Keep your eyes on the road

The Doors, Roadhouse Blues, lyrics read: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.” Who knew that Jim Morrison would be helping us to save $490?

Considering the way the song lyrics devolve from there, Morrison wouldn’t be the best spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation (even if he were alive), but regardless, even if you aren’t going to the roadhouse, follow his lyrics and you’re “Gonna have a real good-time.” Or at least you won’t have a bad time getting pulled over for distracted driving, or get into an accident, or worse.

It seems so intuitive and easy. Don’t text, or hold your phone to your ear, or do an Internet search, or reprogram your GPS while driving, and yet I’m still seeing it everywhere. Continue reading

Show firefighters loyalty

Recently, the scrapping of the firefighter hiring list was reported, but that may only be the tip of the iceberg. I’m more concerned that retirements aren’t being replaced.

Brian Kelly reported that recruit list was nixed by Sault Ste. Marie’s new fire chief, Mike Figliola. This prompted a negative reaction from former fire chief Marcel Provenzano . Columnist Doug Millroy then opined that the list is the new chief’s responsibility, while acknowledging why Provenzano might be upset since his word was broken.

Millroy landed on agreeing with the mayor who said that the retired chief was in no position to promise anyone a job. Millroy suggested that if Provenzano wanted those people to get a job, he should have hired them before he retired, or he should have penned a document to bind the fire service to the list.

I firmly disagree with the gents on this issue.

If Provenzano had any idea that Figliola would come in and make such changes he surely would have penned a binding document, to hire the people on the list. But why should Provenzano be faulted for not foretelling that a long standing tradition would be scrapped on a whim?

Tradition and loyalty are part of the firefighter’s world. As Millroy points out, our word is our bond; and this goes for firemen in spades. Continue reading

Candidates, please read

Dear candidates: There is already so much that I want to thank you for in regards to the upcoming election.

Please do call me during dinner. I have nothing better to do than to listen to your prerecorded message. We always have family dinners, so what’s wrong with you interrupting one of them. Your message is important, more important than face time with my children. And don’t worry, the pre-recorded thing doesn’t bother me at all. I will listen all the way to the end. It isn’t a concern to me that you didn’t take the time to call me yourself; a recording is just as genuine and effective and will definitely improve your chances of me voting for you. Continue reading

Cooking Shows Nourish Family with Education, Entertainment

While I don’t like to endorse a lot of screen time, there are moments when television can give me the extra 20 minutes I need to complete the task at hand or to make dinner. Most recently, I combined two birds and found something the children and I enjoy watching, and at the same time it gave me an idea of what to make for dinner: Behold the cooking channel.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Dora the Explorer was teaching my daughter a few Spanish words, and I was so happy that she had replaced the useless purple dinosaur and singing brightly coloured bobble heads. While the show was formulaic and unsophisticated, at least she could learn something useful. Dora and her pals played nicely together, went on adventures, and taught the kids some Spanish.

Soon, my daughter had grown out of the little Latin lady and was becoming entranced by ‘tween programming. There has been little redeeming about the’ tween shows I’ve seen over the last 5 years. Basically, it all adds up to how much attitude can you show friends, teachers and parents.

I definitely don’t want my kids modelling their behaviour , nor do I want to pay an extra $10 a month for kid channels to inject more eye-rolling and sarcasm into my family’s world; that’s my job, and I do it for free. Continue reading

What’s so bad about austerity?

There’s a lot of talk about Greece lately, and not as a tourist destination. Greece is broke and may be removed from the European Union. Experts are conflicted on what the effect will be on world markets. While I worry somewhat about my global investments, I worry more about the state of us as a people.

Alexis Tsipras, now prime minister of Greece, ran on the promise of reducing austerity measures. These austerity measures were put in place by lenders who provided bailout money to Greece. Tsipras has gained popularity as he thumbed his nose at creditors and their austerity measures.

What’s so bad about austerity?

In economics, austerity measures involve reducing the government deficit, which means either raising taxes or decreasing spending, or both.

Hailing from the Greek word for severe, synonyms of austere include frugal, sober, restrained, and strict. None of these synonyms sounds like a lot of fun, and definitely not for such a hedonistic society. Continue reading

Tax cramped women’s pocket books

This Canada Day, women across the nation have one more reason to celebrate: GST will no longer be charged on feminine hygiene products. Was the day chosen because it is a holiday that is all about red and white? Or perhaps because it is about celebrating Canada’s independence and now women are freed from a tax that shouldn’t have been there in the first place?

It has truly been a long time coming and it was a text from my father that reminded me of my personal connection to this issue.

Back as early as October 1998 I began corresponding with the then Minister of Finance, the Honourable Paul Martin. I wrote to ask for a review of the taxable status on sanitary napkins and tampons as I felt they should be listed under schedule V or VI (tax exempt or zero rated) exemptions because they are a necessity, not as they were then categorized as “a luxury.” I challenged him to offer up a substitutable good if they are not a necessity. Continue reading

You have to love convocations

Convocation is one of my favourite celebrations. Seeing graduates in their black robes, adorned by the multi-coloured hoods based on their discipline of study evokes pride, emotion, and tradition. There is something grand about the ceremony, and yet I found myself with gown envy.

Sitting as part of the platform party, as several of my former students crossed the stage, I was on the verge of tears, acknowledging their hard work. Yet, jokingly, someone from the audience could have seem them as tears of vanity.

 (Granted, I am the first to remember that the day is about the graduates and not about the platform party and what we’re wearing. Luckily, we if nothing else, can provide some amusement for the audience to get through the longer speeches.) Continue reading

Geocaching a modern day treasure hunt

In my last column, I wrote about the importance of getting outside for mental and physical health reasons. I received many comments in agreement with the sentiment (though one allergy sufferer disagreed with me wholeheartedly).

This week I thought I’d let you in on our family’s little outdoor secret: the joys of geocaching. Imagine an activity that wraps up exercise, fresh air, and family-time all into one excellent adventure!

A quick visit to prompts you to “Join the anytime, anywhere, real-time adventure.” After signing up for a free account and downloading a free app, you will be shown the GPS coordinates for geocaches close to you.

Continue reading

Go outside and have fun

Ever wonder how you can improve your life? More and more the solution seems to point to one very easy and obvious solution”¦ get outdoors more. Yes, mother was right. Her answer to every problem was: “Go play outside.” Even though she probably just wanted my sister and I to take our bickering away from her, in retrospect, there was profound wisdom in her words.

When was the last time you were taking a walk in the forest and thought to yourself, “Gee, I wish I were in the office”? Unless the forest is on fire, or it is pouring buckets of rain, the answer is, likely, never.

Being outdoors, literally and figuratively, grounds us. Looking at the leaves on the trees, hearing the birds chirp, feeling the sun on face, all help to melt the problems of the day. Even if you’ve started your walk in a bad mood, spending enough time outdoors will turn that frown upside down (or at least to a neutral position). Continue reading

Hiawatha Highlands Column was Public Service

On March 25, I wrote an article about the owl attacks up on the Hiawatha Highlands trails. Two people had been seen in the Sault Area Hospital Emergency Room for wounds received after being winged by an owl. I had suggested that this was a public safety issue and that something more should have been done by the hospital and Hiawatha Highlands to inform the public. Continue reading