Cold Ground
email Derryl (replace AT with @)

Places to Go:
Derryl's Fotolog
Fictionwise (reprints of some of Derryl's fiction)
Alyx Dellamonica
Boing Boing
Charlie Stross
Jena Snyder
Making Light
Randy Reichardt

~ Friday, July 26, 2002
Because it's important to know that if you have a spare 12 grand kicking around, you can pretend you're an even bigger geek than most. I suppose you could use it to crush those obnoxious Trekkers, though.
~ Thursday, July 25, 2002
Well, this sucks. I don't hold a lot of 60s bands close to my heart (or 70s, for that matter), due to overkill from freaking classic rock format. But I've always loved The Who. It was sad enough to hear about his death without the blanks being filled in.
~ Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Finally, I'm vacation-enabled. My inexpensive Compaq laptop via eBay arrived today, which means I can continue to write while traveling. Just the thing to drive Jo crazy.
Everyone in the blogosphere is talking about this one, and apparently a piece ran on NPR over the weekend (you know what I really miss about living in the US? NPR). However, it's still worth noting, being an amazing read, and giving you a heroine worth cheering for. Note: If you're sensitive to certain words and situations, use caution.
~ Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Mmm. Turns out we have a saskatoon bush in our backyard. In Nova Scotia they call this the wild pear, and I see here that it was called that by early explorers, based on the shape of its leaf. I used to love going saskatoon picking in the late summer, filling about half the bucket and the rest going straight to my stomach. Tomorrow, I'll fill part of a bucket and fill myself, as will Brennan, who seems to be the only other one in the house who likes them. And then I'm going to slap on some pancakes and sprinkle dozens of the little suckers in the batter.
Psst. Wanna score some rock?
~ Monday, July 22, 2002
We're taking a beating, as are most other people who have invested money. When we lived in the US, USU paid Jo what could fairly be called a pittance, but they offset that by having an excellent benefits package, including 14% of her gross pay going to TIAA-CREF for a retirement fund. When we moved, we dithered long and hard about removing the money and reinvesting in Canada, primarily because, as non-US citizens, we would have to fork over not just the 10% early-withdrawal penalty, but also 30% tax. As you can see here, that may not have been a bad thing. We're well-diversified, but the hits keep on coming. In the last quarter alone, we've lost close to a quarter of the thing's value.

As noted above, we dithered about the removal. It turns out that if you dither for more than four months, you can't remove the money, at least not until you hit retirement age. We'll shift some of it around, hopefully be able to at least hold steady. But between this and all the losses in our Canadian investments (and they really are well-diversified; it doesn't seem to matter where the money is these days), it may be time to start counting on the Lotto strategy for retirement savings.
~ Sunday, July 21, 2002
I'm listening lots to the new David Baerwald album, Here Comes the New Folk Underground. It's a fabulous piece of work, I have to say. His last album, Triage, was something like ten years ago. He's also known as one half of David + David, and the founder of the Tuesday Night Music Club, which was also the title of Sheryl Crow's debut album. I'm not a Sheryl Crow guy, but I believe he played on the album and maybe even wrote or co-wrote some songs. And then I find out he also wrote one of the songs from Moulin Rouge (Danger Will Robinson, Flash Heavy!), "Come What May". This site opened my eyes to all sorts of things he's been doing that I wasn't aware of.
In all the cities I've lived in as an adult, a local paper in each one has done a "Best Of" special issue, or section, or pullout, or somesuch. They poll their readers, asking what the readers think is the Best Retirement Community, Best Corner to Score Crack, that sort of thing. I imagine it is intended as something of a morale booster, a civic rah-rah cheer to make us feel good about the fact that we live so far from the center of the universe.

This week, the Prince George Free Press came out with their list, and I'm astonished at how common it feels. They lead off well, with "Best Locally Made Product", the winner being PWB, Pacific Western Brewing. Second place is Highland Woodworks, and third is Rushton Nets, whatever the heck that is. But the small-town-pretending -to-be-a-medium-sized-city pokes through in "Best Place For A Sandwich", with Subway being the big winner, and Quizno's in second. Happily, Gourmet Deli, a non-chain, manages third. "Best Place to Rent a Movie" offers up the usual chain suspects, and "Best Family Restaurant" starts with BP and then Moxie's. The "Coffee" category gives us Tim Horton's, Second Cup, and Starbuck's, Dairy Queen and Laura Secord are 1st and 3rd in the "Ice Cream" cat, BP, Panago, and Domino's fill the "Pizza" cat, and "Best French Fries" belong to (drumroll, please) McDonald's, London Fries (which appears to be a small-scale ripoff of New York Fries) and Costco, of all places.

I won't go on and on about the cultural deprivation involved in chains marketing the same damn taste from sea to sea to sea. And yeah, a lot of these are franchises, so there are local business types still involved, but the death of the small business, as historically known on a local level, continues to penetrate on down the line. With Wal-Mart and I believe Home Depot building not far from where I live, I suspect the fallout will continue. But why not? It seems like no one is working here anyways, so people may as well get the best deals that they can. And if it tastes exactly the same every damn time, all the better.
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