Friday, March 29, 2013

Size does matter, but not in the way you think

Poor Bruce may never be the same again.
You see, Bruce got his butt whooped the other day. The big, lovable, eight-year-old Golden lab messed the wrong animal and paid the price.
Bruce and the other dog see each other almost daily when they are taken for a walk along a wooded path. On a typical day, Bruce is all over the other hound with playful nudges and licking and sniffing – lots and lots of sniffing.
But on this particular day, the other dog did not feel like being mauled by the big, loveable brute and decided to take a stand.
As Bruce moved in for one of his patented ‘Hey man, I love you’ sessions, Murphy the Wonder Dog had had enough, and with Ninja-like skill and while channeling the power of The Incredible Hulk, he planted his two front feet firmly into Bruce’s chest, sending the bounding beast bouncing down the trail.
No really, he did. Murphy, who weighs in at a whopping 17 pounds, bested Bruce the full-grown  Labrador who weighs in at around 80 pounds.
When Murph the Surf planted his mighty paws on Big Bad Bruce, Big Bad Bruce literally fell over. Poor Bruce had a pained expression on his face as he got up. Everyone who witnessed the act had a look of shock and disbelief on their faces.
Bruce’s owner said he deserved an Oscar for such a performance as the one he put on that chilly morning. Bruce was not injured in the least, but Murphy, meanwhile, was popping it. He was strutting like only a little dog with a big attitude can.
For the rest of the walk, Murphy led the way with confidence. After all, he did just lay a smacking on someone five times his size.
The next time Bruce and the Murphy met, Bruce decided to take a wide berth and not even give the little brown dog a courtesy sniff as they passed. He literally walked on the other side of the trail.
Murphy meanwhile had a look of, ‘That’s right. You better walk away big man. There is a lot more where that came from.’
Bruce wore the same hurt look on his face as he trotted past, head hung low. Murphy was still popping it like he had thumped a pack of wild hyenas.
I guess size matters, but it is not always the larger size that rules the roost.
Take my wife for example. I am 6’4” tall and weigh around 250 pounds. My wife is five feet tall and weighs…do you really think I was to print how much my wife weighs?
I may be dumb, but I am not that dumb. Let’s just say I am a lot bigger than she is.
She is a tiny woman, but that doesn’t mean she is one to trifled with. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, well you should try pissing off my wife some day and see what that bring you.
She is a loving and amazing woman, a terrific mom and wonderful friend, but she does have a bit of a fiery side to her.
Like I said, I am way bigger than she is and physically there is no contest, but I would rather face a hoard of genetically mutated bikers with bad breath and no deodorant than be on the receiving end of my wife’s wrath.
It is not often I have seen that wrath lay waste to the land around her, but it has happened.
And besides, that fire is one of the things that attracted me to her in the first place.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Relax Mr. Competitive, is only a game

I'm the first to admit I am not a very competitive guy.
The desire to win no matter what is just not part of my DNA.
This was reflected when I played sports in my youth. I lacked that killer instinct most hyper-competitive athletes have.
I was decent at sports and was usually a middle-of-the-pack player, but I never really excelled, probably because I didn't really care if we won.
My lack of competitive nature used to drive my competitive dad crazy. I don't think he ever understood why I did not have that internal drive to crush my opponents under my heel and feast on their remains.
I played hockey for many years and I was always first or second line, but hardly a super star. I always worked hard to get better, to skate faster and shoot straighter, but that was just part of my nature to please my dad and coaches. It had nothing to do with an internal drive to be the best.
I came to accept my non-competitive ways when my hockey team won the play offs one year.
I can remember the final buzzer going, everyone pouring over the boards to swarm the goalie, all the while hooting and hollering about how great we were.
I looked at the scoreboard and, yes, we did win. I looked at the opposing team who were dejected, and at my team who was jubulant and all I could think was: Who cares?
Winning the 'big game' will not change my life in any way. The sun would come up the next day even if we had lost and the only real advantage I could see to winning the title was bragging rights, but I am not very fond of bragging to begin with, so it was no big deal.
A good buddy of mine is very competitive and cannot even play a videogame round of golf without taking things seriously.
You can see the concentration in his eyes, like he was shooting for a million dollars or something.
I just grab the controller, wack the ball and hope it goes in. If it doesn't, oh well, such is life.
I found some people's uncontrollable desire to win humorous at times and occasionally, it is downright ridiculous.
My family and I were at the Happiest Place in Earth a few years ago when I came across an individual who was visibly upset he was losing a kiddie game to me.
It was a 3-D ride where two people sit in a little buggy and shoot electronic hoops at a variety of targets.
My two boys were in one buggy, my wife and daughter in another so I ended up with Mr. Competitive as my buggy companion.
The game was broken down into four stages with your score displayed at the end of every stage.
At first, Mr. Competitive was friendly and chatty as we went through the ride firing our 'guns' at digital targets. At the end of the first stage, Mr. Competitive saw he was several points behind in what instantly became the most important competition of his life.
How could be face his children knowing I bested him at the gruelling electronic ring-shoot game?
He took on an aura of deep concentration as the next round began. I just kept shooting and looking around and making goofy comments to my wife and daughter in the cart ahead of me.
Mr. Competitive did not say a word and his furrowed brow showed his intense concentration. At the end of round two, he pulled ahead by several points.
I was enjoying watching him stress out over something so silly more than I was enjoying playing the game.
Just for fun, I kicked it up a notch for round three and when Mr. Comptitive saw we were tied, he became downright sullen as he was consumed with the desire to win.
The final round saw him victorious by a half-dozen points and he strutted away from the game like had just scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals.
I walked away feeling very amused and with a fun story to tell my family.
Looks like I won after all.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Welcome to the working world

My eldest son has had a variety of jobs over the years as most young lads do, but his latest is a gig at a place where they make Fiberglass bathtubs.
Not exactly glamorous work, but it is a steady pay cheque.
The work is manual, the hours are terrifying – he has to get up at 4 a.m to be at work by 5 – and he comes home covered in dust, dirt and grime.
Within the first couple days he declared his desire to quit, but once we pointed out little things like rent, the fact his cellphone bill is not going to magically disappear and unless the car fairy stops by in the middle of the night, it is unlikely he will be getting an automobile without some sort of steady income.
He pondered the situation for a brief while before resigning himself to the fact that, for now anyway, he will have to keep working at a job he really doesn't like.
Good call son, and welcome to the working world.
There is a club for people who don't like their job – it's called everybody.
He would prefer a job where you hardly do any work, the pay is great, the benefits are outstanding and if you don't show up for a day or two or three no one cares. But we can't all be senators, some of us actually have to work for a living.
At 19, he believes he is the first person in the history of the world to be saddled with a job that is just slightly more fun than chewing on a ball of tinfoil.
Do you think the shepherds of biblical times wanted to spend their days and nights sitting around with a bunch of smelly sheep? And how much fun do you think a day on the job is for the guy who cleans out porta-potties? I would rather hang out with the sheep.
I have had my fare share of crappy jobs over the years.
Not necessarily involving farm animals or poop-collecting devices, but crappy jobs nonetheless.
I spent a couple years working in a sawmill, which wasn't a bad job except for the mind-numbing monotony of 'tossing lumber.'
That's what it was called when, for eight hours a day, five days a week I stood next to a huge steel roller chain and moved pieces of wood from the belt to a big metal cart. When the cart was full, a forklift picked up the wood and you started all over again and again and again...
No matter how many pieces of lumber you stacked, there was always more coming. The money was good, but the job was about as thrilling as listening to a political speech. (At least with the speech you could nod off.)
But that was not the worst job I have had. I worked in a nursery for many years, but manual labour outdoors was actually pretty good – except when it was raining or too darn hot out that is, then it was not much fun, so it was not even close to being the worst.
Delivering auto parts was not a great job, but it was still not the worst either.
No, the worst job I ever had to deal with was when I worked at a convenience store.
I worked straight graveyard shifts with Monday/Tuesday off. I learned quickly people think they can treat the lowly clerk like total garbage, and that was just company management.
Some of the customers were major jerks as well and were verbally abusive and at times threatening. During those late nights I saw more drunk people than I would ever want to.
Low pay, lousy hours, abusive management and intoxicated, occassional threatening customers – not exactly a good time, but I had bills to pay. I did not have a cellphone – no one did way back then – but I had rent and a motorcycle to pay for, so I gritted my teeth and did what I had to do, just like Junior is now.
“Never be afraid of an honest day's work,” my dad told me and I tell my son.

Mind you, with that attitude, we will never make it into the Senate.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stupid is as stupid does - and then some

You have to be a special kind of stupid to do things like this.
From dumb criminals to equally dumb consumers, there is just no end to boneheads who do bonehead things.
Officials at England’s 12th-century St. Peter’s Church in Seaford, which is renowned for its eerie quiet, created a 30-minute CD recently of near-total silence.
The CD started out as a local project, but word of mouth has spread demand as far away as Africa.
The only sound on the entire CD is the faint squeak of a floorboard as someone walks near the microphone.
When asked why he purchased the CD, one man said, “Sometimes you just need peace and quiet.”
I have an even cheaper way to listen to silence – turn the CD player off. There, silence without the expense. In fact, you will save money on electricity.
I just can’t fathom why someone would spend perfectly good money on a CD that plays silence. Put in a blank CD and it will have the same effect.
I have an idea for a DVD that doesn’t show any pictures. I think it just might catch on.
From dumb consumers to even dumber criminals.
In Idaho, an 18-year-old decided to rob a convenience store. Nothing odd about that, except the clerk at this convenience store was his own mother.
Police determined she knew nothing of the plot, and Junior was charged with armed robbery. Mom was understandibly traumatized and refuses to believe it was her own son who robbed her, but she admits she had her suspicions when the crook asked what was for dinner before he ran out with a bag full of loot.
I wonder if that guy is related to our next genius. A man in Ohio walked into a bank and asked to have his account balance checked.
He gave the teller the pertinent information, and she said the account was all but drained.
The man then said, “This is a stick up, give me all your money.”
The teller did, and when police arrived, she gave a very detailed description of the bad guy along with his name, social security number and home address.
Police made it to his house before he did.
A man in Utah was arrested for robbing a hotel patron of $14 and a case of beer. Again, not that unusual of a story until you learn the man has been arrested 66 times for a variety of offences.
You would think after 30 or 40 criminal offences someone would realize he is not going to rehabilitate himself and that some real jail time may be in order.
While that guy may not spend any time in jail, wolves in France do. Thanks to conservation efforts, the predators have come back from the brink of extinction and are now gobbling up farmers’ sheep.
To combat the feeding frenzy, the government has come up with a doozy of a plan – the wolves are put in jail.
They are captured alive, marked and held in captivity for a time before being released, “hoping they will figure out it is bad to kill sheep.”
The amazing part is there is some government agency somewhere, filled with employees who spent who knows how much time and money coming up with the plan.
If that doesn’t work, perhaps they could hire someone to run around with a giant spray bottle and blast the wolves in the face every time they eat a sheep while yelling “Bad wolfie! Bad, bad wolfie!”
It goes to show, dumb governmental departments are not limited to the Canadian Senate.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Daddy's little girl now and forever

I met my wife more than 28 years ago and we have been married for almost 25 of those years. We have produced three sproggs, I mean, children: two boys and a girl.
I was thrilled when my first-born son arrived. I was almost as excited as my dad. Now he had an heir to carry on the family name, even if it is hard to spell.
There are not many Handschuhs in Canada, and at one point if you ever met one they would be a member of my immediate family.
Handschuh is a fairly common name in Germany, where my grandfather was born, and there are a few in the U.S., but for some reason not many of them ventured into the frozen wilds of Canada. So having a grandson was a big deal for my dad. His dad felt the same way when I was born.
When dad's second grandson arrived, my big strong, burly father actually got misty eyed. It is not very often my dad shows emotion, but he could not contain himself when he learned of his second grandson.
Dad grew up with three sisters and always wanted a brother. He was the third of four and when his little sister arrived, his parents decided enough was enough and dad never did get the brother he so desperately wanted. He was thrilled his grandsons had something he would never have: a brother to play with, to wrestle with and blame things on.
A few years after son No. 2 arrived, my wife became unexpectedly pregnant. She was thrilled, excited and absolutely giddy with glee. I was, um, er, well, let's move on, shall we.
I must admit I was less than excited about the idea of having another child. I felt we had caught our limit and two was enough.
Despite my less-than-enthusiastic response, my wife was absolutely glowing with the prospect of another child, and was crushed when she had a miscarriage several weeks into the pregnancy.
Having experienced the emotions of carrying a child that only a mother can truly feel, she decided a third kid was going to happen – period. So, after much 'discussion' I caved in like a house of cards in a hurricane.
A few months later she was pregnant and several months after that it was time to rush to the hospital for the arrival of the third installment to the House of Handschuh.
However, this time things went differently. The pregnancy went off without a hitch and the delivery itself was a piece of cake.
Well, it was for me anyway because I was not the one having to pass an object the size of a bowling ball, but even my wife admitted the third delivery was the easiest – relatively speaking of course.
What was different this time was Junior was a Juniorette.
Like I said, I was not thrilled at the prospect of having another child and my wife's insistence on adding to our brood was a topic of 'discussions' on many occasions, but when I saw that perfect, amazing little girl I could not remember for the life of me why I did not want to have another child.
I have never fallen in love so fast in my life. Don't get me wrong, I felt the same love when both of my boys were born, but there is something about daddy's little girl that I still can't really explain.
To say I was over the moon is like saying the Senate is a waste of money.
I was so excited I wanted to run up and down the hospital halls yelling, “It's a girl, it's a girl.”
Considering it was 1 a.m. and I was in a hospital, I did my best to restrain myself, but just barely.
When we took her home, I carried her to the car like the proud father I was. I saw someone I knew in the hospital hallway and rushed over with my little baby, spewing on and on about my new-born daughter.
My 'little' girl will a teen next month, but no matter if she is a newborn, a teen or a mother herself she will always be daddy's little girl.