Archive for December, 2006

A Chrsitmas Carol

December 21st, 2006

The Sun and have produced a downloadable version of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. It is newly illustrated by the Sun’s Pam Davies and is in pdf format. The illustrations are quite nice, and it is a beautiful and clear copy of my favourite Christmas story.

Written in 1843, this Christmas classic is amongst Dickens best work. The first of five Christmas books Dickens would release between 1843 and 1848 (Christmas 1847 being the missing year), A Christmas Carol tells the story of the reclamation of the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge. It was immediately popular, selling all 6,000 copies by Christmas 1843, having been released on December 19th.

Christmas was apparently in decline in the mid-1800’s, one description saying it “wasn’t commonly celebrated as a festive holiday.” A Christmas Carol is commonly acknowledged to have “helped revive popular interest in many Christmas traditions that are still practised today.” With Christmas seemingly under attack in our own time, it is a story we would all do well to read. And once done, be sure to employ some Dickensian traditions in your own Christmas. Me? I always fret about the quantity of flour in the Christmas pudding, never mind overdoing it on the rum punch (or as Bob Cratchit said, “I make rather merry”).

Most of all, enjoy. This is a great Christmas book, and yes Virginia, it is better than the movie. I especially recommend it to everyone who just isn’t in the spirit quite yet (don’t sweat it Joanne, Dickens was known to question the politicians in his time – some things never go out of style).

The Sun’s downloads are:


If you don’t like pdf files, an HTML version of the story (not the sun’s version) is available here (click on the book):

arley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate…

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

But what did Scrooge care? It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge.

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already — it had not been light all day: and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure.”

“I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

“Don’t be cross, uncle!” said the nephew.

“What else can I be,” returned the uncle, “when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

“Uncle!” pleaded the nephew.

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded: becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

“Let me hear another sound from you,” said Scrooge, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation. You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir,” he added, turning to his nephew. “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.”

“Don’t be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.”

Scrooge said that he would see him — yes, indeed he did. He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him in that extremity first…


A Cat’s Christmas

December 20th, 2006

One day a friend of mine says to me, “The wife wants me to create a web site for the cat. What am I supposed to put for content on a cat’s website?”

So I went off and wrote A Cat’s Christmas for him. I’ve always enjoyed it, as have other’s who have read it. Now I offer it to you, please enjoy and share it as you please (while of course appropriatly acknowledging authorship).

“Button, out of the tree!”

For the life of me, I can’t figure out people. They are out of the house five days a week, and on one of their only days off, they march out and bring home a fresh cut tree. Don’t ask how I know it’s fresh cut, I’m a Cat; I know a fresh cut tree from a Home Depot special. This tree still smells of the woods: of bird nests and chipmunk crumbs and squirrels. No, this is a fresh cut tree all right. They go to all this trouble to bring a piece of nature into the house and then complain when I act naturally. People! Can’t live with them, can’t open the cans of tuna without thumbs of my own.

“Button! Get out of that tree!”

That’s twice. And he’s walking this way. Chris. He’s not even my person, he’s Janet’s person, and Janet is mine. None the less, Chris is walking this way and the second time was louder than the first so I have to respond; I look at him like he’s grown an extra eye in the middle of his forehead.


That’s three and he’s almost at the tree, time to move. I jump down, and run to the other side of the room. Stop and lick my paw, just to show I didn’t get down because of any old person told me too. I got down because I had some dirt on my paw that had to be dealt with right away. Not that I couldn’t have cleaned it while I was in the tree.

“Janet! Your stupid cat has been playing with the presents!”

Now this is a bit tricky, he wasn’t supposed to notice that. What do they expect though? Has he ever stuck a piece of thread in front of me that I don’t play with? They know my weaknesses. So now he wraps up presents and puts shiny ribbon around it, and I’m supposed to know it’s not for me? It’s probably better if I just leave, but with dignity. No running away, walk slow, tail in the air to let them know I’m appalled by the accusations being made against me. Some things must be done right; just as a ballerina must point her toes when doing a pirouette, a Cat must raise her tail when leaving a room amid accusations and slanders.

I walk slowly out of the room, stopping at my food dish. Empty! Who do these people think I am Gandhi? Not in this life, although maybe in my last life I was Gandhi or Mother Theresa or Elvis. How else do you explain that I am a Cat in this life? I give off an indignant meow to protest the service at this restaurant, but like every bad restaurant the staff here could care less…

Read the rest


It’s Christmas!

December 20th, 2006
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And I am shutting down all non-Christmas blogging. For the next five days it’s a Hespeler never ending Christmas! Enjoy!


Picture of the Day – Snow Couple

December 20th, 2006
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Vaughan Council Buys Themselves a City Hall

December 20th, 2006

The city above Toronto has voted themselves new Taj Ma-City Hall. The $107M hall, for a population of 240,000 was voted on in a special meeting called yesterday afternoon. It was an 8-1 vote, with new mayor Linda Jackson the only ‘nay’. Local residents join the mayor in objecting to how there betters are treating them noting, “the only thing we’ve been consulted on is how pretty it’s going to be.”

Residents also complain of the cost, noting a tenth of a Billion dollars is a lot of money. Yesterday, councillors also voted to increase costs from $93.6 M to the now $107M.

How arrogant are councillors on this one? “Public buildings should be grand. That’s part of our responsibility,” said councillor Alan Shefman. I personally, I missed that part of the pledge, maybe councillor Shefman could point out where that rule is.

Another councillor, Joyce Frusaglio, also had a novel approach tro governing. “If your not proud to be part of this city, there are plenty of other cities in the Province of Ontario.”

Of course, as we recently saw with Provincial politicians increasing their pay “because federal politicians make so much,” those other cities will soon be building there own Taj Ma-Halls because “Vaughan has one.”

Warning to residents of Vaughan, and other Ontario cities, never get between an elected official and their trough… they get vicious.


Gerry Nicholls Christmas Miracle

December 19th, 2006
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Gerry Nicholls has done a great toungue and cheek piece about Christmas miracles, entitled: Welcome to the Ministry of Christmas Miracles. My favourites on what would happen if we nationalized the miracle business:

There would be about 10 times as many angels as required to do the job.

A disproportionately large share of the miracles would end up being performed in Quebec.

Government spending on miracles would increase but the quality of miracles would decrease.

The waiting lists for miracles would keep getting longer and longer.

That’s just a snippet, read the whole article for a good snicker, and to remember, at this joyous time of the year, why the government doesn’t do it better.


Boycotting Away in Margaritaville.

December 19th, 2006

Memo to Ron:

Next year, don’t ask.

I ain’t going.

Jimmy Bufffett wants to boycott Canada, then I boycott Jimmy Buffett.

Jimmy Buffett—singer, songwriter, activist and successful restaurant owner—has long been known for his involvement in environmental and humane issues. After learning of the horrors of Canada’s seal hunt, Buffett teamed up with the more than 330,000 consumers and 1,000 restaurants who are protesting the hunt by joining the Canadian seafood boycott. Buffett recently issued following letter declaring that his Margaritaville Cafes will not purchase or serve Canadian seafood products until the Canadian government ends the commercial seal hunt permanently.


Picture of the Day – Christmas Music

December 19th, 2006
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Makin’ Kick Saves in Afghanistan

December 18th, 2006
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Last week, I was privately taking issue with Rob Granstein’s article on moving the Winston Churchill statue. Today he redeems himself, with a great piece on his Monday night goalie, who is now serving in Kandahar:

The war in Afghanistan hit extremely close to home when I opened up my Thursday Toronto Sun.

Staring back at me from under a military-issued helmet, sunglasses and vest, while brandishing a machine gun, was our goalie from Monday night hockey.

The headline screamed “Checkpoint Jeff” but I know Jeff Waghorne more from his butterfly style and competitive edge than from standing guard at a gate security checkpoint leading to Kandahar Airfield.

While Sun Media reporter Doug Beazley did a fine job telling us about Waghorne’s job in Afghanistan, let me tell you about the guy I know.

Do read it all, it’s a great piece that humanizes one of the guys doing the hard lifting on our behalf.


Happy Birthday Stephen Spielberg

December 18th, 2006

IMDB lists him as having directed 49 movies (or TV shows), and he has production credits in over a hundred more. As for me, I like the Indiana Jones movies, Hook, Saving Private Ryan and Catch Me If You Can. War of The Worlds sits on my TV waiting a viewing as we speak, and Munich is on the list, both 2005 releases for Stephen Spielberg.

Now that he is 60, he looks no more likely to slow down, with 2 movies in pre-production and slated for 2008 release: both look like ones I want to see as well, the biographical Lincoln and Indiana Jones 4. As well 2009 promises Interstellar a sci-fi exploring “physicist Kip Thorne’s theories of gravity fields, wormholes and several hypotheses that Albert Einstein was never able to prove.”

For all of the above, and more, Happy 60th Birthday Stephen Spielberg.


It’s a (Belated) Blogiversary

December 18th, 2006

Note: This post was originally written on December 8th, the day my blog began wandering the desert for 9 days. It is incomplete, but sufficient none the less, I think.

One year ago today, I wrote the following, to kick off he At Home in Hespeler revolution:

First Post

Welcome to At Home in Hespeler, my little Blog Spot. Here I will focus on Politics, with drifts into music and movies. The political focus will be Canadian, with a definite Conservative slant.

Hope you enjoy!

That was all it took to kick start the my foray into the most skin thickening mental exersise in the free world: political commentary.

We were in the middle of an election on Dec 8, 2005 and I was going to be a part of it. Then the Liberal campaign started to fall apart: I’ve never had so much fun:

With friends like these… On Dec 9th

You can’t pay the taxes on a case of beer for $25.00 On Dec 11th

But it wasn’t all Polictics. On Dec 10th Richard Pryor died and, in case your wondering what the weather was like this time last year, I began an ice rink:

The Ice Rink Chronicles Part 1

Why the Ice Rink Chronicles? The idea came to me while standing out in my backyard, freezing half to death, watering the lawn in sub zero temperatures. ‘It takes a Canadian,’ I thought! Do people in other countries do this? In Sweden, or Russia, to people stand in their back yards with a water hose, making a skating rink? Possibly, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Then I thought about Paul Martin, yakking on at the Montreal ‘GloabalWarmingPalooza’ today, He started with “Canadian interests and Canadian values” and I thought you know what a Canadian value is? (Besides honesty and integrity, but that’s another post). A Canadian value is, want something, work for it. An honest days labour for an honest days pay. So here I am in the back yard, my water nozzle leaking, freezing my hands off, dedicated by action to a simple Canadian value. I want to skate Christmas Eve; the weather forecasts are promising, so here I am, working for it. Keep talking Prime Minister, but I’m acting.

The Ice Rink Chronicles would run until Christmas Eve, when the rain ruined the rink. One lousy skate was all I got, and two weeks of something to write.

I’ve also had a go at some photshopping (although I use Paint Shop Pro 4, circa 1997), the first being this one from January. Then there was Vice President Clouseau. And Mr. Steve Goes To Kandahar. I actually have Photoshop on my to get list, and hopefully next year I can do more of these.

One of the most inetersting things I wrote didn’t seem very interesting at the time. But it’s funny what can happen. Before the English Language debate, I noted this:

Yes it’s possible that the election will be thrown away tonight: the Paul Minister could crack under the pressure and admit compliance in Liberal-gate (adscam + income trust); Stephen Harper could be forced to confess that yes, the illuminati finances my campaign and no, not the Canadian illuminati.

Doesn’t seem like much. But for the next two months I got hits every day from people googling “Stephen+Harper+Illuminati.” The day after the election I had over ten hits on the subject. People really are paranoid.

Below are some of my favourites from the year, enjoy!

There’s the Stephen Harper Bio 2 days before the election.

And boy, did I ever save his bacon. Then I gave him some advice which, if he took it, got him a decent coffee, possibly for a good price. Also, had some fun with PMSH here. But enough about PM Steve.

I was one of the many who ran with the Muhommad cartoons.

Also had a few things to say about the Liberal leadership race, not the least of which was this. This article got linked in a Calgary Herald story, my first MSN mention. Also, while I didn’t call the winner, I certainly called who wouldn’t win, and did so early on.

I have wrote regularily on music, and the Sunday morning feature This week on my i-pod has proven popular. My favourite was from my anniversary.

Occasionally I get philosophical, which is when I think I’m at my best. Like Hockey: Root of all Evil. or Athiests Make Me Cringe; Almost Falling for Popular Wisdom;

And sometimes, humour sneaks through. Such as the College Strike Protest or Speech From My Throne

But the best, the funniest and the post that got me a Blogging Tory Site of the week award, was this one: Grounding in Hespeler Toy Raid Expected. I wish I could find it in my brain to do more like it, but they just don’t come.

Thanks to everyone who has visited, commented and/or linked to me. It’s been a great year, and I hope to be back for year 2 in review next December.


Picture of the Day – It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

December 18th, 2006
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Santa Gets Busted, Exclusively On YouTube

December 17th, 2006
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An encounter between the police and a Santa that’s had a few too many spiked egg-nogs with those cookies:


New Header Quote

December 17th, 2006

Some of you will have noticed a minor change, here at At Home in Hespeler. Since I have started this blog I have been looking for a header quote to define the basic philosophy of the blog. Since “Everybody needs a dandelion break,” seemed vague (and I’m not sure if that’s the exact quote), I waited. and waited. Until I read F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. And there, in the closing paragraph, is this gem:

The guiding Principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century.

Concise and perfect, I immediately co-opted it for my header (which blogger then co-opted for eight days). I tightened it up a bit, and the header now reads:

“…a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy…” F.A. Hayek

Which will stay right there; at least until I can verify that Opus quote.


The Infinite Cat Project.

December 17th, 2006
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I discovered the infinite cat project through Gerry Nicholls:

It all began innocently enough when a visitor to an Apple forum posted a picture of his cat, Frankie, contemplating the beauty of a flower. Shortly afterwards another user posted a picture of his cat bristling at the image of Frankie on the monitor. I decided this was too much fun and advanced the concept as The Infinite Cat Project which is, simply, cats regarding cats regarding cats in an electronic milieu. If you like this web site then thank your lucky stars that the world is populated with cats, Macs, and people with wayyyy too much time on their hands.

I couldn’t resist, and cat # 1363 is Hespeler’s very own Neville, “appeasing Chilli beaning Kitty PearlofPride…”

1364 is “Oscar admeyering (get it?) Neville…”

In case anyone thinks this is taken seriously, in the e mail I got passing on the link of Neville, Mike Stanfill said “Welcome to my weird little club!”

Hey Mike. Thanks for having a club for me to join!