Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Catching up on the news

Town crier, Llanrwst, Wales, ca. 1875
The problem with posting a long and uninterrupted series like the last one is that any other news gets ignored. Most often, the news is not that important, or it is something public that is reported elsewhere, anyway. This time, though, a few personal events have been missed, so I'll catch up here.

I ran out of cheques yesterday, so I'm going to my bank this morning to get some printed up. As a news event, this might seem really minor, but the Federal government has finally decided that I am in Canada legally, and thus they will be paying me a retirement pension after all. So quite a few thousand landed in my bank account to cover the back payments of about eight months and my first regular payment was also just deposited. So after I have finished at the bank, I will be taking a cheque over to one of the Alberta Works offices to pay back my loans from them. Of all the Provincial government departments, Alberta Works is the most horrible. Their staff commonly treats people like criminals, are rude, unhelpful and barely know what they are doing. My "case worker" started off by denying that the Province loans money to cover the sometimes very slow Federal pension process, even though the contract of the loan was signed in that office only a week earlier. They also expect you to live so far below the poverty line until your pensions are caught up, that anyone without the support of friends and family might be in danger of losing their current residence or face malnutrition. "Alberta Works" is an Orwellian euphemism for welfare, and that seniors waiting for the slow federal government to start paying their pension have already officially complained at being poorly treated by such people and have demanded that their issues go to a department that knows something of senior's concerns. I am convinced that my own worker has some "issues" that are partly relieved by bullying as many of her clients as is possible. I cannot remember encountering a nastier person in many years. Some people like to kick other people when they are down. You know the type.

So I paid off the personal loans as soon as my money appeared in my account, but it took several phone calls before Alberta Works finally sent me my invoice for their loan. The good thing about all of this is the "forced savings" that it imposed. I now have a greater surplus in my account than usual and I have yet to get my Provincial pensions and their backlog payment. One of their employees told me that would only take about three weeks. We will see. Especially good is the fact that as a pensioner, my income will actually go up quite a bit. Mind you, the tax man will try to lessen my pleasure over that fact next year. I will still end up with more, but just how much more is still a mystery. I'll put a bit aside for that.

I have almost no interest in politics and I don't even follow the news. I saw a lot of Provincial election posters so I knew of that event, and my daughter had also told me that the New Democratic Party (socialist) was gaining in popularity. But when a friend told me, over some sushi one evening, that the NDP had won the Provincial election, I thought he was joking, but I could not understand the humour. I then discovered what had happened to oust the Conservatives from their unbroken 44 year rule. I had actually personally given Peter Lougheed, the conservative politician who ended the Social Credit party's rule from 1935 to 1971, one of his issues (overturning the Alberta Eugenics laws). The Conservative party had split, and some of them had formed a really extreme right wing party. You know, the sort of people who feel that if you are suffering from anything at all, then God must be punishing you. Undoubtedly, the party is full of people who thought the world was created in 4004 BC. Most Albertans were willing to sacrifice their conservatism to make sure such people would not get into power so the conservative vote was split just enough to ensure a socialist victory. Besides, after 44 years, the conservatives had become somewhat imperious and were not listening to the people. Alberta had always been the conservative stronghold in Canada. Times change.

On the "supernatural front", the strange coincidences surrounding the dekadrachm of Syracuse that had been in my collection have continued: the millionaire who had bought it has now sold off his Greek collection and the dekadrachm was purchased by my friend who had brought the book on Syracuse dekadrachms with him to visit me and I had picked the one that I liked most (actually getting that exceedingly rare variety not long afterward) He had instigated the events that led to me buying the seven thousand dollar coin for about 5% of its value and to thus have been able clear up all of my debts after my wife died. My friend buying the dekadrachm was one of those "poetically correct" events.

And with everything else, spring arrived while I was writing the last series. I had been waiting for its first sign. Would it be the song of the American robin? the first flower appearing on a fruit tree? No such luck. It was a mosquito landing on my arm (it beat the robin by five days).


  1. hi john,glad to hear your pension problems have been cleared up but "when a friend told me over some sushi"hey hardly starvation diet.

  2. Hi Kyri,

    When Jasmin was about three, she already loved sushi. Once, we stopped by a supermarket who carried it in their deli. They told us they had stopped doing that, and Jasmin replied "Life without sushi is not worth living". I think it must be genetic.



  3. Congratulations, indeed, John! Sorry to hear of the horrid way you were treated by "works;" be assured that one day, those that treated you that way will soon, by the turn of the wheel, be in the same circumstances, and also be assured that their type will squeal the loudest at the same treatment they have been dishing out for years!

    1. Thanks, James. While I wish no harm on anyone, let's just say that if I heard that such a thing had happened, I would be easily consoled.