Sunday, February 28, 2016

Boys are just plain icky

Boys can be gross little critters.
They don’t necessarily mean to be, it’s just the nature of possessing testosterone without the maturity to wield it.
Testosterone is kind of like the Force - once you learn how to control it, it can be of great benefit, but if it is unchecked it leads to the dark side and the dark side usually involves something that will gross out mom and dad.
Mind you when boys grow up, testosterone can still lead to some uncouth situations. I highly doubt it was a refined woman who invented the globally popular ‘Pull my finger’ gag.
Anyway, not too long ago I was talking to a lady who was appalled by the actions of some of the young boys in her neighbourhood.
The lads were around 10 years old and full of vinegar and puppy dog tails or what ever else they are supposed to be made of.
It would seem these future leaders of our nation decided it would be more fun to pee in their water guns and squirt each other than to just fill them with boring old water.
When she said this to myself and another father, I had to chuckle.
They looked at me like I was demented.
“You both only have girls, don’t you?”
They did and were thus unfamiliar with the minds of little men.
I doubt a girl would ever think of doing such a thing.
I know it is disgusting and I am certainly not endorsing it, but it is something little boys do, and parents who only have girls simply do not understand.
Most girls are all cute and sweet, while boys are more like chimpanzees on a sugar high. I am sure boys are where the term ‘perpetual motion’ came from, because it seems little boys never stop moving, doing things or looking for new adventures – which translates into getting in to trouble.
They don’t necessarily mean to get in trouble, it just kind of happens.
One day, my oldest son was looking at this small, black thing he took out of his pocket.
I assumed it was a rock or something and I asked what he had.
“It’s a bird’s stomach” was his matter-of-fact reply.
I stopped dead in my tracks and contemplated his response.
“A what?” was my somewhat horrified reaction.
“I also have what I think is a heart and a lung.”
My mind raced at the information I was hearing.
“OK, calm down. There are plenty of good psychiatrists in town. That’s it, all he needs is a little assistance. He will be fine. All little boys carry animal parts in their pocket – right?”
My next concern was how he came into possession of said body parts.
He went on to explain that he had found a dead bird behind the shed and decided to take it apart to see what was in it.
He always enjoyed taking things apart which, until that moment in time, I thought was a good thing. He was expanding his knowledge, exploring how things worked – now it was just a one-way ticket to Barf City.
He did not have any surgical tools or even a pocketknife, so he pulled it apart with his fingers.
I would just like to say – eeeeeeeewww. Now that is disgusting.
He did not know it was gross, he was just a curious seven year old with no concern for minor details like germs, bacteria, malaria or the plague.
Again, I doubt most girls would ever do that.
While girls are playing with dolls and having imaginary tea parties, Junior was performing a do-it-yourself autopsy.
“Go in the house and wash your hands – a lot. Use the entire bar of soap and don’t touch anything on the way in. Just keep your hands in the air. Wait, let me open the door and turn on the taps. NO, don’t touch me. NO, don’t touch the cat either.”
“Can I keep the stomach?”
Boys just do things differently.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rocky raccoons raise a ruckus

Our home has been under attack lately.
There has been a series of stealthy, night-time assaults on our garbage cans by a renegade collection of critters we suspect are raccoons.
I think it was raccoons because we saw raccoon footprints in the snow. CSI eat your heart out.
For a while now the striped bandits have been knocking over our garbage cans and feasting on leftovers that I did not think were fit for man or beast.
It would seem a raccoon’s culinary standards are drastically lower than my own, leading me to think it would suck to be a raccoon.
It became tiresome to wake up in the morning, go to fetch the newspaper and find three bags of garbage spread all over the driveway.
Bad words formed in back of my mind every time I would see such an atrocity. Words such as ‘darn it’ and even ‘fiddle sticks’ were among the terms I felt like uttering.
To counter the scourge of the scavenging mammals, I took drastic and decisive action – I bought a garbage can with a lid.
Problem solved, and without bloodshed or the use of firearms and explosives, as was part of my original plan.
I now grab my morning paper from a garbage-free driveway, life is good.
However, we do share our home with a cat and the other day I came strolling up our driveway to find half of a mouse next to our van.
It was the lower half of a rodent which I assume was deposited by said cat.
I was going to grab a shovel and dispose of the remains, but I got busy and forgot.
The next day however, the carcass was gone thanks to those wonderful raccoons.
The same thing happened the next day and the woodland creatures were fast winning favour in my heart.
I have never had much interaction with raccoons, having rarely seen one before this year.
The first time I got a good look at a raccoon was several years ago when my wife and I were on a kid-less vacation.
We decided to go for a walk one evening through the quant little resort town simply because we could do so without a caravan of kids in tow.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw something crawling up a tree.
My first thought was, “That is the biggest squirrel I have ever seen in my life.”
I wondered if there was a nuclear plant nearby and had visions of an army of giant, mutated and generally agitated squirrels tearing through the town.
“Squirell-zilla, squirell-zilla!”
Just as I was about to run for my life from the flesh-rending creatures, a closer look revealed it was a raccoon and not a Chernobyl-sized cousin of Chip and Dale.
My wife found this whole thing quite amusing actually, as I explained my theory on mutated nut eaters and the peril we barely managed to avoid.
“How much wine did you have at supper?”
It had nothing to do with wine, but with survival.
Had it actually been a mutated, deformed squirrel, she would have appreciated my fast thinking and ninja-like reflexes.
In less than a second I had spotted the threat, determined it was a Jurassic squirrel and was ready to lead her to safety by showing the best way to escape from the fierce beast.
Is that cause for mockery? A little I guess.
I would like to blame my jittery nerves on a traumatic childhood incident with a member of Mother Nature’s home team, but there were none.
Growing up, we lived in the sticks so there was an abundance of wildlife all around, and I loved it.
Deer were as common as zits on a teen. We also had a few resident bears that would leave bear landmines in our yard. Fortunately they were easy to spot because they were roughly the size of a 1968 VW Beetle.
I also had encounters with porcupines, bush rats – which were big, nasty creatures – and a whole pack of coyotes could regularly be spotted on the hillside behind the homestead just about every morning.
It’s amazing our cat died of natural causes at almost 14 years old and didn’t wind up being a coyote pate.
There was also an abundance of snakes. They were mostly grass snakes, but there was also the occasional rattle snake sunning itself on the nearby mountain side.
How cool is that.
But something I do not recall is raccoons.
We had a compost bin that would attract coyotes and bush rats, but none of the masked mammals.
I now live in a regular suburban type neighbourhood and we are infested with raccoons. Well, if one or two can be considered an infestation.
I saw one in the middle of the day, calmly walking down the road next to a local school, with out a care in the world, heading to his next dinning experience no doubt, which proves man and animals can live together, just make sure your garbage can has a lid.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Would you like animal testicles with that?

"Blowfish testicles prepared by an unauthorized chef sickened seven diners in northern Japan and three were hospitalized after eating the poisonous delicacy.”
That was the opening paragraph of a news story I read a while ago.
First of all, I did not even know blowfish had testicles.
Second, even if I did know that, I doubt I would make them part of a culinary quest.
“Who wants fish genitals?”
“Ooooh, I do, I do.”
Thirdly, they are poisonous if they are not prepared properly.
OK, let me get this straight – not only are they testicles, but they are poisonous testicles.
Mmmmm, give me more of that.
The story continued, “Shortly after, the diners developed limb paralysis and breathing trouble and started to lose consciousness - typical signs of blowfish poisoning - and were rushed to a hospital for treatment. Blowfish poison is nearly 100 times more poisonous than potassium cyanide, according to the Ishikawa Health Service Association. It can cause death within an hour and a half after consumption.”
And I thought a gut bomb from Raunchy Ronny’s was bad for you. At least a Big Mac won’t kill you, well, not in 90 minutes anyway.
I do not mean to insult anyone who has a thing for dinning on the reproductive organs of aquatic life, but to my Canadian mind it is a little, well, icky.
I have long been interested in Asian culture, such as Japan, China, Korea etc., but some of the food they eat is less than appetizing, and poisonous testicles comes pretty close to the top of the list. Let’s just say I would rather eat my own sautéed boogers.
Eating deep-fried bugs also ranks pretty high on my list of stuff I will never ingest. I saw a documentary on some country where they munched on batches of broiled bugs.
I cannot remember exactly what country it was, but the image of several baskets full of the multi-legged critters and people scooping them out like jelly beans is forever etched in my mind.
“Excuse me sir, can I interest you in some broiled beetles?”
“No thanks, I am trying to cut down on my bug intake, but I could go for some testicles.”
I know what some of you are thinking and you are right: to other cultures our food is completely disgusting and unappealing.
Fair enough, I can think of many food products consumed right here in North America that are equally disturbing as fish gonads.
Pretty much all types of fast food aside, I have just three words for you: Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Or as the working class calls them: bull’s balls a la creme.
While they may not be poisonous, they are still rather unpleasant to think about as a main course.
I guess if I was starving to death, anything could be considered food and if it came down to dying or chowing down on an animal’s naughty bits, well fire up the barbecue and pass me a fork.
However, “starving to death” is the pertinent detail of such a dinning experience.
Who was the first person to try these anyway?
“Y’know Hank I am famished. Neutering all these bulls shore do work up an appetite. We have spaghetti, but no meatballs. Hey, wait a second, pass me the frying pan, I wanna try something.”
Another completely disgusting food I actually have eaten is liver.
My mom made the meal from hell at least three times a year and we had to sit at the table and choke it down.
We could not leave until dinner was done and that included every last morsel of animal liver.
I think if it came to forcing down liver or munching on the love spuds of a fish, I have to go with the fish.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Too much technology for my aging brain

It's happening and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
Time is leaving me in the dust.
Well, more accurately modern technology is leaving me in the dust and I find myself turning into one of those “grumpy old people” who complain about modern times and start many a sentence with, “When I was younger...” or something similar.
There are just simply too many computers and gadgets out there for me to keep up with.
While I am hardly a computer genius, I can use the infernal contraptions with some level of proficiency.
Hey, a low level is still a level.
I have a Smart phone, Facebook account, Twitter account and a blog, but my techo-prowess pales in comparison to anything my kids are doing.
They will talk about some techno trend like it is old news and I have not even heard about it yet.
There are all sorts of new gizmos and devices coming out faster than I can possibly keep track of.
Watches with more computer power than the original moon landing craft are commonplace and I can only imagine what the electro-techno world will birth over the coming years.
The leaps and bounds in technology and how it is benefitting (and hurting) mankind have been nothing short of astounding.
When I was a youngster (see, there it is) there was no such thing as the Internet, but my kids have never known life without it.
They never had to skim through an encyclopedia to get the information they were looking for. Instead they searched for it online.
Just type in a phrase or word and what you are looking for magically appears on your screen.
Sometimes the search turns up millions of options – which is kind of like saying we found what you are looking for, it's on planet Earth – but you can refine your search and narrow it down to find the information you are looking for.
I must admit, the whole online thing is way faster and provides a lot more information than those funny-smelling books that weighed seven pounds each and were out of date months after they arrived at the school library.
When I graduated school in the early '80s, computers were a thing of science fiction, or at best a novelty item you read about in a magazine.
Now, the stupid things are everywhere and you don't even need a computer to search for something on the World Wide Web. You can do it from your phone, your iPad, and all sorts of devices.
I may not be at the top of the tech game, but I sure find all the different things you can do nowadays impressive.
When I was a kid (see, there I go again) I was amazed when I saw my first wireless remote for the TV.
What kind of sorcery is this?
You don't have to get up to change the channel? To increase the volume? Not even to turn the idiot box off?
I am convinced those days marked the beginning of the Fat Ages, when having to get up and walk seven feet to your TV was too much effort.
You know you are getting old when a wireless TV remote was a major technological breakthrough of your youth.
However, I do try to keep up on the latest Interweb trends, but some of this stuff is beyond me.
And a lot of the stuff out there doesn't interest me.
But it is highly unlikely any of this technology is going away any time soon, so I do what little I can (and believe me, it is little) to try and stay abreast of the latest and greatest crazes and trends.
I try, but I know I do not succeed. Things are just changing too fast for an 'old geezer' like me to stay on top of.
But I will do my best to maintain some sort of techno-prowess, even if I don't know what the hell is going on half the time.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I'm sorry, is the movie interrupting your conversation

In my younger days, I used to go to the movies a lot.
We would often go in a pack and more than once we had seen every movie in town and had to decide which one was good enough to see a second time, or even a third time.
Now that I am all grown up and everything, I do not go nearly as often as I used to. We used to go at least once a week, usually on cheap night.
Now we go maybe once or twice a year.
The last time I went to a movie was in late December and I was quickly reminded why we don’t go more often.
It was the first time I have ever had to fill out a loan application to get into a theatre.
As if paying roughly $564 for two tickets wasn’t bad enough, the price of getting a snack was simply off the chart.
My wife and I got a drink, popcorn and some candy. For $17 more, I could have bought a car, and not a clunker, but a really nice set of wheels.
Since when is a small popcorn worth more than my wedding ring?
And unless the water used in the pop was from the Fountain of Youth, it was not worth what I paid for it.
It is no wonder theatre attendance is declining when it comes down to seeing a movie or paying the mortgage that month.
Once I recovered from the sticker shock of getting into the theatre, I had the pleasure of interacting with my fellow movie goers.
Most of them are respectful and conscientious of those around them, except for the people sitting behind me.
Those are the people who choose their snacks based not on price or product, but on how loud the bag is when they open it and how much crinkle noise it makes every single time they retrieve a piece of candy.
It would seem the louder-the-better is the packaging of choice.
But the ‘Crinklers’ pale by comparison to the ‘Guessers.’
At least the Crinklers have a legitimate reason for the noise (sort of). The Guessers are simply incapable of shutting up for two hours.
Guessers are the people who sit there and try to figure out what is about to happen and for whatever reason they cannot do this in their head.
“Is she going to open the door?”
“Is she going into the room?”
“Well, is the bad guy in there?”
“If they go in there, I bet they’re gonna get it.”
I will offer a little tip to the Guessers, whom I also call the Talkers, Yappers and Bone Heads, if you sit silently and pay attention all of those questions will be answered, meaning there is no need to ask them out loud.
It’s a movie OK, it’s not live action and you cannot influence the outcome by talking louder.
“Will she open the door?”
Here’s a plan, why don’t you wait two seconds and you will find out – just like everyone else in the theatre.
The person you are talking to has not seen the movie either, so odds are they do not know the answer, but feel free to ask the same question 2,000 times in a row.
I don’t know why, but the Yappers always seem to sit directly behind me so they can babble in my ear through the entire show.
I had to sell a kidney just to get into the movie, and I would like to watch it in peace.
It also used to be you went to the movies so you could get away from interruptions, such as phones calls.
Not any more.
There are more phones in a theatre than at a telethon.
The variety of ring tones sounds like a schizophrenic orchestra all playing different songs at the same time.
And of course there is always at least one guy who knows the call from his buddy is so important it trumps the need for quiet and he proceeds to carry on a full-volume conversation about what he plans on doing after the movie.
“Hello. It’s OK, I can talk. I’m just watching a movie. No, I’m not at home, I’m at the theatre. Hang on a second, it seems people are gathering pitchforks and torches and are walking toward my seat.”
Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that why God created answering machines so you don’t have to talk in the middle of a movie.
I think the 11th commandment should be, “Thou shalt not talk on thy cell phone during the movie lest thee be thought a meathead.”

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Doing laundry with a man brain

After many years of marriage, there are numerous things I have figured out.
Not many of them have to do with women, mind you, because the female brain is a mysterious island shrouded in layers of emotions and thought patterns my man brain just can't understand.
Going into our nuptials, I had a rudimentary understanding of ladies, and now, many years later, I have a slightly increased grasp on the female mind – very slightly.
But even before I was married, I knew how to answer the age-old (and very loaded question) 'Do these make me look fat?'
Gentlemen, the answer is always “No, of course not.”
Even if her butt looks like two Smart cars trying to pass each other on a narrow road, the answer will always be 'No.'
Even our neanderthal fore fathers knew what to say when the little woman asked if the latest in wooly mammoth fashion made her posterior look large.
“No, you look great,” was grunted out lest our slope-headed hero get a brontosaurus bone upside his head.
And don't ever, even jokingly say, “The pants don't make your butt look big, your butt makes your butt look big.”
I cannot even begin to describe just how wrong that answer is.
I have learned the term “Fine, do whatever you want” really does not mean “Fine, do whatever you want,” so I urge my male brethren out there to think very carefully before taking their next course of action.
In fact, just about any sentence that begins or ends with the word 'Fine' means you are in the danger zone.
You have been warned.
There are a lot of other things I have learned, like how to keep the home tidy, I have learned the fine art of making a bed every single morning (why, I am still not too sure as you are just going to mess it up again anyway), I have learned that a man's version of close enough, differs greatly from a woman's version of close enough and I have learned just how vital 300 pillows on a bed are for the continued existence of the human race.
But one thing I still can't figure out is laundry.
My man brain says laundry should be an easy task: whites go with whites, colours with colours and darks with darks.
Simple, right? Wrong.
It would appear laundry is far more complicated. There is white, sort of white, kind of white and not-white-at-all-but-still-goes-in-the-white-pile white.
My man brain did not know any of this when I said “I do.” I should have said “I do, except laundry, because that I don't.”
Despite explaining the fine art of laundry sorting to me several times, I just could not grasp the nuances of the task.
But I think I have a solution: beer.
No, I don't mean men should say forget the laundry and go drink beer, I mean beer companies can come to the rescue of men throughout the free world.
Here is my idea: beer companies can include a chart with each case of beer outlining what type of clothes go in what pile.
It can have a sorting guide, colour chart and most importantly – beer. That way we male types can drink a cool, refreshing bevvy while doing the laundry, which would make us happy and our partners would be happy because we have mastered the art of sorting.
But until that day comes, I have been officially banished from doing laundry because my man version of sorting laundry is not acceptable to my wife's perfectionist brain.
I still fold laundry, because not even I can screw that up.
But when it comes to laundry my man brain is just not up to the task, so I no longer have to sort and wash clothes.
Yup, I sure am dumb sometimes.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh