VW Beetles and Septic Tanks

A CBC “Off the Beaten Track” episode in which we go “down the road and under the ground.”

We start with the 25th anniversary of the book How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive and finish with The Septic System Owner’s Manual; both books were illustrated by Peter Aschwanden.

Originally aired on July 21, 2000 on CBC Radio’s Mainstreet program in Prince Edward Island.

How to say Rukavina

As reported earlier, in my family we say Roo-ka-veen-a. It rhymes with “blue cantina.” It doesn’t rhyme with “truck machiner” or “hooka blini” (which sounds like a pancake that makes you stoned). However Dave Rukavina, from Wisconsin, emails:

I saw your web page and I just gotta argue with you on the pronunciation of Rukavina. According to my relatives, it’s roo-KAH-vi-na or roo-KAH-vee-na, preferably with a rolled “R” at the beginning and definitely with the accent on the second syllable. Only the Americanized version has the accent on the third syllable. Back in Croatia, it’s the second.

I guess we’re assimilated.


My brother Steve, a burgeoning journalist and broadcaster, is a frequent movie-goer and bon vivant. Using the “Catherine Hennessey Engine” we created a website that he can update from where the world takes him.

IGA Independent?

So we’ve been shopping at the Charlottetown IGA since October. Strike that — it’s the Charlottetown IGA Independent, with that word Independent emblazoned all over the store. I felt more comfortable shopping there since I assumed this meant that the store wasn’t part of some large IGA Corporation but rather a breakaway independent store, locally owned an operated. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw Atlantic Superstore on my bank statement after paying for groceries at the IGA with a debit card. I called the store: “Oh, we went corporate in February… we’re owned by the Atlantic Superstore.” Shouldn’t they take the Independent off the marquee? I’ve sent a letter to owner (manager?) Dave Young.

Yucky fibre bits?

So the Canada Bread Company Limited has a new variety of their Dempster’s-brand bread, which they are advertising around the notion that children don’t like eating bread with yucky fibre bits. According to the company’s 1999 Annual Report,

Solid progress was achieved in implementing the five point turnaround plan designed to get the fundamentals right in our core businesses. In 2000 our goal is to achieve critical mass in the implementation of these fundamentals and to continue to translate this into improved results.
I can only assume that, at some level, the yucky fibre bits are involved in this turnaround. My only question is: do children really talk about yucky fibre bits in bread? Perhaps I am naive, but this smells a lot like the whole pulp-free orange juice debacle.


You can still send a telegram by Western Union, by dialing 1-800-325-6000. But service isn’t what it used to be: I tried sending a telegram to rural Winconsin last year, and was told that I couldn’t, as no Western Union office was in the area. Quite a change from the days when there was “practically no inhabited part of the world that is inaccessible to Western Union telegrams” (from Harts Guide to New York City, 1964)

The Perfect Television?

BeoVision 1 Television I think that I’ve found the perfect television. It’s the BeoVision 1 from Bang & Olufsen, a Danish maker of audio, video and telephone equipment. They make beautiful, functional things. Unfortunately, I received the following in an email this morning from B&O headquarters: I am afraid I cannot help you with information where to buy a BeoVision 1 in Canada, as we do not sell any of our television sets or videorecorders in Canada, and our television sets for other markets cannot be used in Canada due to different transmission systems. I guess I’m out of luck. Fortunately there appear to be plans to introduce a similar TV in North America this summer.

A few good things…

Some quick pointers to some good things I’ve found: the TD Bank Foreign Exchange Page is the best of the Canadian banks; Fountain Pen Hospital in downtown New York City (just around the corner from City Hall) sold me a wonderful Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen last week; Home Hardware, at least here in Charlottetown has started to sell a very interesting array of kitchen appliances and tableware; and finally, Metro Credit Union in Charlotttetown continues to provide us with prompt, friendly and comprehensive financial services.