Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's a Gas

You know you’ve been working in politics too long (yes, a whole year – what a mighty and distinguished career I’ve had) when a big news story always makes you think “How are people going to blame the federal government for this in masses of lengthy e-mails?”

And so it was with the rising, then falling, then rising, then rising, then peaking, then falling, then rising, then falling, and then rising again, price of gas.

And I knew right away what it was going to be – the EVIL EVIL FEDERAL GAS TAX (hiss!).

And lo and behold – so it has been.

Now let me just say that I believe that everyone has a right to an opinion – but that doesn’t make an opinion right. Especially when it’s, well, wrong.

Like the dude writing to ask that the EVIL EVIL FEDERAL GAS TAX (hiss!) be reduced by 10 cents per litre. Which, as he fails to mention, would make it 0. Because it is only 10 cents per litre. This excise tax is consistent, regardless of the price of gas. So if you’re filling up your 40L tank twice a week, you’re paying $8 in federal excise tax whether gas is 15 cents or a dollar fifty.

Also – just a side note – every province also adds their own tax, and only in Alberta and two of the territories is that less than the federal amount. I only mention that because when the tough questions come out (“Hey mister premier, why is my gas so expensive?”) the provinces have a pretty standard response (“Err…why…um…look over there! It’s the EVIL EVIL FEDERAL GAS TAX (hiss!)”).

“BUT the Conservatives/Fraser Institute say that I’m getting taxed on tax waa waa the GST waa waa waa…”

Yes – you pay GST too. Yes, on top of the gas tax. You are taxed twice on that $8. So that’s – 56 cents.

Or – and this is a pretty crazy idea – people could drive half as much and cut their costs in half. With gas at a dollar a litre (for the sake of easy arithmetic) you save not 56 cents, but $40.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? The problem is that people don’t want to drive less. They want to drive the same amount, if not more, in a bigger car, on better roads, with less traffic, and they want it to be cheaper than last week, and they want their air to be cleaner and their water more pure and the rivers to flow with Molson Ex and unicorns to prance around joyfully, tra-la-la, ta-tra-la, la-dee-dah, tra-la-la, tra-laaaaaa!!!!!!

Oops…sorry. I was just swept away into the fantasy world where the people who think that the government should be encouraging the increased use of fossil fuel vehicles live.

Because, seriously? It shouldn’t. Cars are bad. Yes, yes, and pretty and shiny and terribly convenient and god knows it’s nice that DD has one when I’m playing rugby out at Twin Elm aka Corn Field Central (motto “for all your rugby and corn field needs!”). But they’re a significant source of pollution, the infrastructure required for them takes valuable land and money and they run on a limited resource which cannot be replenished – simply put, they are unsustainable. Even more simply put – cars as we know them cannot be used forever, or even for much longer.

So yes – the gov makes a mint off gas taxes. But you know what? Roads aren’t cheap. Policing isn’t cheap. Health care isn’t cheap. I mean, we could all try to pool our $8.56 and fund the infrastructure needed for a fossil-fuel-car-based society but – um, that’s why we have a government. And right now they’re saying that that money is better spent on initiatives for public transit, more efficient cars, and alternative energy sources.

And I agree. And I think a lot of Canadians do too. There’s very few people out there who cannot reduce the amount of gas they use, whether in their car or in their home. It’s good for the pocket book, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for my sanity when they stop writing me insane e-mails about the EEFGT(h!).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blast from the Past?

Hey all! Hope this post finds you well and happy. First, let me assure you that I have not suffered some sort of brain damage that causes me to mix up the days of the week – I’m trying to get back on the Tuesday schedule. So next week’s will be on time. For real! Really! Uh huh…anyway.

And now, on to our regularly scheduled event:

You ever think about what you thought you’d be like 10 years ago, and what you actually turned out to be? What I mean is, do you ever think about what 15-year-old you would think about you today? Or 19-year-old you? I remember being a teenager and thinking how if only I could make it to my early twenties I’d be alright - turns out, teenaged-Floyd was totally bang-on about that…huh.

Or how when you were a kid all you wanted was to eat dessert for dinner and set your own bedtime and sleep in all you wanted, and then you move away for school and you can do all those things and you finally realize that they are not as awesome as you thought they’d be; in fact, they are EVEN AWESOMER.

Of course, there are some things that our past selves probably wouldn’t appreciate. Like how we think that teenagers are loud and dumb. Or that a lot of the shows we used to watch really kind of sucked all along. Or that our parents really do know a hell of a lot more than us, damn them.

But what would it be like if you could ask previous incarnations of ourselves just what they think of us/themselves now? What if the me from five years ago could chat with the me from now? I think it’d be something like this…

Floyd-5: Hey.
Floyd: Hey back.
F-5: So, you're, like, me. In five years.
F: Yeah...I guess so.
F-5: Huh. You don't...you don't look any different. Well, the acne's really cleared up. Does that happen soon?
F: Yeah! Yeah. Um, when you're 23.
F-5: Fuck.
F: Oh, but then you're going to grow these girls [sticks out b-cup chest] in, like, 6 months.
F-5: For real? AWESOME.
(F-10: What? I'm going to have to wait until I'm TWENTY?!!!?!@!@?!@)
F: But then you'll learn that it sucks to wear bras.
F-5: Whatever. I'm going to buy me some more skanky tops. So, like, do we have a boyfriend? F: Oh yeah! He's super hot. That happens around age 22. And we move in together a couple years later. He has a house
F-5: Wow!
F: And a car.
F-5: Sweet!
F: And a fully stocked liquor cabinet.
F-5: OMIGOD [faints, hits head, dies].

Um…so maybe that’s not such a good idea. But it is kind of fun to think back to what mattered to us in the past, and where our lives fit in with that now. I know that high school Floyd would be totally unsurprised that her future self is a blogger – although she’d probably hella pissed that she writes so much about composting.

So, query – any thoughts as to what your past selves might think of the present you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

You Wanna Start Somethin’?

Actually – I think I have. I don’t want to blow my own horn, what with my awe-inspiring humility and all, but I may have planted a seed of change that could potentially grow into the vine of quiet revolution, while blossoming with the flower of environmental awareness in a quasi-socialist setting, unless the weeds of resistance choke it in its vulnerable budding stages, in the form of whoever in our neighbourhood is a stinky, rotten, by-law rat.

So, yeah – I bought a composter [On a terrible note – MS Word does not believe me that “composter” is a word. Right – “Schwarzenegger” is a word, but not composter – that pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with the world today].

It’s something I’ve wanted to do basically since I moved to Ottawa, but I’d never had the one requisite item – a yard. I started composting about grade 4, when we moved into our new house and got our shiny new composter and also because in BC we learn how to recycle before we can spell “recycle” and we’re all hippies in touch with Mother Earth anyway, so it just makes sense.

So, when I moved out to the ‘burbs, I decided, to DD’s mild alarm, that I wanted one. I want it, I want it, I want it whaaaaaaaah!!!!

Ahem. Or something like that.

Actually, he took it pretty well. We picked a model out together, I put it together while he made the stairs for the patio (no longer home to the drop-off of doom!) and sometime this week we’ll have enough “green” material to do a first layer, plus I scavenged some grass clippings and dry leaves for “brown” material, so we’re well on our way. It’s those fancy technical terms that I sued to calm DD’s fears of a gross, smelly rodent restaurant festering in our backyard.

Okay, there’s still a SMALL TINY INSIGNIFICANT risk of that, but in my mind, it is far outweighed by the benefits. Especially since we’ve been a healthier diet centered around lots and lots of fresh produce. I imagine it’ll take about 1/3 off our garbage output, and a hell of a weight off of my mind.

I’m fairly certain ours is the only composter on the block – but it already has the couple next door talking. And if the word gets around, and I can do what I can to spread the gospel, then you could soon see the rare sight of suburban Ontarians happily shuffling through two feet of snow with a pail of banana peels. And the stupid ass monkey on our street will be helpless to rat us out in face of our overwhelming compliance with local by-laws, and the thought alone of that buttface twisting in madness as his or her neighbours engage in a little good old-fashioned environmental-friendliness makes the whole thing worthwhile.

PS. We are on the lookout for the perfect compost pails – back in BC, we used the 4L Island Farms ice cream tubs, because they’re the right size, have have handles and tight-sealing lids, and come filled with sweet, delicious ice cream. However, Ontario seems to prefer to sell its ice cream without handles – I don’t know why, perhaps because they don’t compost. Anyway, if anyone in O-town spots such a pail, please let me know. Or if you’re coming up from Victoria and want to know what the perfect gift is for your gracious hostess, well, there you go.

PPS. I just followed my own link and it appears that Island Farms no longer sells 4L ice cream pails. Say it isn't so! For the love of all that is good and pure, say it isn't so!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


So - after my post last week, I went home to find that some guys had, indeed, dropped off four billion tonnes (approximately) of supplies onto the driveway and lawn. You ever sat in class and had a professor describe expectations for an assignment, all "20-25 pages", "at least 40 academic sources", "outline by next Monday", only to have it slowly sink in to you how much work you have ahead? Yeah...it was kind of like that walking home. I was heading down the street and I first saw our pallette and a half of patio slabs, all 192 square feet of it, and then our 60-odd square feet of pavers. And I was all, eh, that's not too bad. Then I saw, behind it, our cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of river rock and a yard and a half of screening sand. And I inhaled kind of sharply, but kept going until it sunk in that behind all those things was a pile of 5.5 cubic yards of gravel and then I curled into the fetal position and cried for mommy.

But, goddammit - we got it done! The walkway was pretty fun, mostly because the materials were lighter and close by - ie, we shovelled directly from the pile on the driveway into the hole next to the driveway. However, because we live in a row house, everything for the patio had to be loaded into wheelbarrows and taken down to houses and through gates in their backyards. I think it was around trip eight of carrying patio slabs that I began intermittently losing my ability to grip the wheelbarrow handles - I was all, lalalala, wheeling my wheelbarrow...and then my hands would be like, "1-2-3 let go!". Not that I'm whining...okay, not now I'm not. But before - anyway, that's another story.

It was also a very social event - it's funny how our neighbours we didn't really know would stop and talk and admire and whatnot - it was nice to meet them! Except for the one lady who lives across the street who came out Thursday night all "blahblahblah stop shovelling it's too late I can't sleep I have a newborn baby I have no air conditioning my windows are open stop shovelling" and we did only to find out it was 10:30pm and we could have been working for another 30 minutes and needless to say that particular lady, though we saw her over the weekend, did not come over to admire our handiwork.

We also managed to make just one trip to the dump, with the old stairs from the back, because I used the freecycle Ottawa site and found some guy who came and picked up all the old gravel and patio stones and dirt we dug up. Which ROCKED.

So yeah - we have a patio, and we're planning on adding, like, some stairs and maybe, you know, a table and we hope some friends who will come by and enjoy BBQed foodstuffs. Consider yourself invited. Just don't show up after 10:30pm, or you will get told.

Also - this weekend was a rare opportunity for me to reconnect with the "music" of today's youth. We had the radio on basically 14 hours a day and realized that there appears to be a shortage of artists in the Top 40 genre, as the local station only had about two dozen records to choose from. The darkest hour was the one wherein I heard three different Shawn Desmond songs. THREE!

IN A COMPLETELY UNRELATED STORY I finally got my library card. I can't believe I didn't do this before. When I was still in school, I had two good excuses: 1) I already had library privileges at the university and 2) "I read for pleasure" was a cruel joke that Arts students told each other between chapters of Chomsky. Two years later, I'm all, gee, I don't have any books to read. I should go buy some! Wait! Wait a minute...something's coming back to me...there's a...a magical place filled with thousands of books and...and you can look through them and BORROW them and then return them and get more...sigh. Paradise lost, and found again.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Week in Review

Hey there. Sorry I'm late. It's been an exciting week. Well, to me, anyway - I guess it all depends on how exciting your week was. Huh? Was it exciting huh? Were you Mr. or Ms. Exciting McExcitealot with a return ticket on the SuperFunHappyLandThrillRide Express?


Top 7 exciting things I did this week (in chronological order, not order of excitocity)

#7) A foursome of friends for Friday lunch to wish Payton Bon Voyage as she plunges back into the world of academic awesomeness. Go kick some journalistic ass. I recommend this one. Sorry, I meant "journalistic".

#6) I bought a new bike. Isn't it way awesome? This is the second new bike that I bought, and I'm trying to break my new-bike-ownership record of one-week, previously set by the cheap-ass but pretty hybrid I bought from Sportmart that was stolen the very first night I locked it outside.

#5) 80s night rock and bowl with the rugby girls. Well, it was 80s night for us, but 2005 night for everyone else there, and Rolling Stones night for the DJ. I bowled pretty well, considering I was dressed like this, which looked pretty faaabulous in the blacklight, or so I was told through uproarious laughter.

#4) I tested out the new bike on a 50km trip to Parliament Hill and back. A little rough right at the end, but it was all worthwhile when we got to the neigborhood water playground and joined the small children running through the fountains, much to the amusement of their mothers and babysitters. WHATEVER - I PAY MY TAXES. I reserve the right to frolic in the spray.

#3) An awesome Tuesday night with Momo and TheMack for some Wendy's and then DD joined us for The Brothers Grimm. Great friends, good food, and a movie with kitten-eating. Aw, sometimes you just can't ask for anything more.

#2) Yesterday - I can't even believe I'm saying this - I paid off my student loan. GAH! Man, I don't think I'll ever get tired of saying that. Although I might get tired of everybody I know staying the hell away from the girl who can't shut up about her freaking loan. Whatever. For the time being I actually have more money than I owe. I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts, which is until I go back to school, or buy a house, or get my bill for my new bike. Um, whichever of those comes first.

#1) Okay, this technically hasn't happened yet, but at some point today a bunch of guys with dumptrucks are going to be unloading a driveway-full of landscaping supplies at home, and then DD and I will be putting in a new walkway and a patio. Oh man...that's grown-up right there! "What are you doing this long weekend?" "Why, we're contributing to the resale value of our primary residence!" So, anybody in the Ottawa area who wants to get into the true spirit of Labour Day and sling some dirt and gravel this weekend, drop me a line - there's shovels and cold beer and extra strength painkillers for all! (Not at the same time). (Well, not for guests - liability issues and all).