North American Math

The JEOPARDY! Final question for April 23, 2013 was: North America’s 3 mainland countries have a total of 91 states & provinces; Mexico has this many states.

You have 30 seconds.

I should note that only one of the contestants got this right.

Scores at the end of the Double Jeopardy! Round: Michael $21,800 , Laurel $22,400, Bill $8,700. But Michael and Laurel both bet big ($19,598 and $21,600, respectively), and guess incorrectly, while Bill bet it all, and got it right. Continue reading

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Casinos and power stations

RIGHT across the street from the Sheraton Inn where I stayed in Niagara Falls, NY late last month is this massive Seneca Niagara Casino. I assumed it’s run by the tribe, but I don’t have enough intellectual curiosity to find out. I just don’t enjoy being in them.

My late father, by contrast, LOVED the casinos; I went with him at least once in California. I got stuck waiting for a co-worker to lose $150 at Turning Stone, between Syracuse and Utica, NY.

Back in 1998, there was no casino on the US side of Niagara Falls, so one had to go to the Ontario, Canada side to play. Since there was little else to do, I went along. I was winning on a particular slot machine Continue reading

Coming back to America

Picture (c) 2013 by Sam Kandel. Taken 30 Apr 2013

All of our NYS Small Business Development Center offices across the state meet once a year. In late April, the locale was Niagara Falls, NY. I’d visited there a couple years ago with the family, but I had never had a chance to see the Falls from the Canadian side since we had our SBDC conference in NF in 1998. Back then, when a half dozen of us crossed back into the United States, I waved my passport, said, “They’re with me,” and the guy let us all through.

No more. Now when one crosses the border back into the United States, one ought to have a passport, or an enhanced driver’s license, available only in four states thus far – MI, NY, WA, VT) or other specialized forms.

Just before the trip, one of our business advisors e-mailed me that his passport had expired. Could he get into Canada? From all the anecdotal data – as opposed to the official position Continue reading

Let’s party like it’s 1812!


In 1976, there was this big bicentennial celebration of the United States’ Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Currently, the country is in the midst of the sesquicentennial of various events during the American Civil War.

But what is being planned for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, which started on June 18? I’ve heard nothing, quite possibly because almost no American understands exactly what the heck it was all about.
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D is for Dominion

When I was growing up, Canada was referred to as a dominion. It achieved that status, rather than as a colony, per the British North America Act of 1867: “Whereas the Provinces of Canada [i.e., Ontario and Quebec], Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom …shall form and be One Dominion under the Name of Canada; and on and after that Day those Three Provinces shall form and be One Dominion under that Name accordingly… Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 91: So Close

I have very little recollection of being in hotels or motels with my parents growing up. When we weren’t at home, we either tended to stay at friends’ or relatives’ homes, or in a tent on our regular camping trips. Did I ever mention that I HATED our camping trips?

My wife and I, though, have been on a number of trips in hotels and motels with Lydia. When she was a baby or a toddler, it was easy enough to get her to go to bed, and we could stay up watching TV or reading. Not so with a seven-year old, or at least our seven-year old. She wouldn’t go to bed until we went to bed; it was partly the light bothering her, she said, but it was more her not wanting to be left out of anything.
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Back in the USA

When we were leaving Peterborough, ON, we figured we ought to at least LOOK at the Peterborough Lift Lock. While we didn’t have time to take the cruise, we did investigate the location, including watching a 17-minute film about it. The lift lock looks like THIS.

Then we drove to the border. We had several choices, actually. We opted for the Ogdensburg crossing, based on the rumors Continue reading

The Olin International Family Reunion

For over 75 years, various branches of my mother-in-law’s family have gotten together for family reunions. But at some point, the Olin Family Society, founded in 1992, decided to have an international reunion every five years. In 1996, it was in Fargo, ND; in 2001, in Binghamton, NY, which we attended; and in 2006, in Pasco, WA, which we did not attend, because we thought taking a two-year old who didn’t travel well on a transcontinental flight as her first airline experience was a lousy idea for all concerned.

The Olins trace their lineage back to the late 17th century Continue reading

Eating in Canada

I read in our AAA guide that Toronto, Ontario, Canada is a city of over two million people, and with five million in the metro area, which is about one-seventh of the entire population of the country. There are over 100 languages spoken there, and we heard more than our fair share. So, with such a rich cultural diversity, why did we manage to eat at a Subway subs restaurant?

Part of it was convenience. Continue reading