Monday, August 30, 2010

Whippets Rule, Cookies Crumble!

At four bucks a pop, justifying the presence of the box in the grocery bag has become a rather creative endeavor. Here's my story and I'm sticking to it!

When I venture out to forage and hunt for food, typically, I am alone.

Vulnerable. Exposed.

The family is back at the homestead, safe and warm, comfortably nestled, as the hunt, inevitably, leads me into the precarious confines of the local grocery store. As I cross the rusty threshold of the automatic sliding door, I lift myself into a state of heightened awareness, whereupon, I alertly and conscientiously begin my tour of aisles.

Natural selection, do your worst!

The onslaught is omni-directional. Camouflaged and perched strategically on shelf tops, foods assail me from all sides. Calmly, while battling to suppress gluttonous impulses in favor of reason, my rattling grocery cart negotiates a flurry of extravagances and indulgences; spready and bready, munchy and crunchy, toasty and roasty, freezy and squeazy!

Diligently, I concentrate on the nutritious and necessary staples. Though deliberate, I am unsuspecting and entirely innocent.

Generally, I'm somewhere between the canned corn and bottled water when I first detect the faint calls. Over and over, tentatively at first and then, more assertively, my name is being repeated by a small voice.

Work with me.

Of course, my first reaction is to do what you would surely do, ignore it. But the longer I ignore the waif-like calls, the more they implore and compel me. Finally, when the choice is no longer mine to make, I stop and unwillingly orient myself. The reluctant search begins.

It's not the bags of pasta; it's not the cheese slices, or juices. By the time I'm locked on to the trail of the sound, it hits me; I realize I'm like the rat in a learned helplessness experiment; nothing I do alters the fact I'm destined to replay the same scenario each time I shop for groceries.

My seach ends, knowingly, in front of the Whippets, where I stand with a sympathetic scowl. "Take us home," they whimper. I am only human, after all.

They smile from the top of my over-stuffed cart.

For many years and, perhaps, still today, the Whippet has been the top-selling cookie in Quebec.

Whippets rule!

Invented in 1927 by Theophile Viau and apparently named for the breed of dog he loved, the Whippet is an unfairly treacherous mixture of pure chocolate, marshallow and biscuit. Some say it's the pure chocolate that's most addictive. The Viau cookie company was bought by Imasco in 1969 and it, in turn, was purchased by Culinar in 1983. The Culinar plant on the street named after Theophile Viau, produced 50 million Whippets a year. At least half of them were capable of pronouncing my name.

In 2001, Culinar was bought by Dare. Since then, the company has introduced several Whippet variations, including "Triple Dark Chocolate", "Strawberry", "Raspberry", "Black Forest" and "Dark Original". Why, oh why? I wince at the thought of ingesting anything but "Original".

Dare closed the Viau plant in 2003.

On the morning of Thursday May 12th, 2005, I was privileged to visit the Dare plant in St-Lambert, Quebec, that produced the Whippet. Relentless rows of biscuits, rounded puffs of marsmallow and drizzling chocolate; what a sight! The feature segment I put together with my cameraman, aired on a Montreal morning show, May 25th.

It's hard to believe others are being deprived, but the Whippet cannot be found on the store shelves of many Canadian provinces. Its supposed substitute, the all too forgettable Viva Puff, doesn't even come close.

Though a staunch fan of the dome-like delicacy, I'm guilty of having underestimated its cultural stature. Like so many things, the Whippet is unique to Quebec. It's also unique to a healthy diet.

Shake not your heads, according to nutritional information provided on the Dare website, two Whippets provide you with 8 per cent of your daily recommended iron intake. Sure beats spinach!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Somebody Stop Me!

We arrived home from Cocoa Beach Saturday afternoon. It's now Wednesday night. In just over four days, I have relentlessly poured 1,359 songs into the iPod Classic that Susan got me for my birthday. I haven't even broken a sweat!

For the last year or so, my son kindly loaned me his iPod so that I could listen to music on the train. I discovered some good tracks in his stash! When we got home from vacation, Tristan gave me a crash course on basic iTunes functioning and showed me how to transfer compact discs into my new device. His instructions, I'm fairly certain, make him an accomplice to my current affliction. As for Susan, well, she bought the darned thing for me!

Here's the typical day, wrapping up. I finish the newscast, get changed, walk to the station downtown, find a seat on the train, plug my Denon AH-D550 stereo headphones into the jack and soar.

I get home and load more podworthy compact discs. I cook supper, then load a compact disc. I clean the kitchen, then load a compact disc. I walk the dogs, load a disc.I brush my teeth, load a disc. I sneeze, load a disc. Snore, load a disc. You don't even want to hear about weekends!

Somebody stop me! I have no desire to be the target of a shriek-laden intervention!

Tonight, I am seriously restraining myself. I restrain, then load a disc. So far tonight, I've added Blood Sweat and Tears' Greatest Hits, Supertramps's "Even in the Quietest Moments", "Woodface" by Crowded House, Nathalie Imbruglia's "Left of the Middle", Michel Donato and James Gelfand's "Setting the Standard" (vols: 1 and 2) and Daniel Powter.

I've filled 11.3 gigabytes...yippee, only 137 to go!

iPod Anonymous, maybe?

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm A Believer

To me, the very greatest politicians speak from the heart. They are unscripted and sincere, popularity polls be damned. They want to lead more than anything else and the burning desire is bigger than them. They are unafraid to lose power and are far more afraid of failing to have constituents share in their ultimate vision, whether that goal is a united Canada, or a separate Quebec. The great Pierre Trudeau and Rene Levesque were such leaders. They said what they felt, made no apologies and were true to themselves, before all else.

For years, I believed Jean Charest was such a politician. However, I have the impression he has been afraid to lose power and politicians in that position are open to compromises because they don't like being unpopular. When he finally decided in March 1998 to run for the Quebec Liberal leadership, he was unshakably focussed on a unified Canada, but some of his policies since then, have clearly been designed to appeal to the separatist vote.

He decided to maintain the status quo on Bill 101. In 2003, under his leadership, the Quebec legislature unanimously proclaimed Quebec a nation. He has promised to have Quebec "specificity" enshrined in the Constitution. In January 2001, he said he was open to a referendum on "updated federalism". In 2004, he defended the separatist, Bill 99.

When he decided to enter Quebec politics, I, like thousands of others, was overcome with hope, relief and optimism. Quebec had finally found someone who could lead this province to its rightful place in Canada. Not only would Jean Charest make certain Quebec remained within this magnificent country, he would make sure Quebec laid claim to all that Canada has to offer. Since arriving on the provincial scene, he has floundered. There's no detectable passion for his province, nor his people.

A poll in today's paper suggests only 31 per cent of Quebecers would vote Liberal if an election were held today. Since December 2009, Charest's popularity has dropped to 18 per cent, from 29. A poll released in April showed only 22 per cent of Quebecers with a good opinion of Charest and yet, the same poll also showed he remains one of the most popular leaders in English Canada.

Lead, Jean. You know where you want us to go; take us there. We'll follow. Toss the poll-driven strategies and speeches aside and speak from the heart. If it's not already too late and provided you emerge from the Bastarache Bashfest unscathed, that, as far as I can see, is your only chance...not to mention, ours.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Crazy for Cocoa Beach!

Susan rolled all the silver coins in our change jars and, just like that, our car rental was paid! When I picked up the vehicle, the rental company ever so considerately upgraded us to a Chrysler 300C, with the hemi. Hear me roar!

I've driven vehicles with automatic headlights before, but this car had wipers that sensed raindrops on the windshield and telepathically adjusted wiper speed based on the amount of rain that was falling. Clever beast. Not only that, it blew the doors off any American motorist who dared challenge the license plate from "Kwee Beck". Thankfully, its ventilation system spewed generous amounts of cool air, without which, our two dogs would have quickly shrivelled into Westie raisins.

We packed the 300C with our favorite snacks, beach chairs and dogs and set a course for the 401 west. We rolled into the United States at the border crossing near Thousand Islands. Some of Susan's work colleagues suggested this crossing as a way to avoid the tolls, traffic and construction common in big cities like New York and Washington.

It must have been the air in Pennsylvania; it does wonders for your vision, providing a sudden and noticeable surge in strength and acuity. I wish! The lettering on road signs in Pennsylvania, at least in the southbound direction of I-81, has been changed to a much bigger size. Gotta get the geezers to where they wanna go! I realized over the course of our vacation, that parts of interstate highways in parts of states, had managed to change their road signs to larger print. The changeover, I imagine, is costly and continuing.

The first leg of our trip to Cocoa Beach sputtered to an exhausted end in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

As we finally crossed into the state of Florida on I-95 early Sunday afternoon, I was extremely disappointed and dumbfounded to see cars from a variety of states parked at the BP filling station in Yulee, Florida. How could people be pouring money into BP coffers after what the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had done to the Gulf of Mexico and the American economy? Perhaps BP had been forgiven by Americans, or Americans  could really care less about the environment, or BP customers in Florida suffer from short-term memory issues. The more likely possibility is that motorists we saw using BP pumps throughout our stay are the reason Florida does not have helmet laws!

At any rate, I never once turned our vehicle into a BP station.

Our hotel was right on the Atlantic Ocean in Cocoa Beach and we had opted for a "partial ocean view", which was suitably impressive.

Our smartest and prettiest Westie, Moose, is diabetic. That means every twelve hours she has to be fed and injected with insulin. The diabetes has also left her blind (see "Diabetic Moose" blog). Our other Westie, Spike, is just goofy, but dripping with loveability. The hotel we stayed at was one of the few to accept dogs at no charge. The staff are also very accomodating and are willing to clean rooms around the schedule of hotel guests and their animals.

The complimentary hotel breakfast was terrific and we made sure to ingest sufficient quantities of sausage, waffle, toast, orange juice, tea and bacon to offset the daily cost of our room. Plus, bloating ourselves provided added buoyancy while swimming in choppy ocean waters.

My son and I frolicked in the water for hours on-end, bobbing in the warm, salty waves as they gently lifted and dropped us.

Between frisbees and footballs, he would occasionally back flip into breaking waves, while I tried to dive over them. I must say, when my eyes were supersaturated with salt, turning to see my wife, who had the sun at her back, induced tears and ghastly squinting and if someone had so much as brushed a lit match against my salt-crammed lips, I'm certain it would have resulted in nuclear meltdown.

Our dogs met plently of other dogs at the hotel dog walk, which came complete with complimentary poop bags. We had a chambermaid exclaim at how our dogs were so beautiful! They became known around the hotel as "the twins". This woman says she was convinced the Westie on the television commercial had been computer-generated and couldn't possibly exist. Spike had his eyes locked on her carelessly held foil-wrapped meal and would have gladly provided her with ample proof he existed, while her lunch had never been there at all. She probably fills-up at BP.

Whew, it was crazy hot in Florida at this time of year, with temperatures well into the nineties. The weather people on television, when reporting the next day's high, would inevitably add, "but it will feel like 104 or 106 degrees". It is humid and sticky and if Florida had any shred of decency, they would change their license plate slogan to "The Furnace State" or, "Home of the Breathing Workout". I think the passage of a mandatory helmet law could, quite conceivably, result in high numbers of Floridians drowning in their own sweat.

I bought Susan a pair of Uggs for her birthday on Wednesday, but then she outdid me by buying me an iPod Classic for my birthday. While we were in the store in Melbourne, we saw the Dyson air multiplier. It's a ring on a stand that acts like a fan by accelerating air through an "annular aperture". The pamphlet explains that it draws in up to 5.28 gallons of air per second, with airflow amplifying it 15 times. Cool device. I don't for the life of me understand it, but, cool device.

We signed up for a manatee and dolphin cruise...I dressed up as the manatee, while Susan dressed as the dolphin. Ben, the guide on the trip, says October is when the heat takes a hike and Florida's season of "paradise" kicks-in. We cruised through Florida's Thousand Islands Nature Conservancy, which is mostly lagoon and saw manatees, dolphins, ospreys and the endangered wood stork, who just stood nonchalantly in the park as we boarded the catamaran.

The hotel swimming pool was a definite highlight. Surrounded by palm trees, with water kept at a constant boil, it was a great way to decompress and desalinate. We did the ocean-then-pool-thing every day and, around suppertime, my son and I could make-believe it was our own private pool because we were the only ones in there.

I've read articles claiming the technology has advanced significantly and, for that reason, nuclear energy is making a comeback. As we were driving to the factory outlet stores in Orlando, we passed a nuclear power plant. I thought it was the St-Lucie plant, but it wasn't. Florida claims to have only three; Crystal River is closer to Tampa and Turkey Point is near the tip of the state, so I still don't know which one it was. They sure are big and ominous.

On Thursday night, there was a big thunderstorm. My son and I sat out on the balcony chatting, as forks of lightning flashed all around us and torrents of rain caused the pool waters to swell. At one point, we spotted a possum trotting along the hotel wall beside the pool in search of shelter.

Susan and I would walk along the beach in the morning, snapping pictures of various things. One morning, we managed to take a picture of a bird that our Sibley's Field Guide seems to identify as Haematopus Palliatus, or an American Oystercatcher.

Swimming in Destin along the Gulf of Mexico a couple of years ago, we were stung repeatedly by jellyfish. It mostly feels like annoying pinches. This time around, in Cocoa Beach, we were oblivious to jellyfish and by the second day, we had concluded, to our immense relief, they would not be a concern. On the third day, Susan finally came in the water and close to an hour after we'd been splashing and playing together, she let out a suppressed shriek. We looked over and saw a jellyfish of substantial girth floating through the waves. I think it winked at us. Until that  moment, we had been on Level Two Alert. Given the drifting jellyfish incident, we had no choice but to promptly upgrade our Alert Level to 8 on our self-devised Jellyfish Alert Scale and, believe me, trying to frolic while respecting the criteria of our Level 8 Jellyfish Alert Scale is not terribly relaxing!

Ron John's surf shop in Cocoa Beach consists of 50 000 Ron John T-shirts and other knick knacks. Hansel and Gretel could have saved their bread crumbs and borrowed Ron John billboards to find their way back home. On the way south to Florida, you practically have to weave around them every 50 yards you travel along the interstate.

There were some unpleasant accusations directed at me by offspring and spouse. They, rather gracelessly, alleged I am a "closet clipper", obsessed with clipping my nails. I have confessed I am coming unravelled, with bits of skin on the sides of my fingernails constantly breaking free and causing me annoyance and discomfort. For the record, I continue to vehemently deny the charge and the case, to this day, in the eyes of the court, remains unresolved.

The trip home went as follows; Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. The first half of the drive home ended in Winchester, Virginia. We had lunch at Arbys in the Village of Whitney Point, New York. We did I-95 to R17, to I-66 to I-81, crossing at Thousand Islands. In Watertown, New York, we stopped at a store to buy some junk, including those wax candies with colored liquid in them. What an exciting blast from the past! When I was little, I used to buy those things, bite them, drink the liquid and eat the wax. Alas, it seems I was the only idiot who ate the wax. Susan recalled the candy, but claims to have never eaten the wax. My son just thought the whole concept was weird. Looking back now to when I was a kid, I do, too.

I often end-up associating a song with summer trips. The "summer association song" for our 2010 trip to Cocoa Beach, will be Katie Perry's "California Gurls"... and if I hear it one more time, I will voluntarily commit myself.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Vacation Detour, Veer East!

It is officially a larger oil spill than the 1979 disaster involving the Mexican rig, Ixtoc I. That accident poured about 3.3 million barrels of oil into the Bay of Campeche. When the Deepwater Horizon exploration rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, about 62 000 barrels a day were gushing from the well into the water. Federal science and engineering teams estimate the flow slowed to around 53 000 barrels a day right before BP finally capped the leak July 15th. The teams believe their estimates are accurate to within 10 per cent. At 5 million barrels, the Gulf spill is, by far, the world's largest accidental release of oil into marine waters.

Several years ago, we vacationed in Destin, Florida, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, we try to return to the warm waters of the Emerald Coast on a regular basis. Naturally, our number-one priority is to explore as much of our own stunning country as we can and, on that front, we are making excellent, enthusiastic and rewarding progress. In September 2000, readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine voted Canada the world's best country to visit. No fools, those Condé Nasters! We've taken our son to every province but one. We've already visited the Maritimes and the Prairies; highlights, inevitably, have prompted plans to return.

This summer's trip to the Gulf of Mexico would have been our third. After hearing about tar balls in the waters and on the beaches in and around Destin, we cancelled our booking there and turned our attention eastward, to the state's Atlantic coast. It won't be the same and we can't help imagining our favorite spots plagued by effects of the spill.

In March 2005, there was a huge fire and explosion at the refinery in Texas City. The government found more than 300 safety violations and BP paid a record $21 million in fines. In 2006, 267 000 gallons of oil leaked from BP's pipelines in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. BP eventually paid more than $20 million in fines and restitution. BP's Thunder Horse production platform nearly sank in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Dennis. A check valve had been installed backward, causing water to flood into, rather than out of, the rig when it heated up during the hurricane. Luckily, the pipes were not active yet, otherwise, it would have resulted in a major oil spill.

In a July 13th article, the New York Times reported BP routinely plunges into risky endeavors and displays carelessness and disregard for safety in the name of bigger profits.

Profits aren't all that matters and as Ottawa conducts detailed geo-mapping of the Arctic in search of minerals, gas and oil deposits, it's important to keep environment at the peak of the priority pyramid. A 2008 poll showed Canadians were split over whether extracting resources from the Arctic was a good idea.

I can't help feeling the Gulf spill won't even register a blip on the questionable corporate conscience of British Petroleum. The wound it has caused to the planet, with damaged waters and wildlife and to our society, with lost jobs and a staggered economy, are unpardonable. Scientists agree the spill created a large plume of hydrocarbons about a kilometre below the Gulf's surface. Its fate and the fate of its host waters?

Mother Nature must be ticked! Human beings who care, must be ticked. For reference purposes, human beings who care, pick-up their garbage and, decently, believe their small actions help make a difference. You pigs who spit on the ground and use the planet as your ashtray don't qualify as decent.

Let's hope Canada keeps its environmental conscience clear and our vacation detours to a minimum. Susan, did you say get off at Exit 6, or get past Exit 6? What do you mean you're not gonna repeat yourself?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Big Bad Vlad!

For several years, I sang the anthems for the Montreal Expos. When you think of what the Canadian and American anthems mean to people, singing them at a professional sporting event is an honor. Aside from having our faces flashed up on the Olympic Stadium scoreboard by my pal, Chuck Halliday, one of the benefits of performing the anthems was getting to watch Vladimir Guerrero play in the game that followed.

Last night and the night before, I watched the Rangers-Mariners games on television. The former Expo outfielder, true to his trademark, was at the plate, effortlessly swinging and connecting with balls thrown outside the strike zone. He played eight remarkable seasons with the Expos and, in his last year, 2003, his season suffered as a result of a herniated disk in his back. In January 2004, as he was about to turn 28, the Angels signed him to a five-year $70 million deal. At the time, his typical season included a .325 average, 37 home runs, 110 RBI's and 20 steals. Monster stats!

In 2008, he had surgery on his right knee. His career hasn't always been as effortless as it appeared. Guerrero once hit in 44 consecutive games against the Rangers, the longest streak by any player against one team since the start of divisional play in 1969. Evidently, the Rangers made a mental note. Texas signed Big Bad Vlad  for $6.5 million, with a mutual 2011 option for $9 million. He's still getting it done in a big way. He was the starting American League designated hitter for the All-Star Game and, at 35, he was the first player in the majors this season to drive in 70 runs.

In April 2002, after Guerrero homered twice and threw out a runner at home plate to beat the Cardinals 5-2, St-Louis manager Tony La Russa called Guerrero "the most talented player in the major leagues". In June 2004, Yankees manager Joe Torre was watching the Angels take on Boston. Torre called Guerrero's club-record nine RBI's for Anaheim "the most awesome display" he'd ever seen. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says Guerrero is one of the best players he's ever seen in his life.

The last time I sang the anthems at an Expos game was August 13, 2004, when Roger Clemens pitched the game for the Astros. Guerrero, the player, was long gone by then, but his feats lurk, still; all those homers, all those crazy swings and laser-like throws. All the cap waves. He became the first Expo to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs in consecutive seasons. He was the first Expo ever to score over 100 runs and drive in over 100 in consecutive seasons. In September 2003, Vlad hit for the cycle against the Mets. He became the sixth Expo player to accomplish the feat, with a double in the second, a single in the third, a triple in the fifth and a two-run homer in the seventh. Special moments; they abound. At 22, he became the youngest Expos player to reach the 30 home run, 200 hits and 100 RBI plateau. On September 29, 2002, Vlad tried to pull off  his 40/40 bid. The umpire ruled Guerrero failed to check his swing in his fifth trip to the plate, ending the bid. Vlad took the time to thank the more than 25 thousand fans who came out to scream their support.

Now, Vlad is hoping to stay healthy long enough to hit 500 career homers. Though still in the grips of  acute "empty concrete nest syndrome", Montreal baseball fans are still cheering...and just as "The Hawk" has found a suitable perch in the Hall of Fame, Vlad will, too. Born in the Dominican Republic, he was signed as an amateur free agent by Expo scouts on March 1, 1993. Finders, keepers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Diabetic Moose

As we left the breeder's home with our new puppy in hand, he called out after us, "You're in for a treat!" She turned out to be the wackiest and most wonderful little dog imaginable, named "Moose" by our 6 year old son. Brimming with energy and personality, she would dart across the carpet like a maniac and around the couch like a crazed proton in a particle accelerator.

She eventually ended up having surgery to repair damaged ligaments, first in one knee and then, the other. Apparently, it wasn't related to her high-speed antics, it was more likely a "Westie thing". Moose was part-mountain goat, climbing, undaunted, onto stacked and fluffed bed pillows, backs of couches and the shoulders of drivers. She was part-warrior of play and when our eyes locked, the challenge was intense and mutual. Her eyes aren't what they used to be. A mere nine weeks after being diagnosed with diabetes and, at eight years old, our little white terrier is mostly blind now.

It started around the beginning of the year, when her nose became dry and crusty on one side and her crotch blackened. Suspecting an immune condition, our vet prescribed steroids and then, a few weeks later, as her thirst intensified and urination went uncontrolled, he informed us Moose had diabetes. For our family and for Moose, the changes have been significant.

We find ourselves stuck somewhere between maddened and saddened. Like Moose, we're struggling to get used to glucose curves and twice daily insulin injections. She still has ample energy and piles of personality, but we hear occasional crashes and bumps in areas of the house that used to be intimately familiar to her.

A poll released by Ralston Purina in 1999 showed 48 per cent of Canadian dog owners said spending time with their pet relieves stress because of the unconditional love their dogs provide. We can tell you that hasn't changed with Moose.

The injections, administered so devotedly by my wife, started at two units and, over the course of several weeks, have gradually climbed to nine-units and we're still adjusting as we go. Our vet's interest in Moose's case seems passing at best, as does his knowledge of diabetes. He has admitted his decision to administer steroid treatment may have sparked the diabetes, or accelerated its onset. We want to blame the vet for failing to get the diabetes under control quickly enough. Her nose is moist again and she is gaining weight and we're hoping a visit to the animal hospital in St-Hyacinthe later this summer will somehow prove reassuring.

Mostly, we want Moose to keep wagging her tail. I would refer to courage, determination, coping and other fine human qualities, but then I catch myself; she's a dog.

I'm so thankful myself, my wife and son are healthy, but a part of me knows...our friend Moose probably feels the same way.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Tarzan, Me Yell!

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible." I certainly don't mean to speak for Mr. Einstein, but, while he would have likely declared the Internet entirely comprehensible, my mind reels at its obvious incomprehensibility.

The same people who now seek to expose the Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle", created the Internet. Tim Berners-Lee and other scientists at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory, made it happen with the system and the global hypertext language behind the "http" on website addresses. The world wide web celebrated its 20th anniversary in March 2009. The founders, Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau, say they are bothered by the commercialization of the web and by identity invaders and "snoopers".

Now, here I am, curious to contribute a voice to incomprehensible cyberspace. Why am I curious to contribute a voice to incomprehensible cyberspace? That's a darn good question and one for which I wish I had a darn good answer. Perhaps it's the same reason why, decades ago, I stood within the ruins of Kenilworth Castle and bellowed the best Tarzan yell I could muster...just to see whether anyone could hear me.