Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dear winter - you suck

Once again the grip of winter is firmly upon us and I for one say ba-humbug.
That is not a negative remark toward Christmas, but it is a comment on that dreaded, frosty, icy, cold, miserable time of year that happens every year no matter what.
You would think being born and raised in Canada I would be used to winter and cold and snow and all the other miserable aspects of the non-summer months.
I am used to is, but that does not mean I have to like it.
I am just not a fan of winter.
Running out to your car in the morning as your breath transforms into ice crystals and the boogers in your nose freeze is always a fun way to start the day.
If the lock on your car is not frozen, you can enter your vehicle with relative ease, but then you make the mistake of letting that crystalizing breath collide with the windshield and suddenly you have ice on the inside of your car.
But first, you have to get rid of the frost on the outside so you start your car, crank up the heater – even though for the first few minutes it is blowing cold air – and then climb out and start scraping away the handiwork of Jack Frost (who is a jerk by the way).
If you are smart and plan ahead, you will have an ice scrapper handy. Which I do, unless one of my kids have gotten their grubby little paws on it then who knows where it has ended up. (I suspect the back seat of their own car.)
I am pretty sure anyone who has ever owned a car has had to dig into their wallet and pull out a credit card or something similar and scrape the frost away as you lose feeling in your fingers in 1.2 seconds all the while muttering something about children, ice scrapers and why you should not have had children.
With the outside mostly scraped clean, you once again return to the inside of your vehicle that is just slightly warmer than the outside.
The inside of the window is still covered in man-made frost, so you dig out the plastic card again and scrape the inside of the windshield causing the dash to be covered by an interior snow storm.
But because you continue to breath and fill the car with humidity, it just frosts up again, so you end up driving down the street scrunched up in your seat so you can see through that little spot at the bottom of the windshield where they heater is finally starting to gain ground on the assault from that Jack idiot.
The more you drive, the bigger the clear spot gets and the entire windshield will typically be completely cleared about three seconds before you arrive at your destination.
But on occasion you forego the scraper altogether and opt for a liquid assault on Jack's handiwork.
You can use the windshield washer fluid to remove the frost for you, but as we all know, the plan is flawed because the washer fluid freezes on the windshield and while it does create some pretty patterns it is not conducive to roadway viewing.
So what do you do?
You spray even more windshield washer fluid in an effort to rid your viewing portal of the frozen fiasco that is part of the joys of winter.
Sure you don't have to scrape, but you end up using half a gallon of windshield wiper fluid just to get down the block.

So, no I am not a fan of winter, but I know this too shall pass – and the sooner the better.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Friday, December 18, 2015

A few 'unique' gift ideas

What do you get for the person how has everything?
Nothing, they already have everything, adding more stuff to the collection would just be greedy.
But if you are looking for gifts that are, well, a little out of the norm for someone who does not have everything, then keep reading.
There is no shortage of strange, bizarre and downright weird gifts out there.
How about a potty piano for the music lover in your home?
This is a little plastic mat keyboard you put in front of the toilet so the sitter can make merry music while having a little personal time.
Why you ask? I have no idea. I could not even guess how this would make the world a better place or who would want to play the piano with their feet while they, um, er, well, you know.
Not strange enough for you? Not a problem.
How about a full-size Krampus Christmas demon costume. Nothing says peace and goodwill on Earth like a horned, fanged, fur-covered monster toting a red sack full of body parts.
This is an especially good idea if you have children.
“See kids, I told you to behave and you didn't so this is what you get.”
It will give them hours and hours worth of things to talk to their psychiatrist about when they are older.
Have chocolate lover in the house? Then you need a big ol' hunk of Cricket Crunch Bar.
As the name implies, it is a chocolate bar filled with nutritious and delicious crickets.
The sales pitch goes: “Crickets are a popular snack in many parts of the world, and have a texture like puffed rice. Plus, they have fibre and protein.”
Do you know what else the chocolate bar is full of? Bugs, that's what.
Scurrying, scampering, multi-legged insects do not belong in my chocolate – ever. Maybe I could save some money and throw a few dozen grasshoppers into a pot of melted Hershey bars. But I will admit I do not know if locusts have the same nutritional value as crickets so the health nuts among us may want to stick to the cricket diet.
Feasting on insects not pleasing to the pallet? How about a piece of chum-flavoured gum? Yes, that is a real item that you can put under the tree for Christmas.
I have no idea what chum tastes like and I am pretty sure I would like to keep it that way. I wonder how the people who made the stuff knows what chum tastes like. On second thought, never mind.
Tired of giving your wife or girlfriend the same old boring jewellery for Christmas? How many diamonds can she wear anyway?
So, instead of diamond earrings, how about a nice set of squirrel feet earrings. These are real squirrel feet the discerning woman in your life can dangle from her earlobes.
Nothing says Merry Christmas like strapping some animal parts to your head.
The sad thing is, there will be all those squirrels running around the forest with prosthetic limbs.
And as the world descends ever deeper into the unrelenting grip of the bacon craze, a ridiculous amount of bacon-related items can be purchased.
There is bacon-flavoured toothpaste for some reason. And bacon-scented soap, so you can walk around smelling like a BLT all day. There is also bacon jam, bacon relish, bacon-flavoured bacon, and, of course, bacon-flavoured ice cream.
My mind says no, but my taste buds say mmmmmm-good.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Have a very PC Christmas

It is probably the most beloved and well-known Christmas tale ever told.
Well, for a non-biblical story anyway.
It is the story of a secretive old man who breaks into people's houses one night of each year to leave items that are made in China, er, I mean his workshop in the North Pole.
I am talking about the time-honoured poem T'was the Night Before Christmas.
The grand tale of jolly old St. Nick as he works his yuletide magic around the globe has been shared for generations.
The poem was written in the 1800s by Clement C. Moore who also wrote a whole bunch of other stuff as well, but I doubt many households read those stories aloud once a year.
I recently re-read the poem and it got me wondering what it would be like if it were written today.
There are so many politically incorrect aspects to it, someone somewhere would have objected to it, because in this day and age pretty much everything will offend someone.
'Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot...' – whoa, hang on, wait a minute.
You mean Santa Claus massacres defenseless animals for clothing!
PETA would be marching to the North Pole in protest and dogging him at every stop along his Dec. 25 route if he tried to get away with such barbarism in modern times.
'The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...' sounds like a potential fire hazard. Let's just put those stockings in the middle of the room away from the open flame.
'The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.'
What! Santa smokes! How can a role model for millions of children around the world indulge in such an unhealthy habit?
I read recently where a group wants to have that part of the poem removed altogether because they say it will encourage kids to smoke.
I know lots of people who believed in Santa as a kid and none of them started smoking because Santa had a nic fit in every house he visited. They started smoking because they were idiots and the big man had nothing to do with it.
‘He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf; And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.’
So let me get this straight, people are laughing at someone because of their body type; because they are overweight.
Perhaps he has a thyroid condition, or some other medical ailment that causes him to gain weight. Perhaps he is very sensitive about it, maybe it is something beyond his control.
Perhaps that should be changed to 'He was a weight-enhanced gentleman, who, in spite of his challenges, maintained a good mental attitude.'
'A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.'
That line might read a little different in a modern United States: A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread because I had a bead on him with my 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and if he so much as wiggled his nose he would have more lead in him than a toy from China.'
Not a warm and fuzzy Christmas tale, but probably accurate.

So, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and thankfully his story was told long before it was subjected to the political correctness of modern times.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cheer up, it's Christmastime

“You know it must be near Christmas because people are getting grouchy.”
A buddy of mine made that comment after a grueling afternoon of gift shopping. It certainly does not fit with the spirit of Christmas, but I it does hold a sliver of truth.
Many people are filled with the joy of Christmas and the blessings of the Yule Tide season, but there are a few who are full of something else.
After my Scrooge-like friend made the comment I spent some time a local shopping oasis – the mall – and dang it if he wasn’t right.
Some people were a little on the grumpy side - especially when it came to finding a parking spot. Yikes, some folk out there are downright nasty in their quest to park as close to the front door as possible.
Personally, I could care less if I have to walk a block or so to get to the front door, but in just a few minutes I observed some very Grinchy behaviour among the festive season shoppers.
“Hey, I was going to park there!”
“Too bad, I got here first.”
“Yeah, well, then ‘bless’ you, pal.”
Not exactly a Disney Christmas moment.
I even had a kindly, grandma-type lady yell, scream and make a rather unpleasant gesture because I got to a parking spot 10 seconds before she did.
I clearly got there first because I had my car turned off before she even pulled up, but I guess her Granny vision saw the spot from a distance and knew it was destined to be hers.
However, in the spirit of Christmas, I started my car and reversed out of the spot, while giving the universal signal she can have the spot with a wave of my hand and a smile on my face.
She replied once again with a different universal signal while pulling her car into the now-vacant prime parking space.
Even after I gave her a really good parking spot, the Granny from Hell was still not feeling the festive mood. I wonder what she was shopping for - rat tails and eye of newt, no doubt.
Were the Wisemen riled up because they had a hard time finding a parking space for their camels when they went to the manger to see Baby Jesus?
Of course not, and these guys did not have to walk a block to get to the front door, they had to ride stinky, uncomfortable camels for who knows how along across the blazing desert just to deliver a few gifts to a baby. Mind you it’s not every day the son of God is born so I guess it was worth the effort.
Since that hallowed day, the theme of Christmas has been peace on earth and good will toward man. Not ‘50 per cent off selected items while quantities last’ as it has become in more recent times.
Or being barraged by ad campaigns that brainwash your child into needing a certain toy or they will grow up bitter and warped and put you in an old folk’s home first chance they get.
But even I am letting the Grinch in me come out as I bemoan the lack of Christmas spirit. Not everyone is miserable during the happiest time of the year – only those who get swindled by the nonsense of the season rather than enveloped by the joy. There is still a lot of good will out there. Many people smile a little easier, offer a friendly ‘Hello’ to those they don’t know and even go out of their way to help others with no expectation of personal gain.
Which is exactly what Christmastime is supposed to be like – remember, good will and all that stuff.
If the opposing forces stuck in the trenches of the First World War can put down their guns and stop killing each other for a day to share the joy of Christmas, surely we can be civil to each other in the mall parking lot.
That is not too much to hope for, is it?
Merry Christmas everyone.