As the autumn rains began -unseasonably early this year it seemed- my mind wandered back to the wilderness we enjoyed all summer, and I find myself wondering how Travis Thomas is faring, alone on Bartlett Island on the windswept West Coast of Vancouver Island- Read More
For many years I owned and operated a storefront legal clinic in a major regional shopping center, which afforded me a close-up view of the fascinating world of retail.
The Christmas season was always interesting. My first Yuletide in the centre saw me shaking my head as merchants squabbled over the brightness of the Christmas decorations in various corridors of the mall. We all paid our proportionate share of those decorations, of course, but the conventional wisdom was that shoppers were attracted to bright shiny things, so more of them would drift into the more brightly lit areas of the center. Angry merchants demanded that Santa and his elves be relocated to their particular aisle, and a thousand curses on any maintenance personnel who allowed the lights to burn out on any particular display.
My perennial holiday favorite however has always been the Christmas Eve parade through the mall, that I’ve dubbed the walk of the mall zombies. Until I was immersed in the life of the mall I was thought that the stories of guys doing their last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve was apocryphal-an urban myth- no one could possibly leave shopping for their loved ones to the last few hours available-could they?
I’m here to offer testimony that it is indeed true! Overall, the mall is usually deathly quiet on Christmas Eve, a few shoppers strolling through and picking up last-minute items, or checking out the early Boxing Day sales for something for themselves-that is, until dusk. As darkness descends and the parking lot lights wink on, an hour so before closing time, however, the procession begins.
Men, obviously straight from work, still wearing their work attire, be it business suit or mechanics overalls, wandering urgently but aimlessly through the mall, brows furrowed, eyes darting furtively from storefront to storefront.
Toys”R”us would barely rate a glance- obviously the wives had long since organized presents for the tykes. No, most of the traffic seemed headed for La Senza, with its sexy négligées, or Purdy’s, where the chocolates are already gift- wrapped, with a few more adventurous souls straying into the kitchen gadget store.
Every now and then a guy would foolishly wander instead into a consumer electronics shop, hell bent on destruction, and we would cringe. No wife, ever, wants a high tech gadget under the tree Christmas morning – might as well wrap up a power tool while you are at it!
Its a spectacle as predictable as the swallows return to Capistrano, or the great migration of wildebeest across the Serengetti, but nowhere near as impressive – just very, very sad
spending your money never used to be so hard
When I posted a light-hearted piece last month proposing a form of written permission be signed before attempting to snuggle with a new love interest -( just to avoid misunderstandings )- I thought I was engaged in humour of the absurd, but now I discover that such consent forms are actually a ‘thing ‘- and a Dutch legal tech firm is marketing a version ( and here I was giving it away for free-!) not only that, but they are putting it on the blockchain!
The firm is Legalthings One, and their product, which has been announced in the legal forums online, but hasn’t made it onto their website yet, is called “Legal Fling”. Its a smart phone app, that allows users to agree to a variety of consensual bedroom behaviours. With a simple swipe ( much less intrusive than wiping out a pen and paper, in the heat of the moment) the users time stamped consent is recorded and uploaded to the Blockchain.
For the uninitiated, blockchain technology is a type of distributed ledger keeping, where data ( like a legal consent) is securely and simultaneously recorded on a large number of widely dispersed computers, all of which have to “agree” in order to verify the authenticity of a piece of data, making the stored data incredibly secure. Data secured by a blockchain is considered tamper-proof, and can be utterly relied upon.
This new technology is getting a lot of attention in the legal community, where it has obvious applications in such things as verifying the authenticity of a contract, which may have gone through many many revisions by multiple parties. Some pioneers are even advocating doing away with land title offices , in favour of a blockchain land registry, but I have to hand it to our Dutch colleagues, a boudoir blockchain is really thinking outside the box !
Seems my old law school prof. was right – the law of contracts can be fun !
A very long time ago when the earth was young I successfully defended a chap charged with impaired driving. The defence rested upon the rather unique vehicle he was driving at the time of his arrest- a railway hand cart.
My client had acquired the handcart at an auction, and tested it out (without permission) on a section of the E&N railway track, finding that it still worked like a top. A few pumps on the handles and he was sailing down the track.
To celebrate, he invited a couple of buddies on board and they pumped the contraption down to the Red Lion Inn, a pub conveniently located adjacent to the railway tracks, where they proceeded to get drunk as lords, and, on the return trip, attracted the attention of the Victoria constabulary.
The acquittal was achieved because of the particular wording of the impaired driving sections of the Criminal Code. The offence, you see, can only be committed by driving a motorized vehicle, and a hand -pumped railway cart simply doesn’t fit the definition!
Those same provisions of the Criminal Code apply to impaired boating, but, oddly, until now, contain no definition of what constitutes a “vessel”, leaving it an open question whether you can legally paddle your canoe or kayak while ( to use a nautical reference ) you are three sheets to the wind. In the result, and depending upon where you live, some tipsy canoeists end up being charged, while others aren’t.
So, in the Spring of 2017, along came Bill C-46, legislation amending and modernizing the Criminal Code, including a re-vamp of the impaired driving provisions. The term “vehicle” was scrapped, in favour of the term “conveyance”, which the Minister (no doubt still smarting from my long ago hand cart win) sneakily defined as including railway equipment of all sorts.
The definition continued however, to specifically exempt “a vessel propelled exclusively by muscular power”. To the great relief of a few of my paddling buddies, it appeared that tipsy canoeing and kayaking were to become legal.
In fairness, I suspect what the drafters of the legislation had in mind was exempting those who paddle inner tubes and air mattresses, or inflatable party rafts a few feet off the beach with beer in hand, but definitions are tricky.
Before the champagne corks could even be popped down at the paddling club, the Stalwarts at the Canadian Safe Boating Council had a word in the Minister’s ear, and an amendment was swiftly proposed, and unanimously passed, tanking the exemption, and leaving us again without a definition of “vessel”
This, unfortunately puts us right back in the grey area that existed before. If it floats, you might get tagged for drunk boating- something you may want to think about the next time you are lounging around on a pool noodle with a cold one in hand.
Now, I know that things aren’t always what they seem. Lord knows how many times I’ve read a press account of a case I was involved in, and been convinced that the article was describing a different case entirely.
So, when I come across something that doesn’t, at first glance, make sense, I try to suspend judgment: maybe I don’t have all the facts or fully appreciate all the nuances of the situation.
So it was last weekend when I encountered our tax dollars freely being spent by Parks Canada.
The recipient of Ottawa’s largess? none other than a BI-LINGUAL, SOLAR POWERED, WHEELCHAIR- ACCESSIBLE, SELF-COMPOSTING OUTHOUSE– located on a small island accessible ONLY by kayak.
Although shaking my head, I’m trying hard to suspend judgment – There must be a sensible, cost -effective reason for the building of such an edifice – mustn’t there ?