Saturday, October 24, 2009

I know I'm next

I know it is just a matter of time.
Eventually it will get me, and I am not looking forward to it at all.
You see, I have three kids in school and that means every single bug that is running around the city will end up in my home.
I sort of feel like a condemned man: you know it's going to happen, there is no escaping it.
Currently two of the brood have some form of illness .
Junior No. 1 has the flu, not the throwing up until your spleen goes numb flu, but the chilly, achy, coughing, feeling crappy, I've-fallen-and-I-don't-want-to-get-up kind of flu.
That kind of flu I can live with actually. You may be out of commission for a few days, but it is the barfing-so-hard-your-hair-hurts flu I really hate, and I don't even have that much hair, well, not on my head anyway.
Junior No. 2 has a cold and sounds like a seal during mating season. His best friend has the same cold and the two hack and cough the day away, sometimes in perfect stereo, which means double the germs swirling around my home, with me in the bullseye.
Like I said, it is only a matter of time before one of the ailments strikes me down, and I hate being sick.
Of course the big concern right now is the swine flu, which also goes by the much-less gripping name of the H1N1.
I don't even know what H1N1 stands for, but I do know it is one nasty bug that I would rather avoid than play host to.
As far as I know the ailment named after a pig has not landed in my home and I hope it stays that way, but there is no shortage of viruses more than willing to pay us a visit.
And as flu and cold season gets into full swing, the germ incubator called school will be the first place the bugs head.
In an effort to combat the germ invasion, I use hand sanitizer by the gallon. It is almost to the point where I am pouring the stuff in an industrial-sized sprayer and hosing down the house. Just because I am destined to become ill doesn't mean I won't go down fighting.
Door knobs, once simply device used to open doors, have now become a thing of dread. I can't actually see all the little germs dancing around the brass surface, but they are there, waiting, always waiting.
And don't even get me started on the 'OK' button of an ATM machine. That is the one button everyone has to touch.
I know this is sounding rather Howard Hughes-ish, but the older I get, which I do every single day, the less I want to have a cold or a flu.
I am not running around in a sterilized suit or anything (but the thought has crossed my mind), I am just being cautious.
When I was younger, I could pretty much ignore a cold and just carried on as normal, but as Father Time continues to slap me around, colds seem a lot harder to tolerate.
The flu has always been a problem and has shut me down a few times, and with the swine making the rounds, one can never be too careful.
Fortunately I married a nurse, so medical expertise is close at hand.
“Honey, I don't know what's wrong with me. I think I have anthrax or the plague or something. My stomach is kind of burning and its making these weird rumbling sounds.”
“It's called being hungry, go get something to eat.”
“So I don't have dengue fever then? Are you sure? Maybe I have malaria. Is there malaria in the Okanagan? What if it's Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever? What will I do then?”Fortunately my wife is also very patient.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dogs don't need custumes

I had a good chuckle over it actually.
The 'it' I am referring to is Halloween costumes for dogs.
I saw a story on how people dress their dogs up for the annual candy gathering extravaganza, and I found the whole thing rather amusing in a you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me sort of way.
One lady even dresses her two pugs in different costumes year after year. One pug was brown, the other black, so their costumes matched accordingly.
There is professional help available for people who feel a need to dress their pooch up like a flower or super hero.
I know people dress their hounds in jackets, sweaters and even little booties, but at least these clothes have a functional purpose.
Bowser needs to be kept warm in the winter, so there is a valid reason.
But a Halloween costume for a hound? That I do not get – at all.
Sure, I will dress up my children and tell them to run around the darkened city streets soliciting candy from strangers, but I will not dress up a dog.
I have had a dog pretty much my entire life and I have never looked at it and thought, “You know what that dog needs? A frilly flower head piece with a matching skirt.”
But I tip my hat to whoever came up with this scam, er, I mean idea of Halloween costumes for pets.
And of course, there are many suckers, er, I mean pet owners out there who will shell out perfectly good money to make their perfectly good dog look perfectly ridiculous.
There are, of course, numerous outfits from movie stars to monsters to the flower ensemble I mentioned earlier.
The part I dislike the most about the whole Halloween pet costume gimmick is that I did not think of it.
It is like the guy who invented the Pet Rock. A genius through and through. Take a rock, paint it, glue a couple of eyes on it and - whamo – a millionaire is born. Like I said, brilliant.
And like the Pet Rock, costumes for animals are totally pointless. Unless you have taught your dog to ring a doorbell and hold a candy sack in its mouth what's the point of dressing them up.
“Oh, but they are so cute dressed up.”
I got news for ya, God already took care of the cute when it comes to dogs, they really don't need our help.
Surely there has to be something better to spend your money on.
Instead of getting Fluffy that Terminator outfit, maybe sponsor a child in Africa or something.
As you have already guessed, I am not dressing Murphy the Wonder Mutt in any sort of get up.
He will be celebrating Halloween as a little brown dog, which is perfect for him.
The last few Halloweens I have gone out as a middle-aged, pot-bellied, balding father of three, and I must admit, I have that costume down to perfection.
I did dress up as Cher a few years back, my wife was Sonny of course, and everyone agreed I was the ugliest woman they had ever seen, which suited me just fine.
Despite the fact I made Barbara Streisand look like a Florida beach hotty, everyone constantly tried to grab my ample bosom, which was fun until one of them popped, then I looked like a boob-clops, which is sort of like a cyclops only with one, well, you know.
As for the masquerading mutts, all of my friends have dogs and none of them dressed any of their critters up, which is one of the reasons we hang out together.
If I have offended anyone who enjoys putting Fido in a costume, sorry about that. Maybe you could dress the mutt up like a Ninja and it could exact some revenge, like pooping on my front lawn or something without being seen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Turn it down

You often hear people talk about the next generation and “Those young kids this” and “These kids that,” but really, teens and the older folk of the world have a lot in common.
For example, when I go to my parents for a visit, my dad has the TV just loud enough to cause your eardrums to bleed. This works OK for hockey games because it kind of adds to the feel of the event, but do we really need to hear the weather forecast at a volume typically reserved for screaming howler monkeys?
And my kids have the same volume issues as dear ol' dad. When I come home from work, the youngsters have the TV at roughly the same volume as a jet taking off.
My dad does it because 40 years on the railroad has damaged his hearing, and he is closing in on 80 so the old sound detectors don't work as well as they used to.
I have had the hearing of all my kids checked, and they are fine, but they still need to crank up the volume of the TV to the point where the walls vibrate.
“Could you turn that down a bit please?” is often the plea from me and my wife.
“But then I can't hear it,” is often the reply.
Can't hear it? The TV is so loud you can hear it in space.
The boob tube does eventually have its volume toned down. Sometimes it takes the threat of “Turn it down or turn it off,” but the volume does drop. I am not sure why they need it so loud.
I shouldn't be surprised really, because as a young lad I had a blistering loud stereo in my car.
This thing could be heard from at least three blocks away, and if you had the windows rolled up you were actually at risk for a brain hemorrhage from the vibration of the woofers.
It seemed cool at the time, but as I age I realize just how much damage I did to my eardrums.
The problem back then was AC/DC just did not sound right unless it was loud enough to make your spleen hurt. And what's the point of having a really loud stereo if you don't play your music really loud?
Loud noises just don't seem to bother youth.
It certainly did not bother me back in the day, which is kinda strange because your hearing is the most acute when you are young, but the louder the better was and still is the mantra of youth.
At a recent wedding I attended, everyone was having a good laugh at the antics of the bridal party as they played different games and did silly things with the bride and groom.
The room was full of several generations of family, but as soon as the music started for the dance, the older set took off like their Metamucil had just kicked in.
It was just a blur of blue hair and canes. It was like an old people stampede, only it was real easy to get out of the way.
Meanwhile the young ones whooped and hollered as the party kicked into high gear. After a couple of songs the middle aged set (that would be me) decided we had done enough partying for one night and headed for the hotel.
Besides, it was closing in on 10 p.m. almost my bed time.
The thing is, by watching my parents I know I am merely looking into the future. One day I too will be a little ol' man sitting in a easy chair, remote in hand wondering why these new TVs aren't loud enough to hear over all the noise the sleeping dog is making.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Waking up is hard to do

You know you are getting old when you hurt yourself sleeping.
How in the hell do you hurt yourself sleeping? All you are doing is lying there.
It is not too challenging a task. You lay down, you count sheep, listen to soothing music, read this column, whatever it takes to get you to Sleepyland.
Once sleep is achieved the hard part is over. Way to go, you accomplished your goal of not being awake. From that point all you have to do is lay there like a lump.
You might roll from side to side a little bit, but the activity is hardly enough to cause an injury, or at least it did not used to be.
The other day I woke up with a sore back. I tried to think of how I had acquired said pain and nothing came to mind. So, near as I could figure, I threw my back out sleeping.
How do you prevent that injury from happening? It's not like I can slow down the pace – I was asleep, the only thing slower than asleep is dead.
Maybe I should work with a personal trainer on how to sleep safely.
It is certainly a far cry from the days of my youth.
When I was a young lad not even getting run over by a dirt bike could slow me down.
I was coming around a corner at a rather excitable speed when I encountered two other dirt bikers doing the same thing in the opposite direction. We spotted each other at the same time and everyone scrambled not to hit each other.
I swerved left and went through the ditch before the front tire introduced itself to a rather large boulder. The rapid deceleration that followed applied only to the bike, as the rider, that would be me, kept moving forward at warp factor five.
I remember going over the handlebars and hitting the ground. I vaguely remember something bumping my shoulder and my helmet. That something was my motorcycle that had made it past the boulder and seemed intent on running me down – which it did.
I lay in the weeds for a second having a good laugh, but to those who saw the mishap it seemed I was having a seizure after being trounced by my own metal steed.
I got up to witness half a dozen people running toward me thinking I was a goner.
I assured my would-be rescuers I was fine and continued riding for the next couple of hours.
The next day I was a little stiff in one shoulder and had a few bruises, but was otherwise fine.
I also had a set of knobby tire tracks going across the back of helmet that was a source of conversation (and pride) for months to follow.
Now, it is all I can do to get out of bed after a vicious night's slumber.
You know you are getting old when sleeping becomes hazardous to your well being.
There is no safety apparatus available for those who suffer from sleep injury.
Perhaps that's why the prayer starts with 'Now I lay be down to sleep...' It is not just a prayer to God for sleep, it is a plea for physical well being while sleeping.
I think a slight variation is in order for us older folk.
“Now I lay be down to sleep, I pray I can rise when the alarm goes beep. If I should cramp before I wake, I pray the Lord my pain to take. If muscles knot and become tight, I pray that God will make it right, and should I die before I wake, well, at least I will not have to worry about waking up in pain. Amen.”