1) WHO IS TRYING TO KILLTHE RIVERSIDE CRAFT SHOW? "It is the bylaw department’s job to enforce the laws, not to interpret, twist, or redefine them."






1) Town bylaw department intent on killing school's annual Christmas craft show

Oct 19, 2011 | Huntsville Forester

Why is the Huntsville bylaw department intent on killing the annual craft show at Riverside Public School? The bylaw department is saying that the show’s vendors must have police clearance.

The Riverside Craft Show is the main fundraiser for the school. In the grey days of November, vendors and visitors alike look forward to this bright little show that is so well organized by the teachers. For me, it has always been a favourite place to sell a few of my books. I have been attending farmers’ markets and craft shows with my novels since 2002, and not just in Muskoka. Nowhere has a background check ever been required.

Some vendors, like myself, do not make a great profit, and some are not assured of a profit at all. The cost of a police background check, added to the booth fee and the cost of gas, would be more than some of the vendors could bear.

Don’t get me wrong: if a background check for vendors served a purpose, if it would contribute to public safety, I would be in favour. I had to have this check when I was a driving instructor for Young Drivers of Canada and I had no objections. But asking craft show vendors to get it serves no purpose.

According to the town’s bylaws, a backgrounder check is relevant to persons dealing directly with students on a regular basis. The vendors are not dealing with students and the event is watched over by teachers. If there were any real concerns about safety, they could easily be addressed without imposing another yearly expense on vendors. What is most curious and unsettling about this is that the idea has no basis in law. Indeed, the town bylaws are clear on this. The town bylaws state that the participants in a “special event” must have a background check. Schedule E of bylaw 2009-94 defines what is meant by “special event,” and finishes by stating — “but does not include craft shows.” I repeat, does not include craft shows. Craft shows are not “special events.”

The bylaw department knows that claiming public safety as the reason for a background check is a transparently thin argument. They attempt to surmount this hurdle by claiming that the Riverside Craft Show is not a craft show. The show has, they say, authors and others who are not crafters. Therefore, it is a “special event.” Therefore, a background check is required.

Since when is writing not a craft?

It is the bylaw department’s job to enforce the laws, not to interpret, twist, or redefine them. To help them in this task, definitions of various types of events are spelled out in the bylaws. It is not the bylaw department’s business to tamper with these definitions or to define for themselves what constitutes a craft show. The bylaw enforcers are trying to reinterpret the law. They are also trying to take the task of jurying the craft show away from the organizers. On both counts, they exceed their authority. As a result, the Riverside Craft Show is in disarray and the future is uncertain both for vendors and for school funding.

One can only wonder whose agenda is behind this? Who is trying to destroy the Riverside Craft Show? Please, all who have a stake in this matter, phone or write Mayor Claude Doughty and council. Ask why the bylaw department is trying to reinterpret the law? Ask why they are targeting the Riverside Craft Show. Please spread the word. The school fundraiser is in dire need of your support. So are the vendors.




4) Flu season: washing hands is not good enough
Gravenhurst Banner, 2004

The Romans started it all when they tired of people peeing in the temple of Diana and decided to provide public latrines in the first century of our era. But since then, our washroom smarts have changed very little.

If public washroom behaviour is any guide, we don't know much more about cleanliness than canis familiaris, our favourite four-footed furry friend. Most of us don't stick our snouts in the toilet bowl, but we sure love to get our hands on the dirt. Those taps, toilet seats, closet doors, towel gizmos, soap dispensers, and doorknobs are crawling with microscopic nasties of every shape and form. The Romans would be amazed.

But you can still see some fathers dutifully showing their young sons how to contaminate themselves after peeing. Your son just finished washing his hands. Now his hands are clean. Whoops! The little feller just turned the tap off! Everybody else who peed before him has left his mark on that tap (save for the considerable number that go straight for the doorknob).

Shoulda told the little guy. Let it run, son. Let the next person catch the bugs. And now look what your little man is doing-yanking at the towel dispenser. He's bound to catch something there. Oh well, who cares. On the way out he's going to give the doorknob a rub anyway. So much for fatherly example! So much for washing hands!

Health workers may have something to tell us in a clinic or a newspaper during flu season, but where is the application of their expertise in the washroom? Designing hygienic washrooms would not be difficult. Hand dryers, taps and doors could all be designed to function without contact. In the meantime, why not use paper as a shield? Bring your own. Cast the paper on the floor if you have to, until they're smart enough to put a container near the exit, as well as near the taps. Don't worry about what others think. You set the example. Turn the tap on with paper. Turn the tap off with paper. Open the door with paper. Throw paper away. Got that? Good health in 2004!


6) Bad driving is universal
Weekender, Feb. 7, 2003

Dear Editor: RE: Nothing stuns like a deer

We have bears, cougars, rattlesnakes and other potentially deadly wildlife. But the biggest killer of humans, says Arthur Black, is also the least feared and the gentlest of creatures — deer. They kill us, as they kill themselves, by stepping in front of passing cars.

In the mid-80s I saw a car hit a deer on a side road in Aurora. The animal was standing at the edge of the road as two cars approached. The second car was mine. The driver in front of me slowed, and I stayed well back of him.

As we drew near, at a very moderate speed, the deer did not move at all, appearing to look across the road, seemingly unaware of danger.

The hit was not a sudden event. From first sighting to the actual incident, perhaps 10 seconds went by; that's a long time to prepare in the driving environment. A long, long time. Any idiot should be able to manage it, one would think. What do I need to do now to avoid hitting that animal? Take your time. No panic.

The driver in front was responding. His brakes were on right up till the moment of impact. He could easily have stopped. He had time. He had space. And the deer was not moving. It just stood there looking across the road.

The deer's timing was perfect. At the last instant it strode into the roadway. The driver tried to stop. He did stop. But not quite soon enough. He struck the animal broadside, knocking it over. The deer got to its feet, bounded over a fence and made off into a farmer's field.

I watched from my position, about six car lengths behind. The driver, no doubt feeling justifiably inept and stupid, perhaps shaken, got out of his car and went over to the fence, looking away to where the deer had vanished. I waited till he got back in and drove off.

What did this guy do wrong? Was he treating another species as if it were human? The deer is not moving. The deer is waiting for me. The deer is going to wait until I get by.

What should he have done? Stop and wait? Toot the horn? What if there had been other cars approaching? Would the other drivers have been prepared? To stop if necessary? If he had tried to signal them, would they have understood? Would they have given the deer some space and time to decide where it wanted to go?

What if it happened on the freeway?

When I moved from Aurora to Muskoka, just over a year ago, I wrote a humorous letter to the papers, in which I upbraided Muskokans for not being up-to-date on the bad driving scourge that has overtaken Toronto. Muskokans, I said, still had these quaint habits, such as letting the pedestrian go first.

Well, Muskokans do have some manners left, sometimes. But they are not unsmitten. They have their own style of mindless compulsive scurrying.

One example. This past fall I drove to Milford Bay several times, religiously obeying the speed limit and mindful that there were deer about. There are signs posted along the way — Deer wintering area — and I had seen several deer on previous occasions.

I remembered people telling me about their collisions with deer. I couldn't help it. It was in front of me all of a sudden.

For each of my Milford Bay drives, I had a string of impatient drivers behind me. Some of them passed. Others remained behind, perhaps not wanting to take risks just to go five or 10 km faster. On the last, as I turned off for Milford Bay, the driver of the vehicle behind gave me one short honk. I'm sure that driver was speaking for everyone else in the convoy: How dare you hold up the crowd!

And that's where it's at. Bad driving is the new universal norm, recognized as such by the gurus of contemporary driving culture. In this context, my good driving was abnormal and worthy of rebuke.

As Arthur Black; says, the most dangerous animal on the continent is the monkey behind the wheel.               Wendel Messer, Gravenhurst