Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not even Santa can escape political correctness

Another Christmas is upon us.
Kids will be waking their parents up way too early to see what the fat guy brought them (and I told my kids not to call me that anymore.)
The fat guy I am referring to is, of course, Elvis, I mean Santa Claus.
Each year the big dude in red runs around delivering presents to kids and is the embodiment of the spirit of Christmas.
Sure he commits millions of break and enters in a single night, but he is a reverse burglar and will leave stuff instead of taking it.
I never did the Santa thing when I was a kid. My parents did not believe in it and I was one of the few kids I knew who did not celebrate the obese visitor on an annual basis.
But Santa has been a major part of Christmas since someone figured out a good way to use him for marketing purposes.
And in these modern times not even the Jolly Old Elf can escape political correctness.
You see, Santa has a nasty, unhealthy habit some people want banished from his mystical lore forever.
It is well documented that Santa smoked a pipe. It was never clear what was in the pipe – perhaps he might spend a little more time in Washington and Colorado states this year. Maybe that is why he is so jolly all the time.
Santa puffed on that pipe in the beloved and oft told T’was the Night Before Christmas.
The offending line reads: ‘The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.’
Some people are concerned this will encourage kids to start smoking. I know lots of people who believed in Santa as a kid and none of them started smoking because St. Nick had a nic fit in every single house he visited.
Now that I think about it, Santa must really be magic: he is grossly overweight, he eats way too many cookies and treats (got the munchies do we Mr. Claus?) and apparently he smokes like a chimney, but he is still able to put in a full day at the toy shop before pulling an all nighter and travelling around the world.
The jet lag alone would be enough to knock me for a loop, but not the Big Man, he just keeps on going.
Anyway, if political correctness won’t let him suck on a pipe, how long before other aspects of Santa come under fire.
What about the line ‘He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot.’
So Santa murders animals for clothing does he; not after those politically correct zealots get done with him.
While they want the smoking line removed altogether, they could change this one to ‘He was dressed in a synthetic, fur-like material produced at a fair trade factory in a developing country that opposes forced labour and demands better working conditions for everyone.’
The poem also states, ‘He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf; And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.’
There are so many things wrong with that line I don’t know where to begin. First of all, if the pipe will promote smoking in youth, does the ‘chubby and plump’ line mean Santa will make kids fat?
Better change that to ‘He was in good shape for his age from working out on a regular basis and eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, nuts and vegetables.’
There, much better.
And the laughing at a fat person line is absolutely unacceptable so that must be changed as well. Perhaps ‘I looked on in respect of this body type and offered no rude or judgmental comments based on appearance, age or religious beliefs.’
Call me old fashioned, but I think this is one thing political correctness should leave alone.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Parenting is not for wimps

No one said parenting is easy, and if they did they should have their head examined.
Parenting is the toughest gig going and even a trip to the grocery store can induce heart failure.
The other day I saw a young mom with two young children: a girl who was around four, the boy about two.
She was loading groceries into the trusty mini-van while the two blond-haired bundles of energy chatted and danced around next to her car because that is what kids do.
The term perpetual motion was coined by a parent with young children because they rarely stop running, jumping, vibrating or moving for more than a few seconds.
And that is exactly what these youngsters were doing.
Mom had loaded the groceries, and was putting the cart back when things went a little haywire.
The youngest of the two thought it would be great fun to run across the lane to the car, causing instant panic in mom who immediately called out her son’s name.
His older sister decided she would help by running across the lane to retrieve her brother – even more panic from mom who was now in full pursuit of both of them.
The little man decided it was a game and ran around to the front of the van, giggling the whole way, while big sister gave chase.
Mom was franticly trying to catch them both when the little man rounded the front of the van and was heading full speed back to the lane – still giggling his head off.
Big sister was close, but mom was powered by the energy of panic and leapt over big sister to grab the wee one before he reached back of the van. Despite the crazed look on her face, mom had saved the day and all was well, thus ending another brief adventure in the life of a mom.
Although I am obviously not a mom, I am a dad and I could relate to the entire incident – especially the feeling of panic when one of your flock is in possible danger.
The worst feeling I have ever had in my life was when Junior was three years old. I was in the livingroom with his little brother, who was only a few months old, when I looked in the back yard and could not see Junior.
It was a small, fenced backyard so I knew he had to be there. Maybe he was behind the shed. I handed little brother to my wife and stepped outside just to make sure my first born was where I thought he was.
He wasn’t, and that is where pure, stark-raving panic gripped my rapidly beating heart. It was a small backyard and I could see the entire thing from where I stood, but there was no Junior anywhere to be seen.
“OK, calm down. Relax and think. He must be out here. Just take another careful look around,” is what I tried to tell myself, but my brain was already thinking of every worst-case scenario I had ever heard of.
So, I did what any husband would do in such a situation: I yelled to my wife for help.
She came flying out the door and we both began calling for Junior with obvious concern in our voices.
Within minutes our neighbours came out of their townhouses to help us look.
It was then that I noticed movement behind a tree in the neighbour’s yard.
It would seem Junior had learned how to climb the fence and thought it would be great fun to hide under a bush in the next yard.
When I spotted him he came running out his hiding spot all full of smiles and giggles.
“I tricked you daddy.”
The relief I felt at seeing him was in direct proportion to the dread I felt when I thought he was gone and in a matter of minutes I experienced the worst and best feelings I have ever had, thus ending another moment in the life of a parent.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lots of muscles don't win arugments

When you have a significant other, it is inevitable there will be different views, ideas and opinions on a variety of topics.
And, on occasion, those differences will manifest in what can be described as a lively discussion full of spirited debate and the exchanging of ideas.
For some reason the man actually thinks he has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the um, er, exchange of ideas.
I have learned that winning an argument with your wife is like trying to outrun a dog: it’s just not going to happen. For the first few seconds you may think you are doing well, but it doesn’t take long before the dog is nipping at your heals and you realize the futility of you endeavor.
Women are just much better at expressing their thoughts and feelings than their male partners.
For me the problem is even worse because my wife is so much smarter than I am. She is also much more in tune with her inner self. I know I have an inner self, but we rarely communicate other than the occasional ‘What’s up?’ as we pass each other in the vacant expanse of the male emotional desert.
Part of the reason women are so much more adept at ‘discussing’ things is they have history on their side.
In ancient days of lore, the man did not have to be a strong orator. He just had to be strong. His job was to keep the clan safe from enemy attacks, marauding bears and the occasional Jehovah Witness who always showed up unannounced when he was busy doing something.
To do this he had to be physically strong. When it was the survival of the fittest, the big survive and the small wind up at the end of a spear or something.
There was not a lot of need for men to be in touch with their inner feelings back then. The only thing they needed to feel was their weapons as they vanquished their foes and kept the village safe from harm.
They did not have to talk their way out of a battle; they had to fight their way out. Men used steel, wood and their bare hands to get their point across.
While the men were out fighting each other for territory, riches, food or even bragging rights, the women were back in the cave or hut talking things out. They did not have to stomp on the bones of their opponent to claim victory.
They did not need brute force to get their point across.
Way back then, there was a need for men to be big and strong and being smart was not that important. The need to be in touch with one’s inner self and express their emotions in a clear and concise manner did not arise very often on the field of battle.
Being strong enough to bludgeon a buffalo with a rock, now that was important.
Over the millennia men have continued on with their muscular ways, but it is just not as important today, at least not in this culture.
There are not a lot of marauding bears in suburbia so what good do all those muscles do him?
Not much, and those bulging biceps mean absolutely nothing when it comes to having a ‘discussion’ with your significant other.
While men were working on their ability to go in to battle, women were busy broadening their minds, vocabulary and ability to communicate, which is why us husbands so rarely win an argument.
It may happen on occasion, but it is like a Sasquatch sighting; you hear of it but you don’t really believe it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Working for free for Ikea

I read a story recently where Ikea has officially announced it is against forced labour.
Well no duh.
The Swedish furniture company stated it regrets prisoners in East Germany were used to build furniture for them some 30 years ago.
An Ikea official stated “at the time we didn’t have the well-developed control system that we have today and we clearly did too little to prevent such production methods.”
At least they are admitting their error, but they are still in the business of making people work for free as anyone who has bought anything from Ikea already knows.
What a great system they have going: you give them your money and spend the rest of the day putting their product together yourself.
I have assembled my share of Ikea items and most of the time they go together with very little bad language being used – most of the time anyway.
Of the myriad of Ikea creations I have assembled, only twice did I run into problems. In one case, a piece was missing and in the other case the pieces simply would not fit together properly, no matter what kind of colourful language I sent its way.
My favourite is when there are several pieces that are almost identical, but each must go in their own exact place or the entire operation is a bust. They do come with instructions, but those are about as helpful as a blind cab driver.
I learned it is nearly impossible to put a large Ikea item together by yourself.
They have a method to their madness and often you need one person to hold a piece of that press board stuff everything Ikea sells is made of while you attach another piece with those weird screw-bolt-nut thingys the Swedes seem so fond of.
On a rather large entertainment centre, we had to attach three smaller boards to the main board before putting the other side on while juggling squirrels and singing a traditional Swedish folk song.
We did get it together, but only after a short break and couple glasses of wine to calm the nerves.
The problem for me is my wife loves Ikea. Every time we are in the Lower Mainland she has to stop at the store to see what forms of home-based construction torture she wants to take home.
After building everything from small tables to a very annoying bunkbed that required me to line up 437 dowels all at once, we have run out of room for Ikea items.
Whew – it's about time.
We still stop at the store – despite my protesting – to 'look around' and to 'just see what they have.'
My wife always gets this glazed look in her eyes as she wanders through row upon row of items that all have 'some assembly required.'
What they should say is 'complete assembly required.'
Anyway, I have spent more time walking through the Ikea maze than any man should have to.

Anyone who has been in an Ikea warehouse knows what I am talking about. The Swedes are organized if nothing else and the store is laid out so you can go from one ‘room’ to the next in an orderly fashion. They even provide you with a little map of where each room is so you know that when you are done browsing the bedroom you can tour the livingroom and so on.
I often expect there to be a big piece of cheese at the end of the store when I am done navigating through department after department as I search for the only thing I truly care about: the exit sign.
We still pick up a few small items on just about every visit, but none of them come with instructions or generate the desire to poke a Swede in the eye with my worn out finger.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is this the end of the Twinkie?

There is some disturbing news coming out of the United States.
Is it more dire financial distress? Is another natural disaster going to clobber our neighbours? Did another general get caught with his pants down (literally)?
No, this news struck at the very heart of America and is dominating coffee-shop talk throughout the land: the Twinkie is in peril.
Say it isn't so.
For generations the Twinkie has been contributing to obesity, diabetes, zits and rotten teeth, and for a while it looked like it may disappear forever.
Hostess, which also make a variety of other sugar-laden, empty calorie filled goodies, is kaput. Rising labour costs, more competition and the trend toward healthier eating means the company is toast. I do have some doubts about that last claim based on the girth of our Yankee cousins, but that’s what the news story said.
The good news is Twinkie's have a shelf life of 4,000 years, so whatever Twinkies that have already been made will be around for generations to come.
For a brief while it looked like the Twinkie would go the way of the Dodo, but the company that first turned on its ovens in the late 1800s will sell off some of its more popular treats such King Dons, Ho Hos and the mighty Twinkie.
I must admit I contributed to the demise of the once-grand company. While I do have a sweet tooth (or several teeth actually) I have never been a fan of the Twinkie.
As a child, I did not have access to the cream-filled golden cake snack. You just could not find them in Canada way back then.
I finally had the chance to try one when my family went on one of our marathon family vacations deep into the United States, but the thrill eluded me – as it does to this day.
The Twinkie is probably the best-known pastry in the world and I was excited to sink all my sweet teeth into the legendary snack, but after sampling it with eager anticipation the highest I could rate the plastic-wrapped sugar bomb was meh, whatever.
The Twinkie may have been a bust, but those annual vacations did open my eyes to wonders of what a foreign land had to offer.
Many hours were spent in the back of the family station wagon, staring out the window and occasionally making obscene gestures to the passing cars (without our parents seeing us of course.)
For a kid, the U.S. looked a lot like Canada, until we stopped for gas or at a campground for the night. That was when I had a chance to see just how different our countries were.
It was not the people, houses, or landscape I was interested in, but the candy (and briefly the Twinkies.) The United States had different candy than Canada did back in the 1970s.
I could have cared less about the political upheaval rocking the nation. I just wanted to see what kind of treats they had that could not be found in my homeland.
There were plenty to choose from and I did my best to sample all the exotic bundles of sugar every chance I got. But as the family grew older, the road trips ended and my forays into the United States of Candyland were put on hold for many years.
But a few years ago we gathered the flock and headed to Disneyland. While the Magic Kingdom was all it promised, the candy situation was very disappointing: it was pretty much all the same stuff we had up here.
What the heck? What is going on? Globalization had struck and most of the American candy rack looked the same as the Canadian candy rack, or visa-versa.
There were a few different chocolate bars and whatnot, but the bounty of strange and foreign treats was gone forever.
Gone is another childhood memory that can never be relived, or re-eaten.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The most dangerous dog in the world - kind of

Being a small animal, there is not a lot Murphy the Wonder Dog can do to protect himself.
At a whopping 17 pounds he certainly can’t battle his way out of a tough situation, unless he was being attacked by a Chihuahua, or some other miniature mutt.
So unless his attacker is the size of a rodent, Murph the Surf would not stand much of a chance.
But he is not totally defenseless.
One thing Murphy can do it run like the wind. The dog is not only fast, but he can duck and dodge like no other mutt I have seen.
So when the apocalyptic hoards attack, my dog will lead the retreat by running faster than any creature alive.
But being fleet of foot (or is it paw?) is not his only form of keeping his foes from snatching him.
Murphy has a secret weapon. No it is not a knife or a small handgun he keeps tucked in his collar. This is something much worse: it is a high-pitched bark that can make even the hardcore dog lover consider doggy genocide.
It is the most annoying sound in the world. Yes even more than the incessant chatter of a mother-in-law.
He makes it when he is trying to intimidate another dog.
It is not so much intimidating as it is downright annoying.
Some friends of ours have a lab-retriever cross who is roughly 10,000 times bigger than Murphy. And because the humans are friends, the dogs spend plenty of time together.
Being a little dog with a big attitude, Murphy does not take any crap from Gigantor the Massive Mutt. Or at least he tries not to, but when your opponent is that much heavier than you are it is kind of tough to be the alpha dog.
So Koda, the beast friend of our friends, often knocks little Murphy around whether Murphy wants to or not.
Koda is a beautiful, good-natured dog, but he is not even two years old yet so he still wants to play – all the time. This is usually fine with Murphy who also is also ready to play – all the time.
Murphy’s favourite game is ‘chase me.’ This is where the other dog chases him around and around and around.
Murphy may be small, but he can turn a corner like he is on rails, making him extremely hard to catch. Ducking and dodging is probably the best defense he has. If Koda can’t catch him, Koda can’t knock him around.
The problem is Murphy also likes to sniff things. Nothing is more fascinating to a dog than finding that another dog had recently been through the area.
It’s like they had never heard of other dogs being on the planet and finding evidence of one is the most exciting thing ever.
Murphy will stick his nose mere millimeters away from what I assume is another dog’s pee and sniff like only a dog can.
And this is where things go south for him because when he stops to sniff, Koda pounces and knocks poor little Murphy around like a cork in the ocean.
Murphy will take this once, maybe twice before he becomes annoyed and unleashes his secret weapon.
The other day that weapon hit its mark. Murphy let out such a loud, high-pitched half bark, half squeal that it was Koda everyone felt sorry for.
As Koda pounced, Murphy unleashed his fury right in the ear of his friend, leaving the behemoth to jump around and shake his head for the next five minutes.
Having set the young whippersnapper in his place, Murphy went back to the enjoyment of smelling things.
It was the first time he scored a direct hit on his much larger friend, and it seemed to get the message across. The next time they got together, Koda was much more subdued.
Never underestimate the power of a really annoying sound from a little dog with a big attitude.

Remember, it's poppies before sugar plums

Halloween morning had sprung with cloudy skys, jack-o-lanterns on every doorstep and a major corporation launching its Christmas campaign.
My kids had not even hit the streets to beg candy from strangers and these guys were already pushing Yule Tide sales on me.
Merry Halloween-mas everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Christmas. In fact, it is my favourite (and most wonderful) time of the year, but there is a very important day to recognize before the Yule Tide season can begin.
Today is one of the most revered days of the year, it is the day we honour and salute our soldiers past and present, without whom we would not enjoy the wonderful country Canada is.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook ‘Please don’t do any Christmas decorating until after Remembrance Day in honour of our veterans.’
Many people agreed, as do I.
Although I am not a veteran, I did spend two years in the militia being a weekend warrior.
We would gather several days each month and eight weeks each summer for training where would run around doing all sorts of army type things.
I quickly learned the hurry-up-and-wait exercise was the most common army exercise there was.
I had not been a Saturday Soldier for very long when I received my first lessons in the waiting game. We were on a training exercise, and more than two kilometres from the head quarters tent, when we were told if we were not at the pay officer’s desk in 10 minutes we would not get our money for that month.
Not much can get a group of young men run like that. One is money, the other is girls and the last is beer. (Put them all together and someone is going to break the miracle mile while wearing army boots and carrying a pack.)
Because we all wanted to get paid so we could buy beer for girls, we ran to the pay officer’s tent like we were on fire. I have never seen a group of guys move that fast in my life.
There were 30 of us sprinting as hard as we could and in record time we were lined up outside of the pay officer’s door – where we waited for the next 45 minutes.
This raised several questions, the most obvious of which was why did we have to run so hard our toes were numb only to stand in line for almost an hour. I could have ambled the distance in that amount of time. I could even have moseyed it and still arrived with time to spare.
Later that day we were heading out on another exercise and were told we needed to get a specific piece of equipment in the next 30 seconds or we would be in a world of hurt. So, with seargents screaming like they were re-enacting scenes from Platoon, we piled out of the back of the truck, ran to get the kit and piled back into the truck where we sat for more than an hour, all the while holding that vital piece of equipment.
The army was funny that way. Often, it was a good example of how not to do things, but it was also a good place to learn some important life lessons.
The reserves taught us how to take care of ourselves and to look out for each other.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for all our soldiers, past and present. A good friend of mine spent more than 20 years in the military and it is not an easy life.
He was away a lot, often in less-than-ideal conditions and the days were long and occasionally hazardous.
So let’s remember to hold off on Christmas promotions and decorations until at least Nov. 12.
Until then, the only thing anyone should be putting up is a poppy.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Politics going to the dogs

I am sure you have heard the expression 'going to the dogs.'
It can apply to things that are going downhill, in decay (because dogs love to eat and roll in decaying stuff I guess) or in general it means things are not going too well.
In this case, it is politics that is going to the dogs. I know I will have to be a little more specific. It would seem a member of New Brunswick's Progressive Conservative Party voted to select a leader of the rival Liberal party using his dog's name.
The man registered his hound to vote in the leadership race by providing a name, address, phone number and birthdate.
He was then able to vote in the leadership showdown without so much as a phone call to check the authenticity of the name he provided.
He said he could not use his own name because he is a power player in the PC party, so he listed his dog. Needless to say he is thrilled with the Liberal blunder that is calling into question the integrity of the party.
In their defence, an N.B. Liberal spokesperson said they did call the number, but no one in their office spoke schnauzer so they could not verify the authenticity of the voter information until someone fluent in dog could be found.
Actually, the party official said they try to call everyone on the list, but this one was missed blah-blah-blah, or no one was home blah-blah-blah, it won't happen again blah-blah-blah.
The man who set up the ruse is charging forward like a drunken rhino and can see only good things coming of this for his party.
He is blasting the Liberals with both barrels.
In an effort to deflect some of the embarrassment, the Liberals fired back saying the ruling party should spend more time looking after the province than conducting the shenannigans of signing up a dog to vote.
Nice try, Liberal party of New Brunswick, but you were busted with your proverbial pants down (which has happened to politicians in a more literal manner on more than one occasion.)
Letting a dog vote, what's next? If you let dogs vote, then cats will want to vote, then all of a sudden every animal out there will want a say in who will run the country.
It is hard enough getting people to vote, but a dog would just want to sniff and pee on everything. And a cat could care less, making them more like real voters.
All of this silliness got me thinking (which is often a bad thing.)
Perhaps we should turn the voting over to the animals. If an octopus can predict who will triumph in World Cup soccer (football for all of our European readers) then maybe cats and dogs can pick the best leader for the country.
As far as that goes, maybe they should even start running for office. Have you ever met a dog that did not have integrity? Or a dog that was not loyal and faithful?
A dog would also be happy with whatever accommodations they were provided and not demand to be upgraded to a five-star facility where a glass of orange juice is $200 - unless the dog is named Oda that is.
And of course Canada would have to find dogs that can bark in English and French.
Obviously dogs cannot run for political office, but perhaps our human elected officials should go to the dogs as they are a fine example of how to behave (aside from the licking themselves part I mean.)
I must admit high-level politicians are not my favourite people in the world (as if you could not guess that already) but there are several political figures I actually believe are doing the best they can, some of whom are actively serving their constituents in this riding as we speak and they are doing so with an honest desire to make the country a better place to live.
To them I say ‘Good boy.’


Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Halloween, gimme candy

It's almost that time of year again. The leaves are turning their magical colours, the air is crisp with a hint of frost glistening off the hood of my car as I head off to another day in the salt mines.
Yup, it can only mean one thing: Halloween is just about here.
I love Halloween. I always thought it should be a stat holiday. How can a kid concentrate when he or she knows there is boundless amounts of candy waiting for them at every door?
I know when I was a wee lad the school day was pretty much a write off. Kind of like most days actually, but this time I had a legitimate excuse for not paying attention.
All sorts of hideous creatures with their scary faces and foul stench were seen roaming the hallways at my school, and some of those people dressed up for Halloween as well. There were always a few kids who were too cool to wear their costume to school, but later that evening, when all that free sugar was being handed out, they were jostling for position with the best of them.
You are never too cool to get free candy.
The spooky commercials and TV shows would start a few weeks before the big day adding to the excitement.

Is it just me, or was the world a lot less weird back then? Some of the stuff coming out in the form of horror movies these days is downright disturbing.
I never saw it in the theatre – I was way too young – but I can remember hearing about The Exorcist and how scared people were. I can remember news stories on how people were terrified about being possessed.
Now days, it would likely be viewed more as a comedy than a horror, but back then it was some scary stuff.
I know I am rambling on like an old fuddy-duddy, but movies seem to have crossed the line from being scary to being gross and filled with mindless violence.
But then again, I am sure older people said the same thing about the horror movies I used to go to as a teen.

Either way, horror movies and Halloween go together like Denny's and fat people.

TV is also besieged by ghastly ghouls of every description and that is just the political debates.

Every show has to get in their Halloween special featuring everything from cute and cuddly monsters to some scary beasts that devour humans like Elvis on a deep-fried doughnut.
Before the invention of TV, people used to sit around in the dark and tell scary stories to frighten each other.

“So beware. The beast is out there. It is waiting for you. It is horrible, strong and terrifiying. We call it HST for short.”

Eeeek, that monster is bad enough to rile up an entire province and end political careers.

TV and movies have replaced the telling of stories, with visual effects that could not even be imagined a few decades ago.
The costumes available today are also way more intricate than when I was a kid. My friends and I had to suffer those thin plastic masks with elastic band straps that depicted vampires or werewolves or other ‘scary’ creatures.

The problem was, the only scary thing about those masks was when your friend ran up and pulled on it before releasing his grip and laughing as the mask smashed into your face. It is amazing how many times that would happen in a single night.
But no matter how things change, the more they stay the same. Halloween is still about dressing up, having fun and getting a bag full of free treats.
So like clockwork, every Oct. 31, parents dress their children up, send them into the dark of night and encourage them to take candy from strangers.

I can hardly wait.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Invention can be a real mother...

Many people may not know this, but I am a bit of an inventor.
I have not solved the riddle of cold fusion, or developed a machine to tell what women are really feeling (cold fusion is easier), but I have had a few ideas rattle around my cranium.
Along with The Missus, we have come up with some brilliant and ground-breaking ideas that were sure to change the world and make us so rich we can vacation with Bill Gates.
Well, maybe not that rich, but rich enough that our annual family vacation can be spent in an actual exotic location, instead of a camper in my inlaw’s driveway.
The first idea we came up with was sure to be a hit with dog lovers.
The idea struck us like a bolt of lightning while watching our hounds jump around the back seat of our car like a couple of hyper, yapping bouncy balls.
The dogs would jump from side window to side window just to see what was there and to make sure they barked an adequate amount before the subject of their attention was gone.
Having two dogs barking in the backseat of a compact is like sticking your head in a steel drum and hitting it with a stick – only more annoying. We could tell them to be quiet, but the jumping around back there was a little harder to control.
So it was in that moment of inspiration the doggy seat belt was born.
The idea was to use the existing seatbelt and a custom-made webbing that would keep the mutts secure and stop them from bouncing all over the place.
In the event of an accident, it would also keep the hounds from becoming canine projectiles. We talked about the idea at length and could see dollar signs floating in front of us.
So why didn’t we patent and develop the dog-belt system that was sure to attract animal lovers from around the world?
Someone beat us to it and had already developed the doggy seatbelt. I am not sure how, but I suspect they had spies watching us and had our home wired with audio and video so they could steal our idea.
Just because you are paranoid, does not mean they are not watching you.
Our second get-rich invention was for the ladies.
No it was not a spray that would make husbands want to do housework, which is too bad because that would have sold like crazy.
We called it ‘The Air Bra’ and it involved a bra that could be expanded by pumping air into it.
I know, brilliant isn’t it?
It could have changed the face of the world, or some other parts anyway, and now that I think about it, it might have helped in the housework department as well.
“Hubby, would you please vacuum for me?”
“Not now, I am busy watching the game.”
Pump. Pump. Pump.
“How about now, big boy?”
“You betcha honey. Anything for you.”
The Air Bra would have a little pump in it similar to those found in certain over-priced sports shoes that would allow the wearer to expand their um, er, ah, attributes to whatever size they felt necessary.
Of course a limit would have to be put on the device to prevent men from hooking up an air compressor and taking things to a whole new level.
But once again those spies learned of our idea and beat us to the punch. A couple years after we had the idea, a company started making and marketing bras with the exact same idea.
I guess we didn’t keep our secret from Victoria.
Currently I am working on yet another invention, but this one is geared more toward men.
I am trying to come up with a contraption that, when applied properly, will nullify the sounds of the incessant chatter of mother in laws.
So far the only idea I have come up with is a well-placed blow with a croquet mallet, but that is temporary and somewhat illegal.
Gentlemen, I will keep you informed of my progress.
Darren Handschuh can be reached at For more of his ramblings, check out his blog at

Monday, October 8, 2012

Terrific teens and their big brains

The lead of the story said "What were you doing when you were 14?"
It got me thinking about life 30 something years ago and what I was doing - riding my dirtbike, playing hockey and figuring out that girls really weren't icky after all.
Pretty typical stuff I would imagine. My friends were all doing the same thing so I assumed that is what you did at 14.
However, my teenaged antics were put to shame by some modern youths.
Teen No. 1 went beyond typical high school achievements - way beyond.
It would seem the young man in Texas has invented a contraption that attaches to a bicycle that when peddalled desalinates seawater via reverse osmosis. One hour of pedalling produces 20 gallons of drinkable water.
Wow, and my parents were proud when I brought in a solid C in science class.
This next lad is comes in at the ripe old age of 15. The genius in jeans came up with a medical procedure that has doctors around the world sitting up and taking notice.
According to the news story, the young man from
Maryland, "created a test for pancreatic cancer that is demonstrably much faster and more accurate than current diagnostics by using carbon nanotubes that can be specially activated by applications of the signature pancreatic-cancer protein, Mesothelin."
I had to look up what half of that stuff was, but before I could get a good understanding of the concept I was distracted by a shiny object.
Now, let me think. What was I doing when I was 15? Still riding dirtbikes, playing hockey and chasing girls. When I was 16 I was driving a beat up little car, riding dirtbikes, playing hockey and chasing girls. When I was 17, well you get the idea.
Those are some pretty amazing kids. My parents were just happy if I did not get a police escort home on a Saturday night.
This next one is not about brilliant kids, but bonehead administrators.
The controversy surrounds a four-year-old with hearing challenges. His name is Hunter and he is proficient in using sign language, which make sense considering he can not hear.
What doesn't make sense is how officials reacted to the way he signed his name. Because his name is Hunter, his fingers make the shape of a gun which violates the school's anti-weapon's policy and his parents were told he would have to stop doing it.
I hope his parents showed the administrative uptights what they thought using a little sign language of thier own. The parents were understandably shocked at the school's response and have launched an official protest.
Having grown up with a sister who has physical and hearing limitations, I understand how important any form of communication can be. My sister used sign language and I knew a few words so I could connect with her. Without that sign language, my sister had her communication with the rest of the world effectively shut off.
Now little Hunter is being told he can not sign his own name. How is a four year old supposed to figure that out?
He can use sign language for regular communication, he just can't tell anyone what his name is.
I am all in favour of anti-violence rules in schools, but this seems a little over the top.
The last story I read on the subject was the parents were fighting the school and the boneheads, er, I mean, administrators who are hassling a kid who has enough challenges in his life already.
Good luck to them.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Me not so smart

I am the first to admit my wife is smarter than I am - a lot smarter
If we were in the fish world, she would be a dolphin and I would be a sea sponge. I know that technically neither one are a fish, with the dolphin being a mammal and the sponge being a, well, I don't really know what a sponge is, but the comparison still stands.
She be smart, and I be not so smart.
It is not very often I am called upon to help the kids do their homework. When it comes to math I am about as sharp as a river rock and twice as dense. Me and numbers just do not get along. We never have and likely we never will.
My wife on the other hand is very good with numbers and can figure out where X goes and what it means.
All I know is X goes between W and Y and is not a member of the numerical family. I also know that if you put three Xs together, you are looking at something you probably shouldn't.
But for those with a mathematic capacity greater than that of a turnip, X can mean all sorts of things.
It can mean a variety of numbers and solutions to some of the worlds greatest math challenges. But often you have to mash several letters together to come up with a brilliant mathematical answer that I would not be able to figure out if I had X number of days to do so.
When it comes to helping the kids with math, it is The Missus who shoulders the brunt of the work. She is also in charge of the family accounting. If it were up to me, our finances would show us somewhere between being broke and having a million dollars in the bank.
But I do step in when it comes to English and social studies - both were courses I did well at in school.
English was by far my favourite course all through high school, mainly because I barely had to show up and I still got decent grades. If I had actually studied and applied myself I probably would have received good grades, but being young and not overly bright I decided to just skate my way through English.
I suspect the editor proofing this column wished I would have tried a little harder as well. I did finally knuckle down and study, but it was not until I reached college that my brain finally decided to learn a few things.
My high school math marks were barely passable, and I do mean barely. Once out of the seventh level of hell, er I mean high school, I tried to avoid all math equations that insisted on substituting letters for numbers.
In sharp contrast to my little brain, my wife's big brain brought in a bevy of brilliant grades. She was on the principal's list more than once.
I too made the principal's list one semester, but for an entirely different reason.
We both made the list based on what we were doing in class, but unlike my wife, it was strongly urged I stop doing it.
Anyway, my wife is very smart and that is a good thing. It has rubbed off on our children and with her continued help with their homework, my kids will continue to do well despite my intellectually inferior genes dragging them down.
But in my own defense, I am not a knuckle-dragging Neandrathol with the IQ of a toaster. I was smart enough to graduate high school - barely - and I actually did very well in college.
My grades were near the top of the class both years by actually applying myself and studying.
Perhaps my brain is not so small after all. Who woulda thunk it?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Keep the fame, just give me the money

I would much rather be rich than famous.
I think being famous would really suck.
Being rich might suck as well, but I am willing to give it a try, so if there is anyone out there with a lot of money they are tired of holding on to I am more than willing to take it off your hands for you.
If not, I am also willing and able to work for my money. So if there is a job out there that pays a truck load of cash that I somehow qualify for, just let me know.
But making a ton of money quietly, away from the public glare would be pretty sweet indeed.
That way you can quietly go about enjoying your money and not have to worry about people recognizing you. If you win the money on the lotto your name and face is splashed in newspapers across the land and suddenly you will have more friends than you know what to do with.
People you have not seen in years will be 'your best friend.'
"Hi, you remember me, right? I sat behind you in third grade for a month. We were great friends and seeing as how we are such close friends, can i have some money?"
Family members will also be eager to spend time with their 'favourite relative in the whole wide world,' even if you have not seen or spoken to them in years.
Weddings, funerals and winning a huge chunk of change are guaranteed to bring the family together.
Like I said, it would be better to be rich than famous.
Once you reach a certain level of fame your life is no longer your own and no matter how much money you have, you can not buy privacy.
You also can not buy love, but having a boat load of cash would sure make being lonely a lot more fun.
It would also make being miserable a lot more enjoyable. You have admit, it would be a lot more fun to cry in a BMW than to weep on a 10-speed bike.
But with fame, you could not do either one without a lot of people knowing about it.
And there are some very unscrupulous people who will do whatever it takes to make a buck off of your fame.
The royals have long been a favourite target of the paparazzi. Poor Princess Diana was virtually hounded to death.
The paparazzi just loves to catch someone famous with their pants down - literally.
Prince Harry of the Buckingham Royals was recently photographed playing a game of 'strip pool.' But c'mon, this is Harry the wildman of the royal clan and based on the support he received, his showing off of the 'royal jewels' did not exactly have the masses in an uproar. It would seem people really didn't give a darn that Harry was frolicking naked with members of the lady pursuasion. Many people took to the Internet to show their support for the royal bad boy by posting pictures of themselves in a compromising states of undress.
However, there is another royal who is being 'exposed' by the rags. Kate, Prince Williams beloved, was snapped wearing nothing more than a skimpy pair of bikini bottoms.
Her royal attributes were on display for all to see and someone with a camera and a very long lens managed to get some blurry pictures of her, um, royal pair.
But unlike the boys-will-be-boys attitude people took towards Harry, people are upset about the Kate nudie pics
Many people are in an uproar, as well they should be. Kate was at a private beach and was photographed from a long distance away by some sneaky person with a telephoto lens.
Don't get me wrong, I am all in favour of boobies, but she was not prancing around the shores of Okanagan Lake, nor was she flashing the crowd at Spring Break. She was at a private estate where she should be able to frolic with her husband like any other married couple enjoying a sunny getaway.
The bozo with the camera had no right to take such an invasive and embarrassing photo. But for future reference, Kate when you have the potential to be the future queen of England, perhaps its best if you wear your entire skimpy bikini.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bald is beautiful baby

They say you don’t really appreciate something until it is gone
I don’t really know who ‘they’ are, but ‘they’ are right, because at this moment I really miss my hair.
Yes, I am a follicly challenged individual. There are many of my forehead-enhanced brethren running around out there and I am sure they have faced similar woes.
I know in the grand scheme of things, losing one’s mop of locks is not exactly an earth-shattering crisis – at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.
I started losing my hair shortly after high school and I decided then to not worry about it. I would go bald gracefully and embrace my inner Kojak. (The younger people have no idea who I am talking about.)
I vowed never to do a comb over, wig or any other feeble attempt to hide the fact I am losing my hair.
I have known people who were very upset they were losing their hair at such a young age and would carefully craft their locks to look like they still had plenty.
At first this is possible. You can change your hairstyle to hide the fact your hair is abandoning your head at an alarming rate, but only for so long.
Eventually you reach a point where it doesn’t matter how you cut or style your hair, it is obvious you are going bald.
As the years march on and the hair falls out, the only person you are fooling is yourself. But you do give other people a good chuckle as you strut around with your ‘full head of hair.’
My hair started falling out when I was 20. There was nothing I could do about it and I did nothing to try and hide it, but that does not mean I was thrilled to be future a chrome dome.
Now, as the F-years slap me around, I am a chrome dome.
Being over six-feet tall and having less hair on my head than my 78-year-old dad has made me realize hair plays more of a role than just something that sits on top of your head and looks pretty.
Hair acts as a sensory shield to give you a split second warning you are about to crack your cranium. I cannot count the number of times I have smacked my head on something. Actually, considering how many blows to the head I have taken it is amazing I can count at all.
However, if I had a glorious, flowing head of hair I would have that warning system and been able to avoid cranial interaction with immovable objects.
But I dislike being hair challenged the most when it is raining outside. When a bald man tells you it is raining, believe him. We know when the moisture is falling from the heavens because we have this weather panel at the top of our bodies that detects rain and harsh sun with a sensitivity hair-enhanced people do not enjoy. It’s kind of a bald dude super power.
And I am taller than most people so the rain will hit my bald spot (which is pretty much my entire head) before it reaches the height-challenged masses.
There are solutions to the rain dilemma. I could get an umbrella, or even use the Hair Alternative Treatment – commonly known as H.A.T. I do own such devices, but there are times when I do not have either with me when the rain starts a falling.
That is something all the hairy people don’t have to worry about because where ever you go, your hair goes with you.
You never have to think, “Hmmmm, now where did I leave my full head of hair?”
Nope you just head out the door confident your head is covered with the protective shield that will keep the rain from pounding your bean.
Meanwhile us baldies are gathering up hats, umbrellas, newspapers, cardboard boxes or whatever else we can get our hands on to save our noggin from a splashing.
Oh well, at least I save money on shampoo and conditioner.

Friday, August 31, 2012

All hail the King and his tighty whiteys

I admit to being somewhat of an Elvis fan.
I am hardly a rapid, salivating, Elvis-is-the-next-best-thing-to-God kind of fan, but I appreciate and respect what he has done for rock and roll.
I also like many of his songs and can see how countless musical styles were based upon the ground-breaking anthems of the hip-swiveling, lip-curling legend.
After all, he is the King of Rock and Roll with legions of hardcore fans. Some people however take their pursuit of all things Elvis over the top – way over the top - and will eagerly purchase anything even remotely associated with the King.
But it is good to have a hobby and at least they are not wasting their money of stupid stuff like food, or a college education for their children.
One of my hobbies is watching in amusement as these super fans purchase all sorts of Elvis-related materials. One guy spent several thousand dollars on a Styrofoam cup that the King supposedly used during one of his shows.
The seller had no official documentation that the piece of foam was actually the chalice used by the King to whet his whistle, but he swore he took the cup from Elvis himself during the show. He had a picture of Elvis backstage drinking from ‘a’ Styrofoam cup, but there was no definitive evidence it was ‘the’ Styrofoam cup.
The owner put it up for sale and the bids soared into the thousands of dollars.
In an unrelated story, news of one being born every minute was officially confirmed.
So while the King’s cup may have been questionable, his snot blaster apparently was not. Yup, some rabid Elvis fan spent thousands of dollars to purchase a nasal suction bulb that was used by the man himself.
Nothing says rock and roll memorabilia like a big piece of Elvis booger. The good news is there was proof the snot sucker was in fact used by the King.
Thank God he did not get enemas, because you know someone would want that piece of medical equipment.
“Hey Bob, isn’t that an enema bulb in that glass case hanging above your fireplace?”
“It sure it, but that is not just any butt blaster, that is the butt blaster of the King. Do you want to touch it?”
“No, no I do not.”
Sound too strange to be true? If there is one thing I have learned by watching Elvis fans it is nothing is too strange.
Case in point is the auctioning off of a pair of the King’s underwear.
It would seem someone has been holding on to a pair of ginch worn by Mr. Presley during a show in the late 1970s. It is sealed in a glass case along with pictures of Elvis from the show.
You can’t see the underwear in the photos, but it is said they are the ones he was wearing underneath one of those glittery, leather jumpsuits he was so fond of.
After a show under hot lights wrapped in cow hide, one could imagine the state of the underwear that were doffed and tossed onto the laundry pile.
If you thought sweaty and icky, you would be right. And that is the main selling feature – I kid you not.
Unwashed and still soiled with stains” is actually how the seller is promoting the item. They were never washed after the show and have been in their natural condition ever since.
They are hailed as pristine and the seller explains Elvis wore this type of underwear because he did not want any lines showing through his stylish jump suit.
I am not sure why they were never washed, but I am pretty sure the hardcore Elvis fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
And you know that at some point in time, someone has tried those undies on just to say they wore the soiled, sweaty, dirty undies of the King of Rock and Roll.
Personally, that is a bragging point I could live with out.
Oh, and just in case you were hoping to throw down a bid on the briefs, the King’s tightey-whitey’s are expected to go for more than 10,000-pounds in a London auction house.
Long live the King.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Everyone will hear about my kids, even if they don't want to

I can remember when my first child was born. I talked about Junior with the gusto and enthusiasm only a new father can.
I talked about his birth, how amazing it was to see this little human being come to this earth. I talked about how incredible he is and the amazing things he did on a daily basis – like make spit bubbles, or the day he discovered his hands. You know, the really important stuff a first born does.
I talked about his first word: Grbbbbxxlavb – which I believe is ancient Monrovian for ‘Hello, how are you?”
Not bad for a five week old.
I talked about his first attempt to crawl, his first step, his first everything was topic of grand discussion, whether people wanted to hear about it or not.
I know many of you are rolling their eyes and thinking, ‘So he’s the guy who told everyone about his kid, even if they did not care. He’s the guy who forced words into my ear, polluting my brain with unwanted information.’
That’s right, I was the guy and I am not ashamed to admit it. I had two more children after K-1 and I bragged about them as well.
When the kids were little there were so many milestones it was hard to keep up.
My wife would phone me at work with regular updates.
‘Junior just made his first stinky on the potty. Yay.’
I would then relay the incredible news to my coworkers, who I am sure were all thrilled to learn that snippet of information. Although some of them pretended to be disinterested, I could tell deep down, they really cared that Scooter had developed the skill of not pooping in his pants.
The bragging continued as he grew and there were comments about the first time he rode a bike, or climbed a tree, or burped his full name. I was particularly proud of that one, but my wife was not so thrilled. She obviously did not appreciate just how much time I spent teaching him how to do that.
When the second one came around, I must admit I did not brag about every little thing he did. Sure there were the milestone moments that I let the world know about, but I was realizing just how unspectacular many of his baby actions were. By time the third one arrived, bragging was reserved for the really big events. After all, I had seen it before. It does not mean I love my second or third children any less, I am just seeing things differently than when the first one made the scene.
I began to think back on my coworkers who pretended to be disinterested. Could it be they actually did not care that my new baby could put his foot in his mouth? Could it have been they actually were not smitten with the latest addition to the planet?
Naw, they loved hearing about Junior as much as I liked talking about him.
Now my ‘little boy’ is a 19-year-old man and his ‘little brother’ is almost 17. Little sister will soon be a teenager, but that does not mean the bragging stops.
Now I just brag about other things.
“Yeah, so the missus and I went away for the weekend without the kids and when we got home, the house was still standing. There was no visible damage and, as far as I know, the police never attended even once.”
Other comments of a teenage parent include how well they are doing in school, how well they are doing in sports, how well they are doing in knowing everything there is worth knowing no matter what you tell them based on your years of knowledge.
Yup, when it comes to kids there is no shortage of things to talk about. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The mighty grizzly in all its majesty - sort of

It’s true, bears really do, um, you know, in the woods.
We saw a bear doing just that on a recent vacation to the wilds of northern British Columbia.
And this was no ordinary bear. This was the mighty grizzly bear.
As soon as I saw the cars ahead of me slowing down I knew it was either an accident or wildlife.
In this case it was a forest beast displaying his mighty splendor for all to see. He was on the side of the road taking a poop.
I have to admit it was not exactly a grand or majestic way for the animal to display its prowess, but it was still a grizzly bear so it was pretty darn cool.
And I know that technically he was not doing his business in the woods, but he was right on the edge of the woods so it was close enough and I consider the question of exactly where a bear does that to be closed.
I am pretty sure he, or she, blushed as we went past because who wants to caught with their pants down. But no matter, the grizzly really is a spectacular animal and the king of the B.C. woodlands and seeing one was a great start to our vacation.
By grizzly standards, this one was a little guy and weighed in around 700 pounds, roughly the same as your average American, and had the telltale hump on his back whereas Americans have a telltale hump on the front - right around their midsection.
Grizzlies can grow to be absolutely massive. There is a stuffed one in the Royal B.C. Museum that is the biggest bruin I have ever gazed upon. I have no fear of a bear that large smashing with its mighty paw until I am dead, because I would die of a heart attack just seeing the beast come running towards me.
I wonder if the smell of human urine would act as a grizzly repellent because there would be plenty of that around where I would be standing. I hope to never find out.
I have had several encounters with their ‘smaller’ counterpart, the black bear, as has just about anyone who has spent any time outdoors in this province. Having grown up in the sticks in the B.C. interior, interaction with bears and a variety of other beastly beasts were common events.
But in the northern region those experiences are magnified and intensified because there is just so much wildlife to interact with. You can’t go around a corner without encountering some sort of wild critter and it is always one of the highlights of our regular northern adventures.
Heading to the tundra of B.C. is nothing new to me and my family. Why? Because my wife has relatives up there so every second year we load up the van and embark on a marathon road trip.
The trip is often an adventure in critter watching. Over the years we have seen numerous black bears, enough deer to realize there are way too many deer in this province and a variety of beasts from moose to foxes and just about everything in between. About the only thing more abundant than the deer are the bugs. I am sure I collect 20 pounds worth of bugs in the grill of my van on each trip.
You also see a few ‘mystery’ animals on the road. Not at the side of the road, but on the road itself. They are mystery animals because they are roughly four feet long and half an inch tall.
The best guess is that it was some sort of smallish animal with fur.
Not quite as exciting as seeing a real, live grizzly, but like the beastly bruin it does give the family something to talk about during the monotonous trek to see the in laws.

Friday, August 10, 2012

It is a baffling world out there

It is a baffling and confusing world out there.
Being baffled is nothing new to me and there seems to be a never-ending supply of things to keep me feeling that way.
For example, how come the driver’s side windshield wiper always wears out faster than the passenger side?
You can be driving down the road and the rain is beating against your motorcar with the passenger being able to see things clear as a bell, while the driver has to look through a smudged, smeared mess to see exactly what they are about to crash in to.
And if the wiper does not pack it in completely, there is a big streak across the windshield exactly in your line of sight.
It can’t be at the top of the wiper arc, nor the bottom. No, the stupid streak has to be directly in front of your eyeballs.
Of course, if the passenger side develops a streak it is out of the line of sight.
Another thing I don’t understand is dentists.
For as long as I can remember, dentists have been telling people to brush regularly, floss regularly and don’t eat too many sweets.
Considering their careers are based entirely on fixing teeth, is this the best business plan?
Would a lawyer tell people to solve it themselves? No, then they would not be able to charge $200 for a 30-second phone call.
You would think dentists would want to abolish toothbrushes and tell people to brush their teeth with their fingers and use sugar-infused toothpaste.
“It’s also a good idea to sleep with a sucker in your mouth, that way the sugar can ‘protect’ your teeth all night. No really, it’s good for you. Trust me, I’m a dentist.”
But do they say that? No, they want you to keep your teeth as sparkling clean and healthy as they can be.
And why do dentists try to make small talk with you when your mouth is full of goop, instruments, power tools and whatever else they can cram in there?
What kind of personal interaction are they hoping for? I am pretty sure this is just a little game dentists play to keep themselves amused.
Why do single people always have relationship advice?
Isn’t that kind of like a fat dude telling a marathon runner to get in shape?
I know one guy who has been married and divorced so many times he as a pastor and lawyer on speed dial, but one day he decided to bestow upon me words of wisdom on how to make a successful marriage.
At this point I had been married to one woman for more than 20 years. If you add all of his marriages together they didn’t come to 20 years, but he felt it necessary to take me aside and offer me marital advice.
I must admit though, he was helpful. Not his advice, but by watching him over the years I learned what not to do in a marriage.
He is married again and we are all taking bets as to when this latest incarnation of matrimonial bliss will crash and burn.
I just can not figure out why some people do what they do and from the I-can’t-believe-you-have-lived-as-long-as-you-have file comes the tale of a man in the United States who set his head on fire – on purpose.
This brainiac was at a local watering hole throwing down some adult recreational beverages when he bet his friends he could set his face on fire with some high-proof alcohol.
They did not believe him, so to prove them wrong he poured the highly volatile liquid all over his head and put a match to it.
Well surprise, surprise his entire head caught fire and the security camera shows him running around the bar in panic, in agony and in flames.
He received burns to his face and head. This was no young pup full of pee and vinegar either. He was 37 years old, way too old to be that stupid.
Congratulations you are officially one of the dumbest people to have ever walked the earth and it is only a matter of time before natural selection collects its dues.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Diving in to the Olympic spirit

It’s Olympics time again.
I love the Olympics, the excitement, the competition, the women’s beach volleyball. I mean, er, the competition and the um, ah, anyway.
The Olympics bring out the best in the worlds most dedicated athletes. I have the highest respect for all of the athletes for their hard work and drive to make it to the pinnacle of their chosen sport.
In many of the competitions it is easy and obvious who the winner is, even to the French judge.
In track and field events it is the one who crosses the finish line first, or jumps the farthest or throws an object the farthest, but in many other sports it may not be so clear who the winner is.
Take diving for example. I have watched Olympic diving on many occasions and I have very hard time telling the difference between a good dive and a bad one.
A diver could do a triple twist with a half gainer double double decaf that looks spectacular to me. The only way I could move like that was if I was falling off a cliff, and then I would be screaming the entire way down.
But they do all of these amazing twists and turns and spinning around before they hit the water and make a splash smaller than if a fat dude farts in the shallow end of the pool.
Amazing, that was incredible. Or at least I thought it was, but not the announcer.
After this stunning feat of human acrobatics, the announcer pipes in, “Ooooh what a shame. He really blew that one.”
What? What are you talking about?
The announcer will then spout on about how the diver’s legs were 3.7865 inches too far apart when they hit the water, or their body angle was .0987 degrees off perfect centre.
They are Olympic announcers so I have to assume they know what they are talking about. Often the judges will agree and give the diver a low score, causing the announcer to sit back with a smug look on his or her face and say, “See, told ya it sucked.”
But I guess that is the nature of the Olympics. Not snotty announcers – although they do exist – but the level of competition is so intense even the smallest error can be costly.
That’s why it’s the Olympics, the world’s greatest sporting spectacle, and not a bunch of drunk people doing cannonballs off the diving board.
Announcer: “His form on that cannonball attempt was simply spectacular. I especially enjoyed when he put down his beer and yelled, ‘Hey y’all, watch this.’ Beautiful execution. He could have brought his knees a little tighter, but with a stomach that big I think that is as close as they get.”
Co-announcer: “Yes, I agree. And the splash was massive. He managed to get people sitting five rows back.”
Of course each competitor would have to ‘shotgun’ a beer and do a Tequila shot between each round.
As fun as it would be to watch, I somehow I do not think Bubba and his beer-swilling buddies will make the greatest sporting event of them all.
You have to admit, Redneck Olympics would be, um, interesting.
They could have the six-pack beer chug event, the how-purty-is-my-mullet competition and the always popular ‘Yo-momma’s-so-fat…’ challenge.
But the real competition would be in the who-has-the-least-amount-of-teeth event. I bet that would generate a huge pool of competitors, with the top-ranked competitors coming from the Southern United States of course (and parts of Saskatchewan.)
But the Redneck event is for another place (Southern United States) because right now it is all about England and the real Olympics.
The greatest of the great are putting their skills to the test for honour and country and they deserve all the respect we can give them.
Even Bubba has to be impressed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The dentist was right, it did hurt a little bit

It is never a good thing when someone says, “OK, this may hurt a little bit.”
Especially when it is a doctor who says that while he is breaking out the rubber gloves.
But in this instance it was a dentist who uttered the words of terror.
I had been to see the man to have a tooth removed. I was not using it anyway and all it was doing was sitting there so it was either hundreds of dollars and God knows how many hours in the Chair of Doom to have a root canal done, have posts installed, have a crown put on and then have it buffed, waxed and ready for the showroom floor.
Or, I could have it pulled. It was at the back of my mouth, no one would see I am missing the tooth and if I were to loose a couple more teeth I could officially become a redneck.
I admit to some dread at seeing the dentist, and by some I mean I want to run away and hide under my bed while weeping softly. I have long had a fear of dentists, but the older I get the less the fear there is.
Well, maybe not less fear, but the older I get the tougher I get.
Well, maybe not tougher, but the older I get the better I am at handling such situations. Yea, let’s go with that one.
Anyway my date with destiny had been written in my day planner for several weeks and was in the back of my mind like a black shadow lurking in the darkness ready to pounce like a pitbull on a blind kitten.
Every time I looked at that page I was reminded of my impending interaction with the tooth doctor. Don’t get me wrong, I have an excellent dentist and he makes things as painless as modern science will allow, but still those memories of my youth haunt my adulthood and any trip to the dentist office is met with trepidation.
Even taking my kids there stirs up some bad memories. The smell that every dentist office in North America has is the trigger. Kind of like Pavlov’s dog only I don’t drag my butt across the carpet.
I went to my doom, er, I mean dentist appointment to have the offending tooth banished from my mouth. I bravely climbed into the chair, putting on my best big boy face so as not give a clue of how I was feeling inside.
As they always do, the first thing the dentist did was take out one of those sharp, pointy devices that should be against the Geneva Convention and poked around for a few seconds.
Once the cursory examination was done he focussed on the tooth and injected the freezing stuff that makes half your face numb. As he approached me with the needle that was roughly three feet long, he said the words I knew were coming.
“This is going to sting a little.”
And sting it did, proving the good dentist right. The freezing soon took effect and the tooth was pulled in an astonishing four minutes. My total time in the Chair of Doom was less than 20 minutes – awesome.
A few days later the area where the tooth used to be began to hurt – a lot – so it was back to my see my good friend.
It would seem I had developed a thing called dry socket. This is where the blood clot that is supposed to cover and protect the nerve and bone fell out or was washed away or something causing a lot of pain.
The dentist took some goop and prepared to press it into the hole left by the now-absent tooth.
“OK, this may hurt a little.”
Bingo, those are the words I had been waiting for.
Fortunately he added, “But it should start to feel better in a matter of minutes.
He was right on both counts. Putting the horrible-tasting goop in the opening did hurt, but within 20 minutes it felt a lot better.
Thanks Mr. Dentist. I never doubted you for a second.