Friday, September 26, 2014

Reality TV sinks to new low

Well, it's official – reality TV has hit a new low, and based on some of the stuff that is currently out there, it was not easy to do.
According to news reports, American cable channel WE TV has ordered nine episodes of Sex Boy. As you can tell by the name, this will not be for family viewing (or for anyone with a maturity level higher than a 13-year-old boy.)
In the 'show,' couples take to a stage where they engage in intimate relations in front of a panel of what the news outlet called D-list actors who, along with sinking to any level just to get in front of a camera, will critique the 'performance' of those involved.
Like I said, a new low for not only realty TV, but TV in general. Although it is called the boob tube, so...
The show is based on a British series of the same name and is being brought to America because there is currently not enough sleazy things going on south of the border.
But it is not just our American cousins who are kind of weird. The Germans have a few bizarre things going on as well.
It would seem there is a rather trendy hotel located next to the Berlin Zoo that is all the rage at the moment for its spectacular views of the city and the zoo itself.
But the hotel offers views of its own.
According to a news report (and a quick Interweb search), the restrooms of The Monkey Bar have floor-to-ceiling windows so those heeding nature's call can be seen by any gawkers who may be interested in watching from the street.
All I can says is: Why? Why? And why?
Why would anyone want to be watched doing that and why would anyone want to watch them.
Just when you think the world can not possibly get any dumber, someone, somewhere manages to lower the bar even more.
I remember the good old days when both of the previous activities were done in private, behind closed doors without an audience of any sort.
In other weird goings on, London designer Gigi Barker recently unveiled the Skin Chair. The $2,500 creation is made of leather, but is infused with a 'pheromone-impregnated silicone base' (whatever the hell that is).
The selling feature is the chair is like "lounging in the fleshy, comforting folds of a man's belly."
Ick – really, what more can I say?
Will someone buy the chair? Probably, because there is one born every minute.
Here's a refreshing story that does not involve carnal activities, latrine voyeurism or fake skin. Nope, this one involves some good, old-fashioned stupidity.
A teacher in the U.S. of A. (where else) accidentally shot herself in the leg while using the staff restroom.
It would seem the grade school teacher was packing heat and the weapon accidentally discharged while she was um, er, you know, doing her business.
Apparently it is perfectly legal for teachers in this particular county to carry concealed firearms to school and they must keep their weapon on them at all times – even when going to the loo.
The teacher was not seriously injured, but her co-workers were concerned when they heard a loud bang and then groaning coming from the lavatory.
Many suggested higher fibre content in her diet before they learned what had actually happened.
And speaking of schools and guns, several school districts in America are purchasing surplus army weapons including fully automatic assault rifles, automatic pistols and thousands of rounds of ammo.
School officials said the weapons are needed in case of an attack on the school like those that have sadly happened over the years.
They will be used only by trained personelle and will be kept locked inside an armory at the school.
An armory at the school? Machine guns? Automatic pistols?
When I was in school, the most dangerous things we had to worry about was the mystery meat at the cafeteria and Jeff's smelly feet when he took his shoes off.

Copyright Darren Handschuh, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Murphy the Wonder Dog has developed a disgusting new hobby

Murphy the Wonder Dog has started doing something new and I am not impressed.
As if barking at every living thing he sees, or charging dogs 10 times bigger than he is, or having to stop, sniff and pee on every single blade of grass in the Free World were not enough to make him annoying, this new activity is downright gross.
Murphy the Mutt has suddenly developed a passion for rolling in things.
The other day, the Missus and I were taking him for a walk along a woodland path where he could run free and enjoy nature.
We have been to this spot dozens of times without incident, but then one day Murph decided rolling in a big pile of dog doo-doo would be the perfect way to end the outing.
When we all piled into the van (yes, I drive a mini-van as required by law if you are middle aged with several kids) we noticed the unmistakable smell of dog poop.
We checked the bottom of our shoes thinking we had tread upon such a foul material, but we were clean.
I then looked back at Murphy and he had the biggest, dumbest grin on his face I have ever seen. He also had dog poop all over his left shoulder and side.
If I may, I would like to go on a bit of a rant. If you take your dog for a walk, be it around the block, in a park or along a nature trail, PICK UP AFTER THEM! It is easy to do. You just carry a little bag with you and when you dog does its business, you pick up the poop with the bag and throw it in the garbage. A simple solution to a messy problem. No one wants to step in that so don't be an ignorant jerk.
Anyway, Murph the Surf was obviously proud of his accomplishment and was thrilled with the results of his effort.
Driving home with all the windows rolled down, the odour was still enough to gag a corpse. The messy mutt then went straight into the bath, where he shook and shivered like he always does.
I had no sympathy for him whatsoever. He hates water and having a bath is like a form of CIA water torture for him, but when you roll in poop, you get a bath – simple as that.
I thought perhaps his misadventures with animal scat was a one-time event. He had never done that before, so perhaps in a moment of weakness he was enticed by the lure of, um, er, well I don't know what the lure would be, but he was enticed by it.
My hopes the event was a one off were soon dashed, however.
A few days later we were visiting my parents who live in the country. While picking some plums, I looked over and saw that same dumb grin as Murph rolled around on a pile of deer droppings.
I do not know why dogs do this and am surprised Murphy suddenly decided to take up the hobby.
I have friends with dogs that roll in everything they can find and the more disgusting the better, but they have been doing that since they were pups.
Dog poop – great. Fresh cow poop – even better. Rotting critter of some sort – the best.
But I always thought dogs did not develop new habits when they were adults. But during his sixth summer on this earth, Murphy has decided rolling in poop is just the thing he needs to blow off steam for the day.
We will have to keep a close eye on him from now on and he had better get used to baths because I suspect there will be a lot of them in his future.

Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh

Friday, September 19, 2014

Depression is a self-determined journey

So how can you make someone recognize they have depression?
This question has been posed many times, but unfortunately the answer is not the one those people want to hear.
The simple answer is: you can't (at the very least it is extremely difficult to do.)
It sucks, I know.
I wish there was a some formula to help people see the lies that are controlling their lives, but no such formula exists. Not that I know of anyway.
I have presented this question to psychiatrists, doctors, counsellors and have even heard it posed to one of the top radio counsellors on the planet.
They all had the same answer: the person with depression is the only one who can do anything about it - they must acknowledge they have a problem and need help.
The best comparison I have heard is to that of an alcoholic: until they admit they need help, they will not seek help.
Sorry if this is not very encouraging, but it has been my experience that this is the sad truth about mental health. I am hardly an expert on such matters, but I have learned a bit from the school of hard knocks, having struggled with mental health issues for many years.
I saw depression manifest itself in a close family relation when I was a teen and decided if I had depression, I was going to admit it and do everything I could to fight it. I saw how damaging it could be, how it can take a good person and make them angry, or withdrawn or so sad they can not get out of bed.
It would be more than a decade from that moment before the depression that runs in my family would arrive at my doorstep. A series of sad and difficult events brought it crashing into my mind like a freight train plowing through a pile of marshmallows.
The instant it took hold, I knew life had changed. I could physically feel it. I also knew I could not fight this thing on my own, so I went to the doctor who put me on medication.
It took a few tries to find the right medication, but through trial and error I found one that works.
So if you, or someone you know, has tried one type of medication and it did not work, do not stop looking for one that will. It is far too important to dismiss after only a single try.
But good for you if you are even willing to try medication to help.
The first and most important step to dealing with mental health is admitting you have a problem – just like an alcoholic. I know several people who have mental health issues – I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice and witness its impact in their daily lives – but they refuse to get help.
One friend told me he could not have depression because he has a sense of humour. Another said if her husband would do this or that different, or if she had a different job, or a nicer house, newer car everything would be fine.
I know people who have divorced seeking relief from the mental anguish they find themselves in, only to have that anguish follow them because wherever you go, so does your brain.
For those living with someone suffering from mental health issues, life can be very hard. But there is help for partners through various agencies and online resources (, or My wife has taken several courses to help her deal with my own depression.
As for the person with depression, change is up to them because only they can take that most important step of admitting they need help. And once they do, life will change for the better.

Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I just never got tired of dinosaurs

I don't know what it is about dinosaurs, but I just love them.
I have been fascinated by the Jurassic critters for as long as I can remember.
Every time I saw a drawing of one, I always got this odd feeling inside. I am far from being a kid anymore, but I read a story about a huge water dinosaur that was just unveiled and I got the same feeling.
Perhaps I should have been a paleontologist instead of a newspaper guy.
Mind you, us newspaper guys are fast becoming dinosaurs as we are overtaken by the electronic age of presenting information.
It is not a meteorite that wiped out the newspaperguy-asaurus, it was a microchip.
Anyway, as a wee lad I just could not get enough of the ancient monsters.
Because in a way, that's what they were – real, live monsters.
Growing up, I had books on dinosaurs, life-like plastic dinosaurs and was (am) a fan of every movie ever made that includes a dinosaur.
I know the movies are not factually correct, but I am willing to over look that just for the chance to see a dinosaur moving and roaring.
However, as a kid all of my toy dinosaurs had to be factually accurate and a silly 'pretend' dinosaur would just not do.
Those dinosaurs usually ended up on the business end of my pellet gun. Which, I must admit, was pretty darn cool.
I would envision myself as being lost in time and having to battle my way past a hoard of gnashing teeth and flesh-ripping claws.
Of course the beasts always lost, and I was always the hero. Childish, I know, but give me a break, I was only 23.
Actually, I was around 10 years old when I got my first pellet gun and discovered the joys of shooting things – like rampaging dinosaurs.
But not the realistic dinosaurs. Those were far too important to fall to the projectile of my break-barrel air rifle.
I knew more about dinosaurs by Grade 5 than most kids would know in a lifetime. In fact, by Grade 6 my teachers forbade me from doing any more book reports on dinosaurs.
By high school, dinosaurs had been replaced by my other passion: motorcycles. I have loved motorcycles for as long as I loved dinosaurs.
Cars, girls, work, motorbikes, girls - all distracted me and my focus on dinosaurs faded into the far reaches of my mind – until my son got old enough to become interested in things and he became interested in dinosaurs.
I did not prompt him to want books and toys on the great beasts, he just gravitated to them on his own. I was one proud papa, and in my 30s I was once again laying on the living room floor playing with plastic dinosaurs.
Junior knew a lot about dinosaurs. He knew many of their names, what they ate and other vital information.
But he too grew out of the dino phase and the numerous plastic dinosaurs were relegated to a corner of his room where they waited to once again roam the earth.
They only had to wait a few years. A good friend of our had a son who was fascinated by dinosaurs to the point that was all he talked about, played with and drew.
This was my kind of little dude.
So I gathered up all the toy dinosaurs we had and, with the permission of Junior, gave them to our friend's little guy who looked like he had just won the lottery on Christmas Day as I handed him two bags full of the beasts.
Dinosaurs may be long gone, but they are definitely not forgotten.

Copyright 2014, Darren Handschuh

Friday, September 12, 2014

A hiking we will go and go and go and...

Maybe it was a metaphor for life.
About the decisions we make, the paths we take and the impact those choices have on our future.
Perhaps, it was a message from a higher power to really think about our next step.
Or maybe we just missed a directional marker.
Either way, what started out as a leisurely hike through a forested mountain became a mini-death march that lasted a lot longer than we had hoped, or were prepared for.
It all began on a warm summer's day in a little town the Missus and I used to live in. It was a scenic little ville, nestled among some of the biggest mountains in the province and communing with Ma Nature was a huge part of the community. There was so much of it around you, it was a natural draw and we spent many hours hiking through the woods.
Our dogs loved the excursions and any word that even sounded remotely like 'walk' got them worked up.
With the arrival of summer, the snow at the top of a nearby mountain park had finally receded enough to allow for hiking, so we decided to venture into new territory.
There were numerous trails of varying challenge and we decided on one called The Lindmark Trail. It was about six kilometres and looped back to the parking lot.
Perfect, it shouldn't take too long and we cheerfully headed out with two happy little dogs bounding around the woods.
No need to bring much water, because we would soon be back at the car. It's not like we would be hiking for half the day or anything.
Cheerfully, we skipped along the trail, chatting away and nodding to our fellow hikers as we all danced around the woodland realm like tree sprites basking in the glow of all nature had to offer.
Our dogs ran around like they always do, loving having so much to sniff and pee on.
So we hiked and we hiked and we hiked. We soon realized the Lindmark Trail should be called the Unmarked Trail because we had gone a lot farther than six kilometres and the end was no where in site. The lack of navigational signs as promised by the large map at the park entrance resulted in us taking a wrong turn.
We had been hiking so long even the dogs stopped running around and were merely walking the trail with us. Through the trees I saw a glimmer of asphalt and thought relief was at hand, but the asphalt turned out to be the road we took to get to the parking long, not the parking lot itself.
I recognized the section of road, and knew we were at least four kilometres from our car, so we trudged up hill in the summer sun and finally reached our vehicle.
We had long depleted our meagre water supply and frantically searched the baking-hot car for anything of the liquid variety.
What we found were two near-empty bottles of Coke stuffed under the seat. We looked at the bottles, then each other, and somewhat reluctantly chugged the fermented pop product that was warm and icky, but it was liquid and beggars can't be choosers. And neither can people who are really thirsty after hiking through the woods for half the day.
Having choked down the stale carbonated beverage, we headed home where we grabbed a big glass of water before flopping down on the couch.
About an hour after we got home, I said the word walk and the dogs barely looked up. If they could have lifted just one certain middle claw, I am sure they would have.
So what did we learn from this adventure?
We learned the people in charge of the directional trail signs should be fired and we learned to bring more water than you think you will need.
Remember, it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.
Which, by the way, is my favourite saying.

Copywrite 2014 Darren Handschuh

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A camping we will go - with guns of course

I will say one thing about camping with my buddy, you are well protected.
My friend is what is known as a gun enthusiast. In other words he has enough fire power to repel the entire zombie apocalypse by himself.
Of course, he has all the proper permits, certificates and qualifications to be a one-man army. He is an avid hunter so the guns are more than just for show.
When life was not so busy, we used to get our families together to lounge in the wooded hills for a few days to forget about life's woes and sip upon fermented fruits, hops and barley.
Often we would go 'bush' camping, at a forestry site far from the mainstream campsites where your neighbour is two feet away.
This was real camping where the only water you had was what you brought with you and the only food is what you prepared before you left. There was no concession, no market to run to for a latte and no flushing toilets.
Yup, it was camping where men were men and you were pitted against the elements. Of course, if the elements got too bad you jumped into your trailer and cranked up the furnace, but still you were communing with nature away from the mainstream crowd.
We were still in the wilds of the province, a long way from civilization and in the backyard of woodland creatures that do not care humans are the dominant species on the planet. Once you enter the forest, you become part of the food chain, not the master of it.
We are only dominant because of our brains. When it comes to muscle, tenacity, power and ferocity we skinny, weak little humans are no match for woodland masters like a bear.
I read if you encounter a bear you are supposed to not panic (yea, right), walk away slowly (yea, right) and talk calmly to the bruin (yea, right). I wonder if urine would act as a bear repellent because there would be plenty of that around me.
They also say you are supposed to throw an item to distract the bear – like a hat or a jacket or someone from the next campsite.
No, when you are that far in the woods, you are no longer at the top of the food chain, unless you are camping with my friend.
You see my buddy, Mark, does not just bring the regular camping accessories such as folding chairs, hot dogs, marshmallows and other standard gear.
Sure he has all that stuff, but he also packs something with a little more kick – like a 12 gauge bolt action shotgun which is ideal for campsite defense.
If we went to a provincial campsite, he would leave the weaponry at home and just bring his standard load of food and booze, but if we were venturing off the beaten path, he would always be packing heat.
If an aggressive bear, wolf, squirrel or gopher did show up, Mark would dispatch it without hesitation.
But in all our years of camping, Mark only grabbed his shotgun once when a big black bear was meandering through the campsite, but despite sniffing a few things and having a look around it really did not bother anyone and Mark was not forced to go Rambo on it.
In fact, he has never had to use the boom stick to defend the campsite, but you know what they say, better heavily armed, than sorry.

Copywrite 2014 Darren Handschuh