Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Ben Eoin Update

A spectator (as I’ve come to think of my readers) alerted me to the sale price of The Birches at Ben Eoin Country Inn — it sold for $675,000 early in 2018. I’ve updated this week’s Ben Eoin story to add this piece of information and to note the size of the property: 9.75 acres.

(Thank you, spectator.)


Miner vs Fisherman

Miner versus fisherman sounds like one of those choices a friend of mine tells me you’re never supposed to have to make, like Cary Grant vs. Jimmy Stewart (which, he says, you must formulate instead as Grant vs. Gregory Peck and Stewart vs. Henry Fonda, such that Grant and Stewart both win and all remains right with the world).

In fact, Miner vs. Fisherman may well be the Cape Breton equivalent of Grant vs. Stewart (other possibilities being Piper vs. Fiddler and Pork Pies vs Oatcakes).

But Miner vs. Fisherman is the choice we’re apparently being asked to make in Port Morien, where Cline Group subsidiary Kameron Collieries’ plans to barge Donkin coal have pitted the one against the other, prompting area fishermen to blockade the mine’s entrance last Tuesday.

I’ve got to do some research to come to grips with the fishermen’s claims that both seismic testing and coal dust pose a hazard to their livelihoods, but without cracking a book I can say that given Kameron’s record of safety violations, poor communication skills, bad-faith negotiations with the provincial government over a coal road (when all the while it was apparently planning to barge coal anyway), anti-union attitude and penchant for paying Americans more than Cape Bretoners, I’d put more trust in a bag full of garden snakes.

Donkin Mine VP Shannon Campbell apparently told the protesting fishermen on Tuesday:

I want to make sure things are safe first and it’s not safe here right now. I’m absolutely willing to go wherever you want to have a chat.

Which is pretty funny, given the mine’s aforementioned safety record, but perhaps road safety is more their thing.

And not only was Campbell willing to “go wherever” to have a chat, he declared himself, “happy to have that discussion with you all day long,” which I’m sure he is, especially if, while he’s “discussing” things with the fishermen, workers are getting on with their geotechnical drilling to determine whether they can build their marine port.

The very idea that Campbell has the authority to make things happen (or not happen) at the Donkin Mine stretches credulity like a high-level resistance band, anyway.

If I were a Port Morien fisherman, I’d have been sorely tempted to tell him to talk to the claw…


McMansion Hell

Did you see that ridiculous Cape Breton Post feature on the island’s “most luxurious real estate listings?” The online version doesn’t do it justice — you really have to see the freaking two-page, full-color spread in the print version. I searched in vain for the “sponsored content” caveat but it was nowhere to be found — this is actual editorial content:

There is a silver lining to this glorified real estate listings page, which is that it sent me galloping to one of my favorite blogs — McMansion Hell — to help me understand what was wrong with these pictures.

If you are not familiar with McMansion Hell, you really need to be — its author, Kate Wagner, has a Masters of Arts in Audio Science, specializing in architectural acoustics, from Johns Hopkins and she uses her architectural knowledge to “educate the masses about architectural concepts, urban planning, environmentalism and history by making examples out of the places we love to hate the most: the suburbs.”

(You can get a good idea of the flavor of the blog by reading her recent dissection of US Education Secretary and Amway heiress Betsy DeVos’s McMansion.)

By McMansions Hell standards, Cape Breton’s “most luxurious” properties are not particularly offensive, but I did note a few classic McMansion characteristics — oversized dormers, poor overall balance, weird rooflines and strange interior nooks and crannies. (And if you’re wondering if I get satisfaction in finding fault with houses I would never in three life times be able to afford, the answer is, “Yes, I do.”)

Of course, architectural beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so presumably these houses will find buyers. And when they do, I hope the Post gets its commission.


Help Wanted

Here’s Corey Doucet, co-owner and bar manager of Le Gabriel in Cheticamp, telling the Cape Breton Post about the millennial work ethic:

“People think there’s no work in small towns but there is lots of work. Sometimes I think people are just lazier,” he said.

“The young people don’t want to do the hard work, hard labour work. They just want to stay on their phones.”

Has there been a generation that hasn’t felt the generation succeeding it was “lazy” and afraid of “hard labor?” There was probably a Doucet in Cheticamp in 1790 complaining that the young people didn’t want to work, they just wanted to lie around writing to each other with their fancy quill pens.

I was trying to formulate a response to Doucet when I ran across this Lifehack article, “8 Reasons Millennials Seem to Be Lazy at Work” that kind of says it all. I particularly like these points:

Millennials want to combine their passion with profit and work long hours on projects they feel passionate about, rather than helping someone else reach their profit benchmark.

They want a job with a purpose and to do something meaningful in life.

They are more attracted by intangible benefits like a friendly work culture, a lack of micromanagement and bureaucracy, sabbaticals, and more, along with some more palpable perks like a cool office space, permission to bring pets to work, or wellness benefits.

There’s a time I would have read that and thought that millennials were clearly “entitled” and “spoiled” because I certainly didn’t expect to find work I loved or that was meaningful in a work place I enjoyed when I was young.

But now I think, are millennials entitled and spoiled…or was I just stupid?

Did I just buy a bill of goods about how “working hard” for low pay and somebody else’s benefit made you an upstanding, contributing member of society? (And at least “in my day” your summer earnings could go a decent way toward covering your university costs, not so today.)

The business pages laud the self-starters and entrepreneurs who establish their dream tourist operations but rarely acknowledge that those “dreams” are built upon people who are willing to work seasonal, low-wage, no-benefits jobs with little chance of advancement or training, no autonomy to speak of and — lately, it seems — no affordable living options. In other words, people who have either forgotten their own dreams or have put them on hold.

Maybe millennials just aren’t willing to do that. Maybe they’ve got that tempus fugit thing figured out already. Maybe they’re going to find a better way. I think I’m team millennial.

Also, this: