Skip to content
18.4 °Cforecast >
Mainly Sunny

My Ten cents' worth.

Winter It’s bright and sunny, today, and I suppose I should be outside enjoying it — perhaps cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (except, I don’t own any), or just going for a walk.


It’s bright and sunny, today, and I suppose I should be outside enjoying it — perhaps cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (except, I don’t own any), or just going for a walk.

Perhaps I should head down to Bellevue Park and take a few runs down the bum slide?

But… although warmer than this morning, it’s still somewhat cold out, and I prefer to be indoors and warm. So, I sit here glancing occasionally out the window, trying to gather my thoughts and create a new column.

Regular readers — and perhaps even occasional readers — will have noticed there have been considerable gaps between my columns over the past few months. My “reasons” tend to be more “excuses’ than anything else. 

While I have been busy on other things, the biggest “reason” has been chronic procrastination. In fact, I would have offered that as an explanation sooner, but… 

I will admit that I have started a few columns that never got finished; some because they were more rants than anything else, and either I came to my senses and abandoned them, or decided that it wasn’t a topic worthy of a thousand word missive.

In other cases I was somewhat compelled to write about a particular topic, but just couldn’t seem to pull enough material together.

Either way, here’s a few thoughts that have been rattling around in my head, lately.


Sunday would have been my mother’s 73rd birthday. I’m not sure how she would have felt about that. She embraced 50 with a true joie de vivre, much to my father’s dismay.

She even slapped a sticker on the back of the car that read FIFTY IS NIFTY.

Two years older than her, my father did not want their ages announced to the rest of the world.

I suspect that she would have treated 60 and 70 in much the same way… and facing 75 would likely not have been at all disheartening for her. She was one of the original “50 is the new 40” sort of person, and age was a badge of honour, for her.

It’s hard to believe that this year, in September, will mark 20 years since she passed away. November will mark the same anniversary for my father.

Of course, that gives me much pause for thought, as I am now in my 53rd year. While my health is not failing, and I have started trying to take better care of myself, cancer shows no mercy. Both of them were in reasonably good health, too, until struck by cancer in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

Penny for your thoughts

Today marks the day the penny is withdrawn from circulation in Canada.

I say, “YAY!”

I find I have too many pennies filling my pockets. My eyesight not being what it once was, if I do not have my reading glasses with me it is difficult to sort through a handful of coins to find the correct change to pay for a coffee.

What surprises me (or perhaps, it really isn’t that much of a surprise) is the reaction from some people, especially those convinced that retailers are going to be ripping-off customers.

Folks, even if retailers do not follow the rounding suggestions, and round everything up to the nearest nickel, you’ll only lose FOUR CENTS.

And that’s not four cents per item; rounding applies to the TOTAL only, and ONLY if you’re paying cash.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things, with (let’s say) 10,000 customers making purchases at Walmart in a typical day, that amounts to [drum roll] $400. Per day.

Yes, $400 IS a lot of money, to me or you. With the average purchase at Walmart being in the neighbourhood of $150, not so much. That’s $146,500 per year. The average annual store revenue is $16.5 million.

Of course, any increase in profit is welcome, but a retailer would have to be operating on the scale of Walmart to realize any significant increase.

Your local pizza place or corner store or coffee shop (even Timmie’s) isn’t going to make any significant gains by rounding up.

Some comments have me shaking my head. I recently read online (can’t recall where) where someone suggested that the government hold off “until everyone who was familiar with the ‘old system’ [with pennies] is gone.

Really? How does that make sense? We heard the same argument during the transition to the Metric System. Unfortunately, the government heeded that advice — or to an extent, anyway. We now have 391 ml cans of vegetables, and meat prices that are advertised in both pounds and kilograms.

I still hear people say they “can’t figure out the temperature thing.” That was thirty years ago.

The problem is that if the government waits, while we wait for everyone who knew how to count pennies to die, young people are being born and are learning to count and use money.

There will never be a point where “everyone” who knew the old way is gone, as has proven to be the case with the Metric System.

No, this is the best way. No more pennies; prices rounded for cash transactions. Get it over and done with.

Not to mention, it is saving us money. It costs $11 million per year to produce pennies, or 1.6¢ each. They are worth more melted down for their copper content (98%) than their face value.

Keep in mind that $11 million dollar expense is cumulative. Five years from now we will have saved $55 million.

And, as hoarded pennies are redeemed, some of the cost will be recovered.

People thinking of emptying their penny jars, take note: Canada’s currency laws state that you can only spend 25 coppers at a time. Don’t lug a bag full to the grocery store and expect to be allowed to count out 14,000 of them to pay for your purchase.

Even rolled, merchants are under no obligation to take more than 25. If you want to cash them in, head to the bank. And bring them rolled.

Winter driving

Yes, I know… I have mentioned this before, but…


Aside from obscuring your vision, and the visibility of your vehicle to other drivers, if you are pulling out from behind a snowbank with a foot-and-a-half (there’s that pre-metric hold-over) of snow on your roof, how will people see you coming?

I watched, recently, as a woman came to a stop behind a line of vehicles at a red light on Great Northern. The entire roof of her car was covered about 12 cm deep in snow. The moment her car stopped, all that snow slid forward and covered her windshield and hood.

Rather than get out and sweep it off, she merely turned her wipers on. The wipers struggled to shift the heavy, wet snow (it was the one warm day, last week), and she drove off looking through two portholes.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, many of our local streets are considerably narrowed by snowbanks. The City has been out almost every night cutting banks back, and in many cases removing them completely.

Still, many roads that would normally be two lanes in each direction are not, any longer. Goulais avenue, last week, had about 30 cm of the right lane showing, the rest being snowbank.

Also, lane markings have disappeared under the hard-pack. It would seem that too many drivers are not able to adequately estimate where the lanes might be.

Use a measure of caution when on the roads. Leave room for others. Take your time — take extra time, even — and get there safely. Expect intersections to be slippery, for stopping and starting-off. If you think “there’s time to pull out” and you’re relying on a quick start, wait for a better opportunity.

Bon Soo

As you will know, I am not big on “winter fun.” Still, Bon Soo is a great winter activity, very family-friendly AND (despite the grumblings of a few) very affordable. A $5 button gets you into a whole list of activities, most especially the bum slides.

I enjoyed the opening ceremony, more so than ever because Mustang Sally performed with alumni Johnee Rae Whalen. The kids did an fantastic job, especially given the temperatures that evening.

So, if you like winter, buy a button and take in some Bon Soo events. It is “the greatest snow on earth.” And really, whether you like winter or not, Bon Soo is something of which we, as Sault-ites, should be well and truly proud.


But… that’s just my opinion.