Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Very Sad News

January 3, 2011

For those unaware , John Holdstock , the creator of the Totalrecoil Blog passed away very suddenly on Dec.25th.
He will be sorely missed by all his Family and friends .

John was a remarkable man and with a wide range of interests and opinions

Below is eulogy His son Kevin gave at his service.


To simplify that off the top. Throughout this, I will be referencing him as “John” “Dad” or “ Father”. Depending on when or where you knew him from, please insert “Jack” “JB “ “John John” or “Johnny”at your convenience.

The signature on my Fathers Emails is “The world is run by those who show up.” So you have done your part now.
I think my Father would be very pleased with to see how many of you have come today. He used to say he was sure he would be the only one to be here on this day, and promised for years to write his own Eulogy. He figured at least that way it would be right. I will try my best to do him justice.
I had the great gift of not only having John Holdstock as my Father, but I can truly say I had a rare pleasure amongst Father and Sons to say he was my best friend. I loved being with him and just talking to him. Throughout the last several years several people I know have been surprised over the frequency that I was in contact with my Father and when I was asked what we talk about, I could always say “ everything”. I knew I could pick up the phone, and no matter what, we had something to talk about.
He was a man of many true gifts and talents and I would like to, at least try, and celebrate some of those today.
He was an Avid golfer. That may come as a surprise to many of you but he was also had a great interest in the history of the sport and he loved watching Golf. The Golf channel was a staple at the house. Even when He would stay with me on one of his trips through to Saskatchewan, the golf channel would always be on. He knew everything about the PGA, and when some lesser know player would win a championship; I could always count on Dad to tell me their histories. At one point our mutual cable TV providers were changing their channel line up and moving the Golf channel to a specialty package you had the option of buying. I wasn’t sure I was going to add the package to my lineup. However, when taking to him about the matter, I was told, while he was not happy about the change he was, of course, `going to pay the extra fees for the channels. He then went on to tell me, if I didn’t have the Golf channel, he would have to stay at hotels on future trips through Calgary. Needless to say, I upgraded my cable.
He was an explorer, not in the traditional sense, but he loved to travel, and he loved to find new things. He was well travelled. He I took a trip to Scotland, so he could Golf, and we could drink whiskey. He, Morag and Steven had his favorite trip to Greece, and there were many more but mainly, he loved to get in his truck and drive the backroads to his next destination. See the sights less seen, golf the smaller courses. He always had the most fascinating stories about the little towns he would go through and the people he would meet. He and Morag travelled down to the Masters in Georgia. And a Marvelous adventure But it wasn’t just the small town experience he liked. He loved poking around in Washington DC on his trips there and the same when they went to New York. He just likes to discover things.
. Morag, Dad loved having you as a travel companion. For all the times in his life. At home and on the road.

He was a singer. In one of his yearbooks they say he sang like Johnny Ray…you can look him up on your Google machine when you get home. After High School, he didn’t sing for anyone but family and mainly himself. As children, on long car rides he would entertain us with songs of gunfighters and women in white linen. Often when Dad found a song he thought had interesting lyrics he would sing me a verse or two. He had eclectic tastes in music, so you never knew what would catch his fancy. We were visiting in the fall, and I happen to be passing by his office area while he was singing along to a Blues artist he had discovered. I had to stop and listen for a few minutes and be reminded of those long car trips made a little easier by my Fathers easy Baritone.

He was a Reader. He, literally, has a library of books, which I am sure he had read most of… He read a vast array of online newspapers and blogs He was always up on current events and had strong views on most issues. He read everything. He loved science fiction and Fantasy books, and TV. He loved the Harry Potter series, and turned a bunch of us onto the Bone series of graphic novels. He loved to give books… Over the years several book my Dad thought were of interest were sent to me, probably to broaden my horizons. And he should never be doubted. The last one he sent to me, the Outliers , was been read by myself , my partner Corrie , my next door neighbor and recommended highly by everyone else I talk to about it. At one point, He believed I should read more of the classic and the complete adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe found their way to me over the period of my birthday and Christmas. later when asking if I had read the Poe stories and poems ,I said I had read most of them and while the poems were of course classics , I had to admit they were too Gothic for me and I enjoyed more “manly “ poetry of Rudyard Kipling, for a collection he had sent me on an earlier date. With little hesitation, dad just started…
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
My apologies to Mr. Kipling for editing his work.

He was a writer… One day, I receive plain manila envelope in the mail from Dad. And inside is a copy of a B.C. hunting magazine. The Post it note in his handwriting said. Thought you might enjoy this….and inside, there was his first published article. He had others over the years but, I think we will all remember his Blog, Total Recoil. When he started it several years ago, I admit to thinking…That’s so great, my retired Dad, trying his hand at this, relatively, new medium. I thought he would post a few times and that would be the end of it. Of course, I could not have been more wrong. He maintained Total Recoil on a regular basis until just a few days an ago. It gave him an opportunity to give his take on a variety of subjects, from Movies, to the political issues he was interested in to sometimes just the absurdity of life.
During so many conversations he would say he had posts he had been working on that he needed to get up. I never wanted to know what it was about, I would just wait until he posted his very well written thoughts, and enjoy it when the time came.
He enjoyed technology and the gadgets they availed him too. Maybe it was the years of reading Science fiction that allowed him to so easily embrace the digital age. `He always loved photography and immediately embraced the digital version, sitting at his desk I see his computer, a mini video recorder, a hand held digital camera, and a small voice recorder. And that just on the top of things. I wrote this on his net book. He loved these things that he found “neat” and never shyed from trying anything new.
He was Funny….So many have commented on his Dry humour, and his somewhat sarcastic wit, and that is true, he a quick mind and always had a quip at the ready but there was a silly, goofy side that could often manifest itself. He could bring me to tears with his stupid voices and ridiculousness. But he also loved to laugh. His sense of humour was broad but I think he got the most joy from the people around in. His brother Wayne always had a way of amusing Dad. He greatly enjoyed their frequent phone call and his trips to Saskatchewan to visit our family in Weyburn. My cousin Marnie, whether taking to Dad, or sending him emails would just Break him up. Marnie, I found an email folder that he has saved all your correspondence. He had always threatened to collected them all and publish them. But before that goes to your head, he also has a folder titled “Idiots”
…and he was young…. For 74 years old he was the youngest man I knew. I thanked him and my mother on several occasions for the good genes. He didn’t look or act his age. Upon meeting him, one of friends remarked, “I know he’s retired, so he’s at least 65 but I can’t believe that.”
This leads to the greatest lesson my Father never intentionally taught me, that to stay young, stay young at heart. Embrace the light in life, and the joys it brings, as he did. But also never stop moving forward; Dad never said “I can’t”. He was not afraid of new ideas and technologies and made use of everything at his disposal. He saw benefits in the digital age, and never looked back and bemoaned “It was better backing when” The past existed and could be accessed anytime but the Future …..That was the adventure.
I am Kevin Holdstock…and I am my Fathers Son.


Daylight Saving Time: Eliminate!

November 8, 2010

I hate DST. At least in the fall when we jump back an hour and we lose an hour of afternoon light.

I always understood that the practice came into effect to help farmers who got up early and needed the extra morning light. But then they invented electric lights, so what’s the big deal.

Now it’s still dark in the morning and dark an hour earlier in the afternoon. It’s depressing.

Saskatchewan doesn’t change anymore and it’s farm country, so what do they know that we don’t?

Can we have a referendum on this?

The problem with random breathalyzer checks

November 3, 2010

The federal government is making noises about allowing the police to make random breathalyzer tests without cause. Now there’s an abuse just waiting to happen.

The federal justice minister is considering a new law that would allow police to conduct random breathalyzer tests on drivers, regardless of whether they suspect motorists have been drinking.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson raised the prospect recently at a meeting of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, according to MADD chief executive Andrew Murie.

If random testing were to be adopted, it would be a major change to Canada’s 40-year-old breathalyzer legislation, which stipulates that police may only administer a test if they suspect a driver has been drinking.

In June, a House of Commons parliamentary committee recommended changing the legislation to allow for random testing, arguing it is an effective deterrent.

Of course the police think it’s a fine idea.

B.C.’s chiefs want the freedom to pull over anyone, anywhere, at any time of day and ask them to take random breathalyzer tests. Currently, an officer requires cause to get a breath sample.

“The randomness of catching people who are drinking and driving is pretty key to lowering the death rate and sending a very clear message to people that break the law,” Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham told CTV News.

“If people know there are going to be officers out there — are not sure where they are — maybe the message will finally get through to those people who just don’t get it.”

If the police think it’s a good idea then obviously our opposition party leaders, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton should be solidly behind it as well. At least that was their argument with the long gun registry: The police are in favour of it therefore we have to keep it.

We’ll see what they have to say about random police stops.

But then again, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) is all for giving police those kind of invasive powers, so it might not be a long-shot to think that I & L would go along with the idea.

Random breath testing is a roadside breath screening test to detect impaired drivers. It is used mainly at stationary checkstops where every passing driver is required to stop and give a breath sample. Drivers remain in their cars, and the process is routine, quick and causes minimal delays for sober drivers.

However that isn’t the way that the police see it working (see above).

I see the proposal as being the old slippery slope proposition. If the police can make the case that they need the ability to randomly stop citizens for drinking and driving offenses they can probably make the case for other situations.

Then there is the likelihood that some police officers will abuse that right by stopping people for reasons unrelated to drinking and driving while using the the breathalyzer test as their excuse.

An editorial in the Calgary Sun, while pointing out the possible benefits of such a law, also argues against the proposed law.

Drunk driving is a scourge. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada estimates that 1,239 people died due to impairment-related motor accidents in 2007 and a further 73,120 were injured. That’s three deaths and 200 injuries per day.

In spite of these alarming figures, we take issue with Alberta Justice Minister Alison Redford’s lock-step endorsement of federal Conservative suggestions to let police conduct random breathalyzer tests without cause, a move supported by Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson. If implemented, police would not need to determine if there is reasonable suspicion that a driver has been drinking, as is required even at Checkstops, where a driver’s actions and demeanour must be assessed before a breath sample is demanded.

Richard Rosenberg of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association properly argues that random testing would be a violation of a person’s right to protection against unreasonable search and seizure. “It has no real place in a democratic society,” he said. “Giving police power to act on a whim is not something we want in an open democratic society.”

Hopefully the federal government will rethink this foolishness.

Divine intervention in Chile

October 22, 2010

There has been a lot of talk about miracles in the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. Granted it was an incredible story and an amazing feat to get the whole crew out safe and sound. But a miracle? I don’t think so. Unless you want to talk about the miracle of technology.

We’ll never know, but I wonder if those 33 miners would be alive today without the worldwide media attention their plight generated.

Without the wall-to-wall media coverage would the outside technology have become available to make the rescue possible? Would the mining company have spent the time and the money necessary to effect the rescue? Would the Chilean president have been front and center at the rescue operation for the duration?

I don’t know about the first two, but I would bet the last one wouldn’t have happened.

Of course everyone wants to take credit for the rescue.

It is the race within the race: while rescuers inch towards the trapped miners rival churches tussle over the miracle in the making. Evangelical, Adventist and Catholic clerics are vying to stamp their own particular faith on a surge in religious fervour as the drama nears a climax in Chile‘s Atacama desert.

The three Christian denominations have each claimed credit for what they say is divine intervention in the survival – and expected imminent rescue – of the 33 men who have spent 67 days beneath the earth.

There was also a report that when the information became available that the miners were had been located and were still alive that there was an attempt to withhold the information from family members until Chilean President Pinera could arrive and deliver the message personally. Proving once again that the political need for a photo op overrides all other sensibilities.

To put things in perspective, while the world became emotionally attached to the drama of the Chilean rescue, 4 miners died in a mine collapse in Ecuador and 26 miners were killed and 11 trapped in a mine explosion in China.

No miracles there.

More on the decline of the English language

October 8, 2010

Having recently blogged on the subject, I feel compelled to mention the latest attack on English grammar that I read in the September issue of Golf Canada.

The writer of the article describes the start of a golfing trip as follows:

Having played the Quail and the Bear on previous trips, myself and three pals headed 25 minutes north of Kelowna ….

Myself has done that very same trip. Although myself hasn’t done it recently.

Pope apology 15 years too late

September 19, 2010

After years of his church covering up the crimes of the pedophiles in their ranks and transferring deviant priests to new parishes when their crimes began to surface, thereby putting whole new populations at risk, the Pope has finally decided that it is time to address the problem with a statement made on his current London tour.

As he has done on three previous visits, the pope held a private meeting with victims of sexual abuse hours after telling worshippers at a Mass that pedophile priests had brought “shame and humiliation” on him and the Roman Catholic Church.

A shame that they rightly deserve. Not so much because it happened – pedophiles show up in any group, particularly those that tend to exercise power over their members and where they have access to children. The shame and humiliation should come from the disgraceful way in which they tried to avoid the problem, protecting the criminals and even promoting some to higher level positions in the church.

But the mea culpa wasn’t all about how the church and the Pope had been damaged by the abuse scandal.

“I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes …,” he said in his sermon in the towering cathedral built in the late 19th century.

Unfortunately the churches’ thinking about the suffering of the victims has come very late in the game. And certainly the courage to admit to the crimes has come about only with great reluctance.

A book by British Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson argues that Pope Benedict could be legally charged with obstructing justice or for harbouring pedophiles in the priesthood, although he admits that such a turn of events is unlikely to happen.

But the problem that church has is so huge that papal apologies, although necessary, hardly make up any ground for past actions.

Since the dam crumbled around the turn of the decade, a cascade of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy has come tumbling into the open. So many cases emerged that the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference commissioned an expert study, which concluded in 2004 that, since 1950, 10,667 individuals had made plausible allegations against 4,392 priests, 4.3 per cent of the entire body of clergy in that period. The total bill in settlements with victims is spiralling toward $2 billion and won’t stop, Forbes predicts, this side of $5 billion. Depressingly similar stories from other First World countries, including Canada, soon emerged; the situation in Latin America and Africa, where no investigations have ever been made, can only be imagined.

It will be interesting to see how Pope Benedict’s apologies will be be taken.

I know that for myself, when I initially heard the news report, my reaction was one of anger at what I saw as the hypocrisy of an apology when the hierarchy of the church knew what was going on for decades and did nothing. Actually they did worse than nothing. They aided and abetted and if I was a member of the Catholic congregation I don’t know if I could ever accept that apology in good faith.

WiFi on the road

May 9, 2010

This article makes note of something that has struck me as amusing (and annoying) when I am traveling. It seems that the more expensive the hotel, the more likely it is that you will be charged to access their WiFi system.

A while back I was in Ottawa and staying at a downtown hotel which stuck you for about $10 a day to connect into their WiFi. However literally all of the low to medium cost motels and hotels that you stay at around the country has their system available as a free service.

Obviously they figure that anyone staying and paying in the top dollar hotels is probably on company business and will charge the cost back to the company, so they really aren’t too concerned about the extra cost.

But it does seem rather bizarre that if you are staying at a $200 plus hotel you get tapped extra for internet access but in a $50 per night unit (and there still are some decent ones out there) you get your internet with no charge.

However, it’s better that way than the reverse.

The above-noted article also links to Hotel which has its 2010 Annual WiFi Report.

In its Worst Hotel WiFi section, they note that Las Vegas is consistently bad in trying to get decent WiFi. I suspect that they are talking specifically about the casinos. When passing through Sin City we usually stay at a Clarion Hotel just off the strip, which does have free WiFi, but not a very strong signal. To the point that I found it mostly unusable. But I gave them a slight nod for at least trying.

Last fall while in Laughlin for a golf tournament, the Casino where we stayed had no WiFi at all (and probably the crappiest TV I have found in a hotel for a couple of decades), but I reasoned that they wanted you down in their casino flushing your money through their machines and not sitting around your room watching TV or surfing the internet.

I suspect that if there is poor WiFi service in the Las Vegas casinos it would be for the same reason.

Phoenix Zoo

April 9, 2010

I have very mixed feelings about zoos. I enjoy going to them, at least the really good ones, but at the same time I find them rather sad in many ways.

I had these feelings again while walking through the Phoenix zoo recently.

I know all of the arguments that are made about the values of zoos for species preservation (in some cases) and the importance of educating the public to wildlife issues around the world and it is fun to see the enjoyment that the young kids get in watching the various animals.

But there is a sadness in seeing some of these animals confined to small quarters, more akin to a prison cell than living space.

I feel this particularly when I see the great soaring birds such as vultures and the hawks and eagles, who even in the best of zoo habitats are limited to roosting.

I had the same feeling with the orangutans in the Phoenix zoo, who are housed in a pit with a tiered structure in the centre while the paying customers lean on the railing above them and point and talk. The one good thing in Phoenix is that they are in the process of building a new habitat for the orangutans which hopefully will be a major improvement. (Now the Seattle zoo has a great setup for their orangutan group as they do for most of the species on site).

On the other hand I have no problem with seeing grazing animals behind the fence – provided they have some space – as I figure they’re happy just to have food and not be chased by predators.

Double standard?

Magic Jack: My new favourite thing

March 28, 2010

Usually when I travel into the U.S. we buy a phone card or two and use them for any long distance calls we need to make. However prior to my latest trip south I was told about the Magic Jack, which I initially thought was too good to be true.

The deal was that you bought the Magic Jack for just under 40 bucks and set it up on your computer. Then you subscribed for $10 to their service for a year. Plug the phone into the Magic Jack unit and the unit into your phone and you can dial out  to any phone number in the USA or Canada with no further costs. Plus they issue you a phone number with the area code of your choice.

I bought it. I set it up. I connected my phone. And it works like a damn.

The only problem I encountered was that they couldn’t supply my 250 area code and I had to take a 604 code. A minor inconvenience and one I hope to be able to rectify in the future.

Now when I travel, I will just take along my netbook, the magic Jack unit and a phone set and I can make calls (local or long distance) as long as I can get computer service.

As I have said before: Ain’t technology wonderful.

Canadians: Not a bad lot

February 21, 2010

It seems that Canada may have some features other than ice and snow, government health services, igloos, lack of culture, etc.

It turns out that we are OK!