Monday, 25 July 2016

Excuse my ignorance


I preface my comments by saying that I’m have very limited knowledge of the electoral system in the United States.  I used to know more as I took Political Science as a university class and one of the chapters looked at the differences between Canada and the U.S.  I know I learned it well enough to write the exam and then, like so much of the information I learned, I promptly had a memory dump and moved onto another class. 

 

What I do know is this.  In Canada, the party faithful (delegates) elect a leader at a convention.  He or she then runs for election in one of the ridings across the country.  In general, if he or she wins that seat in the House of Commons AND the party wins the majority* of the seats across the country then by default, he or she becomes the Prime Minister of Canada.  Thus we, as regular citizens of the country, have little or nothing to do with the determination of who will be our most senior government official.

 

In the States, the process is radically different.  From Wikipedia, I’ve learned that all registered voters cast ballots for a group of “Electors”.  These electors then cast direct ballots to election the President and Vice President of the United States.  Again, majority rules, and where a clear majority is not received there are alternative methods for selecting a President and V.P. via the House of Representatives and the Senate.

 

What this suggests to me is that the President and V.P. elected could, in fact, be representatives of a party that does not hold the majority of the seats in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.  That brings me to my question – how much power does the President actually hold?  I vaguely recall there is such a thing as veto power, but what if that individual wants certain legislation to be enacted?  Does he/she have the power to enact legislation without the concurrence of the House or Senate?

 

As an outsider looking in, the whole process seems convoluted and rather dizzying to contemplate.  Add in a bombastic former bankrupt millionaire reality star, a former First Lady and Secretary of State with a penchant for controversy, and the whole process has become a three-ring circus.   With another convention underway this week and more than three months until Election Day I have to wonder what else might happen.  Now this is reality television!

 

I’ll readily admit at this point I’m glad I’m Canadian even if I don’t get a say on who leads our country.

In the meantime I’ll be watching the goings on in the States with some interest and trepidation.

 

 

*We currently have five parties (Liberal, Conservatives, New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party) whose members run for election.  The party that wins the most seats may end up in with a minority government and will run the government only as long as the other parties will permit.  Often the government will fall to a non-confidence vote and off we head to the polls again.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday Musings


When it comes to blogging, I feel I’m so far behind I’ll never catch up.  My blog reader would suggest I’m about three or four days behind on most of the blogs I read, and that’s after reducing the number of blogs I read on a regular basis.  As for writing, I find I can just about manage a post a week with a Friday funny to add some levity to this hodgepodge of a blog.

 

Where, oh where, does the time go?  Frankly, I’d have to blame Facebook for a good portion of the time I waste.  I’ve gotten hooked on a couple of games, attempting to collect items and increase my point totals.  I swear, however, that I will never take part in the Pokemon Go craze.  For those who may not be aware, this is an app now available in Canada where one wanders about looking for hidden Pokemon.  How these creatures get to where they are going I have no idea, but it is next big thing in gaming…players trying to accumulate more Pokemon than their friends.  Apparently you can also “fight” the various creatures. 

 

It all sounds incredibly silly to me.  My son walked over to 7-11 last Friday evening about midnight and on his way home he passed the nearby church parking lot.  In the lot were 5 teens waving their cellphones around trying to capture a Pokemon.  Okay, at least they weren’t partying and causing damage.  But there were also three vehicles parked along the street with the drivers attending to their cellphones as well.  He stopped and asked one of the drivers if she had been playing the game as she drove…she said no, but she got a notification when she got close so pulled over.    Wow, nearly 1 a.m. and the thing to is drive around (or walk as the teens were doing) to play some silly game! *


*****

In addition to playing games, I did get a fair amount of yard work done this weekend, and prepped several meals for this week.  My outdoor sheds are built of wood and were overdue for a coat of rain repellant.  We’ve had sooo much rain in the past few weeks I’ve put off applying it as I didn’t want to trap the wet in the wood.  Finally, we had a stretch of reasonably sunny weather so Sunday morning I was outdoors by 8 a.m. splashing this stuff on the sheds.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow so I’ll get to see how well it works.

 

I also cleaned up the volunteer catnip that is growing in the back yard.  That stuff will seed itself wherever and I’m sure that my neighbours will appreciate me ridding the neighbourhood of some of it.  I filled a wheelbarrow full of it, yikes!  I did strip the leaves from several plants and filled a plastic container.  I’ll let it dry and hopefully the cats will enjoy the nip through the rest of the year. 

 

The lawn also got mowed, I added fertilizer to my containers, and I put my patio tomato plants in the garbage bin after I pulled the fruit from them.  We had hail a week or so ago, the fruit was damaged, and the plants were turning black…I suspect from the significant amount of rain we’ve had. 

 

*****

The normal weekend chores were accomplished, vacuuming, laundry, floor washing, and clearing out the fridge of leftovers.  I immediately restocked it with fresh fruit and veg and did some meal prep for this week.  I have a pot of cauliflower soup, a pot of chili, a pasta salad in the fridge all packaged in small containers for easy retrieval, and a half dozen hamburger patties in the freezer for later this week or next weekend. 

 

The pasta salad is new to me.  I started with some penne, added in slices of cucumber, cherry tomato, celery, red onion, and feta.  The dressing was super easy, just olive oil and red wine vinegar with a bit of dried basil, garlic powder, dry mustard, and salt and pepper.  The recipe called for two cloves of garlic, which I was out of so I added a little more garlic powder to the dressing.   I added a bit of grated parmesan as well.  I let the salad marinate for nearly 24 hours, having it for my lunch today, and I can declare it very yummy!

 

I continued my task of going through the boxes left over from my daughter’s teaching days.  I’ve got another four (out of approximately 20 boxes) to go through yet.  I’ve narrowed it down to three boxes of empty binders – which D says will be donated to her office for donation to local charities and schools, two boxes of books, and one box of CD/DVD teaching materials and educational toys/games.    I’ll also suggest she find somewhere for these items to be donated.

 

****

Perhaps my time wasn’t as wasted as I initially thought.  But I do know that if I gave up even one of those games I’d have the time to read and comment on blogs, post more regularly, and gasp!, perhaps even get some exercise every day.  Hmmm….I’ll have to think about that.

 

I hope you have a marvelous week everyone!

 

*I had written several paragraphs on how the lack of connection between people is, in my opinion, resulting in the lack of empathy, misunderstandings, and intolerance.  But I thought that was too heavy a topic, and to be honest, it was making me feel sad so I deleted them.  I’m imitating Scarlett O’Hara…I’ll think of that tomorrow.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Random Monday Thoughts

Phew, it's been quite the day here in Southern Saskatchewan for weather.  The forecast of 100 millimeters (about 4 inches) of rain was supposed to come this morning.  While the city of Regina has been fortunate, other cities have not.


The hardest hit so far, is the city of Estevan about 2 hours south east of Regina.  The news agencies are reporting 130 mm. of rain, and the city has declared a state of emergency.  Shortly before 1 p.m. today we heard a couple of cracks of thunder, and then the downpour started.  The local weather site I watch indicates we only got 2.2 mm. of rain but to the west of us, the city of Moose Jaw got much more.  One of my staff got photos from his brother showing the water had collected to the running boards of his truck.  While the drains were open and operating fine, the system just could not keep up with the deluge.


It's now about 3:15 p.m. and looking out my window I see a patch of blue sky to the south east and heavy dark clouds to the south. The radar for our area indicates a slow moving weather front swirling in a counter clockwise manner.  It's definitely coming our way and is supposed to last for at least 24 hours or so.  Fingers crossed, there will be no hail and no funnel clouds either!


****
It was a relatively quiet weekend.  I started it early on Thursday evening when my friend K and I went to see a one-woman play at the Regina Fringe Festival, Diamond Girls.  The play follows three women from Saskatchewan who played baseball in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the second world war.  One interesting fact - there were 65 Canadian women playing in the league and of these almost half hailed from our province. 


As we entered the venue, we were told to study the program.  Once the play started, it was evident why.  The actress differentiated between the characters with only a extra accessory, accent, or mannerism.  There were at least a dozen characters, and not once did I feel confused as to who she portrayed at that point.  It was clear that this league provided a real opportunity for these women, to earn income and to travel beyond the borders of their every day lives.  Mary (Bonnie) Baker of Regina was recruited on the promise of $100/week for the season.  Her character exclaimed, "I only make $75 a month working at the Army and Navy store".  Can you imagine what a difference that income must have made at the time?


The league was in existence from 1943-1954 and was the inspiration for the movie, A League of Their Own."  I've not seen the movie, but based on the snippets of information I gained from seeing the play, I think it's on my list of must sees.*


*****
Friday was errand day, while Saturday and Sunday were housework and just puttering days.  I got another few boxes cleared out of my daughter's school books.  No surprises in this batch though I pulled out some office supplies, alligator and paper clips, thumbtacks and a box of blank recipe cards.  No point in throwing that stuff out.  I also filled a box with empty binders.  D says she'll take them into her office as they donate binders to various schools in the city.


The most excitement all weekend is due to my next door neighbour having the contractors in to re-do her back yard.  I kept the curtains in the sun room, not only to keep it cool, but also so I could sneak a peek or two.  Most of the back yard had been dug up, with just a portion of the grass remaining.  There are stacks of pavers on the back deck so I'm assuming a good portion of the yard will be patio.  She also has a number of plants in pots waiting to be planted so there must be additional beds being put in as well.  With the rain today, I'm not sure how much progress will be made but I know I'll be checking out the window when I get home.  What a snoop I am!


*****
* I'm not much of a movie goer.  I've probably seen a half-dozen movies in the theatre in the last 10 years or so.  I will watch movies on television on occasion but even those are infrequent.  Even with the capability to pause a program throughout my attention span is too short! 


Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Shhhh....don't tell on me


It’s Thursday around noon (now 2:30); I’m at work and I have nothing much to do.  Days like this drag on and make me wish that retirement was closer.  One of my colleagues has 12 more wake-ups to go….that is, 12 more working days.  I decided to do the math and I’ve got a few more days than that.   Right now the estimate is 436.  Sigh….that seems so far away.  I like my marbles remaining approach to counting forward to retirement better; that count sits at 28.

 

Summer tends to be a quieter time in the office.  This week I have three of my nine staff away on vacation, while one more is off on a day’s vacation today.  My boss is out of the office as well for three weeks.  Since she is away the volume of e-mail has declined to a trickle even though she has one of my peers managing that part of her workload.  I suspect it is that the individual isn’t certain what needs to be forwarded, so come late July I expect my inbox will be filled.

 

Since my staff’s performance period ends in August, I could and probably should start working on their performance reviews.  Especially for the two who have extended leave planned for this summer.  On the other hand, these won’t go to the review committee before the end of October so there seems to be little point in putting in the effort this early.

 

The other task I could do relates to a trip I’ll be making to our Edmonton office in August.  I truly must learn to keep my big mouth shut.  Recently I made some comments, in writing no less, regarding my concerns about the work being provided to our office by the division that was centralized in Edmonton a couple of years ago.  Well, as a result of those comments and due to my experience in the division when we had a local team, I was selected by my boss’s boss to be one of two individuals to go to Edmonton to assist the division in understanding the differences in the Saskatchewan workload.  But the dates haven’t been set yet because management hasn’t agreed to allow this to happen.  So….I may as well wait on that.

 

I have started creating my notes for a presentation I’ll be making in Ottawa in September.  I only need to fill a ½ hour, including any questions and answers and put together a power point presentation.  Again, no rush, so I’m sitting here writing up a blog post instead.

 

Do you get the sense I’m a bit of a procrastinator?  Yeah, probably…but if I do it all now I’ll have the same problem in the upcoming weeks. 

 

Confession time:  what do I do when I’m bored at work?  Well, I’m bit of legal geek so I have a tendency to read court cases, law society reviews, or labour relations board decisions.  I started doing this when I first started working in government, when we still got the decisions in bound books a couple of times a year.  When I had down time I’d pick up a book and leaf through it looking for interesting or unusual cases.  Now, of course, all of the decisions are available on line so I've even been known to pull them up on my laptop at home and peruse the databases.  It can be more entertaining than housework. :)

 

Some of the information I read is useful to the work I do while the majority of it is simply interesting*.  I have determined though, I’d never, ever, ever want to be a lawyer or a judge.  I have my own sense of right and wrong and there are times when I look at a decision and think what were they thinking?   But I understand they must work within the limits of the law and more importantly they usually work with more information that what we hear in the media accounts.

 

Just prior to starting this post I was reading about write-up of a case where the sons and daughters were arguing that they were entitled to a greater percentage of their father’s estate because they had been subjected to corporal punishment (smacked with a belt) as children than his second wife.  His will stipulated they would share equally in a life insurance policy that would be payable after the death of his second wife, but were not entitled to a share of the property that the wife acquired from her own father’s estate.  The property had been put in joint names after she acquired the property thus they thought they should be entitled to a share of that property.  They didn’t win….but the judge did order the wife to continue to pay the premiums on the policy to ensure it would pay out on her death. 

 

*One of the most interesting cases I’ve read in a while was in the media for some time this spring.  A young boy died due to meningitis and his parents were charged for failing to provide the appropriate care.  That isn’t how the charges were written, but my understanding of it.  This is a case where there was significantly more information available to the court that was not published.  If you’re interested in reading it, the link is available at http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/2016/2016abqb353/2016abqb353.html

If you have the luxury of time on your hands at work, how do you fill the time?