Tuesday 31 January 2012

Say, What’s Your Number?

I had a dream last night and the only thing that I remember is the name, Willy Dickgrabber. I’m pretty sure that it’s a good thing I don’t remember the dream. It is also kind of worrying that I would dream that name at all. Perhaps it’s time for therapy.

So, as I was lying in bed trying to wake up and wondering why in Hell the name Willy Dickgrabber would be in my mind, I started to think about being a kid. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Willy Dickgrabber, but surprisingly, it has to do with phone calls. Back in the “good old days” there was only one phone in every house; it was black, rotary and stayed in one place. Wherever it was located, you can be sure that there was a big, white phone book somewhere within reach. Most people had a phone table with a chair that you could sit in comfortably while talking and a handy pencil and paper for taking notes. This is where you would go to talk to your friends and if you were lucky, your girl friends. Your parents pretended not to be eavesdropping, but I was pretty careful about what I said whenever they were around.
I know what you are thinking, “What does this have to do with Willy Dickgrabber?” Well, as you were sitting at the phone talking about whatever it is that kids talk about for hours (I really can’t remember) you would pick up the phone book and flip through it. Sometimes you would find an interesting name and then it would start a contest of sorts as to who could find the weirdest or dirtiest name. I would have been golden with “Willy Dickgrabber”. There was “Ray Screws”, “Phil Hiscock”, “Harry Beavers”, ”Richard Rubright” and the names just kept coming and coming. Sure, it was stupid and juvenile, but I was juvenile and it appears that I was stupid as well. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that I was just giggling when I wrote those names. Pretty good I guess.

When I tired of thinking about Willy, I went on to think about the telephone pranks that we used to play. When I was looking up a telephone prank on Google, there was a wiki entry that mentioned that pranks were popular with dial up phones of the last century. WTF!! Oh, I guess it was the last century. Kind of makes me feel oldish. I used to tell my friends that the phone can answer my questions. For instance, “What sound does an Eskimo woman make when she sits on an ice cube?” Then I would dial this number that the phone company used to test the line, and when dialled it would emit a high pitched squeal. Yep, comic gold!

There was the classic of calling a random number and asking if their refrigerator was running. When they said yes you would tell them that they had better go and catch it. It was funnier back in the sixties. You would call and say it was the phone company and you were testing the line, would they mind holding the phone out and whistling. Sometimes they would, and after you would thank them and say that you will send a bag of bird seed. Sometimes you would order a pizza and have it delivered to the neighbour across the street. Yes, yes, yes…they are and were pretty stupid.

Now, no one can do these from the home phone because of caller ID. Not much fun being an asshole, when right afterwards, you get a call back telling you that they will be calling your parents the next day. There is a resurgence of prank calls now using the internet and VOIP. There is also a website ( http://www.bored.com/dialpeople/index.php ) that lets you send automated prank calls. It lets you select the number that you want to call, the number that will show up on caller ID and of course an automated message. Surprisingly, the website doesn’t allow you to use vulgar language, so I guess this is the modern version of the refrigerator running gag. I can hardly wait to try it.

Say, what’s your number?

Monday 30 January 2012

A Very Good Day

I got to go to the dump today! Not the regular old household trash dump, although I really like that dump too, but we went to the metal scrap yard.
I guess that it isn’t technically a dump, because it is privately owned and they make a profit from other people’s trash. The city run dump loses money faster than you could toss it in the…garbage. I go to the dump or perhaps I should say landfill, no, dump is less classy but it is a dump after all. Anyways, I go to the dump pretty infrequently, but on every occasion I have wanted to take out more than I put in. I have seen guitars, electronics, tools, building materials, toys, furniture, and once I saw what must have been 1000 beer cans. We have deposits on our cans and bottles in Alberta, so I had to pay $12 for dumping and left about $100 dollars just sitting there.

The city pays guys just to sit and make sure that no one takes any of their garbage. I will grant you that they are what I call the “walking dead” (injured employees), but they are a pretty surly bunch. There are other cities that sell permits to scavenge and reclaim saleable materials which save the landfills from filling up. I guess because we have pretty crappy farmland between Calgary and the Saskatchewan border, the sanitation department figure they have an unlimited area to dump in. Maybe they are planning to build mountains.

Today we went to the scrap yard as I said and it was kind of like an adult version of Willy Wonka’s factory. There were marvels and wonders every way that I looked. When you drive in, if you squint and the sun is just right it looks like a city made of diamonds. There are trucks of every kind driving in and around the lot, some dumping, some picking up and some I suspect just hanging out in a cool place. The piles are so large, that you see buses and combines peaking out. The first person you meet is a woman that asks you what is in the truck and then directs you onto the scale to be weighed in. Then you are sent to the place where you are to off load what to us is scrap but to the owners of the yard must be gold.
Before we backed into the spot, a humongous bulldozer pushed the metal shelving (?) up against a huge pile of other metal. You know those arcade games where you control a claw crane and hope to pick up a stuffed toy or in my day a pack of cigarettes or lighter? Well, they had a couple of these claw cranes and they would open and drop, close together and pick up a bunch of metal, and the coolest thing is that they would just toss it to the other side of the pile. Man, I would pay them to let me do that! I was a little concerned that I might have a fridge dropped on my head, but I guess if I had to go that would be as good as any other way. Just as we were finishing, the claw dropped on a car and punched through the metal like it was paper. It then flipped it over and the closed claws dropped, crushing the crap out of the car. Finally it picked it up and tossed it to the other side of the pile where I guess the other crane operator got to play for a while.
We had a couple of batteries and they had to be taken to Bay 3. We dropped them off and then drove back to the scales, were weighed and then parked the truck to go inside. Once inside, Ken had to show his truck registration and two pieces of ID. I guess that is in case someone is missing their metal junk. Good luck finding it in this place! For the load of metal and a couple of batteries, they paid us $42 and change. It was kind of like dinner and a show. Man I could watch them all day, and we were paid for it. Life is good!

We went to Tim’s for coffee the scrap yard bought. All in all, it was a very good day.  

Sunday 29 January 2012

Take Another One of Those Pills

Fair warning, I am under the influence of some pretty good over the counter drugs. I can’t figure out why I don’t take these things on a regular basis. It isn’t as if I ever operate heavy machinery. I do spend a fair amount of time around razor sharp knives and chisels. Hmmmm…maybe I should ease off on the drugs.

We went out for brunch with Brendan and Tara today and as I was sitting there listening to the talk about their respective jobs, I was thinking that too many of us spend our lives doing things that don’t make us happy. I know that there is no job that is 100% perfect and enjoyable every day. That wouldn’t be fun either. Just to be clear, they seem to enjoy their jobs for the most part.

I suppose that as long as we are chasing a lifestyle that needs to be backed up with money, then the bulk of us will work at jobs that don’t satisfy. There are people that have the proper temperament to be teachers or nurses that simply can’t get a job because there are other people that do exams well. I guess that as long as the requirements for the job is who scores the highest on the tests we will be saddled with people working hard to get raises.

Our society is particularly bad at taking away the joy, pride and workmanship from our jobs. In a large way, we can blame Henry Ford and the assembly line for taking joy and pride out of our work. I know that he didn’t come up with the assembly line concept, but he takes credit for it so the way I figure it he should take the blame as well. Instead of following the car through the entire assembly process, the workers were responsible for three bolts and six screws. “What did you do at work today daddy?” “Oh, I just turned a wrench and twisted a screwdriver. Makes you proud to be alive!”

Where I used to work, it seems that every change and new technique that they bring in is geared towards having a work force that stays focused exclusively on their jobs, with no socialization or even the ability to personalize your work space. I guess the idea is that you might offend someone if they see pictures of you kids and they are unable to have kids. No telling jokes, because someone might be offended. Careful what you say, because someone might find it obscene. Well, I hope so, that is the way that it was intended.

I guess that I am a dinosaur and not fit for the working world anymore. That may be so, but as long as Mister Harper keeps messing with the Canada pension plan, I may indeed have to go back to work. It won’t be too bad, because even if I get fired, I don’t need to put it on my resume. Did I say “if”? I think it will be a forgone conclusion.

I am looking at the computer and it is looking back at me, with this large unblinking rectangular eye, and quite frankly it is freaking me out. I can’t seem to hit just one key at a time, so I think I am pretty much done for today. I think I will take another one of those pills. In for a penny, in for a pound…

Saturday 28 January 2012

Type One and A Half

There are two types of people in the world. The first is the kind that when they drop their toast, it lands butter side down on the floor and the second type have the toast land butter side up. I guess I am in a subset of the first type, it still lands butter side down, but on the way it slides down my shirt and pants.
I think that most of us are type one people. When you are in high school, you come out of the exam room feeling pretty good about how you did. However, that feeling quickly disappears as the “Brains” relive the exam in all of its details question by question and none of the answers are the same ones that you put down. How could you have been so wrong so often? I guess that the “Brains” are type two people. They are confident and prepared. Of course there is a subset of them as well, they think they blew the exam, but when you are looking at your paper with a large D-, you see that the subseters are holding up the A+ papers they just got back. Isn’t it funny how you thought that you couldn’t feel any worse than when you got that paper back?

I have a type two friend that did well in school; he actually got 110% on a math exam! How the hell can you get 110%? The bonus questions are there for those of us grasping at straws, not for the idiot savants! If a type one person reaches out and grabs a handful of straws, does he have a snowballs chance in Hell of getting a C? This same guy actually won $100,000 on a scratch ticket once. Normally I would be thrilled that a buddy won the lottery, but of all the people I knew at that time of my life, he was the one that (I perceived) needed it the least. It is like when a lawyer wins the lotto and when asked what he will do with it he replies “I’m not sure, we are in the process of downsizing our house and selling off the condo in Hawaii.”

Some of us get a bonus at work or have a three pay month and it just makes our day. What will we do with it? Have a vacation? Pay the mortgage down? Maybe I’ll buy the kids those expensive jeans/toys/gadget that they have been bugging us for? The possibilities are endless. When you live month to month, you simply don’t have any extra so when you do get some money, there are almost too many choices. That feeling doesn’t last long for the butter side down people. That is the moment when the car needs new tires, the furnace goes, there is a death and you just have to fly across the country…full fare. The type two people have bad things happen, but the timing is always better. Their car needs new tires, but a neighbour is getting rid of his new Goodyear’s because he only uses Michelins, “Oh, would you like the Goodyear’s?” The furnace gets repaired with a $1.50 part, but the guy just tells you to forget about the service charge because it was an easy fix. Yes, the two’s have deaths in the family, but generally they get a large bequest in the will.

This morning, I caught the toast butter side down on my slipper. I still ate it. I threw my arm out giving myself a high five when I figured out a solution to a problem that I was having. I was blowing on a piece of plastic trying to dry the paint when it flew in the air and stuck to my shirt. Paint side down! Louise had a good laugh.

I guess I would be type one and a half, and you know…I am good with that.

Friday 27 January 2012

Solitaire On The Computer

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on how much of our lives are spent waiting? If they haven’t, then I am willing to wait.

I would bet that men and boys wait more than women and girls, but then my belief is coloured by my sex. I suppose that whether you are waiting or not depends upon what you are doing while you are waiting and what you will be doing after you have been waiting. If you are going to dinner or a show, then the wait isn’t too bad, but if you are going shoe shopping or looking for paint chips, life just really sucks.

We were at the outlet mall in Las Vegas once and Louise was doing some shopping. It seems that she came down with a basically empty suitcase and needed to fill it. I had some shopping to do myself, for some new runners, as the rule of three needed to be kept up. That took about ten minutes and I went back to the bench where I said that I would be. I knew that she would be on the first armload of clothes, so I went and explored the mall. Did you know that the vast majority of stores in malls cater to women? Oh, sometimes there will be about two square feet of men’s clothing in the store, but it is my belief that those areas are there to kind of corral men so that they don’t get into trouble. It is no coincidence that the benches are placed outside of the women’s stores and there never seem to be enough benches for the poor slobs that are holding the bags filled with bras, shoes, tops and whatever else.

This particular time in Vegas, it was really hot so I kept getting up and wandering as the sun moved across the heavens and took the shade with it. I wandered into a jewellery store just to look at the shiny things and do my “Who would spend that much on a watch?” I did see a watch that got my attention; it was a sport type watch that had a stop watch, timer, a tide setting (which comes in handy in Alberta) and it even tells the temperature. The best part was that it was about $20 and I could use a watch that had a built in thermometer. I put the watch on and went back to my bench to wait for Louise. When she came out with her packages and an ear to ear smile, I told her that I had been waiting forty minutes in 42º heat. She said thanks for waiting an off we went. I was kind of hoping for more of a reaction.

Just in case you think it is a good idea to have a built in thermometer in your watch so that you can tell the time and temperature wherever you are, don’t waste your money. It tells the temperature of your wrist, and it rarely changes. Still, I can tell when the tides will be coming in and if I ever have to officiate at a track and field meet, I am set.

Today was a day spent waiting. I have been waiting to hear from my doctor about some results and from the Post Office about part time employment. I have been waiting all week to no avail, but since it is Friday I thought they would like to clear their desks before the weekend. I ended up calling both and found that the doctor had reviewed the tests and there wasn’t anything to report. My sore shoulder will be surprised to find that it really isn’t sore. I managed to leave a voice mail at the Post Office HR and waited for the rest of the day to hear back from them.

Is it just me, or does everyone hate voice mail? It used to be that you would at least get to talk to the receptionist and they would take a message which would be ignored by the party in question. When that message comes on saying that “I am busy on another call and will get back to you if you leave a message”, I just want to reach through the phone lines and choke the shit out of the party in question. Really? You are busy? I guessed that when you didn’t answer your phone. I’m fucking busy too, and have just spent the whole week waiting for you to call me! Ten to one you are sitting at your desk playing solitaire on the computer waiting for quitting time. Well, now I get to wait until Monday to hear from you. Great!

Thursday 26 January 2012

The Itching Has Stopped

A little under a year ago, Louise and I spent three wonderful weeks in Hawaii. There is so much to do and see that we were always going to this place to see the turtles, or that place to see the waterfalls. It seemed that every where you turned, there was something neat to see or do. We went into the Waimea Valley conservation area one day and kind of got turned around. Somehow the path that we were following to the waterfalls disappeared and after a few minutes of “bushwhacking” we found another path.

This path was not as well travelled, but it ended at this lovely pond with a small waterfall that had some incoherent Hawaiian name that the sign said translated into “The Crystal Pool”. It was really beautiful and of course crystal clear. Being a hot day, I rinsed my hands and face in the pool to cool off and then Louise and I found our way back to the main path and the waterfalls.

A week or two after we came home, I developed a rash on my neck, underarms, crotch and hands. It was pretty itchy and eventually drove me to the doctors. Doctor Kathy made an appointment for me to see a dermatologist, but the appointment was three months away, and by the time it got close, the rash had disappeared and I ended up cancelling my appointment. I probably should have kept the appointment.

Two weeks ago the rash came back, and this time I was itchy all over. I figured it was just the dry winter air so I started to use a moisturizer on the places that were bothering me. The skin was so very dry that it began to crack and was pretty painful. I had dry, cracked skin before when I delivering mail and I used a product called “Bag Balm” which was like medicated Vaseline and worked pretty well. Not so much this time.

This isn’t really about dry, itchy skin, but about what happened due to the dry, itchy skin. I was watching TV about a week ago and the index finger on my right hand was really itchy. I started to scratch and pick at it while I was watching the show. As I was picking, I felt a part of my finger pull off. I looked down and saw that a flap of skin had come loose. My finger had my attention now, even though there was no blood at all. I pulled the flap back and saw a tiny fluorescent green worm come out of a hole in the bone!

Needless to say, I passed out and probably screamed like a little girl. When I came to, I told Louise not to worry and went into the bathroom. I took a better look at my finger and saw that all of the skin on my finger was gone and instead of bone, my finger was a crystalline lattice with those green worms moving in and around the lattice. It didn’t hurt at all, and even without skin, I had full range of movement and touch.

It has been about a week since then, and the worms have worked their way up to my elbow. I guess they are feeding on the flesh, muscle and tendons, because all that is left below the elbow is a crystal lattice where the bone was. I haven’t told anyone, because I would imagine that I would be locked up and studied until I died, which probably won’t be too long now as the worms seem to be multiplying. I guess I will just wear long sleeved shirts, pants and gloves until they get to my head.

At least the itching had stopped by the time I woke up.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Pinky and the Brain

I got a call from my daughter this afternoon asking what I was up to this evening. I told her that tonight is the same as every other night; hang out and watch TV. Oh and plot to take over the world like my cartoon friends.


She asked if I wouldn’t mind helping Chris move a fridge that they had just bought. I told her sure, but it seems that I have misplaced my muscles and I am probably good only for moral support. He picked me up after he got home from work and got all of the necessary straps, directions and blankets.

Being the smart cookie that he is, he also arranged for Brendan to help. Good thing too, as Brendan actually has some upper body strength. We got to the place where they were selling the fridge (a beautiful stainless steel model) and they met us at the garage door. There was a lot of grunting, groaning and straining, but I finally made it up into the box of the pickup where I was to direct the loading. Chris, Brendan and the ex-owner of the fridge did the heavy lifting while I gave them moral support. It is really important to keep your moral up when things look bleak. They managed to get it up into the box and since it had wheels, I could push it to the back. Yea me!

While Chris was strapping it in, I chatted with the people, who were selling off their possessions because they were moving back to Korea. They had been in Canada for three years and were looking forward to going home. They gave it a good shot, but the lure of family is pretty strong. Louise and I moved back east a few years after the kids were born in order to be closer to family. It turned out that we were ultimately happier in the west than we were in the east. Louise summed it up when she was very sick that last winter in Ontario by saying “If I die, I don’t want to be buried or cremated in Ontario!” Sure, it was a little melodramatic, but we figured if we didn’t even want to be dead in Ontario then what the Hell were we doing living here?

I hope that this couple get back to Korea and find the happy life they are seeking. Sometimes you find that home is not the same as when you left. The people you left will have changed in subtle ways and so have you. If you are lucky you change in the same direction, because moving back is a big expense, whether it is to Calgary or Korea. They did agree that neither one of them will miss the extreme cold out here. To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t miss it either.

We managed to arrive back at Chris’s place with the fridge still in the box of the truck and aside from a hernia, some scraped paint and aches that I can take care of with generous amounts of Vitamin “I”, we managed to place it in their kitchen. It will look awesome! I had the extra added bonus of spending some quality time with Hurricane and Tornado while doors were being taken off of hinges and paint was being scraped. Brendan and I had a drink, a couple of sloppy kid hugs and kisses and waved off some thank yous as we headed to our respective homes. All in all, it was a good night.


Tuesday 24 January 2012

How Do Bugs Clean Themselves?

Well, once again I spent too much time watching TV and too little time being a contributing member of the human race. I suppose that someone has to watch the drivel and if you look at it kind of sideways, I am actually giving meaning to the lives of all of the good people that are involved in the television industry. I don’t deserve thanks, but maybe on one of the shows or the movies while they are running those endless credits, they could write something like, “We owe K.H. for the endless hours he has selflessly devoted to our industry over his lifetime.”

Today I dropped into the Mennonite Thrift store, which is my favourite second hand store in the city. They seem to get some of the more unique things donated to them. When I go to the second hand store I walk up and down the aisles and try to put a story to the items. There are boxes of canning jars and you just know that someone had the best of intentions to provide their family with preserved food throughout the winter and early spring. Sadly they misjudged the time and effort involved and for the past three years these jars and lids have been sitting in the basement beside the washing machine just mocking them every time a load of whites needed to get cleaned. It got to the point that the family would run out of clothes and had to take them to a Laundromat because there were just too many loads to be done. It is sad really.

A lot of the stuff is there because someone died and the kids are just trying to deal with clearing out the house so that they can make a quick sale. My son told me that I would have to clean my garage because I sometimes have trouble finding things. I told him that I don’t have to clean it, because I’ll die eventually and then he’ll be the one cleaning it. I get the last laugh after all. I wonder if God will let you watch the kids packing your life up and sending it to the second hand store. Jeez, all of a sudden I am getting depressed. Mostly, everything there at the store is crap. Sometimes however, it is just the kind of crap that you are looking for.
Today, I found a couple of interesting things. Some I didn’t buy, like the carry on bag with wheels. I could have used that the next time we travel. Oh well. There was a ball peen hammer with a broken handle that I carried around for a while. I have always liked the idea of a ball peen hammer, and even though I am not sure what it is used for or even what a “peen” is, I still think I need one. The question is “Do I need one with a broken handle?” It turns out that I don’t need one…today.
What I did pick up was a portable transistor radio that will be perfect for use in my work room. The volume dial is a little staticy when you first turn the radio on, but other than that it isn’t bad sound. It almost looks like one of those classic radios that kids in the states had in their bedrooms while they were listening to the AM stations during the sixties. The other thing that I picked up was a pound of “00” steel wool. There is the odd time that I have wished that I had some very fine steel wool and didn’t have any. From now on I will be the “go to guy” for fine steel wool. I can’t imagine ever using this much steel wool in the years that I have left. It is a pretty sure bet that Brendan will have to sell whatever is left at the estate sale. It is possible that when the kids see all of this steel wool, it will get them laughing and telling stories about what a whack job the old man was. I’d like to see them laughing and telling the grandkids tales of how I taught them how to play.
On the drive home at the stoplight, I looked at the steel wool and was reading what the “00” means.

0000 (finest) is for rubbing down the final finishing coats of shellac or varnish.

000 (extra fine) is for rubbing down paints, varnish and shellac before the final coat.

00 (very fine) Used for polishing all metals, cleaning insects…

This is where the light changed and I had to start paying attention to the road. How could I though? Who the hell needs to clean insects? It wasn’t something that I have given any thought to, but I guess that insects must get dirty. I just assumed they would clean themselves. I tried to think of an instance where I would attempt to clean a beetle or a grasshopper. Even if they were very dusty and I recognised the need for them to be cleaned, steel wool wouldn’t be the first thing that I would reach for. Perhaps I would use warm, soapy water and a soft cloth or just a soft brush of some kind. Maybe an old toothbrush would do the trick. When I got home, I read the rest of the description, which was “…and grit from chrome and glass.” That makes more sense; bugs are the dirt to be cleaned. All is right with the world.
Mind you, how do bugs clean themselves?

Monday 23 January 2012

YAY RAY!!!

A couple of days ago I mentioned that my car had developed an oil leak during our deep freeze which caused me no end of anxiety. I put off looking underneath the car until the weekend when the weather warmed up to a bearable level.

It is odd that I felt compelled to even look. I wouldn’t know what I was looking for and even if I did stumble upon the actual problem; my ignorance of things mechanical would have prevented me from identifying it anyways. I got out my jack stands and jacked the car up; only to find that I couldn’t jack it up high enough to put the jack stands in. Even if I could have managed to get the car high enough, I wasn’t sure just where you would put them anyways. I left it on the jack and slithered under the car. I had a trouble light and a rag to wipe away the oil and gunk, which I did. Just as I figured, it looked like the bottom of an engine that someone had just wiped oil off of. I crawled out from underneath and opened the hood so that I could wiggle some wires and check the oil. This was when the hopelessness set in.

Louise came out to see if I had been crushed and I asked if she would start the engine after I slithered under so that I could see where the oil poured out of. I did, she did and it didn’t! The last time I looked it was like Niagara Falls under there (a very small falls) and now, nothing. Is it because there isn’t enough oil to leak? Is it because the car is jacked up and the oil isn’t near the hole? Is it because I wouldn’t know a leak if it poured in my mouth? You know, the one thing about car maintenance that I have learned over the years is just when to give up. That moment comes about two hours past when anyone with half a brain would have given up. This was my moment.

Now all I have to do is decide who to take it to and how to get it there. Just then, my son-in-law Chris came in and gave me the number of the mechanic that he uses. The guy is supposed to be fair and only does what is needed. Thanks Chris, I will call him tomorrow. The rest of the day I spent in blissful ignorance of things mechanical and covered in oil.

This morning I called Ray of Ray’s Garage, to arrange a day later on in the week when I could get it in. He said bring it over right away and he’d look at it. HUH? I poured a litre of oil in and drove over. I parked and he said to drive it around back and bring it in bay 2. HUH? I went in and the mechanic put it on the hoist and had a look. HUH? He didn’t see a leak, and his view was way better than mine had been yesterday. We agreed to change the oil and filter and I could pick it up in a half hour. Luckily, I had asked my buddy Ken to give me a ride back home when I thought that the car would be gone for hours or days. We went for coffee and then he dropped me back at Ray’s just as the mechanic pulled the car to the front.

Ray changed the oil and oil filter and put in an air filter. The total charge including labour and GST was $59. I was expecting to pay hundreds! His policy is to make a profit but not to cheat people. He has to be able to sleep at night. I was near tears. This man believes the same as I do. That means he is either nuts or just a wonderful person. I will tell you what he is, my new mechanic.

YAY RAY!!!

Sunday 22 January 2012

A Half Full Kind Of Guy

I just spent a small portion of the evening cleaning up after our meal. We had Arwen, Chris and of course Hurricane and Tornado for supper which means that there were lots of dishes and something of a kitchen mess. The bright spot was that Arwen cooked dinner and it was lovely. Isn’t it interesting how food tastes better when you don’t have to prepare it?

Like I said, dinner was nice and we had a fun time visiting before and after dinner. I was accused (unjustly) of causing a sugar high in Hurricane, but it was eventually determined that he was just naturally wired and nothing short of Ritalin could stem the exuberance. We managed to coral the boys long enough to put on coats and boots and they left for home, leaving our place as all natural disasters do, devastated.

Louise and I flopped on the couch and zoned out watching some TV for a while until our energy level returned to normal. It is time to pick up abandoned toys and tackle the kitchen. For me, the first order of cleaning is to get organized. Scrape whatever is left into baggies and bowls and put it into the fridge for a week or two until it turns into some hairy, green, foul smelling thing that gets tossed into the trash bag and taken outside immediately. I guess the other option would be to eat the leftovers tomorrow and the next day. I pick door number one Monty.

Being pretty anal, I usually do a pre rinse of the dishes, cutlery, pots and pans. The dishes go into the dishwasher in an orderly fashion to maximise the amount that the washer will hold. Told you I was anal. Josephine Cochrane is responsible for the invention of the dishwasher that the modern washers are modeled after, in 1887. Let’s hear it for JC! Personally, I don’t trust dishwashers to do a good job on pots, pans and oddly shaped kitchen implements, so they are done lovingly by hand. I kind of get into a Zen like state when I do the dishes, so I don’t mind. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass though, especially if the pans have been sitting, while you flopped on the couch, zoned out and watched some TV.

Louise and I have watched our share of cooking programs over the years and I even have a friend that is taking the Youtube cooking world by storm. You should check out his videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrJingjong . I would like to think that I have picked up a thing or two from these programs, sometimes I will use salt and pepper in the same dish. Baby steps, baby steps.

The one thing that is absent from all of these shows is how the hell do you get the dishes cleaned? Is there some trick? These chefs are full of neat little tricks to make preparing the food, so I have to assume there must be an equal amount of tricks related to the kitchen clean up. I would watch a show on that, wouldn’t you? I know what the trick is. You get the kitchen help or the studio assistants to clean up for you. Maybe there aren’t any magic kitchen cleanup tricks, but I prefer to believe that there are. I also prefer to believe in Santa Clause, that all people are equal, that politicians have our best interests at heart and that the letters in Penthouse forum were real.

Yep! I am a “half full” kind of guy.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Do You Like Sex And Travel

I just watched the last few minutes of the Karate Kid, not the original with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, but the new version with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. I have always been a fan of underdog movies. I guess I am just a sap that way. Well, other ways too, but that is between my analyst and myself.
I just love sports movies. “Horse Feathers”, ”It happens Every Spring”, “The Longest Yard” (Both), “Knute Rockne”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “Rudy”, “Jerry McGuire”, “Angels In The Outfield”, “Slapshot”, “The Mighty Ducks”, “Chariots Of Fire”, “Run Fatboy Run”, “Teen Wolf”, “Space Jam” and the list just goes on and on. In fact, probably one of my favourite movies is “The Replacements” with Kenau Reeves. I have watched those second string replacement players bring real football back in spite of all of the odds.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEXF78SREnM

I can honestly say that most of my sport knowledge comes from the movies. I will admit that sometimes I have appeared to be the fool when I quoted some fact from a movie as an actual happening when it was in reality the creation of a Hollywood screenwriter that knew less about sports than I do, if that is possible. In the movies, you can pretty well guess who is going to win and even though things look bleak for our team, there is a better than average chance that they will win the game and the girl in the last ten minutes. There is none of this bullshit of the team that you are cheering for actually losing the game because the referee couldn’t see the ball if it were shoved up his ass.
I have never understood the whole cheering for teams anyways. To my way of thinking, they are a bunch of millionaires playing the game they love to play for a bunch of billionaires that are just interested in making more money. We are the poor saps that lay down our hard earned money to watch a game in which only the fans really care about the outcome. Yes, yes, yes, the players are playing to win, but after the uniforms come off they aren’t talking about the game days later and reliving every good or bad play.
When I was working I would try to remember the score of last nights game and if at all possible either listen to the radio on the way to work to find out what happened so that I could talk to the guys at work. My problem was that I just didn’t care, certainly not enough to talk about it in great detail for two hours the next morning. Run two yards, fall down; run two yards, fall down, what the hell is the point? I am in the minority, but surely in the vast scheme of things, the life or death decisions taking place every day are so much more important than which team might make it to the playoffs in three months. You never hear anyone going on about which charity built more schools and hospitals in third world countries faster, and how many lives those hospitals saved.
You know, some of my best friends are sports nuts. My wife is and she is watching Skate Canada that she had taped earlier today right now! She loves football and pretty much any other sport. I have seen her watch golf, hockey, skiing and tennis. Probably others, but they all seem pretty much the same to me. I can and do watch sports, but I tend to always cheer for the losing team. They need it more than the winners. No, give me the movie sports any day. The underdog always wins and you generally care about the players and their little quirks.
Me? I like hiking and cycling, and not a lot of either. With hiking and cycling you get to see something different all of the time and you actually go places. I just know some sports fans are thinking “Hey there Ken…do you like sex and travel?”

Friday 20 January 2012

Fingers Crossed

Well, I put off writing the blog for too long tonight, so I will probably make this short.

Today was a pretty good day. It appears as if this is the last really cold day and the Chinook will arrive sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. This must be the same feeling that the soldiers get when word comes down that the war is over. You have a weight that is lifted off of your shoulders, but until you see it in writing it is best to keep your head down. That’s the place where I am right now. I will know when I step outside tomorrow and take a deep breath. If my nostrils don’t slam shut then I won’t be house bound anymore. Well, at least until the hostilities between man and Mother Nature resume once more.

I had to have ultra sound done on my shoulder today to see if I have a rotator cuff injury. I knew the lab was located on the west side of the city, but didn’t realize just how far west the city extends now. Calgary isn’t like a lot of other cities that have a limited space to expand. Most big cities are up against lakes, oceans, large rivers or borders which limit the growth in at least one direction. Calgary on the other hand is in the middle of nowhere really with hundreds of kilometres of nothing surrounding it. I guess the mountains would stop the growth, but they are at least a hundred kilometres west. We just keep growing outwards in all directions and there isn’t anything to stop the growth. It isn’t as if the farmland is good for anything other than cattle and maybe wheat.

I eventually made it to the ultra sound place and if there wasn’t anything wrong with my shoulder when I went in, there is now. That evil bitch folded my arm and shoulder like a little kid trying to make a paper airplane. Lift it, twist it, stretch it, sit on it, grab your other shoulder, touch your knee, it just went on and on. She did use liberal amounts of lubricant so the wand thingy didn’t rip the skin off. Of course she wouldn’t tell me anything about my shoulder other than my doctor will get the results on Tuesday. Hey, did you know that X-rays are digital now? They just did the “clicky” thing and could see if they got the part of the shoulder that they wanted to get without having to develop any film. Isn’t technology grand?

Let’s see, what else happened today? I got a call from Canada post and I have a part time contract for the next six weeks to assemble some sortation cases and help to set up the new Northwest depot. The money will come in handy and will give me something to do. It is mind numbingly boring, but I am eminently qualified for that kind of work. Weak mind and a back to match, just what the doctor ordered.

Tomorrow I find out where the oil is leaking from on my car. If I am lucky, it will just be the crush washer on the drain plug. If I am not lucky then the money from the post office really will come in handy. Fingers crossed!!!!!

Thursday 19 January 2012

Bucket List

I received an email from Outside magazine today and one of the articles this month was about their suggestions for a “Bucket List”. It is kind of odd that before the movie came out people just had things they would like to do before they die and now it’s a bucket list. I guess you can call it what you will, but in my mind (and Morgan Freedman’s) it is a very personal thing.

The magazine staff had what I would call normal or relatively normal tasks, but they had some very odd ones as well. One of them was to “travel the world on a teacher’s salary”. I am all for that, but I’m not sure how the teacher would take it. I suspect that it is somewhat illegal as well. How would you get their cards and pin numbers and if you did get the cards and pin numbers how you could prevent them from cancelling the cards? I guess you could threaten to kill a loved one or a pet, but that might bring the authorities into it. Going to prison is definitely NOT on my bucket list!

Oh, there was also “see a tornado”. If I see a tornado I hope that it is in the rear view mirror as I am speeding down the highway. The only Tornado I like to see is my grandson. Now, living in Calgary there is one that I could do, but have never really had the urge. “Lasso a steer”! I realize that there are people who do this for a living, but they are made of sterner stuff than I am. Besides, once you managed to lasso the steer, what would you do with it? I wonder if you get to take it to a butcher. Maybe I should put that on my list.

I laughed out loud when I read that someone at the magazine thinks that everyone should “step on the Antarctic”. The only reasons that penguins are there is that they have no better place to go. When the weather is nice there it is what we would consider to be the worst! There will have to be a lot of global warming before I go down there.

 How about “become a bush pilot”? Wouldn’t you need the pilot’s license first? Okay, that one would be pretty cool, but you need to start fairly early in life and then somehow develop nerves of steel.

There is one that just says “get tubed”. I don’t know what that is, but it sounds a little too much like going to prison. No thanks!

There were some pretty cool ones, like “learn to throw a hatchet”. I have always wanted to do that and if it hadn’t been for “the incident” I might have become pretty good. Someone suggested “learn an instrument” or “join a circus”, both of which would be pretty cool.

I hope that they succeed in accomplishing some or all of the things on their bucket lists, because it is a wonderful thing to attain your dreams. I have done more than a few things that I remember fondly and hope to do some more before I die, but you can bet that any activity that has a better than 25% chance of injury or death won’t make my list.

Hey, I guess that I am checking off one of the items on my list by writing this blog every day for at least a year. I am living the dream…

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Lucky Me

Did you ever wonder where and when we as a society took the wrong turn?

Pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth are the seven deadly sins and I think they are the starting point of where we left the noble path. Let me see just how many of these I have.
Pride: I don’t know that this is necessarily a sin. I am very proud of my kids and grandkids. I take a certain measure of pride when I do a carving or really anything that is remotely creative. I took pride in doing a good job and in the fact that I get along with pretty much everyone, even the assholes. Maybe it is pride in things or ownership that is bad and not pride in accomplishments. Yeah, I think I will go with that, so I am proud in a good way.

Envy: There aren’t really too many people that I envy. Well, I guess the people that seem to be born lucky or that were simply born into a great situation. Someone that lives in one of the poor countries of the world would consider me to be lucky and born into a great situation, so I suppose that they would be right. I am envious of those that have the determination to learn the guitar and to paint and even those that “know” their faith will save them. I am envious of their conviction, not their faith. Okay, so I guess envy and I are companions.

Gluttony: I am going to take gluttony as strictly eating too much, because all of the other “sins” pretty much have everything else covered. I am overweight and like to eat too much for my own good. I think that I must feel that somehow I have earned the right and deserve to over eat. Sure, I am an ass and I am a glutton.

Lust: I think this is one that for some reason I don’t have. There is very little that I lust after at this point in my life. If I had to pick something, there is this lathe that has been in my dreams lately, but I know our love will never be consummated. Not at $8000. I am going with no lust. One for me.

Anger: I drive in Calgary so you know that I have anger issues. It isn’t my fault; it’s all of the other assholes that get in my way. Politicians have a way of pissing me off and so do the big corporations. Oh, and those dickheads that figure stealing from the working guy is all right. I’d like to feed them their own testicles. I guess I could meditate and let the anger pass over me. Yep, I will work on it, and every day and in every way, I will get better and better.

Greed: I am sitting here hoping that I won the lotto tonight. It wouldn’t be bad if I didn’t have anything, but I do and what I want the lotto for is more of what I already have, but bigger. Greed lives in my heart.

Sloth: To tell you the truth, I am not even sure what sloth is. I assume it is being lazy and sleepy. I just looked it up, but can’t guarantee the definition because wikipedia is on strike today.  Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work. Okay, I guess that being retired; I have sloth or is that, I am slothful.
Looking at the seven deadly sins, it appears that there is room for me to improve. If there is any truth to reincarnation, then I am going to be coming back for quite a long time to come.

Lucky me!

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Saint Jude

Well, the cold continues to hover over the city and indeed most of the prairies. Tonight we expect the mercury to bottom out at around -36º C. I am not sure what the wind chill is predicted to be, but I have no intention of going out at all.

You know, when I was working I would dread this kind of weather. Sure, it was unpleasant to work in, but what bothered me was the anticipation the night before. I tend to be a worrier and this kind of forecast would drive me nuts! I would worry about freezing my fingers or toes, I would worry about other people freezing their fingers and toes, I would worry about getting out to my walk and once there whether the truck dropping the mail off would be there on time. There is nothing worse than standing in one place in -30º weather waiting, and not knowing just how long you would need to wait. Generally it would only be a few minutes, but a few minutes would be enough of a set back that would keep cold for the rest of the day.

I would also worry weather my car would start and what I would do if it didn’t. I am not very mechanical, so when I am confronted with a broken down vehicle it is like putting a monkey in front of a computer and telling him to type his name. The monkey knows that there is something that you want him to do and he knows that he should do something, but what that something is, totally escapes him. I am that monkey! When the car doesn’t start, I will lift the hood and look inside at the miles of wire and cast aluminium.
Sometimes I will check the oil and shake a wire or two with the hope that somehow the fix will be that simple. So, for the past forty years the “fix” hasn’t been that simple. I still have hope that at some time before I die I will jiggle a wire and turn the dipstick to the left, just so, and magically the engine will start.

One of my favourite authors, Robert Heinlein, wrote in one of his books that it is technology that separates us from the baser animals and the ability to understand that technology separates the superior humans from the rest of the rabble. Sadly, I am that rabble. I have tried over the years to do mechanical work on my vehicles and have had a little success with oil changes. Well, except for the time the washer or O-ring or magic stopper thingy fell into the discarded oil and I put the bolt back in without it, only to find that the oil would leak out pretty quickly. I changed the brakes once, but was so terrified I had screwed up that whenever I got behind the wheel that I just resigned myself to the possibility that this is how I will die. The only success that I have had with cars is taking things off of them and getting by without those parts. I took off the ignition lock and used a screwdriver for a key for years. I realize that things do make sense in the world of automotive repair, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.

I had to go out today and when I returned, I noticed that there was a trail of something leaking from under the car. I looked underneath the car with a flashlight and saw that there was what appeared to be fresh oil near that bolt and washer thingy. Well, I popped the hood and giggled a couple of wires and turned the dipstick to the left. The engine started, but I think I will wait until tomorrow morning and see if there is a pool of oil under the car.

I am going to ask you to keep your fingers crossed for me and it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer to whatever God you happen to worship. Even though I am not Catholic, I am going to do a shout out to Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

Monday 16 January 2012

Frickin’ Cold

Well, today is the first “real” day of winter that we have had this year. It is about -27º and about -38º with the wind chill right now and it is going to get colder tomorrow. Just about anyway that you look at this weather, it sucks. I guess if you were the glass is half full kind of person you might say that at least the cold keeps the mosquitoes down. Well, it does here, but the bugs are tougher in Winnipeg and Edmonton.

My heart goes out to those people that have chosen occupations that keep them outside in this kind of weather. The cold is one thing, but at some point the cold becomes very dangerous. Canada Post had a policy of never saying it was too cold to work, no matter how frigid it became. The best that they would do was to tell us to use our own judgement. I think the reason is that if they set a limit once then the union would cling to that temperature forevermore. You can’t very well say that -44º with a wind-chill of -60º is too cold to work, because the carriers in Winnipeg wouldn’t have to work from October to May.

One winter we had a very, very, very cold snap which was combined with high winds and blowing snow. I’m not sure about anyone else, but before I went out I thought that I might die of the cold, and after being out for an hour or two I was hoping to die and be sent directly to Hell. That night while I was checking to see if all of my fingers and toes worked, the local station interviewed one of the guys that I worked with. He could have and should have said that it is inhumane to send people out in this weather for the sake of a few bills and junk mail. That is what he should have said, but “Bonehead” kept a stupid grin plastered on his face and said” Well, it’s not too cold. You get used to it and it makes you feel alive!” Well, he sure earned his nickname that day. BONEHEAD!!!

The deep cold is predicted to only last for a week, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of the outdoor workers. They should think of the light as an extremely large, warm heater.

I guess I should mention about Canada Post raising the price of a stamp by two cents. They said that it was because the volume has dropped off and costs have risen. Fair enough. I personally think that there is a need for a post office and that 61¢ to send a card, letter or an invoice across the country is still a deal. Yes, you can send an email in seconds but not only does that take a monthly charge from the cable company, but also about $1000 dollars worth of computer. Just a rough calculation tells me that you could send 2623 letters in a year for that price. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I doubt if I have sent or will ever send that many letters.

I have been thinking about how short sighted it is for us as a society to keep paring down the workforce in the guise of saving money and increasing profits. The same people that I hear complain about Canada Post, Air Canada or the government in general having too many people doing too little work, are the ones that whine about the high unemployment rate and isn’t it a shame about all of those homeless people. We should keep the jobs that give people a chance to be proud and if possible make even more jobs. There was a time not too long ago that this country was an agrarian society and the bulk of the population were employed. The wages were small, but small wages and a full belly is better than no wages and an empty belly.

We can’t go back in time, but there are a lot of very smart people out there and if they would stop filling their bank accounts for a while and try to solve the real problems that we have, I am sure we could conquer some of our bigger problems. Hell, we might even get back to being happy to have a job an apartment and health. Well, and a computer, big screen TV and new car.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Chester Sold My Dolphin

I had a dream last night. No, not that kind of dream, although a dream like that would certainly be nice. I don’t often dream but am told that everyone dreams every night so I guess it would be more accurate to say that I don’t often remember my dreams.

No! I am not going to roll over like that anymore. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t be pushed around this year and I am going to do the things that I want to do. That applies to not listening to the “theys” of the world. Generally my dreams are pretty emotionally charged and quite memorable. I have woken up so mad at people that I just won’t talk to them for a week at least. Yes, I know that it isn’t logical that my best friend rode my pet dolphin into the old west and left it with Chester from Gunsmoke, who in turn sold it to a Japanese restaurant that chopped it up and sold it as canned chicken. Disgusting!

I loved that dolphin and my buddy knew it. The trouble with getting angry about this is that even if you do confront him he would just laugh in your face and then you would be angry, embarrassed and stupid. Let’s just say that I seldom remember my dreams and it happens infrequently which is probably good for all of my interpersonal relationships. So, we put away this bullshit about dreaming every night and get on with my dream.

Like I said, I had a dream last night. It wasn’t about all men being equal regardless of the colour of their skin and heritage. That was a dream some other guy had and it was “I have a dream”. I made the same mistake thinking it was”I had a dream.” You learn something every day. In my dream I was in an office and the phone rang. I was with three or four people and for some reason there was a unicorn sitting in the corner chain smoking Tiparillos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDGzd2HcEpo ) but he didn’t really have anything to do with the dream. My mother picked the phone up and said “Let’s put it on speaker”.

Then she slid the bottom of the phone forwards and flipped the top over and twisted it to the right, the sides pulled out and the handheld phone changed into a desktop phone and she pressed a button. That is when I woke up. Now, as I said I don’t often remember my dreams, but when I do, I hope that they would be more interesting that the one last night. It was a phone that transformed into a phone. Big freakin’ deal! My kids had Transformers and I have seen the movies, some everyday object changes into a robot that fights the forces of evil or in a worst case scenario, is the force of evil. It changed into a phone!

I wonder what the dream books would make of this. I can see the write up now, “You live a dreary, boring, hopeless life with no chance of excitement.” The only up side would be that at least I am getting calls. Well, at least I wasn’t mad at anyone and no one sold my pet dolphin as canned chicken.

Every day is a blessing I guess.




Saturday 14 January 2012

Have a Nice Day

I was out for a walk the other day which is a habit that I have gotten into over the past 35 years or so. I am not out every day, but most days you can find me wandering about the neighbourhood scanning the sidewalk ahead of me for cracks and ice or snow. I also watch for discarded items at the side of the road that might just pique my interest.

I got into the habit of walking with my eyes focused on the ground in front of me during all of those years delivering mail. Casting your eyes on the ground as a mailman has more than one benefit. The most obvious one is that you can see where you are putting your feet and hopefully avoid either tripping or slipping on ice and snow. If you don’t pay attention to those things, you are more than likely going to end up on your ass with the mail fluttering down around you. You might even break your mickey of vodka! Not me, but other guys. The other benefit if you are a letter carrier is that if you have your eyes on the ground you can plausibly deny that you saw the customer that was trying to get your attention to either take some mail to the box or answer some really stupid question.

Every now and then you do lift your eyes and invariably some well meaning dipshit catches your attention. This happened to me one day when I was delivering in Marlborough Mall. This woman came and stood in front of me and said “Can I ask you a question?”

I wasn’t sure if that was the question she wanted to ask or if there was actually going to be more than one question. I nodded a yes that incorporated a shrug, an eye roll and of course a resigned sigh. I looked at this woman and she wasn’t wearing clothing but rather she had somehow managed to drape the contents of her entire laundry basket on her body. This should be great I thought.

“How much postage do I need to send a letter to Victoria BC?”

Hey, things are looking up; this is a real question, so I told her forty six cents. Have a nice day.”

“Would the letter get there if it didn’t have the correct postage?”

Uh-oh! “It should, but the person that you are sending it to will have to pay, or maybe it might come back to you marked insufficient postage. Have a nice day.”

“Oh and what if it didn’t have any postage?”

I looked at her and realized that I wasn’t going anywhere fast. “Well, the same thing would happen as with not enough postage. Have a nice day.”

“Tell me, if you found a letter on the ground, would you mail it?”

“Well, I would if I saw it, but I don’t normally pick up pieces of paper on the ground. Have a nice day.”

“Do you think anyone else would mail a letter if they found it on the ground?” She said with a very worried look on her face.

“Well, I would hope so. It is nice to think that people would go out of their way to help someone out.” I knew in my heart that the only paper most of the mall crawlers would pick up would have numbers in the corners and a picture of a dead Prime Minister in the centre. “Tell me, did you lose this letter that you are talking about?”

“It doesn’t seem to be in my bag, and I don’t remember whether I mailed it yesterday or the day before.”

“You know, now that I am thinking about it I did see an envelope just down at the other end of the mall yesterday, I bet that might be it. Why don’t you go about your shopping and I will see if it is still there and if it is I will mail it straight away. Have a nice day!”

“Thank you.” She said to my receding back.

I knew that there wasn’t a snowballs chance in Hell that I would ever see that letter, but for the rest of the time in the mall, I kept searching the floor for an envelope. Stranger things have happened.

Friday 13 January 2012

Let's Get Back To Work

It is a strange existence that we live on this planet. We live our lives while working at some hopefully significant occupation and raise our children who will in their time raise their children while working at an occupation that hopefully makes them happy. I think that for the vast majority of us, we want our children to be more successful than we have been. Well, except for the very successful that traded a life for success and wish their children are just happy. I am not sure if my parents were happy with the life that I carved out for myself. I hope that they were, but I suppose that my happiness is the only real measure of success.

Just so they know I am really proud of the lives that my kids have made for themselves and the success that they have. They are definitely more successful than I was in their jobs, and ultimately they are the only ones that can judge how happy they are at the close of life.

Gee, that sounds happy. No, I am not going to die tomorrow or anytime soon if I have any input. I am just in an introspective mood tonight and have been for the better part of today. I have been thinking of my Gram today because I put significant dates on the new calendar last night. She passed away in October 1987 and I often think about her and the wacky things that she would do. I suppose that I am trying to pattern my grand parenting skills based on her model. She was the only grandparent that I knew, so I suppose she could have been a serial murderer, a con artist, bank robber or a member of parliament and I would still have loved her. Well, not if she were a Conservative member of parliament.

When I was about twenty, Gram and I were spending some time together (probably digging out a tree stump) and I asked her a question that I had been wondering about for a while. I said “Gram, you have lived for more than a few years and have seen quite a few things. Since you were born, they have invented the airplane, automobile, radio, cornflakes and instant coffee (breakfast), television, pez, penicillin, the yo-yo and bubble gum, nylon, the first canned beer, TV, the helicopter, the hula-hoop, cured polio, the ballpoint pen, slinky and silly putty, the dialysis machine, the atom bomb, transistors, Teflon, the helicopter, the pacemaker, computers, the artificial heart, bar codes and in my mind the greatest invention…me. You were born in a more or less rural world of the horse and buggy and now you live in a world of cars and planes, what do you think of all the changes?”

She looked up at me and said ”You live and things change. Lucky for us they change slowly enough for us to deal with it.”

I just smiled, and we went back to work. I have a feeling that in fifteen or twenty years, Hurricane and Tornado will come up to me and say “Poppa, you have lived more than a few years and have seen quite a few things. Since you were born they have made trips into space a regular occurrence, most disease have been cured, everyone has access to the WWW, they can operate and not leave scars, music has gone from records to tapes to CD’s and now it is digital. Everyone have cellphones that are mini computers, there are over eight billion people on the planet driving electric cars that talk to them. What do you think of all the changes during your life?”

I will look at them and say “You live and things change. Lucky for us they change slowly enough for us to deal with it. Now, let’s get back to work.”

Thursday 12 January 2012

A Hundred Bucks and Lifesavers

It has been a few days since Buster and I went for what should be our daily walk. What is the saying, “If you are too fat, then your dog isn’t getting enough exercise.” Yes, Buster needs more exercise! I haven’t been motivated in recent days and between inclement weather, other obligations and the sunrise being just a little too late some mornings, we have decided between the two of us that a quick trip to the backyard will suffice.

I generally talk to Buster and we discuss the weather, road conditions, taste of various treats and many other important topics. This morning neither Buster nor I could think of a good reason not to go for a walk, and believe me we tried. It wasn’t too cold and the sun was shining, so it was just perfect.

On the way out, as I was locking the door, I felt a sharp, stabbing pain on the pad of my right thumb. I will mention that later. We decided to take the slightly shorter route which went around the high school and the fields. At this time of day, the kids are pretty much all in school and we don’t have to worry about scaring the little darlings. Of course, just as we got to the corner of Embarrassment St. and Humiliation Rd. where Buster decided to relieve himself there was a group of students just kind of hanging out. Idiots! I picked up Busters deposit and we left the area without making eye contact.

When he is in the backyard and I happen to be looking out the window, Buster will generally sense that I am watching and he stares at me until I pretend to leave. I figure that if he doesn’t want me to watch then he must be engaged in something that I won’t approve of. He is right, I would prefer it if he would pick one place and make that the dead grass area.

So, we are walking along and Buster is sniffing pretty much anything and everything that he walks by. I look down and believe it or not, there lying against the fence is a one hundred dollar bill! Naturally, I bent down and scooped it up faster than you could say “Holy shit!” Buster might be able to smell which dogs walked by here for the past two weeks, but he walked by the $100 like it wasn’t even there. Stupid dog! There is a very good chance that the next time I see $100 it will be good for buying things other than houses and hotels.
Let’s get to my thumb now. Yesterday I was tidying up and came across a roll of lifesavers. I really like life savers and when I was a boy, Santa would always leave lifesavers in my stocking. There would be ten rolls in a container that looked like a book. Most of them were really good. Santa has left them in the stockings for my kids in years past, but now the company produces such odd flavours that only a couple of rolls out of the book get eaten, so Santa hasn’t left them for a number of years. The roll that I found would have to be about five years old. I don’t think that candy can go bad, it can get soft and discoloured, but sugar is and always will be sugar. Naturally I started to eat them and the first couple were soft like biting into a flavourless gum. The next couple were stuck together and as I pried them apart they broke. Well, shattered would be a better description and one piece became lodged in the pad of my right thumb. It hurt too!
This morning I woke up and the damned thumb hurt. It wasn’t until I went to close the door that I felt how much it hurt. I have a lifesaver sliver in my thumb! Yes, I did try to suck it out, but I don’t think that I got it because it still hurts. I figure that the white blood cells will take care of it in time, unless white blood cells don’t eat candy. Turns out that it is useless to Google “Do white blood cells eat candy?” Google ignored me like it was a question that was beneath contempt. I hope that it goes away by itself, because I have no desire to explain to my doctor why I was eating five year old candy. The rest of the roll was pretty tasty though. There is some chocolate I found behind the fridge, it should still be good…right?