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HERE'S WHAT I'M THINKING: The times they are a-changin’

Being an incurable real-estate junkie, I check the major sites almost daily, concentrating on new listings.

It’s a time to daydream about moving my family into a spectacular waterfront home, where we’d live happily ever after, without a care in the world.

And among the painfully obvious attempts by some listing agents to make their properties sound more appealing than they actually are – they’re pushing dreams, after all – one listing stood out.

The listing’s wording made me realize how times have changed since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embarked on his “sunny ways” campaign, which many pundits believe has morphed into stormy days.

Offered for sale is a 93-acre Annapolis Valley farm, complete with Victorian house and seven barns.

The agent includes in the listing description a notation that the farm’s “previous uses were crop farming and cattle,” and that “potential uses could be vineyard or marijuana.”

This is the first time I’ve seen the potential to grow marijuana crops advertised openly in a property listing.

Cheech and Chong would undoubtedly be puffing out a dense cloud in appreciation of that possibility.

Bob Dylan was right. Indeed, the times they are a-changin’.

Worst type of theft

Last month the RCMP responded to a report of the theft of carpentry tools, ladders, generators and related equipment from a utility trailer that had been parked overnight at a cottage lot in Pictou County.

When the trailer was located, it was empty. The missing tools and equipment are valued at about $30,000.

The cretins stole more than tools, they robbed some tradesperson of his or her ability to earn a living.

Now the owner of the tools will have to deal with the insurance company, spend hard-earned money on the purchase of new tools, and try to make up wages lost on the time spent dealing with this nightmare.

And a familiar tool is like an extension of a tradesperson’s hand. It takes time to get used to a new tool.

The impact will be felt by the tradesperson’s family – financially and emotionally – and by clients who must now wait for their new construction or renovation projects to be started or completed.

These types of thieves are the worst, and they should be dealt with harshly by the courts when they are arrested, charged and convicted. Maybe even five minutes in a locked room with a burly framing crew.

Help make roadways safe

Ninety-nine is the memorable now-retired number once worn by hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

Not so great if you are one of the 99 Nova Scotia drivers charged by the RCMP for impaired driving during April.

In fact, during the first four months of 2019, the RCMP charged 392 individuals with impaired driving in the province – 217 for impaired by alcohol, 35 for impaired by drug, 20 with refusal of a demand, and 120 for administrative suspensions (impaired but not over the limit).

Those numbers don’t include charges laid by the various municipal police forces in the province, or the unknown numbers of impaired drivers who somehow manage to elude the long arm of the law.

A conviction for driving impaired can result in heavy fines, suspension of driving privileges, even loss of employment if the job entails driving. And it’s a good way to get your name in the paper for all to see.

The penalties for being impaired by drug are exactly the same as being impaired by alcohol.

The RCMP reports there are approximately 250 members with training related to drug-impaired driving, 33 of them drug-recognition experts. There are also 427 breath technicians qualified to operate instruments that determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. So, detection is likely a certainty.

If you witness someone driving erratically or unsafely, and you suspect he or she might be impaired, take note of the licence plate number, then call 911. Let’s help to make our roadways safe for all motorists.

Quit using “game changer”

Is it just me, or is the over-used phrase “game changer” starting to annoy the heck out of you as well?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “game changer” as “a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.”

It seems every time I turn on the TV, someone is referring to something as a “game changer.” And I often read the phrase in newspapers and magazines, or hear it used in casual conversation – none of it to describe something that has changed significantly. It’s usually referencing something mundane and unremarkable.

A come-from-behind winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning (of a game) is a “game changer.”

So is a goal by Damon Severson with four-tenths of a second remaining in the third period (of a game), forcing an overtime period in which Mark Stone scores the winning goal for Team Canada.

And any cure for a disease can certainly be considered a “game changer,” as defined by Merriam-Webster.

What is definitely not a “game changer” is a deal on a new car, a sunbelt vacation or, wait for it, a mattress.

Yep, a mattress. In a TV ad, a spokesperson for a national retailer refers to his company’s newest mattress offering as a “game changer.” He even implores potential customers to take their relationships with their mattresses to the next level. Whatever could that mean? Let your imagination run wild.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Quit using “game changer.” At best, it’s a cringe-worthy phrase.

Peter Simpson is a veteran journalist and former chief executive officer who lives in a rural South Shore community. His often-provocative Here’s What I’m Thinking column appears monthly in the Breaker. He can be reached at peter_simpson@hotmail.com.

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