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.