Sunday, 31 July 2011

Good Movie, Good Book, Good Life

We went to see the new Harry Potter movie today. We decided to see it in this new fangled 3D that everyone seems to be talking about.

I had purchased passes from the AMA a while back. You can get a couple of bucks off of the price. When I say that I bought the tickets, I meant that I had my buddy buy them for me. I gave him the cash and he went in and bought the tickets since he is the one with the AMA card. I felt like a 16 year old kid waiting outside the beer store, while a kindly older stranger went in to the store to get the beer. You never knew whether the guy would stiff you for the money or come out with the beer. I was pretty sure that Ken wouldn’t stiff me for the tickets, but you never know. It turns out that his actions were as good as his word. If you have to have older friends, make sure they are honest or too stupid to be criminal. I don’t mean you Ken! (yes I do)

We went to the theatre and lined up to get our tickets. When we got to the front of the line, the teller told us that the passes are good for the regular movie, but it would cost us three more dollars for the 3-D. WTF, for the glasses? Okay, it is going to be great. We take the two steps to the girl taking our tickets and giving us stubs and she asks us if we need glasses or did we bring our own? Just give me the glasses honey! I paid six bucks for them.

We go into the theatre, pick our seats and watch commercials for twenty minutes. I’m old school and “back in the day” if you didn’t get two movies you would get a short and a chance to see clips of five or six movies that are soon to be released. Good thing they advertised the snack bar, I could have missed the smell of freshly popped corn, the flashing lights and lines of ravenous movie goers. The movie began and I have to admit the glasses and 3-D effects were pretty cool. They weren’t as good as I had hoped they would be, and I doubt I will go to another one until the technology improves. I tend to have a pretty good imagination so for me less is more.

I am a big Harry Potter fan and have read each of the books more than once. The problem with film adaptations is that they have time constraints and are subject to the director’s interpretation. I understand why parts need to be left out, but why the parts that I think are key? The same thing happened with the Lord of The Rings Trilogy. What bothers me about this is that there are many people out there that don’t read and think they know the book because they watched the movie. They know the movie! I remember having a conversation with a young man about LOTRs and he didn’t know the book at all.

We all have things that we think are important, and in the universe does it really matter about a movie? I guess not. If you really like a movie though, go to the library and take out the book. I am sure you will like it and you might just find out some things that the author wanted you to know.

Good movie, good book, good life.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Lifelong Prick

It is one of those rare nights in Calgary that you can sit outside at night without long pants and a coat. I was just out there sitting on the swing looking around me and thinking about all of the work that I need to do on and around the house. The siding needs a good wash, the trim on the windows could use some paint and while I have the brush out that fence could have used a refresher about two years ago. The garden seems to be holding its own against the weeds, but it could really use my help. The windows need to be washed, I can get them when I do the house and I am waffling about whether to build a new picnic table or spruce the old one up. I should edge the grass around the patio and that screen door needs to be straightened out.

Now I know why I don’t sit out very often! That was all from one place and without turning my head. You know I thought that all of this would be taken care of magically once I retired. It turns out that I am the magic fairy that is supposed to sprinkle pixie dust and click my heels together three times. Well, it’s too late now to worry about it and with any luck I won’t sit out there tomorrow.

I tried to call my brother today, but either he wasn’t home or he now has call display. Either way, I left a message that I would call him sometime soon. I feel a need to apologize to him for what happened in the past. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.


Steve is my older brother and the main tormentor in my life until he left home at sixteen due to an unfortunate accident. The accident was that my mom found two ounces of pot and an ounce of hash in the drawer beside his bed. Luckily there was a 23 year old draft dodger staying with us at the time and he offered to take Steve with him to Montreal until cooler heads prevailed. That took several years and I suspect either a small stroke or the early onset of Alzheimer’s.  In an interesting side note, Steve convinced my mom and dad to let me return the pot and the hash to the “dealer” as he hadn’t paid for it. Mom and dad had seen enough episodes of “Perry Mason”, “Dragnet” and the “Naked City” to know that you don’t mess around with drug dealers. This particular drug dealer was in grade 10, had really bad acne, good grades and was a choirboy at the local Catholic church. Yep, don’t want to mess with Joey!

I was really kind of happy to see Steve leave. There was a lot less yelling and more desert for me. Sure I had more chores to do and mom and dad decided that they needed to keep a closer eye on me to prevent me from turning to a life of crime. They soon found out that it was pretty boring watching me and went back to “Perry Mason”, “Dragnet” and the “Naked City”. It was around this time that the song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” came out and became a hit of sorts. It kind of brought a tear to my eye every time that I heard it. I would often have to smoke a joint and have some ice cream just to get over the sadness and despair that I was feeling.

So, anyway, the reason that I wanted to apologise is that this week I spent a couple of days looking after my grandson’s “Tornado” and “Hurricane”. They are pretty young still, but I saw what a pain in the ass a little brother could be. Wanting to do everything that big brother is doing. He wanted to play with the same toys, eat the same food, be in the same three square inches of space and just generally be with his older brother. I can see where it would get old very fast. Now, whether that is worth a childhood of torment, I tend to doubt, but I guess hero worship isn’t always fun for the hero.

So, tomorrow I will call my first hero and apologize for being a little pest. Do you think he will apologize for being a lifelong prick? Neither do I!

Friday, 29 July 2011

LOVE

Love... is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion and affection.

Somehow, we all find love in this life. Most of us are loved by our parents, at least until we do something really stupid. Sorry about Falcon dad, but it was really an accident. We also give love back to our parents, which is about all that we give back to them until we pick a nice home for them to spend their golden years in.

Those of us that were lucky enough to have a pet when we were growing up get to experience unconditional love early in life. I am not talking about a cat here, but a real pet. You know, something like a dog, hamster, snake, canary, fish or even a pet rock which would be more loving than a cat. Okay, I might be a little anti cat due to allergies and just good common sense. If I have offended any cat people, just call your cat over and get him/her to console you. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...

I think that you really have to have your heart broken a few times in order to appreciate that special someone who loves you for the person you are, warts and all. Sure, she might want you to get rid of the warts, but that just makes sense, especially if we are talking genital warts. Some women look at a man as a work in progress, more or less a lump of clay to be shaped into the perfect man. They will more than likely be disappointed, because no matter how nicely you dress a pig it remains a pig. Sorry Louise!

I have been very lucky in life with regards to love. My parents loved me, not as much as they loved my brother, but they loved me and when it was my turn to love my kids I tried my best to love them all equally, even when I wanted to kill them! During my childhood we had guppies (really hard to love a fish the size of a grain of rice), a canary (that had some very odd bird disease which made him lose his feathers and his song was a pathetic “beep”), and once my brother and I brought home a psycopathic cat called “Snowball” that could actually run up the walls after the lights went out and developed a taste for my dad’s armpit. I had my heart broken a few times and broke a heart or two which I just found out about a year or so ago on facebook. Sorry Linda.

The real love of my life is Louise. I know I must love her, because I haven’t killed her yet and she continues to put up with me after all of these years. I know, crazy! I keep waiting for her to tell me that she is done with this bullshit and to kick my ass out the door. Perhaps it is because my ass is so big it won’t fit through the door that has saved me. You fall into a routine after a decade or two which is pretty comfortable and predictable. This week however Louise surprised me.

I was taking Buster for our morning walk and when I grabbed my cell phone the battery was dead and needed to be recharged. No problem, no one calls me anyways and I’ll be gone for only 40 minutes. I put the phone on the charger and Buster and I went for our walk. When I returned I noticed that there was three missed calls on the phone. WTF? I set about calling each of the three people that call me, Louise, Arwen and Ken. I left a message on Louise’s work number and was talking to Ken when Louise came in the door. I assumed she was ill and bid Ken farewell so that I could see what was wrong with Louise.

That’s when I noticed she was crying. I guess that since she couldn’t get in touch with me on either the home phone or my cell (which I always carry) she thought that I had succumbed to some household accident. I do work with some dangerous tools and I am of the age that men often have heart attacks. Over the years I have had episodes where I pass out for no apparent reason, well at least no reason that medical science has been able to figure out. I can see why she got so worried and needed to see for herself that I was still alive.

Sorry to cause you such distress, and I promise that in the future I will either take my phone when I go for a walk or actually have an “incident”. Just kidding! You know, when you are together for a while you don’t always tell the other person how much they mean to you. Louise, thanks for being you and thanks for being nuckin’ futs enough to love me...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Creepy Pervert That Can’t Play Guitar

Did you ever think that you should know more than you do?

For the better part of my adult life I have felt that I should be able to do my own car repair. I am at least as smart as a mechanic. It turns out that last statement is false. I am nowhere near as smart as a mechanic when it comes to engines. I buy the Haynes manual, look and find the problem in the trouble shooting section, then go to the relevant section and the engine in the book looks nothing like the engine in my car. When I say nothing, I mean that I can’t recognize a thing! To be honest though, I don’t really like getting greasy and “car dirty”. I can’t and never could roll a pack of smokes up in my t-shirt sleeve. I changed my brakes once, but every time I drove I was sure that I would die in some horrible flaming crash off of a mountain. I never did die.

I have had a guitar for a number of years now and can “noodle” a bit, but I don’t have the same reason to learn that a teenager does. In fact at this stage of my life getting laid would not only cause major marital problems, but also wouldn’t help my focus at all. When I was younger all of my friends played, and the girls would be at the parties anyway, so why go to all of that bother? Yeah, I know...stupid. The problem that I have now is that if I find someone my age to play with, they will usually mention that it has been years since “the band” broke up. If I find a teenager to play with, then I am some creepy pervert. So now I am just a creepy pervert that can’t play guitar.

I can draw a pretty mean stickman when I’m playing Hangman, but that is about it. I should be able to draw a passable face, a country lane and the sun setting behind the mountains. Years ago at work I would draw the face of this rather unpleasant human being (I think he was human, but I can’t be sure), let’s call him “Ditzer” for fun. I would draw Ditzer’s face on the bathroom wall and write “Put your snot on me” underneath. To my surprise and glee people did! I also drew pictures of Ditzer on paper and put them in the urinals on a daily basis. I felt sorry for my boss who had to pretend to be upset about this. I saw him more than a few times fishing urine soaked pictures of Ditzer out of the urinals. I had a co-worker that was a very gifted cartoonist and he got the blame for the drawings. This guy walked in on me one day and was more than a little pissed off. I still marvel at how well everything worked out.

I don’t think I value the skills I have acquired while I have been on the planet. Perhaps once you get proficient at a task it is no longer something that you can’t do, it is just something that you do. Well, I am going to work on my guitar playing and art, but I’ll let the grease monkeys work their magic and keep my tires going around and around.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Thanks For Liking Me

I have been thinking about friendship lately. It seems to me that there are varying degrees of friendship and the relationship seems to change over the years, either gaining or waning in intensity.    

I have hesitated to write anything about friends for fear that they may take umbrage with what I say and feel that I am making light of their feelings. I treasure all of my friends, from the very casual “How do you do?” kind of friend to the “I need you to help me get rid of a body” variety.  Some friends change and get better as you age or they drift away and all that you have left is history. I just want to say that I don’t mean you when I say these things. You know who you are.

My most intense friendships are from my youth, the high school years in particular. Some I talk to rarely and that is too often, whereas there are others that thanks to the social media I am in almost constant contact. The intervening years have passed and we have gotten thicker and to some degree more conservative and (God forbid) adult. I don’t always agree with these people, but when we get together it is as if I am transported back and can almost start a conversation mid sentence from twenty years before. I do love those people! Can’t understand their life and or political viewpoints, but I am sure they forgive my ignorance just as I forgive theirs.

I didn’t develop too many strong work friends, I guess that I tend to compartmentalize my life and for some reason I kept them separate. The funny thing is, that when I think about it, I now have quite a few friends from work. Go figure! Because really, you spend more time with these folks than with pretty much anyone else in your adult life. I didn’t do very much socializing because being away from free baby sitting and also being extremely cheap it was hard to get a night out. I am afraid that I have held Louise back and for that I am sorry. I think it boils down to the fact that I can’t understand why anyone would really want to be a friend so I don’t go the extra mile. My loss I suppose.
There are quite a few people that I have grown close to through the kids. They were my friendship pimps as it were. There was soccer, band parents, scouts and guides and through these organizations I met like minded people that felt an obligation to commit them selves if their child was involved in some activity. We were better humans for that decision I think. I like these people and know that they liked me. Neither of us had to be there but week after week, month after month and year after year we would greet each other with a smile and a joke and if the other needed help there was never any question that you would be there.
I guess when it comes to friends I belong to the Groucho school of thought, “I could never be friends with someone that had the bad taste to have me as a friend.” I don’t think I have ever not helped a friend when they asked. There was a time when I was having coffee after work with some cronies and I was talking about “the good old days”. If you had a job that needed to be done you would buy some beer and pizza, mention the job that needed doing and you would have more than enough people to help. The next day, one of the guys I was talking to mentioned that he was building a deck the next Saturday. Sometimes I hate my mouth! There was nothing to do but show up with the right attitude and tools. We had a good time!
I am hesitant to ask for help from friends, but am offended when I am not asked. Weird! I guess you might say that I am complicated...or retarded. Sorry, mentally challenged. I had a very good friend who was visiting from out east and on the day he was to leave he asked me to call in sick and just hang out for the day. I told him that I couldn’t since I had already taken some time off. I said good bye the night before and left a quiet darkened house the next morning. Three weeks later I got a call in the middle of the night and my best friend’s girlfriend told me that Ken had died in a motorcycle accident. I can’t turn down a friend anymore and try to cherish the moments we have together. Every day I try to be a better human being and treat my friends with the love and respect that they deserve.
Just want to say to my friends thanks for liking me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOqyygAQSX0

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

As Immature As I Am

I found out today that the division of labour between man and woman isn’t equal.

Those that know me might think that I would come out swinging on the side of men and how hard that they work to keep a family together. There are no breaks and the stress of knowing that you must provide for this family, come hell or high water, until you die is enough to break the best of us. I know, I know, women are equally hard working when it comes to providing for a family in this day and age, plus all of the other duties that they do so well. It is just that as a man I can appreciate a subtle difference.

I spent today looking after my grandsons, and all in all we had a good time. I am a little worn out, but I think that if I were in a situation that I had to do this on a daily basis, I would rise to the occasion and do a good job. Oh, make no mistake about it, after a few months my mind will have taken on the consistency and intellect of tapioca pudding. Ladies, my hat is off to you! There are people that choose child rearing as an occupation which I find...ahhhh...nuts!

It is one thing when you are related to the little darlings and have familial love to stay your hand, but I know there is no amount of money that would make me even consider it. Mind you, the same goes for nursing, proctology, dentistry, roofing, any kind of physical labour, spider wrangling, “honey wagon” driver or middle school teacher. Come to think of it, I am hard pressed to think of an occupation that I would like. A few days here or there is fun and I look forward to the experience. Ewan, Cohen and I had a blast today doing and eating things that are kind of forbidden by any sane parent. I gave them a ride in the dryer, we ate food that is bad but good, watched TV and movies, bounced on beds and made a mess in our diaper. Well, one of us did.


I get to do it again tomorrow and will be a little more prepared. You see, normally Louise is with me when we look after the grandkids and it is two against two which is a fair fight. I believe you can do anything if you are put in a situation which requires you to succeed. I was once conned into co-ordinating girl’s soccer in our area which involved phoning hundreds of people, grading and placing the players in the proper division. I hated talking on the phone, and knew virtually nothing about soccer. I survived and believe that I left the program in better shape than when I took over. Of course everything changed back to the way it was the year after I left. You can only do what you think is right.

So, with any luck, the sun will shine tomorrow and the kids will come down with some 24 hour sleeping sickness. If not, I have DVD’s, a wagon and a bike, sugar cereal and chocolate, lots of toys and the attitude “That no matter what I do, the kids will still love me even though their mom won’t talk to me again”. She already mentioned that a dryer isn’t the ideal children’s toy. What does she know? She isn’t a kid or nearly as immature as I am...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Hard Bodies

True to my word, I went to climb the stairs at McHugh bluff this morning. First I had to walk Buster and for some reason he was just full of it today. Sure, he got rid of most of “it” along the way but between the cheek tweeking and scent smelling the walk seemed to last forever.

McHugh bluff is about a twenty minute drive from my place and it has a stunning view of downtown Calgary and the Bow river. There is a stairway from the top of the bluff to the bottom which has 11 flights of stairs, for a total of 167 steps. I have managed to find reasonable excuses not to do the stairs for four months, but today I had decided to start again and just couldn’t find a valid reason not to. My friends that I generally do the stairs with did manage to find a good enough excuse not to show. If they were good friends they would have shared their excuse! They did however, manage to meet me for coffee.

I managed to get four sets completed before my legs began to quiver, my mouth dried up, knees were aching and somewhere on the way up that last time I lost my lungs. If anyone finds them, just leave them at the top of the stairs, I don’t think I can make it down and up again.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the visibility was amazing. There was a great view of the city and river, but also the mountains looked phenomenal. When you are stopped and trying to catch your breath, berating yourself for attempting something so stupid,  the view takes what little breath you have left away. Walking up the stairs, all that I can concentrate on is left foot, right foot and breathe in and out. On the way down you get to look at the other people who are doing the same thing that you are, but it seems that they aren’t having nearly the difficulty that I am having. Oh well. Good for them, we will see how well they do when they are my age. Okay, a couple of these hard bodies passed my age at least fifteen years ago, but I am sure (well, pretty sure) they weren’t doing this fifteen years ago.

I suppose that the stairs draw a different crowd at night, judging from the wine bottles, beer cans, used condoms and half eaten pizzas which are tossed at the side of the stairs. Since the city allows the area to grow pretty wild, it is also the bedroom of quite a number of homeless people. It is a multi use area after all according to the brochure. I couldn’t help but notice something odd, which was laying at the side of the stairs about half way down. It was an empty bottle of Kraft Peppercorn Ranch Dressing. Beer, wine and liquor bottles I can understand, but Peppercorn Ranch? WTF! What is the chance one of the homeless was having a salad half way up the stairs? Why would a drunken kid have a bottle of salad dressing with him? How much salad did they have to need the contents of a full bottle of dressing? If it were one of the homeless you would have thought they would buy the cheaper no name rather than the name brand.

I suspect that I will never know the answer to this question or why I feel the need to do the stairs at all. Perhaps this is my fatal flaw. Well, all I know is that I have a good excuse to miss this coming Wednesday as I am looking after my grandsons.

Might be easier to do the stairs...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Feed The Pigeons

I was talking to a friend today that had turned 61 this past June. His daughters threw him a sixtieth/sixty-first birthday party because last year they were both in the process of planning and executing their weddings. The weddings turned out to be wonderful affairs and so incidentally did the birthday party.

The reason that I mention this is that my friend is currently without a computer and has been for a number of years. He has had a computer periodically in the past, but never really “took” to it. His youngest has acquired a second hand tower and he will be getting a monitor and keyboard to go with it after his vacation this year. I am inexplicably happy for him!

I don’t think that his life is an empty shell without 4 gigs of ram, a terabyte of memory and a super fast graphics card. From what I can gather, in all other respects he is a sane, normal, contributing member of society. He holds down a job, he watches TV (not too much), listens to Sirius satellite radio, likes dogs and kittens and to my knowledge has never been in a clock tower with a sniper rifle. However, for some inexplicable reason I think that his life must be empty and come September he will have the veil lifted from his eyes for the first time.

God, what an arrogant, superior prick I have become!

In my defence, I feel that the computer is our generation’s pigeons. I worry that as we baby boomers age and our children’s lives become too full to spend as much time with us as we would like, we might spend our lonely days in the park feeding pigeons named Sam, Charlie, Estelle and Rupert. Instead of Sam, Charlie, Estelle and Rupert we now have Mac, Sony, Dell and Acer. Our new “pigeons” allow us to reach out and touch people all over the world. I have friends that have moved to Vancouver Island and I am closer to them now than I was when they were in this town. With this blog I have touched people in Malaysia, Latvia, Germany, India, the USA, Brazil and Ireland to mention a few. Can you imagine what it would be like if this were any good?

When the bulb on our projection TV went, I didn’t have to go to Future Shop and get talked into a new TV, I just went online, found out what bulb I needed, ordered it and it arrived a few days later. Thanks to facebook I am in constant contact with friends from Ontario that in all probability I would have drifted away from. I have even found old friends that I had virtually forgotten. I am excited about new friends that I have yet to meet. I get jokes sent to me and there are chances to win contests. I can see any historic or mundane event live. On a recent trip to Hawaii, Louise and I waved to our grandson from the beach at Waikiki. Crazy!

I know that the web poses its own share of thieves and muggers, but as long as we can keep our wits about us and remember that something that sounds too good to be true, generally is, then all should be fine.

We also have to remember that there is a real world out there and it is full of wonderful experiences and people that are every bit as interesting as you are. I know, that isn’t saying too much, but I find you fascinating. Tomorrow I am going to go out and walk some stairs with friends and afterwards over coffee we will talk about the world and how it is going to hell in a hand basket.

Who knows, afterwards I might just go to the park and feed some pigeons...

Good Times

I’m feeling a little nostalgic tonight. I just finished watching a movie, and in one scene there were three kids running downhill as fast as they could.

I can remember doing that. It was a lot of fun until you started to lose control of the run and your legs couldn’t keep up to gravity. It became a case of not if you would fall, but when, and hopefully you could pick the where. Mostly the where just happened and so did the skinned knees, the bruises, the grass stains and of course the derisive laughter from your friends. Good times...

I started to think of other times that gravity played a role and inflicted pain during my life. Who can forget rolling down a large grassy slope, spinning helplessly out of control and eventually coming to an abrupt stop against a rock or a fence post. Sometimes if you were lucky you would smash into your buddy. Good times.

I can remember one time when I thought that riding my bike down what can only be described as a cliff seemed like a great idea. I started down and felt the wind rush through my hair (it was much longer in those days), the bike bouncing down the near vertical slope, the terror combined with exhilaration and the stunned disbelief when I miraculously regained the horizontal. The success was tempered with failure as I came to a rather painful stop in some dense bushes. Well, at least it wasn’t a fence. Good times.

Do you remember those playground merry-go-rounds? I’m not sure if it was gravity or centrifugal force that caused the bruises, scrapes, and dizziness. It would start out innocently enough with you running in circles pushing until you got to the point where you couldn’t keep up with it and at the last moment you would jump on. Of course you are exhausted and have virtually no strength left, so you could feel the inevitable pull and your fingers slipping. You try to drag your foot on the ground, but are unable to find it. Don’t worry, you will find the ground soon enough! Dizzy, dusty, scraped and battered you assess what went wrong and eventually figure out that it was the running that was the culprit. You get your older brother to do the pushing, while you sit back and watch the world spin by. This is the same sadistic brother that tied you up during the hottest day of the year and covered you with electric blankets and left you for and hour. How could this go wrong? I know I fell off eventually and puked my guts out, but everything was a blur. Quite literally! Good times.

Flash forward a number of years and I found a variation of this device in Cranbrook BC while on a family vacation. I saw this and started to tell the kids what fun I had on one of these when I was a kid. Louise looked at me with a quizzical look on her face. I imagine she was having a more accurate memory than I and couldn’t reconcile her memory with mine. The kids just didn’t get it! Can you imagine an adult having to show kids how to have fun? I got it spinning faster and faster and jumped at the last moment. Turns out that the heavier you are the harder it is to hang on. I am pretty sure only one rib was broken and the other two were just cracked. The kids still ask me to show them how to have fun. Now my grandson is asking me how to have fun. Kids can be cruel! Good times.

I loved tobogganing when I was a kid. My dad would wax up the bottom so that we would have a great time. I am pretty sure he loved us but he used the snow as a life lesson of sorts. He also encouraged us to ask Santa for a “Flying Saucer” at Christmas one year. What kind of sick mind comes up with a toy to be used spinning and sliding down a hill of ice and is impossible to steer? To top it off there are hundreds of other kids doing the same thing with predictably disastrous results. My buddy was the first one of us to lose an adult tooth. Pretty cool, and the red looked nice on the snow. Good times.

I think I am getting smarter as I get older. Perhaps not smarter, but I have developed a healthy respect for gravity and his friend centrifugal force. Well, except for that unfortunate incident that involved a ramp and a skateboard...

Good times...good times...

Friday, 22 July 2011

HUHA

With all of the millions or should I say billions that are spent doing useless studies, I was wondering if anyone has ever figured out the percentage of time we spend waiting in our lives.

I am waiting for some visitors that are going to be staying at our place for the night and then leaving in the early afternoon to catch a plane home to Ontario. I am also waiting for a call to coffee from a friend from BC that is in town for another friend’s daughter’s wedding. We will get together a few times when he is out visiting and catch up on each others lives. I couldn’t wait for him any longer, so I called another friend to see if he wanted to go for coffee and lotto tickets and to the library. I am waiting for him to pick me up. See, I can too multi-task!

I get in the car and before you know it, we are waiting at a red light. The light turns green and the truck two cars in front of us is just sitting there, so we wait for him to pull his head out of his ass. We get around the corner and at the next light we are the first vehicle to wait because Mr. Head-Up-His-Ass (HUHA) made it through the light. Two more red lights of waiting and we get to Tim’s where we have to wait while someone (probably related to Mr. Head-Up-His-Ass) tries to figure out how to back out of a parking spot while drinking a coffee, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio and smoking a cigarette.

We get into Tim’s and you guessed it we are waiting to place our order. My question is, how can you be standing in front of the donut display for ten minutes and not know what you want when it is your turn to order? Must be more relatives of Mr. HUHA I guess. We finish our coffee and have to wait while Mr. HUHA,s sister has her six and a half blocks free of cars in order to make a right hand turn.

Five red lights later and we are in the Co-op parking lot behind Grandpa HUHA who would rather stop in the middle of an aisle to wait for his wife than actually park the car. We have to wait to cross the parking lot because the young HUHA’s think this is a perfect place to drag race. I go to buy my chance at fortune and wait behind a woman that has 13 winning tickets. Who has that many winning tickets? Oh yeah, I am happy for her! It was on to the library where I waited behind a woman and her brood while they checked out somewhere between fifty and a hundred books. Really? You and those mouth breathers are going to read that many books before you can get back to the library? I call bullshit! Finally, my turn!

“I was called that I had an item at the library and couldn’t find it on the hold shelf.” I told the librarian at the desk. I waited while he swiped my card six times (I counted) and then entered my card number four times manually (I counted). I am assuming he got the number wrong the first three times. He looks at the computer and then up at me. “No sir, there is nothing here.”

“But I was called that there was an item ready to be picked up.” I told him.

He looks at the computer and then up at me. “No sir, there is nothing here.”

Okay, I thought, well I guess I will just wait for a day or two and come back, because there is a line behind me and I am sure they don’t want to wait any longer. Ken dropped me at home and I was greeted by Buster who had been waiting for me (he was really waiting for a treat) and then I settled in to wait for Louise to come home.

Louise finally came home and we began to wait together. Waiting together is so much better than waiting alone, and waiting with someone you love isn’t waiting at all, it is life.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

My Sweaty Eastern Friends


My heart goes out to the friends and family of mine that live in eastern Canada and are suffering through this heat wave. I know, there are a lot of people that just love the heat and would take it over the ice and snow any day. I guess that is true, but I would bet all the money you have in your pocket those people don’t work outside or live without an air conditioner.

I can remember playing work-up baseball on a hot summer day in Toronto. When you ran from base to base each time your foot touched down a little puff of dust would shoot up. The grass was so dry that it felt that it were breaking when you walked on it. No one wore shorts that I can remember, or had a water bottle with them. We would just sweat and if we were lucky they would be watering the school yard.

The sprinklers were the type that shot out a stream of water at close to the speed of light and would continuously rotate covering a huge area. No one would even run through the stream of these things for fear of broken bones or being blown around like a piece of paper.

Only the very bravest would dare to try and drink from these man killers! When I say bravest, I really mean the stupidest. I often attempted to quench my thirst. The problem was that the water came out at such a speed you couldn’t capture any in your mouth or even your hands. Thinking back, it is a wonder someone didn’t put out an eye.

Maybe that is one of the reasons our moms would tell us to “be careful or you will put out an eye.” Moms were a little single minded when it came to bodily injuries. They thought nothing of it when we were swinging to the top of the arc at the school swing set and jumping off so that we could feel for just a minute what it was to be Superman. The Superman part was over too quickly, but just as in the comic books we would definitely “SPLAT”.

I remember taking lessons at outdoor pools at around and standing at the edge just shivering with my lips turning blue. I can’t imagine it would be cold at all, probably about 24ยบ C. We had the lessons early so that the pool would be open for the public at a reasonable time.

We seemed to spend the whole summer outside, and every day we would return from play with sweat streaks in the dirt on our skin.

You know, back then no one had air conditioning. Maybe some theatres had it, but AC was unheard of in homes. I can remember my dad would go to work every day in a suit coat to an office downtown and there was no AC. It must have been hell! I worked in more than a few warehouses and the only air conditioning that we had was to leave the doors open, and at break time we could sit outside in the shade. I don’t think we were tougher back then, but there just wasn’t any other option. What is that saying? “Everybody complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” It is nice to know that someone did do something and invented central air conditioning. I checked, and whoever it was didn’t win the Nobel Prize. Okay, I just checked, his name was Willis Haviland Carrier and if he weren’t dead I would kiss him.

So my sweaty eastern friends, I guess my advice to you is to stay cool and seek out shade and air conditioning. Be tolerant of each other, use lots of deodorant, drink plenty of fluids, if you can avoid strenuous activity then do so and for the love of God keep that awful weather out east!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Dreams

Last night when I sat down to write the blog I saw the word “Dreams” where there should have been a blank page. I had no memory of putting it at the top of the page, but I must have at some point during the day. The way that I work is that throughout the day make notes on napkins, newspapers or little notebooks of things that I think would be interesting for me to write about. Hopefully it is interesting for people to read as well. It took most of the day today, but I finally remembered why I had written “Dreams”.

Not too long ago I was sitting in a coffee shop with some friends and we overheard a couple at an adjacent table talking about that week’s lottery. The prize was around 40,000,000 give or take a million or two, which is nothing to sneeze at. They were talking about how they would spend it. The guy said he would buy a cherry red corvette which he saw in a movie or a TV show and had always wanted. His female companion said that she would buy a nice car for sure, but the first thing she would do is to toss all of her clothes and buy a whole new wardrobe. Oh, and a shoe store!

This started us on what we would each do if we won the lottery. Mostly it was the same things that we had now, but bigger and better. Bigger house, better car, nicer clothes, help out the kids and of course give to needy causes.

It would be nice to be able to help out causes that you are unable to at the present time and give really cool gifts to friends and relatives. The lottery win is the dream of the masses now. I am waiting to win a lottery right now, and earlier tonight I didn’t win a dream home or a car or a $100,000. Here’s hoping!

Why I wrote down “Dreams” yesterday wasn’t about the lottery, but about what life was like before lotteries existed in this country. The only lottery that I knew about back in the day was the Irish Sweepstakes which was sort of, kind of, perhaps, technically illegal. Everyone bought tickets, and if you were drawn you would get a horse in a race and if your horse won you were living on easy street. The prizes were tiny compared to today’s massive payouts, but enough to make you very happy. My mom had her ticket drawn and for a week or two visions of sugar plums danced in our heads. Her horse was scratched, so she only received $1000, but that was still a nice bit of tax free cash.

Other than that lottery there really wasn’t any other comparable game of chance (luck). What then did people dream about? We would dream that a rich uncle that we had never heard of would die and leave us his considerable fortune. We would dream about getting some money together and opening up a restaurant, garage, and shoe store and generally make a living doing what we loved or knew best.

There were dreams about writing a book and having it become a best seller.

Perhaps you might invent something like “white out” correction fluid for typists. Bette Nesmith Graham invented that because she was a bad typist and made a lot of mistakes. She eventually sold her company (she was fired from her job for a spelling mistake) for 47.5 million. Her son was Mike Nesmith of the Monkees.

Most of the dreams were really quite doable back then, unlike today’s dreams of the big lottery win. Your chance of winning the 6/49 is about 1 in 14,000,000, which is possible, but barely. The dreams of yesteryear were so much more realistic because a lot of the dreams were based on you getting off of your fat ass and actually doing something. I think that we have lost ourselves in the easy money of the lotto. Personally, I will probably still keep buying tickets but I am also going to get off of my fat ass and try to do something.

Wish me luck...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Separate Reality

I was just wondering about those that have a firm grasp on reality. Just where exactly do they grab it? It is a slippery thing this reality. I have never really been able to be sure whether my reality and the rest of the world’s reality were/are the same thing.

Carlos Castaneda wrote a book called “A Separate Reality”. Louise and I each had a copy of this book and when it came up in conversation we would say in unison “We each have our own Separate Reality”. We thought that the play on words was hilarious, perhaps that is one reason we get along so well, but to date no one else even thinks it is cute. We pull it out every few years just to test it, but I guess it still isn’t funny. In the book Carlos was the disciple of Don Juan who was a master of his life, this world and the next. That is the reality, which is referred to in the title.

I don’t always fit in with the rest of humanity. I wonder how many millions or billions of people say that on a daily basis? I get along quite well with the rest of you, but I feel, “distanced” from you, and believe I am more of an observer than participant. Anyways, Carlos was learning to control his reality and to manipulate it to a degree, generally with the use of Peyote. This book was very popular in the seventies and for us aging hippies the thought that the road to enlightenment could be travelled with the use of drugs and hallucinations was just too good to be true.

I did travel the path, or at least followed it for a time. I found that for me true enlightenment comes by living the best life that you can and treating people with respect and understanding. Well, not the assholes of course! Okay, I have a ways to travel on the path still. It is the Golden Rule that will bring true happiness. The great religions and belief systems all say the same thing. We should treat others as we wish to be treated. Pretty simple really, don’t screw the other guy over! Play win/win. When you find a wallet, return it. If someone needs help, then help. In the words of the great Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I don’t think it is possible to attain true enlightenment on this plane of existence. Most of us just don’t care about the other guy, we just want ours. When a beloved pet dies we are devastated for days, weeks, months and more. In 2004 on Boxing Day 230,000 Indonesian people died in a tsunami. Horrible tragedy, but we went on shopping, eating left over turkey and feeling good about our charitable donations at Christmas. Maybe we gave to tsunami relief, but it came at an inopportune time as most of us had spent all of our discretionary income. We aren’t bad people, we are just human and we live in this reality, on this plane of existence.

We are as good as we can be and still be alive.

I guess I am having trouble with my place in the world today. I hope that you have a nice comfortable place with people to love and that love you.

Monday, 18 July 2011

I See You

I think that I am starting to fade.

No, I haven’t gone on some TV diet plan and I certainly haven’t begun one of the Nazi boot camp things, where you are treated like dirt until you lose fifty pounds. If I want to be treated like dirt, I have my friends!

I am talking about physically fading. I nearly broke my nose a few weeks ago walking into an automatic door. It just wouldn’t open for me, and since it was the only way in to the store, I had to wait for someone else to come by. This hasn’t happened just once, but many times with varying amounts visibility. Sometimes I have to wave my hands and move from side to side to get the door to work. Yes, I do look sort of like a moron when I do this. If I concentrate as I am walking up to the door and say in my mind “I am real and I am solid, the door will open for me... I am real and I am solid, the door will open for me...” then it will generally work.

This problem isn’t limited to electric doors, but to people as well. Just the other day, Louise and I were going into Superstore to pick up a few items and a woman nearly ran me down with her cart! I could understand if I stepped out from one aisle to the next, because accidents do happen. No, this was in the entrance door. Yes, the door did work for me, or maybe it worked for this woman, but she just pointed the cart right where I was standing and I had to jump out of the way! Of course Louise thought that this was really funny. I love to make her laugh; perhaps someday she will get to see me drive off of a cliff.

We finish our shopping and do the self check out because I am not sure the cashiers would see me. I grab the basket and as I am walking towards the door a lady runs into me! Not the same lady, I checked. Now, understand that neither of these women even acknowledged my existence, it was as if I didn’t exist. I know I exist, because I am with me all of the time! Louise thought that this second “run in” was just too funny. Once was funny, but twice is hilarious!

Today walking up to the library a kid on a bike clipped me with his handle bar. I am not small enough for someone to think they could pass me on the sidewalk, so I have to assume he just didn’t see me. People step in front of me in lines all of the time. When I tap them on the shoulder and say "There is a line", they apologize and say that they just didn’t see me. What is this bullshit?

If my time on the planet is up, then let me go the normal way. I don’t want to be a living, breathing, walking ghost!

I kind of started to think that it might just be a super power of sorts. I tested the invisibility out in a bank (got stopped before I managed to get behind the counter), Tim’s (no free coffee or donut) and the changing room at La Senza. Alas it was all to no avail. If it is a superpower, then I can only use it for good and who wants that?

I guess I will just have to live with being ignored and run into by friends and strangers alike. That’s just part and parcel of being a fader in a solid world. Just remember the next time you are coming out of the shower, there may be someone watching that doesn’t have to use his power for good, or perhaps I may have perfected my power.

You may not see me, but I will see you...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Prophet In Wing Tips

It’s hot today!

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t Ontario hot and sticky, or the dry heat of Las Vegas where it can hurt to breathe. We don’t have the heat that Hawaii gets, nor do we get their trade winds. I have heard that it gets so hot in parts of Mexico that you can’t walk on the sand without burning your feet. I imagine that life on the planet Mercury would be really unpleasant for the two seconds before you vaporized. I suppose that heat is relative.

Most of my relatives don’t like the heat either. The ones that do, I don’t want anything to do with because they are obviously polluting the gene pool. I hope that they burnt their feet on the sand! I do have a close relative that likes the heat, but since she is the mother of my grandchildren I have to smile and pretend she isn’t crazy.

Other people must have better methods of dealing with the heat, making the unbearable, bearable. I understand that people in very hot climates have methods that enable them to live, work and thrive in spite of the inclement weather. You never hear anyone saying that the weather is very clement do you?

I know that in very hot countries they wear many layers of thin material, take a siesta during the hottest part of the day, drink hot drinks and eat spicy foods in order to promote sweating which is nature’s air conditioner. I am pretty sure that the turban has some practical use, but I haven’t been able to find out what it was. No one willingly wraps a three meter strip of cloth around their head unless there is or at least was a very good and practical reason. What pops into my mind is ancient toilet paper, but that is my mind and you really shouldn’t take note.

Mankind located in these hot countries for many reasons, Central heating was several millennium away, plentiful food supply (assuming you like figs, sheep, camels milk and unleavened bread), didn’t want to move too far from mom and dad, there were no messiahs anywhere else. Speaking of messiahs, did you know that there has never been a prophet worth his salt that didn’t wear sandals? I have never really been comfortable in sandals, mainly because I don’t like anything between my toes other than dirt. I imagine that indicates that I will never lay down a guide to living a righteous existence. That’s quite possibly a good thing.

The climate here is temperate for the most part, except for a few days every year when I get to complain and everyone that I know will tell me to “suck it up Buttercup!” They are right, but it is my God given right to bitch and whine. I think it is in the New Testament. The reason that I am a little “pissy” is that I managed to break a blade off the fan of the air conditioner today, so I guess I will just have to suck it up. Anyone know where I can get three meters of denim?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Naked On The Balcony

Today we went to the Stampede!

Yee-Haw!!!

I am a reluctant Calgarian when it comes to the Stampede. I like pancakes and sausage, but not every morning for a week and a half. I have a suspicion that the guy who started the Stampede thought  pancakes and sausage was a hangover remedy. Incidentally, the person that started the Stampede was a guy, Guy Weadick. I find it curious that he is a guy and a dick. Just sayin’

Louise and I slept in and then had a leisurely morning, taking care of “morning” things. We have free tickets to get into the grounds, but neither of us had been for a few years and I had my doubts about how much we would enjoy ourselves. In for a penny, in for a pound, as my mother used to say. We locked Buster in the house and drove to the LRT station, parked and bought two tickets.

The tickets were $2.75 which is the going transit rate I guess. You know, for just a buck or two more you could park down by the Stampede, but no, this is easier. I have always liked the LRT because you get such an odd assortment of people. Over there is a grandmother and two kids dressed like gay cowboys, standing beside her there are a couple of guys that are either drug dealers or homicidal maniacs. There is a guy that looks vaguely like a seedy Steven Spielburg. No, that is my reflection in the window. Oh, we have a “giggle” of slutty looking teenage cowgirls at the end of the car. Hey, that guy looks normal! What is he doing on this train?

We enter the grounds and the first thing that we do is to go into a building where they sell every imaginable piece of crap gizmo and wizbang vegetable shredder on the planet. I try to take it all in without making eye contact with any of the people at the booths. It being fairly early in the day they still have some energy and try to engage me in conversation. Unless they lay down in front of me though I think I am safe. It’s becomes obvious that Louise either doesn’t know this technique or is interested in something. Now I have to stand in one place and avoid looking at people. God, this is hopeless!

We move to an area in the building that is the one place I want to be. The arts and craft area. We see a guy that uses paint and carving to make the most stunning art. Worth the trip! http://gerardocarsolio.com/index.html

There are so many other wonderful, creative people that have entered their creations in for display. I am overwhelmed! This coming year, less TV and more creativity! No, really!

We feel the need to feed, so off to the midway for some delectable delights. I see the prices and suddenly I have lost my appetite. We mortgage the house and get a hamburger, and a smoky with a drink. We momentarily considered getting the “donut burger”, but at 3000 calories we took the much healthier option. A couple of years ago in at the CNE in Toronto, we had chocolate covered bacon, but it appears that particular delight hasn’t made it across the country.

We next went to the Agri-Centre which, when I tell you it was ho-hum I am overstating the excitement. They had plastic farm animals! Worst petting zoo ever! I know there are animals somewhere, because I can smell them. I ran into a couple of women that I used to work with and chatted for a while.


Might as well go through the Dream Home, which was quite nice. A bit choppy and it had a small master with a glass wall looking in on the bathtub and shower. That might be good for two young svelte people, but by the time you look like me, and you will just have to trust me on this, no one wants to see me naked. I don’t think Dracula’s reflection couldn’t be seen in a mirror, it was just that he was old and who wants to see a pasty white, old guy’s body? I liked the home. I wouldn’t build a house that way, but if I win it I will be naked not only in the bathroom, but on the balcony!

Pelltier and Sale′ were the headliners in a skating show which gave us a chance to sit down and get out of the sun. The skating was terrific and there was a very good band that provided live music for the skaters. It was very enjoyable; I only dozed off three or four times. Louise had a nice chat with a woman sitting next to her, whose son had tried the donut burger and said it was gross, partly because the icing on the donuts was gravy flavoured. I guess this kid will eat anything, but drew a line in the sand when it came to the donut burger. We left the show and let the crowd carry us towards the exit. We are pretty much done.

We travel in reverse and end up at home, healthy and happy if just a touch lighter in the pocketbook. I had a good time, considering I was dreading the crowds and...well the crowds. I don’t like the crowds. I think we will go again next year if only to see the crafts and the artwork.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Coffee And Clean Bathrooms

In the “Good old days” you would show up at the airport about a half hour before your flight was scheduled to take off, buy a coffee and a magazine, maybe some smokes for the flight and saunter over to the gate and walk onto the plane. Not any more!

Now, you are told to be at the airport at least an hour and a half before your flight, if it is an international flight. You can do a web check in from home over the computer up to twenty four hours before your flight. You will have booked your seats when you bought your ticket; that is unless you don’t want to sit with the person you are travelling with. When you get to the airport you go to a machine to get a boarding pass and something new to me the last time I was there, you print off your own baggage tags! What the hell!

The only thing that they do now, is to smile and tell you that you are in the wrong line. Oh, and put your bags on the conveyor belt, unless you are travelling out of the country and then you put your own bags on the belt.

Don’t get a coffee yet, you still have to go through security. This is where you have to empty your pockets, take off your belt and shoes and the go through a metal detector. Kind of like what happens when you are arrested. I guess they don’t want you to hang yourself before you get to your gate. They x-ray your bag and confiscate your tweezers because with those you could over power everyone in a plane. I can just imagine what would happen if I went into a bank and demanded all of the money because I was armed with a pair of tweezers.

Now you can get a coffee! Oh, and thank God that you don’t smoke anymore, because if you did you would have to go back through security and out of the airport to have a cigarette. I don’t really have a problem with that. I guess the security doesn’t bother me that much either, it is much more desirable than the plane blowing up somewhere over Saskatchewan.

So you are through security and now have about an hour and a half to kill, assuming there is no delay in the flight. The delay could be caused by bad weather (anywhere), mechanical problems (they never tell you what they might be) or some dick that is wandering about the airport and doesn’t know his plane is about to board. First, I usually read the papers that are left on the seats in the waiting area. Of course only the want ads and obits, the business section and the flyers are there. Not the good flyers either! Okay, that’s three minutes taken care of.

Go for a coffee? Screw that, there are thirty three people in line! Check out both souvenir stores, and make a mental note to buy a good magazine in the days leading up to the trip. Why are these stores so shitty? There isn’t anything that I want in them except for the chocolate bar that is double the normal price. Make a mental note to buy chocolate bars in the days leading up to the trip. I guess I will go to the bathroom. Perfect, this one is being cleaned! I walk all over the place looking for another washroom and don’t find one, but when I get back I guess they finished cleaning this bathroom. I look at the floor strewn with paper towels, water splashed on the counters and the floors (I hope it is water) and pieces of gum in all of the urinals. I thought they just cleaned this bathroom? Well, that killed another fifteen minutes.

Time for me to get in line for a coffee. Just as I figured, if I waited long enough I wouldn’t be 34th in line. Forty two is a good number. How can you stand in line for ten minutes and not only not know what you want, but you don’t have your money ready? Not just one person, but everyone! Finally, hmmmmmm...what do I want? Where did I put my money? That killed twenty minutes.

I take a sip of coffee only to discover it is liquid fire! I find Louise and ask her if I still have an upper lip. She just shakes her head and goes back to her book. I guess I should read my book, but I was saving it for the flight. Oh well! I dig to the bottom of the carry on and find the book just as they call for us to board. Good, now I can read it on the plane.

God, I have to go to the bathroom again. How can they be cleaning it again? Well, it does need it...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Loads Of Bitches

Last night in Calgary there was some interesting weather. A couple of the areas in the south west of the city had what is suspected to be a tornado touch down. This isn’t like a football touchdown which is good or bad depending on which team you are a fan of, but the kind anyone in their right mind tries to avoid.

There are a lot of video and photos from people in the area that thought getting their cameras was a better idea than getting into some kind of cover. Luckily the damage was minimal, just a few houses and sheds destroyed, but no people were injured. I guess that as far as tornados go this was a pretty mild one. It didn’t even make the front page of the Herald. I will grant you that the Herald isn’t one of the top ten papers in the world, but I would have thought that a tornado would trump next years Stampede centennial, the name of a new pedestrian footbridge or the fact that our parking rates are the same as in New York city. It did make page three.

The city is waiting for Environment Canada to determine if it was indeed a tornado. I don’t know, high winds, ominous black, rotating clouds that look like the finger of God and of course the property destruction. I guess it is somewhere between a dirt devil and an F- five tornado. It wasn’t strong enough to drop a house on any evil witches, but if I had been there it would have been strong enough to fill my pants.

When did tornados become normal in Canada? The only tornados that I had heard of as a kid was when some trailer park in Kansas or Iowa was shredded by one. I don’t recall any in Canada. I will grant you that my memory is dodgy at best, but I am sure I would remember a huge circular wind that destroyed a city and killed hundreds of people. I remember dirt devils in the school playground and trying to catch them. I guess they were magical beings that would bring you luck if you managed to catch one, much like a leprechaun. I suppose that it is possible that our population has grown to the extent that there are now more human habitations where twisters used to play unnoticed.

The government assures us that the weather hasn’t changed (probably), but we are just in a thirty year cycle. Maybe...but what about the extra cold/hot winters and the extra hot/cold summers? I don’t know what is going on, but I want it to stop!

The problem with the whole weather thing is that there is nothing we can do about it except clean up afterwards and complain. If there is a plus to this whole weather thing, it is that I live in a house not built from straw or sticks which is located on a hill, and to the best of my knowledge there are no evil witches in my neighbourhood. Bitches we have loads of, but no witches.