Monday, December 31, 2012

Toronto British Airways Check-in Nazi *Update* Angel

English: none
English: none (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Flying BA Toronto to London Heathrow then on down to Johannesburg. Bought an American Airlines codeshare ticket -- was almost $500 less than the price quoted on the BA website.

Checked in.

BA check in lady insisted I measure my Porter Case. It wouldn't fit the bin by about 1/4 inch.

I've flown for years with this bag without any trouble.

I tried looking helpless. Didn't work.

She suggested I go home and get a soft-sided bag. I said that wasn't going to happen.

She suggested I go and buy a soft-sided bag in the terminal. "And what do I do with this ($250) bag?" I asked. "You leave it here".  Not going to happen I said.

The plane simply could not take off with this oversized rollaboard. The plane simply would not fly. The bin wouldn't close, and that locks the wheels, or something.

What was going to happen was I was going to cough up $65 for a 2nd checked bag.

Which, being Canadian, I did.

Can't really fault her. She was within her rights. And, she did get me an aisle seat to LHR and an aisle/bulkhead on down to Jo-burg. Plus, I saved a bundle by booking AA.

Statistics Canada: if you are reading this, please put me down for an unexpected $65 drop in net earnings this year. You'll probably have to re-work your whole economic forecast for 2013, so get busy. Thank you.

*Important Update*

I was bumped up to Arctic Char and champagne flat-bed business class. Was it the wonderful check-in lady who both enforced the BA rules and took care of her customer? Or was it the outrageously expensive Amex card I sued to pay for the extra piece of luggage (I got the card for 50,000 bonus Aeroplan points)? Or was it God's blessing? Who knows. Thank you thank you thank you!
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The Ball Bounces To... Johannesburg

Chisokone Market in Kitwe/Zambia
Chisokone Market in Kitwe/Zambia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm off to Africa to teach an Apologetics course at Trans-Africa Theological College in Kitwe, Zambia. Flying into Johannesburg, attending a missions conference, then driving up through Zimbabwe into Zambia. Will be gone 3 weeks and change. Will try to do a post or two over at

goodnewsforzambia.blogspot. com

And that's the way the Ball bounces.
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Is It Time For A Hands Registry?

Mayor: Keep 2 NY subway push deaths in perspective

Canada may need to offer to provide the US with a hands registry at a cost not to exceed (channelling Austin Powers) TWO MILLION DOLLARS!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mark Steyn on Gun Controls in Schools: the Arizona Connection

State Seal of Arizona.
State Seal of Arizona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Instead of having these namby-pamby gun-free zones, it would be much better to have a situation where a school district designates somebody -- a member of the community, a teacher, a custodian -- to be the person who is armed. They would make a huge difference." - Mark Steyn

Speak of the devil...

I kind of like the idea. It would have come in handy back in Canada a bunch of years ago when the fatherless son of a Muslim immigrant, Marc L├ępine, took his legally obtained Mini-14 rifle and went on his murderous rampage -- an event immortalized in Canada's annual remembrance of the risks of Muslim immigration and being raised fatherless (just kidding on that last dreadfully politically incorrect comment -- the event has been appropriated by perfectly politically correct forces).

Having spent time in both Arizona and New Hampshire (channeling Bill Murray now... "New Hampshire?!), I would say Arizona lives closer to New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" motto. In Arizona, we get Groupons for gun training.

It would certainly give a would-be villain pause to think the citizen he's thinking of ripping-off may be packin' heat. I know it makes me stop and think twice before rolling a guy.

Arizona's motto, by the way, is Ditat Deus. In keeping with the spirit of the season I am offering an annual subscription, free and postage-paid, to the first Ball Bounces reader who can tell us what this motto means without Googling it.

Even if you don't know, go for it -- how wrong can you be?

Happy 3rd day of Christmas!

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Statistics Canada -- Ugh!

For at least the last decade I have been inflicted with twice-annual Statistics Canada requirements to report on the capital expenditure plans and then actuals for my small business. The only capital expenditure that ever comes up is the decision whether to buy a new laptop, or not. Apparently the government of Canada cannot function without knowing this vital bit of data -- "2K, or not 2K -- that is the question".

Filling out the form for the most part consists of filling out innumerable zeroes in as many creative ways as possible in as many irrelevant or incomprehensible places as possible. I've pleaded with them to go find somebody else to statisticize, but, as they say, "they've got my number". My only consolation is I just know there's some Statistics Canada person sitting somewhere right now dreaming about my form and when he or she is going to get it.

My business is registered in Prince Edward Island. The letter I have in hand was sent from Edmonton and is from the Western Region and Northern Territories. Apparently they subscribe to the butterfly effect theory. A small business owner flaps his wings in PEI, goes out and buys a MacBook Air, and, voila, the economy of the Northern Territories comes to a crashing halt or, maybe, a rushing crescendo of new economic activity.

The letter gets sent from Edmonton. It's about PEI. It gets filled-out in Toronto and then mailed to Ottawa. I am a one-man national project -- without me, Canada would collapse!

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

christmas paint
christmas paint (Photo credit: cassie_bedfordgolf)
Merry Christmas from the Ball Bounces --

May your days be merry and bright

And all your Christmases be white.

Here's my Christmas song for you...

God kissed the world on Christmas day.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

ServiceOntario Website -- Ugh!

The words "service" and "government" should probably not be used in the same sentence. There's always a noticeable drop in service level between a government agency and an entity that needs to care whether you like them or not, e.g., Amazon.

ServiceOntario is no different.

I just spent 20 minutes dutifully and obediently going through the screens to set up a ServiceOntario ID so I could have the privilege of having my info sent electronically rather than through the mail -- all this to circumvent yet another government agency -- Canada Post.

I go through at least half a dozen screens, get whacked at least two or three times on my password choice, then am required to submit at least four (4!) personal identifier questions -- more security questions than a bank -- get through all of this, agree to the final terms, hit enter and... nothing.

I hit Help and then and only then am informed that the website only supports two browsers, and, unlucky me, mine is not one of them.

I obediently and submissively switch over to Firefox -- Amazon never makes me do this -- and try again. I know, I know, I must be a masochist.

"Getting started with My Account is simple and free." No, it is not. How about, "This is going to be a needlessly complex, convoluted bother"?

I key in the requisite information and get this error message:

Mandatory Password Recovery Info
  • This ID Recovery Key is already used. Please enter another value.
* Required input completed

Huh? "enter another value" and "required input completed" -- which is it?

And how can the recovery key ID already have been used when I just entered it?!

I try, try, and try again, but nothing works.

If you cancel the registration process now, your ONe-key ID will not be created.
Until you complete the registration and sign the Terms and Conditions of Use, you will not be able to use the ONe-key ID to access the ONe-key enabled services.
To confirm that you want to cancel this process, select Yes. To resume the registration process, select No.


I will try ONE MORE TIME.


Bail again.

One more time.

I finally realize part of the problem -- the error message is nowhere near the field that actually needs to be corrected. I have been trying to correct the field immediately below the error message. Recovery key ID and personal ID questions all look, sound, and mean the same thing to me the novice user.

For the ID Recovery Key I enter something like "I really have no clue what this recovery key is", because, really I don't. I copy/paste to re-enter it.

The system likes it.

I'm in.

Now that I'm registered, I go to the screen where I enter my licence plate and driver's licence and get signed up for automatic mailing. Seems to me we could have just started there -- what's your name, licence plate, and driver's licence ID?

An hour of my life, irretrievably gone.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

UPDATE: I just signed up for online access to my Priority Pass, an airport lounge access card. They required me to enter my Priority Pass ID, the password they provided, a new password -- they accepted my "lame" alphanumeric one, and my mother's maiden name as an identity question. Then, as they say in bilingual government circles, voila.

Two minutes, max.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

I'm Warming Up to CO2 Sequestration Masks!!!

Global warming ubx
Global warming ubx (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm Warming Up to CO2 Sequestration Masks!!!

Global warming climate realists rejoice -- here's the answer to human-induced CO2 pollution.

As a recent and enthusiastic convert to GWR (global warming reality) I can only say, it's about time!

I mean, look at that planet -- it's on fire!!!

I'm ordering one for me, one for the missus, and one each for Brady and Reggie!

And that's the way the warming-up-to-global- warming Ball bounces.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

The US Cuts ONE BILLION DOLLARS From Its Budget!!!

Deficit and debt increases 2001–2009. Gross de...
Deficit and debt increases 2001–2009. Gross debt has increased over $500 billion each year since FY2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I said I bought something for $1,000 and it actually cost $1001, I doubt if you would accuse me of lying -- 1/1000th is a rounding error.

According to the latest by Mark Steyn the US has succeeded in identifying ONE BILLION DOLLARS worth of budget cuts.

Sounds impressive until Steyn points out that the US borrows 188 million dollars each and every week, month in, month out. Did I say month? I meant week. 188 million dollars each and every week, week in, week out. Did I say week? I meant hour. Hour! 188 million dollars per hour each and every day each and every week each and every month each and every... you get the idea. So, out of an annual budget, the US has cut about 6 hours worth of borrowing.

Think about your annual budget. Cutting out 5 hours worth of living expenses wouldn't even show up, would it? I mean it's 1/4 of a day. If it were about 1/3 of a day it would represent about 1,000th of your annual budget (365*3).

It's a rounding error.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.
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"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"