"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Take me out to the ball game

New Spiritual leader of the Moment - Paul Grewal

Unless you or your kids attend Carlton Village Public School in Toronto, you might never have heard of Paul Grewal. I heard about him on CBC radio's consistently excellent As It Happens program back in April, but try as I might, I haven't been able to find any supporting stories to link to for more information about him, so all of the following is drawn from his April 22 radio interview.

Mr. Grewal is a well regarded French teacher at the school of about 400 students. Last year, he took 77 students on an outing to a Toronto Blue Jays Game. A group of students from another school sang the national anthems at the game and Grewal thought this would a great thrill for the kids from his school, so this season he worked to make that happen. In order to give the kids the opportunity to sing out on the diamond, the Toronto Blues Jays front office asked for a group customer account of at least $7,000. So Grewal stepped up to the plate and plunked down his VISA card and paid for 300 $25 tickets.

Teachers were encouraged to get all their students to sign up for the April 21 trip to see Toronto Blue Jays take on the Detroit Tigers in an afternoon game. Buses were laid on and money was collected for the buses and tickets sold to the students. According to Grewal, the school choir sang well and the proverbial good time was had by all, even though the Jays lost 5-1 to the Tigers.

The Jays weren't the only ones to lose out. The total bill for the day was $8,500 - all of it paid for up front by Grewal out of his own pocket. Selling 300 tickets to 400 students didn't work out quite as well as Grewal had hoped, in fact he fell about $4,000 short of getting his money back. The Blue Jays organization was sympathetic and the following day arranged to give him 120 ticket vouchers he could sell or use, but even if he manages to sell all of them he is still left holding a $1,000 bag.

Asked if he would do it again, Grewal said he probably wouldn't do it next year, but possibly the following year. The school will be doing some fundraising activities and he will probabaly be paid back eventually.

Teachers in Toronto are paid between $37,440 for a rookie and $77,576 for a very well qualified veteran nearing retirement, so $8,500 is a pretty big chance to take to put a smile on some students' faces. Grewal and his friends may be going to a lot of Jays games this summer, but a $4,000 VISA bill on what I'm guessing is a junior teacher's salary is not chump change.

For actions above and beyond the call of duty, Paul "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" Grewal is the Woodshed's Spiritual Leader of the Moment.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Don't touch my bags if you please Mr. Customs Man"

A lot of airlines run promotions to reward travellers for choosing them and a lot of countries do tourism promotions that offer freebies of various sorts, but this is exceptional:

from the BBC

Cannabis blunder at Tokyo airport

An unwitting passenger arriving at Japan's Narita airport has received 142g of cannabis after a customs test went awry, officials say.
A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security.
Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in.
Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials.

Just so you know, "sources" tell me that 142 grams of marijuana (that's about five ounces or "lids" as the kids call them) would mean a lump about the size of your average dictionary. Imagine finding that when you get home and unpack from your business trip or vacation.

I can't believe the dog couldn't find it - Given the amount, if the stuff is any good at all, they could probably just grab the first couple of people they see in tiedye down in Harajuku and let them sniff around for baggage area for ten minutes.

No embed code for this one, but I'd like to dedicate it to Narita Customs chief Manpei Tanaka with my sympathy

UPDATE: The stash has apparently been returned by the passenger who found it in his suitcase

Reading list

I've been too busy with real life stuff both big (death in the family) and small (taking the kids to the movies) to blog this past week, but its not as if there isn't anything else going on out there.

There's an embarrasment of riches over at Alternet of late. John Dolan gives Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens both the figurative kick in the nuts they richly deserve while pointing out that the current neo-conservative movement in North America is simply the old British Tory traditional dish of "the wogs start at Calais" and mourning for lost empire served as fast food rather than pub grub. (Hat tip to Chet at the Vanity Press)

Not to be outdone, Matt Tabbi, in an except from his book The Great Derangement, rains all over the parade of the 9/11 conspiracy movement by suppying a hilarious script of the meeting where Cheney, Wolfwitz and the rest of the Mayberry mafia dream up the 9/11 attacks - with the added bonus of the 700+ comments that ooze paranoia, rage, gullibility, derangement and cheetos in equal parts, with a whiff of the "apartment in Mom and Dad's basement" thrown in for good measure. (Hat tip to Alison at Creekside)

And just look at some to of the stuff on the blogroll! Cowboys for Social Responsibility has the latest installment of the world's most entertaining small town police blotter. Over at Whiskeyfire, Molly Ivors wonders which movie is playing Maureen Dowd's theatre of the mind this week, while on the other side of the Hillary Clinton divide, Driftglass very entertaining wonders just which game the Democrats are playing and where the goalposts were last seen. Meanwhile, Dave Neiwert attempts to pour at least a little water on the burning stupidity being bandied about by the cable cretins on the issue of immigration

And if reading isn't your thing, there are a whole passle of new Asylum Street Spankers videos up on YouTube from their fantastic 10th anniversary concert DVD, which, if you had any sense, you'd have already bought several copies of by now.

And if the Spanker's aren't your cup of ocha, there is my friend Steve "The Ambassador of Magic" Marshal's new video clownery

TTFN - Bisy Bakson