Category Archives: rants a little

Bye Bye To Plastic

It says here in Google: Plastic bags were invented as an alternative to paper grocery bags in the late 1970s to protect trees and prevent clear-cutting of our forests. Plastic bags are a by-product of natural gas extraction and provide an environmental solution to the burn off of this gas during the refining process.
Now, there’s quite a twist to the virtually universal view that plastic products are ruining the environment, and urgent steps are needed to minimize their use.

plastic waste

plastic waste

Plastic bag use in supermarkets earned my wrath some decades ago when I composed this little commentary as a newspaper contribution, regrettably rejected for publication:

In the Bag … Please!

Does anyone remember going to the store in the B.P. era (Before Plastic)?
We used to do all our food and necessaries buying at the neighbourhood general store, except when we went to the butcher shop for sausages and liver and other good meat stuffs, or to the fish shop for cod or halibut or whatever. We carried home the groceries in small paper bags, the fish covered in wax paper and the meat wrapped in heavy brown paper and tied with a string.
The more ancient among us can recall going off to the store bearing our own containers to be filled with various provisions. Flour and sugar were poured out from 100-pound sacks or bins hidden behind the counter. Empty glass milk bottles were refilled after the store keeper made sure they were whistle clean. Containers were presented for buying measured quantities of beans and peas and other dry products. Going to the store was always an adventure for the younger family members.
Buying a jug or bottle of molasses was the biggest treat of all. The store keeper pumped it out of a huge puncheon that looked 200 years old. We got a chance to taste the runny stuff at the top of the bottle on the way home. Then when we got there, we’d get a spoonful spread on thick home-made bread. Yep, them were the good old days!
Lots of things have changed since the dingy but comfortable old grocery stores gave way to today’s glossy, efficient but woefully impersonal supermarkets. Most everything one needs is pre-packaged. Glass milk bottles have given way to plastic bags. And molasses comes only by the carton.
Supermarkets used to give customers big sturdy paper bags for carrying their groceries to the car or the bus stop. Then plastic came increasingly into vogue. Many stores now use it exclusively, but some continue to offer a choice.
In our neighbourhood emporium, the checkout routine goes something like this:
The cashier – for some reason it’s always a young lady – checks the order through promptly and passes it on to a much younger stacker -invariably a callow boy gaining his first experience in putting anything whatever into a bag.
“Paper or plastic?” the stacker asks, clutching a fistful of the paper-thin plastic variety.
“Neither, thank you.”
The kid looks up in open disbelief to find himself handed a couple of cloth bags. Nodding in bewilderment, he lays the cloth things aside and stuffs the first purchase item into a plastic bag.
“Use the cloth bags, please”.
“Oh,” with an uncomprehending half-grin. “Oh, yeah.” He picks up a cloth bag in one hand, clutches the plastic bag and contents in the other, and drops them inside.
“No, we don’t want the plastic bag.”
“Huh! Oh, yeah. Sure.” All too unsurely, the plastic bag is removed and reluctantly disposed of.

canvass shopping bag

canvass shopping bag

Left to his own devices, the kid proceeds to bag the purchases on a first-come first-stuffed basis, regardless of size, shape, weight, volume or racial origin.
If grapes come through first – grapes go in the bottom of the bag. Dish detergent next – plunk it on top of the grapes. A package of sausages next. It can go on the detergent. The assembly line must go on.
The cloth bags that environmental awareness has produced are of sturdy make and usually capacious size. They can readily hold a pretty sizeable load. When they’re allowed to. But not if the standard supermarket stacker can help it.
In his eyes, no bag is made to carry more than three, and preferably two, items. Given a purchase of eight items, cloth bags are burdened with two each, whereupon the lad, sighing with great relief, reaches for the treasured plastic to make up the balance in proper manner. By this time, customer patience has worn too thin to raise further objection, so the plastic stays.
There’s one small consolation. It can at least be used to hold all the other plastic bags the supermarket blessed us with before. We can drop them off at the recycle bin to be made into more plastic bags the supermarket will need to keep the busy little stacker happy.
Oh where oh where are the molasses jugs of yester year?

What’s in a Name?

Family history

Of many sane and sensible answers to that oft-quoted query, one that seldom appears but in my view rates highlighting is HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT!

Immediate cause of this mini-rant is the irritating frequency of hearing my surname uttered as  WAY-DEN – rather than its common rendering as WAD-DEN,  rhyming with sodden, or Godden or, if you like,  Culloden.  

Bringing up this minor grievance just now stems from the recent release in Ottawa of the booklet, The Waddens: A Family History, co-authored by me and my late brother Brian Wadden of St. John’s, Newfoundland.   While delving into many aspects of family background, including the various ways in which the family name has been spelled, we never got around to describing how it is pronounced.  There never was a pronunciation problem in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia, where families of this name are not uncommon, but in Ottawa this wayward take on the name does abound.  Maybe it is an Ottawa Valley thing!

Telling the story of one Irish family’s migration to Newfoundland in the 1830s, well before the Famine, this little booklet touches on a few surprises found in digital parish records. Family origins are traced to Norman and Flemish invaders of Ireland more than eight centuries ago. Descendants remain in Newfoundland but many more are scattered throughout North America.

A few pictures help to identify some key individuals in family development.

Copies of The Waddens: A Family History may be ordered by contacting

South Keys Deserves Better

Headline writers in Ottawa need a lesson in map reading. The peaceful south end community of South Keys suffers all too often from media reporting of criminal activities occurring outside rather than inside its borders.

Case in point: South Keys double shooting kills man, injures woman. Thus blares the June 7 edition of Your Community Voice: Greenboro/South Keys, a journal that by its very name surely ought to know better. The story in question describes a May 27 incident in which a man tending a barbecue was fatally shot on Patola Private off Cahill Drive. This location is, however, in Greenboro, not South Keys, as it lies east of the Albion Road which marks the boundary between these two communities. So why didn’t this community paper call it a Greenboro double shooting?

Fall day in South Keys

Fall day in South Keys

This was but the latest of many media reports in recent years identifying violent crime activities with South Keys. It seems that reporters, either from ignorance or sheer laziness, like to use the term for anything that happens in the south end of the city,

One of the worst examples was an Ottawa Citizen story some years ago which proclaimed: South Keys, Bayshore areas top spots for gang activity, report finds. Few details were given in that city report but a police inspector attributed much of the problem to armed gang members’ involvement in distribution of crack cocaine and in prostitution of young girls. The report incomprehensibly identified the South Keys area as bounded by Bank Street, Heron Road, Russell Road and the railway right of way.

Wrong. First of all, South Keys is entirely south of the railway tracks that run east-west north of Johnstone Road. The name “South Keys Village” was coined by the Campeau Corporation in the mid-1960s to describe a housing development in the south part of the city between those railway tracks and what were then the southern city limits at Hunt Club Road. The South Keys housing development was entirely within a triangular piece of land bordered by Bank Street, Johnstone Road, and Albion Road. Heron Road and Russell Road are miles away! The Campeau property did include the site, on the west side of Bank Street, of the South Keys Shopping Centre which was not built until 1996. Development of the area east of Albion Road between Hunt Club and Johnston Roads was called Greenboro.

Sadly but truly, shootings and gang violence have erupted in once-placid neighbourhoods throughout the city of Ottawa, and many too close to home no matter where we live. Yet let those in our news media be carefully accurate in pinpointing where these frightening incidents occur. Just as residents of areas as prominent as Rockcliffe and Alta Vista would strenuously resist being named hotbeds of crime and violence, so too should lesser communities undeserving of such damaging generalities. Painting specific neighbourhoods without cause as hubs of violent behaviour is totally unwarranted and harmful to their reputation, let alone property values.

The Outlaw Nation

Isn’t it time for Canada and all other western nations to face reality and declare the United States as an outlaw nation with which diplomatic relations are no longer tenable? As long as that country is led by its power mad egomaniac President, it is impossible to conduct any reasonable interaction with the grotesque Trump regime, so let’s not even try.

We can only hope that the American people will realize before it is too late that their cherished democratic republic is rapidly deteriorating into a wildly untramelled dictatorship no less dangerous than the Nazi Germany of Adolph Hitler. Surrounding himself with far right zealots and ambition-blinded military leaders, the increasingly autocratic leader rejects all hitherto friendly allies while cozying up to despotic regimes in Russia, China and North Korea.

Chaotic outbursts on trade wars and G7 deliberations are but the latest in a mounting eruption of hostility toward all time honoured principles and practices of living in a civilized world. Insulting attacks on Canada’s Prime Minister on his first, and hopefully last, visit to Canada, testify to the shallowness of character of America’s political leader.

One can only pray for a latter day Martin Luther King to inspire massive demonstrations throughout the United States to denounce the destructive and dictatorial actions of the Trump regime. If there was ever a vital need anywhere upon the globe for regime change, that time has surely come for the United States, and indeed the entire world, to survive its present crisis.

Tweetle-Dum Must Go



When it began, we had to feel acute embarrassment for the American people as the clownish nature of the newly elected president became daily more offensive and bizarre. Ongoing developments only reinforced those feelings of revulsion and ultimately despair at the spectacle of a supremely unqualified, intemperate and dishonourable con man wielding the reins of power in the great American republic.

Ruling, or really making a shambles of attempting to govern, by epithet laden twitter pronouncements, this loosest of political cannons has now demonstrated beyond all question of doubt that he poses the greatest danger to world peace since Hitler. His inflammatory mouth now threatens to start the third and probably final world war.

The only solution is obvious though who can tell how to bring it about: Trump has to be removed from office, and hidden away in some tweet proof cavern, never to be allowed anywhere near the white house, or a golf course, or a cell phone, again.

He is fully ripe for impeachment by his irresponsible behavior in dealing with the only other demented leader who comes anywhere close to matching him in sheer madness.

If it weren’t so frightening, one might well envisage stripping these two overweight loudmouths to loincloths and have them battle, weaponless, to the death, with the winner destined for one-way spacecraft banishment to the farthest limits of the stratosphere.

Eyesore Properties

More than four years ago, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced a new policy to deal with derelict buildings in the capital. The city, he promised, was stepping up enforcement of requirements for maintaining rundown properties.

So how come there are so many bothersome eyesores such as this one on Bank Street and Evans Avenue south of Billings Bridge?

Bank St. Derelict

Bank St. Derelict

Does maintaining mean nothing more than boarding up broken windows and sagging door frames? Passersby along busy streets like this may get used to them, but not without cringing in embarrassment at living in a city that puts up with such evidence of willful neglect. Photos used here were taken last fall but a drive by view this week showed virtually no change, or perhaps further deterioration, since that time.

“What we will require is that any building that is just sitting there must not stick out like a sore thumb,” Watson said in a March 2013 interview. “We’ll be insisting that owners keep up with regular repair on their assets.” Much fanfare accompanied that bold policy announcement but follow up action has been spotty at best.

Sympathy may be spared for property owners who try their best to solve derelict building problems, but lack of city pressure to effect meaningful repair or replacement only prolongs such eyesore situations. Action to cope with them in a timely manner is sorely needed.

A Call to Arms of the Faithful

What in the world is happening? Terror killing is a daily occurrence, but to what purpose? What kind of mind can justify random killing of innocent people?

Do the killers believe they will live forever in a nirvana reserved only for those who thrive on hatred? If an almighty being values human kind at all, surely mindless cruelty and callousness deserves to be unrewarded. Destroying human lives in the name of any almighty being is not only inhuman, it is intrinsically ungodly.

call to arms

call to arms

Leaders of world religions, whatever the stripe, owe it to all humans to condemn and disown those extremist zealots who war upon innocents in the name of some sacred being. Only they have the power to rid the world of evil doers masquerading as messiahs. Words alone are not enough. Only outspoken condemnation, rejection, ostracism, denial of entry to places of worship and exposure to law enforcement authorities has any hope of ending this tidal wave of nihilist religious-based fanaticism.

Let not evil prevail.


Bought my yearly income tax kit the other day. Figured it had to be something special because the package containing it was just huge! Fully one and a half inches deep!

But inside, merely a tiny CD probably one tenth of an inch thick! Go figure!

Intuit’s Turbo Tax software has worked fine for us for years, but why in the world does a wafer thin CD have to be encased in a box big enough to hold a pair of gold bricks?

Smarten up, and lighten up, Turbo people, please!

How’s This For Irony?

Went to our brand new community mail box for the first time the other day to pick up mail, and got home on time to hear the Canada Post moguls were cancelling the program. Shivering in their shoes no doubt in fear of the Trudeau 2 regime.

CanadaPostCommunityMailboxes4Not that it does us any good. Had our mail box keys shown up a few days later, we’d have stayed safely among the home delivery survivors.

Makes one think that government works these days much like a tortuously slow game of ping pong. One bunch gets in and dopes out a new set of supposedly enlightened programs; then a new bunch takes over, wipes out all the old gang’s handiwork, and draws up yet another new agenda. Public service agencies like the Post Office only strive to keep on the right side of the swinging door.

All we can say, perhaps, is don’t all lose sight of the ball!

And that ball is your everyday lowly taxpayer.

Rants Can Work!

Ranting and roaring about perceived ills in our society may or may not do some good, so it is rather nice to find out that sometimes it works!

Case in point ( a moderate rant uttered in this blog early this year about charities which waste untold dollars on sending gifts of one kind or another to charity donors. In my house, we’ve adopted a policy of cutting off donations to those organizations who persist in this lamentable practice.MS-mailerP1050651PW Yet another unwelcome mailer from the otherwise admirable Multiple Sclerosis Society, offering a shiny nickel as inducement to return a generous donation, touched off this long simmering venting outburst.

Another of the worst dunning culprits, sadly enough, was the Canadian Cancer Society, which I had been supporting for many years. I had written several times to the Society complaining about the deluge of solicitation mailers, only to be totally ignored. Giving it one more try, I was at last pleasantly surprised on receiving a meaningful acknowledgement in an e-mail exchange last March. Jennifer Lee on behalf of CCC’s Donor Relations unit, accepted my complaint with the assurance that she had updated the organization’s records “to show that you no longer wish to receive further solicitations from the Canadian Cancer Society.” Guess this worked as, six months later, Cancer Society solicitations no longer darken my mail box. I am so relieved that I might even support them again.

Going a step further, Ms. Lee suggested that I contact the Canadian Marketing Association to inform them of my request. As she noted, “the CMA offers a Do Not Contact service that enables consumers to register a name and address in order to eliminate future direct mail solicitations sent by member organizations. The Association’s phone number is 416-391-2362, or you can visit their website at

Do-Not-Contact001PWSure enough, I contacted the Canadian Marketing Association, dealt positively with administrative assistant Hilary Reid, and registered for the Do Not Contact service. So far the process appears to have been effective in halting the flow of unwanted postal pestilence. A few organizations to which I have made donations in recent years have been bothersome but I am about to warn them against multiple solicitations or I will cut them off too.

So there may be hope for us all!