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The hype for the handsome California Chrome is reaching a fever pitch, bordering on the preposterous, to go along with all the out-of-this-world hoopla & pageantry that is the hallmark of the Kentucky Derby.

The 140 th running of the Derby goes Saturday with a field of 20, 3 year olds, in the toughest test ever, of their young careers, going 1 1/4 miles before probably 160,000 fans. I’ve seen the favourite, California Chrome, run a number of times and while the horse is a rockstar, and I do like him a lot, after devastating, convincing wins in races like the Santa Anita Derby, I don’t see him winning this thing.

Yes he’s got affable owners and an 80-something old lifetime trainer with a heart of gold. He’s got a great team of hard-working likeable staff surrounding him.  Legions of fans, including me, who adore him.  Yes, I loved how he stalked the speed then took over in the Santa Anita Derby and won without being pressured.

But, the circumstances do not support his odds being 5/2 , while just about every other horse is rated higher than 10-1. most are 20-1 or higher. Silly! He is not the only triple digit beyer ( a “beyer” is a speed figure used to compare horses ) horse in it. And certainly not the only improving horse, and certainly not the only horse with tactical speed. There are several others there who will be either on or near the early lead.

‘Chrome is a skittish type, not acquainted with Churchill Downs and no one knows how he will handle the Churchill surface, known to be deeper than California’s relative hardpan. “Chrome has not been seriously tested with adversity like say Hoppertunity has.   Since ‘Chrome arrived at Churchill, he’s not impressed clockers and other watchers.   But another way of interpreting his behaviour and “choppy” stride first time around the oval is that he’s acclimating to the place.  Just give him a chance, right?

But if you’re a shrewd bettor, keenly aware of what it takes to break even or turn a tidy profit play the horses, you have to be double cautious.  There are those who think it just doesn’t make sense to go gung-ho on ‘Chrome.  I do see him getting the lead at the top of the stretch, but baby, it’s a very long way from the stretch turn to the finish line.  And I think it’ll be a thrilling stretch run, as it always is in the Derby.

Since 1996 hardly any favourites have won the Kentucky Derby, & I have the distinct impression this trend will continue on Saturday. California Chrome may well be this year’s cream of the crop, or turn out to be, and he may win this Derby, but at short odds it makes sense to at least rethink everything, and be extra careful.

We know there are several other horses who, if they win this race, would not surprise many pundits or observers.  That alone should be cause for pause, folks.  I already have 3 other horses I will be playing, probably betting each to win, place and show, and using all 3 as key horses in exacta and tri wheels.

‘Chrome might win, yes, but at this stage of the handicapping process, and seeing the tremendous value considering the odds on some of his rivals, it won’t be with my money.  I think.  I knew he’d win the Santa Anita Derby, but this just feels far different now.

But , it’s going to be awesome, regardless.

http://www.americasbestracing.net/en/the-latest/news-stories/2014/4/30/california-chrome-draws-post-5-tabbed-favorite/

Woke up this morning staring at the ghastly assemblage of letters and punctuation scattered slipshod over the page.

Someone had to make sense of those blurry-eyed drunkards

Staggering down the backstretch

Little hope of a photo finish there

So after a few quick revisions

And double dare ya decisions

I think we may have a contender

just in time for the kentucky derby

and “give me fresh air”

is now in front

see y’all later!

 

give me fresh air

give me fresh air

calm seas, & waving grass,

what i wouldn’t give

for tall trees

local fruits and vegetables is what i crave

produced  sustainably with a gentle touch

enough with blank stares

the posturing, pretension, and whether I shaved

give me a crisp, scintillating wine

with 2 winking goblets please,

let me see dogs a-romping,

pass the carrots and peas

it’s hard to miss the swish of their tail

in fact I think I’m  loving it,

let’s nurture our vocabulary

beyond “epic”, “huh”,  or  “fail”

Why not have good times

with loved ones and friends,

 

without need or greed or rhyme

we can be ourselves

there’s no need for an end

forget about ipods and clutching the phone

use what’s left of your imagination

the corporate boss really prefers drones

play some patty-cake

with a real live cat

yes they have super-sharp paws.

but to your spirit they can relate

Give me breath, some wide open space,

I need room to scream, to  laugh and to  groan,

give me some shelter, give me home!

Enough with plastic & the technologically warped,

Enough with do-nothing jargon

the curse of materialism is a downward slope

It’s not a mentality for success

just endless distraction

and nights without rest

give me life, laughter, and love,

take me to the country

where I fit like a glove

I have time for 1000 channels

I want reckless and wild

to cook with olive and fennel

the wait’s so long overdue

to go to your happy place

and say hi to your innocent child

that’s  where the happiness is

beyond the reach

of chatter and plastic

don’t merely dream

do something drastic

reach a little further

get to a beach

have a taste of the non-GMO life

it’s natural, and it’s fantastic

don’t say pull tab, say fork and knife

just make sure it’s local

totally sustainable and fresh

be a contributing part

nothing else makes sense

we say we want to be part of

to have a good job

then build some community

with actions not words

you’ll see your true self

and the real world

So no more right-wing bluster & gas

pass the fresh local air

only the renewable

will be around to last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bags of chips

 

The Kentucky Derby is growing very close now. Just over 2 weeks away?! Incomprehensible! I need more time! Wait a second, I don’t even know for sure who’s going to run. Yet. Some have waited for the opening of the Derby gates almost ever since the roses were draped over Orb’s withers in last year’s Ky Derby. Others are just joining the fray now, the casual fan asking people at work if there’s a Derby this year, or not. It’s a huge spectrum of fans.

But for most racing fans, who follow the lead-up to the big show with keen interest when we can, earnestly trying to keep informed when mainstream media now almost totally ignores racing…. most of us are probably caught in three places at the same time. Still, totally baffled and mystified as to which horses to zero in on….or, we have one or two we have already decided on and just need to go through our own avenues of handicapping before we confirm them as our choices……or, we have some ideas, but are still reserving judgements on anything, because there haven’t been any standouts yet, until we know exactly who’s running, and see the past performances.

Example:……Some will point to Santa Anita Derby victor California Chrome as a stand-out. They’ll shake the Racing Form, highlighter gripped tightly, pointing to win after win, his hapless competitors powerless to touch him. But can they be sure he will love the Churchill surface if he isn’t shipping in until late? Can they be sure he will be okay to stalk from fourth or fifth position, if he doesn’t land a cushy spot lying on or right near the lead? Others will say Danza is the wise-guy horse with that sneaky 102 beer speed figure for his freakish win, and a horse kicking into gear in the stretch. But then again, maybe it had more to do with a bunch of lacklustre over-the-top competition in that race, who all fell apart like false favourites, when the real running began? Who’s to say what’s real and what isn’t? This is part of what makes the Kentucky Derby so spectacular. It’s the coming of age party, when a champion is not only crowned, but when many of us pump our fist and exclaim “I told you! I knew it! Easy money!”. Your horse not only showed up, he purr-formed. He came through with what now has become a trademark, powerhouse move, either seizing the lead at the top of the stretch, or pouring it on late, to snatch a heart-pounding victory from the throes of miserable defeat. ……or it’s the Great Equalizer, where suddenly it becomes painfully clear that horse X was a pretender, not a contender. You know the ones. The horse who didn’t run a lick. The horse whose chances were crushed by traffic trouble in a field of 20 horses. The horse who, for some unknown reason didn’t even make a dent.

It’s the toughest test ever in these horses still-short careers, going the longest distance yet…over a track most haven’t set a hoof on. It’s the moment of glory, to be sure. The biggest 2 minutes in sports is right. The best 2 minutes in sports is around the corner, just a fortnight away. Of course, it’s so much more than the race itself, it’s the pageantry, the tradition, the spectacle, the drinks, the fashion.

The tension is already much more vivid and palpable, than just another night camped out over game 785 of the regular season. Not to mention tens of thousands of fans decked out in their “first Saturday in May” best, singing along to “My Old Kentucky Home”. And it’s getting closer every passing second.

Take a look at this video if you dare.

It was posted by the union PSAC, the Public Service Alliance of Canada which at one time made real noise and made governments tremble.  I couldn’t bear to watch it in its entirety.  With all of the changes negatively impacting the average Canadian worker and the average household of the past 10 years or so, I have a diminishing tolerance level for listening to someone recite why they chose the path of acquiescence and failure.

I sincerely hope that if cupw enters into negotiations with canada post in the future, ever again, it does not carry on with the same approach and gutlessness that led to accepting a host of serious cutbacks which are now part of the current collective agreement. I could not continue watching this  after 7 minutes. Just too painful listening to someone complain about what canada post wanted, and why the speaker figured we should accept mediocrity and just lose sacred, cherished benefits. Corporations, business tycoons, and right-wing governments have always, for hundreds of years, wanted cutbacks. They always want a piece of your flesh. They always have demands & will tell you anything to get them from you. To lessen your resolve in working towards even keeping what you have.  That has never changed.

What has changed is that unions in this country have become too weak. They won’t fight. They won’t call the employer’s bluff. They listen to the threats and doom and gloom, and have failed to stop the armies. It’s not just here at canada post, it’s air canada. It’s a lot of places. Air Canada pilots and others have let themselves down, by letting the boss get away with contracting out and letting aircraft get serviced in foreign countries by cheap, exploited labour.

It’s as if some sort of virus has knocked the stuffing out of a lot of people in Canada.  Someone said to me that they have a very difficult time envisioning people fighting back right now, as those preceding them did just a short time ago.  It wasn’t that long ago when they, along with many others, walked picket lines in more than one strike.  Even strikes involving scab, replacement workers.   Back then, they all had the same feeling of dread, they were on the edge.  They all shared the belief that they were in the fight of their lives.

They endured  a barrage of criticism in the media.  At first, passersby in the street ridiculed them. The employer hired goons to stir up dissent and cause trouble.  One even punched out a union local president.  But in the end it was all worth it.  They may have lost wages, but they defended  their turf and kept prized benefits.   They stood up for what was right, and showed everyone, including our employer, and themselves, that not only could they fight back, they would darned well do so if required.  I’m not sure I’d place a wager that people would do the same today.  And make no mistake, the workers of this country all face the same challenges.

The whole point of being in a union, ostensibly, is strength in numbers. Using the power of the collective to get what we want. Who gives a hoot who says what, and what the boss says or threatens. You create a union to put an end to this nonsense – at least for the life of a contract, so that worker and employer can co-exist together, and serve customers and move product. The good stuff we still have was never handed to us on a silver platter. This union fought, and fought bloody hard to get the things it did.

And in order to survive, the union and you and me, and everybody else, will have to fight back. It’s simple. Fight back, or die. Fighting back means negotiating. You can only negotiate if the other side believes you will do what you say , that your words really do mean something. The litany of losses and deterioration in working conditions and benefits and pay, the sickness that is afflicting the average worker and the average family in this country, year after unrelenting year, is proof positive that giving in just does not work.

Ultimately, the workers of this country, including the workers in the union, will eventually realize that there is no alternative but to act, to go on strike, and endure whatever happens. That there is no other choice. When they finally “get it”, they will realize their power and be victorious.

They will say to themselves that they are sick and tired of what’s happened, of what is happening.  They will be sick and tired of what their jobs and the prospects of their families have come down to. They will make the final decision to take destiny into their hands and do whatever is necessary until they achieve a fair, decent, and just contract that takes them back on the road towards regaining major lost ground.

When that kind of raw anger, pure outrage, and rising willpower is combined with a strong, loud, and solid leadership, great things happen.  As has been shown many times over in the short history of this nation.  When people understand their backs are against the wall, and giving in only puts them on their knees, they will see the choice very clearly.  Accept the cutbacks, do as your employer asks.  Or, say no.  Fight back.

Fight back knowing that if negotiations do not not conclude successfully with a fair, just, and decent contract that you can take home to your family, you will not hesitate to walk.  Not even for a second.  And once you go down that road, you will feel vindicated, for at last you are taking action to follow your heart and soul..  If it takes 2 weeks or 2 months of lost wages while pounding the pavement, that’s what it takes to win.  You hope it never comes down to that, but you know the price of acquiescence, of chickening out.

You will see that it’s either you, or them.  Defeat, or victory.  The choice is yours.  Fight back, regardless of threats and anything they might tell you.  And you will be victorious.  Because you will already be a winner.   That is how things get done in this country.  By winners.

I’m just as disturbed as many others about what’s happening to the city. Not only are we very rapidly losing older houses in very good, even recently renovated, condition which have unique, older architectural styles & features ( “character homes” as realtors like to say ), our green space/ gardens are being scoured away & large trees being chopped down in record numbers as well.

The city’s tree bylaw is one of the most worthless, inadequate, deceiving bylaws this city has ever seen. It’s a sham. Even if a builder is caught defying the law, the fines are happily paid, & written off as cheap costs of doing business. All of these things – houses, gardens, & trees, are precious, diminishing reminders of values, cultural beliefs and societal mores. They represent hundreds of years of history.

They even represent current values and objectives that we like to say we cherish. But unfortunately the statistics indicate we don’t necessarily act on these stated aims appropriately, to ensure that we, for example, save our green space to combat climate change.  So that we do ensure a healthy mix of housing stock by protecting the larger lots and older houses to offset the numbers of towers, townhouses , and condos going up today & in the near future.

Yes, some of the new houses are very good houses with distinct styles too. I do see many cases where the new building is an asset to the surrounding area, replacing some nondescript ramshackle place that never had much heritage value in the first place.

But I’m concerned with the ones that are being lost, & it’s important to take this interest, this rage, or outrage, and channel it towards making positive changes happen. Here are 4 key  points in that regard.

1….. I wonder how many people are aware they do have options when selling. You can have a protective covenant or a similar document, protecting your houses for the near future, forbidding the building’s demolition, etc. If a purchaser doesn’t want to be a part of that, that’s their problem. Listening to realtors you will hear the expected – “that’s ridiculous, no one would buy it then”. If that’s the best they can tell you, get a different realtor. Vancouver is a red-hot real estate market. People from literally all over the world are only too eager to dump millions into each property, to go along with the rest of their holdings, and in many cases the new houses remain empty after construction is complete, because they don’t need the rental income. If it is occupied, it’s only as long as is necessary to defeat capital gains laws, & sell the house off tax-free, before moving onto the next square.

2…Vancouver does have provisions for saving heritage houses, but they are too onerous, too slow, too complicated, not “cost-effective” for many people. Change these things. It’s simple political will. The Mayor and the City Councillors earn a living doing the bidding of its citizens. They pass laws and bylaws almost every day, on a myriad of subjects. Apply pressure to get them to do the right thing & save what’s left before it’s all gone. Protect the attributes that drew people here in the first place. So form a group with a catchy acronym. Send in physical, mailed letters. Make appearances before Council. Press for change. Don’t accept the brush-off, the lip service, the brick wall of bureaucracy and secrecy that typifies so much of Vancouver’s city hall nowadays.

3……The other point as far as making positive change, is to contact companies like Nickel Brothers who not only move houses, they also buy them and store them for sale later. There are other such companies, too.

4…. Can someone connected to the wealthier “movers and shakers”, the “creme de la creme” of the city ask around and find just 1 person with means, who is willing to step in with their money and save some of the finer houses. To someone with a few hundred million extra lying around here or there, they could single-handedly rescue hundreds and hundreds of these houses, as once the new owners take possession, they would be happy to let you take it away for very little money in return. To the new buyers, these houses are pests. To some people, they’re treasures that need to be saved. So find just 1 rich person out there, in this ultra-affluent city, who has the guts to put up a little bit of their money towards saving these homes.

Nowadays the only way to make change happen is either through the back door & in secretive back room negotiations with the inner circle….or by making yourself & your group heard & visible. So much so, that no one can ignore you and your messages. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, often.  We live in a time affected by electronic communication and the Internet, which divides people into millions of cubbyholes, distracted by their i-pods as they  deal with spiralling costs of living, and murky career prospects.  For those not blessed with publicity departments, it’s a challenge to be noticed.

It takes tremendous drive & determination to take an idea or outrage over a cause, all the way along the spectrum towards achieving goals and  results, which stem from strategizing and focussing, earlier in the process.  To accept  what you are told from your politician, your shoe repairman, your boss, is to swallow the pill, to subscribe to a recipe for accepting crumbs, and mediocre excuses they toss you.

You have to wear blinkers, & race non-stop to the finish line, taking whatever path is necessary to get clear running room, in order to be successful in your quest. That’s who gets the money, and the trophy, in the winner’s circle.  I suggest it’s time to start this journey.

It’s a crazy world when people obsess over watching the Oscars and today’s so-called “Heritage classic’ hockey game in Vancouver, when right now so much is going on across the world, & in our own country.  Not saying people should not have a good time, enjoy their leisure time.  Not saying “don’t watch the Oscars, or “you should not watch the hockey game”.  Just wondering how many people give considerable thought to the bigger picture.  Not expecting everyone to be running around being “activists’ all the time, but asking what are people doing to at least be informed, if not taking action here and there, to make this world a better place.  It’s not easy being informed today.  The Internet & electronic communication has only isolated us more, allowed people to hang out in the little tiny cubbyholes they like to, rather than reading today’s newspaper, or all watching the 6:00 news, listening to the radio.  We will perhaps never have another elvis, another Beatles, another John Wayne or John F. Kennedy, or Mother Teresa, because we are enveloped by the Internet.  By Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, smartphones, tablets, i-pods,  an ever-expanding universe of websites growing in number literally exponentially.  Surely we cannot minimize the fact that right now, Russia appears to be invading Ukraine, & the West is forced to figure out how best to respond.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a tad uncomfortable at the thought that many people may die, especially if this situation escalates. There have been many large-scale wars over the years, & they all began with relatively little skirmishes.  And this situation hasn’t been “little”. Nuclear weapons have a way of affecting a lot of people, like millions,  in a very short span of time, like seconds.  And then, I discovered that the Tetley tea sitting in my cupboard was harvested literally by slave workers including children & the elderly in India.  Our own Prime Minister & his “government”, is changing every facet of Canada & what it means to be Canadian.  That alone is something we could catalogue very easily but would take hours, the scope of it is that large.  Suffice it to say that now Harper is literally changing how our democracy will work with the so-called “Fair elections Act”, and is handcuffing labour, environmental groups, scientists, and anyone who dissents, with other legislation. I find it challenging to keep all of these things in perspective sometimes.  Yes, by all means, go have a good time!  Do it often!  Live life to the fullest, and live in the moment.   Just make some of those moments  contribute towards future moments, comparable to growing food.  In order to have crops to harvest and food on the table next year, you have to enrich the soil, add water, ensure there is adequate sunlight.  the investment of time and effort along the way may just prove to be a s fruitful as the food you eat later.

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