Thursday, 16 October 2008

Thank you for not Voting


Newspapers, commentators, average citizens and know-it-alls across Canada are decrying the low voter turnout in our recent election.


Not me. I'm happy for the low voter turnout in Canada. There's a good chance that it was the stupid people who stayed home. You know them. These are the people who can't name their MP, people who actually believe they can vote directly for Prime Minister, people who say they follow U.S. politics because Canadian politics are soooo boring - these are the people who I hope stayed home.

You may be one of these people. If you can't be bothered to pay attention or if its just too complicated, please stay home. My vote will be worth more because it won't be cancelled out by someone who hasn't got a clue. Only educated people should go anywhere near a ballot box, and I refer to those who have been paying attention to civics, not school smarts.

Didn't vote? Go ahead, bitch and moan and complain. You might even be right sometimes. I'm not trying to take away your right to be an asshole.

I'm thanking you for keeping it to yourself on election day.


Monday, 22 September 2008

Putting solipstick on a...never mind

True story...

I'm reading an article and I stumble across the word "solipsism".  I grab the family dictionary and as I'm looking it up, the Emmy show starts.  Oprah Winfrey walks out on stage ostensibly to open the show but in reality to talk about herself, and at that very moment I'm learning the definition of the word "solipsism". 

–noun
1.Philosophythe theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
2.extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.



Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Top 5 Coolest Things About Toronto

The Top 5 coolest things about T.O. in my opinion, in no particular order:

1.  The TTC - at least it used to be.  Last time I rode the rocket it was still the best way around the city.

2.  Vespas EVERYWHERE.

3.  Avenue Road - truly the coolest and most fun route downtown, as long as you know which lane to be in, when.  Bayview extension and Mount Pleasant are good, but not until after St. Clair.  There is no good way out of the downtown core, unfortunately.

4.  Zipcar - truly cool.  My Volvo by-the-hour today was a bright blue S40 named "Sundin".  $9 an hour +/- all in.
 Join Zipcar and get $50 in free driving!
5.  The Mighty Q - Q107 especially Kim Mitchell's show, especially Psychedelic Snack daily at lunch hour, especially Psychedelic Sundays.

The most uncool thing?  They truly don't know that they're NOT the centre of the universe. Completely oblivious.  It's like a scene out of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Big Daddy's Crabshack and Oyster Bar

King Street, Toronto, one cool September evening...

When I started writing about dining experiences in my blog, I made a promise to myself never to write about a restaurant in my own home town and never to write about a place I've worked before and never to write about a place that's owned by someone I know.  So, I'm gonna break rule #3 - I know the people who run the Big Daddy's chain of restaurants although I haven't seen them in years and they, not unlike most of my friends don't admit to knowing me.  But, when a place is good, I think its OK to say so.

I've eaten in a couple of different Big Daddy's locations and since my travel takes me mostly to T.O. and to Ottawa, I'm likely to eat there more often. 

Good:  the food is tasty and hot.  The price is reasonable.  The presentation seems creative enough, although not on the fresh fish entree I ordered.   The guy beside me had the Crab Shack Boil.  It was served in dutch-oven type pan with lid on, and eating the meal was obviously meant to be an adventure.  The bartender helped him to figure out how to eat the crawfish.  It looked like a fun entree.

Great:  The staff at the King Street location was friendly and personable, knowledgeable and efficient, and helpful.  The bartender described the fresh Tuna as being served rare and grilled "just long enough to make it legal."  She was entertaining and outgoing.  I told her I wanted to eat healthy and she tailored her suggestions accordingly.  The staff made the experience all about the needs of the diner.  The young lady who made me a Cappuccino did it with great pride and the other bartenders were talking her up as the best former barista in the place.  You know a place is well managed when the staff feel comfortable enough to be themselves without making it all about them, when they can chat with you and not with each other, and when they genuinely enjoy their jobs.  When you dine alone in restaurants as often as I do it sure makes a difference. 

Growth:  I only wish they wasn't so obviously influenced by that much larger seafood chain Big Daddy's draws its roots from.  My Caesar salad was pretty standard issue - Renee's dressing no doubt, Brownberry restaurant cut croutons, grated Parmesan and a lemon wedge - nothing to write home about.  Fresh fish presentation and cooking could have come right out of the kitchens of Red Lobster - just a standard Cajun broiled Catfish.  Very good, but nothing particularly original or creative about it. I had hoped that a restaurant that is going for that Louisiana authenticity would really blacken the catfish, not just sprinkle Cajun seasoning on it and broil it.  Don't get me wrong - it was good, but nothing special.  Also - maybe a signature roll or bread would be nice.

Aah, but would I come back?  Yes.  Every so often I get a craving for Red Lobster, about every two years or so, and Big Daddy's is more fun and a lot cooler.  And, as I said, the food was good and the service was excellent and the price (my bill was $39 for a Martini, Caesar Salad, Catfish dinner, Cappuccino and a Perrier) is right!
  

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Weber's Highway 11, Orillia on a cool evening in August

On my quest for the World’s Greatest Burger, I would be remiss if I didn’t include Weber's on Hwy 11 north of Orillia, Ontario. I have almost never passed by without stopping for a burger, fries and a beverage.

I have always thought there were only two reasons the Weber’s burgers tasted so good:


You’re on your way to great times so everything tastes better!
They grill them over live charcoal.

After my visit last week, I realized there are a few more reasons to include Weber’s (the original, not the full service restaurant in Barrie) on your burger list. Yes, those first two are true. But here are some other reasons to stop at Weber’s:


They’re organized. Outside order takers prowl the line, and those lines get pretty long, so you don’t have to wait to get to the front to order. It keeps things moving.
The staff is having a great time. They’re a bunch of fresh-faced young people (with a few older folks in the mix for maturity) who come back year after year to work at Weber’s. The music is loud, and they’re having fun! You can’t help but want to be part of the enthusiasm.
They’re so damned service oriented! On my visit I was the last customer of the night; they locked the doors behind me. As I sat out front eating my burger a family came to the door and tried to get in, then realizing they had come to late they went to the side to ask if they could just use the restrooms. Not 5 minutes later the family came out with a meal, thanks to the Weber’s team going the extra mile to satisfy – no small feat at the end of a long and busy day.
You can’t have a great burger unless the fries are great. Weber’s cuts them matchstick style (like McDonald’s and In N Out).

Great? The service and atmosphere
Good? The burger
Room to Grow? Please don’t – just stay on Highway 11 and keep on doing what you do!
The Ultimate Comment Card Question: based on this visit, would I come back? Count on it.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Our Reserves


I spent the whole day from before sunup to after sundown with Gord Henderson a couple of weeks ago. If you’re not from Windsor or don’t read the Windsor Star, you don’t know that Gord is Windsor’s one and only political columnist.

If you do know Gord’s writing, you know that on occasion it is very good. When Gord writes about something he has researched or knows well, he is second to none. Some of the time it’s pure gold.

We spent the day with the Reserves of the Canadian Armed Forces in Petawawa. Gord wrote a beautiful column about it. You should read it. I'd love to write about my experiences that day, but Gord wrote it better than I ever could.

Gord's column:


http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/story.html?id=5b557b20-c905-47c8-9dac-e3f202d151a7

Friday, 15 August 2008

In n Out Burgers




This was my fourth visit to In n Out Burgers, the second on this trip to Las Vegas alone. I am on the quest for the world's best burger, and In n Out has been in the running since my first visit. My buddy, a career McDonald's manager had recommended it, and I had wondered what a McDonald's manager could possibly know about good hamburgers. Great Egg McMuffins, maybe, but hamburgers? Boy, was I wrong. Sorry I ever doubted you, Victor.
In n Out has been around since 1948. I imagine that Harry and Esther Snyder started out across the street from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald in California, although that's just the way it plays out in my mind. McDonald's started out in California in the late forties as well. The McDonalds sold out to Ray Kroc, a milkshake machine salesman, who sold the heart and soul of the great American hamburger in a frenzy of rapid growth, while In n Out stayed true to their passion - burgers, fries and a beverage. That's the whole menu. No freezers, no microwaves, no heat lamps. Great burgers, great service, good old American fast food. Burger, fry and soda pop for under $5 in only three states - Nevada, California, and Arizona. No franchises. The Snyder family still owns every store (200 of them +/-).


Great - the burger. Grilled on a flat top. A zillion variations, but only if you're in the know. Apparently there is a "secret" menu, but for the rest of us there is nothing on the menu except three combos using the same great burger with or without cheese, single or double. Fresh lettuce, onions and tomatoes garnish a toasted bun. Some sort of thousand island type dressing. The fries are matchstick cut, fresh - the kid was slamming potatoes through the slicer into the water filled sink while I watched!




Good - dining room cleanliness can get a little bit behind, but they were slammed and they were running out there trying to keep up, but the people just kept coming in right until closing time at 1:00 a.m.! The staff was exhausted but pumped and on their game right to the end. I haven't seen it that busy in a Canadian fast food restaurant in more than 20 years, but that's how it used to be at McDonald's in my little town.
Room to Grow? Forty-seven states and ten provinces, but let's hope not. They'd have to sell out to do that; they'd have to compromise. I hate the way Tim Hortons in Canada has sacrificed quality for growth and now sells warmed up frozen doughnuts and crappy coffee in more locations than Tim himself every dreamed possible. No, I'll stick to finding an In n Out on my occasional visits to the west.

The Only Comment Card Question that Really Matters: would I come back? Heck, I bought the t-shirt! I can't wait to get back.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Annual Skunking of Molly


Every year, sure as the sun sets in the west, my dog Molly gets skunked. The first year it happened was the worst. She took it full-on in the face. Apparently the skunk didn’t realize or care that Molly only wanted to play. So, there I was at 2 a.m. drenching my year-old puppy in tomato juice. The timing was horrible as I was scheduled to get up at five and be on the road by six to drive across the province.

The next year I was in Montreal when it happened. My wife had to deal with it. When Gloria Steinem famously said that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” she obviously had never had to bathe her hound in tomato juice. Two things I have learned after many years on the road – first, don’t leave your wife at home staring at walls that need painting. Either take her with you or paint the walls before you leave. Secondly, when you’re on the road for extended periods of time, it is almost guaranteed your wife will need to deal with a crisis that should have been yours to handle.

This year the skunking wasn’t so bad as Molly is starting to catch on and she high tailed it away so that the skunk only caught the back end of her. High tailed it right into the house, up the stairs and under the bed. We just got our carpets cleaned less than three days ago.

At least I was home to crack open a case of Leamington’s finest.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Good things in Windsor - The Optimist Youth Band

If you read enough Windsor blogs you would think that there’s nothing to do in this town but complain and find fault. I blame that on the fact that... no, just kidding.

And so bloggers are the only source of dissenting opinion, it seems.

That said there are a lot of very good things happening in our fair city. Although it is my profession to sell this city as a destination, even I forget the small wonders that make it more than just a great place to visit; this is a great place to live for most.

Last night I took in a concert at the Peace Fountain on Riverside Drive. The Windsor Optimist Youth Concert Band performed. The setting was beautiful, and the exuberance of the talented youth in the band was contagious. We don’t hear enough about them. They are an award-winning marching band that represents our city very well indeed.

While most of the audience was obviously parents and grandparents and family, my wife and I were there because we enjoy a good show in a peaceful setting in the company of good friends. Congratulations to the Windsor Optimist Youth Concert Band for being such fine ambassadors for and good neighbours in our city!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Employee on Sick Leave has his reputation tarnished by an elected official in the press

The CEO of the Windsor Public Library is on sick leave. This is public knowledge. The Chair of the Library board has an issue with what the CEO is doing on his sick leave. Fair enough. Why not approach the employee on sick leave and talk to him about it? Because the attention grabbing Chair of the Board is a city councilor who has never passed up an attention grabbing antic that would put him on the front page of the local rag. So instead he runs to the press. Shame on you, Mr. Councilor. Shame.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

"Free" tank of gas with a new car?

My son got a new car. It’s a very sweet car. He deserves it; his mother and I agree that any kid that puts himself through University and comes out debt free has earned the right to drive a nice car, after he’s got himself a nice job of course. Just minutes after he left the lot the warning chime sounded that the hatch wasn’t fully closed, and upon inspection he discovered that it couldn’t be closed properly. He didn’t have time to get back to the dealership as he was on his way to work. So the annoying chime continued all the way to work and his car sat with an unlocked hatch (with 60/40 folding back seats allowing access to the cabin of the car) overnight.

I suppose it’s possible that the Dealer drove 400 kilometers to bring in this dealer trade from Pickering and didn’t hear the chime. I suppose it’s possible that the latch malfunctioned right after my son left the dealer’s lot.

I also suppose that the reason they give you a full tank of gas with a new car is that you may need every drop of it going back and forth to the dealership for warranty issues. Let’s hope not.

Friday, 18 July 2008

IN Support of Chauvin

Our town is in an uproar because Mr. Frank Chauvin is considering returning his Order of Canada after learning that Morgentaler will be similarly honoured.

http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=cae01509-d70b-4616-8065-ac4e5b2b28ab

Frank is a man of good faith who has dedicated the latter part of his life to helping the poor in Haiti. It's ironic that our Governor General, originally from Haiti, would forget the sanctity of life and recognize a man like Morgentaler, who with all best human intentions, has done great evil in our world with the taking of so many innocent lives.

I have never met Frank Chauvin, but I believe that whether or not one agrees with him on the Morgentaler issue, the man has seen the beauty of human life even in the most terrible of conditions in the slums of Haiti. He may not have carried a child in his womb, no man has, but this man has carried God's children in his arms and was moved to fight for the lives of the most unwanted of humankind, by our shameful societal standards.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Eggspectation Restaurant in Ottawa, yesterday morning

Eggspectation is a pretty busy restaurant in Ottawa. My old friend from high school days and I get together almost whenever I'm in Ottawa, and because the restaurant is close to my hotel and his office, we meet there. The food is always good. The ambiance is kind of funky dirty (it really could use a good scrubbing), the tables are small, and the staff are uber-cool in black t's and pants with matching attitude. Although some are quite pleasant even to the point of smiling, you never real feel overly welcome. A real throwback to the 80's / 90's when restaurants could establish a theme without spending a ton of cash. Open concept kitchen.

Good - hearty breakfast, served very quickly (if you can get someone to take your order - read on...), kind of a 80's roadhouse type presentation, kind of like what you'd expect if a university area nightclub opened for breakfast (and this is not necessarily a bad thing)

Great - full menu with nice play on any word that starts with the prefix "ex" - like "eggspectation", "eggsuberant", etc.)
Growth area - service, service, service. The menu was "eggstensive" so I asked the server if they had any healthy breakfast recommendations. She told me there were lots on the menu. Unfortunately, they weren't marked "healthy choice" or something like that, so I asked her to recommend something. Her answer? "I'll give you a few minutes..." and off she went. I didn't need a few minutes, I'd already had a few minutes (quite a few), I needed the "eggspert" advice of someone who knew the menu.

I kid you not, in the time it took for her to come back the guy next to us had been seated, ordered and received his breakfast. Clearly I was being punished for being indecisive.

I suspect the amount of time I spent studying the menu in the meantime was likely longer than she had ever looked at it.

The Ultimate Comment Card Question (the only one that really matters): Based on this visit, would I come back? Frankly, yeah sure, the food is good and not too pricey, but I'm going to be looking for another place to meet my pal for breakfast in the future.

-- Jeremy Tyrrell

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Propaganda War in Windsor

I can't tell the difference between the City of Windsor's "Greenlink" and the Province of Ontario's "Parkway" proposal - and I've been paying attention. Sure, there's a bit more roadway buried in the city's plan, which I really like, but the province's plan is perfectly acceptable to most reasonable people, I suspect. Our city council wants a Cadillac solution, and the Province came back with a Buick. I liked our solution, and I like Cadillacs. But you can't have what you can't afford. And for the record, I still think the DRTP alternate truck route was head and shoulders above anything that's come along since council caved to a vocal minority.

So now a ton of money is being spent by both sides to propagandize their proposals, on top of the money already spent in consultants and lawyers by our city council.

Hey, I may be wrong, maybe this will work. All I know is that from where I'm sitting we're down to splitting hairs and waiting for the other guy to blink. And the meter is running.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Il Fornello - A Return Visit

I wrote a nice review of Il Fornello a while ago with a little bit of a suggestion on improving service. The nice people at Il Fornello were kind enough to write to me and ask me to stop by and try them again. So I did - but to be very clear, I wasn't enticed in by any sort of compensatory offer. The food is good at Il Fornello, and the menu is creative and I really like the "Ontario" section -it's creative and socially aware. I don't mind paying for it.

The service was the same - so maybe I'm the problem. I just don't get the feeling anyone really cares if I'm there or not, almost like they're doing me a favour by serving me. My server was friendly, but not attentive. For example, when I told him I wasn't sure which pizza to choose, instead of making a few suggestions (which I would have welcomed and tried to ask for) he did the Diner dash instead - "I'll give you a few more minutes to look over the menu." I'd already had far too much time between being seated, being acknowledged by the waiter, getting my drink and now being approached for an order. I didn't need more time, I needed some help from the expert - Il Fornello's waiter. I guess he had something more important to do.

Look - I'm really low maintenance. I will eat whatever a waiter sincerely suggests. I order from the menu, I don't complain, I keep a very low profile and I tip well when the service is great.

I really enjoyed the pizza, I'd eat there again, but I'm in no hurry. I think the feeling is mutual.

The Loose Moose - Toronto

I have often walked by this restaurant and thought about going in. The patio at a nearby restaurant was jammed on this first really beautiful day of the new Patio season, so I figured that the restaurants without patios should be fairly quiet - and the Loose Moose was only somewhat busy nearest the open windows.

What are your expectations of a bar that clearly caters to, and probably does a lot of business from the tourist sports crowd on their way to a Blue Jays or Maple Leafs game? This place is about what you'd expect.

Trouble is, just meeting expectations isn't even the entry level for restaurants these days. I'm not in any way criticizing the place, and hey, if they're kick-ass busy most of the time, who cares what one guy's expectations are for creativity and great food?

The thing is, sometimes I go into a pub for lunch and the food is surprisingly outstanding. This was surprisingly banal. It wasn't bad, it wasn't all that good.

I had the Cobb Salad, which was a boring mix of ingredients readily available in the kitchen for other menu items. Romaine lettuce (iceberg in a Cobb makes more sense), chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, shredded cheese and a dollop of guacamole (hunnh?). These double as fajita/nacho/texmex ingredients, no doubt. Bacon bits, sliced egg (not chopped?) and cucumber spears finished Cobb. Boring and unimaginative, and it could have been a refreshing summer salad.

Good - the young lady who served me was keeping an eye on her section quite nicely, and there seemed to be some teamwork in getting meals out to the tables.
Great - I bet a nice cold beer and some wings during the playoffs would go down very well in this place.
Room for Growth - don't treat lunch as the necessary cost of being open for evening bar biz. Clean the place up, and present a unique and different menu.

The Ultimate Comment Card Question, the only one that matters: Based on this visit, would I return? Not on purpose. Don't get me wrong - the place was OK. But for the same price within a half mile radius you can get better than OK in easily a dozen other pubs.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Windsor Ontario - a Beautiful City

Nothing to complain about today.

I bicycled across the city, most of the way on designated bike trails. This city, this Windsor, has some very beautiful green areas alongside the Detroit River. They are well maintained and a source of pride for all who live here.

No matter what else may need fixing around here, it can wait. Today I thank God for my country and my community.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Keg - York Street Toronto

The Keg - a Thursday in April

Good - I took the server's suggestion and tried a Chipotle Steak special of some sort. The steak was cooked perfectly, the presentation and accompaniments were perfect, and everything tasted great! I added a half-pound of Dungeness Crab legs to the order. Really good!

Great - Server was extremely knowledgeable and courteous. She gave us an overview of the menu, made a few suggestions and treated us with respect (none of that "can I grab you a drink?" or "are you still working on that, guys?" nonsense.) The Keg obviously puts a premium value on outstanding servers who give great service. Here's the coolest part - she asked if either of us had any food allergies, and as it turned out my associate has a severe allergy to scallops. If the server hadn't asked...

Room to Grow? I have no idea. Just keep delivering at this level, and the Keg's well earned success on York Street (the bar was jammed with the after-work office crowd) will continue. Congratulations to the Keg - I look forward to eating there again.

On an unfortunate post-script, it turned out I ate in the Keg's competition the very next night - you know that casual steak house chain with the Australian marketing concept. Wow - night and day for the same price. I'm going to stick with the Keg.

JT

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Jesus of Nazareth - Pope Benedict XVI

If you are interested in all in the Christian faith, you should read this book. Pope Benedict XVI takes various aspects of our faith and puts them into a scriptural context. For example, the parable of the Good Samaritan – the Pope says that the man who lay by the side of the road, beaten, stripped and robbed is symbolic of Adam, and of man in general. He compares the fate that befell this man to the fate of the poor, the afflicted, the victims amongst us. Benedict challenges us to be good neighbours to these people. Taking it a bit further, I have at times tried to imagine myself as each of the characters in the story. I can perfectly understand why some people walked by – he might have been dead, it might have been a trap laid by robbers, it might have slowed me down after the sun had gone down and put my own life in danger!

I can also imagine being the victim of violence and rejection. I have imagined being the innkeeper, trusting that the Samaritan would be back to pay an extra costs, accepting a guest who was clearly going to be “high maintenance.” And occasionally I have wondered if I could ever be the Samaritan – on the fringe, unwelcome in good company, but forgiving and able to do the right thing when no one, not one person, would blame him for walking by.

What kind of neighbour am I to God’s people across this world, some as far away as the other side of my fence?

Not to simplify it, but the Pope’s writings tell us we're on the right track. The Catholic faith is under a lot of pressure these days. If there is some sort of "other" agenda in the Catholic church, I’ve yet to discover it. This Pope speaks of love, a love which transcends religious differences and is rooted in Christ. One doesn't have to be a member of the Catholic faith to agree with that.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

The Hungry Trekker Restaurant Review - Il Fornello, Toronto


Il Fornello, Toronto - one snowy day in March, 2008

Good - atmosphere, thin-crust pizza, creativity. The Pollo Pizza was recommended by Barbra Streisand (it says so right on the menu) so I tried it. It was a nice light lunch; I liked it, but it wasn't so good that I'd have Il Fornello cater my food on my private jet to Boston, like Babs did.

Great - "all ontario" section on the menu (but who would have thought of putting potatoes on a thin crust pizza? I didn't try it, so maybe it's a good idea.) Nice to see some support of Ontario grown produce, apples, blueberries, locally raised chickens... Other restaurants should follow suit.

Room to grow - service. Less than attentive. Charlie's Angels was playing on the TV at the bar, so it took precedence over guests in the dining room. I waited a long time to have my order taken, my cheque delivered and I really could have used a refill on my water. The waiter just wasn't around much, and it wasn't because it was busy.
This is the ultimate service trap - when it's not busy the staff get distracted with non-service related things - like TV and each other at the bar.

The ultimate comment card question (the only one that matters): Would you come back?
My answer: Yes

JT

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Freedom to speak

I was absolutely horrified in the closing moments of the final luncheon at the PCMA Conference in Toronto when a young lady stood up to ask a question, and told Newt Gingrich and Jean Chr├ętien that she had waited six years for this very moment. At her tender age of 26, that seems like a very long time, no doubt. “Nothing good can come of this,” I thought. Sure enough, in one fell swoop she managed to insult our American friends, make strident political statements and bring the conclusion of an otherwise outstanding conference crashing to a halt. “America is a nation of idiots,” she declared as part of an anti-war rant. The room fell silent. I think many Canadians in the room feared that the good will we had built with our American friends might now be in jeapordy. Would they think we all feel that way? As good fortune would have it after the conference I had the opportunity to meet “La” (that’s what her name tag said). I had assumed she was some sort of political activist who had commandeered credentials and was using our forum as a platform for her views. Not so. She told me she had just learned of the PCMA conference and had been in business for only six days. She decided we were a good base from which to launch her aggressive global business plans - something about meeting planners and municipal planning that I didn’t understand. She was misinformed about PCMA, thinking this was a conference of travel agents. She told me she hoped that she hadn’t offended anyone, and I assured her that she had indeed. That said, in retrospect, we have to realize that if PCMA is going to invite political figures to speak at our conferences and then open the floor to questions, stuff like this is bound to happen sooner or later. My first inclination was that she should never have been given the opportunity to speak, but that is wrong. Every day most Americans ask God to bless their beautiful country and Canadians implore God to keep our land glorious and free. Perhaps God has answered our humble prayers by sending this citizen to remind us of our rights to freedom of speech, however misplaced her idealism was on that day. I shook her hand, wished her well, and forgave her inappropriate spontaneity.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Calling God by Name, Finally...

I recently attended the Professional Convention Management Association in Seattle. After four days at the conference and countless speakers, someone finally named God. Mr. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ended his talk by referring to Him as the creator, but then went on to specifically use His name – God. He pointed out that every major religion can trace a defining moment to time spent in the wilderness. Kennedy said, and I parphrase from memory, that "Buddha and Mohammed went into and came out of the wilderness and moved their religions forward – Mohammed to write the Koran, Buddha to discover Nirvana. Moses spent his time on the mountain productively, emerging with the Ten Commandments. Christ realized his divinity after forty days in the wilderness, and John the Baptist, Christ’s mentor (Kennedy’s words) lived in a desert on locusts and honey. Kennedy’s point, in defense of ecology, was that if one wants to see the face of God (metaphorically) or be closer the Creator, one must study and appreciate creation. That’s a fair point. He compared it to Michaelangelo. You can read about his work, or you can go and see it with your own eyes. Kennedy said that God communicates through works of art, through music, through man and through nature."

Amongst the many good points Kennedy made, I realized two things. First, that before he spoke today not one speaker or presenter that I heard had attributed anything to God the entire time we were here. That’s not unusual at these conferences, but I do long for the days when we began a meal with a prayer. Heck, I would love the chance to get to Mass on Sunday but usually the conference agenda fails to account for people of faith, whatever faith. That has to change.

And secondly, unless we give credit where credit is due, unless we allow God, we leave the door wide open to the evil one.