Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2011 Top Books, Authors, etc. Lists

December is always such a great month to see what the rest of the world thinks are the best of, and sometimes the worst of things. So far, I've gotten book lists from Chapters/Indigo, Amazon and in print, last week, came the Saturday Star's Best Books of 2011 as per the various book reviewers.
So, not to be outdone, here are my lists, in no particular order or sequence within the list.

Top Authors That I've Read For the First Time
1. Suzanne Collins
2. Cory Doctorow
3. Lisa Gardner
4. Sara Gruen
5. Ann Patchett
6. Kathy Reichs
7. J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)
8. S.J. Watson
9. Daniel Silva

Authors That I Read For The First Time, But Didn't Like So Much
1. Alan Bradley
2. Lisa Lutz
3. George R.R. Martin

Top New Technology Toys
1. Kobo
2. Intel core i5 processor running Windows 7

Top Road Trips

1. Pittsburgh
2. VIenna and Prague

Top Statue
1. Goethe and Schiller

Books On My Kobo (and one borrowed from Leslie) That I Have Not Yet Read

1. The Stand, Stephen King (the uncut 1000 page version)
2. The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
3. A Carra King, John Brady
4. 18 Novels by Jack London ( 0.99 cents and I read bits when I’ve nothing else to read, as most of these are re-reads)
5. Heirs of Mars: Preludes, Joseph Robert Lewis
6. The Invisible Man, H.G.Wells(another .99 center that I read when nothing else is holding my interest)
7. Neuromancer, William Gibson
8. Shock Wave, John Sandford
9. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
10. The Other Daughter, Lisa Gardner
11. The Survivors Club, Lisa Gardner
12. The Real Story: The Gap into Conflict, Stephen R. Donaldson
13. The Ape House, Sara Gruen
14. The Mark of the Assassin, Daniel Silva

Books That Beauty and I Are Listening to Together While Driving
1. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
2. We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

Author Whose Work I Loved and Read Religiously Who Passed Away in 2011
1. Robert Parker (it was really 2010, but he had a completed novel, Sixkill that didn't get published until 2011)
2. Lillian Jackson Braun, she really did pass away this year, and, while I stopped reading her books around 2008 because I got tired of them, I did read 25+ novels and all of her short stories (3).

While I am sad to think that some of my favourite writers, like for instance, Lawrence Block and Mary Higgins Clark are getting older and may not have many more great stories inside of them, as you can see, I still have a lot of great literature to get through that is waiting for me on my Kobo. And, with the new authors that I found this year, I probably have plenty more where that came from.

Luckily, Beauty and I are in the process of planning a holiday with nothing on the agenda but relaxing, and reading. That is when I hope to make a significant dent in my unread pile.

If you want to add authors and books that you love and think I must read, just let me know. I will give every suggestion a chance.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Only Is It Time To Raise the Age of OAS, But I Think It's Time To Correctly Define The Age of a Senior for OHIP Purposes

Old Age Security (OAS), in Canada, still kicks in at 65, unlike the U.S. (67) and the U.K. (68). And, there is a debate that we need to raise it, or else, we will be increasing government costs by $12 Billion in the next 5 years ( that's a 33% jump from 2010 costs).

I'm not sure that I understand this issue. I turned 65 in January, 2011. In February, I got a deposit from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) of approximately $500 into my bank account for OAS. In March, I got a 'nasty' letter from CRA saying I earn too much money to qualify for OAS and, they're not going to give it to me until or unless I can prove them wrong. My friend the Professor, who also turned 65 this year, got the same sequence of money-letter-no more money correspondence as I did. We laughed about the tone of the letter, but both agreed, we were glad that Canada wasn't wasting its precious OAS money on the likes of us, two working stiffs who didn't need it yet.

The other big change that occurred in my financial relationship with the government now that I'm 65 concerns who pays for my prescription drugs. I caught a cold from the grandkids (too much kissing!) and it turned into bronchitis. The cold was a cold, but, when it didn't get better in a week, I was finally diagnosed with bronchitis. It knocked me for a loop and I am just now feeling well enough to spend the day at my desk instead of watching daytime TV. (I couldn't even motivate myself to read, yikes). It wasn't a total waste of time, however, as I learned that God loves me (Huntley TV Show), that American politicians, read that Republicans, are still mostly crazy, and that Ellen really does have much more rhythm than I do. (I AM SO JEALOUS). I also learned that you can watch the same episode of Flashpoint on Bravo at least 3 times during the same day, and that the number of people who are murdered or caught in the cross fire, on TV in one day is competitive with Syrian Governments efforts to wipe out its citizens.

Back to prescription drugs. I have a health plan, I pay into it monthly, I am still employed, until I turned 65, about 80% of my drug costs (after a deductible) were covered by the plan. I haven't had a prescription filled in years, and can't remember the exact date of when I last required a prescription drug. (My heart belongs to the miracle science, Osteopathy and the miracle medicine Ibuprofen, which works better and has less side effects than my previous backache medicine , Canadian Whiskey). So, to cure my December bronchitis, I take the prescription for 3 different medicines, an antibiotic, a nasal passage opener, and a nasal passage steroid) to my pharmacist. Our pharmacist has not changed since 1981, when he first opened up shop in a strip mall which was within walking distance to our old house. I know him and his wife, and he really knows everything about our clan. I'm sure he knows things about my teenage daughters that to this date, my Bride still hasn't told me. Beauty and her girls share everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Us boys are like spies in a Le Carré novel, we are definitely left out in the cold. And, while I can't speak for the other 3, I think I like it that way. I need a buffer between what really goes on in life and what a father needs to know. I certainly think that in my early years, my parents needed that buffer.

The cost of the drugs was over $100. Considering it was my first prescription being filled this calendar year, I probably would have paid all of it out of my deductible. Wrong. I paid ZERO. Why, I ask the Pharmacist. He explains, "Welcome to the club". "Now that I'm a senior, OHIP pays my prescriptions." That doesn't make sense.

I think OHIP for seniors should be like OAS. If I'm still working and have enough income to afford a health care plan, let me pay for it. Save the money for those who need it. I told that to Mr. Pharmacist, and he said, "I'm one in a thousand." The prevailing attitude is, I paid in all these years, it's my money. Oh please. When us sixty somethings started paying in, we were forced to retire at 65, and didn't have the medical technology to keep us alive for more than another 10 years after retirement (if we were lucky). Today, we're still working at 65, we probably will for at least another 5 years, and then, with the help of modern science, exercise, lack of cigarette smoke in our world, and a better understanding of diet, we intend to live another 10-15 years after that. So, we will be a much bigger burden on the system than our parents ever where.

Further, there are sooo many of us. Of course we're going to break the system if we aren't willing to sacrifice for the good of our kids and their kids, and so on.
So, in the new year, I intend to call my MPP, Harinder Takhar and tell him that I have an idea how the government can save a few bucks without cutting services to anyone who really needs them. You should do the same, not call Harinder, but, call your MPP.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breaking News: The Many Proofs that Kim Jong-un is Jewish

I've been listening to the news about the death of Kim Jong-il, "Dear Leader", and I've observed a startling truth. The family is definitely Jewish! How do I know this for a fact, o.k., that's easy. Remember the old joke about how you knew that Jesus was Jewish:

1. He was sure his mother was a virgin, and his mother was sure he was God.
2. He lived at home until the age of 33
3. He went into his father's business.

Now, let's look closely at Kim Jong-un.

1. His family calls him The Brilliant Comrad and Great Successor
2. He's definitely in his father's business
3. According to the family personal chef, he was the favourite son because "he was exactly like his father"
4. His family has declared January 1 as a national holiday to celebrate his birthday (Note: Jesus' followers did the same thing for December 25)
5. Does he live at home? He sure does now.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Inside Scoop on the Harper Family XMAS Photo Shoot

Another controversy Made In Canada. According to The Star, the Harper family kids wore the same outfits on this years XMAS cards as on last years variety. Not so says the National Post, it's actually one of last years pictures being used this year.
Before I begin this tongue in cheek blog, let me first say that I think it's inappropriate to put the Prime Minister's family in the middle of any political story, and, this one is just too stupid to believe that in The Star, not only did it make the paper, but it was front page news this week!
So, here's my take on what really happened with the XMAS Photo Session. First of all, a bit of background. Family is the great equalizer. You might be the Prime Minister during the day, or, like my brother-in-law, a heart surgeon at the most prestigious heart hospital in the U.S., but when you come home, as my brother-in-law so aptly puts it:
"At work, I'm Doctor Professor. Oh thank you Doctor, what do you think Doctor, what should we do Doctor, but then, I come home to the teenagers, and it's no longer Doctor, it's DAAAADDD, nobody asked you, or you're so annoying, you're so old, and so on."
Back to Canada. So, the PM comes home and says, "hey kids, time for the XMAS post card. Please get dressed in something appropriate and lose the green and pink hair, the piercings, the bare midriff, the skin tight exercise outfits, and ask my staff to cover up those tattoos. Look appropriate!"
And, the kids respond. "Dad you are so out of touch."
Luckily Mrs. PM is on top of the issue and says, "kids, remember those outfits that I bought last year for the photo shoot. They're on your beds. Put them on for the photographer and I promise the instant the shoot is done, you can take them off again."
To paraphrase from what the Berenstain Bear kids once said when Papa Bear found the perfect picnic spot (after a dozen or so misadventures):
Yes, Mom did it, did she not, she found the perfect geek clothing shop!
Thank you Canadian Press for sharing with us.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why do all the scandals happen in Mississauga-Erindale?

I have lived in the Mississauga Ward that is now called Mississauga-Erindale since 1981 and over the years, whenever there is a problem MP or MPP or City Councillor, the odds are good that the offender represents my ward. What's up with that?
For those of you who need a refresher course, my ward has consisted of the following notables:
In the late 1990's our provincial MPP was John Snobelen. You all know John, he's the high school drop out who Mike Harris appointed Minister of Education and who was taped saying that in order to shake up the educational establishment, his government intended to create a crisis in Education. They certainly did that. Thanks to Mr. Harris' government, the teachers of Ontario became the villains, my kids kept missing classes due to strikes, and in my opinion, the educational system became a disaster.
Of course, who can forget those wonderful years when Carolyn Parrish was our MP. Not to rehash old sillyness, Carolyn was finally thrown out of the Liberal Party after a series of incidents that began on Feb. 26, 2003 when she commented "on camera" after learning about the U.S. initiative in Iraq, Damn Americans... I hate those bastards. (see CBC News Indepth did later apologies, but as the above article relates, that was just the tip of her bad mouthing and rebelling against the party iceberg.
Our next "colourful" figure was Omar Alghabra who served as our MP from 2006-2008. And, during the Liberal leadership debate was allegedly linked to a document that was circulated around the convention floor informing everyone of Bob Rae's wife's involvement in a Jewish organization that the document claimed was a terrorist group. I watched the convention as it was unfolding and while I personally cannot confirm or dispute Mr. Alghabra's involvement in the disgraceful document, I do remember that when confronted by a reporter about the contents of the document, Mr. Alghabra did not back away from it's content. I think a lot of this is just smoke as Mr. Alghabra is young and as he once said personally to me in a phone conversation, I had no idea about the pressures he felt from certain ethnic groups. It's too bad that politicians of all stripes can't just come out and say, that's a smear campaign and I want nothing to do with it (ala. the Swift Boat stupidity).
So, just as it looked like life was quieting down, along comes Mr. Dechert, our current MP and the Chinese "sexpionage" (See Toronto Star, Nov. 30, 2011 ) scandal. Why does all political insanity in Canada seem to have a link to Mississauga-Erindale.
Hazel, can you please check out our water supply?