Brain Quest

Once upon a time, in a land beyond the beyond in Kansas, there lived a Scarecrow who was very sad because the space between its ears was stuffed with straw.

He felt himself unthinking
Oft found himself lamenting
If I only had a brain

With the thoughts I’d be thinkin’
I could be another Lincoln
If I only had a brain

My head I’d be scratchin’
My thoughts busy hatchin’
If I only
If I only had a brain

But the infamy of the behaviours of Abbotsford City Councils was so mind-boggling gargantuan that it spread into every tiny nook in the world, even into so tiny a cranny as the land beyond the beyond in Kansas.

The Scarecrow sat there listening as the crowds roared with laughter as the storyteller regaled them with tales of the energy and boundless activity with which Abbotsford City Council pursued their often calamitous, always ineffectual bungling.

“They keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?” questioned the Scarecrow. “That’s…that’s………….well…..insane!” opined the Scarecrow.

The Scarecrow’s statement serving as witness to the fact that even those without a brain can recognize the absurdity of repeating behaviour with counterproductive consequences over and over in the forlorn hope that next time, the very next time, the outcome will be positive.

“Deplorable!” stated the Scarecrow, “Don’t they ever use their brains???”

The sound of sheer disbelief in the Scarecrow’s voice had the audience roaring louder than every, helpless as tears rolled down their cheeks and some members of the audience rolling helplessly about on the floor.

A little while later, as the audience sat there dumbfounded while the story teller told of how Abbotsford City Council built a cement block with metal roof building to host displays of Art and Museum, the Scarecrow slipped outside as the audience murmured in wonder as to why you would build a Museum and Art Gallery where you cannot exactly control humidity and temperature.

As the Scarecrow stood looking up at the night sky, naming familiar stars and constellations, the door opened and a comely server stepped outside and looked at the Scarecrow asking “Are you all Right?”

“Yes,” replied the Scarecrow a touch of frustration in his voice, “it just seems so unfair that I don’t have a brain and have not been successful in my Quest to get a brain and here is Abbotsford City Council with so many councillors who have brains but do not use them.”

“Perhaps, if they are not using them, you could get a brain from one of the members of Abbotsford City Council. That way you would not only have a brain, but have a like new, never been used brain” said the server.

“There’s a thought” said the Scarecrow as they stepped back inside as the audience erupted in laughter at another story from the ‘Tales of the Misadventures of Abbotsford City Council’.

Well after the tavern had closed with the storyteller’s promise to return the next evening to tell more ‘Tales of the Misadventures of Abbotsford City Council’, in the period between the witching hour and dawn the Scarecrow jolted awake, dressed and stepped outside to gaze at the stars.

After stranding there quietly, looking up at the stars thinking, the Scarecrow nodded to himself and headed for one of the outbuildings on his property.

Late the next afternoon one of Scarecrow’s neighbours, heading into town early to ensure he did not miss a single solitary one of the storytellers ‘Tales of the Misadventures of Abbotsford City Council’, stopped and looked with wonder at the large balloon gently bobbing in the air at the end of the numerous tie-downs that held it to the ground.

“What’s up Scarecrow” inquired the neighbour, a large white rabbit as he pulled out his pocket watch to check the time as he muttered to himself ‘Don’t want to be late.”

“I’ve decided to head off to Abbotsford and see if one of the members of council who aren’t using their brain will give, trade or sell it to me” said the Scarecrow.

“Where did you get the balloon,” asked the White Rabbit as he anxiously checked the time on his pocket watch.

“From a University professor who dropped in not to long ago” said the Scarecrow.

“Where is the fire to make hot air?” asked the White Rabbit as he again checked his pocket patch for the time.

“There is no need for fire as this isn’t a hot air balloon” stated the Scarecrow who continued “Any Scarecrow with any straw between his ears knows that fire and a straw stuffed Scarecrow do not play well together.”

“Oh, it is a hydrogen balloon then?” asked the White Rabbit as he consulted his pocket watch to determine what time it was.

“Oh No,” the Scarecrow said. Then gently reminded the White Rabbit, who was again consulting his pocket watch, that hydrogen can explode in your face more violently than fire itself will.

“It’s a helium balloon. Helium is harder to obtain, but it makes for a much safer balloon, especially on a long flight” said the Scarecrow.

“Well, good luck and I will let others know you are away on a Quest for a brain” said the White Rabbit as he dropped his watch into his vest pocket and raced away muttering to himself “I’m late, I’m late, for a most important date.”

As the White Rabbit raced for the tavern and more ‘Tales of the Misadventures of Abbotsford City Council’, the Scarecrow checked his balloon to ensure he had packed all the supplies needed on his Quest.

Finding the balloon equipped with everything he thought necessary for his Quest, but not an ounce more, the Scarecrow cast off and floated away into the sky as he began his Quest for a Brain.


Days later as the balloon began its journey down the Fraser River to Abbotsford, the Scarecrow reflected, perhaps for the first time in his life, that there were some advantages to being stuffed with straw as he shivered, recalling the freezing cold of climbing up and over the mountains – even through a pass.

The strong steady winds blowing down the Fraser Valley to the Sea that had sped the Scarecrow’s journey towards Abbotsford died down with perfect timing and he found himself slowly drifting over Abbotsford, As he scratched his head, wondering where it would be best to land, he spotted the perfect place to land from the one picture of Abbotsford the storyteller had possessed – Fawlty Tower.



Scarecrow set the balloon down in the corner of a flat gravelled area beside a sign marked ICBC, quickly hopping out to get the balloon securely anchored. As excited as he was the Scarecrow carefully focused on making sure the balloon was secured and would be available for his return to his home in the land beyond the beyond in Kansas.

When he was finished he stood for a minute gazing at the building where he hoped to find one or all of those he had travelled so far to see. Then, with firm purpose in his stride he set off for Abbotsford City Hall’s Fawlty Tower.

Hours later as he was once again on the ground floor trying to get someone, anyone to acknowledge his existence the Scarecrow spun around as the loud clink of glass hitting glass sounded behind him. In front of him he saw a man emptying a bag of what appeared to be paper into a large blue container.

When he finished emptying the bag and deposited the bag in the blue container the man looked up, noticed Scarecrow looking at him, nodded his head to Scarecrow and stepped through a door and out of the building.

With a start Scarecrow darted after him and catching up to the man said “Excuse me, excuse me. Please I need your help.”

The man stopped in the shade of a tree, turned and after looking Scarecrow up and down said “What is it you need.”

“You can really see me?” asked the Scarecrow.

“I certainly hope I am really seeing you, talking to imaginary characters can be a rather tricky business” replied the man.

After a moments reflection “I can see how it could be” replied the Scarecrow. who then went on to say “I have been in that building for hours and it was like I was invisible or didn’t exist?”

Looking at Abbotsford’s City Hall the man replied “People in that building see only what they want to see. Things can be right in their face and if they do not want to see it – they don’t. If they don’t want to hear it they don’t. On those rare occasions, such as the provincial government offering money for housing and programs, when they can be and are forced to see what they do not want to see they ignore it and carry on as if it never happened.”

Just then a woman heading towards the building looked at the man and said “Still talking to invisible people are you” laughed and hastened on her way to Fawlty Tower.

“On the other hand,” continued the man, “they are superb at seeing what they want to see, particularly in the numerous cases where it does not exist except in their minds. They pay people and staff to write reports that purport to provide evidence for what they want to believe.”

When he got his mouth, which had dropped wide open as he listened to what the man was saying, closed and under control again Scarecrow stated firmly “That makes no sense!”

“I agree with you” said the man “as do may other people. But that seems to make no impression on council. It certainly hasn’t in anyway changed their behaviour. Seeing what they want to see council dismisses those who disagree with them; labelling anyone who disagrees with councils actions, no matter how blatantly wasteful of taxpayer dollars, as nay-sayers.”

“Members of council have no problem uttering nonsense. Or one hopes they don’t have trouble uttering nonsense since it is a rather scary thought that they don’t recognize they are uttering nonsense.”

“A few months ago council member Barkman voted against building the Housing First project the province was going to pay for because “We need housing now, not in two years.””

“Then council expects the homeless problem will be resolved before the housing project would be completed” questioned Scarecrow.

Quirking an eyebrow the man replied “No, they will still need housing then. The way council behaves in regard to homeless issues there will be a need for even more housing in two years.”

“But, but..” sputtered Scarecrow “Abbotsford won’t have any housing in two years because this Barkman voted not to have housing in two years because…..the city doesn’t have any housing now……… That is insane you know?”

“Certainly irrational.” said the man “But then one of the council members admitted his vote against building the housing was irrational, but that there were no rules that prevented him from voting irrationally if he chose.”

“Either nobody ever brought Aldous Huxley’s words “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” to their attention or Huxley’s words are another reality they refuse to see.”

“But the consequences!” said Scarecrow following his words up with the statement “By the way I am called Scarecrow.”

“That seems rather appropriate” said the man. “You can call me Wordsmith. Based on their behaviour most of council seems incapable of seeing or understanding the consequences of their actions. In the rare instances where they admit there were negative consequences council denies any responsibility for the consequences of their behaviours. Council has been known to blame the negative consequences on their ‘nay-sayers’, as though expressing doubt about the claims of council caused what council claimed would happen not to come true.”

Scarecrow’s mouth flapped open and closed a few times before he managed to get out “Bull…….um…..poppycock! What superstitious nonsense!”

“Uh uh” agreed Wordsmith.

”Even Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle doesn’t change the ridiculousness of blaming the negative consequences of your actions on people who said you are wrong” said Scarecrow.

“Especially as Heisenberg was speaking of events at a quantum level” commented Wordsmith.

After a period of comfortable silence Scarecrow asked “Did council really build the Great White Elephant?”

“Would you like to see it?” inquired Wordsmith.

At Scarecrows nod Wordsmith set off saying “My car is just over here.”

When they were underway in the ‘car’, Scarecrow asked “What makes it move?”

“There is a tank of fuel under the back of the car and a pump in that tank pumps fuel to the front of the car where it explodes when ignited. So you could say, if you wanted to be dramatic, that the car is powered by a continuous series of explosions.” Noticing the look of concern on Scarecrow’s face Wordsmith chuckled and continued “I did say if you wanted to be dramatic. The explosions take place in metal, steel, cylinders under controlled and timed conditions. The car is not going to suddenly burst into flames. We might not be as flammable as scarecrows but burns cause us extreme pain.”

When they got out of the car Scarecrow look at the tiny space they had parked in and said “This space seems pretty small for such a large building?”

“Actually,” replied Wordsmith “this parking lot belongs to the bars behind us there.  If you were to park here while the bars were open your car would be towed and it would cost you a rather large amount of money to get your car out of impound.”

“So you park in the lots on the other side of the Great White Elephant, the lots I spotted as we turned off the road out there and headed to this spot?” asked the Scarecrow.

“Only for about two months in the summer while, although the University of the Fraser Valley has summer school classes, there aren’t – relatively speaking – that many students on campus and you can find a parking space” explained Wordsmith. “During the rest of the year those parking lots are packed with students attending classes and finding even one empty parking space is a matter of luck and patience.”

“So even if you didn’t mind paying for parking you are not going to have much luck finding a parking spot.  Not to mention the fact the students’ union is very protective of the parking spaces and keeping them reserved for student use only.”

Looking at the Great White Elephant the Scarecrow turned to Wordsmith and said “That is a big building.  It must require hundreds…” “Thousands” interjected Wordsmith. “…of parking spaces when the building is in use?  What do they do?”

“Well” began Wordsmith, “The city has placed parking spaces, paid parking spaces, on some of the streets closest to this building – and in this case the term close does not mean near but within a kilometre or two.  For the price of a mere 3 kilometre stroll you can find free parking.”

“If you are unfortunate and are attending a well attended event on a night when there are lots of classes at the University you’re faced with the necessity of arriving by cab or parking at one of the shopping malls in the city from which you can catch a bus connection to the Great White Elephant.”

“Wow,” marvelled the Scarecrow “someone’s head must have rolled over such an obvious oversight, such a gigantic mistake.  How could the need for lots of parking for such a large building be overlooked?”

“It was not overlooked” stated the Wordsmith. “When city council first proposed putting the building at this location a number of citizens raised the question of where all the people Ab botsford City Council claimed would attend events at the building were supposed to park.  Council had planning staff create drawings of all the parking spaces the city could cram onto the roads in neighbourhoods around the arena and assured citizens that there would be no problem with parking.”

“Ironically, as a result of the spectacular failure of what is now called the Abbotsford Centre, one of the few things council proved to be correct about with their wild promises about Plan A, is the lack of serious parking challenges at the Abbotsford Centre.”

‘Nobody was held responsible or paid in anyway for building a venue to hold thousands of people without any parking?” questioned Scarecrow.

Laughing Wordsmith shook his head and said “No.”

“People were not upset about council building this place without any parking?” asked Scarecrow with amazement.

Sadly shaking his head Wordsmith said “No.  But that is not the truly amazing thing about citizens not being upset about how council handled this building.  If you go down the road to Langley you will find, sitting in the middle of acres of parking, an almost identical arena built at the same time.  From a taxpayer’s point of view the big difference between the two Arenas is that Abbotsford’s taxpayers paid 667% more than did Langley’s taxpayers – $100 million out of the pockets of Abbotsford’s taxpayers versus $15 million out of the pockets of Langley’s taxpayers.”

With a look of utter amazement on his face Scarecrow asked “Abbotsford’s taxpayers aren’t upset they paid almost 7 times as much as Langley’s taxpayers did for the same arena? How could they not be upset, furious?”

“I have no idea” replied Wordsmith a somewhat puzzled look on his face “but all members of council who ran in the last election got re-elected. Apparently Winston Churchill was more correct than he realized when he stated “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.””.

A quiet “Yowsers” was all Scarecrow could say followed quietly by: “What a massive visual monument to massive financial irresponsibility by council and massive taxpayer indifference.”

Smiling Wordsmith asked “Would you like to see another solid visual consequence of council’s behaviours?”

When Scarecrow nodded Wordsmith gestured to his car and they headed off. As they quietly and sedately rolled along Gladys heading from Essendene to South Fraser, Scarecrow’s eyes kept opening wider and wider and the expression on his face just grew more amazed.

“What…..How…….Why?” sputtered Scarecrow as they stopped and stepped out of the car to look along Gladys at all the homeless tents and camps.

As he looked sombrely along Gladys Wordsmith quietly said “This represents over ten years of consistent behaviour by council; ignoring what has been demonstrated to reduce homelessness elsewhere – or doing exactly the opposite. Ten years of refusing to hear the warnings or see the reality as the issue continued to grow and worsen.”

“Starting 18 -20 months ago council launched a major offensive against the homeless, who would return to their camps and find they had been visited by city workers and/or the police and their camp and belongings gone. The homeless had no choice but to leave their camps during the day in order to be able to eat and obtain water.”

“As the offensive continued the homeless began to clump together – that way someone could always be with their stuff and the camps began to migrate towards Gladys and the Salvation Army where they could get food, water, access to washrooms, hot coffee and a chance to warm up.”

“Remember,” said Wordsmith “the city began their offensive, their confiscation of everything but what the homeless had on their backs, during Winter when the cold and wet can kill you if you don’t have dry clothes or shelter.”

Glancing away from Gladys and at Wordsmith Scarecrow asked “City council really did attack the homeless with chicken manure?”

“I cannot say with certainty who among the mayor and councillors knew that the city was going to use chicken shit as a weapon against the homeless before the press firestorm – or if any of them knew.”

“Whether they knew of not is really moot since the use of chicken shit as a weapon to attack the homeless resulted from the policies and behaviours of the mayor and councillors. The fact council denies any responsibility is only to be expected given their refusal to accept any responsibility for the ultimate outcomes or consequences of their actions.”

“Just the other day Mayor Banman was complaining how the city did not have the resources to deal with homelessness, ignoring the fact that just a few months ago he and city council voted against accepting millions of dollars from the provincial government to build housing units and provide recovery services and supports.”

Glancing over at Scarecrow Wordsmith said “You know, in a very really sense council not only drove the homeless to Gladys avenue, they made sure the number of homeless in the city was sufficiently high that it became a problem and that herding them to Gladys created an irritating eyesore.”

Looking back along Gladys Scarecrow asked “What is going to happen?”

Looking back along Gladys Wordsmith sighed and said “If justice is served the mayor, council and city will lose their efforts in court to continue to discriminate against and persecute the homeless. The 2009 decision by the BC Court of Appeals concerning the homeless in Victoria will be applied to Abbotsford, who have not only failed to do anything about the provision of affordable housing but have actively blocked proposed affordable housing projects.”

“When the court upholds the right of the homeless, as a result of council’s decisions and behaviour, for the homeless to camp in any city park and tents go up around Mill Lake and the police are required – by law – to protect the right of the homeless to camp in city parks………..things may get a little messy as the brown stuff should hit the proverbial fan.”

Still looking along Gladys Scarecrow asked “What happened in Victoria after the court ruling?”

“Victoria, its politicians, municipal government and citizens were motivated to begin to address homelessness in a rational manner such as Housing First. At the long, long public meeting for people to be heard by council a letter from a RCMP officer about the numerous positive effects that results from Housing First and a rational approach to homelessness was read to council. Apparently the letter was something else Abbotsford City Council did not want to hear.”

Looking somewhat stunned Scarecrow said “No sensible, effective action will be taken about homelessness until it becomes a total disaster and/or the court enforces the rights the homeless have as Canadian citizens?”

Looking at Scarecrow Wordsmith stated simply “Apparently.”

“That ‘s Irrational, INSane, STUPID!” finished Scarecrow at the top of his lungs.

“It certainly is” agreed Wordsmith.

After several minutes of silence with them each lost in their own thoughts Wordsmith stirred and asked “Where would you like to go next?”

“Back to my balloon” growled Scarecrow.

As they climbed out of the car beside Scarecrows balloon Wordsmith stated “I thought your plan was to talk to members of council to see if you could get one of the brains they were not using.”

Shaking his head fiercely Scarecrow replied “I don’t know if their brains are unused or defective, but either way I don’t want anything to do with any brain associated with the behaviour and actions of your city council.”

“The straw between my ears may not be much but it would never have me behaving as irrationally or arrogantly as your municipal government does. It is Insane.”

Once all the preparations were made and Scarecrow was preparing to cast off and return to the land beyond the beyond in Kansas Wordsmith said:

‘It has been a pleasure to meet you, i regret you stay was not more enjoyable.”

“Here’s something to think about. It is not just about what is between your ears. It is whether, and how, you use what is between your ears. Thomas Edison’s name is synonymous with inventor and inventiveness. Yet Edison was not a big brain such as Einstein or Hawking who was and who is a brilliant theoretical physicist. But Edison used his brain to think; to think in a rational, logical, scientific manner.”

“When something didn’t work the way he wanted, he noted what didn’t work and tried something different. Edison didn’t call things that did not work the way he planned failures, he called them experiments. It took Edison something on the order of 999 experiments to invent the electric light bulb.”

“So Remember: it is not the size of the brain in the thought, but the size of the though in the brain that matters” finished Wordsmith with a hearty wave.

Waving joyfully Scarecrow shouted back “Good luck! I think you will need it.”

“You know it is lucky it was Edison who invented the light bulb, if it had been up to Abbotsford City Council to invent the lightbulb you would all still be sitting in the dark as council kept/keeps using the same materials for the filament over and over and over – expecting that the next light bulb would work and illuminate their darkness.”


I’ll unravel every riddle
For any individ’le

I’ll think of things I never thunk before
And then I’ll sit and think some more

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