Ire, Ire, Ants on Fire

 Aug 12, 2019 5:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

       My house has been invaded. I'm under siege. If I step out onto my back patio, I risk getting mauled by red ants. Does anybody have a solution?

       In anticipation of enjoying my backyard overlooking a lush ravine, I purchased some new deck furniture. I took advantage of a beautiful summer day recently and sat down on a comfortable swivel sofa to enjoy a good read and a cold beer. The birds overhead were chirping. A couple of squirrels were playfully sauntering about. Life was good. But this afternoon of bliss was to be short lived.

       I noticed some reddish looking ants nearby milling about near my feet. Recalling Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ants, whereby the grasshopper lazily wasted away the summer while the ants busily stored food away for the long winter, I looked at the ants and admired their work ethic. It seems they admired me too, especially my feet.

      After about five minutes, my ankle started getting itchy. As I looked southward to investigate, I saw two ants nonchalantly leaving the area. I could almost see them giving me a thumbs up.

      My itch increased and soon my ankle sprouted two large red welts, the size of a frisbee. OK, actually they were the size of a toonie.

      I made a quick deck evacuation. I noticed now there was a swarm of these critters out there. Word of a great meal must have spread quickly. They may as well have rated the merits of this feast on some insect Trip Advisor.

     Unfortunately, my ankle swelling persisted forcing me to visit my doctor. I asked him what to do about the problem and he recommended that before I go out back on the deck again that I apply insect repellent. I thanked him for his sage medical advice.

     I canvassed the backyard situation the next day from the safety of my kitchen window. I saw no ants at all for about 2 minutes. Suddenly a legion came out of nowhere and converged on the deck. I figured a scout saw me peek through the window and sounded the bugle; “He’s coming back. Yes!.”

     I had to deal with these hordes. I was not about to abandon the fort. I remembered from watching those movies about ancient warfare where the soldiers defending a castle would pour boiling sulphur over the castle walls onto the invaders. As I was still scratching my ankle, I asked my wife, “I don’t suppose we have a jug of sulphur in the pantry?”

     She agreed we were sulphur challenged.

     I then had a chat with my friendly pharmacist who suggested that dousing the invaders with vinegar would do the trick. The little problem was that I despise the smell of vinegar. It revolts me. There was no way I was going to come within a ten-foot pole of that vile substance. I have my values.

     I looked at my sore and itchy ankle. Five minutes later I grabbed a litre of this alleged food product and charged out covering my nose with my hand. I quickly poured the stuff over a platoon of unsuspecting ants. After all, one must be flexible

     I don’t think this maneuver was successful at all. I noticed even more ants arriving towards the front lines. I got the feeling the vinegar did not deter them. On the contrary. I almost expected them to approach me with a plate of French fries and ask for more.

    To make matters worse, I now felt a nasty itch on the palm of my hand. As before, this area was soon covered with a large welt, the size of a DVD. OK, the size of a loonie. But a large one.

    Out of precaution I visited my doctor again. His enlightened advice was, “Have you tried vinegar?” Ugh! I suggested the good doctor stick to medicine.

    I then did the obvious thing. I went on the Internet. I Googled, “How to get rid of red ants. desperate.”

    I came across a video that looked helpful. However, I should have viewed it with some skepticism given that the guy offering the advice called himself Wild Bob. He wore overalls and had a southern twang. I waited for him to say, “Step one y’all, get out your shotgun.”

   He recommended preparing a concoction, consisting of two parts borax and one-part peanut butter. You spread it around all over and those buggers suck it up and bring it to their queen. Once the queen ingests it, she feels sick and tells her subjects this place ain’t safe anymore and they dismantle their tents and scramble.

   Sounded good to me. I prepared the delicacy and spread it as per the instructions of Wild Bob. This time I took all necessary safety precautions; I wore shoes, socks and gloves.

   As I smeared this cocktail mix onto the battlefield, I noticed yet a larger congregation of ants convening. There were almost as many as the number of people who generally line up outside the store when Apple announces the arrival of its latest iPhone.

   I was sure this would do it. I said to the guests, “Welcome dearies. Dinner is served.”

   My optimism was short lived. The ants did not emigrate. Her Majesty must have enjoyed this treat.

   Adding injury to insult, I suddenly felt an itch on my forehead. Yep, this was, followed by a welt the size of a bagel. OK, definitely not smaller than a nickel. But it felt bigger.

    I did not go to my doctor this time, but I did telephone him for some quick advice. I trust he will not bill OHIP for telling me to visit this website he heard about, featuring Wild Bob.

    I had to find an answer. Nuke them! I went to the hardware store and inspected a slew of insect liquidation products. A weapon of mass destruction would be just fine. I picked up and read the info on several cans and cartons, but none mentioned red ants. I asked a store clerk for advice and his most helpful answer was, “Red ants? That must hurt. Geez.”

    I telephoned an 800-number printed on a can of a popular product. I reached a gentleman called Ty, some place in Wisconsin. He said, “Red ants? Those are also known as ‘fire ants’. They originated in South America and they’re winding their way northward.”

    I told him they’re not winding anymore. They’ve arrived in Thornhill Ontario.

   He said, “Oh, you’ve got them in Canada now? Nasty pests aren’t they.”

   He was sympathetic. As I expected him to direct me to the holy grail of red ant riddance, Ty said, “Sorry, but we’re still working to find a satisfactory solution to deal with fire ants.”

   I'm back to square one, now being enjoying my good read and cold beer indoors.

   I'm open to suggestions. I wonder whether just like there is a horse whisperer, if there is some type of ant whisperer who can approach the fire ant queen and convince her to relocate. I shall not be asking my doctor for further advice on that one.


Witches, Duelers and Viagra, Oh My!

 Jul 10, 2019 10:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     Let’s talk about zombies, to wit, the zombie laws the federal government has erased from the criminal code via Bill C-51. These anachronistic offences rarely enforced were still punishable until recently.

    For example, section 365 made it an offence to “pretend to practice witchcraft” for the purpose of defrauding. I get lost at the “pretend” part. I think we all know what a witch is. If we ever walk along Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square and some lady with a greenish face, sporting a black robe and conical hat, flies up in front of the City Hall on a broom, and shouts, “I’ll get you my pretty; and your little dog too,” there’s no pretending there. I’m sold.

    Police in Milton, Halton Region, actually charged a psychic under that section just before the law got repealed. She supposedly got about 20 clients to pay her large sums of money, totaling $600,000.00. She allegedly told her clients they were being haunted by bad spirits and ghosts and she would perform rituals to make them go away. At one point some of the victims requested a refund but she refused same saying if she refunded the cash the spirits and ghosts would return. I guess her refund policy was nothing like Costco’s.

    Actually, I would think notwithstanding that the police were optimistic in laying the charge, the Crown would have its hands full on this one. The lady has a great defence. Wouldn’t the prosecution need evidence of actual ghosts still hanging around, to prove she committed fraud? To me this is a pure witch-hunt. Milton meets Salem.

    The story does not mention her mode of transportation.

    For those lawyers practicing family law, you may be happy to see the repeal of a relevant section, namely section 71, which bans dueling. Now if you feel offended, you can slap your opponent’s face with your glove, challenging him or her to a duel, without fear of getting two years in the slammer. I suppose in practice, arrest on this charge would have applied to only one of the two contestants. Woe to the unfortunate survivor.

   And now that this crime is off the books, what will adversaries do? Mediation often works but then again you cannot deny that dueling is simply another feasible form of alternate dispute resolution.

   And speaking of crimes, section 163(1) (b) has been chopped off. This section made it a crime to publish or sell crime comics. The intent behind that one was that young people reading about the likes of Lex Luther or the Joker, might be influenced to commit crimes.

   I’m not so sure. I grew up gobbling up Superman comics for reading nourishment and I never once was tempted to go out and procure a stash of kryptonite.

   Actually section 163 had more zombies. Section163(2) (d) made it a criminal offence to advertise a drug represented as a method for restoring virility. I suppose any man to whom this might apply, was expected to discover the remedy by other means; hey, I heard it through the grapevine.

   The good news was there was a built in defence to this charge. There was no crime if the act “served the public good.” It was a bit broad but I’d say the case would be dismissed if a merchant or manufacturer pleaded, “There are lots of happy people out there as a result of Viagra”.

    I don’t know where any of these Criminal Code revisions will be taking us. No doubt he landscape should now be more favourable for witches, duelers and Batman aficionados. And one can now freely advertise Viagra, though I suppose it will not affect the zombies


Stress Webinar Gone Stressful

 Jun 14, 2019 10:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     I just concluded a stressful week, all because of a webinar I took in, on handling stress.

     Being retired from the practice of law, I find my main stressor now is technology. I’m a devout baby boomer and I feel marginalized dealing with computers and other machines. I find it impersonal, frightening and simply overwhelming. I’m suspicious about spams, scams and snooping, especially. I Googled Texas Holdem the other day and within minutes my screen loaded up with ads about Texas, including info about where best I can buy a ten-gallon hat in El Paso.

     I muttered under my breath that technology was stressing me out.

     By chance I received an email about a free webinar on how to smash stress. Then again maybe it wasn’t by chance; maybe Alexa ratted on me.

     I had nothing to lose. Unbeknownst to me I would however have to undergo the ordeal of figuring out how to log in successfully.

     I signed on and received an email, suggesting 3 ways of signing in: 1) on my computer; 2) on a mobile device via an “easy to download” App; or 3) via telephone by calling some bizarre area code.

     Apps do not sit well with me as I am never able to readily enter the right password. I’m certain Apple is out to get me. I get a note about, “forgot your password?” but I don’t see an option to say, “No I did not forget; I am entering it correctly. You guys are jerking me around.”

     Regarding the phone, I am not comfortable dialing these oddball 900 numbers for fear of reaching some scam telephone sex outfit following which I get billed $800.00. That for sure would stress me. And my marriage.

     I clicked on a link on my PC, but I got lost. Firstly, I had to confirm I was not a robot. I had to copy from an image a combo of 6 numbers and letters some of which were totally illegible. One character was smudgy, looking like it was created with a thumb dipped in ink. Others were in a weird font, like Middle Phoenician.

     After sailing through this gauntlet, I received a message suggesting proper computer specs needed. It talked about Firefox, Explorer and Chrome in a language totally foreign to me. I am sure Socrates must have used similar language and that lead to the State ordering him to drink that hemlock. Rightly so.

      I just hit keys in front of me randomly. Eventually I scored, but audio access only. The speaker asked listeners to enter their names and residences in the “chat box”. Unfortunately, I could not see a chat box, whatever that is. He rattled off welcomes, such as “Welcome Gerald from Chicago. And welcome Marlene from Edmonton. And welcome Cookie from Cleveland. Hello Cookie.”

     I felt excluded. I shouted back, “What about Marcel from Thornhill?” I thought perhaps Alexa would hear me and relay my message. No go.

     I did see a note offering tech support. I had to email my problem. With great difficulty I restrained myself from using language I would not use in front of my grandchildren.

     To my surprise a live person, Raymond telephoned me. He asked if he could take over my computer, after realizing soon enough his instructions to me must have sounded like they were in Klingon. I gladly gave Raymond control. I started to feel much better

     I finally joined the webinar.

     The speaker was making useful comments such as, “Stress can be stressful.” He then listed sure fire ways of dealing with it. One was breathing; in then out.

     How could I have missed that one. I zealously made notes.

     Another tip was changing your thought focus. If for example your boss tells you you’re fired, think about something you can be grateful about, like a gorgeous sunset. Noted. This one could come in handy when you’re driving through a blizzard in Toronto in January. Getting stressed? No problem. Just imagine some guy in Fort Myers enjoying the sunset.

     The seminar concluded.

     I realized I must inoculate my mind against the stresses of technology. I’m not certain what the answer is. One thing for sure, I’m definitely not asking Google. Maybe I can get friendly with Raymond?


Mission Impossible: Telephoning the Government

 May 13, 2019 1:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

      The findings of the recently released Auditor General’s report on the efficiency of the Canadian government are not rosy. Most disturbing is the finding that people can’t reach a live person at a government department on the phone. Callers are referred to websites or redirected and told to hold. Many simply gave up and hung up.

     This of course is unacceptable. I for one would hate to be a 64-year-old calling about old age security and by the time the pension office answers the phone, I’m already eligible. Or even worse, you might actually be over 65 and get through to someone but they get nasty and they say something like, “Given that you’re a pest, we are revising your birthdate to note that you are now 61 years old.”

     I don’t know what the answer is, but I know what we would all like to see.

    You call the Employment Insurance office. The telephone rings once.

    AGENT: EI office. This is George. Sorry for keeping you waiting.

    CALLER: I just got laid off and I’m not sure how to complete these complicated employment insurance forms.

    AGENT: No problem. Tell you what. Better yet. The government will give you a job starting tomorrow. Can you start at 10:30?

    Or you call the Canada Revenue Agency about your income tax refund. Phone rings 2 times

    AGENT: CRA. This is Benjamin speaking. Are you still there? I just dropped my coffee mug running to get the phone.

    CALLER: Yeah, I haven’t received my tax refund yet of $547.00. I filed my return over a week ago.

    AGENT: What is your social insurance number madam? Never mind. I have it here. I will personally ensure that you refund goes out FedEx. And due to the delay in handling your return, I am adding a bonus reward. The government is now partnering with Aeroplan and we are giving you enough points to fly anywhere in Canada aboard Air Canada....Is there anything else I can help you with?

    Or perhaps you are concerned about the climate and you wish to discuss the matter with Environment Canada.

    AGENT: Good morning, this is Marie speaking. Can you please hold just a minute? It’s hot in here. I have to open the window.

    CALLER: No problem Marie. My name is Larry. I just want to express my concerns about climate change.

    AGENT: Certainly sir. Let me put your call over to the person who can be most helpful and who in fact is always ready to discuss this matter with you.

    AGENT 2: Hi Larry. This is the Prime Minister speaking. How can I help you? ...It’s hot in here. Let me just turn on the AC.

    I doubt the Auditor General’s report makes any of these suggestions to fix the problem. The question is, if we were to telephone his office, would we get through?


Donut Rhapsody

 May 7, 2019 12:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     Tim Hortons' iconic roll the rim to win contest isn’t working. Seems Tim Hortons’ recent reprise of their annual promo is not raking it in. Profits are down and the food giant is trying to figure out a way to refresh the game from the way it has been since the 1980s. As the saying might go, you have to know when to roll ‘me and when to fold ‘em.

     I wish to share my own experience with the contest. I have been a loyal customer of Tim Hortons way back while Tim Horton himself used to score goals against my beloved Montreal Canadians. I enjoyed the products and I did not hold those acts of aggression against him.

     In all the years, I must say I did ring the bell once and rolled up the rim to find I had won a free donut. You are asking no doubt, did that contest score change my life?

    You hear stories about how contest victories do not bring happiness. There may be a big high initially. The lucky person may get extravagant, and binge. He or she might buy a new car or take a lavish trip. Then the mood drops, and they sometimes even get depressed. I found I did not follow that scenario. I just claimed my donut, no special fanfare. And actually I was happy ongoing. I never considered seeing a shrink about post contest trauma disorder (PCTD?).

    You also see stories about how charitable organizations get in touch and offer congratulations to the winners, expecting a hand-out. I was not sure if that would happen in this case. One thing for certain, I did not expect to hear from the Canadian Diabetes Association.

   As well you hear that people who have hardly noticed you for a while suddenly surface. That did not happen either. I will say my daughter Natalie who was about 10 at the time and who was generally pre-occupied with her friends and social activities, did notice my fresh chocolate sprinkled donut on my desk and she suggested it would be a noble and grand gesture if I were to share my winnings with her. She reminded me that chocolate was her favourite food and that in any event, donuts were not healthy for older men. I handed her the donut in toto.

   So, in short, to answer the question, my life was not altered much by my contest kill. I did not go out and buy a new car or take a lavish trip. And Tim Hortons, take notice, for the record I rolled many rims since, all unsuccessfully. Maybe there lies some of the problems for TH. They should enable more people to win. Then again, I am not sure I want another donut. My daughter is a now a mother herself and I am a much older man.


A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Ukraine

 Apr 29, 2019 9:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     Congratulations to Volodymyr Zelensky, the new president of the Ukraine.

     Volod Z is actually a comedian who won a landslide victory over the incumbent. He starred in a television series called “Servant of the People”, where he played a destitute school teacher who unexpectedly becomes president of the Ukraine. It seems that reality has now mirrored fiction.

     His victory was apparently a protest vote against the status quo. The people were fed up with corruption, the failing economy and the conflict with the Russians.

     However, the new president allegedly offered a nebulous platform with few concrete policies, other than pursuing anti-corruption which was what he was ranting about in his television role. In other words, it looks like his platform is virtually about nothing. This reminds me of Seinfeld, where George Constanza in pitching his series to network executives, when asked what it would be about, proudly proclaimed, “about nothing.”

     I believe the comedian president must be a devout fan of Seinfeld. The similarities in this man’s campaign to Seinfeld situations are spooky. Many of the expressions or Seinfeldisms readily fit into what is transpiring in the Ukraine.

     For example, Zelensky no showed at a debate he was going to have with his adversary. His actions are reminiscent of the Seinfeld soup Nazi, the implication being, “No debate for you”.

     He has also avoided or nixed talk shows, big interviews and press conferences. I guess if asked what his policies are, he told them, “I want to reduce corruption. I am talking about shrinkage.”

     If pressed for more information, he no doubt would have added, “I have already answered your questions. Yada, yada, yada.”

    The Seinfeld series of course has several characters. I wonder if they will be somehow replicated in the new cabinet. It may not come as a surprise if he appoints a Minister resembling Kramer. I can already visualize his Minister of External Affairs, being a fellow with a high stack of hair, bursting through the door into a chamber at the Kremlin and disrupting Putin. I suppose Putin might feel a bit uncomfortable and call him a “close talker”.

    And Mr. President might also appoint a parallel to Elaine, perhaps as Minister of Health. She can make decisions of who is “sponge-worthy.” Whatever woman he appoints, I am certain she will not have “man hands.”

    And of course, it would be natural to install a George Constanza type Minister. I don’t know what portfolio he would give him. Maybe Zelensky would create a new department; the Ministry of Nothing. I am a certain about one thing and that is that this minister would make sure nobody goes around “double-dipping the chips”.

    Furthermore perhaps now there will even be an end to the conflict with Russia. The new president will achieve “serenity now”.

    Can anything like this actually happen now in the Ukraine? Hey, look at what transpired so far. Voters convincingly elected a comedian with no political experience to lead a country of 45 million inhabitants. The better question can anything like this happen in other countries? We have yet another lesson here from history. If the voters are not satisfied with their political leaders, all standard bets are off and anybody or anything can get onto the table.

   The time may not be long before we hear lots of laughter in the House of Commons. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”.


Boston Tea Party Revisited- Lawyers Wanted

 Apr 14, 2019 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     The Law Society of Ontario (LSO), the province’s governing body for lawyers, has imposed a requirement for its lawyers to annually affirm adoption of a statement of principles (“SOP”), wherein lawyers agree to confirm and be in line with the doctrine and ethics of equity, diversion and inclusion (“EDI”). Although the lawyers are virtually unanimous in agreeing that in principle EDI is a good thing, they resent the LSO compelling them to say amen to the SOP, on pain of losing their right to practice. The driving force behind these regs are the group of elected “benchers”, as they are called, being lawyers primarily, who set the policies related to governance of the province’s lawyers and paralegals. All of this is not sitting well with the lawyers who are quite vocal about this apparent coercive hit.

    The question is what can the frustrated and disgruntled lawyers do about it? I thought about the matter and the American Revolution came to mind. I especially was impressed with the Boston Tea Party. In short on December 16, 1773 a group of colonists not too happy with a British tea tax, dressed up as Mohawks and boarded 3 British ships in the Boston harbour and dumped over three hundred cases of tea into the water.

   This act of defiance did not sit well with the Brits who proceeded to huff and puff and close down the Boston harbour. (or as they say in Boston, “habuh “).

   But the event must have been effective as 16 months later the revolution formally started and as they say, the rest is history.

   I suggest the lawyers come up with something similar. They can organize a commando group to seize the fine wines the benchers reputedly enjoy in their downtown Toronto iconic Osgoode Hall 18th century bastion. The team can dress up accordingly. As this mandatory SOP regulation adoption is more appropriate for another planet, given my fondness of Star Trek, I suggest they go disguised as Vulcans. And since Vulcans aim to live by logic and reason, rather than emotion, the party can readily talk their way into the wine cellar. They can say something to security like, “We come to relieve the benchers of their wine stash. Let us pass. Live long and prosper.”

  What to do with the wine? Dumping it into Lake Ontario would be wasteful and not environmentally sound. Instead they could deliver it to a place where future generations of lawyers as well as the general public can view the wine as a reminder of strange and bizarre but true legislation, a place best suited to display the nonsensical, goofy and off the wall serving for the lawyers, by their own governing body. I would be perfectly willing myself to drive the wine to Niagara Falls and drop it off at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.

  I say to the lawyers, more action, less talk.

  And of course, cheers!


Are We in China Yet?

 Mar 8, 2019 3:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

   In a couple of days I leave for Hong Kong where we shall be boarding a cruise ship that will take us to number of ports, ending up in Shanghai. I have never been to China and right now my mind is abuzz with thoughts about that exotic country

   I recall my first exposure to the word China was in Montreal as a kid as I was shoveling through a deep pile of snow digging an impressive hole in the heap. A passer- by commented to me, “You dig much deeper you’ll end up in China.”

   I had no clue what he meant but I accepted the challenge. I braved a good Montreal winter day digging onwards. Alas, I never reached my destination. As they say, that day my efforts were all about the journey.

  The word China also makes me think about Confucius. I wonder, did the man say all these things? How come nobody makes those remarks about other intellectuals? You don’t hear anyone saying, “Donald Trump say.”

  China to me also connotes chopsticks. I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to use them when we have forks. I did give it a couple of tries over the years and I gave up; just like I did trying to dig that hole to China. Frankly for me that would have been an easier challenge.

   I also see visions of that Great Wall of China. It’s interesting fast forwarding to the present how some walls are considered great walls whereas others are considered despicable. As for me I still don’t know what a Facebook wall is.

   I am also thinking about the current controversy surrounding Canada and China regarding the extradition of Meng Wenzhou. I do not get political and I hope that one works its way out. I know that when I get to China I shall not be doing anything silly, such as flashing a picture of PM Justin Trudeau. Then again it may give the folks there a good laugh.

  One thing will be on my mind. I’ll ponder whether if I dig a large hole on the beach in Shanghai, I’ll end up in Canada.



Sailor Kisses Nurse-Statue with Limitations

 Feb 22, 2019 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

      I was in Sarasota Florida the other day. At the harbour there is a giant statue version of that iconic photograph scene whereby a U.S. Navy sailor embraces and kisses a nurse in Manhattan the day World War 2 ended in August 1945. The sailor was identified as a George Mendonsa, who actually died last week at age 95.

     Unfortunately the statue was defaced earlier in the week, somebody red spray painting a leg on the nurse the with the phrase, “#me too.” I imagine whoever did it believed this act of vandalism was productive. Being a lawyer, I want to step into the culprit’s shoes and try to figure out a plausible reason for this action.

     Firstly maybe it was George’s little white sailor’s cap. I’d say it’s certainly provocative. I can readily see how that cap can attract an assault. Popeye wore one just like it and every cartoon episode saw him fight gangbusters with his nemesis Bluto. Food for thought. Like spinach.

    Another reason for wanting to wreck the statue could be that the scene took place in New York. After all we all know New Yorkers are cold and unfriendly. Walk  along Times Square and no stranger will ever look at you and say, “Hi. How's your day so far”. Had this event taken place in say Boise Idaho, there’s a good chance the Sarasota statue would have been spared.

   Furthermore, actually that “nurse”, one Greta Friedman, was not a nurse at all, but a dental assistant. Can it be that the rogue painter had a bad experience at a dentist’s office and just wanted to reach out? Who knows?

  Or perhaps, just perhaps, the perpetrators did not share the feelings of thousands who ran out in the streets to express their frenzied joy at the announcement minutes earlier that the war which killed over 50 million people was over. Greta later actually described the kiss as a “Thank God the war is over” event. Maybe the vandal(s) thought that the announcement should have been greeted with more of a modified rapture. “World War 2 is done. Nice. Now back to your desks.”

 Or then again can it be that the spray painter or paters were actually artists, who figured why not enhance the statue a bit in honour of George Mendonsa, who then age 22, served in the Pacific fleet for several years, enduring the hell of the Far East front. After all their graphic #message is open to a number of interpretations. Then again I fear to think if given the opportunity, what they might do with the statue of Michelangelo’s David.

We’ll likely never find out. They did not hang around for a Q and A.

As for me I’ll tip my hat to the couple. Not to take chances, my hat is a Toronto Blue Jays cap.



Don’t Cry for Me, Amazon

 Jan 11, 2019 12:15 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     I see Jeff Bezos and his wife of 25 years are divorcing. JB is the principal of Amazon and not surprisingly the richest man in the world, whose net worth is estimated at $137 billion dollars, American. I don’t know what that works out to in Canadian dollars as my calculator stops after 9 digits. (Likely the sale of my books has added to his pile).

    The issue now will be division of property which I expect settle. Optimistically the pair note that they will remain “cherished friends”. They also say that had they known pre-marriage that it would have ended this way they still would have gone ahead.

    However, we are talking Amazon. This is a super tech mega corporation worth a bit south of a trillion dollars. It likely has some clout as to how matters are played out. It would not surprise me if Mr. Amazon himself gets to set the rules as to how the wife is to proceed to get her share of the pie, without court intervention. The forum for the resolution would be Amazon. Amazon rules no doubt. I can see the following scenario play out.

    To start the ball rolling, the wife would have to log into Amazon. She would have a choice such as, “books”, “clothing” or “divorce.”

    If she clicks on divorce, there would be a message, “How do we know you’re not a robot?” A grid with photos would appear saying, “Check off all boxes depicting a bank.”

   This would lead to a message noting: “Want a divorce? Check out today’s deals.”

   This may be worthwhile as the day’s deal will offer a property settlement of an extra 15%. Good start.

   There will also be a prompt suggesting, “To make your family property claim simpler, download the free Amazon Divorce app.”

   The wife will then be prompted to ask for what she wants.

   MacKenzie will then key in a figure being half of Jeff’s wealth, to wit, $68.5 billion.

   She will get a message saying, “You’re almost done.” It will ask if she is signed up for Amazon Prime. If she did that saves her $9.25 handling charges. (That’s about $12.50 Canadian!)

  The next prompt will be “Add the $68.5 billion to the shipping cart.”

  Once done, no doubt she will get a message asking if she also wants to download some music. The missive will say, “If you liked the $68.5 billion dollars, you may also enjoy listening to songs such as, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, “All You Need is Love”, and ”You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”.

  Finally, she will be prompted to post a review of her transaction experience. I expect she will give it a five-star rating. Maybe 4 stars if she gets annoyed at

that $9.25 handling charge.

 Like I said, given that the pair will remain cherished friends, I have little doubt that the property issue will resolve. But as Jeff Bezos will say, “She did it my way.”


A Non-Christmas Story

 Dec 18, 2018 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     An elementary school principal in Omaha Nebraska was put on administrative leave for banning candy canes in her school. This of course she did in the name of inclusion, as to her Xmas celebrations might be offensive to some students.  As the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland might say, merry un Christmas.

     Actually, the ban also included Christmas related imagery such as reindeer, trees and even Santa himself. Her reason for including the candy cane was the J shape of the candy, which J of course stands for Jesus. She was so convinced of her theological theory that she claimed that even the colours are offensive to non-believers, to wit, red stands for the blood of Christ and white for his redemption. From the looks of it, she elevated the candy cane as a religious item, rivalling the host wafer, the chalice and the crucifix. No doubt, candy cane is a staple item in the pockets of any self-respecting priest.

     I guess in her mind it never occurred to her that just maybe the offending piece of candy is actually called candy cane because it is shaped like a cane.

    In this case authorities did not put up with any nonsense. They did not can (cane?) her; they put her on admin leave. You just don’t do these things in Omaha Nebraska. Hey Toto, I don’t think we’re in Berkeley.

   I can only imagine what this woman would have to say about the iconic song, “White Christmas", composed by Irving Berlin. Dreaming of a white Christmas? No way Jose. Firstly, it is offensive in that it excludes kids in hot climates such as Florida. They may dream as much as they want but it ain’t going to happen in Fort Myers.

   Expose children to this song and you’ve scarred them irreparably for life.

   Then let us not forget Irving Berlin was Jewish. Cultural appropriation. Berlin had no business composing that song. No go. Call him out.

   And as for the colour white? Are you kidding? I’m not going near that one. Jesus!


No Jokes are the New Joking

 Dec 9, 2018 10:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger


      No joking. Am I joking? I don’t think so. I have come to the conclusion that in this day and age none of the age old formula jokes are safe. Their utterer will indubitably end up within the crosshairs of the politically correct police. Let’s examine some of these long established joke genres.

     1 Knock Knock? Who’s there? No way Jose. No way Jose is not part of the joke. I am simply saying that you cannot use this knock knock formula anymore as it likely violates rights to privacy. Nowadays you simply do not dare do that. After all we have never had as much privacy as we have now. Privacy is sacrosanct. Nobody has a clue what we are doing on our computers.

     Furthermore the term “Knock” evokes an image of violence. You cannot hit anything, let alone a door. Some folks may feel offended and they’ll have to find a safe room. Maybe that room is behind that door you’re knocking on. Who knows?

     2 An Englishman, a Frenchman and a German enter a bar. I don’t care what any of them order at the bar. Any way you pour it some people will rule it out as being racist. I can only imagine there will be a cute punchline after the Englishman orders his scotch, the Frenchman his Champaign and the German his beer. But I will not venture a guess what the punchline will be. Verboten.

    3 A close cousin to this genre is “There is a priest, the minister and the rabbi.” Try one of these jokes in places such as some university campuses and you risk getting drawn and quartered. Actually there is a double risk; one for including these three religious representatives and possibly another for actually failing to include reps of other religions. And I don’t even know where agnostics and atheists fall into the picture. The human rights tribunals would have a feast on you.

   4 How about the hyperbole joke, such as “it’s so hot that”. Don’t dare touch this one with a 10 foot spatula. If you do you will be making light of climate change. No weather is funny. Pass.

   5 Why did the chicken cross the road? Uh uh; animal rights. Ask that one again and you may as well invite PETA to converge on your house with torches and pitchforks.

   6 And don’t ask what you get when you cross an elephant with a jar of peanut butter. Triple no no. In addition to knocking animals, sorry make that assailing animals, you are messing with genetically modified organisms. Thirdly you may hear from the allergy associations given that there is a plague of people allergic to peanuts. FYI I might get some slack cut on that one; my son and granddaughter are in that club.

  Actually I know the answer to that joke but I’m not talking. Google it. Given your secure privacy status nobody will know.

7 And likely the shortest joke in the English language, the iconic joke, the signature joke of the “King of the one Liners “, Henny Youngman, is definitely taboo. I am talking of course of, “Take my wife, please.” Now was the legendary comedian being sexist or disrespectful to his wife? You tell me. Did you know the two were happily married for 60 years? Just maybe the humour helped cement a marital union of the type you rarely find today.

 Can the world lighten up a bit? As legendary humourist Erma Bombeck once said, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”


Send in the Martians

 Nov 30, 2018 10:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     So the Insight spacecraft has landed on Mars. Is this huge? I’m not sure. This is the 8th spacecraft to land on the red planet but I am actually totally disappointed as there is something drastically still missing. I ask, where are the Martians?

     For nearly a half century I grew up with the impression that indeed there were Martians on Mars. This was not a totally unreasonable expectation. And we all knew exactly what these Martians looked like. We saw cartoons of these folks. They were always little men (never women). They were usually green and they had a couple of hoses coming out of their heads at the end of which were a couple of eyes. They spoke English quite well. We know this as the first thing they said to the earthlings was, "Take us to your leader."

     They even had a common mode of transportation: the flying saucer.

     Unfortunately just like with Curiosity Rover, Insight has still not detected a trace of life on this planet. There was nobody to greet Insight, the contraption that looks like a giant winged insect, as it completed its gentle float down to the ground at a pace of about 12,300 miles per hour. It sent back some messages. But I doubt one of them was, “This does not look like Kansas, Toto.”

     I recall back in grade 4 whenever I used to daydream, my teacher, Mr. Mackenzie, would say to me sarcastically, "Who are your thinking about, the man on Mars?" If he were to say it now I would be able to answer him eloquently and say, "Yeah right".

     The rug has been pulled out from under our feet. It would not have been so if at least some practical discoveries were made on Mars. I would have liked to see some of the following revelations:

     What if Mars was the place to where all our missing items went? It would have made my day had Insight crept along on its adventures and suddenly I could say, "Hey, there's my television remote."

     Or perhaps if it were not physical, then metaphysical revelations would have been well worth the billions spent. I would be ecstatic if the big bug would come across a sign reading, "Welcome. You have just found the meaning of life. Keep going 2 kilometres."

     Worth every penny.

     The game would also have been worth the candle had the giant fly come across long sought secrets or mysteries. I would have been sold if I saw a notice reading, "Beware, Bermuda Triangle up ahead. Proceed with caution or you'll end up in Fort Lauderdale."

     So far Insight, instead of finding our missing remotes or discovering the meaning of life or unravelling the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, it will basically just sit there and listen. Once again as with other Mars missions, I doubt it will hear any Martian chatter. Maybe they are out there indeed. If so, chances are local authorities would not believe any comments made by one of its citizens who might be reporting the sighting of a UFO. “Yeah, a giant dragon fly. Right! Are you feeling OK Org?”

    I guess these discoveries now have scientists in a perpetual state of orgasm. But to me this is all too clinically cold. would rather go back to my lifelong dreams and fantasies and imagine space creatures the way I have known them for decades and go on thinking that perhaps on another planet our fantasies will materialize. And if they do, do hope that some of these extra terrestrials will be women.


A Title by any other Name is not a Rose

 Nov 8, 2018 10:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     What’s in a name? Or rather what’s in a title to a name?

      A 10 year old boy in North Carolina recently got punished by his teacher for calling her “ma’am”. She made him write out the word, “ma’am” 4 times per line on a long sheet of paper. This story went viral. Seems some people are sensitive about how they get addressed.

     A lawyer colleague and I chatted the other day about addressing people and she told me she was dealing with an ATM machine and it referred to her by her first name. She did not like it. She said she would have preferred to be referred to as “Mrs. X”. (her real name actually, of course).

     I thought about it and it occurred to me that I have no problem with a kind and generous machine saying to me, “Hey, here’s $500.00 Marcel.”

     I actually was uneasy for decades, with anyone calling me Mr. Strigberger. To me Mr. Strigberger was my dad. After all he always wore a fedora, That was what fathers did and therefore you called them “Mr. “

    We went on to chat at length about names and references and she also said she did not like it when other lawyers referred to her at a legal proceeding using the traditional British reference barristers call one another, namely, “my friend”. She was sure her clients would raise an eyebrow and think to themselves, “Why is my lawyer so chummy with the enemy? Maybe I had better not drink that coffee she just brought me.”

    I told her I could live with “my friend” but I would never stretch that one to that alternate phrase being, “my learned friend.” After 40+ years of practice, I was certain some of the lawyers I came across received their legal learning at the University of Attila the Hun.

    I told her my pet peeve was calling judges “Your Honour”. They don’t always deserve such a distinguished salutation. I especially found it unnatural to lose an argument in court and have the judge order my client to pay legal costs, and then conclude my brilliant presentation by uttering the words, “Thank you Your Honour.” It’s almost like getting mugged on the street and then as you get up and you brush yourself off you say, “Thank you Mr. Mugger. “(unless I suppose you know his first name).

   Actually in court I was often tempted to follow the lead of that famous literary creation barrister, Rumpole of the Old Baily, who would often mumble some derogatory remark under his breath at the judge, such as, “You are a total ass,” which the judge sort of heard but could not confirm. The judge would ask, “What was that you said Mr. Rumpole?” Rumpole would respond something like, “My Lord, I said it will pass.”

  We all know His Lordship heard it right but could not do anything about it.

  The British certainly appear to have a hold on pomposity. My daughter once communicated with a university in England and the university’s first letter asked how she was to be addressed, listing a string of titles including Miss, Mrs. , Ms and Lady. She of course responded, “Lady”. And that is in fact how they responded to her.

  My colleague and I concluded that we all had our likes and dislikes on how we wished to be called. After discussing this issue in depth and parting our separate ways, it occurred to me that I never got to ask her how she would react if she were called, “ma’am.”

  As for myself, I’m easy going and not pretentious. I can live with whatever the person who deals with me wishes to call me.

  That’s just who I am; Sir Marcel Strigberger


If You’re Happy and You Know it, Don’t Clap Your Hands

 Oct 7, 2018 1:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     Here is the latest on what some of the scholars of higher learning on campus are up to. No this isn’t Berkley; it’s England.

     Firstly, the students’ union at Manchester University has resolved to ban clapping. The reason for this ban is inclusion. You see they conclude that clapping may cause anxiety to some members of the audience. In its stead they ask that students applaud by waving their hands over their heads. This expression of approval is apparently called “jazz hands”. In fact the union plans to make jazz hands part of its inclusive training for new students. OK.

     In all fairness to Manchester U, the National Union of Students voted last year that students who clap, cheer or whoop should “face consequences.” I trust when the resolution was passed none present, perish the thought, clapped. I don’t know. They may have already been arrested and taken to Stonehenge to face consequences.

    Not to be outdone Oxford University, yes the Oxford, has an equality and diversity unit that issued guidance to students advising them that those who avoided eye contact with peers could be guilty of racism. Actually this one could be dangerous. During that Oxford-Cambridge boat race, there is a good chance that while the Cambridge rowers are facing forward, the Oxford gang might run aground as they are busy looking left, trying to eyeball their Cambridge peers.

    I am no longer in practice but given the climate today, if the Law Society of Ontario operating out of the 18th century Osgoode Hall building, or for that matter the governing body of lawyers or other professionals anywhere, gets wind of some of this progressive action it will not be too long until lawyers and others here will be facing similar pleasantries. I don’t know about you but even if it would earn me the required equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) brownie points, I would not care to attend another mandatory seminar and have some very solemn person show me how to wave my hands around over my head. “Now ladies, gentlemen and all others, let’s all stand up and raise our hands high…”

   I suppose if after the seminar as I leave I fail to eyeball him, her or whoever, consequences worthy of a racist would follow. The instructor pushes a button and I fall through a trap door. I then have to spend days trying to wind my way through the labyrinth Osgoode Hall basement. Friends, it may be coming soon to an organization near you.

   To top it all off the University of Glasgow started trigger warnings for theology students about to study about the crucifix toon of Jesus. Students will be told in advances they may see disturbing images. They will be given that opportunity to leave the classroom. Phew.

   Hey,the facts are what the facts are. What do they expect? It’s not as if the Romans offered Jesus a cup of hemlock.

   In my view, if we are concerned about the negativities and vicissitudes of life, let’s expand this EDI stuff. I have a personal gripe. I am an avid Montreal Canadians (Habs) hockey fan. The other night the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Canadians in overtime. The winning goal triggered anxiety. I was beside myself. I believe legislation should come in ruling that every time the Habs lose this dramatically, the winning goal should not count. Just play on till the Canadians score. It will certainly make me feel included.

   If you enjoyed these comments, feel free to show your approval. But watch out how you do it.


Judging the Judge

 Sep 29, 2018 9:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     I spent a few hours watching the historic Judge Kavanagh Senate confirmation hearings. As there have been more than enough political opinions expressed on the event, I thought I would challenge myself and see if I could come up with nonpolitical observations. I did make a number of which I shall list the top 10. I will however still express my opinions, nonpolitical of course.

     1 Dr Christine Ford likes to drink Coca Cola. During her testimony she guzzled what looked like a half litre of regular Coke. Opinion: It may be the real thing but Coke is not too healthy for you.

     2 Judge Kavanaugh said he likes beer. Opinion: If he drinks Molson Canadian like I do, then I’d say he’s credible.

     3 Judge Kavanaugh often was tearful. Opinion: It’s good to see a judge cry. In my 40 + years of practice judges have often made me want to cry.

     4 Senators Grassley and Feinstein are both octogenarians. Opinion: They’re old.

     5 Dr Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz’s eyeglasses kept on slipping off her nose. Opinion: She should go to Costco like I do when that happens and get an adjustment.

     6 Dr Ford says she has a fear of flying. Opinion: She should never fly with United Airlines.

     7 There is a Democratic senator called Whitehouse. Opinion: That’s funny. I doubt there has ever been a president called Capitol Hill.

     8 There is a Republican senator from Arizona called Flake. Opinion: This is interesting given than he must be one of few flakes in the desert state.

     9 There is a Republican senator called Crapo. Opinion: This name provokes comments. I won’t make any.

     10 The Democrat committee members pressed the judge hard on entries in his high school yearbook. Opinion: Yearbook entries can come back to haunt you. In my yearbook post I said when I grow up I wanted to live in Edmonton.

      I trust I have stayed true to my intneded goal and not been political. If I have, please speak now. Don’t wait 6 weeks to raise the issue.


One Notwithstanding, Please

 Sep 17, 2018 12:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

    We have enjoyed an interesting few days in Ontario, notwithstanding.  As Oliver Twist said, "I would like some more, please. " 

     Some of us like Premier Ford’s invocation of the notwithstanding clause to override the court's ruling regarding the government’s decision to cull the Toronto City Council, and others don’t. ActualIy I see great potential for this type of clause. In fact it should be extended from the public sector to the private sector. There is no reason why the Legislature, simply a group consisting of elected officials, should have exclusive dibs on a notwithstanding clause to trump a judge.

     I was in private practice for over 42 years. I just hated it when a judge ruled against me. It was always my fantasy to be able to do something about it for my clients. Like most of us, I would lose my share of cases just because one mortal, kind and wise as he or she may be, did not like my client’s case. To add insult to injury I would nod my head and feel compelled to say, “Thank you Your Honour.”

    This did not make sense to me. I always wondered if there is something we can do about this problem and now I see possibilities. I am considering campaigning for legislation extending the notwithstanding tool to lawyers.

    How would it work your ask? No problem. It can be underwritten by an insurer, like BICO, which covers adverse costs awards. You have your trial, say a personal injury case, and the judge dismisses your client’s claim. You then stand up and reach into your briefcase and whip out your notwithstanding policy and shout out proudly, “ Ah Hah! Not so fast Your Honour. Notwithstanding your decision, which is of dubious merit, we have notwithstanding coverage. I set aside your findings.

   Not only that but I have “notwithstanding plus” which means I can substitute my own judgement.  I therefore hereby award my client $50,000.00 in damages.”

   I doubt the judge would thank me for this revelation but that’s OK. I’m easy.

   Sounds great to me. And it would certainly enhance the justice process.

   It would even work with a jury trial. How gratifying would it be after a jury kicks your catastrophically injured client in the pants, to stand up and say, “ Ta da!!! Thanx but no thanx. Notwithstanding a decision on my client’s future financial welfare by a cluster of folks who never spent a minute in law school, I hereby override your senseless decision. You don’t even know what pain a fractured pinky can cause. And though I am not permitted to say it, notwithstanding, now I can say this in front of you loudly and clearly:  The defendant is fully covered by insurance in this case. So long and enjoy your next double double.”

  Thinking about this possibility elates me.

  I beleive Premier Ford has opened a can of golden geese. Let’s hope they do not fly south for the winter, notwithstanding.


Look Ma; No Lunch Box

 Aug 31, 2018 2:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

   Back to school? Humbug. There ought to be a law against summer ads for school supplies.  Come  August you cannot visit a Staples or a Wal-Mart or most other stores without running a gauntlet of “back to school” stuff. In my view, this practice creates kiddy school supply junkies.

   After all, just weeks earlier, the kids finished school with all their supplies. What happened to all their stuff? Did it all suddenly vanish?

   While sitting on my neighbour’s deck recently sipping a Heineken, Leo’s kids were hounding him for must have school supplies.

   His daughter Melissa demanded if he had bought her new school knapsack yet.

   Leo asked her where the Batman knapsack he had tripped over in June was.

   Melissa replied, “I don’t know dad. But I need one with Spiderman now. That’s only fair.”

   Her comment I thought certainly added a new dimension to the fairness test. 

   Meanwhile his son Josh pleaded that he absolutely needed to buy a dozen red pens. When Leo queried where Josh’s June stash was, Josh responded, “Dad, you just don’t understand.”

   Melissa, interrupting, said, “If you get him more red pens, you have to get me that Spiderman knapsack. That’s only reasonable”

   Her argument was unassailable I thought.

   During their heated debate, my mind drifted, visualizing research on the subject, like a study undertaken by a professor Jean-Jacques Lemouche, of l’Université de Montréal, who found that pencils do indeed disappear over the summer. He was adamant that three boxes of his former HB yellow pencils had turned into butterflies on July 1 and they were now flying around all over Mount Royal.

   Oxford Professor of Metaphysics Sir James Pedley disagreed with the butterfly theory. His study concluded that every summer, all school supplies simply get sucked into a school-supply Bermuda Triangle. “I’m sure you’ll find my computer mouse there,” lamented the professor.

   The issue also caught the attention of Sigmund Freud, who observed that most of his patients were very depressed at the end of summer, as they could never find a pen or a pad of paper. Although he initially dismissed this neurosis, Freud noted that his own lunch box disappeared every July.

   Even Albert Einstein was plagued by this problem. He ran around frantically one August day repeating to himself, “E=MC2” and shouting, “Quick, I need a pencil. Where is the pencil cup I had in June?”

   I went home and thought about writing to my MPP about pushing for a ban on these back to school ads, which incite the kids.

   But just to hedge my bets, next summer, I am keeping an extra eye open on my own pencil case.


My Son the Gondolier

 Aug 15, 2018 10:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     My wife and I visited Venice not long ago. It was a fine summer evening, and we decided to do what comes naturally in this charming city, namely, take a gondola ride. I asked the gondolier how much. The Venetian air was charged with romance and passion, and price, of course, was of no concern. The good fellow replied, “€150 [a.k.a. $225 Canadian loonies] per hour, sir.”

     I said, “Thank you, sir,” and we decided instead to settle for a chocolate gelato. This also comes naturally.

     While strolling along San Marco Square consuming our gelati, Shoshana and I discussed the gondolier’s charging €150 per hour. Many lawyers would only wish to make this much, or almost double what Legal Aid pays per hour. I asked myself why should a gondolier charge more than a lawyer. What do they have that we don’t have? I decided to make a comparison.

     First I considered the popularity factor.

     People generally have fantasies about gondoliers being romantic minstrels who sing as they wind their way through the canals. A ride along Venice’s labyrinth of waterways can often be a fairy-tale experience.

     A visit to a lawyer evokes a slightly different atmosphere. The greatest similarity to the aforementioned experience one can draw is that many clients claim that lawyers have taken them for a ride. I don’t know about the singing part, but I’m sure that if you ask an assessment officer reviewing a lawyer’s bill, none will tell you that clients have ever suggested that their lawyer, while conducting a cross-examination of a witness, break out singing “O Sole Mio.” Lawyers, however, are known for singing the blues.

     As for the romantic part, there are some lawyers whose love lives would leave even the most colourful gondolieri drifting far behind on the Grand Canal. But this reflection is not about Bill Clinton.

    And lawyers and gondoliers are both popularized prominently in the arts. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote an operetta called The Gondoliers about the enchanting life on Venice’s canals. However, William Shakespeare wrote, “Let’s kill all the lawyers.”

    Then there is responsibility. If lawyers mess up, it’s likely the client will sue them. The gondolier’s job is relatively claim free, short of his running his gondola into another, at all of 5 kilometres per hour.

    However, gondoliers probably do have some form or errors-and-omissions insurance. You never know when some disgruntled client might turn around and sue the gondolier for screwing up the song “Funiculi, Funicula.”

    Then there is training. I found that although lawyers invest years as students, we constantly had to pursue professional development.

    A gondolier can remain at his comfort level indefinitely. After all, what is left after the teacher shows you how to stand upright in the back of the gondola and push your oar? I don’t imagine there was a newsflash in the Gondolier’s Newsletter recently that proclaimed: “Gondolieri! Those black-and-white striped shirts you have been wearing since the year 1542 are no longer valid after October 1. After that date you must switch to sleeveless white undershirts.”

    And perhaps the best part of the job as compared with lawyers is that all gondoliers get paid in cash immediately. Over the barrel. Or should I say, over the paddle?

    After Lorenzo says “arrivederci” to you, he has already pocketed your €150. With lawyers, in most cases, unless they get all their money up front, they can calmly say arrivederci to their fee. They will have a receivable that will be as useful as an umbrella in Pompeii the day Vesuvius erupted. However, this may sometimes still be better than a government-issued Legal Aid certificate.

    A trip to Venice can certainly entice lawyers to make a career change. So what are lawyers waiting for? They have choices. Anybody know where you can get a good deal on those striped shirts?



What colour is my Unicorn?

 Aug 1, 2018 10:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

    Where are the manatees? I don’t see them.

    I like animals and so when I travel I jump at the opportunity to visit animals indigenous to the area. However for some reason I never get to see them.

    For example, while in Florida recently I heard there were manatees, those giant sea cows, worth watching. Further research revealed that the best place to see them was in a “Manatee Park”, in Fort Myers. Sounded good.

    We trekked to Manatee Park, paid the required entry fee and with enthusiasm, we scrambled over to the river bank expecting to see manatees.

    I thought they would be jumping around like dolphins, or at least basking in the sun along the shore like seals. Uh uh. They were all submerged. All we saw were some rotund looking shadows drifting around slowly in the murky water. A ranger said to us, ‘They’re all down there. See, there’s one.”

    I wasn’t satisfied. They could have been some Disney type mechanical blimps. Fake manatees. Disappointing.

    I had a similar experience in Newfoundland with whales. We took a bus tour out along Cape Spear where we were assured we’d see these noble mammals. As we drove along the Cape, the guide announced, “Look left, whales.”

    What whales? I saw only the Atlantic, kilometers of it, and a community of seagulls milling about. I could see a similar gaggle of gulls in my nearby mall parking lot competing for the remains of a tossed away Big Mac.

    I commented, “Where? Where? Point?”

    The guide said ,”Look towards 2:00 o’clock. About 500 meters out. You’ll see the spray from his blowhole.”

    Right. And if I go to the Air Canada Centre, I’ll see the Stanley Cup.

    On the same trip I was told I could see puffins. The tourist office assured me that a place called Ellison about 4 hours out of St. John’s was the puffin capital of the world. As the lady put it, “Get your camera ready. You’ll see thousands of those fluttering birds.”

    I fell for that one too. We got to Ellison in the late afternoon, parked the car and walked about a mile to the edge of a cliff. From there we could see a small island about 300 meters away. We could also see a handful of what, from that distance, looked like butterflies.

    That evening I asked our hotel hostess where all those puffins were. I figured maybe those whales ate them?

    She told me that the puffins generally congregate at dawn. She looked at me like I came from another planet given my obvious ignorance of the gathering habits of puffins.

    It seems the existence of non-existing animals is universal. When we were in Australia we visited a zoo. The zoo’s prize guest was their Tasmanian devil. As soon as we got there, my wife and I raced over to the Tas’s habitat as one would do when you get to the Louvre and you make a B-line to the Mona Lisa.

    You guessed it. From the fence we saw a cave but no devil. A large sign read, “Tasmanian devils are shy creatures. The sight of people makes them bashful and can cause them to stay in their cave.”

    That explained it to my total satisfaction. Why wasn’t I surprised! Served me right. In retrospect I should have made myself familiar with Tasmanian devil’s privacy policy.

    And so where are the manatees? And the whales, puffins and Tasmanian devils?

    Am I gullible or what?

    I’ve never been to Scotland but I just know that if I do go I’ll foolishly make my way to Loch Ness.


World Cup- A Bad Pass

 Jul 12, 2018 12:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

There was a bad pass made at the World Cup…by insurer Allianz SE.

Before this iconic event some retailers offered large prizes as promos if the German team won the cup. They wanted Allianz to cover these potential payouts. Allianz however was so sure Germany would win that they declined the coverage opportunity. The German team was knocked out of the event by South Korea, resulting in Allianz losing out on oodles in premiums.

I believe the reason for declining coverage was that Allianz was not quite sure how to draft the insurance application. They did not know what questions to ask. And so, after thinking about it, using my years of experience dealing with insurers, I suggest Allianz could have made an intelligent informed decision by submitting a questionnaire similar to car, life, fire and other insurance products, as so: questions.


1) Did you also get another insurance company to cover the event? How are they betting? We’re curious.


2) To your knowledge, over the last 6 months have any of the German players had a change in beer brands?

3) Please describe the team’s family history, going back two generations. Within the past 3 years, how many goals did each of their grandmothers score?

4) When a high flying ball crashes down on a player’s head, does he say:

a) Ouch;

b) @#%#*&^; or

c) Ya! Goot!

5) How tall is the team’s goalkeeper:

a) Greater than 9 feet tall;

b) 7-9 feet tall;

c) Less than 7 feet tall.

If you answered “c”, this application will be remitted to our special, “no way this shrimp can make a save” underwriting team as your policy will be rated for a higher premium.


1) Did any of the players receive 3 or more yellow cards from the referees in the past six months?

2) Have any of the team’s players been suspended by their coach? If the answer is yes, note under “details” the extent thereof. Being timed out and sent to the clubhouse corner for more than 10 minutes counts.


1) Of the team’s games, what percentage is business and what percentage is pleasure?

2) In one year, how many kilometres on the field does the team run?

(Note- you need not include the goalkeeper)

3) Will there be any pooling? ie. Do you expect any of the players to carry a team mate piggyback?

4) Do the players wear all season Nikes?


1) Does the goalkeeper intend to leave the net unattended for more than 7 minutes?

2) How close is the team’s residential quarters to a fire hydrant?

3) Referring to question 2, does the team have a dog mascot? If the answer is yes please note under “details”. A Chihuahua does not count.


1) Do any of the team members smoke tobacco, sniff snuff or risk antagonizing the referee by chewing garlic?

2) Do any of the players engage in sky diving, scuba diving or bullfighting. If the answer is yes, please disclose under “details” whether to your knowledge any of them intend to enter the stadium dropping down with a parachute, holding their breath or wearing red shorts.


Please note that all of these questions must be answered honestly, fully and completely, failing which Allianz may deny coverage. Yes, all questions are relevant, including that part about the grandmothers.

If any of the team players are from Quebec please also complete a form “Q-123 le soccer.”

As you can see it would have been very simple for Allianz SE to protect itself and attract all those handsome premiums. They could have called me for this priceless world class World Cup advice. As is often the case, the devil is in the details.

However I do feel sorrier for those retailers. Now given Allianz’s refusal to insure, those retailers are tainted as they must disclose in future that they were once denied insurance coverage. Bummer!


Let’s Play Ball...Assume the Position

 Jul 9, 2018 10:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     The greatest job in the world is to be a police officer. Specifically I am referring to the cops who serve at sporting events and enjoy the game while getting paid for this strenuous effort.

     I’m an avid baseball fan and I can’t help but notice the handful of privileged lawmen enjoying the perils of their profession at the ballpark. Their worst downside perhaps is stepping on some sticky dried up Coke.

    My question then is, how does a police officer get this assignment? Is it seniority? I doubt it as I often see younger officers there. Probably these officers were saints in their previous lifetime and they have returned now to be rewarded to a life of living out everyone's childhood fantasy. Perhaps one of them was originally a passenger aboard the Titanic who helped others get aboard life rafts. Eventually his soul returned to earth and Providence rewarded him. The angels upstairs had a chat:

     "Gabriel: What do you say we return this guy as a cop and send him to the Rogers Centre. He deserves a cushy, soft, fun job doing nothing and getting paid for it.

      Raphael: O.K. Gabriel, it's either the Rogers Centre or the Senate."

      On the other hand maybe there is an element of skill in the position and the officers actually practice and compete for it. I am thinking of the officers at Blue Jay games. In front of each dugout you have two officers seated watching the game. They clap and cheer with the rest of us. Once the half inning is over they stand up and turn around and scowl at the spectators. Once play resumes they sit back down and continue to enjoy themselves.

      The element of skill here is obvious. They must demonstrate the undisputed ability to be able to sit through a half inning and then get up instantly, do a pirouette around and scowl. It's really in the face. They have to look mean, like a cross between Jaws and Count Dracula.

Presumably there is an aptitude test, to assess psychological proficiency. The questionnaire probably reads like:

     "24. When the Blue Jays hit a home run, you react by:

         a)cheering and applauding;

         b)arresting anyone you see not cheering and applauding; or

         c)turning around and taunting the crowd by boasting about the great free view you have of the game.

     Answer choices such as “c” and you’re in.

     As well I imagine they all practice vigorously for that big interview, rehearsing by sitting in front of dugouts at their local parks. Then they practice the flip around and that scowl.

     Only the best cops make it. Actually the force has to be credited for its wise selections to date. I know of no instance where mobs have descended upon the Blue Jays dugout and made off with the Gatorade.

     The Toronto police motto is "To serve and protect". I think a more accurate motto, reflecting the true wishes of the majority of the officers anywhere, would be, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”



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.


Juries? Bah!

 May 25, 2018 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

    A story surfaced recently about jurors in some cases consulting the Internet to study information about the case, which info never formed part of the evidence. Some of these incidents resulted in mistrials or near mistrials.

    Aside from admonishing jurors not to do these things, in my view judges are powerless to enforce this practice. I believe the only way of stopping it is to do away with juries altogether.

    Let’s face it. The jury system officially started in the days of the Magna Carta in 1215. I’d say 800 years plus is a good time for at least a first review.

    What’s a jury doing in a court of law? You don’t see a jury system in other professions, such as medicine. I can’t imagine a surgeon in the operating room, about to do brain surgery, turning to a jury of six laymen scooped up from a local Tim Hortons, asking, “Where do I cut?”

    Nor do I see engineers mulling over rolls of design sketches, turning to that group of six and saying, “We’re designing the world’s largest suspension bridge. It’s got safety risks. We need your help.”

    Not only are jurors not qualified to make decisions affecting people’s liberty or economic future but they are expected to do so objectively after being dragged into the courtroom kicking and screaming. The system gives them something like no pay at all for the first 10 days of the trial and from day 11-49 they get the grand total of $40.00 per day. Amortized over say 49 days, this works out to about $1.27 per hour. And they do not even get reimbursed for expenses, not even travel. This compensation package would certainly motivate me to pay close attention to the evidence.

    To make matters worse, jurors know that the judges and the lawyers are getting paid handsomely for their attendance. I get the feeling after a few days they enter the jury room and say, “Grrr...They’re not even covering my parking. Someone here is going to pay for this. Let’s see, do you really think that accident caused the plaintiff’s problems? Let’s Google “”

    I also find that judges and lawyers tend to project a mood that jurors are naive, generally possessing intelligence rivalling that of Homer Simpson. For example they kick the jury out of the courtroom for a voire dire. By now don’t you think that most jurors have figured out that this means that they are not supposed to hear that the accused confessed to the police, admitting that his dream job was to be a hitman.

   My favourite is when the judge tells a jury to “disregard those comments”. If a judge believes any juror of sound mind will consider them forgotten and erased, that judge will also believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the next Stanley Cup.

   My views about retaining the jury system are clear and definitive. On this issue, the jury is not out.


Royal Wedding-Here I Don’t Come

 May 18, 2018 1:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     I'm happy today. The reason for this joy is that I was not invited to attend the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. .

     Before I celebrated my non invitation, I checked my emails again today to ensure there was no last minute message from the wedding hosts reading something like, "We still have not heard from you. May we have the pleasure of your reply as we have to instruct the caterer accordingly."

     No such email. Modified rapture.

     I think most of us would have issues if we were invited to this classy gala event.

     Firstly there is the cost pf the trip. We cannot expect the hosts to subsidize it. I recall Prince Harry travelled to a wedding in Georgia a couple of years ago but without his then girlfriend as she was short in cash and Harry declined to treat. What could we expect?

    Then there is the attire. This is a grand shindig. I’d have no clue what to wear. I doubt the invite said something like, "Black tie optional". I know the Brits usually welcome guys in kilts. This would be a non starter for me. England can get damp and cold in the springtime. And even if it were an option, I would want to wear a tartan from my clan. This might be a problem. I in fact did a Google search but I could not come up with clan MacStrigberger. And certainly I would not want to otherwise wear any old tartan and be accused of cultural appropriation.

    Then there is the food itself. I don’t know what’s on the menu is but I have restrictions. I can’t stand the sight or smell of white sauces, vinegars and most of all, Parmesan cheese. When I see those servers at Italian eateries approaching a table near me offering to douse a customer’s dish with that vile smelling cheese, I transform from my mild mannered self into the Incredible Hulk.

    I usually deal with these issues in advance by calling the party hosts and asking them review the menu with the caterer. Presumably in this case Prince Charles would be the man to go to and discuss my dietary essentials. However I would feel a bit uncomfortable calling him just before the wedding and being overly blunt. I’d probably have to be more discreet. I’d likely say, "Hi Charles. How’s your polo coming along these days? By the way, at the luncheon are they serving pasta?

   Then of course there is the question of a gift. What do you get a couple whose wedding is estimated to cost over $50 million? I usually throw in a cheque for a couple of hundred dollars. Actually it depends to some extent on my advance knowledge of the food menu. They cross me over with the non edibles I loath, and forget the gift. I'm the one who expects compensation.

   Anyway, even if invited I would have declined. After all I cannot just attend the wedding of every Tom, Dick and Harry.


No Manatees for you

 May 14, 2018 5:00 PM
by Paul Chato

Spent some time in Fort Myers only to be disappointed once again by the lack of promised wild animal sitings. 

Please see video below for the whole story. 


Paul Chato

Paul Chato has been many things: a graphic designer, programmer, comedian, head of network TV comedy, game producer, 3D animator, playwright, event host, director and anything else that matches his fancy. Most of the time he pulls the levers at



Life Insurance for Immortals

 May 7, 2018 7:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     I recently watched a commercial about an insurance company that offers guaranteed life insurance if you are between the ages of 50 to 75. To boot, you need not even answer a medical questionnaire.

    The ad shows a clip of an elderly couple with their grandchild and grandpa saying something like, "I thought my family's future was really bleak but now with this insurance I'm set. I have lived; let the flood come."

    The man almost sounds like Charles' Dickens' Sidney Carton.

    A win-win situation if you ever saw one, right?

    Now I am a retired lawyer who has sued insurance companies often enough and one thing I have learnt is that insurers do not care to part with their money too readily. I have yet to see a claim falling down some icy steps and the adjustor comes running to my office with his chequebook and says, "We at Mutual Lovable Insurance really feel sorry about this. Here, write out your amount."

    And so how can this company do it? I have thought about it and I have come up with the following possible explanations.

    The first and obvious one is outrageous premiums. "So you want $1000 dollars worth of insurance. That will cost you 1100."

    I don't think so. I can't see some bug eyed statistician telling the marketing V.P. that the insurer would have no problem selling this because according to his scientific calculations and P.T. Barnum, there is one born every minute.

    The answer lies deeper.

    One scenario is that the company accepts everyone but when a claim is made, it doesn't pay. The scene at the claims office may be reminiscent of that Monty Python parrot sketch, where an irate John Cleese tries to return a recently purchased dead parrot to pet shop owner Michael Palin. Palin of course insists that the parrot is still alive.

    Similarly the insurer might question whether indeed the insured is actually dead. I have no difficulty whatsoever visualizing a claims adjustor saying to the policy beneficiaries, "George isn't dead. Look, I just saw him open one eye."

    Or the policy might have a very stringent test for death, like in the Wizard of Oz. The insured must be "absolutely, positively, morally, spiritually, ethically, undeniably and unreliably dead".

    The insurance company could argue that as there may be life after death, nobody really dies at all and therefore they don't have to pay. While the beneficiaries argue with the adjustor in the kitchen, he could also remind them of the principle of reincarnation and say, "How do you know that the fly on the screen isn't George?"

    It's an argument.

    Then again perhaps the insurer has a nobler way of avoiding payment. As they only have to pay out if someone dies between the ages of 50 and 75, maybe they have found a secret potion thereby ensuring that their clients in fact don't fold before reaching 75. Now that I think about it I noticed that grandpa in that commercial had a flask of some elixir at his feet. Curious.

    And if it's not something you ingest, perhaps the insurer does it voodoo like, as in The Portrait of Dorian Gray. You stay young, your picture ages. The commercial says you don't need a medical. It says nothing about you not needing a photograph.

    Finally there is the unthinkable explanation: the insurance company really is out to lunch. They actually do accept applications from some poor 74-year-old soul who is in intensive care with heart failure.

     At the annual shareholders' meeting the C.E.O says, "Ladies and gentlemen, this year we paid out death claims totalling 50 million dollars and we took in premiums in the amount of $3511.14. But it's OK. We have succeeded in our main goal; customer satisfaction."

    I guess if you believe this one you will also believe in the existence of the Land of Oz; and that that fly on the kitchen screen was George.

   It's all a mystery to me. If anyone has the answer, please share.



1 2 »
Top of page