Dear Mr. Trump

A gentleman by the name of Bill Howell penned this thoughful and insightful piece about Donald Trump. I wish I had written it myself.

Dear Mr. Trump,

It’s taken me a while to realize this and to admit it, but I’m grateful to you.

For the past few months I’ve spent a good deal of time lamenting your campaign and the poison it has so effortlessly generated. I’ve watched our country imploding, our public discourse become polluted, our political climate grows ever more corrosive, and wrongly assumed you were to blame.

It’s only lately I’ve come to understand that you haven’t manufactured our current national ugliness—you’ve simply revealed it.

By saying the irresponsible, mean-spirited, ignorant things you say so freely and so frequently, you’ve given other like-minded people license to do the same. You’ve opened up the floodgates for our corporate sewage to flow fully. People no longer conceal their vile mess, they now revel in it, they broadcast it and retweet it.

You’ve made bigotry and racism socially acceptable again and that has been a kind of twisted gift because it’s allowed me to really see people; not as they pretend to be on the surface—but in the very depths of their wounded, weaponized hearts.

Over and over as your campaign has persisted, your supporters would tell me that they like you because you “speak your mind”. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized that you speak their minds. You’ve given credence to their prejudices and made those prejudices go mainstream.

Thanks to the terrible ground you’ve broken, politicians, pastors, friends, and strangers, both in person and on social media now regularly out themselves as hateful, intolerant, and malicious.

You’ve emboldened people to be open about things they used to conceal for the sake of decorum, and though it turns my stomach, I know that this is the only way we can move forward; to have that cancerous stuff exposed fully so that it can be dealt with. Our progress as a nation is predicated on authentic dialogue, no matter how brutal and disheartening that dialogue is.

In other words, you’ve let us know what we’re really dealing with here and while it’s been rightly disturbing, it’s also been revelatory. That’s the thing about that kind of harsh light: you’re forced to see everything. Beauty and monstrosity equally illuminated.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think you’re the least qualified, least knowledgeable Presidential candidate we may ever have had participate this far into the process, and if you somehow were elected I’d fear gravely for the world my children would inherit—should it survive your Presidency at all. I believe you’re reckless, bitter, and completely reprehensible; the very worst kind of bully.

But whether you win or lose, you’ve already allowed me the blessing of Truth; about me, about you, about other candidates, about our nation.  And in the process you’ve also shown me that I am not alone in resisting you and this ugly thing you’ve revealed about us. You’ve generated an equally loud, equally passionate response to it and this is where I find my hope these days.

I find it in those for whom equality isn’t just a cheap buzzword, it’s the most precious of hills to die on.

I find it in those people who refuse to be silent in the face of our impending shared regression.

I find it in those willing to be bolder in defending the inherent value of all people.

I find it in the growing army of those who will not tolerate hatred as a core American value.

I find it in those who reject violence as our default response to dissension.

I find it in the ever rising voice of people who will not let malice and bitterness represent them in the world.

Today I find my hope in those who, like me, will not be complicit in allowing bigotry and intolerance to become a source of national pride, because we’ve seen where that leads.

Yes, Mr Trump, you’ve unearthed our hidden sickness and you’ve allowed it to go viral.

You brought every awful thing about us out into the open.

You will NEVER Get My Vote.

Mr. Poopy

You know those moments when you think to yourself, “this is a bad idea”?

Because of his sensitive gastrointestinal tract, I have to buy Buddy the dog specially-formulated dog food from the vets. It costs a fortune but saves both of us a lot of grief in poop messes.  As fate would have it, I ran out of his special food on Labour day weekend and had to pick up some ordinary dog food at the grocery store.  Enter the bad idea.


The miracle cleaner.

Two mornings later, I awoke to doggy diarrhea all over the carpet.  I stopped feeding Buddy the crappy food (pun fully intended) and decided to cover the carpet with puppy pads until the poop assault was over.  The next morning I awoke to more poop–and none of it on the puppy pads.  (Apparently, carpets are better landing zones for diarrhea than disposable paper.) So I spent the next few mornings, sans coffee, cleaning the carpet with Folex (a great carpet cleaner, by the way.)

After a week Mr. Poopy was still leaving pudding poops on the carpet, so the vet was summoned and medication was prescribed. The new medication stopped the night messes, but Mr. Poopy was still not in good form. Off to the emergency vets we go, where Mr. Poopy was force-fed barium (which has a prophylactic effect on irritated bowels) and, if that wasn’t bad enough, subjected to the indignity of having his nether regions probed.  Another prescription was written, and about $400 and several carpet cleanings later, Mr. Poopy is finally on the road to recovery.


Mr. Poopy, convalescing.

He still hasn’t forgiven me for the anal probe.


Adios, Cable

Before cable companies monetized television, TV-viewing was free–signals floating happily along the airwaves and all you needed was a good antenna.  My father installed the mother of all antennae on the roof of our house.  The antenna could be manipulated by this little dial box if you needed to improve reception. Worked like a charm. Then came cable, and suddenly we found ourselves beholden to big conglomerates who nickel and dime us for every channel.

In actual fact, I don’t watch much TV, except HBO. In Canada, however, we can only get HBO through a $20 add-on to our cable subscription. (In the States, they can access HBO via the internet–called HBO GO–at a minimal cost and without the necessity of a cable package.) Having the $20 add-on means that my cable bill would be well over $100 a month, even with a basic cable package. And when you add the cost of movie rentals and a netflicks subscription, you’re paying a lot more for television than you want to be.


The Cable-Killer, aka Android Box

That’s when friends of mine told me about the Android TV box.  For a one-time cost of a few hundred dollars for the box and remote,  you can access television and movies via the internet.  With the android system, virtually every tv show or movie ever made is available to you, at no extra cost.  The downside is that the quality varies–some movies and shows are crystal clear, while others look like they were recorded using Grandpa’s old Super 8.  Since you’re given hundreds of options to watch your particular selection, you usually can find one of fairly good viewing quality.

So I cancelled my cable subscription and am now meeting all of my television-viewing needs via my little android box.  And the pièce de la résistance–I can get HBO without a cable subscription and without paying an extra subscription fee.

You may be wondering (I certainly was) whether this is legal, and why the cable companies allow it. This is where it gets interesting.

The Canadian Cable companies went to court as recently as July of this year, asking for an injunction against several vendors for selling boxes which they believe pirate their programming signal and have caused them financial distress (yeah, right).  However, the vendors claim that “the pre-loaded set-top boxes are a piece of hardware, operating in the same manner as a tablet or a computer, on which anyone can install applications which are freely available to the public though the Apple Store, Google Play or the Internet.”  (Interestingly, the cable companies are only going after small operators:  Amazon, which has been selling android boxes for awhile, have yet to be targeted for litigation).

The other key to whether one get sued or not is whether the vendors advertise the boxes as “free TV.” Those that do, get sued; those that don’t, fall under the radar.

While the cable companies and android box venders duke it out in court, people like me can continue to enjoy the freedom our little android box brings. And there’s no pleasure like the pleasure derived from giving the middle finger salute to cable.


Drive At Your Own Risk

The 401 is a major highway in Ontario, Canada, starting in the city of Windsor and stretching east to Quebec.  The Toronto leg, about mid-way going east, is considered the busiest in the world, and one that I’ve driven on more than one occasion grim-faced and white-knuckled.  Fortunately for me, most of my highway driving takes me in the other direction, toward Windsor, which over the years is proving to be as crazily treacherous as its eastern counterpart. Windsor is home to one of the busiest borders in the world, with about 1 billion in trade crossing back and forth between Windsor and Detroit, Michigan. There are over 30,000 trucks crossing that border daily, and they all take the 401 to get there.   Not surprisingly, there are horrific accidents which occur on the 401. Every summer, while I commute back and forth between London and Windsor to visit family, I’m tempted to kiss the ground every time I arrive at either end safely.

I’m not going to post photos of these accidents because they involve fatalities (and besides, I’m superstitious); instead, I thought I’d provide you with some rather amusing traffic misadventures which are real head-scratchers.


I couldn’t even guess as to how a car ended up on a roof.



Not a towing company I’d recommend.



Wow.  Just…wow.



I’m starting to think that getting a tow is a really bad idea.



The driver wanted his roof safely removed from his vehicle.  Who am I to judge.



This is how NOT to do a three-point turn.



When a cobble road masquerades as quicksand.



Again with the roof. Note to car:  You cannot fly.

Summer Fun


It’s been incredibly hot and humid in Southwestern Ontario, and anyone within driving distance has camped out near the closest watering hole.  Fortunately for us, we have the Great Lakes at our doorstep–or, alternatively, a lovely outdoor swimming pool. Exhibit A:  me, second from left in my new flowered bathing suit, soaking up the rays beside the pool with my new peeps.

The lifeguards are pretty strict when it comes to enforcing pool rules.  This means no food and no spirits allowed. (Guess that swim-up bar is out of the question.)  However, the venturesome (and sneaky) among us have managed to smuggle in what we lovingly refer to as, using air quotes, “WATER”–plain old tap water infused with wine.  No wonder we’re hitting up the lifeguard to take our picture.🙂