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.'

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just call me...


What's in a name?

That question has been pondered for ages and it would seem what is in a name is whatever the other person hears.

I am the first to admit I am terrible at remembering names. There are people I have known on a casual basis for years, and for the life of me I cannot remember their names.

Having worked in newspaper for almost two decades, (ouch, when I put it like that it sounds painful) I have met a lot of people.

The problem is, I am often the only reporter they met that day so odds are they will remember who I am.

More than once I have had conversations with people and I have no idea who they are, but they seem to know me so we banter back and forth for a few minutes before we go our separate ways.

ìWho was that?î my wife would ask.

ìBeats the hell out of me,î was often the reply.

But if you throw out a few vague and general questions, you can engage the person on a somewhat personal level. Often, during the course of the chat, I will recall where I know the person from. I might not remember their name ñ actually odds are greatly in favour of not remembering their name ñ but at least I know where I have seen them before.

So I have no problem if people do not remember my name, because I understand all too well the brain can only hold so much information and individual names just don't seem to have their own files and therefore are not embedded in the gray matter.

It is when I tell someone my name and they get it wrong two seconds later that I don't get.

I know my last name can be a bit of a challenge and I have seen some impressive attempts at spelling it.

There have been numerous variations of my last name, but the worst attempt at spelling it I have ever come across was at a take out restaurant where the waitress wrote Pansch on the box.

Like I said, it can be a rather tricky name, but people also have trouble mastering my first name.

ìHi, I'm Darren.î

Simple, right. Easy name, easy to spell, pretty basic stuff.

ìHello Derek nice to meet you.î

ìNo, actually my name is Darren.î

ìOh, I am sorry Darrell.î

While talking to a receptionist on the phone recently I even spelled out my first name while leaving a message.

ìYes, that is D-A-R-R-E-N.î

ìOK, thank you very much Ed, I will give him the message.î

I have no idea how she came up with Ed, but that is who the person I was trying to get in touch with asked for when he called back.

ìI am looking for someone named Ed, but for some bizarre reason he spells his name D-A-R-R-E-N. Weird. Must be Gaelic or something.î

For several years now one of my neighbours has been calling me Dan, but it is really not his fault.

I was working on my car one day and was wearing a second-hand pair of coveralls that had the name tag 'Dan' so he assumed that was me.

Dan, Darren, close enough.

Believe me I have been called a lot worse than Dan. Besides, what is the protocol for something like that. For about four years he has been calling me Dan. I didn't correct him at first, because I thought maybe he was saying my name, but was just not very good at it.

When he went on vacation he asked if I could collect the mail etc. My neighbour left a note that read, ìDan, thanks for...î

The really strange part is before they left I gave him a business card with my name and contact information on it.

So guess what he called me when he got back? You guessed it ñ Dan.

He was probably wondering why I would give him someone else's business card. Oh well, what can ya do? 

This is Dan or Darell or Tyrell or something like that anyway saying have a good day.

Who's the real dummy?

I was walking the dog the other day and came to the conclusion he is not the brightest penny in the purse, because every time I take him for a walk he almost hangs himself he pulls on the leash so hard.
I am sure many dog people out there are mumbling something about how to train the beast so he does not do that, and it is on my 'to do' list, right above teaching the cat to use the toilet.
Pretty much every time I take him out, the mutt cranks up his 17 pounds of raw animal power and does his best to drag me down the street.
Murphy the Wonder Hound pulls so hard he begins to choke himself. He will gack and sputter and make this nasty hacking noise, but he will not stop pulling ñ that is until he finds a pile of doggy doo-doo which he simply must investigate.
Watching the dog form of inspection once again makes me glad to be a human. How much fun could it be to put your face millimetres away from a big pile of doo-doo and breath heavily through your nose? For us human types I doubt it would be any fun at all, but dogs seem to enjoy it and Murph the Surf really loves it and does not miss an opportunity to enjoy such an event.
I have often contemplated what he is thinking while investigating a pile o' crap (which is yet another indicator as to how sad and pathetic my life really is.)
ìI wonder if I know this guy. It kind of smells like a lab, no, wait, it might be a shepherd. Hmmm, Alpo, good choice of dog food.î
He will then tire of inspecting the subject and move on, once again pulling so hard he coughs like a life-long smoker trying to climb a set of stairs.
While watching him pull on the leash and make all sorts of weird noises, I wonder just how smart does he have to be to realize it is his own actions that are causing him pain.
I had the exact same thought while paintballing the other day.
Paintball is a game where you run through the woods with air-powered markers (aka guns) and hunt your friends for sport and enjoyment.
I was stealthily hiding my 250-pound frame behind a few trees, waiting for the enemy horde to appear only to be struck down in a hail of little yellow and blue balls when I heard the pop of a paintball marker behind me, followed by the splat of a paintball as it hit the tree beside me.
Not a good thing.
I knew my sworn enemy ñ which is whoever happened to be on the opposing team that day ñ had flanked me and I was about to have a close encounter of the painful kind.
And I was right.
Before I could react, there were a few more splats against the tree followed by the most painful hit I have ever experienced in three seasons of shoot 'em up.
My valiant and noble adversary had managed to hit me in the back of the head, right where the neck and skull join.
Can you say ìThat friggin' hurt?î I could, but because there are several words I no longer say aloud, I had to keep my thoughts from becoming spoken, which was easier said than done.
When the ball hit I saw a lovely collection of spots and stars. I briefly dropped to one knee before retreating to the re-spawning area where I took a couple of seconds to gather my thoughts (and to wait for the stars to go away) before rejoining the battle.
During that time, I remember thinking about my dog who was so dumb he pulls on his leash to the point of causing himself pain.
ìYou dumb dog, all you have to do is not pull so hard and it won't hurt.î
With the replacing of a handful of words, that sentence can be applied to yours truly.
ìYou dumb ass, all you have to do is stop playing paintball and you won't get hurt.î
I then began to wonder who the dumb beast really was. At least Murphy didn't have to pay money to do something that hurts.