Pete vs. Tiny Piece of Plastic (or How I Channeled my Father and Fixed the Dishwasher)

I came home from a late nite work session around 11:00 p.m. and went to empty the dishwasher before going to bed, as is my habit.

Except the dishwasher hadn’t drained, and no amount of pushing “drain” wishing hard would make it do so.

My father was nothing if not up for a daunting home maintenance challenge and so, despite the hour, I got out the toolbox and set to work in his image.

An hour later I’d found the problem: a tiny piece of plastic, smaller than a nickel, lodged in the first hose along from the sump. It took a lot of clamp-undoing and manual-water-draining and tube-sucking and tube-blowing to unearth this as the cause of my woe.

Thirty minutes later I had the dishwasher back together and now we’re back in business.

I’m happy to have inherited a little of my father’s indefatigability.

The Great Under the Protection of the Small

Prince Edward Island’s motto, since 1769, has been Parva sub ingenti, Latin for “the small under the protection of the great.”

Former Premier J. Walter Jones described the origin of the motto, in a speech to the Empire Club in 1952, like this:

When King George III proclaimed a seal for “The Island of St. John in America” in the year 1769, he decreed a motto taken from Virgil’s Georgics, Verse 19, namely, “Parva Sub Ingenti”. The Island of St. John became in 1799 “Prince Edward Island”—named after the father of Queen Victoria and “Parva Sub Ingenti” was pictured as three saplings growing under a large tree, and was symbolic of the three counties of Prince Edward Island under the great British Empire. Later, when Prince Edward Island became part of Canada in 1873, the symbolism was taken as of the three counties of Prince Edward Island under Canada.

Jones went on to put the “small” in a not-entirely-positive light, but he did admit that smallness has its virtues:

I should not like to leave the impression that to be small in a federation of large states is always a bad condition. The small size makes for a government close to the people and public opinion easily influences every part of the administration. The goodness or the badness of politicians, clergy, civil servants, teachers—can be easily transmitted. Government “of the people—by the people” gets a better chance than in a larger area.

On Prince Edward Island there are concentrations of effort impossible of accomplishment in any large area. At the Royal Winter Fair—before our people got into the hog-growing game—I have seen Ontario running off for a number of years with all the prizes. We got into it, and of the ten first prizes in hogs, nine of them went to Prince Edward Island this year.

I don’t believe I’ve ever met an Island politician or activist who has not, at some point, used what former Premier Wade MacLauchlan refers to as the “gift of jurisdiction” to make an argument. Many times a year one hears “we’re so small that we can test things here that can then be scaled up to the rest of the world.”

I have long been suspicious of this approach. I don’t doubt that our small size and interconnectedness makes it easier to grow prize hogs; I’ve wondered, though, whether something that’s achieved at small scale necessarily upscales as easily as everyone thinks it will.

A crack appeared in my suspicious nature this week, however, when it was announced by Sobeys, Canada’s second-largest food retailer, that it is spreading its sensory-friendly shopping hours program, which started at a single store in Summerside, Prince Edward Island to all of its stores across the country.

What a great example of how people with autism and their carers, along with organizations like Autism Society of PEI, can work together to dramatically improve the lives of thousands of autistic people. And, indeed, to all of us who benefit from less stimulation while shopping. Sobeys too deserves credit for being a company with a nature that affords viral spreading of good ideas; it’s not every company that has the capacity to do this.

And it all started on Prince Edward Island.

Maybe there’s something to this after all.

Ingenti sub parva!

The (Kind of) Return of the Wednesday Charlottetown Farmers’ Market

A group of enterprising Charlottetown Farmers’ Market vendors have followed Brett Bunston’s better-utilize-the-resource effort and are opening for take-out lunch on Wednesdays.

Regular market-goers know and love the Wednesday market in the summertime and are always sad to see it close in October, so this is excellent news.

It’s not a full-blown market by any means, and the focus, at least right now, is on take-out lunch: today Claudia’s La Sazon de Mexico was making fresh tortillas and serving tacos, Lori at Grandma Jaworski’s Foods was serving perogies, Abby’s Catering was there with noodles and spring rolls, and, of course, Brett was there, as he is every weekday with excellent coffee.

If you’re as enthusiastic about this effort as I am, and want to see it continue, vote with your lunch and come along next Wednesday between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Charlottetown Farmers' Market

Goings On About Blog

The overlap between what I write here and the regular everyday world is, most of the time, unidirectional: I write, you read. Other than Oliver and my mother (and mother-in-law) I’m never 100% sure there’s anyone out there reading, beyond the occasional comment or two.

But sometimes the regular everyday world speaks out.

On Monday night at City Cinema my friendly ticket-taker, Linda, unlurked herself as a reader, said kind words, and we had a nice chat.

This afternoon I had to go break it to Dave and Dorothy at Dave’s Service Centre that I’d cut the gasoline from my diet. Dave already knew. He’d read about it online. (The Kia Soul is still, engine aside, a car, and Dave and Dorothy will still look after that part for me; I have an appointment to have Dave install the snow tires on Tuesday).

My eyeglasses have been falling off my head more than I’d like, so I stopped in at Matheson Eyewear for a tune-up (Greg Matheson did a masterful job repairing my eyeglasses earlier this year); on my way back to my car I was stopped by Kevin, reader-of-blog, who handed me a Garnet Rogers-Archie Fisher CD (I’m listening to it right now; thank you, Kevin!).

Earlier this year I wrote a post about salted capers; Jeremy, from Rome, left a comment there; he’d come in the door via Ton. I started following Jeremy’s blog, and listening to his podcast. Today I realized  that Olle and Luisa are in Rome and conspired to connect them with Jeremy; Ton chimed in. I’m hopeful they’ll have coffee.

Sixteen years ago I asked you readers to out yourselves; 137 of you did, and it made for fascinating reading. If you are so-moved, you are welcome to leave a comment below and say hello and tell us a little bit about yourself.

And then go listen to this, and maybe buy a copy.

Archie Fisher and Garnet Rogers album cover.

Therefore be it resolved…

One of the lovely things about participating in a grassroots movement like the PEI Home and School Federation is the pride one can take for seeing the collective will of parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff result in real changes to the PEI education system.

There have been two great examples of this in recent months.

The call for a return to elected school boards that PEIHSF members expressed in the 2018 resolution Request for a Revision of the Education Act and a Return to Elected School Boards saw practical action taken today with the announcement that elected school boards will, indeed, return.

And, in a move I take particular pride in helping work toward, over many years, the 2017 resolutions School Food Guiding Principles and Provincial School Food Strategy, and the 2015 resolution Establish a Provincial School Lunch Program for All Island Children, after some false starts and a lot of work by many, many people in and out of government, will finally be realized in 2020 with the announcement in the Legislative Assembly by Minister of Education Brad Trivers that “it is definitely my goal to have a universal school-food program in every school across Prince Edward Island by September 2020.”

The tiny kernel of the seed of this project started on a fall day in 2013 when parent Lisa MacDougall came to a home and school brainstorming meeting at Montague Consolidated School. At that meeting we talked about resolutions and policy making, and Lisa got engaged, ultimately spearheading the original resolution on the topic. By 2016 Lisa had become President of the PEIHSF, with the support of a broad team of people across the province, pushed the issue forward to the point where it achieved momentum and, ultimately, became government policy.

I believe strongly that deliberate, broad, inclusive policy-making can result in positive change, and the PEIHSF, which has been doing this for more than 65 years, is a good example of this: resolutions start in small meetings at local schools, get distributed to every school across the province for discussion, and are then debated at an annual meeting each spring. When a PEIHSF resolution passes, its grassroots provenance makes it more likely to be taken seriously. It can be a slow process to see concrete action taken–both the examples cited above started being discussed well before they reached the resolution stage–but it works.

If you’re involved in education in PEI and you have an idea, bring it forward to your local home and school: there’s a good chance that it can become a better idea as a result, and that the better idea can change the lives of thousands of children.

The government paid me $23.00 to register my car…

I took the new Kia Soul EV to Access PEI to register it and I left with a new plate sticker, a new registration slip, and $23.00.

This is because registration for electric vehicles is free, and I’d already paid up for a year’s worth of non-electric registration expiring in April.

So the government paid me to register my car.

(Okay, they actually refunded me $23.00 I’d previously paid them…).

There was a small panic at the counter when my helpful clerk, who’d never encountered this odd situation before, worried that it would throw her ability to balance her daily accounts out of whack, but she was assured all would be okay.


Mike sold us his Soul

Remember how we test drove a 2016 Kia Soul EV from Mike Kenny at Pure EV a month ago?

Well, in what may well be the longest test-drive-to-purchase period ever, today we took possession of the selfsame Soul.

Here’s my post-purchase shot from Mike’s Facebook page (Catherine’s hiding inside):

Me, standing in front of our new Kia Soul

Much more to say about this soon, but for now let us take a moment to remember the 2000 VW Jetta that Mike took on trade:

2000 VW Jetta, just before we sold it

That Jetta served us well. We bought it new in the fall of 2001, meaning that it’s been our car for almost as long as Oliver’s been our son (while it feels like we covered a lot of ground in it, the mileage when I handed it over to Mike was less than 130,000 km).

I’ve been writing here about the Jetta almost as long as we’ve owned it, from that heady first check-engine light experience on.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to Bob and Nettie Likely, who sold us the Jetta, and to Dave and Dorothy at Dave’s Service Centre on Belmont Street, who’ve kept it on the road for the last 8 years.

OpenStreetMap Edits to Internet Archive Donation

The Android OpenStreetMap-based app OsmAnd has an intriguing scheme whereby you can register your OpenStreetMap account and a Bitcoin address and then receive regular monthly deposits of Bitcoin based on your contributions to OpenStreetMap.

Over the last year I’ve received the equivalent of about $16.00 in Bitcoin as a result.

Today I got my regular seasonal appeal from the Internet Archive for a donation; I remembered from previous years that they accept Bitcoin donations, and that I had some Bitcoin to donate, so I sent them everything I had.

There’s something about this that I find enormously appealing.