Sunday, November 27, 2016

There's clean and then there's wife clean

It’s interesting how men and women have different versions of clean.
A guy could look at a room and think, ‘Yup, that looks good to me.’
A woman could look at the same room and wonder what kind of barbaric hand-to-hand battle had occurred to make such a mess.
The difference is most noticeable when it comes to spring cleaning.
For a guy, spring cleaning means moving the couch when he vacuums. For a woman it means dismantling the couch, vacuuming every square inch of it and reassembling it to better than original.
When it comes to cleaning, men and women just do things differently.
For example, a few years ago my wife tried a little experiment.
There was a pair of clean wool socks next to my side of the bed. My wife was determined to leave them until I put them away.
After a few weeks, she was astounded they were still there.
“Those socks have been there for weeks and you haven’t even noticed.”
To which I replied, “That’s where you are wrong. I did notice I just didn’t care. There’s a difference.”
I figured the socks weren’t hurting anyone, they were out of the way and if I needed them I knew where they were.
Spring cleaning for a guy means going through his closet and throwing out a couple of shirts that are too torn to wear even under a sweater and digging out the several pairs of pants that have mysteriously shrunk over the winter.
For a woman, it means hauling every single item of clothing out of the closet, trying each item on, assessing their value and comparing current fashion styles with what they have to determine what goes and what stays.
The process can take days.
“Does this still look good on me?”
“Yes it does.”
“No, I don’t think it does, I’m going to get rid of it.”
That’s what I meant to say actually, but I decided to say something else to see if you were on your game or not.
Helping in this area is not something for a man. Ladies, for future reference, call a friend to come over if you want an opinion on clothes.
Unless it is lingerie, most guys are not too interested in what you dig out of the closet.
And please, do not ask the question every man dreads, “Does this make me look fat?”
Even prehistoric cave men knew the answer to this one.
When the little woman threw on the latest in Wooly Mammoth fashion and looked at hubby while asking the infamous question, even a walnut-brained Neanderthal new enough to grunt, “No dear,” lest he get a brontosaurus bone upside the head.
The lady of the house could weigh slightly less than a Volkswagen Beetle and the universal answer would still be ‘No.’
The most frightening area of spring cleaning is the kid’s rooms.
Grown men have fled in terror as the missus’ eyes glass over with spring-cleaning fever and she seeks recruits to help with the task.
The woman will dig into the job with energy typically reserved for a piranha feeding frenzy.
Every toy car, gadget and plastic super hero has its own specific place.
I did not know this. To me, everything with wheels went in the car bin, super heroes went in another bin and whatever did not fall into those categories went in whatever bin still had room in it.
Again, for the cleaning-crazed woman of the house the job is an all day affair. For a guy it’s a two-hour task broken up by time spent playing with some of the cooler toys.
It is times like this I am thankful for weeds so I can get out of the house where all I have to worry about are bee stings and burning nettle.

Copyright 2016 Darren Handschuh

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Who wants a bunch of gold anyway...

I was watching a show on the gold rush the other day and quickly came to the conclusion I would have made a lousy pioneer.
I am just not a settle-the-new-world kind of guy.
The documentary told of the hardships these hardy souls endured in their quest make it to the great gold fields of the north.
They would walk for weeks, even months on end.
My first question was: what sort of bathroom facilities were located along said trail?
I am pretty sure the answer involved leaves, sticks and a very uncomfortable rash.
That alone is enough to keep me safely tucked away in some already-developed part of the world.
The documentary said many of the gold rushers had never spent time outside of a city before and had to learn as they went.
I would imagine they learned really fast what leaves to avoid when it came to personal use.
'Leaves of three let it be' was a vital piece of information. Of course the aboriginal population already knew about the 'evil leaves' because they had lived in the land since time began.
I like to think there was at least one Aboriginal jokester who convinced a plump, citified white boy that 'leaves of three are ideal for thee.'
The intrepid, but not too skilled frontiersman, would then grab a handful of poison ivy after taking care of that personal business I mentioned earlier.
It would be easy to tell what gold seekers fell for the gag – they would be the ones walking like their rear end was on fire.
Our jokester would then go back to his village with a great story to tell.
"You will not believe what I just got some white guy to do. You know that plant that makes you itch really bad? Well..."
They of course would break out in roaring laughter every time they saw a cowboy doing the poison ivy shuffle.
"Hey white guys, you know what else is a good idea - sleeping with food in your tent. Bears hate that and will avoid you like the plague."
Did any of that really happen? Probably not, but it is kind of fun to think about.
Then there was the bathing issue. Many of those intrepid pioneers would bathe once a year whether they needed it or not.
It was not an easy task to lather up in those days, and the last thing someone wanted to do was dive into an ice-cold lake or stream.
It was much easier to just smell bad, and besides there were no ladies to impress anyway so what's the point?
"Joe you smell absolutely delightful today, what have you done?"
"Well Fred, I took a quick bath in that crick over thar and then used the natural wonders of the aloe vera plant to keep me smelling like a fresh spring rain"
Of course the natives were kicking back and lounging in local hot springs.
"Do you think we should tell the white guys about this?"
"Naw, it's way more fun to watch them the way they are."
"Good point."
While they may have been adventurous, frontiersmen were a smelly lot with poor hygiene: no matter how hard you scrub, brushing your teeth with your finger does not make them clean.
So let's review: no bathroom facilities, you smell like a camel barfed into an old gym shoe, your breath could slay a dragon and you spend countless hours surrounded by other men.
As fun as that sounds, is gold really that important? I think I would just find a nice job in the city, squirrel away some savings and work on retirement.

But the lure of gold was too strong for many and they left the comfort of the city and plunged head first into the challenges only Mother Nature could provide.
And after a while I am sure even Mother Nature plugged her nose when an intrepid gold seeker went by.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I didn't know I wanted Netflix until my son told me I do

I came home from work the other day and Junior informed me he had signed us up for Netflix.
“That was very kind of you son. And, why do I want Netflix?”
“Because they have tons of cool shows.”
“OK, and I assume I will be the one paying for all these cool shows.”
“Um, er, well...lemme show you what all they have.”
So now, I have Netflix (which actually is pretty cool.)
They do have a lot of good stuff – and a lot of stuff I could care less about – but it has more that interests me than what is on TV, so I figure I will give it a try.
The problem is, our television set is so old, Fred Flintstone used to watch it.
It is an old bubble TV that we got for free when our other ancient TV packed it in a couple of years ago. But despite its age, it does everything I require of a TV – it lets me watch TV.
The challenge now was, how do I get Netflix from our wi-fi router to our ancient boob tube?
There had to be a way, so the Missus and I headed to the local electronics store to see what kind of gizmo we would need to make the magic happen.
The first store we stopped at we were assisted by a lad so young his voice had barely finished changing.
We explained our situation while he looked at us with a blank stare.
He then called his manager over – who was just slightly older - and she too gave us a blank stare and said they could not help us.
Hmm, perhaps this will be a little more difficult than I thought.
But we carried on with our quest and explained the situation to the kid at the next store.
This guy seemed a little older as was evident by the three whiskers he had growing out of his chin. I had a pair of shoes older than he was, but at least he was not giving us the blank stare.
But as we told Scooter about the situation, he did look at us like we were hill folk in town for our annual pilgrimage.
Obviously, he could not believe someone – anyone – in this day and age would still have a bubble TV.
On the outside, he listened patiently, but I am sure on the inside he was thinking: “These old people need to get with the times. I hope they don't break a hip in the store. I wonder where they parked their walkers?
"A bubble TV ... I can't wait to tell everyone on lunch break.”
I am not at the top of the tech game, but I am hardly a dinosaur – even if my TV was around the same time T-Rex was.
I may have recently slid past the 50 mark, but I am hardly ready for a home – although some days, it does sound appealing.
Unlike Skippy at the first store, this guy actually had an idea of what we needed, and after he explained the situation to a much older co-worker – this guy was at least 25 – they found what we were looking for.
It is some sort of adapter that receives the wi-fi signal and will hook up to our Jurassic TV set.
I must admit, deep down I was scanning new TVs and secretly hoping we could replace the bubble with a new, high-tech contraption, but Scooter came through and the gizmo thingy works just fine.

--> That's OK, the gizmo cost a lot less than a new TV and the bubble TV works just fine – and now it works with Netflix.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The 'fun' of parenting never ends

When my children were younger, I would always think things will be easier when they are older.
“When they are older, I won't have to change stinky diapers anymore.”
Which is true, but for a while you have to deal with 'accidents' that happen at pretty much anytime of the day, no matter where you are.
For parents with children in this transitional phase, you quickly learn to carry extra clothes with you even if you are just running to the grocery store for 10 minutes.
Because, as every parent knows, you can ask your young one if they have to go 'potty' before you leave to which they will always say no.
Then, five minutes after arriving at your destination, they will have to go - immediately. Sometimes you would make it to the nearest lavatory on time, some times you wouldn't.
And of course more than one day began with the changing of the sheets after a night time 'accident.'
“It will be nice when they can walk, then I won't have to carry them everywhere.”
Now that statement is true. I did not have to carry them everywhere, I had to chase them everywhere. And young children rarely walk anywhere. Instead they skip and hop and run, but they rarely walk.
I used to think, “It will be so nice when they are in school. I will have all this free time – it will be wonderful.”
Well, you do have more free time during the day. But after school there is homework and sports and special events and parent-teacher interviews and...
Then there is the drama. Oh my, the drama.
Not so much with my sons, but with my daughter there was lots of girl drama – something I was not expecting nor prepared for.
I had no idea the emotional tsunami a growing girl brings to the party with her. One minute she is feuding with someone, the next they are best friends. One second she is happy, the next she is bawling her eyes out.
It was hard to keep up.
“When they are in high school, then things will be easier.”
Remember that emotional tsunami I was talking about? Well, it carries on well into the high school years.
It is true they are a lot more independent in the teen years, which is good, but they also think they know a lot more than they do.
It also means they want to drive, and for the first few years that meant driving my car, until they could afford one of their own.
“Dad, the car is out of gas”
“Well, put some in.”
“I don't have any money.”
“Dad, I kind of backed into a truck. The truck is fine, but the car not so much...”
So for the next couple years a drove a red car with a grey trunk that was always out of gas.
OK, when they graduate high school and move out things will be easier.
Except for the ridiculous expense of college that is.
“What do you mean one book costs $600. What kind of book is it? Is the type written in gold or something?”
Then there is the moving out part.
“He dad, can you help me move – again.”
“Hey dad, I'm a little short of rent money this month – again.”
So you see, the challenges of young children are replaced with challenges of older children.
I know people who's children are well into their 40s and still giving their parents grief.
Now I say, “It will sure be nice when we retire, then we can move away and not tell them where we went.”

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh