Stay Tuned for Fireworks

 Jun 29, 2018 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     This is a July 1st Canada Day weekend. And July 4 follows in the U.S. This means fireworks events, drawing crowds by the thousands.

     I have thought about the subject at length and I have culled the common characteristics of all fireworks displays. These are my observations.

     Firstly for some reason there is always an air of uncertainty as to where the event will be happening in the first place. Debates often break out amongst pundits on this subject:

     "This year on Canada Day it's at Ontario Place."

     "No you're wrong; it was at Ontario Place on Victoria Day. On Canada Day it's at Wonderland."

     Before certain statutory holidays there is a massive turn to the media to confirm the place of the big event. And frequently even the media are uncertain. You'll see a bulletin on CP 24 News: "Fireworks? On Canada Day, at High Park; we think."

     And when the big event does roll along there is usually a traffic nightmare. Police cordon off the area as hoards of people make their way on foot to the hallowed site. And even once there, the question most asked by one and all as they jostle for a good observation spot is, "From where will they shoot them off?"

     I joined the mob at Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square one Canada Day and the fireworks were shot off a block away east of Yonge Street. A year later as everyone was gawking in the same direction, suddenly the fireworks came out of the opposite direction from over the top of the Mel’s Bells themselves. Ten thousand people did an immediate 180 degree turn. Those who arrived early for a good spot had some unflattering things to say about Mel.

     The need to see fireworks is inexplicable. Even after a few neighbours fire off a several rounds of colourful fireworks at a parkette near my house, many of us still hang around a while in expectation of seeing at least another couple of Roman candles. Last Victoria Day when the local neighbourhood event was over no one had left yet. The crowd was desperate I'd say. A kid suddenly lit up a sparkler and a hundred people ran over shouting, "Hey, there's more!”

     My favourite observation at a fireworks display is the audience reaction. A recording of people’s sounds at a fireworks shindig would sound like this:


     Hey, it's starting.


     Bang...pop.....bang bang.

     Ohhh.....Ughhh...Ohhh...Wow...Hey Derrick, look at the red ones. And hold my hand or you'll get lost.

     Poof, poof, pop pop, bang bang...

     Ahhh...ohhhh...Ooohh...OMG!...This looks just like the one they had at the Olympics.


     Ohhh...Ahhh....Sounds like a machine gun.

     No, its' called "Invading Starship

     Shhh. Don't make noise. We're trying to listen.

     Poof...bang...hiss...boom..squeal...blast...whistle...long blast.

     Is that all? It's over?? That was fast... Derrick? Derrick?..Where’s Derrick?"

     Like I said I don't know what attracts us to fireworks displays. Are we awestruck by the lights? Is it the colours? Do the sounds mesmerize us? Who knows? I do know however that I'll be coming back for more. On Canada Day I'll be at Wonderland. Or is it Ashbridges Bay Park?



To Bee or Not to Bee

 Jun 25, 2018 5:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     You need not be a beekeeper to read this.

     The other day I was checking out a travel book on Amazon when a large notice hit me in the face. It read something like, “You may also be interested in Beekeeping for Dummies.

     What gave Amazon that idea I have no clue. I would not even have guessed there is a book like that in that “dummies” series. I am trying to imagine who would buy it. No doubt some sap who tried playing around with bee hives and who did not fare too well. He was likely attacked by a swarm of bees while shouting at them, “Hey guys, where’s my honey? Move it, pronto” They probably stormed out buzzing mad and told him to get the book.

     I recall seeing these iconic yellow and black cover books as a kid. even bought copies of Bridge for Dummies and Chess for Dummies. A common feature in the series are those graphic icons along the way, with alert labels such as “TP”, “WARNING” and “REMEMBER”.

     I wouldn’t think one would need those alerts in Beekeeping for Dummies. I’d say they would be superfluous. I can just imagine how they read: “TIP: Bees sting”. WARNING: bees sting. REMEMBER: bees sting...dummy.”

     I can understand the dummy books for games and hobbies, computer and tech matters and investing. But some of those titles to me are over the top. Out of curiosity I Googled around and saw one, Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies. This concerns me. What happens if some of the information does not mesh with the reader? What happens to his anxiety? I doubt it would be much help even if the alert reads, “TIP: Info not helpful? It’s OK. Relax. It’s just a book.”

    The one that concerns me even more is, Anger Management for Dummies. While I commend anyone with a short fuse for reaching out for solutions, this guy expects answers and results now. I would not want to be near him at the bookstore Starbucks as he peruses the book, comes across an alert he does not like and says, “Oh yeah? So on top of that you think I’m a dummy!”

     I just hope this dude does not then pick up and purchase another title I noticed in the series, Pitbulls for Dummies.

     I did see a cute one, Ethics for Dummies. I am not sure who would own up to being unethical and buy the book. But I believe if some devious character enters Indigo or Barnes and Noble and checks out the book, there is a reasonable chance if he wants it, at least he won’t steal it.

     In all there are actually over 300 dummies titles out there. There is even one called, Feng Shui for Dummies. Given the clutter in my house, I may look into that one further. I don’t know what it says but I sense that if I do get a copy, after reading it I’d get this inexplicable urge to toss it out.


One Pageant Please; Hold the Pageantry

 Jun 8, 2018 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     The Miss America Organization announced that its participants will no longer be required to appear in the swimsuit event, nor will the ladies be required to wear evening gowns. In short the judges will not be adjudicating on physical appearance.

     This certainly is a move in the right direction. The question is, what does this decision achieve? Does it go far enough? Should the entire event be canned? It makes me wonder whether revamping the qualifications of this iconic 100 year old event in Atlantic City will be the forerunner of similar changes in other sectors.

     The day may not be far when Starbucks issues a statement to this effect:

     We have reviewed our product policy and after careful consideration Starbucks has decided it will no longer be serving coffee. Starbucks is more than just a place for people to gather to drink coffee. We have concluded that our outlets can better serve the public without resorting to brewing java. No more grande, venti or trenta.

     You may ask why you should now visit Starbucks. Good question.

     As you know, everyone is now welcome to use the washrooms at Starbucks, or to otherwise come and do nothing. Actually this has been happening for a long time, where students and others just come in with their Apple Macs and occupy space. We have no problem with that. Now we encourage it.

     In fact we also encourage you to visit our outlets and just chat with our staff. Our team members will now be trained to engage visitors in stimulating conversations about coffee. For example many people are likely wondering why coffee beans are shipped in those burlap bags. Just ask our knowledgeable crew.

    Or did you know the word “cappuccino” originates from the order of monks called “Capuchin”? Our associates will be only too delighted to tell you more.

    And we are certain many coffee lovers just have to know what conversations Jean Paul Sartre and Ernest Hemingway had about existentialism while puffing away at Gitanes and sipping espressos in Paris at café Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Our baristas are the go to people for this priceless information.

   Will this move affect our profits? Certainly, but who cares? Given the changing times, what most matters to us is customer satisfaction. Starbucks is more than just a cup of coffee.     (or for those living in the land of Miss America, )


Washroom Please- Hold the Frappuccino

 Jun 1, 2018 10:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     We just saw the U.S. Starbucks close down its outlets for several hours to allow for sensitivity training of staff following an event at a Philadelphia branch where an associate racially discriminated against two black men, refusing to let them use the washroom without making a purchase, and then calling police and having them arrested when they did not leave the premises.

     In addition to the training Starbucks announced its new policy of making its washrooms available to one and all, no purchase necessary. I want to take that one a bit further.

     I have found that the Starbucks restroom facilities are generally plagued by large queues. You can wait in line for ages to do your business.  One reason is their lavatories are small and inadequate. Actually they're all one seaters. On more than one occasion I have waited in line with hope and desperation while the occupant just before me, often a student, is in there leisurely, with his Mac likely working on his doctoral thesis.

    Simply put, they need more toilets.

    Given that Starbucks has turned a new page and opened its doors to all as a general gathering place, as long as you do not bring in alcohol or come there to sleep, I believe they should be amenable to increasing their number of W.C.s. After all the closure cost them $12 million in lost profits, which the brass calls not a loss but an “investment “. In my view expanding the latrine availability would be a super investment, much appreciated.

    Perhaps they can consider using portables. And just like they have tacky names for their products, they can similarly name these new additions. I have a few suggestions in mind.

    How about “Java John”? Bring it on.

    And who wouldn’t get a kick out of “Cappuccino Can”?

    For visitors who would really have to go, like now, how welcome would they feel upon seeing a privy sporting the words, “Espresso Express.”

    Personally I don’t go for the fancy coffees and my usual is the regular filter brew. When nature would call, I would be happy to just enter a loo reading, “Pike’s Place”.

    But for those who just have to have their Latin lingo fix, staying in tune with Starbuck’s current products nomenclature, I have a bang on sign. How about, “Veni, Vidi, Voidi “.

   Will it happen? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll drop a note into their suggestion box. However I'm not optimistic. I have a good idea where they’ll put my note.



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