Friday, December 13, 2013

Sweet and Salty Chex Mix Recipe


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup tahina
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups rice chex cereal
  • 3 cups honey corn chex cereal
  • 3 cups shreddies
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzels
  • 1 cup roasted, salted mixed nuts
  • 2 teaspoon salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 275F degrees.
  2. Place butter, brown sugar, tahina in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter melts and sugar dissolves. Stir in salt.
  3. Pour the rice chex, honey corn chex, shreddies, pretzels and nuts into a large baking pan. Drizzle the syrup a little at a time over the cereal and mix well. Continue adding syrup until all of it has been added and the chex mix is evenly coated.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, stirring the chex mix every 15 minutes, rotating pan half way through. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Chex mix should keep for about 1 week.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Grandpa Nasmith's Lemon Tart Filling

My sister just reminded me of an old recipe, dating back to my Great Grandfather, Mungo Nasmith.

I know bits and pieces about the man, and in an effort to learn and reveal more, I've decided to publish some of his journals that found their way into my possession. See the next post...

juice and rind of three large lemons
6 egg yolks
2-3 tsps flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Cook granulated sugar, butter, egg yolks and lemon juice and rind until thick - stirring constantly.

2.  Cool

3.  Add salt and powdered sugar.  Stir until waxy.

Keep covered in a cool place.  Should thincken up when cold.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bad Boy

Bad Boy

Toronto's mayor! Toronto's mayor!
The giant, greedy, drug-addled player!
How long can we allow this joke,
To gorge and guzzle, snort and smoke.
On fast food, booze, and crack pipes too.
Disgusting! It simply cannot do!

Why does T.O allow this pig,
To lie and threaten, and grow so big?
A slummed up, flop-house, crack vacation,
A City Hall romp of intoxication.
Threats to kill and poke out eyes.
Growing ever bigger in the thighs!

The horny, greasy, women's bottom feeler,
Was once his high-school's main drug dealer!
This giant, lying sloth of a slug,
A wife-beating, drunken, low-life thug,
He drinks and drives and once got caught.
When asked about it, lied on the spot.

Caught in Florida way down south.
Refused a sample from his big, loud mouth.
As mayor, his first big, two-faced act,
Needed heartless, cruel, plain-spoken tact.
Mourning those gunned down at the mall.
The big fat liar, he stood up tall,

Shoulder to shoulder with Toronto's top cop,
Said this gang violence, it must stop.
How low, I wonder, can he stoop.
The lying, cheating nincompoop.
Than to know, buy from, befriend and hang,
With the same drug-dealing Somali gang!

Caught on video, the Star did report.
With threats of violence he tried to extort.
Through his good friend and pal, tried, true and tested.
His drug-dealing driver who's now arrested.
Now Ford defends from his final bastion.
I sure do miss ol' Mayor Mel Lastman!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Psychic

I don't really understand it. I can't tell you what is going to happen. I might have ten thousand thoughts and dreams splayed out in front of me. Perhaps they all happen, to someone, somewhere, and I never hear about it.

I can think of at least three occasions where I did think, or dream of something and it played out to happen in real life.

One such thing is earthquakes. I sometimes wake up thinking that there is a strange vibration, a subtle vibration. The next day I find out there was an earthquake a thousand miles away.

But it's not consistent. Sometimes the vibration occurs before the earth quake, sometimes after it, sometimes no earthquake is reported at all.

Now that I think about it, that doesn't mean there wasn't an earthquake somewhere. Certainly there are unpopulated areas in the world, and the earth is whatever % ocean.

If a tree falls in the forest... etc.

Breaking news just showed that two boys in Nova Scotia got killed by an escaped python.

I had a thought, or a dream about a python escaping, possibly through a toilet. Now that I think about it more, the thought was based on my time in Africa. The idea of a black mamba or a cobra in bedsheets got me thinking of snakes. That somehow morphed into  a python, which bites and squeezes it's prey to death. I thought of a pet python escaping.

In Nova Scotia, that happened.

Prophetic? No, I don't think so. I'm sure that with 9 billion people in the world, the idea of a python crossed the minds of thousands in the hours preceding this tragedy.

Earthquakes - perhaps it's just dreaming. Perhaps a subtle and forgotten news headline crept into my thoughts, influenced my dream, and bam, I dreamt that I felt the earthquake. Perhaps I have some mental capacity with connection to the earth, and the vibrations that occur resonate with that connection.

The earthquake thing happens when I'm in a semi-deep sleep. I can feel vibrating, and the vibrating continues when I awake. I don't think anything of it. I won't feel it right now, for example, at the computer writing this. It's only when laying in bed, relaxed, at home.

But maybe there are small and large earthquakes around the world every day. Maybe I live in Alberta and the Fracking causes subtle earthquakes close and unreported. Sensing the earthquakes might be a figment of my imagination.

But it's nice to think I have psychic powers.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Real Cost of Overtime - Border Guards

The Calgary Herald published an article with apparent outrage at the Canadian Border Guard situation today.

Part of their concern is that the government is paying overtime for border guards to work the long weekends, and that the border guards simply have to wave everyone through because there aren't enough to staff the borders.

The article feigns outrage that the guards are making double time, and it's costing the Canadian tax payer millions of dollars, when that cost would be alleviated if there were more border guards.

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

More border guards equals more cost.

Long weekends require maximum border guards, the traffic increases, I don't know, tenfold, a hundredfold. They need every available person to work.

The dynamic doesn't change if you increase the size of the work force 10, 20, 50%. You still want overtime coverage on the busy times. You still have to pay that double time to several border guards. Furthermore, on the actual holiday, all border guards make double time because it is a holiday!

From a tax payer perspective - a single border guard costs the tax payer the following.

Salary - $60,000 per year - subtract income taxes paid back to the government - about $40,000 per year.
Family Benefits, dental, insurance, etc - $12,000 per year.
Training - $5000 per year, higher at the start, balanced over the course of their career, including courses, etc.
So at the end of the day, a border guard costs the tax payers $57,000 per year. More or less, this is a rough cost.



So overtime - The overtime they are paid is at double time, right? On the surface yes, in reality no.
When they get that $60 per hour, their salary is taxed at a much higher rate - close to 50%.
Their normal salary is taxed at about 35%. So dollar for dollar, once taxes are recuperated, the government pays $30 for overtime, and $20 for regular time. So now it's actually closer to time and a half.

But that's not all. By paying overtime instead of hiring more employees, the government doesn't have to pay more into benefits and more into training. So the $12000 per year in benefits doesn't go up. The $5000 a year in training doesn't change.

This works out to about $8.00 per hour in savings in paying overtime vs paying another regular salary.

So by my estimates, the regular time actually costs the government $28. The overtime costs them $30.

But don't worry, all is not wrong with this article.

One important question is, what is the tariff-collecting benefit of having more border guards vs. less.

Does the average border guard collect more in tarriffs than they make?

Would adding one extra border guard increase that amount?

How much would drug trafficking go down with increased border guards?

What is the perfect amount of border guards?

I'll leave it to the government, the economists, and the Border Guards management to figure that out, because I have no idea.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Edward Snowden - Freedom at Last...

After revealing embarrassing State secrets, that were broadcast for all public knowledge.

Get ready for it - THE US HAS A SPY PROGRAM!

Not only that, but, GASP, that program gathers intelligence!

They do this through various intelligence gathering methods, new and old.

Shocking, I know! I never would have guessed spies would stoop to such a level as to gather intelligence.

Fortunately, Edward Snowden has found refuge in a country whose democratic ideals are unparalleled. A country whose government has intense credibility. A country whose integrity wouldn't possibly infringe on the privacy rights of its citizens and international partners.

Russian women wouldn't stand for it. There would be some sort of Pussy Riot should infringement on rights of expression, and such, ever happen in Russia.

Thank you Edward Snowden. I'm sure every terrorist sleeps a little better at night knowing that they shouldn't use their Facebook or email to share the date, time and place for their imminent attacks.

I'm sure every US ally is pleased in the knowledge that the US government got caught as the guy at the international poker table trying to peak at everyone else's cards.

Snowden has moved from the miserable weather of California and the Southern United States into the balmy democratic paradise that is Mother Russia.

Congratulations on your good fortunes.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Spy Nation

Is the United States of America spying on me? 

I really don't care. If they want to learn about me chatting with my friend in England, asking him about his kids, his business, they can go ahead. 

They can mine my data all they want. 

I highly doubt that American spies have much concern for my little slice of the world, not when there are eight billion other people they can spy on. Some of those eight billion people are, GASP, CRIMINALS!

It's a bit like Santa Claus, thinking that they are tracking my every movement is about as funny as thinking Santa has a minute to spend in every person's house in the world on Christmas. There is mind boggling amounts of data being transferred every second of every day.

I suppose, if they turned every single American into a data intelligence miner, they could spy on every corner of the world, gradually reporting interesting information up the chain to their superiors.

Or they could have a sophisticated internet program that tracks everything, mining key data words, and analyzing those words for threat cues, then cross referencing those people on other databases to see if they are a threat.

Now if they were to go by the book, they would hit on a few key words and think, hrmm, this is a possible threat. They would get their ducks in a row, gather more intel publicly available on the subject, like criminal history, violence tendencies, travel history, group affiliations, address, place of work, etc, etc.

Then they would spend many many hours writing several wiretap warrants, facebook production orders, email, etc, etc to dig deeper into this person's data. They would waste hours of a judges time reading the search warrants. Once approved, they would dig deeper and spend more hours monitoring the suspect person. Sometimes they might simply put the person's name on a list. Sometimes they might not even bother, false alarm. Other times they might gain reasonable grounds to determine that this person is in fact a terrorist, or a pedophile, or a major drug kingpin.

Or,

Instead of wasting hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of investigators and judges time writing search warrants and production orders - and subsequently billions and billions and billions of tax payer dollars, you could simply let the FBI, or the CIA, or whoeverthefuck protects us have access to suspect Facebook pages, and email, and other internet traffic that hits on their danger radar.

And they might be able to spy on you and find out how your sister just had a baby, and how you changed your status from 'in a relationship' to 'its complicated.' Or check out how much porn you download, your political views, and other mundane aspects that a person who has access to your data might want to know.

And if they stumble across this page, my page, hopefully they'll say - nope, not a threat, and move on to looking for a legitimate one. 

Perhaps the powers they use can analyze data transfer among pedophile rings, human traffickers, major drug dealers, and terrorists. 

Privacy - if you are a law abiding citizen, chances are the US government will never give you more than a second glance. 

If you are not, then perhaps yes, you should be upset at the powers that be. 

Isn't that a good thing?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Maintain the RIGHT - sieze those guns.

It seems as though everyone from High River residents to the Federal Government is irate at the RCMP. With the mandate to try and preserve and protect life, the RCMP are searching houses in the High River area, a natural disaster flood zone, searching for both survivors and corpses.

With fears of potential looting, the RCMP are also siezing any unsecured firearms that they come across.

Let's get a few things straight. Police see infractions and offenses every day, from not signalling to make a lane change - to damaging property, minor thefts, drunk and disorderly, and any number of illegal activities. If the police were to charge for every offense or infraction they investigated, got reported, or came across, they would need quadruple the resources just to deal with the paperwork.

Police are trained to be afraid of firearms. They are dangerous and they kill people. They need to be respected and treated with extreme caution. As such, firearms, if in the house, should be secured. Ideally, both a trigger lock and a gun safe for double protection. They should definitely not be loaded inside the house and ammunition should be kept separately from the firearm.

Police don't have the authority to enter any house, unless exigent circumstances exist.

In the case of the High River Flood. Residents were given a mandatory evacuation order.

Houses had to be searched in order to determine if the people were safe. Police entered houses for the purpose of welfare checks. Shockingly, some people did not leave!

Police, risking their own safety, working in humid and horrific circumstances, trudged through raw sewage and filthy polluted waters inside houses. Police may come across rotting, stinking, drowned corpses.

Police also came across unsecured firearms, and as their training dictates, seized those firearms. They did so for two reasons. One - the houses they entered were no longer secure and the firearms needed to be secured from looters. Two - it is illegal to not safely store a firearm and they had the lawful authority to seize unsecured firearms they found in plain view.

The police don't have the time or the authority to search every nook and cranny of a house for unsecured firearms. They didn't go through drawers, cupboards, etc. They didn't toss houses looking for illegal things, as they would do in the case of a search warrant. They walked through houses doing a search for corpses, people not complying with the evacuation order, or people in distress who needed medical attention.

If they didn't find anyone, they moved onto the next non-compliant house. If they saw something illegal and dangerous, they secured it, then moved onto the next house in order to try and save lives.

An important part of protecting and preserving life is trying to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of dangerous people - like those who would loot a flood ravaged town.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The True Value of Overtime

What is the real value of the overtime that I work?

Double pounders, double bubble - Oh yeah, I'm raking in the dough.

But is it really double?

On the surface, you think so. But when you start doing the math, the looks change. 

For instance, take a salary of $80,000 per year in Alberta. After the Federal government take their cut of 22%, and the provincial their cut of 10%, you're left with about $56,000

In that $56,000 per year, you perhaps have a family insurance plan. I really have no idea what the value of an insurance plan is. I'll make up a number just because I can. $1500 per person in the family that it covers. So for an average Canadian Family of 4 people, that's a value of $6000. The reason I mention this is because that amount will not increase in value the more OT you work. 

Basically, the $56,000 you make before taxes is really worth $62,000 with that worked in. But there's more. The taxes that you pay on your salary cover other things we take for granted. Roads, police forces protecting us, a military to protect National interests, basically the value of everything the government does.

A dollar value for this? Well, the average income in Canada is around $46,000, which is taxed at around 25%, so the value of the taxes you pay is around $12000.

The $56,000, which became $62,000 with your insurance, is now worth $74,000 with the value added that you get from government spending on society.

The value you get from an hour you work is now $38.50.

So you work an overtime shift, making double time. $80 per hour. But that is taxed at a higher rate than normal. So you are taking home 36% less than the $80. You are taking home $50 per hour.

Meanwhile, you're salary's intrinsic value is $38.50 per hour.

Conclusion:

For every hour you work on normal time, you get $38.50 overall gain. $29 direct financial gain, $3 in  medical/insurance gains and $6.50 in societal benefits.

For every overtime hour you get $50. You see no benefit from the $30 you pay in taxes. You see no extra benefits on your plan.

That overtime hour, the hour you spend away from your family, not learning or studying, or reading with your kids. In real money, you get 29% more than before - not double bubble.

From a company perspective. The $80,000 they pay you is actually more than that. If you come in to work extra time, they don't have to increase their resources to accompany extra employees. They don't have to invest in increased training, recruiting, and then the benefits packages on top of that.

They may pay you double time, but in the case of the government, they get a third of that back anyway.

Is it worth the trade off?

From a company perspective, it may actually be cheaper to pay heaps of overtime to current employees rather than hire more employees.