Cheer down

“Is everybody happy? I’ll soon change that!”

  • Globe and Mail: Truth, justice, and becoming un-American. “A series of tough new U.S. tax laws, designed to root out Americans hiding money offshore, is suddenly prompting many expatriates to consider the ultimate act of national repudiation – becoming un-American. In a move set for 2014, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service will require foreign financial institutions to identify all accounts held by Americans.” In Soviet Russia, state own you!
  • David Sirota, Salon: The New Let Them Eat Cake. “10 shocking, illuminating moments that prove just how out of touch the powerful really are.”
  • Julianne Hing, ColorLines: Raquel Nelson and the Aggressive Prosecution of Black Mothers. “After the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article raising alarm about the dangers of jaywalking, instead of, say, the dangers that poor urban design pose to transit-dependent families, the solicitor general decided to prosecute Nelson for endangering her children. Earlier this month an all-white jury of middle class folks who admitted they had limited experience taking public transportation in the area found Nelson guilty of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment.”
  • Fortune: What’s wrong with the airlines? “To say that the airports at San Francisco or Los Angeles are less squalid than Chicago is faint praise, for the difference is so slight that anyone passing hastily through would notice no real improvement. Almost all U.S. airports are utterly barren of things to do. The dirty little lunch counters are always choked with permanent sitters staring at their indigestible food; even a good cup of coffee is a thing unknown. The traveler consigned to hours of tedious waiting can only clear a spot on the floor and sit on his baggage and, while oversmoking, drearily contemplate his sins.” Guess the date on this article!
  • And finally, I listened to this podcast while watching the fourth and fifth innings of this game, at the same time as I was working out at the gym. Which might represent the single most depressing combination of things I’ve ever had to do in my life.

I’ll be back with more depressing news later. Need to refill my Prozac and Jack Daniels.

Utilization update

I somehow missed this when it got posted last month, but for future reference, on the subject of Air Canada’s aircraft utilization for the W11 schedule:

AC is leasing two ex-HA 763s, one enters service on YYZ-DUB next week, the other does not arrive till the fall. These are fin 691/692. Fin 691 will fly YYZ-DUB with a slightly modified HA interior this summer.

The current plan is for these aircraft to replace two of the non-XM 763s (fins 689/690). Also in the plan for these aircraft is an interior upgrade in the Fall – which should include seatback TV and a North America Executive Class seat – no lie-flat suites. Note that I say “should” for the seatback TV – this is not yet 100% confirmed due to time constraints.

For the winter, fins 691/692 are presently scheduled to operate: YYC-OGG, YYC-HNL, YVR-OGG. Fin 687 will operate the Air Canada Vacations flying from the west (MBJ, CUN, VRA etc).

YVR-HNL is schedule to operate with the XM lie-flat product, though, this could change on certain days of week.

This is some of the best news I’ve heard about those airplanes in eons. Yes! Move off of routes I don’t actually fly! (Shame they’re getting rid of 689, though, and holding on to 687 — 689 is/was HPF, and as nice a non-upgraded airplane as you could want. 687 is HPD, which has stupid 1.5″ protrusions into an already narrow seat for the IFE controls, and is damned uncomfortable.)

Nostalgia so thick you need a chainsaw to cut it

This was my lunch yesterday at the collaborative Obon service held in Steveston. (We did it with the guys from Vancouver and Fraser Valley. This is, incidentally, my second Obon service in as many weeks — hooray for travel to places with large-ish Jodo Shinshu communities!) For those of you keeping track at home, this is chow mein, teriyaki chicken, teriyaki hotdogs, age sushi, sunomono salad, and rice. With watermelon and green tea.

I probably haven’t eaten like this since I was 12, and seeing the huge aluminum trays laid out on the tables and the random, assorted bin of hashi that had been dropped off by whoever had extra disposable ones lurking around, with the bad acoustics in a church gym and stackable wooden and metal chairs — it was damn near overwhelming. The only things missing were the green metal-sided coolers and pump-action vacuum thermoses with flowers on the side, and it would have been a perfect recreation of my childhood church experiences.

It was a meal so quintessentially Japanese-Canadian that I was nearly moved to tears. This is the stuff we ate growing up. The combination of teriyaki chicken and chow mein (yeah, I know it’s really Chinese in origin, but lookit, we made it ours) evokes memories of September, when the Calgary temple would hold its fundraising dinner, hilariously well attended by all, inside a cavernous community center with the same kinds of folding tables and stackable chairs; the moms would be in the kitchen mixing and prepping the plates of chow mein while the men would be out back in front of huge grills with laundry tubs full of chicken marinating in a sauce that we’d made a month earlier — I remember helping in the back with the grills one year when I was maybe ten or eleven and ending up so infused with the smoke I could barely stand it. Today, when I throw teriyaki-marinated meat on my own, much higher-technology grill (no chopped-in-half oil drum for me!), I get funny flashbacks to that time. Brilliant stuff.

Wanna make your own chow mein, Japanese-Canadian style? Here’s what I do:

Continue reading “Nostalgia so thick you need a chainsaw to cut it”

Quick hits

In no particular order:

  • Of the many, many things that irritate me about the Harmonized Sales Tax, nothing is more irritating right now than the fact that the referendum isn’t a debate so much on the merits of the tax itself, but rather the implementation of the tax. Thanks a lot, BC Liberals! ’cause some people — maybe even most people — might have been persuadable when it came to the merits of the tax itself, given the need to ensure a healthy revenue stream to protect programs. But you guys managed to screw it up by sneaking it in, and now people are angry and just as likely to kick the thing to the curb. Way to go, dorks.
  • On a related note, announcing that a 2% cut in the HST rate (effective in two years time!) will amount to savings of $120 per family per year is not actually a selling point. Most families can do math. Most families with more than one person in them are probably not so stupid as to ignore the part where inflation will quite happily eat the $5/month/each they get back from the 2% rate cut. It’s not the rate, guys, it’s the way you sprung it on the province. Nobody was complaining about the rate, so the idea that the province “listened” is, uh, flawed.
  • The real reason why the FAA won’t move to an enlightened position on air traffic controller fatigue has less to do with human factors research and more to do with the prevailing political climate. Doy, right? But who’s going to complain about the fact that controllers can take naps? Answer: anyone who (a) has an axe to grind against public service employees and (b) has this vague sneaking suspicion that somebody, somewhere, is getting away with something — the politics of resentment, even a resentment that has no basis in reality, at work in fatigue management. I want to throw up, but… yeah, no, I just want to throw up.
  • I’m reasonably sure that when the newsreader says that a person “suffered serious injuries after making contact with a grizzly bear,” they’re really looking for the most euphemistic way to say that a person “got chewed on by a grizzly bear.” “Making contact” doesn’t quite have the same visual punch, does it?
  • As a somewhat interesting culinary experiment the other day, I shelled a pound of peas, minced a clove of garlic, sauteed both in a bit of butter, finishing it off with some chopped basil. It was surprisingly tasty: not enough “there” there to make it a side in and of itself, but I can easily see an application for it in (for instance) couscous or quinoa. The next time I have a bunch of leftover peas, I think I’ll try this again but throw in some panko to add to the crunch.

We’re done here.