Aw, Crap!

Everybody has still been most supportive and just wonderful. Thank you all.

I’ve been starting to take more of an interest in the news late this week. Erin and I might spend this evening seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve been following the second round of the London bombings with a sort of numbness, and, I’m sorry, but news about the approaching NHL season seems… not important at all.

Anyway, this woke up that sick feeling in my stomach once again. From James Koole, it’s becoming clear that the man police shot four times in the head on Friday had nothing to do with the attacks on Thursday. It seems he may even have been unarmed.

But if the earlier reports of the man’s actions are true: that he wore a heavy winter coat during high summer, that he jumped turnstiles and ran towards a group of people when police told him to stop, I can see how the police, already on super-high alert, would have acted the way they did.

So, this tragedy could well have been unavoidable, but it’s still a tragedy. If the facts bear out, it should be a lesson to those who jumped on the bandwagon and told officers “nice shooting”. The London police and special forces are doing a superhuman job in trying to protect the public, and we will always credit them for that. But any loss of life, even that of a terrorist, must never be cheered.

If we are better than those whose hatred compells them to kill themselves in order to take some of us out, it’s because we value life, all life, more than they do. Any chink in that armour puts us on a slippery slope.

(Update: Monday, 12:03 p.m.): According to Gen X at 40, the man did indeed have wires on him. Why? He was an electrician going to work. Aw, crap!

Writing Update

I’ve altered the look and feel of this site, inspired somewhat by the look and feel of James Koole (he is so cool! ;-)). Please feel free to tell me what you think, or offer suggestions for changes.

I’ve also updated my writing portfolio here. My freelance career is continuing to unfold slowly but surely, now that Business Edge has accepted my fifth piece, a summary of the issues surrounding Brampton’s proposed development cap. This was a hard one to write, since a number of the principles were a little hard to get a hold of, but I persevered. I also decided to buy a cell phone in order to make myself available to my interview subjects.

My third column for the Community Editorial Board came and went. I’ve posted the pdf to my site as well.

So, in the next month, I have a fourth editorial board column to come up with, and Bruce and I have an interesting idea to pursue for my sixth Business Edge article. So, so far so good with my writing.

My fiction writing has also been going well of late. I hope to post some more on that shortly. Stay tuned.

Independents’ Day

A word to my parents: we should resolve, whenever we travel, to avoid chain restaurants.

On our road trip to Ottawa, we stopped for lunch in Whitby. Well, maybe not in Whitby, per se. Actually, we breezed straight through Whitby’s downtown core, passing two intriguing independent diners and a Greek restaurant before finally settling on a loud and mediocre Kelsey’s by the on-ramp of the 401 (we’d used the 407 to bypass Toronto. Worth. Every. Penny.)

I’ve spoken long and hard about the perils of globalization and the death of our regional diversities. When we’re travelling about, we should put our money where our mouths are, and avoid the familiar golden arches of home. Yes, it is an incredible risk to pick a restaurant we’ve never tried before. The familiarity of the chains is a big allure. But don’t forget that, on our way back from Ottawa, though the drive back was bitter, we did stop at this old hotel near Karadoc, in a converted house, run by a family, which offered fine coffee, grilled cheese sandwiches and wonderful apple pie.

Remember how so much better that was from Kelsey’s? Remember how much more memorable it is? And travel is supposed to be about making memories.

I know we can’t follow this policy all of the time. When Erin and I drove from Kitchener to Omaha, we stopped at a Wendy’s in Charlotte, Michigan, on the first night because we weren’t in the mood to pick, choose and risk. On the second night, however, we avoided a ubiquitous McDonalds outside Walnut, Iowa, and chose instead a roadhouse called The Villager. It said it was established seventy five years ago, and it looked like it hadn’t been redecorated in the last thirty.

So we sat among farmers in overalls, truckers smoking and occasionally swearing under their breaths, and local boys who didn’t think twice about bending down to pick up a dropped napkin because Erin can no longer bend. We listened to piped in country music singing hurting songs about 9/11, and I ordered a beef brisket sandwich, and Erin ordered a taco salad. And our waitress had an “Iowegian” accent and was very friendly and engaging — though she was polite enough not to say “so, where y’all from?”

The beef brisket sandwich was as good as the smoked meat sandwich offered at Schwartz’s on St. Laurent in Montreal — albeit in a different way. The meat was fresh, and I assume raised and fed around there. Erin’s taco salad had a whole lot of meat in it and hot sause that wasn’t afraid to be hot sauce. And the price was as reasonable as McDonald’s grub.

And in having this fine meal, and encountering a positive sensory experience we don’t usually get every day, our money paid for a local waitress, a local cook, local suppliers and local farmers, rather than corporate honchos wherever McDonald’s happens to be, and the factory farms they employ. Our experience was better and we gave something back to the community we visited.

Not all places are as good as the Villager. We were just lucky. But we can go through life risking nothing and getting less, or we can look behind the corporate veneer, find the independents, and foster them. Let every day be independents day.

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