Protests and pruning

March 16, 2018

Yesterday in the Globe and Mail I read profiles of seven protesters at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline construction site. Every one of them looked like someone I would willingly accept as a colleague and friend. So why are we on opposite sides over the expansion of a pipeline to tide water?

As a retired teacher in Leeds County, Ontario, I can do my bit for the environment at this time of year by pruning the many acres of young black walnut trees I grow on the property. But land is plentiful here.

Were I to find myself in Vancouver, I suppose I’d likely spend my days at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion site with the other well-meaning retirees.

There is so little flat ground out there.

In the Ontario countryside I’ll bet at least some of the protestors would be making maple syrup at this time of year and thoroughly enjoying the work.


Online they say it’s a 20 minute job, so I planned to devote the entire afternoon in the shop to the task. My estimate was just about right.

I ran mason’s cord from the trailer hitch up both sides to jack stands at the front. Then I stretched the string across the leading and trailing edges of the rear tires to provide a straight line up each side at the hub. I measured the gap between the narrower front wheels and the string, usually between 1 1/2 and 2″.

When I locked the steering wheel with ratchet straps, I decided I needed to reduce the toe-out from over 1/4″ on either side to just under 1/8″ on either side.

I ran the Ranger up on the hoist a couple of times to get the adjustment right, and the job was done.

That’s the 20 minute version.

In reality the right wheel was toeing out to where the combined track at the front was just over an inch wider than at the back of the front wheels. Most of it was on the right hand side where I had replaced a tie rod end (I think they call it) by screwing it on as tightly as it would go.

It had broken off one day a couple of summers ago, so I ordered a pair of them online and replaced the broken one on a temporary basis so I could use the machine. It turns out when you twist those things onto the little metal rod which goes to the steering gear, you don’t make everything tight. Things are supposed to be sort of in the middle, to allow for adjustment with the grub nut. So I had to take the part off and re-install it. Then it was fine.

Ranger suspension components are much easier to work on than their Porsche equivalents, though there is a dearth of information about them. Old Porsches have likely the best documented repair procedures on earth, and that’s just You-Tube.

The Ranger now makes tight turns more easily, especially at full lock. With any luck the expensive new tires won’t wear off once I start daily runs to the mailbox over pavement.

The local municipality legalized UTV’s for the road last year (helmets mandatory), so it’s a political act to go the 4/10 mile to Forfar for the mail in the Ranger now.

Lever of power

February 2, 2018

The Jian Ghomeshi trial pitted a very popular CBC radio personality against a number of prominent women who claimed that Ghomeshi assaulted them. In the courtroom the complainants proved no match for the exceedingly focussed woman who defended her client. No one doubted the survivors of abuse in this case, but the law found otherwise.

The pendulum had swung too far. A correction was inevitable, and over the last year it has taken the form of the #MeToo whateveritis which has relied upon public shaming on social media, rather than the court of law, as a way of finding redress.

Over the last two weeks in Canada we have seen the #MeToo tsunami sweep over our political world, both at the federal and provincial levels.

The sexual assaults have proven relatively straightforward: an aggrieved survivor or two can bring down a target at long range, without the necessity to reveal proof or even her name. Hearsay evidence is fine in the court of public opinion and politics, because everyone agrees that power imbalances make for taboo sex.

Thus #MeToo provided a slick way to get rid of a couple of ineffectual leaders for the Ontario Provincial Conservative Party in the run-up to an election.

But when the complaint against a quadriplegic man for saying “You’re yummy” in an elevator is equated with attempted rape, there’s something wrong here, even if the guy is a creep.

And how about when a slammed door, or shouting in the presence of subordinates becomes grounds for an anonymous complaint? Or how about a rival for a committee position writing to the party leader that she would not feel comfortable alone in a room with the named MP?

Witch hunts have a long and ugly tradition. They never had to do with witchcraft, but with economic competition. For example, most of the accusers of witches in the medieval era were physicians, and the accused, midwives who competed with them.

In every era when there’s been widespread fear of a hidden enemy, character assassination has become a lever of power.

It appears to me that there’s no mechanism in place to protect the #MeToo complainants and their targets from trivialization. Because of the lack of evidence of even genuine complaints, trivial and false reports must necessarily receive equal status. The process of reductio ad absurdum can’t be avoided. There will always be venal adversaries and those pursuing trivial, personal beefs from behind the cloak of anonymity which social media provide — as long as they work.

First robin

January 21, 2018

There’s a lot of winter left, but a robin turned up outside our kitchen window this morning.

Syrian refugees give blood

January 2, 2018

The Calgary Syrian Refugee Community kicked off the new year by turning out for the first blood donor clinic. Blood Services appreciated the 80-unit contribution from the group, especially because supplies are low at this time of year.

Two Syrian refugees organized it and made it happen. That’s O.K. in my book.

Check Huffington Post for photos:

Blade Runner 2049 review

December 26, 2017

I just finished screening it on my laptop. There’s a problem with this movie and its audience. The demographic which will absolutely adore it (65-70 year-old males) have to make washroom visits a lot more frequently than every 2 1/2 hours. And nobody will want to miss a minute of the film.

Denys Arcand has done a terrific job on the scifi classic. So has Ryan Gosling.
I won’t say any more to spoil it: buy the CD if you are my age. If you are under 40, find the best movie screen showing it and prepare for a feast.

Missing man located deceased after going through ice in Tay Valley Township Saturday

NEWS 05:47 PM Perth Courier

On Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at approximately 9 p.m., members of the Lanark County detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to an overdue person call on Bennett Lake, Tay Valley Township.

Police responded after receiving information that a male had been ice fishing on the lake and did not return home on his ATV. His family observed a large hole on the ice surface and became concerned that he had fallen through the ice. Lanark County OPP members attended to search for the male with the assistance of the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (USRU).

Elmer Abercrombie, age 80 of Tay Valley Township, was located deceased by OPP USRU officers. It was determined that Abercrombie had been travelling on the lake ice earlier in the day with his ATV and fell through.

If any person has further information in regards to this matter they are asked to please call 1-888-310-1122.