Monday, March 31, 2014

Question About Tipping

I read something in the paper the other day which got me thinking.  It was an article on tipping in restaurants.  The practice of giving a "tip" or gratuity has been going on for centuries.  There are many theories but its true origins are lost in the mists of time. Lately the concept of tipping has been the subject of much discussion.

Who do you tip?  When do you tip? How much do you tip?  I'm always confused about it. 

One thing in what I read about tipping that made sense, was that tavern keepers in the seventeenth century could not pay their servers a decent wage.  To supplement the server's meagre wage and to encourage prompt service, patrons started leaving a couple of coins behind when they left the tavern if they received good service.

Now the question is; do we tip today to reward prompt and efficient service or to supplement the server's wage because the restaurant owner refuses to pay them a decent wage?  Or maybe it's a bit of both!  Minimum wage is a joke!  Nobody can independently support themselves on a minimum wage!  If  servers are being paid at or close to minimum wage, they must be able to collect tips in order to survive!

So who do you tip?   From what I understand we are supposed to tip those who actually serve us food or drink in a sit down restaurant.  This does not include fast food pick-up places or coffee bars. Hotel staff and cruise ship crews expect to be tipped too, but not bus drivers or train conductors.  Very confusing.

When do you tip? Is a evening out with a meal worthy of a tip while a cafe lunch is not?   If the service is bad, do you tip less or not at all?  What if it wasn't the waiter's fault?   What if the chef screwed up and didn't prepare the meal on time?  What if the waiter needed that tip to augment his ridiculously low wages?  What if ...?

So how much do you tip?  Fifteen percent seems to be the going amount.  Is that before or after GST?   Some social gurus suggest twenty percent is better while some say ten percent is a more suitable amount.  In Europe they will often tell you what the expected tip amount should be right on the menu. 

Many years ago while we were visiting Australia we found a restaurant advertising real American pizza!  As we were leaving I left a tip on the table.  We had walked some distance down the street when the waiter from the pizza joint caught up to us and gave me back the coins he said I had obviously forgotten on the table.  No tips there; then.  I wonder if that's changed in Australia now.

Am I going to stop tipping? Of course not.  But the whole issue of tipping is a strange and convoluted one indeed.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Honoring Fred Walters

Last Monday night, I had the distinct pleasure of honouring a former village councillor and very active village volunteer. 

Fred Walters was a huge part of the goings-on here in Beiseker for the past twenty years.  Fred volunteered at Beiseker Recycling, and built it up to one of the biggest and most successful recycling projects in the province for a community of our size!  He was an active member of the Beiseker Lions' Club, and held a senior divisional post in that organization for a time. 

Fred and his wife Marion were very much a part of the Acme Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, and for years they both made sure our Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Acme ran smoothly and with much dignity.  He also served twelve years on Village Council, handling many different portfolios.

I always got a chuckle over Fred's participation in the Awards Ceremonies at Beiseker Community School.  He would have to change jackets to present different awards from the various organizations he was representing.  At some ceremonies, Fred would have to make as amny as three "wardrobe changes" during the evening!

Fred did not run for re-election last October.  He and Marion recently sold their home in Beiseker and moved into smaller accomodations in Calgary.  This past Monday, we honored Fred's contibutions to village government in a short ceremony at the beginning of our council meeting.
One small thing Beiseker Village Council initiated a few years ago was to present each councillor with a personalized copy of a famous photo, the original of which hangs in Council Chambers.  The photo was taken more than 60 years ago of the Beiseker CPR Station when it was still in operation.  That building is now houses the Beiseker Village Offices and the Beiseker Station Museum.  The photo was presented to Fred with an inscription honoring his service.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Politics and the Weather!

I was saddened by Premier Alison Redford's resignation, the other evening

Our province is indeed the best in Canada when measured on many different scales.  We do not need all this drama of political wheeling, dealing and backbiting by the governing party!

Collectively, they're acting like a bunch of kids in a school playground, pushing and shoving each other in order to accomplish some sort of lofty goal!  If  this was a school, their principal would be organizing an anti-bullying program for them!

The Premier made some critical errors with her spending of tax dollars in travel expenses.  Other Alberta premiers have faced much worse!  But it is obvious that Redford did not think she had the support of her cabinet and caucus to correct the mistakes, and fight back against the pressures from the media and Opposition. 

She had little choice than to resign.  Her party basically threw her under the bus.

I believe that Premier Redford did give her heart and soul to this province over the past two and a half years, and for that I dearly thank her.

To the governing Alberta Progressive Conservatives;  Get back to running this province!  Throw the poll results into the trash, and start carrying out what you and your now-former Premier set out to do, when you were given a mandate in 2012!

And to the Wildrose Party; Throw the poll results into the trash and let's get back to your job - of being Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition!


We got another winter blast Thursday which halted our melt in its tracks.  It also froze a lot of that meltwater!  Highways and streets may not get better for a day or two so be careful out there! 

The melt has been going very well.  Water is leaving town in an orderly manner!  I see a couple of issues around town, which I've mentioned to the Village Office.  I hope you are doing the same. 

Public Works is also searching for a water leak this next couple of days.  I wish them success in their search and thank them for their dedication and hard work.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Village Office Flag

Many of you noticed that the flag in front of the Beiseker Village Office was flying at half mast Wednesday morning.  Usually, our flag is lowered to honour a local resident who has passed away.  Such was not the case today.

March 14, 2014, marks the end of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.  Our Canadian Flag, along with many others across the country, was lowered this morning to pay tribute and honour those Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the past 14 years.  It was raised to full mast in the afternoon to welcome home the thousands of Canadian soldiers who spent time, there.

The jury is still out as to whether our mission there really did what we wanted it to do.  We did build schools and health clinics which catered to girls as well as boys.  We built irrigation projects and opened up roads.  They tell us that the Taliban is less strong than it was.

Only time will tell if we were successful in our mission there.  In the meantime, I think it's important that we recognise the sacrifice made by our soldiers over there.  We must also realise that we have to provide the best care and services possible for our new crop of war veterans.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A New Low In Human Behaviour

I don't often comment of the goings-on with social media.  I've mentioned before I'm a "techno-klutz," so I can't really comment as any kind of expert.

But this story in the news really upset me. 

Apparently, some individuals in Calgary are seeking out the homeless living on the streets in the city core.  Once found, they take photos of the homeless, then ridicule and belittle them, all the while filming with their phones.  These filmed encounters are then posted on a Facebook page.

I beleive that most of the 3500 folks living on the streets in the city are not there by choice.  Ways and opportunities for them to get off the streets and into assisted housing need to be presented to them - a hand up, not a hand out.  But no one deserves to be bullied and ridiculed in this manner. 

Those involved probably think it's just a harmless prank.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Don't we have laws for this kind of thing?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Spring Meltdown!

Well it looks like the big Spring meltdown has started in Beiseker.  In order to get through this, we must all work together. 

Below is a short list of some of what Beiseker Public Works has done so far to prepare for the run-off. They've done all they can and I commend them for that.  Well done, crew!
  • As much snow and ice as possible has been hauled to snow dumps to harmlessly melt away.
  • Most surface ditches have been opened up to prevent ice dams.
  • The sub-surface storm water lines have been steamed where possible.  To get the required slope on these pipes they have to start rather shallow in the ground.  This means they freeze up as the frost goes down.  They have to be thawed using hot water and steam.  We have a small steamer unit for this job. This thawing process will continue throughout the next few weeks.  If required a larger steamer unit will be brought in to speed up the process.
  • The large ditches on the south side of town have been opened up.  A contractor with a tracked hoe will be at the ready to reopen these channels if they become clogged.
Here's some things that Beiseker residents can do, to prepare for the runoff:
  • Get your down spouts thawed out and water moving in them, as soon as possible.  Make sure your down spouts are draining as far away from the building as possible.
  • Dig small channels away from your home toward the street or lane.
  • As patches of lawn appear, cover them with snow piled up from clearing your walkways.
  • If you do get run-off water in your basement, try to pump it back outside and not into the sanitary sewer line.  Excess run-off water in our sanitary sewer line puts undue stress on that system.
  • If melt water is pooling on walkways, get some sand on there as soon as you can.  Kitty litter works well, too - and sand is still available down at the Public Works compound.
  • Sand and sandbags will become available at the Public Works compound if we need them.  We'll let you know when and if that happens.
  • If an ice dam has built up in front of your home, try to get the water moving toward the catch basin.
  • If you spot a problem, contact the Village Office (403-947-3774) as soon as you can.  Remember, our Public Works team will be very busy this next few weeks, and it may take a while to respond to your concern.
I'm hoping for a gradual, slow melt so the water can make its way out of town easily.  I'm also praying that the big rains hold off until all the snow is melted and all the crops are in!

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

No More Calgary Herald

I was saddened to get a letter from the Calgary Herald advising me that home delivery will end in Beiseker next month.  I've enjoyed reading that newspaper every morning (and before that; every afternoon) for more that fifty years.  I will miss it.

Yes, I've used the electronic version when I travel, but it's not the same.  I'm a 'techno-klutz,' so reading the paper on a computer monitor isn't comfortable for me! I guess I'm a critter of the past; a dinosaur.  I enjoy folding over the paper so it's easier to read, doing the Word Search and clipping the occasional article or comic strip.

Ah well, I guess that's progress.  Newspapers are going broke all over the world so it stands to reason that the Herald has to go with the flow.   Still it makes me sad that I won't have my paper to read each morning.

And think of the trees they're saving!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Want those Red Mittens Back!

You will recall that on Valentine's Day, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Canada House during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.  He and the Canadians talked sports (mostly hockey) and he wished us all the best in our medal search.  He hoped that Canada and Russia might meet in the Gold Medal Hockey Game.

We were very pleased that President Putin visited Canada House and the Canadians there gave him a pair of iconic Red Mittens, emblazoned with the red maple leaf.  He held them high above his head and smiled.

A few weeks later, Putin has ordered his armed forces to invade a sovereign neighbour nation.

Mr. Putin, give back those mittens.  You are not worthy!

I understand Mr. Putin's concern for the Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the Crimean peninsula.  They've lived there for more than eighty years and now call the Ukraine their home.  But I truly believe that there must be a better way to safeguard their interests than a Russian invasion!  This is where Canada must insist that Vladimir Putin remove the Russian Armed Forces from the Crimea and hustle to the negotiation table to work this one out peacefully, without tanks.

In the meantime Mr. Putin, give us back those mittens!