Saturday, August 29, 2015

Getting ready to go back to school

I just read a story about how to prepare your child for going back to school. It was full of all sorts of interesting and helpful suggestions, tips and advice for helping your child make the transition from the care-free days of summer to the regimented routine of a public school system.
When I was a child, the only thing we did to prepare for going back to school was go shopping for books, paper, pencils, erasers, (wine for mom and dad to celebrate our return to school) and even some new clothes – which, of course, you could not wear on the first day because it was not considered 'cool' to look your best.
Instead, you wore the same ratty jeans you had on at the last day of school from the previous year. Like a fine wine (the kind parents get to celebrate back to school) you had to let the new clothes sit and 'age' for a while.
At least a week, then you could wear a new shirt. A few days later you would venture out in your new jeans and then your new shoes. Eventually you would head out with all of the new clothing on at the same time, but by now school had been in session for at least a couple weeks so you were not branded a geek for wearing new clothes on the first day.
And if memory serves, there was a whole bunch of other reasons you were branded a geek. Or so I have been told anyway.
Anyway, the article recommended all sorts of things to help the youngsters get back into the school groove before school even starts.
They suggest you start preparing your children two weeks before the big day by doing things like establishing a routine, explain expectations, hold those expectations to a realistic level, talk to your child about school etc.
All good advice indeed. When I was a kid heading back to the seventh level of hell, er, I mean school, the only prep we had was seeing those horrid back-to-school commercials on TV.
They would start a couple weeks before the nine months of torture would resume and had the never-failing result of ruining the last vestiges of summer you had yet to enjoy.
Who could enjoy late August when you knew your care-free days were numbered? Not I.
As for my parent's role in preparing me for school, if I recall it went something like this: School starts next week.
The end.
That was about it. A quick reminder I was about to lose my freedom to the dungeon masters of the public education system for another year.
There was no advice on how to get used to going back to school, there were no pep talks, no cushioning the blow – just one day you are enjoying summer, the next you are chained to a desk learning that most evil form of math - algebra.
The first day of school we would find our name on a list taped to the side of the school that let us know what kind of a school year we were in for.
The list told us what our homeroom was and what courses we were taking and when. Groaning and gnashing of teeth was heard throughout the day as people saw their short-term future printed before them in black and white.
You would then run around to all your friends to see if you shared any classes with them which either led to rejoicing or more of that gnashing I was telling you about.

But it only took a few days to get back into the routine and in the back of my mind was always the reassurance that summer vacation was less than 300 days away.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Clogged up complaint filter a matter of time

I wonder if there is a certain age where you feel free to complain about everything.
Is there a magic number you reach where you feel the uncontrollable urge to talk about everything you do not like no matter what it is or who is listening?
I have been commenting on the music “these young kids listen to” for some time so that doesn't count. There really is some terrible music out there, but then again there was some terrible music when I was a young lad as well. But there was also plenty of good music, so I am assuming there is some good music coming out of the current generation – and when I find some, I will let you know.
My dad pretty much hated everything I listened to in my youth – and the more he hated it, the more I liked it.
“I wouldn't give you 10 cents for that racket,” was heard on many occasions as I listened to such classical bands as AC/DC or Van Halen.
I am sure the generation before his complained about the noise these young kids were listening to, so like I said, complaining about music doesn't count because like my father before me, I was hardly in my advanced years when I noticed just how awful the new generation of music is.
But somewhere along the line, my dad, like so many his age, decided to have issue with all sorts of things.
And they are not shy about letting people know of their displeasure. Some are more vocal than others. I knew this one little old lady who was sweet as pie, but complained about pretty much everything all the time.
There was not much she did not dislike, find annoying or irritating and she had no problems letting those around her know of her displeasure.
Many of the older set do not seem to be able to contain their distain for something. So I know eventually I too will will reach a point where I have no inhibitions left when it comes to letting people know what I think of things.
And therein lies the answer to my question: it is not a certain age where you dislike things, but you reach a certain age where you don't care if you tell people about it.
Everyone has filters that keeps them from acting a certain way or saying certain things and apparently the filters on keeping your complaints in your head and not coming out of your mouth gets so clogged with age you have no choice but to verbalize your displease externally.
Near as I can figure, you eventually reach and age where you don't give a fat rats butt what people think of your opinion.
And once I realized that, I took a close look at myself and saw I am well on my way to losing my concern for what other people think.
I have never been overly fashion conscious, and I did try to keep my clothes at least somewhat trendy.
But as I pile on the years, I noticed I have become far less concerned with wearing “cool”clothes or having a certain look.
I wear what I want, when I want.
So it has begun. That particular filter is clogging fast and soon will be of no use.
It is just a matter of time before my 'complaint' filter gets clogged and all the things I dislike about the world spews forth in a verbal waterfall of annoyance and unrestrained comments – just like my father before me and his before him.
It is a right of age to sit around and talk about “these young kids” and this and that and eventually I plan on being right in the middle of it all.

I am not quite there yet, but am confident when I do reach that age I will have no problem telling anyone who will listen what I dislike about, well, everything.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tiny kitten takes over my home

Young Daughter wanted to get a pet. Her oldest brother had a series of hamsters when he was young, and she wanted a pet of her own as well.
Einstein was the first rodent I have ever welcome into my home and lived to the ripe old age of just over two years, which is pretty good for a little furball.
He was followed by another hamster, Fiona, which was the meanest, nastiest most hostile mouse wannabe I have ever seen.
At first my son tolerated the beast because he wanted a pet and missed his old pal Einstein. But when the hamster from hell took a bite out of his finger, she had to go. First we took her to the SPCA, but they said they would not take an animal with social issues.
She wasn't an alcoholic or anything, just grumpy, but either way they would not take her. I suggested we put Fiona in the backyard with our other pet, Gilbert the cat, and let nature take its course.
It would have been a tough scrap, but I was confident Gilbert would have won, although not as mean as Fiona, Gil was a cat and only in cartoons does a rodent beat a cat.
However, the Missus would have nothing to do with using the cat as a hired assassin, so we ended up taking the stupid rat to the vet to be whacked, er, I mean, humanely put down.
“For an extra $40 we can have her cremated and put her ashes in a box,” said the nice lady at the vet's office.
I paid less than $10 for the hamster, I am already kicking out $30 to have her put down and I really don't want the ashes of a violent rodent in my house, so I think I will pass. Thanks.
We got my oldest son another hamster that lived for a couple of years in peace and harmony with the world around him.
During all of this, my middle son wanted a pet so we got the aforementioned cat. We had a dog who passed, so we got another canine: the now-famous Murphy the Wonder Dog.
Young Daughter was not too crazy about any of the critters, so I was surprised when she wanted a pet of her own. She did not want a dog – she really does not like dogs – she didn't want a rodent, fish were about as fun as a pet piece of tape, so the type of critter she was interested in was pretty much narrowed down to a cat.
But she was not too fond of Gilbert.
“Keep Gilbert out of my room” was heard echoing through my home on many occasions, but the more she thought about it, the more she wanted a kitten of her very own.
I am not a huge cat person, and we already had Gilbert, but it was not fair she did not have a pet so it was off to the SPCA we went.
After looking at a few kittens she settled on a tiny, little black and gray bundle of cuteness that she named after her stuffed toy from when she was a wee child.
Sessa-Lisa, or Lisa for short, came home with us that day. Because Gilbert is the mellowest cat in the world he could have cared less.
Murphy the Wonder Dog was doing some wondering of his own. He was wondering what the heck had invaded his home now.
She weighs less than two pounds, but Lisa put 20-pound Murphy in the run from the moment she showed up.
With a hiss, growl and a smack on the nose Lisa unleashed the fury only a nine-week old kitten can – and it worked because the past few days Murphy has been as nervous as a mouse at a cat convention.
Lisa is also living in Young Daughter's room she is thrilled to have her.
So now I have two cats and a dog living under my roof. I am glad I do not have anymore children because I do not want anymore pets.

Mind you there is this cute little puppy for sale...

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Wacky Olympics sports are, well, wacky

So the International Olympic Committee has recognized Frisbee as an official Olympic event.
Why not?
It's a popular pastime with many people and I personally know a few aging hippies who do not go anywhere without a Frisbee.
Kind of makes you wonder what the drug tests will find.
Doctor: “Hmmm, it seems you have multiple recreational drugs in your system, but no performance-enhancing drugs.”
Aging hippie Olympian: “What, man. Hey, are you going to eat that doughnut.”
All kidding aside, there some very amazing Frisbee players out there. By the way, Frisbee is the name of the company that invented the flying disc, but it has become synonymous with the activity so people just call it frisbee. Like Bandaid, a brand name, but so common people call anything that covers a wound a bandaid.
But I'm sure you already knew all that so I will move on.
Anyway, there are some incredible flying disc players out there and I spent many an hour in my youth throwing a small, round piece of plastic back and forth with my friends.
No comment on what else we were doing at the time.
Beer is not a performance-enhancing drug anyway so it's all good.
Frisbee can join a variety of interesting Olympic events that have come and gone over the years, such as solo synchronized swimming.
Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't that just be called swimming, or fancy swimming, or dance swimming or whatever. How can it be synchronized if you are by yourself?
The solo synchro event lasted only a couple of Olympics. Gee, I wonder why.
The 1908 Olympics featured tug-o-war as an official event. That was also the year they had the dreaded Red Rover, Red Rover Come on Over competition and the gruelling egg toss.
In the 1900s, live pigeon shooting was actually an Olympic event. It only lasted a single Olympics (for good reason) and 300 live pigeons were blasted with shotguns.
I am not sure who won the gold in that event, but I heard is last name was Palmer and his great grandson went on to be a dentist.
Probably not true, but it would make sense.
The 1900 Olympics were an odd year with some very odd sports. Along with massacring pigeons, athletes competed in the underwater swimming competition. The rules were simple: points were awarded for the longest distance and the most time spent under water.
Not a great spectator sport and it was dropped after just one outing. Motorboating was held in 1908 where 'athletes' simply drove their motorized boats around a course. The fastest boat won, simple as that.
I am not sure how much athletic prowess it takes to sit in a boat and drive around in circles, but based on the many rednecks I have seen doing the same thing on mountain lakes, the hardest part would be not spilling your beer in the corners.
Rope climbing was dropped from the official Olympic line up in 1932. But according to a news feature I just read, professional rope climbers are keeping the sport alive.
First of all, I did not even know there was such a thing as professional rope climbers. How does someone become a professional rope climber in the first place?
Can't skate? Can't dribble a ball? Too clumsy for soccer? Perhaps rope climbing is your call in life.

So why not add flying disc throwing to the Olympics? It is something a lot of people can do or have done in the past, it is visual and it will give all those old hippies something to do.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I'll never win a 'discussion' with my wife

Trying to outrun a dog is like trying to win an argue with your wife: there is no point because it is not going to happen.
The dog will always outrun the human, and a wife will always out argue her husband.
Now there may be some men out there who are guffawing at my conclusion, but deep down they know I am are right.
I am speaking from experience on both scenarios.
No, I have never tried to outrun a police dog or anything, but even a mangy mongrel can outrun a human without even trying.
Even if the dog is really fat, or weight enhanced I guess is the politically correct term, they can still run pretty quick, albeit for a much shorter distance than a fit dog, which is the same in the human world.
A fit person can certainly run far and maybe even fast, but not fast or far enough to outpace a hound.
Chubby, er, I mean weight-enhanced people, can't run very far or very fast because they are simply not equipped with the physical ability to run.
When it comest to having a 'discussion' with my wife, I am not properly equipped for the task either.
My wife is much better at 'discussing' things than I am.
My theory is, it is because the lady members of the planet are much more in tune with their emotions, they tend to talk more – which has been scientifically proven – so they have a much greater vocabulary and they are simply better at putting those words into intelligent sentences that make man's feeble attempt at arguing, well, feeble.
I witnessed a couple having a 'discussion' not too long ago.
I was not eavesdropping – OK maybe I was a little, but that was only because if seemed like the man was actually winning a 'discussion' with his wife.
They were not yelling or anything, but they were exchanging opinions on a situation in their relationship and, darn it, if the guy was did not seem to be winning.
He was making some good points and you could see he actually had the upper hand.
I felt chanting “Go, bro go. Go, bro go” because I was witnessing something more rare than an honest politician – a husband winning an argument, er, discussion.
The man's wife was obviously on the defensive, but then things changed.
She must have kicked it into high gear or something because there was a definite shift in momentum.
It's like in a hockey game where one team is dominating, but then the other team finds that burst of energy, that deep-down desire to win.
As the second ticked by, the woman was definitely gaining speed.
“Hang in there bro. You can do it, think, man, think. There must be something left in your mental arsenal you can use to battle back with.”
There wasn't.
As her onslaught of verbal prowess grew, the man began to grasp for answers, for any comeback he could come up with, but to no avail.
By the time they were done their meal, the man was clearly defeated in the battle of the sexes.
They did not seem hostile towards each other, or seething with venomous anger, but at the end of the day it was wife one, hubby zero.
Thus continued the circle of life, the way things are, the way they have always been and the way they will always be.

So if you ever see me running down the street with a dog chasing me, don't worry I am just trying to avoid a 'discussion' with my wife.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh