Friday, March 27, 2015

Hide and seek - some assembly required

Who hasn't played hide and seek in their younger years?
I even play it now (when the inlaws come over that is).
But a group in the Netherlands is taking the game to a whole new level. They wanted to organize a game of hide and seek at a massive Ikea store in Amsterdam and more than 19,000 people signed up.
Pretending not to completely freaked out, a store spokesperson said, while Ikea does not want to stop people from having fun, it is just not safe to have that many people in the store playing a game.
An event at a second store saw 13,000 people sign up and once again had Ikea officials freaking out and shutting down the fun and games.
"In general we are happy our customers are playful and want to have fun together with friends and family,” said the spokesperson. “But unfortunately this hide and seek phenomenon has reached proportions where we can no longer guarantee the security of those who are playing or our customers and employees.”
I did not even know there was such a thing as an Ikea hide and seek phenomenon.
My understanding is someone noticed the stores were so large they make a great place for the age-old game and they invited a few friends to play. Then those friends invited a few friends and the next thing you know thousands of people wanted to get in on the fun.
I have been to Ikea stores – mostly because my wife makes me. She loves Ikea. She loves to wander around and look at all the different items and get ideas for what she would like to do in our home.
I follow her like a lost puppy dog trying not to look too bored, because while I do not love Ikea, I do love my wife, so it is part of my husbandly duties.
Kind of like putting up with, I mean, enjoying a delightful visit from those inlaws I was telling you about earlier.
We have purchased a few items from Ikea which, of course, has to be assembled by the purchaser using a wonderfully 'informative' set of instructions. Basically, they are a piece of paper with a bunch of diagrams and numbers on them.
All you have to do is hold boards A, C, D and F while inserting screws M, L, Y and Q. It is that simple. And as long as you happen to have six hands and a slinky for a spine because you have to twist in so many different directions at once, it is a piece of cake.
Anyway, Ikea stores are large with a lot of places to hide, so I can understand why it is such a great place to play the game.
I also read it has been going on for a while, but is now reaching epic proportions and is being shut down in the name of safety.
When my kids were little, they loved playing hide and seek and they always wanted dad to play.
I was more than happy to oblige, but found available hiding spaces somewhat lacking.
Because they were little kids they could crawl in to, under and behind things. At 6'4” and over 200 pounds, I was much more restricted in my places of hiding.
"I found you behind the door again, dad.”
"I found you in a closet, dad.”
"I found you behind a different door, dad.”
"I found you in a different closet, dad.”
You get the idea.
The good part was, they were so young it was always a thrill to find me.
It was then my turn to find them and I would always have a “hard time” locating them and would make a big deal out of it when I did find them.
My children are too old for hide and seek, or any of the kiddie games we used to play.
But it would seem hide and seek in a department store has no age limit, so maybe we will play again. I just hope Ikea has lots of doors and closets.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nude joggers, beer shootouts and stoned dogs - must be time for the news

A lawmaker in Nevada wants the family dog to have access to medical marijuana.
Democrat Tick Segerblom wants pet owners to be allowed to obtain the drug for their animals if a veterinarian confirms it "may mitigate the symptoms or effects" of a chronic or debilitating medical condition.
OK, first of all the man's name is Tick. How can you possibly take someone serious if they are named after a blood-sucking insect?
Mind you, he is a politician...
Anyway, so Tick wants the family mutt to have access to pot. The proposed bill also includes letting people access marijuana for their health needs.
The people thing has been debated and allowed in many areas for a few years now, but this is the first time I have heard about pot for pets.
This raises a few questions like, without thumbs, how is the dog going to roll a joint in the first place? (Let alone light it and hold it.)
I wonder if Tick (makes me laugh every time) owns shares in any local dog food companies because if he does successfully lobby to allow dogs to get stoned, I am pretty sure there will a spike in sales when the mutts gets the munchies.
In other odd news, it would seem people are having trouble keeping their clothes on.
Montreal police have been getting reports of a nude jogger dashing through the snow wearing only running shoes and socks.
Running along a snow-covered street while naked has got to be dangerous. If you were to slip and fall on the jagged ice you could hurt your exposed...pride.
But this clown must be brave because he is willing to run around naked in cold weather. That is no 'small' feat. I wonder if he will 'shrink' away from the spotlight now.
In Pakistan, a man was arrested after posting a video of himself riding a motorcycle down a city street in the buff. As if posting it wasn't bad enough, this guy did it again after betting his friends he could.
Police arrested him as he was leading a procession of motorcyclists who were cheering on his antics.
I thought running nude was crazy. I do not even want to think about the impending road rash if you  crash a motorcycle when you were naked.
There was no word if he was wearing a helmet (safety first) and the man is facing a variety of charges.
I wonder if he has any relatives in Montreal.
In New Orleans, a 64-year-old man is facing charges after a case of beer rage. It would seem the boozy bozo asked a neighbour for a Budweiser beverage, but was instead handed a Busch brewsky.
The pair then entered into a heated debate about the merits of certain kinds of beers. Tempers flared and in true American fashion, the 64-year-old pulled a handgun and pointed it at his 66-year-old-neighbour as he pressed his point that Bud was the best beer to buy.
Not to be outdone, the neighbhour produced a shotgun and wounded the man who had the handgun.
Police declared the shooting was self defence and that both men are idiots.
The good news is neither of the men were naked during the altercation.
And lastly, in Seattle a man was arrested and charged with robbery after holding up a doughnut shop and stealing a single maple bar.
Emplpoyees had asked the man to leave, but he then reached into his pocket like he had a gun. He ordered the employees to the rear of the store and then rummaged through the selection of treats. An employee called police who arrested the sticky finger bandit a couple blocks away.
You know this guy is going to have it rough behind bars.
It will be tough to get respect from his fellow inmates once they learn he was busted for stealing a pastry.
But the good news is, he was fully clad during the entire event.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I am old and wise, my children are neither

So, it happened.
Just like I predicted, I turned 50.
That is half a century of roaming this earth, soaking up knowledge and storing it in the vast intellectual vault that is my brain.
OK, I will admit a lot of that knowledge is absolutely worthless. Did you know cockroaches have teeth in their stomachs to break down their food? Now you do.
Just another useless tidbit of information I have archived over the years. I could barely remember the information in a book I am studying, but I do know all bananas have a very low level of natural radiation.
But I am much wiser now that I was 20 or 30 years ago.
There is a difference between being smarter and being wiser.
Smarter will help you figure out quantum mechanics, wiser will help you realize you are not smart enough to do it.
There have been many instances when I have passed my hard-earned wisdom on to my children – only to have it completely ignored.
Not because it was poor advice based on years of experience, but because teenagers know everything in the world worth knowing.
Junior recently bought a truck. A great, big four-wheel drive that is much more truck than he required.
A co-worker asked me why he needed a truck that big.
メHe didn't 'need' one that big, he 'wanted' one that big.”
And to a teen 'want' and 'need' are very often the same thing.
While the truck is in pretty decent shape, it needed new tires before long
Wisdom told me the rubber would be expensive, to which Junior replied, “I know.”
I told him they would cost more than $1,000.
メI know.”
I told him with the bank loan, insurance and his social life, coming up with that kind of money will be hard.
メI know.”
Well, the time has come for the rubber to hit the road and that rubber is going to cost a bundle.
When I mentioned it is almost time to replace all four tires, he replied “Ya, but they are expensive.”
To which I had the great pleasure of responding with, "I know."
My son is very smart, but he is not very wise.
What teenager is, really?
I wasn't at that age.
It has taken five decades to accumulate such a vast wealth of knowledge and intelligence. Well, knowledge anyway, I have never claimed to have an abundance of intelligence.
But I do feel a lot wiser than I used to, so I am growing in that department.
It is a shame you cannot download all that wisdom to your children, saving them from making he same mistakes you made at that age.
Because it is the first time they have done or experienced something, teens think it is something completely new and us 'old people' wouldn't understand.
What the kiddies don't appreciate is us 'old people' have already walked that path, we have already experienced what they are now just discovering.
I am sure my own father wished he could have injected his wisdom into my teenage brain, just like his father did and his father before him.
But before you can be old and wise, you must be young and stupid.
I admit, I took the stupid part to new heights on occasion (well, new to me anyway), but what teen didn't do stupid things in the name of adventure and excitement?
Wisdom teaches you it is not smart to try and jump a barbedwire fence with your dirtbike. Youth says 'Go for it, dude.'
Wisdom also knows new tires for a big truck are expensive, eating fast food several times a week is not good for you, the world will not stop rotating if you do not get the latest and greatest gadget and all sorts of other things that a wise man knows.
Not all 'old people' are wise, and I have some peers who are still making some very dumb decisions. Fortunately, I am now wise enough to not make the same choices.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Friday, March 13, 2015

Too many names on the wall of memories

I said goodbye to my friend last week.
Like other memorial services I have been to (there have been far too many), it was somber with the occasional outburst of laughter as good times are recalled, only to be replaced by the reality of the moment.
His wife and children were there; keeping a stoic front, but of course on the inside the pain of his loss was marching through their hearts.
It is sad when anyone you care about dies. But it is even harder when that person is young. My friend was only 51 years old.
Far too young to be taken from this earth. Far too valuable a person to be swept away by the merciless scourge of cancer.
My great-grandmother had a saying, “Old people die when they are old, but young people can die any time.”
She was in advanced stages of dementia when I knew her and would, on occasion, talk to the closet, but during her lucid moments she expressed the wisdom only nine decades of living can provide.
I was a kid back then (and to tell you the truth she used to scare the hell out of me), so her words made little sense at the time, but as I aged I came to understand and appreciate what she meant.
Young people are not supposed to die. A friend of mine from 'back in the day' was not supposed to die of a brain tumour at 28 years old.
Wesley was not supposed to die in an ice fishing accident when we were in Grade 11. That is simply too darn young no matter how you look at it.
I had known him since Grade 1 and he was the first friend I had ever lost. Too many names are etched on the solemn wall of memories in my mind.
Friends, relatives, school mates have all had their names put on that dark, cold reminder they are no longer here.
Death is so final, so complete. When someone moves away, you can still stay in touch with them. You can call them, email them, look them up on FaceBook, or even send them an old-fashioned letter.
They are physically gone, but they are still there, still within reach.
Death steals that from you. Death does not allow any further contact. In its greed, Death wants tto take everything for itself, there is no sharing with the living, no hope of seeing them on this earth again. That greed takes away all future memories you may have had with a loved one.
All that is left are memories of the past. Those recordings of the heart and mind that allows you to relive those relationships. You can lose yourself in those wonderful memories. If only for a little while, you can be reunited with a loved one.
But even then, deep down you know eventually, you will have to return to reality and again feel the sting of loss.
There is nothing special about my mourning. Millions of people mourn the loss of a loved one every second of every day.
Accidents, disease, war and the most horrific of all – suicide – claim loved ones constantly.
Some of us are on this earth longer than others. Even if they do not seem worthy of a long life, death will come for them only when the time is right – no sooner, no later.
But before death, there is life and that is where the magic lies. Life is where you create those memories for, and with your loved ones.
Life is where you can share a laugh with a long-time friend; where you can go camping with your family in the rain, but still have fun; life is the simple things like going for a hike, or helping your son work on his car.
Memories can be created every day. They don't all have to be grand adventures like a tropical vacation or trip to the Alps. Simple things can create memories that last a lifetime.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dopey dress debate too dumb to discuss

Anyone who follows the absurdity of the Interweb has no doubt come across one of the most talked about and hotly debated subjects in the world today: the dress.
More specifically, what colour is the dress?
Somewhere in this wacky world a lady posted a picture of a dress and asked people to comment on what colour they thought it was.
The dress went viral – as they say – and garnished attention around the globe. Countless Internet debates raged, 'news' programs weighed in on the subject and for a brief while most of the free world was talking about the colours of this dress.
There are no words in the English language to adequately express how much I do not care what colour this dress is. Which is also kind of how I feel about anything and everything the Kardashian clan does. One is getting married, another is getting a divorce, one is pregnant and one is an alien from the planet Lookatme. Who cares? Someone must because these um, er, 'ladies' (of questionable morals and actions) are everywhere. They are in newspapers, magazines, Internet sites, on talk shows and even real news outlets are covering their exploits.
Call me old fashioned, but to me a 'lady' does not jump from bed to bed, get a divorce after two months of marriage or show their 'assets' every chance they get.
But almost every single day there is some sort of Kardashian news being forced into my mind where it asaults my brain with unwanted information continually degenerates into an ever-lowering level of stupidity.
Did I say who cares yet? Because if I did, I could not possibly say it too many times.
But while it is nearly impossible to not notice these no talent, spoiled, attention whores because of the massive media jugernaut they have become, I would not even have known about the 'intellectual' debate surrounding the stupid dress had it not popped up on my FaceBook feed –  bringing with it a frenzy of opinions and comments.
Some insisted it was one colour, while others vigerously proclaimed it was another.
There were, however, some very wise people who did not give a fat rat's butt what colour the dress was and pointed out there were far more important things to debate than the colour of a dress.
Now those people I liked. Their comments made sense, but for every one casting dispersions on the dress debate, there were many who enthusiasically embraced the great dress discussion.
OK, I know I have said it before, but it bears saying again: who cares?
Not this guy.
There are so many valid things out there worth talking about, but for a brief while the world was obsessed with the colour of some fabric that was to be worn by a someone somewhere on the planet.
メDo you think ground troops will be needed to defeat ISIS in the Middle East?”
メGood question, but what I really want to know is: do you think the dress was white and gold, or beige and brown?”
メChina is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Do you think embargoes on their products should be implemented to force them to clean up their industry to slow the global impact of pollution?”
メHmmmm, another good question, but what people really want to know is: how do you think that dress would look on a Kardashian?”
I wish I was exagerating the stupidity of such conversations, but they happen every day. And not just among people, massive news networks often give air time to stuff like the dress or other viral Internet entities like the Kardashians.
The dastardy dress debate will soon be gone, only to be replaced by another ridiculous topic and I am pretty sure I will not care about that one either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's not all about the money

The problem with people who have lots of money is they don't understand what it's like to not have lots of money.
Or to even not have enough money.
A recent trip to Mexico showed how great the contrast between haves and have nots are. In one area of the town we spent five days in, there was a vast landscape of shacks, barely running cars, dust and garbage.
Numerous homes were atop an old landfill site and many of the homes were made out of whatever material could be found.
And these were not druggies or alcoholic bums, but hard-working people who were trying to survive on a whopping $40US a week.
A few kilometres away, sat a strip of posh resorts. Pools, hottubs and condos with the same square footage or more as my entire house stretched for kilometres. BMWs, Mercedes and Cadillacs graced the parking lot, while the 'slums' were full of dented and rusted out cars that were as peace meal as the houses.
Having too much money has never been a problem I have had to face, but it is one I wouldn't mind trying on for size.
For a few years after we wed, my wife and I were so broke we could barely afford air, but we saved and worked hard to arrive at the humble abode we now call home.
During those broke years, I was covering an event as a photographer for the newspaper I worked for that featured a wealth-management specialist.
That is someone who tells people how to best take care of their money. Considering I did not have any money at the time, I did not pay too much attention to what he was saying.
That is until he said, “And with the extra money you have left over from each pay cheque, you can invest it in...”
Extra money?
What the hell is that?
What is this mythical thing called extra money of which he speaks?
At the time, we were 'foolishly' spending all our money on silly stuff like rent and food and we certainly did not have any 'extra money' lying around we could invest in something.
But to people in the audience with an abundance of money, it all made perfect sense.
I personally know a few people who are doing quite well financially. Some of whom made a lot of money in legal, yet somewhat unscrupulous manners, but that is for another time.
The common thread they all shared was they had no concept of what not being able to afford something was like.
This one guy and I were talking and I mentioned my truck needed some work.
His response, “Well just take it in to get fixed. Problem solved.”
He could not wrap his money-laden brain around the thought that, at the moment, I could not afford to have the work done.
He was baffled at the notion.
The conversation drifted in another direction and it wasn't long before he was telling me about his new boat, vacation plans and all the skiing they did last winter.
Years of working in newspaper has provided me with a career that I have come to regard as a job I have done for a very long time.
Coupled with a marginally acceptable wage and it was a way to pay the bills – most of them anyway.
The rich people I have met over the years – and I have met a few very rich people – cared about one thing and one thing only: money.
It was their god, it was their desire, it was their sole purpose for living.
They were not very nice people, at least not to us little people and I found some of the poorest people I have met were the most inviting, welcoming and generous with what little they had.
For someone who lusts, loves and covets money, they will never have enough. But for someone who loves people, life and giving you will always have enough.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh