had to be a small problem.  Which, I guess it has turned out to be.  The problem is that I’m not convinced that it’s fixed.  I don’t know what’s involved in ‘fixing the float’ in the carburetor.  Maybe if I knew that I’d feel better, but probably not.

At least the dealer has been pretty good about picking it up and dropping it off right at the house.

I just wish that they had fixed this the first time around… or better yet, there was no problem.

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Playing Games With 7 Year Olds

Tonight we decided to play the card game “Asshole” with our children.  Naturally, we didn’t call it “Asshole”, we called it “President”.

In case you are unfamiliar with the game, the idea is that you try to get rid of your cards.  The first person to do so is the “President” for the next round.  The last person is the “Asshole” (or “Loser” if you’re playing with 7 year olds).  The next round, the “Loser” has to give the “President” his or her best two cards and the President returns the favour by giving back two cards (usually the worse two cards).

So, we played, the kids were excited.  Apparently, they have played this game on their DS’s so they knew how the game was played.  Of course, they don’t grasp the finer strategies behind the game and the twins ended up being the “Loser” and “Vice-Loser”.

Poor Zachery didn’t take this title very well.  He got pretty upset.  He lamented to me that the game was “unfair”.  The President just got all the good cards and the “Loser” got crap.

Of course, he is right.  It’s like that with all games.  Come to think of it, it’s like that in the real world, too — the rich get richer and everybody else suffers.

Oh well, I told him that when we played next, we’d start off with him being the “President” and I’ll take on the “Loser” role.

I’m predicting that when I knock him off the president seat he’ll be ever more upset, though.


Filed under Family News

A New Camera For Us

The other day, my wife asked me to keep an eye out for a cheap digital camera.  As a teacher, she was interested in getting into more ‘multi-media’ type stuff with her students — a great idea, if you ask me.

So on Thursday, an email from a liquidation store entered my in-box advertising a digital camera for $49.99 (it’s not spam, I subscribe to it — sometimes there are good deals there).  It looked pretty cool — it came with a bike mount and a water proof case so you can video your bike ride in the rain.  Or, more likely, take pictures of the kids in the water park without fear of getting the camera wet.

When I got it home, we had a look at it and decided to take it back.  Way to small, no flash, and generally a cheap camera.

So, with the $50 of store credit, I went looking for a better camera.  They had a Nikon Coolpix S3300 camera.  It was more money, though — $69.99 — an extra $20.

I think we got a really nice camera for very little money.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe $69.99 is the going price for this camera, but I am very impressed.

Well, it’s time to bath the kids and get ’em to bed.  I’ll see if I can post some comparison pictures between the S3300 and our P5000.

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