Yes, the Super Bowl as in football, cheerleaders, advertisement overload and the ensuing heartburn that will affect anyone brave enough to reach for the extra hot salsa. As an avid football fan, the Super Bowl is as much an anticipated event to crown a champion as it is a sad moment whereby Sundays will never be the same again until September. It’s all about the game, right? Well, it is of course but over the last 10-15 years, the game itself has become part of the overall package. The food, the parties, the halftime show and the commercials. Just like the aforementioned holidays on the calendar, the Super Bowl is one big overloaded package….as it should be.
From the early stages of my love for all things NFL until present day, the Super Bowl went from the final game of the football season to holiday status. A time when people plan on where to watch the game, with whom and what they will wear. And if they happen to be hosting the party, become so nervous about making sure that every last detail is right before their guests arrive. The food, the decorations, the television (or televisions). Absolutely nothing is left to chance. I have a friend who annually hosts a Super Bowl party. One year, the power went out and they were left scrambling to get into a bar to continue to watch the game. They weren’t successful and they wound up missing the third and fourth quarters. Since then he has taken the extra step of renting a generator in case the power goes out thus ensuring never to miss any of the action.
This type of preparation and attention to the last detail is not an everyday necessity. It’s the type of preparedness that comes with hosting or attending an event. That once-per-year day where everyone has one common goal – to be there. Like major holidays, no one wants to get to work the next day and say that they watched the game at home – alone. No, they want to be able to say they were at THE party with tons of friends, family, food and beer. Even people who are not football fans (yes, they do exist), make sure that they have plans on Super Bowl Sunday. That they have been invited to attend the yearly event somewhere.
And that’s the point. The Super Bowl is about getting together, watching the game, overeating and making sure that nothing is missed. Every play, every dip, chicken wing, pizza topping, commercial and every note sung (hopefully live and not lip-synched) during the halftime show. All is religiously analysed and followed until the Super Bowl trophy is given to the winning team. Then, all falls silent with the realization that another football season is over and there’s a mess to clean up after everyone has burped their last beer and burrito (hopefully not on your sofa). So whatever your plans, remember that this is a time to be together with friends and family. And as is the case with a New Year’s resolution, the diet and exercise regimen can start the day after the Super Bowl. For now, it’s about being there….wherever “there” is for you.
Oh and by the way, I’m picking San Francisco by 10 points.
There will undoubtedly be experts of all kinds parading on different television programs telling us why they think a seemingly normal person went on this rampage. Trying to impress us with all the terminology that they accumulated through years of psychology schooling and practice. They will tell us about all the possible answers except one – America needs to adopt a strict gun control policy. But this subject is so taboo in America for fear of the NRA and the right wing rednecks claiming their “right to bear arms” because it is the 2nd amendment in the constitution. They are correct…..but the constitution was drafted at a time when the founding fathers were nothing more than a white militia who had black slaves at their behest. They needed that 2nd amendment to protect themselves from invasions during a time where military conflicts were the norm because a country was being forged.
The last few years, there have been too many of these senseless and gratuitous acts of violence in America. Colombine, Virginia Tech, Arizona, Colorado and now this to name a few. Not to mention the everyday gun violence that reigns supreme on the streets of “America the beautiful”. But you can bet that in the days that follow, the NRA, Ted Nugent and every right wing crackpot will be defending their right to bear arms. Trolling out the same rhetoric. They will say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” One of the most idiotic and cowardly statements you will ever hear every time these buffoons make their cases for being “free”. To be clear, heinous acts such as this can happen anywhere. One only needs to think of what happened in Norway back in 2011 where 77 people were butchered in another senseless rampage. But if America claims to be the superpower it says it is. If it is the leader in defending freedom and peace as it proclaims to be, then it needs to start protecting itself from itself. If a deranged person decides to take innocent lives, then he/she may eventually find a way to get a firearm and carry out their agenda. But it doesn’t mean it has to be so incredibly easy to do so.
Pro-gun advocates argue that owning firearms are for sporting purposes; hunting, target shooting or collecting. Fine, it can be argued that this is a valid case. But you cannot make me believe that owning automatic assault weapons capable of firing multiple rounds in mere seconds is something that every person with a valid credit card should be able to own. Lawmakers in America could start by making automatic weapons as only available to law enforcement and the military. And the rest of the weaponry should be very difficult to acquire and own. Yearly criminal checks and very expensive licences is a start. You can bet that $1,000 or $2,000 per licence/per firearm/per year will deter the majority of potential gun owners from purchasing one. This is just a suggestion of course but one which is certainly on the right track. Of course, there are also millions of firearms available on the black market ready for the taking but as with any problem, you have to at least start somewhere and evolve, right?
And that’s the problem with America; It doesn’t evolve. It seems to rest on their past achievements, out-dated traditions and ways of thinking. Neglected inner cities, the 2nd amendment, tax reform. They are great at bickering with each other which consequently makes them great at getting nothing done or resolved. With the passage of stricter gun control laws combined with the consistent enforcement of them over a prolonged period of time, you not only change the law but also change a mindset. Drunk driving laws were a joke a generation ago. Today, people think twice and count their alcohol intake at parties or at a bar. And alcohol is so much easier to buy than a gun but yet, the population’s mindset is such that with every sip of a drink, they are thinking of stopping at their limit, knowing that failure to do so will come with severe punitive consequences if they are caught driving under the influence or worse, killing themselves or others in a crash. The statistics on drunk driving prove this. And I don’t see why this cannot be applied to gun control.
America is quick to debate about Kim Kardashian’s latest quote or fashion statement. Stupid tweets from celebrities or athletes get top page rankings. Infidelity by Gen. David Petraeus sparked national scrutiny on what his mistress wears or if she had plastic surgery. Oh, and the uproar and media coverage with the possible demise of the Twinkie?! Heaven forbid!! These have become national issues and given daily, front page status. Gun control? No, they can’t touch that, it’s the 2nd amendment. If America continuously states that it is a world leader, it has to stop assuming it is based on past achievements or sheer size. It has to evolve by not blaming individual people for their acts. Rather, it has to be accountable for its own actions and more importantly, their own inactions. When you try to correct something and it doesn’t work, at least you have a starting point from which you learn and evolve. If you choose to do nothing, it is the most disrespectful thing that can be done to those whose lives have been savagely taken away and to their surviving loved ones who have to endure immeasurable suffering and loss.
Inevitably, there will be many thoughts and prayers for the dead in the coming days which is normal and understandable. But thoughts, prayers or God will never bring back these kids. These have become standard fare after such tragic events. But nothing is ever done to correct the problem. Before you know it, we will again be subjected to front page news on Lindsay Lohan’s latest debacle or Honey Boo Boo’s latest quote. If America is serious about taking steps that will avoid such acts to happen, then it has to back it up with proof. Show the world that it is the superpower it claims to be. Proving that it can accomplish anything it puts its collective mind to. Anything less is a severe insult to the children that died in Connecticut. The same children America always says it wants to build a better country for.
May the innocent victims rest in peace.
If the 2008 economic meltdown and current state of affairs taught us anything, it’s to cut back on spending and save for a rainy day – or a torrential downpour. Since then, images from various news sources put faces on the jobs that were forever lost and on home foreclosures stemming from falling one payment too many behind on a mortgage. Last summer, I was walking my dog taking one of several familiar routes. Normally, this is a pleasant time. A time in the early evening when I can wind down from a caffeine fuelled day of work by walking a friendly and appreciative pooch.
As I was winding my way through many streets, I came across a house that had what seemed like a pile of garbage on the front lawn. Refrigerator, range, table, chairs, bed and a half dozen boxes. Knowing this route well, I found it quite odd as it was not garbage collection day. Was it perhaps a renovation, water damage, exterminator? As I got closer, I saw a little girl sitting on the front steps. Behind her, was a beautiful door complete with a yellow notice taped to it and a special padlock securing it. It was quickly apparent that this home was in foreclosure and the family had been thrown out. This little girl, who was probably as young as my own daughter (no more than 6-7 years old), was keeping watch on the only possessions that the bailiff spared. She would no longer play in the back yard, no longer play on the street with other children. On that day, that child grew up way too fast.
There are unfortunately far too many families who have gone or are going through this type of ordeal. Many entities could be blamed for their predicament and I am sure that every one of them (some more than others) had a part in it; banks, mortgage brokers, the economy, the government for not policing the industry enough, the homeowners themselves. But we seem to forget one thing that we should also point our fingers at – technology. Credit cards, the internet, debit cards and automatic teller machines all make borrowing, withdrawing and spending money incredibly easy.
Now for the record, I am not against technology. The technological advances in the medical and communications fields alone are nothing short of phenomenal. Technology enables doctors to treat patients more effectively, helps us to interact with people from around the world in a few seconds and everything from finding an exact destination to ordering pizza seems run-of-the-mill normal. But if we look at technology and the specific role it plays in our wallets, we realize just how financially deadly it can be. When it comes to personal finances, this is the silent technological cancer.
I remember as a child, going to the bank with my parents whenever they needed money to get through the week. Things like groceries, gas and paying the utilities. I also remember when my parents wanted to purchase something that went beyond the normal budget. Things like a new garment, furniture or simply taking out extra money because of an upcoming outing for a special occasion. In order to have the necessary funds, they had to go out, drive to the bank, fill out the little withdrawal request paper and stand in a long line waiting for a teller. Oftentimes, just because of the hassle required to withdraw money, they would change their minds, deciding that they really didn’t need a new black panther statue with the ashtray on its head anymore (hey, this was the 70′s!). Or that the winter coat my mom already had would do just fine for another winter.
Today, we seldom carry cash in the form of bills anymore. But this never poses a problem. Whether we see something we like in a store, are out with friends, need gas, get a hunger pang or simply decide to take a cab because it’s raining, our cash is just a card swipe away. And should we not have sufficient funds to for example, go on a vacation; out come the credit cards to the rescue! Growing up, I was always taught to only purchase things we can afford. Now, we get the things we want regardless of cost and base our financial viability on the amount of the minimum monthly payment. Because you have to admit that 60 equal payments sounds much better than 5 long years of debt.
Borrowing money is fine for a home, a car or an education. And using a credit card is fine too, so long as you can pay it off in 30 days. I mean, if we want to buy something substantial like a major appliance, I doubt that we carry $1000+ cash in our pockets. Today applying for any loan requires no more than a computer or Smartphone and an internet connection. I even have a friend of mine who purchased a new leather couch simply by filling out the credit application and the order form on the retailer’s website using his Smartphone. It’s important to note that we were at a football game when he accomplished this. Amazing? – Of course! Dangerous – absolutely! But all those purchases with low monthly payments add up. And before you know it, you’re tens of thousands in debt. Things change all the time. People get sick and can’t work or have to take on less hours because production is down or lose their jobs altogether. But those monthly payments come in like clockwork. Those never change and in fact, most of them, thanks to technology, are delivered right in our email inbox (so much for blaming the mailman anymore).
Technology was and is meant to make our lives better and in many respects, it has. But like any powerful tool, you have to respect it otherwise it will come back to haunt you. About four years ago, an old friend of mine was also spending beyond her means. Then one day, she was let go at work due to downsizing and suddenly those small payments became incredibly large. She found a new job but at a lesser salary. Along with her husband, she wondered why they were still struggling. They had become so programmed with the easy credit online and with debit and credit cards that they had to learn how to manage their money again. And one day, they actually took a look at their bank statements. To this day, they are still horrified at what they saw. All those purchase withdrawals, bank fees and automatic deductions due to those “low monthly payments”. They were burning through funds at a monthly rate of between $800 – $1000 more than what they were taking in. It still boggles their minds to this day…
In this virtual world, everything we see is always the same. The debit and credit cards we use are always in our wallets and never change in appearance. It’s a false sense of financial security. If you really want the real and gruesome picture, here’s a 30 day exercise you can do. Stop using plastic for all your purchases and instead, use cold hard cash. Because subconsciously, when you will notice all those bills flying out of your wallet, you will (at least I hope) stop dead in your tracks. You will have performed the best magic trick on earth. Now you see it, now you don’t…you’ll see your money vanish faster than you can earn it. When you run out of money, it hurts. When you pay for something in cash, you see and feel it. As for the cards, they’re always there so you don’t feel like you’re running out of money. They’re always in your wallet….
During my friend’s same financial revelations and subsequent spending overhaul, she had four credit cards all with running balances. She paid them all off and now owns only one card whereby there is no limit but whatever is purchased is due IN FULL at the end of the month. She now leaves her debit cards at home and whenever possible pays for everything in cash. When she runs out of cash for the week, she doesn’t withdraw more money until the next week. And finally, she sought financial counselling with a trusted advisor. It took her and her husband a few short months to rein in their spending whereby they went from running a deficit, to actually building their savings. The best part is that they don’t even miss their reckless spending. Now instead of frivolous purchases, they invest in their own savings. So the money is still being transferred only this time, to themselves.
Technology should be regarded as a useful tool and its power should never be underestimated. Too many people hit the “enter” button instead of the “escape” button on their financial keyboards. Continuing to do so may result in you sitting in front of your front door with a yellow paper and padlock dangling from it. But it doesn’t have to get to that point. Making some small changes in habit will make a huge difference. Again, I really do love technology; especially my new 50 inch flat screen LED television. What I like most about it is the fact that it was only one easy payment…
Today is Father’s Day and as is customary every year, it goes almost unnoticed. Compared to the Christmas-like frenzy that is Mother’s Day, the day for dads is well… just another day. I, myself am a father of two young children and I would not expect either one of them to bring me a dozen roses or a silk scarf like Mother’s Day! But it’s hard to argue the fact that Father’s Day is a little ignored. And dads wouldn’t want it any other way.
You see, I never liked the big birthday bashes, work parties or Father’s Day gatherings that were planned exclusively for me. I never want or expect anything from my loved ones. In fact, I never ask for anything on Christmas or my birthday either. All I want every year is the same thing. My weekend tickets to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal (which was held last week). I may sound a little boring asking for the same old thing every year (although F1 is hardly “boring”). It’s a steady, stay the course gift. Everyone knows what to expect and there are no surprises. Which is exactly what dads should be all about.
Moms are everything to a household. They keep the home tidy, often are the ones doing the cooking, help the kids with their homework and are generally the nurturing side of the parent job. Dads are there for direction, advice, discipline and money…sort of like a commodity! Which sounds a little bland and maybe that’s why Father’s Day is a little overlooked. Everyone knows dad is there but it’s no big deal….until they are not there. Just like your car which is there to transport us, protect us, keep us comfortable and is reliable…….a commodity! Unless your car is in the shop for repairs, we take it for granted but it doesn’t make it less important.
My kids get excited because they’re always eager to give me their handmade gifts that they made at school. There are no ties, socks, cologne or hand tools (God knows I have plenty of all those things!). No, their excitement revolves on my reaction to their gifts and the hugs and kisses they will shower me with. And that’s all I will ever need. Dads are the beacon, the protector and the trusted advisor. The thing my kids do not know is that they have taught me more than I can ever teach them.
When my kids were born, they didn’t come with an instruction manual or a 1-800 help line. They arrived naked and crying. Everyday since then, I became a different person. Always learning, always trying to do better for their sake. Kids are the ultimate life lesson and class is never dismissed. So every day and especially Father’s Day, I am grateful for my kids. First and foremost for their continued health; but especially for teaching me about myself and how to really love. In short, they made my life matter.
So to all the dads out there, enjoy your golf game, tie, cologne, socks, shirt and hand-crafted presents from your kids. Remember that the festive atmosphere is fleeting. In no time, we’ll be relegated back to semi-obscurity. Called upon constantly for the most mundane but important tasks…like the car in your garage. All you have to do is keep the tank filled.
Happy Father’s Day…
Courteous, professional, patient, helpful. These are just some of the adjectives that would best describe the Montreal police force during this surreal unrest that has hit Montreal because of the student protests. In all my years going to the Formula 1 Grand Prix, I have never seen so much police presence. There are even more police than in 2002, months after the 9/11 attacks in the US where security at this event was tight. I always attend the grand for the entire three days. Friday, I thought that the police were really out in force. Saturday, it went a step further; more police officers with the addition of police dogs. The subway line leading to the race track also had 1-2 officers in every train wagon. And let me tell you these officers are really top-notch.
In the past, the Montreal police force has been painted as a bumbling, third-rate entity. I am thoroughly impressed with how they are handling this crisis. They protect the main festive sites such as Crescent street where the main festivities take place. St-Laurent boulevard, the subway, the race venue; they are there holding the fort. On Saturday night, images of protesters pushing police officers and destroying squad cars and smashing office building windows were nothing short of sickening. And the police took it all in stride; but I feel that is about to change and I hope it does.
Recently, these criminals have been bolder by taunting, pushing and throwing projectiles at police. But it can’t and won’t go on forever. I personally cannot wait until the batons come out and these poets, anarchists, students and philosophers get crushed and beaten to a pulp. Because you can’t destroy property, assault a police officer, block streets and continuously take a city hostage. The real citizens of this province have had enough and this is openly manifested more and more. I see shop owners, people attending festive events and the business community openly voice their opinions. Confronting these vermin and fighting back. And this is where it gets tricky.
I would love to beat the crap of one or more of these pieces of trash. It’s what they deserve. But an urban civil war is not what anyone in their right minds want. And before it gets to that point, the police will go on the offensive after being amazingly pacifist for so long. And I can already hear the bleeding hearts crying foul. Infringing on human rights and police brutality. It won’t be police brutality, it’s upholding the law and defending citizens’ and the officers’ own rights and safety. Enough of this BS. It’s time to crush these losers into submission.
So a big THANK YOU to the men and women in blue and also those in green from the provincial police. I thank every one personally when I talk to them on my way to the race venue and let me tell you they appreciate it. They see that the public is behind them and it makes them see that their efforts are lauded. Which reminds me, I have to get ready for day 3…
Ah the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Elitist, sexist, in-your-face riches. And that’s just the way I and every fan likes it.
I was and still am a huge fan of Gilles Villeneuve. The late, great Formula 1 driver taken away from us way too soon. He never complained without doing something about what ailed him, had guts and was ready to stand by his actions and comments. Unlike his son who also always lets his tongue wildly loose but oftentimes would spew nothing but gibberish….until now. Villeneuve openly criticized the student protests and ridiculed them. He spoke his mind the other night and his mind was bang on!. Here is a man who was always a “gars du peuple” (man of the people). The French separatists and socialist whiners always counted him as one of their own.
So how shocking to hear their hero blast their stupidity and actions of the last few months?Villeneuve shot from the hip (or mouth). He said, “For people who laud the right of free expression, I find it ridiculous that I wouldn’t have the right to say what I think.” He also added when asked about the protesters threatening to block access to the metro (subway) line that leads to the Grand Prix race site on Sunday that “it would be a blatant act of terrorism. It’s sad is all. The protests lasted three months and I think everyone has had enough of them.” He went on to say, “We heard, and now it’s time to go back to school. I think these people grew up without ever hearing their parents ever tell them ‘No.’ So that’s what you see in the streets now. People spending their time complaining. It’s becoming a little bit ridiculous,” he said.
Oh and it gets better!! He said, “With all this security, it does not seem like we are in Canada. It will leave a lasting negative impression on Montreal. These protesters are out of touch and lack thinking. It’s costing the city, the province and the country a fortune. They say that the government has to pay, but where does the money come from? They say to take the money from the rich! But the rich will move away in another country if this is allowed to continue. They will invest outside of the province and country. So where will the tax money come from then? Who will pay for their tuition”?
He concluded by saying, “We live in a democracy. We vote for people, and when we grow tired of them or are unhappy, we vote for new people in the next election. Between now and then, go back to school!” All this was on Thursday evening as Villeneuve and many celebrities from (F1, music and film) as well as business people were attending a $1,000 a ticket gala event which the protesters and anarchists denounced as part of the crass, elitist capitalists. The event is a fund-raiser for charity……idiots.
The following day, Villeneuve confirmed he received threats and unlike other public figures, he refused to retract his comments and reiterated that he stood by them. Because of that, in my book, Jacques is a true champion. A champion on and off the track. His dad would be very proud….as are the silent majority.
I know, that’s what I said. She’s engaged to Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth. She’s 19 – he’s 22. Probably a publicity stunt. They’ll drag this for as long as they can milk it and have all those “have you set a date” questions constantly fired at them. But if they are really stupid and actually get married, I will give it oh……15 months.
Dr. Guy Turcotte. Young and successful cardiologist with seemingly everything going for him was scheduled to be released from the Pinel Mental Institute in a few weeks. A little history – back in 2009 after discovering that his wife was having an affair with her personal trainer, Turcotte could not bear the thought. So, he apparently drank windshield washer fluid in an attempted suicide. He failed in his bid to end his days but not to be outdone, decided to stab his two young children Olivier and Anne-Sophie , ages 5 and 3 respectively several times. Their coward father did this unthinkable act of savagery while they were asleep.
He was found the next day hiding under a bed in the same home. He was arrested and some weeks later, a trial ensued. No one thought he would get anything less than life in prison. His own life saved only by the fact that in Canada, there is no death penalty. During a gut wrenching trial and after testimony from several “experts”, Guy Turcotte was found “not criminally responsable” for the murder of his two children!! Ah yes…..the experts. His lawyer had miraculously convinced the jury that his client, who was always a loving and nurturing father, simply snapped while he was stabbing his children repeatedly. Ok so, I snap all the time. Do I take an axe and wipe out half my neighbourhood??? NO!!!
So with the ”not criminally responsable” verdict, the accused do not go to prison. Instead, they are sent to a mental institution for further evaluation where they can be held indefinitely or, should the experts decide as such – also be released back in the general public if they are deemed no longer a threat to society.
Thankfully, earlier today a panel deemed this monster too dangerous to be released. The fact that they even considered him for release is an insult to those two innocent children he brutally murdered and a huge worry for the public in general. Regardless if someone is sick or not (personally I think it’s BS), if you kill someone, you’re still a murderer….
Monster supreme Luka Rocco Magnotta was arrested today in Berlin while sitting in an internet cafe. Again, as per my previous post on June 1st regarding this animal, why would or should the Canadian taxpayer pony up his/her hard-earned money for food, lodging and “treatment” of this poor excuse of a living thing??
Is it time for the death penalty? In cases such as these….YES! Here’s the link from Interpol.