Sunday, January 29, 2017

Cab Drivers

In some cities, driving a cab is considered and valued
(even an elevated vocation).
In London, you need to study and train for about 3 years before obtaining a licence. Three-fourths of those who begin 'taxi-training courses' never make it to the end. London cab drivers have been the subject of 'brain studies' which have discovered that the cabbies have a larger hippocampus compared with other people.
Unfortunately, here on the other side of the pond,
cabbies are usually looked down upon.
But maybe, the following famous folk will help change the image a little.

Danny Glover: In 1999, the actor best known for playing an 'over the hill' cop in Lethal Weapon movies, used his leverage as a former San Francisco cab driver to raise awareness about African-Americans being passed over for white passengers.

Jimmy Smits: He may have his Masters in Dramatic Arts from Cornell, but for a brief period in the early 80's Jimmy Smits played chauffeur to dozens of rowdy New Yorkers. The cabbie gig lasted only a few months until he received the pilot script for a new show Steven Bocho was developing called L.A. Law. (Note that as a struggling N.Y Theatre actor, Smits acted in off-Broadway plays during the day while driving cab at night.)

Larry David drove a taxi early in his career. In fact, his neighbour across the hall at the time was Kenny Kramer who helped to inspire the character of 'Kramer' on Seinfeld. He also made money driving a limousine for a while.

Brad Pitt stated, “I drove strippers, which was interesting. It was an odd job. There's a place called “The Job Factory” where people listed 'odd jobs' they needed for a little while...and you'd go and sign up. It said, “Drive Strippers.” I said, 'I got a car!' My job was to go the place...get the assignment...then go to the girl's apartment...pick her up and drive her to the party.”

Son of Syrian Refugee
(the following, courtesy of Dilu)
The destruction of Syria due to a civil war conflict and the rise of ISIS has led to an impassioned debate
as to whether the United States should act as a world leader by allowing Syrian refugees to immigrate into the country. All the usual arguments are being made by political conservatives against such a move: What if they cannot be trusted? What if they're incompatible with our way of life? What if they take our jobs? But perhaps a more relevant question may be this: What if one of them ends up fathering the guy who creates Apple? Because that's precisely what happened the last time we allowed Syrian refugees into the country. He had the name and physical appearance of a white man. Few people were aware that Steve Jobs was half Syrian.
His father, Abdulfattah Jandali, fled to America in 1954 as a political refugee.
He worked hard. He drove a taxi. He fell in love with an American woman.
She got pregnant. Her conservative father forced them to break up...and the baby was given up.
It's why Steve Jobs was raised by adoptive parents...and why his last name is Jobs instead of Jandali.
But he was very much the son of an Arab refugee!

Note: the foregoing incidents not verified by the writer.

* * * * * * *

The following 'Cabbie Tales' courtesy of Tom

The Jewish Cab Driver: A clearly inebriated woman, stark naked, jumped into a taxi in New York City and laid on the back seat. The cab driver, an old Jewish gentleman, opened his eyes wide and stared at the woman. He made no attempt to start the cab. The woman glared back at him and asked, “What's wrong with you, honey? Haven't you ever seen a naked woman before?”

The old Jewish driver answered, “Let me tall you sumsing, lady. I vas't staring at you like you tink; det vould not be proper vair I come from.” The drunk woman giggled...and responded, “Well, if you're not staring at my boobs or ass, sweetie, what are you doing then?”

He paused a moment...then told her...”Vell, M'am, I am looking and I am looking...and I'm tinking to myself, “Vair in da hell is dis lady keeping de money to pay for dis ride?”
Now, that's a REAL Businessman!

An Arab Cabbie: A devout Arab Muslim entered a black cab in London. He curtly asked the cabbie to turn off the radio because, as decreed by his religious teaching, he must not listen to music because in the time of the prophet there was no music...especially Western music which is the music of the infidel. The cab driver politely switched off the radio...turned off the ignition...and opened the passenger door.
The Arab Muslim asked him, “What are you doing?”
The cabbie answered, “In the time of the prophet, there were no taxis
so piss off...and wait for a camel!”

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...September 4, 2016

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Toll Culture

Tolls encourage less damaging behaviours
while we take responsibility for our actions!
The following are excerpts from a recent article published by Latham Hunter.
She is a writer and professor of cultural studies and communications;
her work has been published in journals, anthologies and print news
for over twenty years.

John Tory's decision in favour of tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway makes sense to me. Across the pond in London, traffic tolls introduced in 2003 have reduced the number of vehicles on the road by 70,000 every day. But beyond their effectiveness in shaping social behavour, tolls are so very grown-up about things, aren't they? What can I's cheaper and faster than transit! 905ers would have to encounter that moment of adult reckoning when it comes time to pay their toll. “Yes, toll booth...I know I'm making the decision to create pollution and gridlock. I will take responsibility by paying your fee, which will hopefully pay for improved transit...and therefore act as my penance.” The word 'toll' suggests so much more choice than 'tax'.

We've already accepted, essentially, a plastic bag toll at grocery stores. Smokers pay extra taxes on cigarettes because they choose to keep's like a 'toll' (although it's not, incidentally, enough to pay for the treatment of smoking-related illnesses.)

People who live in rural areas pay extra for their electricity. Essentially, I pay a 'toll' to turn my lights in the city! In each example, we pay extra to somehow try and mitigate the consequences of our actions...and take responsibility. This is pretty radical, I know, that it makes so much sense that I think it should be freely and enthusiastically applied throughout our culture.

Consider, for example, bottled water. Not only do corporations like Nestle's suck millions of litres of fresh water from our communities' lakes and aquifers for pittance...they then sell it back to us with the lie that that it's somehow “superior to tap water” and its municipalities that have to deal with the costs of recycling the packaging for something that doesn't even need to be packaged in the first place!
Everyone, everywhere has to deal with the consequences
of the pollution created by making recycling and trashing plastic bottles!
Every week, I see people piling cases and cases of the stuff into their carts at Cosco.
We need a steep toll on bottled water!

We need that moment of reckoning when people must stop and ask themselves, “Is this worth the cost?” And not only in the monetary sense, either. As my friend, Anne, pointed out, “There are steep costs associated with EVERY BOTTLED BEVERAGE!” Juice, soda and sweet fancy coffees create mountains of packaging waste! They're full of sugar and major contributors to obesity...fatty liver disease...type-2-diabetes...which cost the Ontario health care system billions every year.

But wait: THERE'S MORE! New research has linked certain kinds of meat with an increased risk of cancer,,,and tracked just how much pollution the livestock industry creates! And we KNOW that Fast Food creates one-fifth of our garbage and a diet high in fast food leads to higher rates of disease!
We're killing ourselves and the Planet!
We are draining the public coffers trying to treat /and or amend people's bad decisions
and corporations' complete lack of moral and social responsibility!

Tolls offer the genius of a system in which we not only encourage less damaging behaviours and more consciousness about the public consequences of our actions...but we take responsibility for our actions!
We need a vast system of 'tolls' ...tolls so numerous that black markets wouldn't even be feasible!
We need tolls that persistently give us the chance to do better!

* * * * * *
Tolls are considered as a 'tax, duty or tribute' for services rendered or use of specific facilities, It seems in Life that we humans exact our own 'tolls' to achieve illustrated by the following two incidents submitted to me by Tom, a faithful reader.

This Husband Wishes He Had Never Asked!
An old man asks his wife: “Martha, soon we will be married 50 years...and there's something I have to know. In all these 50 years have you ever been unfaithful to me?” Matha replied, “Well, Henry, I have to be honest with you. Yes...I've been unfaithful to you 3 times during these 50 years, but always for a good reason.” Henry was obviously hurt by his wife's confession, but said, “I never suspected. Can you tell me what you mean for 'good reasons'?”

Martha said, “The first time was shortly after we were married...and we were about to lose our little house because we couldn't pay the mortgage. Do you remember that one evening, I went to see the banker...and the next day he notified you that the loan would be extended?” Henry recalled the visit to the banker and said, “I can forgive you for saved our home, but what about the second time?”

Martha asked, “And do you remember when you were so sick, but we didn't have the money to pay for the heart surgery you needed? Well, I went to see your doctor one night and, if you recall, he performed the surgery at no charge.” Henry recalled the situation and stated, “You did it to save my life, so of course, I can forgive you for that! Now tell me about the third time.”

Alright,” Martha said, “Do you remember when you ran for President of your golf club...and you needed 73 more votes?” Henry fainted!

A Helping Hand Through Customs
A distinguished young woman on a flight from Switzerland asked the priest seated beside her, “Father, may I ask a favour?” Looking at her, he replied, “Of course. What may I do for you?”

Well, I bought an expensive electronic hair dryer that is well over the customs' limits...and I'm afraid they'll confiscate it. Is there any way you could carry it through customs for me? Under your robes, perhaps?” The young priest replied, “I would love to help you, Dear, but I must warn you...I will not lie.” She replied, “With your honest face, Father, no one will question you.”

When they got to customs, she let the priest go ahead of her. The official asked, “Father, do you have anything to declare?” The priest replied, “From the top of my head, down to my waist, I have nothing to declare.” The official, considering this answer strange, asked, “And what do you have to declare from your waist to the floor?” Replying, the priest stated, “I have a marvelous little instrument designed to be used on a woman...but which is, to date, unused.” Roaring with laughter, the official said, “Go Ahead, Father. Next!”

Wayne Gretzky stated: Procrastination is one of the most common
and deadliest of diseases...and its 'toll' on success and happiness is heavy.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...January 8, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Canada Eh!

For the past several months, my blogs have introduced you
to Canada's 10 Provinces and 3 Territories.
In researching these, for me it has been an education...although I've visited Canada's domain except for Newfoundland/Labrador and its 3 Territories. When on an Alaskan cruise, stopping in Skagway, we boarded the narrow-gauge White Pass railway (built at the time of the Gold Rush for miners), and 'trained' as far as Carcross in Yukon (a very brief visit there). I close off this series with fanfare about our great country!

Official Symbols of Canada
The Maple Leaf is the characteristic leaf of the Maple Tree...
and is the most widely and world-recognized national symbol.
Over the past century, the following symbols
have been formally adopted by the Government of Canada:
the Beaver and its historical significance...the Coat of Arms...the Maple Leaf Tartan...the Maple Tree...the National Anthem...the National Flag...the Natural Horse...the National Sports...the Natural Colours. Canada's Motto From Sea to Sea came from the Latin translation of Psalm 72:8 in the Bible

O Canada...our National Anthem
The lyrics were originally in French; an English version was created in 1906.
O Canada became our National Anthem in 1980.

When teaching for several years, I introduced my students to the 2nd verse which is so descriptive of our country's beauty and heritage...often we sang both these verses in our 'morning exercises'.
O Canada! Where pines and maples grow.
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow.
How dear to us, thy broad domain,
From East to Western Sea.
Thou land of hope and for all who toil
Thou true North, strong and free!
(plus the 3-line chorus beginning)
God keep our land glorious and free!

Top Reasons to Live in Newfoundland/Labrador
If Quebec separates, you will float out to sea.
If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse.
The workday is about two hours long.
It is socially acceptable to wear hip-waders to your wedding.

Top Reasons to Live in Prince Edward Island
You can walk across the province in half an hour.
You can drive across the province in two minutes.
Everyone has been an extra on “Road to Avonlea”.
This is where all those tiny red potatoes come from.
Even though more people live on Vancouver Island,
you still got the big, new bridge!

Top Reasons to Live in Nova Scotia
Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can't, think they can.
You are the only reason Anne Murray makes money.
You can pretend to have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk & wear a kilt.

Top Reasons to Live in New Brunswick
One way or another, the government gets 98% of your income.
You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies!
No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick.
Everybody has a grandfather who runs a lighthouse.

Top Reasons to Live in Quebec
Racism is socially acceptable
Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada.
You can blame all your problems on the “Anglo A*#!%!
You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbour will move out next.

Top Reasons to Live in Ontario
You live in the center of the universe.
Your $1,000,000 Toronto home is actually a dump.
You and you alone decide who will win the federal election.
The only province with hard-core American-style crime.

Top Reasons to Live in Manitoba
Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes.
Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter.
You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.
You wake up one morning to find that you suddenly have a beachfront property.

Top Reasons to Live in Saskatchewan
You never run out of wheat.
Your province is really easy to draw.
People will assume you live on a farm.
You can watch the dog run away from home for hours.

Top Reasons to Live in Alberta
Ottawa who?
Big rock between you and B.C.
You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.
You live in the only province that could actually afford to be its own country.
The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups.

Top Reasons to Live in British Columbia
You can throw a rock and hit 3 Starbucks locations.
There's always some sort of deforestation protest going on.
Your $1,000,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown.
Vancouver: 1.5 million people and two bridges. You do the math.

Reasons to Live in Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut
You'd need to learn one of many Inuit languages.
With their wealth of rivers, lakes and forests, it'd be easy to get lost.
Canada's government city is miles and miles and miles away.
You'd love the very long cold winters!

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...September 25, 2016
Comments appreciated: or

Monday, January 9, 2017


(A Canadian Territory)

Nunavut is a massive, sparsely populated Territory of Northern Canada...forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its islands have expanses of tundra, craggy mountains and remote villages with accessibility by plane or boat. It's known for its indigenous Inuit people's artwork, carvings and hand-made clothing. Indian art is displayed at the Nunavut Sunakkutaangit Museum in Iqaluit. Nunavut Arctic College and Akitsiraq Law School offer students extended education.

This large Territory has one-fifth of the land in Canada.
Nunavut is a mainland & many islands in the Arctic Ocean.
Baffin Island and Ellesmere Islands are 2 large islands.
The Northwest Territories is west of Nunavut.
The capital city compises about 26 settlements is Iqaluit.

MOTTO: Our Strength
BIRD: the Ptarmigan
FLOWER: the Purple Saxifrage
LANGUAGES: English, French and Inuktitut
NUNAVUT means “our land” in the Inuit language.
RELIGION: The largest denominations by the number of adherents according to the 2001 census are the Anglican Church of Canada, the Roman Catholic Diocese and Pentecostal. 92% were Christian.

The People: Nunavut, the newest, largest, northernmost and least populous Territory of Canada (home to about 25,000) became Canada's third Territory on April 1, 1999.
Its capital city Iqualuit is located on the southern tip of Baffin Island.
The Inuit are the aboriginal people who make up 85% of the population.
The towns are very small and far away from each other.
Airplanes bring supplies if towns cannot be reached by road.
On Baffin Island the Inuit still hunt and fish for survival.
Winter activities are dog-sledding, snowmobiling andice-fishing.

History: The first people to live in Nunavut were the in small hunting and fishing camps.
Fur trading posts were wet up inthe 1700's.
In 1870 the territories belonged to Canada.
Inuit way of life changed...with many native traditions forgotten.
The Canadian government urged the Inuit to settle in communities.
The Inuit requested their own territory.

Land and Water are frozen most of the year...Arctic floes break off from glaciers
The land is covered with sheets of ice, water pools and rivers.
Moss, tough grasses and small willow shrubs grow on the tundra.
Soil is frozen...thus fruits and vegetables are flown in.
Ellesmere Island National Park Reserve is Canada's most northern park.
It is a polar desert with very little snowfall.

Industry: Tourism...people come to fish, hike, camp, hunt, to observe the wildlife.
Mining...copper, lead, silver, zinc, iron, gold and diamonds, oil and gas.
Fishing...whitefish and Arctic char.
Factories...packaging the raw fish and meat.
Sale of Inuit arts and crafts including soapstone sculptures.

Wildlife: The Inuit believe in taking care of their wildlife which are many...muskoxen, caribou, polar bears, arctic foxes, whales and seals
In addition to fishing, they eat the meat of muskoxen, caribou, whales and seals.
Clothing is made from the furs of the muskoxen, polar bears, arctic foxes and seals.

Media: The Inuit Broadcasting Company is based in Nunavut. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) serves Nunavut through a radio and television production centre in Iqaluit and a bureau in Rankin Inlet. The Territory is also served by 2 regional newspapers.

Archaelogical Findings: In September, 2008, researchers reported on the evaluation of existing and newly excavated remains...including yarn spun from hare, rats, tally sticks, a carved wooden face mask that depicts Canadian features...and possibly architectural material...providing evidence of European traders....and possibly settlers on Baffin Island...even prior to the Vikings' arrival in Greenland. It is believed the indigenous peoples of 4,000 years may have had occasional contact with Norse sailors.

People and Places: Michael Kusugak writes about the Inuit way of life.
Susan Aglukark is a singer-songwriter and the first Inuit recording artist.
The Kronos Quartet premiered a collaborative piece with Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagag.
Jordin John Kudluk Tootoo (although born in Churchill, Manitoba) grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunivut and is a hockey player with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League.

In April, the people of Iqualuit celebrate the coming of Spring. They have dogteam and snomobile races and contests (fishing, hunting, igloo-building, harpoon-throwing).

Inuksuit stone towers were used as markers (made by the Inuit long ago) to show the way to travellers.

Facts of Interest

Iqaluit, the capital city located on Baffin Island, was formerly known as Frobisher Bay.
Nunavut's highest point is Barbeau Peak (2,616 m...9,583 feet)...on Ellesmere Island.
A weather station on Ellesmere Island, Eureka,
has the lowest average temperture of any Canadian weather station.

Licence Plates, originally created for the Northwest Territories in the 1970's,
the plate has long been famous for its unique design of a polar bear!

.Nunavut is also home to to the world's northernmost permanently inhabited place...ALERT!
Nunavut is Canada's only geo-political region that isn't connected
to the rest of North America by highway!

Facts compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...September 4, 2016.
Comments appreciated: or

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Drunks...With Many Excuses

Drunks are defined as persons affected by alcohol to the extent of losing control of their faculties or behaviour; they are persons who habitually drink to excess. Numerous words are used to describe them: inebriated, intoxicated, 'under the influence', smashed, bombed, tanked, totalled, tipsy, buzzed, seeing double, plastered, slammed, 'three sheets to the wind', laced, soused, toasted, trashed, etc.

Fear of Flying

To you readers, I relate a personal experience occurring February, 1986. In Real Estate sales, George from my office and I had won a weekend jaunt to Las Vegas...along with Sue from our Oakville branch office. We each could take another person for ½ price of the total Thursday to Sunday mini-holiday. George took his wife, Carmen…Sue took her daughter, Donna…and I took my son in 3rd University year. Sue, terrified of flying, tasked Donna to take her to the airport bar to get her properly ‘drunk’ before boarding the plane. Donna, herself remaining sober, accompanied her inebriated mother to the gate to take care of the boarding passes. Arriving in Las Vegas, Sue was totally ‘wiped out’ so remained in the hotel room that evening…while we others…went out on the town! On our return flight Sunday, Donna took her mother, Sue, to get ‘soused again’ to ready her for the boarding of plane home.

I think that getting drunk is the key to flying comfortably.
A couple of ‘Bloody Mary’s…or several glasses of champagne…
and suddenly it’s like you’re on a roller coaster.
Amanda Peet

Drunken Cowboy

An apparent drunken cowboy lay sprawled across three entire seats in a posh Moose Jaw theatre (Alberta). When the usher came by and noticed him, he whispered to the cowboy, “Sorry, Sir, but you’re only allowed one seat.” The cowboy just groaned, but didn’t budge. The usher became more impatient and insistent: “SIR, if you don’t get up from there…I’m going to call the MANAGER!”

Once again, the cowboy just groaned. The usher marched briskly back up the aisle…and in a moment he returned with the manager. Together, the two of them tried repeatedly to move the cowboy, but without success. He just laid there in a dazed stupor. Finally they had enough and called the police.

A RCMP officer arrived…surveyed the situation briefly, then asked, “Alright, buddy, what’s your name?” The cowboy moaned, “Sam.” The officer asked, “Sam, where ya all from?” With terrible pain in his voice…a grim expression…and without moving a muscle, Sam said, “The Balcony!”

It takes only one drink to get me drunk.
The trouble is…I can’t remember if it’s the 13th or 14th. (George Burns)

You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on. (Dean Martin)

An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy would never touch it again…
and this is much wiser than most men. (Charles Darwin)

It’s useless to hold a person to one thing
while he’s in love, drunk or running for office. (Shirley MacLaine)

Grant stood by me when I was crazy…and I stood by him when he was drunk.
Now, we stand by each other. (William Tecumseh Sherman)

Weaving Driver

A police officer pulls over this guy who’s been weaving in and out of the lanes. He goes up to the guy’s window and says, “Sir, I need you to blow into this breathalyzer tube.”
The man says, “Sorry, officer, I can’t do that. I’m an asthmatic. If I do that, I’ll have an asthma attack!
“Okay, fine. I need you to come down to the station to give a blood sample.”
“I can’t do that either…I’m a hemophiliac. If I do that, I’ll bleed to death!”
“Well, then, we need a urine sample.”
“I’m sorry, officer. I can’t do that either. I’m also a diabetic. If I do that, I’ll get really low blood sugar.”
“All right, then I need you to come out here and walk this white line.”
“I can’t do that…officer!” The officer questioned, “Why not?”
“Because I’m drunk!”
We all look for happiness…but don’t know where to find it:
like drunkards who look for their house…
knowing dearly that they have one. (Voltaire)

The Designated Program ~ it’s not a desirable job.
But, if you are not rushed into doing it…have a little fun!
At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong houses.
(Jeff Foxworthy)

Alcohol is not in my Vodkabulary.
However, I looked it up on Whiskeypedia
and learned that if you drink too much of it
it’s likely Tequilya!

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr…January 12, 2015
Comments are welcome…email to: