Thursday, December 23, 2010

Give the gift of strangeness

Don't know what to buy for the person who has everything?
Fear not, there is no shortage of 'interesting' and 'unique' gifts out there.
In other words, there is some seriously bizarre stuff that would make the ideal Christmas gift ñ particularly for someone who is half a sandwich short of a picnic basket.
An Internet search for gifts will take you from the mundane and boring to the weird and the what the hell is that?
There are odd gifts that still have a practical tone to them.
Take the electronic smell sniffer for example.
Parents can hold this gizmo near their baby's bottom and it will detect any odor Junior is emitting and let the operator of the contraption know when Scooter needs to be changed.
When my children were in diapers I had a similar device, but this one was more environmentally friendly as it did not need batteries that would eventually end up in the land fill.
It was called my nose. Not only is it organic, but it is free and it worked great, just as it has since the beginning of time.
Mr. and Mrs. Neanderthal would simply pick up baby and the handy-dandy, built-in nose device would automatically detect when Neanderthal Junior needed a new fur diaper.
But that is not even close to the strangest stuff out there.
How about earrings? Most ladies appreciate a nice pair of earrings, right?
Tired of buying the Missus the same old diamond and gold ear danglers year after year? Well how about a nice pair of squirrel-feet earrings.
Yup, you read it right. Some sick puppy out there is marketing a set of earrings made with furry little squirrel feet. Thousands of years of humans walking this earth this is as far as some people have advanced.
There are cat and dog Buddha statues, but of course the atheists out there will still say there is no Dog.
Don't want to stir up a religious debate during a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ? No problem, there are many other gifts out there that will stir up all sorts of other things - like divorce proceedings should hubby decide to get them for the Missus.
One such item is a lovely USP desk vacuum cleaner, designed to get to those hard-to-reach spaces around the computer. Put the mini-vac in her stocking and give her a real vacuum under the tree and you will generate Christmas memories that will last for years to come.
Your divorce lawyer will also get a kick out of it (not to mention a big paycheque.)
Just for fun, how about a two-metre tall upside down Christmas tree. It could be a pretty good gag gift actually, because after a few adult beverages, an upside down tree could present some very interesting reactions.
Still not what you were looking for? Don't worry, there are plenty of options left in Santa's sack of goodies.
How about a handlebar mustache corkscrew wine opener? All I can say about this one is why? I'll let you know if I ever come up with an answer.
Not into facial hair utensils? How about a Hilary Clinton nut cracker? The most powerful woman in the free world has been turned into a nut-crushing device and I think I will leave that one alone. Too many comments and way too many ways to get in trouble.
Moving on. For the animal lover in your home, how about a book on cat butts?
Once again, you read correctly. Someone has taken the time to photograph and catalogue cat butts and put them all in a book so you can tell what kind of feline is walking away from you.
Once again the question why comes to mind and once again, I have no answer, but I do hope I have provided at lease a few ideas for that hard-to-buy for person in your life.
At the very least, these gifts will give you something to talk about and they beat the heck out of another pair of socks.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pay me to play dead

Out of the blue one day, a buddy of mine said, “I have never seen a bird die of natural causes.”
I stopped dead in my tracks and thought about this for a moment and realized, neither had I.
Now every time I watch a bird fly past, I wait for it to clutch its chest, flip over and fall to the ground.
Other birds would rush to its side and try to do beak-to-beak resuscitation, but alas, it was natural causes that killed their fine feathered friend.
Perhaps low-fat worms could have made a difference, who knows.
I did see a bird get hit by a five-ton truck on the highway once. The bird flew in front of the truck box and went splat in an explosion of feathers. Not a natural death, but about as close as I have come.
Maybe the bird died of a heart attack when he saw the truck coming at him.
To this day I often think of my friend’s musing when ever I see a bird of any sort.
However, it was my mother-in-law who asked a question that haunts me the most.
We were watching a movie that had a brief scene of a guy who was killed in some manner or other.
The actor’s entire role was to lay on a gurney and look dead. Not too challenging a performance.
My mother-in-law said, “I wonder how much he got paid for that?”
Again I stopped and thought about this question, and now every single time I see some one playing a dead person I wonder how much they got paid.
I thought the bird thing was driving me crazy. Every time I watch CSI guess what I think?
That’s right, “How much did the dead guy get paid to be a dead guy?”
By now I am sure you have figured out I have waaaaay to much time on my hands and not nearly enough to think about, but still, I wonder what is the going rate to just lie there and not move?
Not a lot of range is required and just about anyone can do it.
“So what is my motivation?”
“Your motivation? You’re dead. Your motivation is to be dead.”
“Should I make a strange face when I’m dead? How about a look of anguish?”
“You’re dead. All we need is a look of being dead.”
“Hmmm, so you want me to look dead then?”
True, it is an acting job, but it would hardly jump off the pages of a resume.
“So tell me, what role did you play on CSI?”
“Well, do you remember the dead guy with the look of anguish on his face - that was me.”
“And how much did you get paid for that?”
I did a story on a company doing a commercial for a soft drink and they paid their extras $200 a day, even if they never set foot in front of the camera.
That’s pretty good money for doing nothing, almost like a management position with the government, only the manager slot involves more pay for less work.
So a dead guy would warrant at least that much, maybe more.
That’s pretty good money for just laying there doing nothing. With those qualifications, being appointed to the Senate is quite possible.
But the dead guy would probably make the politicians look bad because by comparison, he would be too motivated and active. The bar would be set too high.
“Mr. Speaker we have word that someone in the Senate is actually trying to accomplish something and we want it to stop immediately. Who is making us look bad you ask? That dead guy over there. Talk about an over achiever. He attends every single meeting. Pretty soon we will all be expected to attend meetings and that will seriously cut into our get-paid-while-doing-nothing time.”
I wonder how much a senator gets paid.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Me use English good

I probably shouldn’t admit this, having my own column and everything,
but I am hardly a master of the English language.
But I am sure many of you have figured that out already.
I readily admit there is a lot about my mother tongue I do not know.
In high school, English was a piece of cake, and if I had actually attended more than one or two classes a week, who knows what kind of grades I could have hauled in?
As it was, I got middle-of-the-pack grades even though I literally attended only half the classes. When test time came around, I would just walk in, do what I had to do, and walk out.
That would drive one buddy of mine crazier than a fat guy at a salad bar.
Shawn was a very smart guy and a whiz with computers, math, physics, chemistry and other topics I stayed well away from during my teen years. But when it came to English, he was like Mother Teresa in a bikini contest.
He just did not get it. He would study and take extra classes and would still get pretty much the same mark I would after I spent study hall watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
For some reason, our library had a copy of that goofy piece of British cinema, and it just happened to be my favourite of all the Python presentations.
So, instead of studying and driving hard for that A, a buddy and I would hide in the audio-visual room and watch The Grail, as it came to be known.
Meanwhile, Shawn was cracking the books, burning the midnight oil, working his butt off, digging deep, trying hard and all sorts of over-used cliches, while I was chortling at the antics of the goofs from the U.K.
I would then bang out whatever assignment I was supposed to be working on, hand it in and get a C-plus. Not spectacular, I admit, but at the time it was all good.
To this day, I could not tell you what a dangling participle is. I think I read somewhere it was the name of a 1970s-era porn star, or something like that anyway.
But, despite my lack of knowledge when it comes to those pesky technical terms, I always managed to bang out a decent sentence. And if I put enough sentences together, I would get a story.
My favourite part of English class by far was creative writing.
This happened on occasion, and basically it meant the teacher did not feel like
doing any real work that day, so we were told to just sit there and write whatever we wanted.
The teacher would kick back and relax with what I often suspected was a “special” coffee, if you know what I mean.
He would also tell us to write something or spend some time quietly reading while he stepped out for a minute.
The odd thing was, he always seemed a lot happier when he got back and was doused in aftershave.
You can draw your own conclusions as to how he spent his little break.
Not all my teachers were this way, but for some reason this English instructor seemed more a product of the 1960s than most.
I often wonder what kind of grades I would have achieved had I actually done, um, what’s it called? You know, that thing you do after school? Oh yeah, homework, that’s it.
I did more homework in two years of college than all those years of high school put together. Fortunately, the stupidity of youth is a passing phase – for most people anyway.
I did manage to graduate, and I even made the principal’s list one semester. But it was not exactly for having great grades.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting squished at squash

It would be comical if it wasn't so painful.
It started when a good friend of mine asked if I would like to go play squash sometime.
Having never played the game before in my life and not being too bright, I said "sure, why not."
As the day of the sports adventure neared, I was assaulted by a nasty cold and was forced to cancel - perhaps a warning that a day of squash would turn into a day of "that really, really hurts."
But paying no heed to the divine cautioning, we decided to reschedule the little competition.
We had the squash court thingy booked, my buddy, Bruce, had two rackets, I borrowed some of those stylish squash eye protectors and was ready to hit that stupid little blue ball around for 45 minutes or so.
The first game went well, and I even managed to score a point - one single point. But for my first time ever playing squash, that is not too bad.
Sure my buddy had already amassed eight points, but that one little point was enough to stave off defeat - until his next service and then it was game over.
I scored a whopping two points in the next game and could feel my squash prowess blossoming.
By the time we started the last game, I was a mad man possessed by the spirit of some long-dead famous squash player type guy.
I was zooming all over the court with lightning speed. OK, maybe zooming is a little to much. How about sprinting. Still too much. OK, how about lumbering as fast as I could in an effort to hit that stupid little blue ball. Much better.
But I was starting to get the hang of it. I played lots of tennis when I was a kid and then lots of raquetball as a teen, so the basic principles were the same - hit the stupid little ball.
The problem is, as I get older gravity seems to increase, slowing me down and making running a lot harder than it should ever be.
In the last game, Bruce and I were locked in a battle of monumental proportions, and much to everyones surprise, I actually managed to pull ahead by a single point.
That's when things went a tad wonky. You see, I am in the middle of my F years and while life may begin at 40, it does not begin without a closet full of painkillers, ointments and vitamin supplements.
Bruce is in his early 50s and is in great shape (for an "old guy" anyway.)
We both have several nagging injuries from our youth - who doesn't - and we were both afflicted with those injures in rapid succession.
I began the parade of pain when a bone spur started acting up in my heel. Can you say ouch? But having dealt with the boo-boo on many occasions I decided to push on and continue the contest.
Minutes later, on what would turn out to be the last play of the game, Bruce lunged for the stupid little ball, let out a weird groaning/wailing/grunting sound and hit the ground.
He lay there for a bit, making a funny noise and I thought he was simply goofing around as he often does.
But when he did not get up and began moaning about his back, I realized something was amiss so I hobbled over and found he really needed some help.
Eventually a staffer helped me to basically carry my friend to my van where I laid him in the back and drove him home.
It was quite a sight. I could barely walk and Bruce could not even stand on his own. The joys of getting older are plenty.
I got Bruce home safe and sound, and as he was using a pair of crutches to haul himself across the room he looked over his shoulder and said with all seriousness, "So, uh, same time next week."
Let me think about it and I will get back to you because it will take me at least a week to heal.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drunks is dumb

It was one of the lousiest jobs I have ever had, and I quickly realized it was not something I wanted to do for long.
But as a young man with bills to pay and no other way to pay them, I took a job working at a 24-hour convenience store.
Convenience stores are little supermarkets where you conveniently pay twice as much for a jug of milk as a real supermarket.
They are also a popular place for drunks to stop by for a snack after a hard night of drinking at the local alcohol establishment.
If police want to catch a lot of drunk drivers, they should set up outside of the parking lot after the bars close and they would get more drunks off the road than there are Elvis impersonators in Vegas.
Of course, I had the thrill of interacting with said booze hounds, which always made for an interesting shift.
When I first started at the store, we were instructed on how to do our job and what to do in case of problems.
"If you are being robbed, do not resist," said the manager.
"No, duuuh," was the only thing I could think of.
If someone came in demanding money, I doubt I would jump over the counter and try to take him down to save this massive corporation a few bucks.
Mind you they were paying me a whopping $4.50 an hour, but still, it was not quite enough to risk my life over.
The manager, who at more than 50 years of age still had a job that required he wear a name tag, went on about how to handle other situations, but they were just as obvious as the don't-tackle-the-bad-guy advice.
I worked a lot of night shifts at the store and saw lot of strange things, most of them involving those drunk people doing drunk things.
One particular night stands out.
It was around 3 a.m. and the bar rush crowd had already stumbled through the store, arms laden with items masquerading as food.
It would seem drunk people really don't care what they eat. As long as the plastic wrapping declares there is some sort of food product inside, they will buy it.
Anyway, I was alone in the store when a guy I knew walked in. And by walk, I mean he bounced off the outside window and a garbage bin before reaching the door, the operation of which baffled him.
Three times he pulled on the handle only to have the door hit his foot, bounce back and close. Eventually he mastered the mechanism and came into the store with half a case of adult beverages.
I asked him to leave the wobbly pops at the door, which he did without complaint. He then selected about a dozen bags of chips, several chocolate bars and a bottle of pop as his post party snack.
He brought the items to the till, rummaged through his pockets for cash and then promptly laid down in front of the counter and went to sleep.
That was a first for me actually.
I had seen scuffles, a girl freaking out on acid, more drunks than a family reunion and I even had a guy walk into the store wearing nothing but a very short, denim skirt, but someone going nighty-night in the middle of the aisle was a new one.
I tried to shake him awake, but he would have none of that. Then I put a sale sticker on him hoping someone would want a plump, drunk guy, but had no takers.
Eventually I called the constabulary and they poured him into the back of a police cruiser and took him home.
It was mighty nice of the officer to do that I thought, instead of taking him to the tank.
That shift gave me a rather odd story to tell, and a few free wobbly pops which I put in the cooler until my shift was over.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kids these days

It can't be because I am getting older.
People are just doing things at a much younger age than they used to.
At least, that is the lie I am telling myself.
I had the thrill of going to the dentist the other day for a fun and exciting root canal - two words which conjure up images of drills, big ass needles and more drills - only to have someone younger than my car do the job.
When the dentist first walked in, for a moment I thought it was Take Your Kid to Work Day and I patiently waited for his mom or dad to walk in and tell him to stop playing with the shiny tools.
This guy did not look old enough to vote, let alone perform a medical procedure on my teeth.
Once he began talking about what he was going to do and how it was going of be done, I started to feel a little more at ease. He seemed to know what he was doing.
Mind you, people said the same thing about George W. Bush his first few years in office and we all know how that turned out.
But as Dr. Whizkid began to do his stuff I relaxed a little - if that is possible when you have signed up for a root canal. It's kind of like trying to eat soup on a roller coaster - it just isn't going to happen.
I did find it rather strange that instead of pens in his shirt pocket he had crayons, but I let it slide.
When I left the dentist's office I half expected to see a Mattel Big Wheel sitting in one of the parking spots where his BMW will be - once he is old enough to drive that is.
I kid of course. He turned out to be a really good dentist (even though his mom still had to help him across the street).
He was as good as any dentist I have seen, he was just very young, or perhaps it was I who was getting old?
Nah, he was young, that's it.
He must have been some sort of kid genius or something. Perhaps he finished elementary school while he was still in the womb, then graduated high school a week after he was potty trained and graduated from dentist school a few years after that, turning his fascination with small drills and teeth into a career.
I know I am getting older, everyone is, but how can someone who looks barely old enough to wear big boy underwear be a full fledged dentist?
He had a dental school diploma and everything. I was going to stick with the child-prodigy theory, but as I started looking around, I realized Dr. Whizkid is the norm, rather than the exception.
Take the police example. I can remember when cops were much older. I recently went through a road block and was asked, "Have you had anything to drink tonight, sir?"
His voice cracked twice during that short sentence.
I almost wanted to say, "Oooh, aren't you cute in your little uniform" before reaching through the window and pinching his cheek. I didn't, because I may be dumb, but I am not that dumb.
I had not been drinking, but I was still a little nervous because under the new laws if you even drive past a liquor store or a pub you are at risk for some sort of punishment.
Stores are also hiring children nowadays as well. Where are the child-slavery laws? Shouldn't these tykes should be at home playing with dolls or Hot Wheels, instead of in the work force?
If these kids get any younger, instead of a lunch break they will have to have nap time.
Which would be odd because I am no where near being a youngster and I could sure go for nap time each afternoon. I tried to convince the boss such a perk would boost performance, but he did not buy it.
Perhaps if I had a really young boss I could bribe him with candy or something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crossing the room is cool


I will always remember it as one of the greatest moments in my personal hockey history.

It was not a Stanley Cup and I didn’t score the championship-winning goal with one second left on the clock.

No, it was nothing quite so glorious. 

It was a minor thing that I would guess no one else even noticed happened.

It was the day I got to cross the room.

I was 16 years old and had been playing the greatest game ever created by God for about four years.

I was always a first- or second-line player, and being a defenseman I was always on special teams. I would like to say it was because of my amazing skill, but it was more likely attributed to a lack of defensemen in the league.

I was never one of the elite, until that fateful day.

In the hierarchy of the dressing room, the really good players sat on one side of the room, the middle-of-the-road players (that’s me) sat in another area while the bottom feeders sat in a sort of dressing room purgatory where they could quietly chat among themselves.

They were usually kept separate from the better players so their suckiness didn’t rub off and cause a super-jock to become an on-ice weenie.

It was not a planned separation, but one that occurs naturally in the wild. 

Have you ever watched a nature special and seen that one lone lion sitting a few feet from the others? Well, that is the third-string lion. That is the lion that is called upon when all the other lions are too tired to play another shift and chase down a gazelle, or a tourist or whatever.

The lion was not told to go there, but knew that was where it belonged. It’s the same thing in the dressing room.

Anyway, it was about half-way through the season and I was heading to my designated spot on the mediocre side of the room when the best player on the team summoned me.

I mean this guy was it. He was the top scorer on the team, in the top five of the league, team captain, and all around swell guy.

“Hey, Darren, why don’t you sit over here?”

He said this from the super-jock side of the room and motioned to an empty space on the long, wood bench. I had fantasized about sitting on that bench and sometimes, if I was the first one on the change room, I would actually sit there for a second before scampering to the so-so player section.

But here I was, me, a lowly D-man who averaged only a handful of goals a year being called to sit with the best our team had to offer.

Needless to say I accepted the invite. I grabbed my gear and headed to the ‘good’ side while the rest of the players watched.

The mediocre players swelled with pride as they watched one of their own take the next step in the hierarchy of hockey.

The bottom feeders did what they always did – found a shiny object to keep themselves amused.

“Hah, so long losers. I’ll be seeing you from the top of the mountain.”

I didn’t actually say that of course. Instead I sat down, looked around and the world seemed a much better place.

I also remember that game because it was in the second period when my hockey days nearly came to an end.

This was before they had automatic icing whistles and I was racing a guy to the puck when a little tug by his stick 20 feet from the boards threw me off balance and I went into the boards knees first.

I remember hitting the boards and then watching as the play headed the other way. I tried to get up but for some reason my legs just wouldn’t work.

I remember laying on the ice thinking, “That’s odd. They were working when I got here.”

The coach came running out and some of the players gathered around and helped me to my feet.

As is tradition, everyone started to cheer when I got up.

It doesn’t matter what shape the player is in, the fans will cheer when he is taken off the ice. If he is in a stretcher they cheer as he is wheeled away.

The player could be hauled off in two separate bags and people would still cheer.

Fans would be yelling, “Way to get decapitated. Good effort.”

Meanwhile the coach is screaming, “Walk it off, walk it off. OK, Johnson you’re in.”

And that is exactly what my coach told me to do - walk it off. Being young and not too bright, I was never one to buy into the whole ‘give your self time to heal’ thing.

I finished the game and then went dirt biking that afternoon.

C’mon, I was 16 and indestructible. My knees were a little stiff the next day, but not sore enough to cause any concerns.

Of course, now at middle age, if a stiff wind hits my knees I hobble like Quasimodo for the rest of the day.

Walk it off? How about I sit it off in front of the TV or something, that is more my pace.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fish food for hounds

It was supposed to be a pleasant trip to a provincial park to watch the salmon run, but it morphed into a journey of horror and disgust.
Well, more disgust than horror.
The biggest salmon run in 100 years happened this fall, much to the surprise of 'experts' who never saw it coming.
How do you not see millions and millions of great, big fish? Sure it's a big ocean, but aren't these guys supposed to be the authorities on this type of thing?
The ability to keep an eye on the fish should be part of the skill set for a job where one of your main tasks is keeping an eye on the fish.
Anyway, millions of the gilled swimmers made their way up area waterways to spawn and continue the cycle of life. Reproducing for humans is quite easy in comparison. Some flowers, a few drinks, take the wife to dinner and viola procreation is well on its way.
These fish have to swim hundreds of miles - up stream the entire way - just to reproduce, but I bet if man was required to do the same thing, swimming would be a national obsession.
Anyway, we loaded up the van, and headed to a river that was literally overflowing with bright, red salmon.
It was an impressive sight and was fascinating to watch.
Because the area we were heading to was a wooded park, we decided to bring the family hound for a walk and give him the chance to pee on trees he had never peed on before.
We strolled along the banks of the river while the mutt pulled at his leash and tried to sniff and pee on just about everything he could reach.
Then he spotted dog Nirvana - a giant, rotting fish at the water's edge.
He immediately tried to roll in it. Why do dogs do that? A cat would never roll in something that smells that foul, nor would most people I know, but to a dog, a rotting carcass is too great a prize to ignore.
He almost made it too, but a quick tug of the leash saved us all from a nasty ride home.
That's not so disgusting you may be thinking. Wait for it, when it comes to a young, energetic dog and dead creatures there is no other option than a disgusting outcome.
We managed to keep the hound away from a few rotting fish, but somewhere along the line he managed to eat a small piece of said fish.
OK, now we are getting into the disgusting area I was mentioning earlier. Rolling in it is bad enough, but why in the name of all that is holy would you want to eat something like that?
Dogs truly have no barriers when it comes to their culinary cravings.
Nobody actually saw him eat the piece of fish. It wasn't until he barfed it out that we learned of the riverside snack. C'mon, you knew it was coming, and I did warn you it was rather disgusting.
Forever seared in my memory is the image of a foaming pile of dog upchuck the beast deposited smack in the middle of a busy trail.
With dozens of people watching, we tried to figure out what to do. I had a doggy bag, but there was no way it was going to work on the pile o' barf, and we knew we could not leave it there, so my wife stepped up, grabbed a stick and pushed it off to the side of the trail.
My wife has been an RN for more than 23 years and has seen some really gross stuff over those years, so she has built up an amazing immunity to stuff that makes me want to join the dog in a barf fest.
Often she will ask, "Do you want to know what I did at work today."
The answer is always, "NO, I do not."
While I did everything possible not to look, my lovely wife took care of the incident without so much as a change in facial expression.
Once the pile of goo was cleared out of the way, we headed back to the van with a story to tell of a river full of fish and yet another reason why I do not let dogs lick me - ever.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just call me grandpappy

I had a brief look into the future the other day.
No, I was not staring at a crystal ball or paid the great 'psychic' Imafullanonesense to tell me what my life will be like when I am older, instead, this glimpse into what is to come was delivered through the school system.
And I have to admit, I rather enjoyed it.
Junior is in Grade 9 and the other day he was handed a baby (a plastic, computerized baby) to take care of for a day.
The baby would cry, be fussy, make noise and even need diaper changes and Junior had to look after the electronic bundle of joy for 18 whole hours, but by the end, I think he gained at least a slight idea of what caring for a little one is all about.
When I came home from work, Junior was sitting at the laptop trying to play Farmville with one hand while rocking the fussy baby with the other.
I could not stop smiling.
"So Junior, how is parenthood going? Having fun?"
"Not really, I can't get her to be quiet."
More smiling.
"The baby is a little fussy, hmmmmm, that sounds familiar. Oh well, let me know how it works out for you."
I then went about making supper, all the while keeping an eye on Junior as he tended to the baby.
Even more smiling.
Junior realized very quickly this squeaky little thing was a lot of work. He could not walk away for a second before the little one starting making noise.
My cheeks still hurt from fall that smiling.
As my kids get close to the end of high school, it will only be a matter of time before they head to college, get married and have little ones of their own.
It is kind of hard to picture myself as grandpa.
My dad's dad was a grandpa and he was old. My dad is a grandpa and he is old, so when I become a grandpa that must mean I am...
Well, I guess I can be a young(ish) grandpa, can't I? Why not? I am sure there are many young grandparents out there, no matter what their birth certificate says, and I plan on being one of them.
When my parents became grandparents I noticed a change in attitude, especially with my dad.
This was not the same man who raised me.
Where were all the rules? Where were all the do's and don'ts?
Who is this man and what did he do with my father?
Case in point.
When Junior was around three years old, he went to the store with grandpa who was getting the morning newspaper.
Upon their return, I noticed Junior was eating something.
"Dad, you did not give Junior chocolate for breakfast?"
"Um, no, well, sort of, but the chocolate has milk in it and there is peanut butter filling as well, so technically, I gave him milk and peanut butter, nothing wrong with that."
Like I said, this is not the same man who raised me.
By watching your parents you learn how to be a parent, and now watching them as grandparents I am getting some idea of the joys of grandparenting.
Basically, the little ones are done on grandpa and grandma's terms.
Junior made a stinky? No problem, call mom and/or dad and they will take of it. Once the changing is complete, grandpappy steps in and takes over.
Kids are fussy, messy, or having a fit? No problem, call mom and/or dad and when the problem is resolved, step in and resume the role of grandpa and/or grandma.
No wonder kids love their grandparents to much. They feed them chocolate for breakfast, all they do is want to do is have fun and they very rarely enforce any of the rules.
I can hardly wait.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The correct answer is...


Do you ever get the feeling you are never going to get it right?

No matter how hard you try, the answer will always be wrong. 

OK, I should correct that with 'almost' always.

The question, "Does this make me look fat?" is always, without exception, answered with "No, of course not" which is the correct (and life-saving) answer.
Do not ever - even jokingly - answer, _The jeans don't make you look fat, but your ass sure does."

No matter how many blankets and pillows you have, the couch is just not a comfortable place to sleep.

But my wife does not ask that question very often, and when she does, she knows the answer she will get. 

The correct way to answer that question is universally known and it is likely the only time a pastor would tell a 'little white lie' rather than risk getting a 'little black eye.'

There are other answers that are not so easy to provide.

For example, my wife has asked me if something were to happen to her, would I remarry.

The first time she asked this question I answered, "Depends, are there going to be any hot chicks at the funeral."
Sometimes having a sense of humour can be hazardous to your health.

After calming the situation - and dodging several items thrown at me with the velocity of a major league pitcher - I decided on a different tact.

"Of course not, Sweety, you are the only woman for me - forever."

"Good because, if you do remarry I will come back and haunt you."

Actually, the little woman insisted I find another Mrs. H ñ after an appropriate time of mourning of course, like 30 or 40 years.

When I asked her the same question, a slight smile came across her face and her eyes glazed over as if she was envisioning a wonderland in some distant Nirvana.

"Um, er, ah, of course not, Sweety, you are the only man for me - forever."

Let's move on, shall we.

Another common question, "What are you thinking?"
Well, based on the last set of questions and answers I am thinking it might not be a good idea to have such a large life-insurance policy. It is not easy to sleep with one eye open.

My wife has said she would never divorce me, but hey, accidents happen and people strangle themselves in their sleep all the time.

"I don't know what happened, officer. I woke up and he had somehow smothered himself with his own pillow. It is strange for sure. Say, I noticed you are not wearing a wedding ring..."

I kid of course, I have been married for 22 years and they have been the best 15 years of my life.

But here's a little tip for all you ladies out there, if you ask the 'thinking' question and your significant other says ìnothing,î he means it.

It is actually possible for men to think about nothing. This has been scientifically proven. Why do you think NASCAR is so popular?

A man can sit and watch and think of nothing for hours on end, while still taking in a sporting event.

The real danger comes when the little woman wants her man to tell her how he is feeling.

Gentlemen, we're are in some tricky territory here.

I have learned it is important to tell her how you are feeling, but it is even more important to make sure how you are feeling is how she wants you to feel.

This is a vital skill every man should learn - trust me on this one.

I hope these little tips will help the male brethren out there, now if you will excuse me, I have a lot of nothing to think about.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Classmates of old

I recently took a trip down memory lane thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
I was checking out my Facebook account (at home, not at work or anything like that, because that would be against the rules and breaking the rules is wrong) and I noticed several friend requests from people I went to high school with.
Most of these people I have not even seen since the last century, so I decided not to add them to my list of friends.
I noticed one of my old classmates had close to 200 friends so, just for fun, I clicked on the little thingy that lets you see them all and I was transported back to the days of zits, cassettes and a head full of hair.
To be honest, I had forgotten most of these people even existed. As you may have guessed we were not real close in high school.
It was kind of interesting to see how everyone changed over the past couple of decades or so.
Like me, many have gained weight and lost hair - some have done more of each, some less.
One former classmate really caught my attention because back in 'the day' she was the hottest thing to ever walk down a hallway.
She was the girl all the guys talked about in our testosterone-fueled way of looking at life. Needless to say, very little of those conversations is fit to print in such a fine publication as this because, as has been proven by science, when teenage boys are not thinking about sex, it means they are dead.
That's one way to see if a 16-year-old, hormone-driven young man is alive - hold up a picture of a bikini-clad hottie and he will come out of a coma just to look at it.
Anyway, seeing a picture of the former lust of my life in her mid-40s seriously damaged my memories of her. She is now just slightly smaller than a VW Bug.
My, how things have changed.
There were people in there I had not thought of since graduation - some by choice, others because I just forgot about them.
Most of the jocks are now sporting spare tires large enough to fit a big rig and one of them even posted something along the lines of 'Hey do you remember the big football game when I...'
No, but I do remember a post-jock meathead who's glory days ended when he graduated high school and he is still talking about them more than 20 years later.
Some classmates still look really good - great shape, full head of hair, outstanding careers - I hate 'em.
But the vast majority have gone on to live regular type lives and simply blend in to society, but in high school they were the elite rulers - the best athletes, cutest girls or came from the richest families.
Back then it seemed so important to make the rep team in hockey, or the football or basketball team.
One guy who I hung around with for a while was a star hockey player. He lead the league in scoring several seasons and I must admit to some intimidation and jealousy towards him at the time.
The last time I saw him (which was about 10 years ago), he was a 300-pound, tub-of-goo booze hound trapped in a dead-end job with all the charm of a rectal polyp. All those goals he scored in minor hockey really did not mean a thing.
Many years ago, I realize it just is not that important to score a few goals, or get a touchdown.
But, back in high school, your entire life status was based on such silly standards. However, with age comes wisdom and the realization it really doesn't mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of life.
Too bad you have to be old to be wise.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to school rules

The TV commercial sums it up perfectly.
You know the one ñ well you parents out there know the one. 
It's the back-to-school commercial using the classic Christmas carol that goes “It's the most wonderful time of the year...”
Parents know what I am talking about and you can tell who the parents are because they are the ones who have been looking at the calender and smiling uncontrollably for the last week.
It is that wonderful season where the leaves are turning colour, the air is crisp and, most importantly, the kids are returning to that place of learning that not only offers increased education, but gives parents a much needed break.
Can you give me an “Amen.”
Depending on what grade your sproggs are in, school can mean freedom from the little ones for up to seven hours.
The song Dancing in the Streets also comes to mind.
You load the little ones up with their lunch and send them off (smiling all the way), or if you have teens like I do, you drag them out of bed and force them out the door (smiling all the way).
Either way, they are out of the house and you can then do that dancing I was talking about.
I am not much of a drinker, but a small glass of celebratory champagne always seems in order somehow. You watch them trudge down the sidewalk along with hundreds of other kids, all thinking about the summer past and how it went so fast.
Parents also think about the summer past, how it went so fast and how much you appreciate the fact it went so fast and it is now time to shuffle the kids off to the hallowed hallways of higher learning.
Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I enjoy spending time with them because I know they will soon outgrow their childhood home and move on. We had a good summer of family vacations, mini-road trips, camping and hitting the beach, but after two months of “family togetherness” a little “family separation” is a welcome break.
It is also needed. Separation makes the heart grow fonder, but how can I miss you if you don't go away.
The downside of back to school is the expense of getting all the kit they need these days.
As a youngster, my parents had to shell out their hard-earned cash for paper, pens, books and the usual trappings needed in the public school system.
Today, the request is not for more lined paper, but for a laptop powerful enough to operate the space shuttle. It also costs just slightly less than my first two cars ñ combined.
They “neeeed” the laptop. They cannot possibly attend school without it and they certainly cannot succeed with out it.
“What about the PC downstairs? That still works, doesn't it?”
“Barely. It is old, it is slow and I can't pack it around with me everywhere I go.”
“But, you can do your school work on it though, right?”
“Well, yes, but it is old and slow and I can't pack around with me every where I go. I neeeeed a laptop. You want me to do the best I can do, right, well, I neeeeed a laptop to do that.”
Good one kid, you are learning the art of parental manipulation and how to exploit the situation to best serve your wants. I guess they learn more than how to read and write in school.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go shopping for a laptop because, it would seem Junior “neeeds” one or he will wind up flunking out of school and living under a bridge somewhere all because I did not get a new computer machine thingy.
But I guess in an age of technology, a slide ruler and a multi-colour pen just isn't going to cut it any more. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sorry for speeding, but....

The excuses started forming the instant I saw him.
The 'him' to which I refer was a cop sitting on a little pull out road at the side of the highway. I was the guy in the little red car going slightly faster than what some official type decided was good for the motoring public.
I was not breaking the sound barrier or anything, but my speedometer did nudge past the legal 90 km/h allowed by that official type guy.
I am not totally sure how it happened. I do drive a Toyota, so maybe I could plead mechanical woes and deny the heightened speed was my fault.
Darn those Toyota engineers and their wonky gas pedals.
Anyway, I noticed the keeper of the peace sitting in his car as I zoomed past and I knew I had been had - caught red handed, or in this case, lead footed.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but my water broke and..."
OK, that one isn't gonna work.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but I think speed limits suck."
OK, not the best way to try and talk your way out of a ticket.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but I am late for work and if I am late one more time my cruel and heartless boss will fire me and my children will end up begging in the street. Please, kind and wise constable, think of the children. I beg of you, think of the children."
OK, that one might be a little over the top.
"Say, um, Mr. Policeman, uh, how many boxes of donuts will it take to make this whole thing go away?"
Definitely not the right approach.
Realizing arguing with a traffic cop who has you dead to rights is like trying to outrun a dog - it just isn't going to happen - I then switched to resignation mode.
I resigned myself to the fact I was going to get a speeding ticket, my first in many years.
There was a time in my youth when I had amassed enough tickets to wallpaper by bedroom - and not just one wall, but the entire room.
Back in 'the day' I didn't just have a lead foot, my entire right leg was made of the stuff because I just could not stay off the gas and personal interaction with the local law-enforcement community was the result.
I was not a bad guy or anything. I didn't drink, I didn't do drugs, but I did have a tendency to drive in a manner that was in conflict with rules set out by that official type guy I was talking about earlier.
But with age comes maturity, and with maturity comes a realization that the three minutes I save by speeding are not worth the fines and hassles of getting a ticket.
But on this particular day, I simply was not paying attention to how fast I was going - until I saw the Kojak with the Kodak on the side of the road, then my speed became the most important thing I could think of.
I saw the cop car and immediately looked at the speedometer to find I was going almost 20 km/h over the limit. Oops.
Realizing my sin against traffic laws, I slowed down and watched the cop car for those pretty little lights to come on, but they never did.
In fact, the cop did not even pull out of his hiding spot.
Hallelujah, more proof God loves me.
After a few seconds I began to relax. I also decided to keep a closer eye on how fast I was going, which was a good thing because the second cop I saw a couple of klicks down the road may not have been so forgiving, and besides, I was all out of donuts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gimme a call

Well, it finally happened.
After years of resisting, I finally caved and joined 'The Dark Side.'
That's right, I could resist the temptress no longer and I got a cell phone.
I picked it up at the beginning of the summer family vacation and before I was even aware of its evil powers, the electro-crack had a grip on me.
The first couple of days it was a novelty. I added my wife and children's numbers to the contact list and then went about playing with all the different things it can do.
Goofy texts were sent to my family and we all chortled over dad's new toy, his extremely poor texting abilities and his continual asking of "How do I do this...How do I do that...How do I do this again..."
I am a multi-finger typer (kind of a job requirement actually), but I am a single-finger texter, and not the usual finger I use to relay a long-distance message with non-verbal communication.
I use the pointer finger, that's the one next to the driving finger.
I got one of those slide phones where the little screen slides up to reveal a very tiny keyboard. I know where all the letters are, but for some reason my Shrek-like thumbs keep hitting at least two or three keys at once, leading to a message something like, "Hji, wehjat r we jhabving for supopoer?"
By using just the pointer the mistakes are minimized. They are still there, but there are fewer of them.
Before letting the pocket-sized vixen into my life, I was determined to not let it rule my waking moments. Before I became a bona fide cellphone owner, I used to scoff at and mock people who could not go 30 seconds without looking at the contraption to see if they missed anything over the last half a minute.
When I decided it was time to get a phone, I swore I would be its master, and not a slave to the glowing box.
I soon realized just how quickly one gives up to the demands of the digital mistress.
I had the phone about a week and was in an area without coverage.
"No problem," said I when I realized I could not send or receive anything. "I have only had it a week, and I survived for years without one, how tough can it be to go a couple of hours without getting or sending a text?"
Besides, it was a family vacation and my family was hiking down the same trail I was.
I was fine, until we got back into range and when I noticed someone else using their phone I dug mine out and with an anticipation just slightly less than the morning of Dec. 25, I checked to see if I had any messages.
It took a whole week for me to become addicted to the stupid thing. I am hoping it will be a novelty and wear off, but I...excuse me for a second.
Sorry about that. I thought I heard the sound of my phone vibrating, turns out it was just a bug flying by. Anyway, like I was saying, the obsessive compulsive desire to constantly check the phone will surely pass and I will use the device on the rare occasion that I...oops, hold on one more second.
Stupid buzzing bugs.
Soon after I got the phone, another problem developed when I was struck by a case of contact envy.
You see, I only had three contacts in my list, while other people had dozens.
This would not do. How could people get a hold of me without my number, not that I really cared mind you because I am not obsessed with my phone, but still we better exchange numbers in case there is an emergency or something.
I now have almost a dozen names in my contact list, but that is not nearly enough, or at least it wouldn't be if I cared that is.
So, if there is anyone out there who would like to give me a call, or send me a text you can do so at 250-867-5309.
Talk to ya soon.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pets are family - sort of

I would have to classify myself as an animal person.
I am not covered in fur or anything (especially on my head), but I have had a dog my entire life and do enjoy having a non-human around the homestead (mother-in-laws don't count).
We also currently have a cat, so furred beasts are something I like to have around, most of the time anyway.
We all know they are not human, but we often treat them like they are. While they eat gross things and clean themselves with their tongue, they still become members of the family.
Disgusting and annoying members of the family, but members none the less. Mind you, teenagers can also be disgusting and annoying, but with them you cannot just throw them outside because they will simply come back in. They will then proceed to eat everything in the fridge, before heading to the pantry for a post-lunch, pre-supper snack. Which, of course, is followed by the post-supper, pre-bedtime snack.
Anyway, I have to admit to talking to my pets like they could actually understand what I was saying. I wasn't asking their opinion on anything or expecting an answer, but a pet is a good "person" to tell how your day went or what is bothering you etc.
They don't talk back, you won't hurt their feelings and no matter what, they are always happy to see you.
That last part applies mainly to dogs. Cats are happy to see you if they are in the mood.
Dogs are one of the few living things on this planet that you can have their boy bits removed and they still greet you at the door.
Fish could care less no matter what is going on and a tarantula is not a pet - it is a stain on the carpet should it ever get out of its enclosure.
I am sure some may disagree, but in general, if it has scales, fangs, venom or the potential to kill me, I do not consider it a pet in the traditional sense of the word.
They are certainly not pets in the cuddly sense of the word.
I know people who have spiders, snakes and lizards, but the only critters I have ever had as pets is cats and dogs.
I have already admitted to talking to them, but that is about as far as I am willing to go to make them more "human."
I will not put clothing on an animal simply because it makes them look 'cute.'
Cats and dogs were born with all the clothing they need, and God already took care of the cute part, so additional help from me is not needed.
There are people who dress up their beasts just to be fashionable and I even saw a dachshund, a.k.a. a wiener dog, wearing a little leather jacket.
It was real leather, I kid you not.
Who in their right mind would spend that kind of money to buy a leather jacket for a dog? What's next, a little Harley Davidson for the mutt to ride around the backyard on?
I am not poking fun at people who do dress up their pets, well, actually I am. Sorry about that.
The amount of money people can spend to make their pet 'human-like' is mind boggling.
I just don't get it.
But dressing up a dog is not the most bizarre interaction people can have with their mutt. It is people who share food - like an ice cream cone - with their hound that is truly strange behaviour.
Why? I refer you to the whole dogs-clean-themselves-with-their-tongue information I provided earlier.
Dogs also eat a wide array of truly hideous items, so considering I do not even like it when a dog licks me, I doubt we will be sharing any food with the critter.
I will talk to the mutt, but I will not share a plate with him. You have to draw a line somewhere.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Too hot to handle


Springtime is my favourite time of year. 

The snow is a memory and the weather is warm, but not yet so hot as to cause people to spontaneously burst into flames.

I have to admit, I have never actually seen that happen, but if someone went up in a puff of smoke around mid-summer, it would not surprise me one bit.

In fact, I am amazed it has not happened already.

ì9-1-1, what's your emergency?î

ìMy friend just burst into flame while jogging.î

ìWell, it serves him right for jogging in July. Not even dogs are dumb enough to run in this weather. Have a nice day.î

As far as I am concerned there is never a need for the temperature to rise above 30 C. Anything more than that is just Mother Nature showing off.

But as we all know, there will be days this summer when 30 will be a welcome cool down from the merciless heat that can be summertime in the Okanagan.

I was born and raised in the B.C. Interior, so I am no stranger to hot weather. When I was a young lad the hotter it was, the more I liked it.

It could not be too hot. Now, however, as Father Time continues to slap me around, the heat is not nearly as enjoyable.

In fact, there are times when it can make me a little on the cranky side.

I read somewhere, or someone told me, or I overheard, the older you get, the harder it is for your body to tolerate the heat.

I can believe that. I find it especially true for my head. I am being blessed with the joys of hair loss. When I was a kid, I had a forehead, just like everyone else, but as the torturous grip of mid-life continues to choke the youth from my body, my hair line has receded to the point where I now have about a seven-head. I assume all of my hair will evacuate the premises entirely, leaving me with a 10-head and that little ring of hair around the back of my head that I will shave off and go au natural on top.

So how is being follicularly challenged impacted by the sun? Each summer I know how much hair I lost over the winter because that section of pasty white skin burns faster than the rest of my pasty white skin, thus giving indication of how much hair I no longer have.

I do still have hair, but it is now growing out of my ears.

The summer heat and blazing sun also helps to point out the tourists among us.

They are the folk from the frozen wilds of Alberta or Manitoba or where ever else the sun shines for only three weeks out of the year.

Tourists stand out from locals because they often travel in a pack ñ either of the family variety of the tour-bus type. True, local families often travel in packs as well, but somehow touristas stand out from the locals. Probably because they are glowing red from spending too much time in the Okanagan sun. 

It is like they have never heard of a sunburn and have no idea there is a way to prevent it.

For many tourists, the blast furnace is a novelty, an experience they do not generally get in Saskatchewan where summer starts somewhere around the second week of August and ends the third week. 

This year was a cool, somewhat rainy spring and early summer, but it looks like the big bright thing in the sky finally decided to show up. It was only a matter of time before that stifling heat broke through the clouds like a fat aunt hitting the buffet table at a family reunion.

According to the weather guys ñ who are just slightly more accurate than that stupid groundhog ñ things are going to be heating up the next few days. 

Considering this is the Okanagan, they may just get this prediction right.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Enough reality already


Where will it all end?

What eccentricity, oddity or just plain ol' weirdness will become the next reality TV show?

It seems there is a never-ending line of people who want the whole world to know of their ìlittle problems.î

The reality craze, which is obviously here to stay, started with Survivor, a show I have yet to actually watch. I have heard lots about it, but after watching about 20 minutes of it several years ago, I decided to vote myself off the island and I have never gone back.

But from that one-hour piece of 'reality' programming (like everyone looks like those bikini-clad, muscle-bound contestants) came thousands of hours of reality TV shows, and every day more are added.

There are shows on little people, very obese people, messy people, people with substance-abuse issues, and there are shows about people who simply do not know when to say enough is enough and have 200 children or so.

I do not watch a lot of TV, and I know of these shows mostly through osmosis. My wife enjoys the shows about obese people, and the latest reality craze, people who hoard.

We also watched a documentary about people in the Appalachian Mountains of Arkansas. Just the word Arkansas is enough to conjure up images of hill billies marrying their cousins, and the documentary was not too far off.

It would seem the mountain folk have a fondness for Mountain Dew ñ a heavily sugared and caffeine-laden drink they even put in baby bottles. The dentist said he has seen two year olds with cavities from drinking Mountain Dew.

My daughter likes the little people shows ñ of which there is a new one every hour ñ and shows about families with lots of kids ñ in which a new one is being born every hour.

There are also more obese people shows than you can shake a box of jelly donuts at.

It is only a matter of time before all of these reality shows come together into one big mix of strangeness.

I can see it now, a show about an obese little person with 15 kids who all drink Mountain Dew while hoarding everything they can get their hands on.

Of course, at least nine members of the family will have some sort of addiction issue, while the others will try to get on American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance.

It is as close to the perfect reality show as you can get. It has something for everyone.

Perhaps our freaky family can be dropped onto an island or something and they get to vote each other off, except in this case it would be a good thing so they can go home to their Mountain Dew, inbred dogs and cluttered homes.

Perhaps throw a couple of has been movie stars in there, can you say Lindsay Lohan, just to make things a little more lively.

It's kind of a stupid idea inside a stupid idea. In case you haven't guessed, I am not a huge fan of reality TV.

A lot of it should be called ìMy life is worse than yours and I am going on TV to prove it.î
But therein lies the lure of reality TV. Had a bad day at work, house is a little messy, just can't seem to shed those last few pounds, well turn on the tube and keep searching because you are pretty much guaranteed to find someone in a much worse situation than you are in.

After a while you may start to feel better about your own life. Perhaps reality TV does have a higher purpose on this rock in space ñ to make us feel better about our lives by showing us how crappy other people's lives are.

Not a great idea at all


Have you ever done something that seemed like a good idea at the time and then turned out to be a less-than-stellar plan?

Dumb question, I know.

Everyone, at some point in time, has done some bonehead move that in retrospect seemed too stupid to be plausible.

Look at 89 per cent of the decisions made by our national politicians ñ boneheads to the core.

I have noticed most cranial cramping occurs when the maker of the decision is of the younger set. Especially those in their teens and even into their early 20s, brain power and common sense is often over powered by  a sense of, ìC'mon, what could go wrong?î

What could go wrong? You could nearly set half the province on fire that's what.

Now before people start getting their knickers in a knot, we did not intentionally set the mountain on fire, it was just a miscue by some fireworks we had in our possession.

A buddy had a rocket-type firework that shot eight brightly coloured balls of fire high into the sky.

He had been hanging on to it for months and that warm August night seemed like the perfect time to send the pretty lights skyward in celebration of the fact we had fireworks. Other than that there was no real reason for the display.

Anyway, we picked a spot on top of a mountain and tied the festive pyrotechnics to a dead stump and stood back.

Before I continue, I would just like to say we were young enough to attempt the stunt, but old enough to have known better and the possibility of something going wrong did flutter through our little brains, but was quickly pushed aside by the desire to have some fun.

I looked at my buddy and for a brief moment was gripped with a dash of practical sense.

ìUh, dude, what if one of the flaming balls hits the ground.î
ìDon't worry about it. It will shoot 100 feet into the air. See, it says so right on the package.î

ìDuuuh,OK, I can't argue with that.î

A match was lit and placed at the fuse of the rocket. It sparked as it burned as if to announce festive merriment was on the way.

We watched the fuse sparkle as it entered the rocket and that's when things went a tad wrong. No, one of the fiery balls of colour did not ignite the tinder dry brush around us ñ we should have been so lucky.

When the fuse ignited the rocket it did not send eight colourful balls of flame skyward, instead it just exploded where it sat, sending eight colourful balls of flame in eight different directions.

If we had a brain between us we would have had some water handy ñ if we had a brain. We did have bottled liquid, but it was not water. 

After a fraction of a second of total and complete utter panic we took action and ran around like mad men stomping out the little colourful balls of flame.

It took a few minutes, but we got the flames out, all the while I was reminding my friend about my cautionary tale with a creative use of verbs and nouns (none of which are suitable for print.) We spent quite a while making sure every single ember was stomped into oblivion.

We then sat back, had a good laugh and vowed to never do something so stupid again ñ until the next time we were struck by a bright idea that is.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All hail The Tape


It is by far one of the greatest inventions ever created by the human race.

The automobile: handy, but hard on the environment.

The computer: a vital part of modern life but a real pain in the...

Those may be fine inventions that have helped human kind, but sitting very close to the top of the list is The Tape.

Men already know what tape I am talking about. There could be only one sticky item of which I speak and that is duct tape.

I can hear men throughout the Valley grunting their approval for the multi-talented creation that men, real men I might add, have embraced throughout the world.

I love The Tape.

I do not know how the world survived without it. Had they had a whole bunch of The Tape on Titanic, well, let's just say the movie would had to have a much different ending.

Instead of what's his name sinking to a frozen death, he would run around like a man possessed, taping up the hull saving the ship and the fair maiden.

What else on this planet other than The Tape could have pulled off such heroics. Nothing, that's what.

Your arm got cut off in an industrial accident? No problem, just grab The Tape, a few well-placed strips and it's as good as new.

The Tape also comes in a variety of colours, greatly increasing its applications to everything from fixing clothing (yes, I did close a rip in an old jacket  with The Tape one time) to holding the international space station together.

Is there no end to the marvels of the shiny wonder.

But even though there are more uses for The Tape than there are corrupt politicians, my wife still mocks one of man's greatest achievements.

I know, I don't understand it either. She just does not see the value of this invaluable aid to humanity.

Despite witnessing first-hand the prowess of The Tape, still she mocks.

Without The Tape, a return trip from Saskatoon would have been a disaster. It was in the spring and we had a van load of six people and enough luggage to trek across the Andes and back crammed into every nook and cranny the silver Mazda had.

I even put on a roof-top carrier because the teenage girl we were bringing back from Toon Town had as much luggage as the rest of us combined. She had a make-up box that was just slightly smaller than a pool table. Why she needed that much face goop is beyond me.

Anyway, we were heading down the No. 1 with a blistering wind crossing the road. The air was moving at approximately 3,000 km/h and the dust was so thick in spots it was a near, um, brown out I guess you would call it.

A big rig passed in the other direction and nearly ripped the lid off of the car top carrier. I remember looking in the rearview mirror and seeing all these bags of stuff bouncing down the road. It did not fully register those were our bags until I spotted one of my daughter's dollys in a green dress skip across the asphalt.

I laid on the breaks, pulled over and ran back to collect everything. We did not lose anything, but we still had hundreds of kilometres to drive with a car top carrier that had seen better times.

What to do, what to do? I only had to think for a few seconds before the answer became clear.

The Tape.

I grabbed a role of the silver-coloured saviour and wrapped it around the front of the carrier, thus sealing it from blowing open, thus saving the trip and the world, thus once again proving it is an invaluable addition to the human race.

Viva la Tape.

That was many years ago. The Missus still mocks, but for at least a few hours on that fateful day, The Tape rule supreme and even the little woman had to admit The Tape was a darned fine invention.


It's time for another addition of boneheads in the news.

No, it's not a round up of what is happening with our elected officials, but boneheads of the commoner variety.

Let's start with a bad guy in Oakland, Cali., who barricaded himself in his house prompting a lengthy standoff with members of the law enforcement community.

Nothing strange about that you say, well read on.

According to a news report, after firing 10 canisters of tear gas into the home, police discovered the man was standing next them shouting, ìPlease come out and give yourself up.î 

The man was arrested, but police ended up locking themselves in the holding cell while the man stood in the lobby.

The bozos in this next one are obvious.

A news agency reported ìAT&T fired president John Walter after nine months, saying he lacked intellectual leadership. He received a $26 million severance package. Perhaps it's not Walter who's lacking intelligence.î 

Perhaps? Wally is the smartest man in the room. I will be sending a resume to AT&T shortly and I would just like to let the executives know I will settle for a mere $10 million buy out. There, you have not even hired me and I have already saved you $16 million.

An Illinois man, pretending to have a gun, kidnapped a motorist and forced the driver to take him to two ATM machines where he withdrew money from his own account.

The man then forced the money onto the driver before demanding he be taken to the police station where he made a full statement. OK, that last bit is not true, but with someone this dumb it is almost believable.

Perhaps that bad-guy bozo is related to this next criminal mastermind.

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words: ìGive me all your money or I 'll shoot,î the man shouted, ìThat's not what I said.î

That story does not even need a punchline.

Closer to home, a woman in Vancouver was charged with assault for stabbing another woman in the ear with a potato peeler.

There is nothing a'peeling' about being stabbed in the ear, but you have to admit the choice of weapons was rather odd.

The stabbee received minor wounds and did not even have to go to the hospital, while the stabber was sent to jail and sentenced to peel potatoes for the next six months.

She was not done with her violent ways and her anger flared up once again resulting in her stabbing an ear of corn 18 times.

This last bozo is on what is supposed to be the good side of the law.

In the United States a big, strong police officer type Tasered a 72-year-old lady. I kid you not.

What, was she coming at him with a pair of knitting needles?

ìStay back Smokey, or I will knit one and pearl two your ass.î

Seriously, unless she pulled a 9 mm handgun from her girdle, is there really a need to hit her with a gazzillion volts of electricity.

I admit I do not know all the fine details of the incident, but from what I read Granny was copping an attitude and the defender of the peace decided to take her down.

The Texas officer pulled Granny over for speeding and a ìdiscussionî ensued. 

In his defence the officer did warn the little old lady five times he would Taser her if she did not calm down, which he then did, much to her surprise. 

I'm sorry, but I just do not see a 72-year-old woman as a threat to my personal safety, unless she has that loaded girdle we were talking about.

My mother-in-law is 72 and I could take her down by hitting her in the shoulder with a dry sponge.

How safe are the good people of Texas if one of their finest can't even handle a member of the Blue Hair Club without using a Taser?

It does not exactly warrant a sense of confidence.

Bad guys will be wearing T-shirts, 'If you think I'm dangerous, you should see my Nana.'