thinglets: Hometown Hammer Storming

Great shot of lightning in my hometown the other night during a weather event they were loathe to call a tornado, but had at least a dozen other tags ascribed to it.

I seem to remember the following names (in a foggy haze):

1) The Thunder torn Asunder
2) Reign of Rain
3) The Holy Shitstorm
4) Rumble without a Cause
5) Electric Dreams
6) A Shocking Development
7) Break out the Sump Pump Gertrude!
8) Hell Comes to the Hammer
9) Breaking Wind
10) The Great Shingle Harvest of '11

lovehate: Five Canadian Things To Be Thankful For

I get that Thanksgiving, for whatever reason, is anticipated annually because of a day off, a celebratory meal and often hours spent wasted watching bad football games. While I don't think I have a real appreciation for the traditional/historical aspects of Thanksgiving that are supposed to inspire me, I am certainly not above giving thanks to all the people, places and things that help make my life better every day.

But as the holiday has essentially become nationalized, I hope to share with you some oft-ignored Canadiana that everyone, worldwide, should be thankful for.

1. Eh?

Laugh heartily at all of your Canadian friends who are stuck with this speech impediment wherever they travel, but ask yourself isn't this really the height of all courtesy? In Canada we append a simply two letter expression that invites you (the listener) to respond and offer your feedback. If I said "You're an idiot!" You'd probably get all in a huff and storm away because the discussion would be closed. If I said "You're an idiot, eh?", you'd have the opportunity to respond and try to convince me otherwise.

Isn't that what the core essence of learning and discovery is all about? We encourage discussion and dialogue to learn more about each other and the world around us. That we've condensed it down to two letters is spectacular - and so, I give thanks.

2. Maple Syrup

Instead of torturing suspected infidels, we torture trees for their yummy goodness. It's no small wonder the maple leaf is at the center of our flag. Maple tree blood is the lifeforce of this country. What do you get out of beating up a suspect? Maybe some some crying, begging and useless human blood. We've devised a way to take out our agression on plants. We drive taps into trees much the same way one taps a keg of beer and bleed the sucker dry. But don't weep for the tree my friend. It doesn't hurt a bit - at least that's what Marlon Perkins used to tell me on Wild Kingdom. Then we attach a radio transmitter to a branch so we can track its migratory patterns in the wild.

The perfect thing is that all the sap rejuvenates next year. We can tap dat all over again yo! Be thankful that instead of taking out our aggression on you, we only take it out on the trees. Oh... and baby seals; they have the black eyes of ruthless killers.

3. Cold

We've invented a whole bunch of useful stuff that people around the world use every day. I believe that the motivation to create so much stuff is not necessarily due to the fact that Canadians are particularly brilliant, but more that they have a bunch of time every winter sitting around the homestead with nothing better to do. Such motivation has caused to create ways to get around in the cold, keep warm in the cold, be productive in the cold, and communicate over long distances because we aren't coming outside.

Allow me to illustrate with following Canadian inventions:

AC radio tube, basketball, chocolate bar, commercial motion picture, compound steam engine, electric car heater, electric cooking range, electric light bulb (patent sold to Thomas Edison), electric organ, electric street car, electron Microscope, frozen food, hydrofoil boats, insulin Process, kayak, kerosene, lacrosse, lawn sprinkler, Macpherson gas mask, Mcintosh apple, newsprint, odometer, oil-electric locomotive, paint roller, panoramic picture camera, phonograph/gramophone, railway car break, ship propeller, snow blower, snowmobile, snow shoes, sonar, standard time, table top hockey game, telephone, telephone handset, television, television camera, toboggan, tracer bullets, washing machine, wireless radio, zipper.

Hard to survive Thunder Bay, Flin Flon, or Inuvik without a zipper.

4. Butter Tarts

Oh sure, if any of you have visited Canada you know that Tim Horton's Donuts outnumber churches and schools in most communities. You also know that we often try to give ourselves coronaries by jacking ourselves up on caffeine while pounding down a couple of crullers full of saturated fats. But perhaps the most unblanching admission of our desire to slowly kill ourselves is the butter tart.

There is no way ANYONE could believe that something named the "butter tart" was in anyway, good, nutritious or healthy for you. With an ingredient list that includes a crust made of flour, icing sugar, shortening, and eggs, and a filling made of corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and raisins, these snacks are sinfully good. They also cause my heart to cry a little bit every time I eat one. You can keep you baked goods with "fancy" filling like fruit and such. I would prefer not to disguise such healthy alternatives in a flaky crust.

5. Simplicity

If a colour couldn't be reproduced using a 12 pack of Laurentian pencil crayons, then it should never have existed in the first place. These were the colours that I lived with from grade one up to grade nine. This was the palette I was restricted to upon drawing my first primary school scribbles of my family and home, all the way up to grade nine geography class which was, conveniently enough, Geography of Canada. I always maintained that one should be able to pass any grade nine geography course by following two basic mapping tenets: Water is blue. Land isn't.

The Laurentian palette became the best friend of all students when trying filling up pencil cases on Labour Day for the year ahead. The rainbow ran as follows: 1. Deep Yellow, 2. Sarasota Orange, 3. Poppy Red, 4. Cerise, 5. Purple, 6. Navy Blue, 7. Peacock Blue, 8. Emerald Green, 9. Deep Chrome Green, 10. Photo Brown, 11. Chestnut Brown, 12. Midnight Black.

I know it may sound stifling for a youngster to be restricted to 12 colours when trying to express their artistic visions, but let me tell something. There was only one real test of any colour palette in a Canadian school. Could one draw every single NHL logo using the colours at hand. If the answer was yes, the palette was sound. Laurentian never went down the road of the Crayola "Flesh" colour fiasco. Instead it unified, democratized and turned us all into metacritics of logo design. Thanks Laurentian.

So there it is, my Canadian Thanksgiving list. If you've never heard of these things before, then get to know your friends at the top of North America. You can't have North America without the Great White North. Failing that, take off you hosers.