Friday, February 28, 2014

I just don't have the time to learn to be patient

My wife pointed out the other day I am not the most patient man she has ever met.
I tried to change, but the process took too darn long.
Yes, I admit I am not very patient, a trait I picked up from my dad who is even more impatient than I am.
My dad is a good man and a great example of integrity, honesty and how to be a father, but he did fall a little short in the patience department.
My loving wife kindly noted my own impatience shines like the burning sun mostly when I am driving. For some reason getting behind a slow driver, or some other unforgivable infraction, seems to push my buttons.
Having noticed this more than once over the past 25 years of marital bliss, the Missus suggested I take a tip from one of those self-help books and simply accept the person in front of me is going slower than I would like and there is nothing I can do about it.
I do not expect people to drive like they are qualifying for the Indy 500 or anything.
You don't have to go warp speed down the highway, but I would appreciate it you would at least do the speed limit.
Here is a little bit of free advice: if you are driving down a two-lane bit of blacktop with limited places to pass and there is a line-up of cars behind you as far as the eye can see, you might be going a tad on the slow side.
If you look like you are leading a convoy of mini-vans and compact cars, then perhaps a little more pressure on the gas pedal is in order.
I mean c'mon buddy, just because you have no where to go in a hurry doesn't mean I...It is at this point where I have to think about what I learned in that book, calm myself down and simply accept the fact the bonehead, um, I mean the motorist in front of me is dictating the speed and arriving a couple minutes later than I wanted really is not a big deal.
But if you are driving so slowly children on scooters are passing you, give me a break and hit, I guess I need to keep working on that one.
The Missus encourages me to think 'happy thoughts' and try to look at things in a more positive light.
“Bless you for driving with such care and for giving me the time to look around and enjoy the scenery.” Hmm, just doesn't have the same zing as some of my other thoughts, but I will give it a try.
The Little Woman also noted I have some issues when it comes to driving in heavy traffic and dealing with people who can't seem to figure out the basics of the road like staying in your own lane, or using a turn signal or merging. I mean, c'mon how hard is it to merge? You slow down, look over your shoulder and if it safe to do so, you accelerate into the lane.
Merging does not mean come to a full stop, then look over your shoulder and then attempt to figure out how to merge into moving traffic.
It really isn't that difficult people. I mean, if you can't figure out something so simple what are you doing on the road anyway and...
You know, my wife may have a point. So instead of getting frustrated and impatient, from now on I will try to remain calm and thank the driver for being so cautious in their approach to motoring on our roadways.
It is better to bless the perceived offender than to react in a hostile manner.
So the next time someone is driving too slowly, cuts me off or can not figure out how to merge, I will simply look at them and say “Bless you, pal.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

These criminals are a special kind of stupid

The 'brilliance' of the human mind never ceases to amaze me - especially the human criminal mind.
How some of these people manage to walk and talk at the same time is a true mystery.
In the United States, many bonehead acts of criminality involve firearms of some sort and often the results are ridiculous - from bad guys shooting themselves to gun fights at family barbecues, there is no shortage of stupid human interaction with weaponry.
A trio of bad guy wannabes found this out the hard way when they committed a home invasion.
They kicked in the front door of a house, grabbed the homeowner and locked him in an upstairs closet - the same closest the homeowner kept his rather extensive gun collection in.
A few minutes later the home owner burst out of the closet locked, loaded and ready to defend his home.
Which he did. The unidentified homeowner came out guns a blazing, literally - wounding one of the bad guys in the shoulder and leg. The other two managed to get away, but were arrested a short time later.
Doing a home invasion in the U.S. signifies you are not too bright to begin with because what are the odds of you picking a home that does not have some sort of gun in it?
Anyone who watches American news knows how much trouble their love of firepower can cause. An online news agency said 11 people died last year after being shot...wait for it... by toddlers.
It would seem the young ones got their tiny hands on loaded weapons and accidentally fired them, killing almost a dozen people.
I guess the moral of the story is if you have a gun, secure it. Like in a closet or something.
This next one does not involve gun play, but a distant cousin of Mickey.
A 20-year-old man in Portland was arrested for trying to steal a case of beer from an area grocery store.
The pilfering did not go as planned and police promptly pounced on the perp.
They took the man to the police station and while emptying his pockets they found a live mouse.
The man's father was called to get the mouse, but all hell broke loose when a live cat jumped out of his pants and chased the mouse around the jail house.
I am kidding about the cat part of that tale, but the mouse part is real, proving once again police may have a thankless job, but it is an interesting job.
Speaking of the men and women of law enforcement, it is kind of nice when a criminal makes their job a whole lot easier.
In West Virginia a university football player robbed a local convenience store - while wearing his team jersey with his name across the back.
I don't know what courses he was taking, but I am pretty sure he was not at the top of his class.
This last one is not a crime, but it is so weird I could not let it go. A 55-year-old woman in the Netherlands had to be treated by a doctor because she experienced orgasms emanating form her left foot.
The woman would have up to eight orgasms a day. She said they were exactly the same as a regular orgasm.
Doctors said the nerve going from her left foot that enters the spinal cord at about the same level as the vaginal nerve was to blame. The doctors concluded an injury caused the nerves to cross, triggering the orgasms.
Her 'condition' has been corrected, but since news of the incident came out, area hospitals have been flooded by women with a variety of foot injuries.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Have a happy birthday, no matter what

I celebrated my birthday recently and I realized that when you have a birthday, you are being congratulated for something you had no control over.
You really didn't do anything to be born. You came into this world through no effort on your part. Your mom did all the hard work (the really hard work), all you had to do was show up kicking and screaming - which is how I plan on going out of this world as well by the way.
So you are really taking credit and being congratulated for the hard work of someone else. Sounds a lot like upper management, but that is an entirely different, and much more dangerous topic to write on, so I won't.
But, of course, a birthday is a good day. It means you are not dead yet, and that is always a good thing.
I know when my children were born I was thrilled beyond measure and it was a very good day all three times.
And I would imagine the day I was born there was great rejoicing throughout the land. Well, at least throughout my parent's homestead anyway.
Tradition dictates you congratulate that person year after year for surviving another 365 days.
My birthday was greeted by the customary flood of congratulatory comments, the most common of which was the directive to have a good day.
“Have a great day.”
“Have an awesome day.”
“Have a wonderful day.”
Technically, shouldn't we wish that on our friends and relatives every day? Or do we hope they only have one good day a year?
“Have a great birthday, but the rest of the year I hope you have a case of burning haemorrhoids.”
Christmas is another day we wish people happiness, but that is kind of like a group email where everyone is told to have a merry time.
Birthdays are directed at a specific person, rather than a general announcement to several billion people.
On your birthday, you are singled out as being the one worthy of having a good time.
But what if you are not having a good day? Then what?
What if you go to work and the place is a mad house with far too much to do and not enough time to do it? What if your computer works less efficiently than a member of the Senate, making your day even longer and more frustrating?
What if a variety of circumstances band together to ruin your one special day of the year?
Just because your friends all want you to have a good day doesn't mean it will be a good day. The universe does not care it is your one special day and whether it is a good day or not.
But it is your birthday, so for some reason everyone feels that entitles you have a good day – no matter what.
For that one day every 52 weeks, you are the centre of attention without even trying to be. People give you presents, candy, cards and kudos for not dying in the last 12 months.
The other 364 days you are just some schmuck trudging through the daily routine of life trying to get by as best you can.
So that is it, that is the one day of the year that can be declared Darren Day, or whatever your name happens to be. (But you can call it Darren Day if you want.)
Be it good, bad or anywhere in between, it is still your day so you might as well do your best to enjoy it. And even if the universe conspires against you to make it a less-than-great day, it is still your day and the more of them you get to celebrate, the better.
So happy birthday everyone, hope it is a good one.

Friday, February 14, 2014

From rebel to fibre junky, how times have changed

There we were, the Missus and myself out on a Friday evening.
The work week had finally come to an end, the children were all busy doing stuff and we had some time to ourselves.
So we jumped in the hot rod (a.k.a. seven-passenger mini-van) and headed out to make the most of the beginning of another glorious two days off work - we went grocery shopping.
My, how a Friday night has changed.
Friday night used to be the warm-up party for the big Saturday night party that always carried into the wee hours of Sunday morning.
So instead of a wacky night out filled with fun and frivolity, we hit the local grocery store to pick up a few items.
Wait, it gets worse.
Walking down the breakfast aisle, we were trying to decide what type of cereal to purchase.
Back in the day, the choice was simple – grab what ever you want and enjoy. No discussion, no real decision making – just grab and go. But being in my very late 40s has changed my cereal-buying standards.
Instead of just buying what tastes good, my wife and I read the labels to see how healthy everything is.
Chocolate-Coated Sugar Bombs do not do well on the health-o-metre - go figure. Bland, course and gritty cereals do.
As a general rule for cereal - and pretty much all really healthy foods - the worse it tastes, the better it is for you. If it tastes like you are eating flavoured sand, wood or roots of some sort, then it has to be good for you.
Lately, the culinary quest in all food staples has been fibre. It is all about making sure the bad cholesterol gets taken care of by our good friend fibre.
The more fibre the better. Pretty soon all I will be eating is tree branches and pine needles in my ever-increasing quest for fibre input so I can have a healthy output.
It never used to be this way. Just like a Friday night used to be a time of merriment, food used to be a time of feasting on fattening, artery hardening, cholesterol-laden, sodium-infused goodness.
Bacon cheeseburger? Yes please. Fries? Of course. Gravy? You have to ask.
Those were the days.
But somewhere along the line, I realized I have to start feeding myself healthier fare than grease, fat and more fat. The biggest problem with that realization was I didn't want to.
I liked bacon cheeseburgers, but I also knew I had to make the hard decision to look at the heart smart portion of the menu and not simply get what I want. Such is part of growing older, just like spending a Friday evening at the local grocery store.
So as the Missus and I perused the little information charts on the back of the cereal boxes, we both looked at each other and smiled as we came to the same realization at the same time that we are no longer the young and indestructible beasts we once were.
I used to be a bad boy, a rebel living a devil-may-care lifestyle. Laughing in the face of danger, snickering at those tofu-farting health nuts and their soy bacon, and having a full-blown guffaw at the plant eaters.
Now I am the one reading cereal boxes to see how much fibre each bite has, swapping my fries for a garden-fresh treat and turning down my much-loved bacon. I have yet to succumb to the siren-like enticement of soy bacon and would rather go without than feast on whatever soy bacon is.
But in the end, I know it is the smart thing to do. You don't see very many elderly bad boys and as my years on this earth tick by, I guess being an old good boy takes priority.
But I still wish bacon was a health food.

Friday, February 7, 2014

If you are 50, don't dress like you are 18 - please

I have never really been big on fashion.
For most of my life I have been more of a function-over-style kind of guy. I just never saw the point of wearing expensive, and sometimes uncomfortable clothing just because someone, somewhere declared they looked cool and a bunch of mindless sheep decided they were right.
A lot of people spend far too much money on the top fashions just so they can be 'cool.' Of course, the fashion industry does a masterful job of convincing people they need these clothes or their social life would be ruined and they would never get invited to the big party.
Teens are their favourite target as they play on the insecurity of youth and instil from an early age to be cool they must look cool.
For a few years during my teens, I was one of those fashion-conscious sheep.
But fashion, thou art a fickle beast, and the ever-changing fashion parade was hard to keep up with.
For a while in high school everyone was wearing a certain type of running shoe. If you did not have that particular brand of footwear you were labelled a fashion leper and everyone would laugh at you and you would never be invited the big party and would spend the rest of your life alone with your un-cool shoes.
But suddenly one day, that brand of shoe was out, and a new brand was the 'must have' foot wear. If you didn't have that type of shoe you were labelled a fashion leper, get the idea.
Of course, everyone ran out and bought the new cool shoes for fear of never achieving anything in life and spending their days as a sad, lonely person who could have been popular if they only had the right shoes.
Such is the life of a teen, and yes, I bought into it and had to have the right footwear. What was that I was saying about being a mindless sheep...
Eventually, I grew weary of trying to keep up, and after high school I  decided to wear what I wanted and if I was not cool, who cares. Actually, I wasn't even cool in high school when I was wearing the right clothes, but that is for a whole different column.
I find the older I get, the less I care about what is 'cool' and what is not. I don't dress like a slob or anything, but if my shoes or jeans are last year's fashion, it just doesn't matter.
But I guess some people never grow out of that high-school mentality.
The other day I ran into some people I know who are both in their late 40s – their very late 40s - and he was wearing skinny jeans, pretty shoes and a designer shirt. He was dressed like he just stepped out of a teen magazine. He looked ridiculous. Here was man who was knocking on the front door of 50 and he was dressing like an 18 year old.
His wife walked up and she too was dressed like she was in Grade 12 and not a grandmother of three.
If you want to dress nice and in a fashionable way, go for it, but when you have been out of high school for 30 years, please stop dressing like you just came from Mr. Smith's math class.
My wife noticed as well and we had a pleasant chuckle (after they left) about them wearing teeny bopper clothes as they still tried to look young and hip.
Did I mention they are almost 50 and looked ridiculous.
There is nothing wrong with dressing trendy. If that is how you want to spend your money, go ahead. But please dress as a trendy 40-something, not a 40-something who is still trying to look like an 18 year old.
It's just not cool.