Monday 31 December 2012

Give In To Your Id

So…another year just breezed past me like I was standing still. To be fair, I was standing still for a good part of the year, well, sitting still if you want to be a stickler for accuracy.

I suppose there were highs and lows but to tell the truth, I am just glad to still be alive and enjoying my life. I have no complaints which not everyone can say. If anyone reads this I would like to wish you the very best for New Years and may 2013 be a breakout year for you. Good health, good friends and good luck in the New Year.

Our New Years celebration is a really laid back affair. We will watch TV, Louise has cleaned and changed the linens; we will let the old year out the back door at midnight and let the new year in the front. No wild drinking or shouting all night in a crowd of strangers waiting for the ball to drop counting down the last ten seconds to midnight. When I look at that kind of behaviour from this point in my life, it just doesn’t make any sense. Mind you, getting blind drunk makes no sense to me anymore either.

There was a time however when seeing the New Year out with a group of close friends who were all as intoxicated as I was nmade all the sense in the world. We would have one or two parties that we would drop in on, I suppose we were trying to spread the joy among as many people as possible. The years that I liked the best found us back at my friend Don’s parent’s home for midnight. They were nice people, but there was a guy that lived across the street that would put on a man sized diaper and walk up and down the street at midnight to herald in the New Year. He did this for many years and it always amazed me that this guy was crazy enough or drunk enough to walk up and down the street in freezing weather.
Well, I hope that you are able to get that kind of crazy tonight. You don’t have to walk down the street in a diaper, but give in to your id and let the year to come reflect your insanity.


Oh yeah...thanks for reading this all year. I do appreciate it and I hope that you derived some enjoyment, I know I have.

Sunday 30 December 2012

No Tears

This has been such a very long, long, long holiday season. We don’t do much of anything for New Years, so in effect I am done for the year.

I will miss the things I love that the holidays bring, like Maegan. Maegan comes out for every Christmas and I don’t know if it would feel the same without her. I suppose that there will be a time when for whatever the reason might be we won’t have the pleasure of her company. That time hasn’t come yet and we will deal with it when it does. This Christmas we had another nice visit and I am going to miss her terribly. I am sure she misses us as well, but her real life beckons and I suppose it is time for her coach to turn into a pumpkin.

She flies out at 7:00AM tomorrow and that means we will be leaving here at around 5:00AM. The flight will get her home at a decent time, before the crazy drunks hit the streets of Toronto. I don’t think she has anything planned for tomorrow night other than just enjoying her home and the peace and quiet. Coincidentally, that is exactly the same plan that Louise and I have.

I will miss the music of the holidays too. I know there are a lot of people who think that one day of Christmas music is one day too much, but not me. I can (and do) listen to my favourite Christmas songs all year long. They are just too enjoyable for only one month of the year.

The cookies and candy will be missed as well, but this year I either have to lose some serious weight or start to plan for an early funeral. I don’t really mind the idea of death, but there are a few things that I would like to get done first. I’d like to see Hurricane and Tornado grow into young men. I’m not sure the world will be able to handle them, but there won’t be a dull moment. I plan on doing some wood working that I can be proud of this year. Wait, this is turning into a New Years blog and I don’t want that.

Let’s just say that I am looking forward to spring. Yes, I have had it with winter and snow.

I have eaten too much today. I have played with the boys too much today. I haven’t rested near enough today and it looks like I won’t get enough sleep tonight.

I’m going to miss Maegan and I know that the nephews will too.

No tears, no tears…

Saturday 29 December 2012

Thank God for Small Miracles

I was just looking at my keyboard and I noticed that the places where my hands rest are smooth and mirror like instead of the pebbly, matt plastic like the rest of it. That tells me that I am either a dedicated writer who spends a lot of time spinning tales to entertain or a pathetic loser that doesn’t have a life outside of the internet. Either way, it is interesting.

How many hours did it take to polish the keyboard? It makes me think about how long it must have taken those master craftsmen in the seventeenth century to sand and polish the furniture that now stands in the hallways of mansions and museums. I read once that the patina for that furniture can’t be duplicated because the stain is part blood and sweat from the young apprentices who did the polishing.
If you look around yourself you can see the wear and tear on anything that you have had for any length of time. My wedding ring has a design on it but when it was new, the etching was much deeper and certainly clearer. I won’t even mention my body which has certainly taken a turn for the worse. Every few years I have to replace the tires on the car like everyone else that drives. Kind of makes you wonder why there aren’t large piles of powdered rubber at the sides of every highway doesn’t it? Where did the rubber go? I guess that will remain one of those mysteries of life.

Anyone that has held a hose on an ant hill knows the power of water. I guess you know the power of ants as well, because the little bastards are back that same day. We have all seen pictures of the Grand Canyon or seen it in person if you are lucky, which was carved by the actions of the Colorado River over 17 million years. That is on a scale that is just too immense for me to contemplate. The canyon is 277 miles long, up to 19 miles wide and reaches a depth of 6000 feet. WOW! I saw a show a few years ago which told of how youth in the old days would make marbles. They would place roundish stones in a pitted rock, and divert a small stream of water to flow into the pitted rock. Over a period of weeks and months the action of the water would form a perfectly round stone. I guess when you don’t have TV or video games; the kids get into all sorts of things.
We were lucky enough to be in England a few years ago and spent an afternoon at Lewes Castle. Parts of it date back to the 11th century and there is a lot of wear and tear on pretty much everything. I was amazed that it is still standing. The stairs going up to the ramparts were made of stone of course and over hundreds of years and probably millions of footsteps they are worn down several inches. I don’t think that any of the buildings that are being constructed now will be around in a hundred years, let alone 1000.
I have noticed that parts of the house are wearing out and need to be replaced. Most notably, the shingles on the roof which should have been replaced two years ago. The enamel on the sinks has worn and the sinks themselves have rusted. The floor of the garage has cracked and sunk in the corner. That is in just over 25 years, not 1000 like Lewes castle or 17,000,000 like the Grand Canyon. Oh well, maybe a dash of spackle and a splash of paint will carry us another year or so.

I guess I have to be thankful there aren’t enemies trying to invade or a river running through the living room. Thank God for small miracles!

Friday 28 December 2012

The Dream Police

I had a dream last night that was a little odd. My brother was in town and we got to talking about the colours that they paint cars now. I can remember when my mom and dad would buy cars they would come home with a book of colour swatches and agonize over what would be the best colour for the interior and the exterior. I never have cared one way or the other, but now you are only given a choice of about five colours and just a couple of variations on the interior. We were having this discussion and I told Steve that you could get a blue metal flake with gold flecks and he said “BULLSHIT!”

To prove it to him I drove over to where a friend that I worked with lived (Jason) and parked down the street. His new truck, with the blue metal flake with the gold flecks, was parked in the driveway and it appeared that he was having a party. I kind of crept up to his house and pulled a small section of the body off of the truck. I was just borrowing it to show Steve and then I was going to replace it. When I got back to the car with the blue metal flake and gold flecks, Steve was gone.

Steve has a fairly fine tuned sense as to when police will soon appear and he tends to disappear when he senses the cops are going to get involved. I got in the car and drove around the neighbourhood looking for Steve. No luck finding him, so I decided I had best return the part of Jason’s truck that I had taken. I guess that the party had moved on and with it, Jason’s truck. Instead of leaving the part in the driveway, I brought it home and put it under the Christmas tree.

Then I woke up, no Steve, no truck part with blue metal flake and the gold flecks, no cops (so far) and no idea what the hell the dream could possible mean. I suppose it could mean that I had over medicated myself once again. Well, I plan on taking the same drugs tonight and with any luck I can find out where Steve went, return the part of Jason’s truck that I borrowed and the dream police need never know what went on…

Sometimes I just don’t feel like writing anything. Sometimes I just don’t have anything that I think is worthwhile to write about. Sometimes I just don’t care. Sometimes…

Thursday 27 December 2012

Never a Cop Around

Have you noticed that there is never a cop around when you need one? Of course the opposite is true as well, just when you don’t want to have a cop around they appear out of no where. It is one of those even when you win, you lose.
Tonight we were just leaving the Crossiron Mills Mall ( ) which is north of Calgary when a guy made an illegal U turn. From that particular entrance, left turns aren’t allowed because it would tie traffic up completely. Unfortunately, we all seem to forget and have to drive in the wrong (longer) direction. Some of us are less patient than others and figure that the rules of the road just don’t apply to them. Just such an occurrence happened tonight, but unfortunately for the guy in the car, a cop was just sitting there waiting to give him a ticket. I felt bad for the guy and happy that he got caught at the same time.

Years ago before we had kids, we spent a wonderful day in Banff. We were coming home and the traffic was horrible. I had a headache that was in the process of tearing my skull in two and just wanted to get home and lay down in a cool, dark room. Unfortunately, the sun was beating down on our unairconditioned vehicle and I had been stuck behind this one car that had the worst driver in Calgary. Whenever the opportunity came to pass, this dickhead would accelerate so that I couldn’t pass, or slow down to achieve the same thing. I don’t think he was doing this on purpose, but you never know.
I was looking forwards to getting off of the highway and away from him. Of course when the ramp came for my street, this dick took it too. The road we were travelling was having work done so there was only one lane and Mister Fuck-Me-Over was driving ten to fifteen KPH slower than the limit. Finally after about five K’s of this guys driving, my side street was coming up. Thank God! Wouldn’t you know it, this guy turned down the street! Well, I lost it. I stomped on the accelerator and passed that guy like he was standing still. It felt so very good. Well, until I saw the lights and heard the siren.

It turns out that I was speeding past the guy in a playground zone, through a crosswalk and I think that a stop sign was in the mix somewhere. The cop approached the car with his hand on his gun, assuming that only a desperate escaped convict or mental patient would have driven so recklessly. To his relief, it was only me. He asked me why he shouldn’t charge me with dangerous driving and arrest me on the spot. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t come up with a convincing reason for him not to. I pathetically said” I never drive like this…” and even I wasn’t convinced.

In the end, I lost nine points, speeding, passing in a playground zone, through a crosswalk and just generally being reckless. I counted myself as being very, very, very lucky. I didn’t want to go to prison; I was very, very, very pretty back then.
I am sure the guy I passed was thankful that such a menace was taken off of the road and the streets were once again safe for law abiding citizens.

I guess in a way it was good for me as well. I don’t break any road rules any more and I think I have had one speeding ticket in the thirty years since then. I still don’t like guys like that who make guys like me go crazy, and I can only hope that if there is a God in heaven, he died in some horribly gruesome and painful way. 

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Mans Best Friend

I woke up today with a Boxing Day flu. It wasn't brought on by a Christmas Day drink, but rather having Hurricane and/or Tornado sneeze in my face. The moment it happened I could feel the virus thriving in my mucus membranes. They were having a reproduction party in my throat and nasal passages. Little microscopic pricks!

Whenever I get sick, I like to over medicate, drink plenty of fluids, feel sorry for myself and sleep. The good thing about owning a dog is that he will stay with you, keeping you company as you go through your sleep/wake periods. I would like to think he is there keeping an eye on my condition and if I took a turn for the worse he would go and alert Louise. He would drag her to my side and she would arrive in time to put in a call to 911 and thus save my life. If Louise weren’t around then I think he is smart enough to call 911 himself, but it would be better if Louise were around. Buster would truly be man’s best friend!

Then I got to thinking. Any of my human best friends would react in predictably the same way when I told them of my sickness. “That sucks! I hope you get better, but until you do, stay the fuck away from me!” That not only has been said to me, but is said with painful regularity. Another of my good friends will always say “Die you sick bastard you!” whenever I happen to sneeze or cough around her. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them and I feel much the same way when they get sick. What’s with Buster then?

He acts more like I would imagine a slave would act if the master was sick. Pretend to care, but keep an eye on how the illness is progressing and hope for the best (worst). I don’t think he would eat me if I died, well at least not right away. I still hope that Louise would notice that he didn't have any food in his bowl even if she didn't notice that I had been a little less talkative for the past week or two.

Every now and then today, Buster would sniff me and give me a lick. Now, I understand that dogs smell in colour (whatever the hell that means) and can tell a lot about another dog that had recently urinated on the bush. I suppose that it is possible that I smell like dog urine when I am sick, but I hope not. No, I think that Buster can tell the state of my health from my smell. He would smell and then kind of look disappointed and curl up while the two of us would drop off again. The licking I don’t even want to think about right now.

I’ll tell you that I am planning on sleeping with one eye open whenever I am sick from now on and Buster is on the bed. Mans best friend my ass! 

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Too Much Christmas

I know that I tend to complain about things that I really have no need to complain about. I have been know to complain that things are going too well and pretty soon the other shoe will drop. That other shoe rarely if ever drops by the way.

When my wife told me that the room we have in Hawaii opens onto the patio which in turn opens on to the beach, all I could think of is that there will be people on the patio all of the time. She said that I was the only guy that would complain about being right on the beach in Hawaii. Yep, I am a rare find all right, a keeper even.

I love the whole Christmas season, but this year I have been just a little out of sync. That happens sometimes. Today we went to Arwen’s to have the big family dinner for the first time. We all contributed so that hosting wasn’t such a strain. I made cabbage rolls, Louise did roasted veggies, Maegan made killer carrot cake and ambrosia salad, Arwen did perogies and mashed potatoes, Chris’s mom brought apple pie and candied yams, his sister brought jalapeƱo cheese tarts and the salad. I know I am missing something, but for the life of me I can’t remember. Oh yeah, Arwen made a loaf of bread that looked like Santa. Let’s just say there was a lot of food.

To say there was a lot of food doesn’t really do justice to the table. I could have predicted that I would eat too much and that I would feel like this at the end of the evening. I wish I was stronger. I wish I had more will power. I wish I didn’t have to drive home after the meal. I really wish it wasn’t -28° C. Everything tasted wonderful, but there was just too much Christmas.

Next year I will just have the salad…

Monday 24 December 2012

Christmas Ever and Ever

I had almost forgotten about the blog today. I guess that what with the bitter cold outside (-25° C) and the warm feelings inside the house I have been lulled into a kind of holiday stupor. Some would argue that I am in a stupor most of the time, but that just isn’t so.

For as long as I can remember, we have had people around the house on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and on Boxing Day. This is the first year that we will be going out for Christmas dinner. Normally we don’t even eat Christmas dinner, preferring to snack on all of the holiday goodies that are strewn around the house. Many years ago Louise decided that it just wasn’t worth the effort for her to cook a large dinner when everyone is filled with chocolate, candy, chips and other types of garbage food. We would have our big dinner on Boxing Day which would allow the kids to have Christmas dinner with their spouse’s family.

Yep, Arwen is having the big dinner at her place this year. We are all contributing to the feast so it shouldn’t be such a burden on Arwen. It will be nice for Hurricane and Tornado to stay at home and play with their toys that Santa brought, rather than travel from house to house. It makes sense in all kinds of ways, but I have to tell you that it just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

Well, it feels like a Christmas, just not the Christmas I have known for so many years. I kind of like the insanity but I guess like everything in life, time will march on without any regard to my feelings or thoughts. It will be a fun time tomorrow, even if it will be frickin’ cold (-25 C with a -38 C wind chill). I am looking forward to having Hurricane and Tornado show me all of their toys and watching my kids as the adults that they have become.

I suppose that at some time in our life we move from participant to observer. Participant can be more fun, but observer is much more relaxed. I like relaxed.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from the blog and I hope that you make it through the season healthy, happy and mentally ready for the year to come. 

Sunday 23 December 2012

Every Corner Smelled Like Urine

For the past few months I have been working on and off doing a volume count for the Post office. They have figured out a way to take all of the joy and laughter out of the job and need a physical count of the mail to justify screwing over their employees. I am sure they would phrase things differently, but the end result will be the same, disgruntled, miserable, unhappy mailmen. You thought they were disgruntled before…just wait.

To do these counts, they need anywhere from twenty to fifty people. Most of our time is spent waiting in a lunch room until the carriers have the mail ready and then once the mail is counted, we retire to the lunchroom again and finish the paper work. Pretty simplistic work, but I find I am quite suited to it. The first day of each count, they have name tags which are supposed to be worn around the neck. I am sure it’s so that the carriers or someone else can put a name to the blame. I however find it really helpful as I can’t remember most people’s names. If they would only wear the damned tags, I would quickly learn the names, but after that first day no one bothers. Well, I do but I learned my name quite some time ago and rarely forget it.

I would like to see everyone wear name tags in everyday life. It just makes things simple. Mind you, even when people do wear tags I don’t as a rule use their name. I don’t want to presume a friendship where there isn’t one. Even when I am wearing a name tag, I am amazed that people know my name; it seems that I forget I am wearing the tag.

More than a few years ago, the Post Office embarked on a kind of beautification plan. I think they called it …no that wasn’t it…hmmmm…nope I just can’t remember. The idea was to standardize all of the offices and all of the depots across Canada so that a letter carrier or a clerk could walk into any installation and know where everything they needed was located. The stupid thing about this plan was that almost no one went from place to place and even if they did it took all of five minutes to orient yourself. I have to assume that who ever came up with the idea was a certifiable moron and couldn’t find his nose with his finger.

They came around and painted all of the walls according to some master plan, they moved the different work stations to fit into their master plan. Of course this caused no end of confusion with the people who actually did the work. They put signs hanging from the roof telling you where each walk was, where the registration booth was, where the supervisor was located, the lunchroom, the loading dock and they even put up signs to tell us where the washrooms were. Thank God! Up until then, people had been taking dumps all over the place and every corner smelled like urine.

To do this, instead of using the maintenance staff, there were three or four highly paid management types scraping mouse shit from under the sinks in the lunch rooms. I’m not against this, because finally they were doing a job that they were qualified to do.

I don’t think we need signs on every bush, tree and telephone post, but it is nice to be able to look someone in the chest and say “Hi there Linda! Pretty cold out eh?”

Saturday 22 December 2012

High -22°

Because I am one of those eternally optimistic people, I decided that I needed to get myself to the store and pick up a lottery ticket for tonight’s draw. Yes, I know it isn’t called the stupid tax for nothing, but you can’t win without a ticket. Some say that it is pretty hard to dream without a lotto ticket as well. I don’t know about that, but I felt compelled to buy a ticket on a dream today.

The high today was -22° with a wind chill of -28°, so I definitely needed to dress warmly. I could have taken the car, but it is a pretty short distance and I need to get some exercise. Sweater, scarf, coat, fur hat, boots and nice warm ski gloves would be needed to keep me warm. I don’t think I got past the property line when I realized that I should have taken the time for the long underwear. Oh well, it is just a short walk and my legs haven’t done me any favours lately, so they can just suffer. It just might teach them to be a little more respectful in the future. On the whole I was pretty warm and since there was no need to stop, it was what we call a “brisk” walk here in Calgary.

While I was walking, I flashed back to when I was delivering mail in this kind of weather. I would be riding out to the walk in a cab and on the radio the announcer would say that unprotected flesh will freeze in 20 seconds. The cab would stop and I would tell the driver to pick me up in 3 ½ hours. The way I figured it, my flesh could freeze 27,000 times before I was back in a warm cab. In all of those years, I was lucky enough to remain untouched by Jack Frost, except for a small spot on my upper right cheek that gives me trouble from time to time. We knew how to dress for the cold in the Post Office and of course we would keep moving. Stopping was deadly and once you got cold it was a devil of a job to get warm again.

People would offer to let me come in a warm up, but I would thank them and decline the generous offer. Once I got out of the cold, it was a lot worse going back out and although they were very nice people, I am sure they didn’t want the mailman living with them until the spring. I would have a complete change of clothes at the depot so that I wouldn’t have to wear the still sweat damp clothes out for the afternoon portion of my walk. I don’t think most people would do that, but it worked for me and I am sure the other carriers had their little tricks. Maybe I should write a letter carriers survival guide. Unfortunately the only way people learn is through their own experience, so the book would be useless. I might just write it though.

I made it home safe and sound from the store, with winning tickets clutched in my greedy little, glove covered hands. Well, I hope they are winning tickets, although I should just be happy to have survived the end of the world yesterday. I’m glad the world is still here, I have a few things that still need doing.

Friday 21 December 2012

Billions of Screaming Souls

Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. Well, I am retired so I actually get paid whether I’m in bed or not, so there really isn't too much motivation to get vertical.

My day started when Hurricane arrived for the day, because he was/is sick and since aunt Maegan is here things just fell into place. I unfortunately had to go to see Dr. Julie and Sarah my dental professionals in order for them to replace a small filling that refused to stay in place. Now, I don’t know if Dr. Julie is trying to save me a little pain or the insurance company a few bucks, but this is the second time that she has done her work without giving me any kind of freezing. I suspect that she is in cahoots with Great West Life. In case you are wondering, there was no pain, but there could have been. When it comes to my suffering, I am definitely a belt and suspenders kind of guy. I wished them a Very Merry and beat a hasty retreat.

On the way home I had a few errands and one of them was to visit South Centre Mall to see the way they did Santa’s house this year. 
Chocolate fountain
This mall is more of an upscale mall than the one I am used to, and they tend to have a killer display and the Santa is the real deal I think. I parked the car and as I walked to the entrance I noticed that the mall has valet parking. I’m sure my friends out east are used to this kind of thing, but I just couldn’t believe my eyes. What a great idea for this time of year! I would never use it being the cheap skate that I am, but there are many that will. I asked the guy what the cost was and he said $7, which seems to be pretty reasonable when you consider that you don’t have to walk from post “AAA 487” out there a mile or so from the mall.

The only thing that took away from my awe is that the guy I talked to seemed to be a real asshole. He didn’t smile, gave me one word answers and he just oozed assholedness. This isn’t the kind of guy I would want fronting my operation. I haven’t had a lot of experience with valets, but I assume that a smile and pleasant demeanour would result in an increased business and gratuities. I guess the job was beneath him.

The rest of the day was okay, but I couldn't get over the feeling that something just wasn't right. I have mentioned that Christmas and I are somewhat out of sync this year and although I am closing the gap, I feel that I am just going through the motions. Perhaps it was the thought that the world might end on this day. Perhaps I just can’t see through the eyes of a child anymore. Perhaps I am just a little disappointed.

I was looking forward to the end of the world in a way. What a grand adventure that would have been! I will eventually have that adventure, but quietly, by myself and not with billions of screaming souls.   

Thursday 20 December 2012

Free Beer

I was thinking about people and their jobs today.
Generally I just go about my day and of course at various times I come into contact with people doing their jobs. When I order my coffee, there is usually a smiling face that takes my money, pours my coffee into the paper cup just after I asked for the china cup. No one is perfect. I really can’t imagine how complex that particular job is. Every job entails a special skill set that must be learned and perfected. Most of the time I run into the people that have managed to perfect their skills and are proficient at their jobs. I can sit there and bitch about getting the wrong cup (I do), but before I walked in, someone had to anticipate my arrival and have a pot of steaming coffee ready to pour. Thanks!
Maegan and I went into Costco for a few items that don’t have Ontario PST on them. I stood looking around me at one point and marvelled at the organization that was needed to keep the shelves filled with product that is specific to the season. This stuff had to have been ordered back in June and not only did they have to guess what would be the hot seasonal items, but they needed to order enough product so that they wouldn’t run out, yet no so much that they will have a lot left over. There are some things that they run out of, usually the thing that I want, but on the whole they do pretty a pretty good job. They also need to have enough employees to keep the customers moving and happy, because an unhappy customer is a customer for another store.

There was a water main break a week ago in the city and within a very short while the city had turned off the water, drained the area, evacuated the homes that needed to be evacuated and brought in workers and machines with the skills needed to repair the water line in sub zero weather. The residents that remained in their homes had access to clean, potable water, shower facilities and were given a time line for the return to normal. Really, an amazing amount of planning had to go into dealing with the problem.
I think that Genghis Khan, Attila, Alexander, Charlemagne, Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler all knew the importance of supply lines. You had to keep the armies equipped and fed if they were to fight for you. They also knew that if you could cut the enemies supply lines you would then be victorious. Being a conqueror was one thing, but in order to keep the lands and people that you had just conquered, it was necessary to feed, house and clothe them. Probably that was more complex than defeating them in the first place.

Our modern governments do an amazing job of organizing all that we need to keep the civilization going. I suspect that television is an important pacifying agent just as Egyptian beer was to the Pharaohs. The workers were given beer three times a day and sometimes they were paid in beer. The beer back then was more nutritious, thick and sweeter that the beer of today, but I imagine there was an intoxicating aspect to the drink as well.

Like I say, the governments of today are doing a fantastic job, but I can’t help but think life would be just that much better if we were all given free beer every day.
Just a thought.