Ow! Ow! Ow! Where's the Secret Service Guys When You Need Them?


Hehehe! This picture of Stephen Harper receiving a frank comment on his child care program comes courtesy Calgary Grit.

Seriously, though: Vivian has reached this age. So I have to say that I sympathize with what Stephen Harper went through in that moment.

((Edited to Add: Saturday, April 22): As I suspected, the jokes write themselves. Calgary Grit has a few up on his site, now)

This is one of the things we talked about during a special Thursday edition of the Bloggers Hotstove. You can find our latest outing here. Give it a listen as Greg, Greg and I talk about David Emerson (the gift that keeps on giving!), the fiscal imbalance, gas tax and who the heck is Maurizio Belevaqua.

I filled up my tank Wednesday for $1.07 per litre, the highest I’ve ever paid for gas. And I fear that, in two months time, I’ll be considering this price a bargain. So, it’s no surprise that gas prices are again in the news. I’ve recently received a few chain e-mails suggesting that drivers fight back against the oil companies with selective boycotts. Now that the suggestion that everybody avoid buying gas on a particular day has been debunked, the urban legend has been refined, suggesting that if we stop purchasing gas from Exxon/Mobil, the top oil producer will be forced to lower their prices.

The problem is, given that the oil market is so fluid, this modified boycott is going to be as ineffective as the last. If you purchase gasoline from the other petrol pumps, their stockpiles get used up. Their prices go up, and they’re more than likely to fill the demand by buying oil and gas from Exxon/Mobil.

I always have to laugh at these e-mails, because they are another example of trying to get something out of nothing. There is only one way to reduce the price of oil, and that is to stop using it. This means driving less. So, carpool, take public transit, drive more fuel-efficient vehicles, or plan your trips so that you double-back less. But drive less. That’s the only way we’ll do it. But we seem reluctant to make the sacrifice.

Which is why I don’t mind paying this much for gas. I’ve long advocated that we should reduce our dependence on the automobile. Our politicians have talked the talk, but have not really walked the walk. While we may resent the stupendous profits the oil companies are raking in at the moment, the free market seems to be doing for us what we’ve only talked about doing for the past ten years. TTC ridership is up. GO Transit’s ridership is up, along with the transit agencies throughout southern Ontario and across North America.

Stephen Harper is taking some flack for apparently backtracking on an earlier promise to stop GST on gasoline once gas prices rise above 85 cents per litre, but frankly I think critics are playing gotcha with this government, now that they have a convenient soundbite to use. Harper never made this commitment during the 2006 election campaign, and frankly I never thought much of his idea.

The free market is letting us know that gasoline is a precious commodity. Even so, I don’t think current prices fully reflect the consequences if we run out of the resource, or the damage our use of this resource is doing to the economy. So, I’m not in favour of lowering gas taxes, as that will only discourage us from using this resource more efficiently. Harper gets no flack from me for breaking this “promise”.


So, Wednesday was my thirty-fourth birthday. Geez, where does the time go? One day at a time, I suppose. I spent the bulk of it with my father, putting up Ikea shelving on the dining room wall as a surprise to Erin. My parents and I bought four Billy shelving units, and you can really tell the quality. They’re huge shelves, solidly built, and they line up very well. I picked the white units because they were far cheaper than the wood veneer ones, but the choice certainly helped to brighten up the dining room.

The purchase was a gift for myself and for Erin, necessitated by the fact that we’re running out of shelf space here. That’s the peril of being a family of writers: our bookshelves quickly become cluttered. My parents are the same way, being former librarians. And given that my father worked in the Ontairo civil service all his life and wrote the text of the 1984 Ontario Libraries Act, he can tell us truthfully that his house has enough books, including reference books, to fill a library designed to serve a community of 50,000.

I think that’s really cool, and while I don’t think I have the reference section that can compete with my folks, I’m proud of the library of young adult novels and poetry books we’re collecting. I know that the various home organization shows strongly suggest getting rid of books because of the way they clutter up spaces, but I’d tell them to go to hell if they suggested this to me. Not only are books good things to read, they do look darn good on the shelves.

Getting the bookshelves from Ikea to my place was another story entirely. I convinced my parents that the corner unit would be a good birthday present both to purchase and to pick up, and when they picked it up, my father told me in detail about the fun time he had getting this sizable (and heavy) package into the trunk of his Hyundai Sonata. As a stay-at-home Dad, I figured that home delivery from Ikea might be advisable. So I logged onto the Ikea website and purchased a $150 Billy shelving unit.

Ikea online took my credit card information but refused to close the deal. They told me that a customer service official would call within twenty-four to seventy-two hours to finalize the payment amount. Which they did. I claimed to Erin that it was Ikea doing a survey. The customer service official sounded justly sheepish. To deliver my $150 shelving unit to my home would cost $179.

That was $179 on top of the $150 purchase price of the shelving unit.

“We could ship it to a pickup point close to you,” says the guy. “The delivery charges would cost only $79.”

“Okaaaaay,” I said.

But there was no pick up place closer to Kitchener than the Burlington Ikea store.

“Could you send the purchase to the Burlington pick-up store?” I asked.

“You could buy the units at the store,” said the customer-service guy. “That would sort of defeat the purpose of delivery.”

“Yeah, it would, wouldn’t it?”

So we agreed to cancel the order. My credit card would not be charged. And I had to arrange some time with my father to sneak away to Burlington’s Ikea to purchase the shelving units.

Loading these units proved to be… interesting. You know, one really should take a camera to the loading areas of Ikea stores. Endless opportunities for comedy here. While these units weren’t as heavy as the corner unit my parents bought, they were wider, so instead of placing the package in on an angle and moving up the passenger seat to compensate, we had to move up both front seats. And then we tried to get into the car.

Picture two grown men with their bellies pressed up against the dashboard and steering wheel, each with one leg outside of the car, and our free arms cartwheeling for balance. We looked at each other and decided this was foolish. Get a bungie cord and drive away with boxes hanging out the back of our trunk.

Oh, well. Alls well that ends well. Happy birthday.

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