Friday 30 March 2012

A Total Tool

Well, where to start?

You know, I didn't do a lot of anything today. I didn't walk too far. I didn't go shopping. I didn't ride anywhere. I didn't even sleep. What a shit day!

Maybe I should focus on what I did do. I ate a lot of dead cow and some pig. Parts of a chicken and some wheat and some milk by products. God bless Jack-in-the-Box!

I went to the airport to rent a car. There is a car rental just up the street, but it would cost $75 bucks to drop the car off at the airport. WTF? How can that cost $75? I think that when I get home I will contact one of the car companies and see if I can move their cars around for them. I could get a partner and he could follow me to or from the airport. More people would take advantage of the service and I would make a killing. If I were to want to work that is.

I just went for a walk to get a chocolate bar at the local Circle K. I know what your thinking, "What the hell are you doing eating a chocolate bar for?" Well, I believe that chocolate bars taste better in the USA. I have done quite a bit of research over the years, and it is true. Just ask anyone. Well, not the people that don't agree with me of course, they are dickheads!

So, on my way I see two cop cars shaking down about eight kids on bicycles. I don't think they were trying to get money from them, but something was going on. When I passed, they were getting the kids to turn their bikes upside down. It seemed a little strange, but I guess if they were concerned the kids would hop on the bikes and tear off, having the bikes upside down would sure slow them down.

On my way back, there were now four cop cars and six cops, eight kids, eight upside down bikes, four flashlights and a half eaten Snickers bar. Seven of the kids were sitting in a line and one kid was off a ways talking to a cop. I'm guessing he was ratting his buddies out in order to save himself. It's what I would have done. No, not really. Well, maybe. They all looked pretty scared.

I know that look. I have been that kid answering some arrogant cops questions about where I had been and just where I was going. Usually I was so stoned that I hadn't a clue where I had been and wasn't sure where I was going. The safe answer to the first question was "A friends." What friend? "Ahhh....John." John who? "What does it matter?" Then the cop would go into some song and dance about how they were looking for someone that fit my description.

I would say "What, you are looking for someone wearing a tye dyed t-shirt, patched jeans, blue shoes and a leather visor?" The cop would say not exactly, and then tell me to empty my pockets on the hood and grab a fender with both hands. "Both hands on the same fender or one on each?" He would then tell me to shut up! The cop looked at the cigarettes, matches and 53 cents on the hood of his car and ask me where I was going. I wouldn't say anything and when the cop got pissed I would say "Well you told me to shut up." I eventually had to answer, but this was always tricky, because if you said home, he might just offer to give you a ride. That would be cool if you could remember where you lived, but it would be problematic if you couldn't. I usually just said that I was walking around because it was such a lovely night.

The cop really wasn't looking for anyone that looked like me, so he told me that I should go home and not to look so guilty. What? He would drive off and I would give him the finger! Well, behind my back of course. I wasn't a total tool!

Thursday 29 March 2012

The Greasy Food

I spent a good deal of today walking to and fro around Newport Beach California. I stopped for coffee, I took some pictures and of course I spent some of the time talking to people that I ran into at various locations around town. The people aren't very much different from the people you will run into anywhere. Most are nice and willing to share experiences with you if you show an interest in them.

I ran into a guy who was about my age that was at the back of his van waxing up his surf board. I asked him what he was doing and if the wax really made a difference. I knew the answer, but if you stop to talk to a guy and tell him what he is doing it just kind of kills the conversation. He said that he was waxing his board and that you really don't need the wax unless you want to stay on it. Heh...heh...heh. He told me that he was pretty anal about the way that he waxes the board, waxing where he stands, where he sits and where he puts his hands. It kind of makes sense, okay it makes a lot of sense.

I asked how often he would need to take the wax off and he handed me the wax, told me to feel how heavy it was. I barely knew that I was holding a block of wax. and He then said that when he cleans it off it will weigh about four or five pounds with all of the sand and other crap that sticks to the board. He makes little snowmen and puts them on a shelf in his garage. Pretty odd, but I could see myself doing the same thing. He told me that when he was a kid he was into cars and then saw a Frankie and Annette beach movie. He realized that not only could he love cars, but he could hang out at the beach and surf. It was a life changing experience! I wished him well and continued on.

I next walked into a bike shop and met a guy that was a fourth generation trucker from the east coast. He said that he got so fed up with the union that he said "Fuck It" and moved out to Newport beach, and opened a Cruiser bike shop. He had some of the most beautiful bikes that I had ever seen. In fact, one of the bikes was "Bejewelled". He didn't like the unions very much. He encouraged me to rent or buy a bike and I just smiled and said that you never know, as I walked out of the shop.

I walked over to the boardwalk and checked out a couple of stores. I don't know why. Unless they started to give the stuff away I wouldn't buy anything; well, not for those prices anyways. This grizzled old guy with a peeling face, no shirt and a Santa Clause smile put out his hand and asked if I were Stephen Speilberg. I shook his hand and said I wish! We started to talk about the economy and what America needs to do in order to get back in the black. I said that I guess no one knows. He told me that he did. When the recession hit he was an investment banker out east. This guy really did lose his shirt! I told him that I had to get motoring and to have a great day. I really didn't have anywhere to go, but I could sense I was about to be touched for some spare change, also, I had had a chance to look closer at his face and I wasn't sure it was just peeling skin. It may have been some kind of contagious skin disease and I wanted to wash my hands in bleach if at all possible.

You know, when you try not to touch your face with your hands, it is almost impossible. It has been about four hours now, and I feel like I have ants crawling all over my body. "Is that a rash? Flakey skin? Oh...I don't feel so good." Must be the greasy food. Yeah, that's it, the greasy food.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

The Rusty Pelican

The Rusty Pelican is a restaurant about five minutes down the road from here by car. This is where we went for dinner tonight. I am always a little nervous when going out with other people that have a larger income than I do. Me being cheap and all.

When we pulled into the driveway of the restaurant, there was a sign that stated "Valet Parking Only". Cha-ching! I have never, ever, ever parked in a valet parking lot, so I had nothing to go by except what I had seen on TV where James Bond tosses his keys at a guy and tells him to keep it running. I imagine he would give about $20, but you know me, there is no way I wanted to give anyone $20 to drive my car ten feet. turns out it was only $4 and gratuities of course. Less than I thought, but more than it would be worth. Oh well, I guess you only live once and if you are living once then make someone else park your car. Never say never.

The second problem with the Rusty Pelican is that it is a seafood restaurant. Some of you probably don't mind eating seafood and some might even like seafood, and I have heard stories of people that just LOVE seafood. Crazy, fish lovin' bastards!

When I was a kid, I read a book about the war in the Pacific. Of course I am talking about the great war. You know, WWII. There was this Japanese submarine that was stalking the allied warships and trying its very best to send them to the bottom of the ocean. The Japanese Captain was having his dinner, rice and fish of course, when a bone became lodged in his throat. It was very serious! The Japanese sub came to the surface and flew a white flag of surrender in order for the Captain to get the medical help that he needed. You see where I am going with this I guess. I never want to be responsible for my crew to have to surrender just because I was eating fish.

I will eat fish, if I have to. The scenario where I would eat fish is this. The world has suffered through a civilization destroying catastrophe. The governments have collapsed and our society has been thrown back into the dark ages. I am sitting around a fire that is burning inside of an old TV set and one of the the people sitting with me turns and says " Would you like the Rat or the Fish?"

I would reply "How old is the rat?"

"We just got it today, but it was rotting in a pool of urine for about two weeks."

"Cow urine or human urine?"


"I'll have the fish."

Lucky for me, hidden in the corner of the alternate bar menu, listed in small print was "Hamburger". Of course I took the burger and the rest is history. It was very good! If you are ever out here and are looking for a good burger, you should try this place. I guess if you are one of those fish lovers as well.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

The Dunkles

When I was a kid, I had a neighbour two doors down and their name was Dunkle. I am pretty sure they were German, or at least eastern European and they were the kind of neighbours that you would want to have. They were a little older than my mom and dad, with a son that was about ten years older than us. I guess for my parents it was like having a surrogate grandparent just two doors down.

Mrs. Dunkle didn't work and so was available to help in an emergency. If we ever got into a jam and mom and dad weren't home then we would go to the Dunkle's. If one of us got sick and needed to come home from school, Mrs. Dunkle was there. I would imagine that if mom or dad needed help from an older couple, the Dunkle's were there.

One time I did a header over my handle bars and slid along the road on my bare chest, ripping the skin right off. Yes, it hurt like a whirling bastard, thank you very much! I called my mom at work and told her that I had hurt myself and minutes later, in walked Mrs. Dunkle. I was lying on my mom and dad's bed in what can only be described as the greatest amount of pain anyone has ever suffered in the history of the world. Mrs. Dunkle tsk..tsked me in that accent of hers and had a look at my chest. More She then took out a bottle of Bactine and sprayed my open wound.

Remember how I said that I was in the greatest amount of pain that anyone had ever suffered? I stand corrected! It was like that scene in The Exorcist where the little girl is screaming and floating above the bed, only worse! Mrs. Dunkle smiled and said "There now, doesn't you feel bester now?" Well, I did actually feel better, but that was because she stopped spraying me with Bactine.

I decided then and there, that the Dunkles were Germans, not eastern europeans and if they weren't on a first name basis with Doctor Mengela they should have been.

You know, over the years I had lost track of the Dunkles and I never did ask mom and dad if they had kept in touch. I would like to think they are still out there, being good neighbours and helping out whenever they can. There is a reason I mention the Dunkles.

The Dunkles had a son, Charles, who was as I said about 10 years older than us and he would often spend time playing with us. I imagine that there were no other kids his age in the neighbourhood and even if there were, WWII was still pretty fresh in everyone's memory. One of my earliest memories was of Charles and his bike. It was one of those Cruiser type single speed (of course) with coaster brakes. He had a huge basket on the front and a rack on the back. In those days, the bikes were made of solid steel and weighed a ton. He would pile all of the kids in the neighbourhood on and around the bike and we would ride up and down the street. Two or three kids in the basket, two on the rear rack, one on the crossbar and a couple hanging off the bike in various places. It was a real hoot.

There are a couple of cruiser bikes at this place we are renting for our use, and today I decided to go for a longish ride. I had a little trouble steering and braking, and when I tried to shoulder check, the seat would turn with me. All in all, it was a lot of fun. Of course I didn't realize just how sore my ass would be after the ride. I am trying to take my sore ass like a man. Not a man in prison, but a man with a sore ass.

One thing is sure, there is no way in the world I am going to let anyone named Dunkle, holding a bottle of Bactine anywhere near me.

Monday 26 March 2012

I'd Rather Be In Orange County

I have been wondering today about what drives people to do what they do. There are the basic needs that must be looked after of course, like food, shelter, companionship and chocolate. I am staying with some really driven people. One of the women that is taking the course with Louise is a mechanical engineer working for NASA. She will go to bed at 9:00 in order to get up to train at 4:00 AM. Okay, it has paid off as she is on the US team. I am inspired by her. A friend recently told me of his son who is a competitive swimmer who will do four hours of laps on a daily basis. I could go on and on, but you all know people that are that driven. Some will do this for their careers, working many overtime hours and taking on more and more responsibility in order to climb that corporate ladder. I knew one fellow that would go to work two hours early so that he could get work done without the daily interruptions. He would work late into the early evening so that he would avoid rush hour and get a little more uninterrupted work done. I think it did pay off for his career, but he didn't see his son during the week at all, because he would leave before his boy woke up and get home either after or just before bedtime. I guess it was worth it to him. I have never been that driven, I barely can finish this blog every night. I wish that I were, but there must be something wrong with me. Well, I know there is something wrong with me but there must be something else wrong with me. I would like to think that when I get back I am going to work harder at being the new and improved Ken. Stay tuned! Today I spent some quality time at Jack-In-The-Box. He is a very satisfying clown. Not sexually satisfying (well, maybe, but I don't have first hand experience), but I left feeling full in stomach and wallet. Those are the two things that are most important to me when leaving a restaurant.  The rest of the day was spent on the beach watching the waves crash against the beach and walking along said beach. There is something that I find so primal about the ocean. I sat for quite a while just watching the people wandering along the beach and others in their wet suits surfing.  Anyways, not much to write about except that I spent the day in shorts and a t-shirt when the people back in Calgary spent at least part of the day pushing snow with a shovel.  All in all, I'd rather be in Orange County.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Travel and Trolls

Well, I left YYC at 8:00 AM and arrived at YVR at 8:30 and in an hour or so we head to SNA and I have to wonder YY ME?

This is the part of traveling that I don't like. Get in this line, then move down the hall to that line. Take off your shoes and belt, put them back on. Walk down to the area that is as far away from where you are as you can get and wait there till they tell you to come and get in this line to get on the plane. Couldn't they make it simpler? I'm a simple guy and I really need simple.

Oh well, what can you do when confronted with the realities of life? I am going to be like the wind and bend in the breeze. I will chant my mantra and then peace will rule the planet, making everyone happy. Uh-huh!

Everything is good...ish. I guess that I am just a bad traveler. They have all of these weird and large metal tubes dangling overhead in the waiting area at YVR. If they were all on one level it wouldn't be bothersome at all, but for some reason (probably design) they are all on different angles. It gives the impression that at any given moment one could drop on your head and crush you into one of the non descript stains that dot the carpet here.

I guess if you are a "half-full" kind of guy it would free up a space on the plane for stand-by passengers. I am going to walk with an eye to the heavens. It kind of makes you wonder if they were straight at one time and because of tremors or shoddy workmanship they are in this sorry state. Maybe it's just me being paranoid. Either way, if I live through the boarding process I will continue. If I don't live through the boarding process, you will never know.

Well, here I am, safe and sound. We have been taxiing for what seems like half an hour and asked Louise if she thought that we were going to drive all the way. She gave a smile and shook her head with what looked like a "Don't be such a frickin' dick." attitude. I can smell aviation fuel! I am pretty sure that I shouldn't be able to, since this isn't a 1981 ToyotaTercel. I wonder if I should press the button to call the flight attendant? I could just scream out that someone left the window open and I think we are all going to die. Nope, that isn't the way to go about it. When I am in an airport or on a plane, I engage the filter between my mouth and brain which is normally shut off. It is a self preservation kind of thing. I can't smell the fuel now that we in the air.

That could signify that (a) there is no leak, (b) we are flying faster than I can smell, or (c) I have just gotten used to the smell. For my own sanity, which is dodgy at the best of times, I am going with (a). However, there is no way I am going to light a match.

Here I am, back again. We are in our rental accommodation and went for a walk in the rain. That wasn't the intention, but we kind of got turned around and it started to pour! We took shelter under a bridge and I was sure that either a troll or a homeless drug addled meth head would toss us out in the rain after raping us. I'm not sure which one I would prefer to be raped by, well, if I have to be raped.

I'm thinking the troll, but it depends on how good looking the meth addict is. I guess I will just have to see which one I dream about tonight.

Saturday 24 March 2012


Well, it has been a year since I started this blog.

I made a vow that I would write it every day for at least a year and I have been true to my word. I will be the first to admit that the “gems” were few and far between, but on the whole I think it has been a very good experience for me. For you, I think there must have been better things to do with your time, but I really appreciate your having been a reader of the blog.

I have readers from the Ukraine, Peru, UK, the US, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, France, Russia, Israel, India, Turkey and of course Canada. There were other countries, but for some reason they have been taken off of the list. I would like to thank all of you silly bastards and I hope that I have given you a chuckle or two and even made you think. You probably thought “How did I get on to this crappy blog?”, but hey, I did make you think.

I have mentioned before that there are several reasons for writing this blog and the most important in my opinion was to leave an indication of who and what I am for my grandkids. My daughter brought to my attention the fact that I sometimes get a little “creative” with the truth so it isn’t really the best way for them to get to know me by. Well, it is the best they are going to get. Warts and all!

There is another reason. I have always wanted to actually write some of the stories that I have swirling around in my empty head and I thought that if I were to write every day then I would get an indication of how tough it will be. It is going to be tough, but I will give it a go. If it turns out well then you will know, but if it sucks the great, green wiener then you obviously misunderstood what I said here.

I was hoping to have had 10,000 page views by this time, but I have fallen just short of the mark with just 9,868 views. I will let you know the day that I hit 10,000. I will probably be in California. Speaking of which, I am not sure how easy it will be to write the blog while I am there, so if it comes without paragraphs or looks funny in any way, you can blame the iPad. It should work out fine, but who knows what crazy California things could happen.

Thanks again for reading and I will talk to you tomorrow.

Friday 23 March 2012

Yellow Carpets and Chunky Floors

Does anyone out there speak dog? To be more precise, does anyone speak a combination of Maltese-Lhasa Apso and English? I’m not even sure about the English, although the words “treat” and “walk” can be understood; the word “NO” just doesn’t seem to register.

Of course I am talking about Buster. I would dearly love to know dog for “Fuck You!” I think I have seen and heard it numerous times when he is angry or disappointed in me. The yellow stains on the carpet and the lovely deposits on the floor are real good indications of his mood. Thankfully, he is generally in a pretty good mood. No, Buster and I have come to an understanding, I do what he wants, give him what he wants, when he wants and everything should be just fine.
There was this cartoon movie by Disney called “The Fluppies” in which these creatures pass through an inter-dimensional doorway, are mistaken for stray dogs and are put into the pound. Their leader gets adopted by this woman and convinces her son (Jaime) to free the others. I kind of liked it, but I don’t think it did really well at the box office. Buster reminds me of one of the Fluppies. I think he knows more than he is letting on. I am going to keep my eyes on him, just in case he gets up to any funny business.

The reason I want to talk to Buster though is to explain to him about food. He doesn’t seem to understand that the food I give him has vitamins and nutrients that are good for him. The food he steals from my plate isn’t any better for him than it is for me. I do have a shinny coat, but it is made from a dead cow. Oh, and that red wax that comes from the cheese can’t be digested. You would think he’d know that with all of the interest he seems to have for dog droppings that we come across during our walks.

While I am at it, I would like to let him know that those chicken bones that he finds on our walks just might kill him. Who is walking around a suburban neighbourhood eating chicken anyways? Chicken isn’t finger food. Well, it is finger food, but it isn’t clean finger food. Not to mention, that there isn’t a chicken place for miles. They buy it and then drive to my neighbourhood and then go for a walk (in the winter) eating chicken and tossing the bones? I don’t think so.

Dead squirrels and birds although interesting to look at, probably don’t have the vitamins and nutrients he needs to grow up big and strong. He has actually caught a couple of birds on our walks, which I had to make him let go of. He doesn’t grasp the concept of catch and release I guess. I was trying to explain to him today that the thing to do when you see human vomit is to either walk around it or step over it. Not, stick your nose in it and begin licking like I am going to beat you to it. I told him that it wouldn’t be any good for him, and it sure wasn’t good for the human that put it there.

Oh, and while you are at it would you mind telling him that for the next seven days he is going to be living in a kennel with a bunch of other dogs that have been abandoned by their owners. I just don’t have the heart to tell him.
I guess when we get back we will have yellow carpets and chunky floors to deal with.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Possible But Not Likely

Today when Buster and I were getting ready to go for our walk, we looked out and saw that it was snowing. I have been in Calgary long enough to know that I just can’t count on the weather. Well, you can count on it to surprise you. Not usually a good surprise, but a surprise just the same. Buster on the other hand seemed to be a little disappointed. It is hard to tell with him because his fur covers his eyes and he rarely smiles or frowns. He did let out a little bark, but I can’t be sure whether it was a disappointed bark or a “Let’s get this show on the road, dipshit!” kind of bark. It was probably the latter.

Our walk took us by the high school and I saw a minivan pull up and the door open. Out stepped this kid that probably had a foot on me and fifty pounds. He didn’t step out so much as he slowly oozed onto the sidewalk. He slowly shut the door and started the walk to the entrance to the school. He was a big boy, but my goodness he was a slow walker. His backpack was dragging and it looked as if he just didn’t have the energy to lift it to his shoulders.

I came up even with the car and looked in and saw this tiny woman with a scowl on her face, just staring at the boy, willing him to keep moving. In the battle of wills, she was winning.

He stopped and turned around and looked back at the car to see if she had driven off yet. No such luck. I knew this kid was hoping she had left so that he could do the same. He walked a few more feet, turned and sure enough she was still sitting in the minivan watching and willing him onwards. Five more steps and the kid turns around again. Mom is still there. He reaches the door and one final look to see if she had left, only to find she is still there. He opens the door and walks in.

The minivan signals and pulls into traffic. I kept watching for a minute or so, but the kid didn’t come out, at least he didn’t come out that door.

I was that kid at one time. I can remember dragging my self to school when it was the last place that I wanted to go to. Those were the times when I had a test that I wasn’t prepared for at all. To say that I hadn’t prepared for it would be incorrect, I had prepared for it, and I just didn’t understand the material at all. I knew that I was going to fail this test, I just wasn’t sure if it would be a common failure or one of those that the teacher takes to the break room and all of the other teachers pass it around and have a good laugh at my expense. I generally like to make people laugh, and more than likely that was the reason I didn’t understand the material at all.

I could deal with the failure; I have had my fair share of it after all. It was the anticipation of failure that made you drag your ass into the school like you were a French nobleman approaching the guillotine during the revolution. The test was like watching your head drop into the basket. The only thing worse was after the test in the hallway when your classmates went over the test and their answers. I would find that the few answers I was sure of, not only were they wrong, but were laughably wrong. Even to me.

Like I said, I could take the failure, but not the anticipation. By now, that kid is talking to his buddies and laughing about whatever it is that he laughs at and the test is just a minor speed bump on the road to the rest of his life. There will be other chances to redeem himself before the year is out, and it’s possible that he might even ace the next test.

Possible but not likely.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Place That's Ace

Today was one of those spring days that I have always loved. You know the kind, a day when winter has barely released it's grip and you aren't quite sure if spring is truly here to stay. It is the kind of day that isn't too warm according to the thermometer, but your inner "meter" tells you it is just fine. When the wind blows it is cool, almost cold because you left your heavy winter layers at home. The sky is so blue that if you turn your head and squint, you would swear that you can actually see heaven.

Today the sun was so bright, the it hurt your eyes to look at it. Okay, it hurts your eyes to look at the sun any day, and it isn't really a very good idea unless you like to have a white dot in your vision for the next couple of hours. I said that it was cool, but when I rounded a corner and stood beside a fence that blocked the wind I felt the sun warming me just like in the summer. So cool...warm.

I was waiting for a friend to pick me up, and as I waited I just enjoyed the warmth and the memories that it brought with it. Ken came and we went for coffee, but I couldn't get that feeling out of my mind.

I thought back to my high school days when my buddy Ken and I would wander the neighbourhood looking for interesting places where we could smoke without being visible. I remember one such place that was on the north east corner of a railway bridge over the intersection of Warden and Ellesmere. We could lean against the concrete that had been warmed by the spring sunshine, smoke and talk about our hopes and dreams. My hopes at the time was to pass math and geography, and I suppose that I dreamed about what most teenage boys dream of. We called this place simply "Number One".

Just across the street was a billboard that stood by itself in a field overlooking the intersection. I still can't believe how easy it was to climb. Usually, the powers that be build these things so that kids like myself wouldn't be able to climb them and in the process fall to either injury or death. It was another great place to smoke, and it usually had some rugged looking guy or beautiful woman with a cigarette dangling from their lips and a large photo of the cigarette pack on one side of the billboard or the other. We would climb inside and someone had even nailed some boards to sit on. It was pretty cool! We called this place "The Eagles Nest".

Then there was the place down by the creek and the railroad tracks. The creek went under the tracks through a culvert, but there was a large, dry tunnel right beside it that was strewn with rocks and garbage. This was a particularly good place to imagine that we were fighting the Nazis or some other group of evil doers that deserved to be fought by two high school kids. It was also a pretty good place to hide after we had thrown rocks at the train and with luck broken some windshields on the cars. This was known as "The Spot That's Hot".

There was another place that we would go to that was a little bit farther afield than we generally went, but it was quiet and sun baked. It was the Church of the Annunciation. We knew that hanging around a Catholic church and smoking might reserve us a spot in Hell or at the very least purgatory, but from what we had learned of the world, Hell seemed like it would have been a much more fun place than Heaven anyways. Cooler people for sure. It was also one of those places that was vacant a good deal of the time. It isn't as if we did anything bad like burning up side down crosses on the lawn. The only thing that got burned was tobacco. Mostly. Oh, and perhaps, just perhaps the souls of two young smokers. This was called "The Place That's Ace" out of respect.

Well, I suppose that I had best get my head out of the past. Over the years I have altered my thinking a little. I don't smoke anymore, and I am hedging my bets about the heaven and hell thing. I still love to talk about my hopes and dreams, but these days they are more about my kids and grandkids. I don't want Hurricane and Tornado to ever start smoking, but it would be nice if they could find their own "Place That's Ace."

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Socks and Milk Duds

Louise and I are going to California this coming Sunday. She will be taking an outrigger paddling course and I suppose that she is taking me along just in case she starts to have fun and needs to be brought down. We all have things that we are good at.

I am kind of looking forward to the trip, but since all that I know about California I learned from the Wonderful World of Disney, the Beach Boys and of course all of the movies and TV shows where murder and mayhem seems to be the norm. I'm just not sure what to expect. I plan to do some shopping while Louise is out on the ocean freezing her ass off, and I guess checking out the lay of the land while I am left to my own devices.  

I do have these fantasies of seeing the rich and famous and perhaps enjoying an afternoon of witty repartee. I guess the problem there might be that I wouldn't recognize most of those people if they were wearing name tags and farting dollar bills. Maybe they will recognize me. I have been told that there is an uncanny resemblance between Steven Speilberg and myself. Maybe Mrs. Speilberg will invite Louise and I to dinner in order to freak out Stevie. It could happen!  

(Steven Speilberg)

I have spent a good portion of my adult life avoiding the west coast. I have been to Vancouver and the Island, but I have never been really comfortable while I was there. I even have a distant cousin that lives somewhere in southern California whom I have never visited. I am sure she would love to see me, I mean, who wouldn't. We never did make it to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm or the Universal Studios when the kids were young and I kind of regret that now. It was a money thing at the time, but if there was a strong enough will I could have made it happen. You have to love the feelings that old regrets can bring up. Maybe I can take the grandkids when they are a little older. Perhaps they will take me when I am a little older.  

It isn't my fault that we have never gone, it is the San Andreas Fault. Those wonderful things that I mentioned are all positioned in and around one of the largest fault lines in North America. Who does that? Why, at any moment the whole state could fall into the ocean! There are many earthquakes, so many in fact that the locals have learned to ignore them! Learn to ignore the ground undulating! WTF! I don't like it when my stomach rumbles, so I am pretty sure I won't like it if the earth decided to get up and wander away.  

You would think that the people that live there would be very mindful of their precarious position and walk softly with padded shoes, ride bikes everywhere, speak quietly and more or less nurture mother earth. What do these people do? They drive monstrous large cars everywhere, scream and shout, and rather than nurture the earth they rape the soil of all it's nutrients and pump all of the water from underground aquifers in order to turn a desert into an oasis and erect huge, heavy buildings everywhere. In short, they seem to be doing all that they shouldn't do.  

So this is where I am going. I am not a geophysicist (Maegan is though) but there must be a tipping point. What if I am that tipping point? What if the San Andreas Fault can't take even one more pound and when I land there the earth splits open and the ocean rushes in? How would that be fair? I have spent most of my life avoiding just this kind of thing. I guess that if it is your time, then it is your time. I know one thing for sure, I will be taking my water purifier, compass and other survival equipment. Oh, and if it comes to a choice between myself and one of the local soil rapers, they are going down!

Yeah, it should be a good time. I am looking forward to it. I'm planning on buying socks and milk duds.

Monday 19 March 2012

No Problem

Last night we had a family celebration. Louise had her birthday last week, but due to everyone being busy with their lives on the actual day, we had the birthday dinner last night. It is really nice to be able to have everyone in one place. Well, everyone but for Maegan and she is always in our hearts and on our minds. We get to see her in June for a week which will be nothing short of wonderful. I could kid myself that she is coming to see us, but it’s those super cute nephews that she is really interested in.

I made pulled pork for the main course and a Black Forest cake with a stabilized whip cream icing for the desert. I attempted to decorate the cake, but my piping and florets left a lot to be desired. I did manage to pipe a birthday wish that was almost legible. You really need the cake, because blowing out candles stuck in the pork just isn’t festive at all. Brendan brought over his deep fryer and made a tub or two of poutine. I will admit that it wasn’t what you would call a heart healthy meal, but it sure was good.

The weekend was crazy and dinner was crazy as well. Once our goodbyes were said, Louise and I decided to just relax. I figured that I would get to the dishes a little later. One thing led to another, and that thing led me to my bed, which left the dishes like the lepers in the time of Jesus, waiting to be cleansed. Tomorrow is another day, and if I don’t happen to wake, then extra bonus…someone else will have to wash the dishes.

The good news is that I did wake this morning, and of course the bad news is that unfortunately the dish fairies failed to show up. Again! Well, right after breakfast I’ll get those dishes done. I’d say that about an hour later the phone rang and it was a friend that needed some advice on how to do some computer thingy-ma-bob stuff, so I told him I would be right over. The phone rang again, and I thought that he had forgotten something and it was another friend that wondered if I would be interested in a coffee at around 10…ish. Well, would a bear be interested in napping for the winter? I could fit it in if things go well with the computer thing. The dishes? They can wait till after I have my coffee. Perhaps I’ll ask them if they would mind waiting. “Oh dishes…would you mind waiting to be washed for a couple of hours?” They didn’t say anything, so I assumed I had their permission.

When I got back, I started filling the sink with water and went to grab the soap. Where is the soap? Not on the counter. It isn’t under the sink where it generally lives. I must have missed it. Nope! Hmmmmm… It wasn’t at any of the other sinks in the house, not outside, it wasn’t put on the coffee table in the living room. I didn’t take it down to my workroom to use as a lubricant. Don’t ask. Now, let’s see, Brendan had it last night when he cleaned the deep fryer. I wonder if he put it somewhere unique. I had best search for it before I call him. I searched the house again and even went out to the garage. Nope.

This is stupid; I have been looking for 40 minutes, so I called Brendan. Voicemail! I really hate voicemail! It is just call screening with an additional “Piss Off” tossed in for good measure. Could Brendan have used the whole bottle? It was almost full. Well, he was cleaning a deep fryer and it takes a lot of soap to cut that much grease. Oh well, I guess I had best go and buy some more.

I was on my way out the door when the phone rang and it was Arwen. She and Chris were cleaning up at the old house and she came over and borrowed the dish soap and the broom. She hoped that I didn’t mind, and of course after thinking about the hour or so of looking and thinking I was going crazy, not to mention blaming Brendan for misplacing it, I told her “No problem.”

Just after I hung up, Brendan called me and told me that he had wracked his brain trying to think where he put the soap and he made a few suggestions as to where I might look. I told him that Arwen had borrowed it and all was right with the world. I told him that I was sorry to have bothered him and after a short pause he said “No problem Dad.”

Sunday 18 March 2012

I Am Going To Keep It

Last night I had another of my infrequent dreams. I am not sure why I don't dream as often as I imagine others do, but since I try not to enter into other folks heads, I am really just guessing.
I dreamt that I was in Las Vegas with a bunch of people. I would assume that they were friends and family, but the way my memory is at this point in the day, they may have just been an assortment of strangers. Why I would hang out with total strangers in Vegas is beyond me. I don't like strangers at the best of times. Actually, being in Vegas can be the best of times. Well, according to the Las Vegas chamber of commerce it is. So, having said that, then I would more than likely be with a bunch of strangers.   

In my dream I wandered away from the group and was watching the ground looking for interesting items that others have either thrown out or lost., I see money! There are loonies, twonies, nickels, dimes and quarters, along with chips from several different casinos. I started to scoop the coins up, and had a mixture in my hands of coins, dead leaves and dirt. It did strike me as odd that there was mostly Canadian coins, but money is money. I kept digging and there were bills of all denominations just under the surface.

This guy walked up and grabbed a handful of coins and dirt, said "Thanks!" and kept going. Weird!

I felt the corner of a bag and gave it a tug, which pulled it free from the ground. I peeked inside and there were plastic bags filled with what looked like costume jewelry. I pulled a couple of the plastic bags out and I could tell from the weight that this wasn't costume jewelry. How the hell would I be able to tell if it were real or not? Oh yeah, its a dream.

By this time, my buddies came over and were pretty happy because this would pay for our trip to Vegas. Up until this point, I was pretty happy, but I started to get a little less happy when I started to think that someone more than likely owned this stuff. I am not sure, but I don't think "Finders Keepers" is one of the Las Vegas catch phrases. You know, by the assortment of valuable items it was starting to look like I had unearthed some stolen items. How am I going to get this stuff home? Should I take this stuff home? What if I get caught trying to take this stuff home? Don't I deserve some luck while I am in Vegas? These thoughts and others began to swirl around in my head.

You know, I think I am going to have to turn this in to the cops. What if they just keep it? Then I would feel like a complete donkey whacker. Well, I think Ill keep the money, no one can trace it and there isn't that much anyways. There is a really nice watch, but I don't like wearing watches as a rule. Jeez, I dont know what to do.

Lucky for me, I was spared making the decision because just about here is where I woke up. Unfortunately, I feel like I somehow lost a fortune in jewelry and Ive been kicking myself in the ass all day. The next time that I dream I have found a fortune in stolen jewelry in Las Vegas, I am going to keep it. Probably...

Saturday 17 March 2012

Stink of Urine

Why is it that bad things sometimes happen to good people? I know that good things sometimes happen to bad people as well. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study to find out if more bad shit happens to the good guys or if more good shit happens to the bad guys.

I would bet that if that study was ever done, we would find that the bad guys get good stuff happening far more than the good guys get bad stuff happening. Perhaps it is just the way that I perceive good and bad. I am sure that the bad guys don’t see themselves as bad for the most part, and they would believe that they were just getting their just deserts. Politicians believe that they are doing the best for their constituents. Sure, the people are unhappy, but they don’t see the broader picture, do they. If the politician doesn’t get re-elected then he can’t do all of the good things for the people. He won’t get re-elected unless he gets money from big Oil, auto, forestry and the myriad corporations that are seeking favours.
What I am really trying to get at, is that the good guy (me) had a bad thing happen to him. Where is the justice? Sometimes you just want to cry, but you are too manly to do so. Not me, but maybe you. No, I had my phone damaged. It still receives calls, but I am unable to place a call. The screen looks kind of like an abstract impressionist painting and although it isn’t without beauty, this kind of thing would look better on a wall or in a museum than on my cell phone. I think it got banged up while I was working at the post office on Friday. That just goes to prove that no good will ever come from working. The good thing about being me is that there are only three people that ever call, so I can go for quite a while without having a cell phone.

I guess I will have to get a new phone in the near future. I don’t need it of course, but I feel more connected to the modern world with a phone on my hip. It would be embarrassing going around trying to find a pay phone. No one under thirty would know what I was talking about anyways. I wouldn’t even know where I would find a pay phone now. I suppose there are pay phones at the airport and the bus station. I am sitting here trying to remember the last pay phone that I saw, and I really can’t remember.
I remember that before widespread cell phone use they were on almost every corner. They stunk of urine and never had the phone book attached to the chain where it was supposed to be. There was always that big gob that someone spit just at eye level on the glass which would turn your stomach if you didn’t close your eyes. I also remember the wads of gum that was stuck on and under every surface. Half of the time the phones didn’t work and even if they did, I would have a brain fart and wouldn’t be able to remember my best friend’s number or I wouldn’t have a dime. Jeez, now that I think about it, I am just as happy that they aren’t around anymore. Disgusting things!

I ordered a phone for Louise from China and I will probably do the same for myself. They are unlocked and pretty (relatively) cheap. It comes programmed with the time and weather for Zhejiang Province, which is kind of nice to know…I guess. I will have to figure out what just what things I need the phone to do. I will need to have WiFi so that I can check my email, a camera would be nice and if I could use it to play music I could cut back on one device when I go for a walk. Having all of my contacts and their numbers and addresses is pretty important. It would be nice to have an organizer of some sort too. I guess the ability to make phone calls would be a good idea.

Just so long as it doesn’t stink of urine!

Moving Day

Today at work, something very odd happened. I actually had to work! I am just as surprise as surprised can be. I kind of suspected that we were going to have a busy day and I suppose that having it be the last day of my employment is kind of fitting.

The problem was that the letter carriers had to finish their sort and prep and leave the depot in order for the movers to come in and bring all of the equipment to its new home.  Moving is one of those occurrences in life that of necessity happens in two places at the same time. Both sites are equally involved in the move, and equally committed to the move. The one place is in frantic activity while the other place waits in quiet anticipation. I was involved in the quiet anticipation, while the commercial movers were involved in the frantic activity.

It is kind of interesting that of the many things that the movers brought over was the frantic activity. I won't go into the mechanics of the move, because everyone has been involved in a move at one time or another. The only really interesting is the amount of "help" that we had. The "help" that I am referring to would be all of the "suits" that felt a need to come and see what was happening. There was one point when I was coming back from a trip to the dumpster (retrieving not depositing) when I saw well over a million dollars in corporate salaries sitting in the sun having a smoke. Hmmmm...

I can't really blame them, because today was the culmination of what must have been a couple of years of planning and like any project that goes from concept to brick and mortar, there is a certain amount of pride. I get that, but it was all of the "suggestions" that made the work much more onerous than it needed to be. These are smart people and their ideas and suggestions were valid, but most of them had either been implemented or discarded over a week before. There is nothing like living with a situation and seeing just how everything fits. It was fun, but I am glad the job is finished. I hope that all of the people working there enjoy their work lives at this new home.

It seems that I can't get away from moving this month. Tomorrow, Arwen and Chris are moving to Chestermere. I will be helping along with about eight or nine other people. The other people are much younger than I am so it will be nice to have young, strong backs to lift the really ugly items. I think I will try to stick to boxes for the most part.

Poor Arwen and Chris, they looked so tired tonight when I saw them. They should be pretty relieved this time tomorrow. Tired, but relieved! Chris asked if I could help him drop off a workbench that someone from Kijiji wanted. Chris was just happy to get rid of it. It was an ugly, heavy, awkward son-of-a-bitch and I am glad that I won't have to see it again. It may be stupid to hate a workbench, but this one deserves to be hated. We got to the place and basically dropped it and ran. Chris and I jumped in the truck and drove off before the people could change their minds. There was no way that thing was getting back into the truck.

I expect to wake up with a sore back tomorrow morning. I had all of that moving at work today and then I could actually feel something go wonky in my back when I was lifting that workbench. I popped three or four "vitamin I" (ibuprofen) when I got home and will pop a couple tomorrow before the move.

Well, I am going to see if I can drag this exhausted carcass down the hall and into the bed. Tomorrow should be a fun day.

Thursday 15 March 2012

How And Where To Put It

Tomorrow marks the end of my two week stint of working at the post office, and it promises to be a busy one. The work hasn’t been challenging at all, but any job that is well done can give you a feeling of accomplishment. I think that my employers are very happy with the job that Ken, Al and I did, as we were efficient and entertaining.  Yah…yah…yah!

There is something to be said about having a set time to do work and a set job to do. I think I miss having that at home. I have lots of things that I should be doing and that I want to be doing, but my time management leaves a lot to be desired. I am definitely going to work on it in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Today we had pretty much worked ourselves out of work. We are needed tomorrow to fine tune the placement of the sortation cases when they come in and we will facilitate any problems that might come up. Within reason of course. Some decisions are way above my pay grade and quite frankly, I just don’t give a damn.  Instead of going to work right away, we went to partake in the “going away” feed that the Post Office was throwing for the depots that will be moving into the new digs that we have been busy preparing for them the last couple of weeks. It was nice to talk to some of the old friends and to let them know that if they come when I am still there I will gladly show them around. Every year there are fewer and fewer of the old gang. I made the acquaintance of a young couple that are just starting out their time at the post office. Very nice people and I hope that they continue to enjoy the job for as many years as I did. We left at lunch time and will start an hour and a half later tomorrow.

I have to say though; it will be nice to have my time to myself and to get back into the routine that I have become comfortable with. Like I say, there are things that I wish to do and as you well know, work gets in the way of your enjoyment sometimes.

I think that Buster will be happier than I am to have me at home. His routine has been altered by my not being there. Why, he has to sleep for even more time than normal and where is the enjoyment of barking at everything that moves in front of the house if there is no one to hear the barking? If a dog barks in the house and there is no one there to hear it, does he even make a sound? We may never know.

Well, one more lunch to get ready and I must make sure that I have my water bottle and thermos. It should be busy but fun tomorrow, as long as there aren’t too many “chiefs” telling the “braves” just how and exactly where we should put things. If that starts to happen, I will tell them how and where to put it, in no uncertain terms. What are they going to do…fire me?

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Aware and Watching

The other day, Buster and I were attacked while out on our walk. It was a very windy day and what could only have been feral newspapers kept assaulting us. I’ll admit that the papers didn’t do any harm, but it wasn’t for want of trying. Even when I turned the corner, these kamikaze papers threw themselves at the chain link fence and tried to get through to us. It could have been terrifying! It wasn’t, but it could have been.

It did get me to thinking about inanimate objects. I can’t help but wonder if inanimate would preclude being self aware. Computers are inanimate, but they are getting closer and closer to being self aware. They may not be alive, but I feel that a lot of things are aware, and watching.

How often have you ignored your car and all of a sudden some warning light will come on? Cars will tell you that your door is ajar and will beep and beep until you do up the damned seat belt. I have a car that keeps insisting that I check the engine. When I do pop the hood, the engine looks just fine and dandy to me. I think it is just looking for a little attention. Check the oil, check the washer fluid, check the battery and check the radiator fluid. The demands never seem to end.

A couple of weeks ago, my hot water heater decided that it wasn’t getting enough attention and leaked all over the floor. I gave it attention all right! Out the fucking door with you, and anyone else that pisses on my basement floor. Right now, it is either in the scrap yard or has already been melted down and made into a sewer line. Eat shit, water heater!

Sometimes, Louise’s key cards decide to play hide-and-seek. We look all over for them in the morning and they are no where to be found and in the afternoon they turn up right in the middle of the table. Evil little bastards! Books are the things that hide on me. I will put them down in one place and within a few minutes they will have wandered to another room and hidden under a newspaper. I have already mentioned how much newspapers seem to dislike me.

No, don’t trust those inanimate things around you. They are pretty clever, because when you watch them they just sit there as innocent as you please. However, turn your back and you just might find them trying to do you grievous bodily harm. Whenever possible, nail them to a solid surface or better yet toss them into the recycling ASAP.

We humans have to watch out for each other. Don’t worry; I’ve got your back!  

Tuesday 13 March 2012

No Guarantees

I was never one of those guys that could just walk up to a woman and chat her up. Some guys are really quite smooth and always seem to know the right words to say to a woman. I was never one of those guys.

I knew a guy once that managed to pick up a telephone operator and make a date for later in the evening. The really remarkable thing was that she was looking up a phone number for another girl that he was dating. I suppose that if I could have done more than stammer and giggle I might have been more successful at meeting girls.

A good friend of mine and I decided that we would go over to Toronto Island and wouldn’t come back until we met some girls. He was just a shy as I was, but in my mind he had a lot more to offer a prospective mate than I did. Needless to say, we ended up spending the day riding around and around the Island and the only talking that we did was to each other. Pitiful!

I was pretty sure that I would eventually get married, but the only way that I could see it happening was if my parents arranged a marriage. Since we didn’t come from a society that practiced arranged marriages, the chances were slim to none. A guy can hope though. I had pretty much given up on meeting a girl on my own, when I ran into Louise at a store that a buddy of mine owned. She was working at a gas station nearby and I was killing time until my friends finished work for the day. She seemed like a very smart person (she is) and at the time I liked to hang around smart people as they challenged me to be better than I was. Now, the dumber my friends are the better. Sorry friends. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even thinking of “girlfriend”, I was just thinking of girl friend.

We did hit it off, and soon became an item. Ever since that day I have thanked the stars that she and I somehow met. I couldn’t calculate the odds of our meeting, but it has to be far greater than the odds of winning the lottery, or even of Steven Harper telling the truth.

The point is that tomorrow (March 14) is her birthday and I am happy that she is still with me. I don’t understand it, but it is one of those things you just ignore and hope that she doesn’t wake up one morning, look at me and say to herself “What the Hell???” I guess I am living a morning at a time.
I just want to wish her a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and I want to promise that I will try to start being the man you saw hidden in the boy all of those years ago.

No guarantees though.

Monday 12 March 2012

The Fuzzy Time Of Night

What is it that you think about in the quiet hours? You know, the time in between being conscious and unconscious. The time when the world seems to have slowed down, been put on mute, and it seems as if you are looking through a very thin gauze.

I treasure this time, although it frightens me just a little. I believe that anything can happen even though to the best of my knowledge nothing has ever happened. Mostly, I just think of things that aren’t available to me during my conscious day.

I wonder why my life has evolved into what it is now and just what it might yet become. This is the time that I consider religion. I still haven’t been able to really grasp why it has such a strong hold over us humans. It seems to me that pretty much all religions stress being kind and good to your neighbour. I think where things go spinning out of control is the definition of what a neighbour is. I guess for a lot of these religions, a neighbour is someone that believes exactly the same thing that you do and lives their lives exactly as you do yours. God forbid (literally) that someone decides to not light a candle at the beginning of the service and instead has one burning at all time! Blasphemy! Weird shit.

I wonder why I have the friends that I have. What is it that brought us together in the first place and what is it that keeps us together? Sometimes you can point to a specific moment when you met and I suppose you found common interests. Napoleon Hill writes that if you want to win friends and influence people, the most important thing that you have to do is to be interested in the other person. People will talk about themselves endlessly (some will blog) and at the end of a two hour monologue they will walk away thinking that you are perhaps the most interesting person they have met for quite some time. I would be interested in seeing what would happen if both parties had read Napoleon Hills book. I guess there just wouldn’t be any kind of spark and the relationship would die before it started. So far I have yet to find anyone not willing to talk about themselves.

I wonder why I like to look at spaces. Sometimes when you are lying under a tree, don’t look at the leaves, but at the spaces between the leaves. If you hold your hand up, try not to look at the hand and fingers, but what is between the fingers and around the hand. When you are reading type, try to see inside of the letters. I don’t think this will give you any kind of insight, but it is just another way of looking at things

It seems that I am drifting closer and closer towards the unconscious, so I wish you a very good sleep, but before then, enjoy the fuzzy time of night.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Glass Ice

Seven days ago at this time, there was a blizzard blowing and the snow was piling up just in time to turn the rush hour roads into a skating rink. Since then however, the weather Gods have smiled upon us. We have been blessed with above average daily temperatures and bright sunshine for the most part. Most of the snow that dropped a week ago has melted, except in the piles where the snow ploughs dropped it and of course at the sides of the roads and in shady areas.

Buster and I went for a walk today and it smelled of spring. Not so much of trees budding or tulips popping up, but more of the possibility of spring. Oh, we will have more snow and very likely some pretty cold weather yet, but those of us that spent a lot of our lives outside know that winter has done its worst for the year and it will have to wait until next year for revenge. Until then, we will enjoy Mister Spring, Mister Summer and Miss Autumn.

One of my favourite things about this time of year is the ice. I just love how it will freeze over night so that in the morning all of the puddles will have a cap of clear, smooth and brittle ice. When I was a kid going to school I would love to break the ice, even though I would eventually get a “soaker” and have to spend the day in school with a wet foot. The sound was just like the sound of breaking glass, but it didn’t have the terror of getting caught and having Mrs Findlay telling your dad and the spanking that went with it. No, this was guilt free breakage! I wasn’t the only one that loved this ice, and some days it was nearly impossible to find any at all on the way to school. It didn’t matter though, because just as sure as the sun would come up, when it did there were more puddles with glass ice to break.

I still like to break this ice. However, now I will leave it alone if I am on a school route so that the kids of today can have the joy of breaking glass ice, and in 50 years or so they will be able to write a blog about it. Today was a Sunday and since there is no school I felt no need to save the ice. Buster and I walked along and broke as much as we could see and I became that ten year old again. Of course, ice can be dangerous and if you aren’t careful you might just slip and fall. I am pretty sure footed when it comes to ice, or shall I say that I am able to control the slipping pretty well.

I read once that mice or ground squirrels will burrow through the snow in the winter. I have always pictured them having little snow tunnel highways which will lead them from one burrow to the next. That way, no matter how unpleasant the weather they stay nice and cozy in the tunnels. I guess for them the spring melt is nothing to look forward to. They lose their safe tunnels and are now visible to hawks, owls and other sharp eyed, winged predators.

Every now and then I hope that I will wake up mouse size and be able to travel in these snow tunnels. Oh, wouldn’t they be just stunning? The sun would light them with a blue, white radiance during the day and at night the tunnels would be lit with moonlight. The tunnels would sparkle for their entire length as if there were diamonds in the walls, and when you came to a hill you would be able to slide down, just like a water slide. Of course every so often along the tunnels there would be places where food is available and I image the inhabitants would have hollowed out a nice sized room. I wonder if I would be able to speak mouse or squirrel if I were in that world. I don’t see why not, because if it were possible to shrink down to mouse size, then of course I would speak fluent mouse.

I have been hoping this for most of my life, and so far I have just been getting bigger, not smaller. To tell the truth, I am not that fond of caves or tunnels. Mind you I don’t have giant hawks, owls and eagles threatening to devour me from above either. Well, I do still like to break ice and sometimes there are icicles to eat (more on icicles at a later date).

When you think of it, the ice covered puddles are really kind of magical. They can turn a sixty year old man into a boy again with the drop of a boot.

PS. Saw you jogging today Alex and was going to join you but Buster talked me out of it. Dogs!!!

Saturday 10 March 2012

Small Favours

My buddy Ken called me last night and asked if I would do a favour for him this morning. Of course, I told him that I would, without asking what the favour would be, because I knew that it would be a small thing. If it were a large favour, like helping him get rid of a body, then he would have bought me a coffee and asked me in person. I asked him what time and he told me 9:00AM.

I pulled up behind his house at 8:58 and I got out of the car as he came out of his backyard with the hand dolly. We needed to take his hitch for the fifth wheel and his tool box out of the truck. It is a little heavy for one person, but it is a lot awkward. It is much easier to call up your buddy for a small favour. I will at some time need a favour from him, but more than likely in my case I will have to buy him a coffee and tell him in person.

You see, last night his sister-in-law asked Ken if he would do her a small favour. She needed the use of a pickup truck because they are getting a new bathtub. It is one of the Jacuzzi tubs, so is a little heavier and more awkward than a normal sized tub. Ken has no problem doing them a small favour, because it is the right thing to do and at some point in time, he may ask them for a small favour.

They have a daughter that works for a plumbing company and she is able to get a really good deal on the tub from the supplier. The daughter doesn’t need the tub, but she is doing her parents a small favour for being there all of the times in her life when she needed someone. That is also the right thing to do.

Her employer makes this kind of deal available to the employees because they will be grateful for this small favour and perhaps go the extra mile when he needs to ask them for a small favour. However, she has to pretend that the tub is for her when they go to pick it up, which may not be the right thing to do, but it is necessary.

The supplier is doing a favour because it makes good business sense to keep your customers happy. If it takes selling a tub at cost, then it is a small price to pay. A happy customer is after all a repeat customer. It is just a small favour.

I am not sure where all of these small favours will end up, but I am sure that there will be a lot of happy, contented people by the time this favour chain comes to its end. There is happiness on every link of the chain. I was glad to help Ken, and Ken was happy to have had help. Ken is happy to help his sister-in-law and she is happy to have had help. The daughter is happy that she could repay her mom and dad for being mom and dad. The supplier is happy because it means that his business will continue to make a profit.

Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the big things that make a difference in a person’s life. I think that what truly makes you happy is the giving and receiving of small favours.

Friday 9 March 2012

Thieves and Charlatans

I just finished watching a show that was talking about the travel insurance industry. The show talked about a couple that had purchased insurance, but because of a couple of errors on the form the claim for $300,000 plus was denied. The error that they made had nothing to do with the heart attack which hospitalized the gentleman, but was a gastrointestinal problem. I guess that any error on the form will void the coverage.

The problem seems to be that we aren’t doctors/lawyers which you would have to be in order to make sense of the questionnaire. The form will ask if you had an EKG to treat a health problem. I would say no, but I have had one which was trying to discover what was the cause of an on going health issue. That would more than likely void my insurance, because I just don’t know what they were even looking for. Not my job!

I don’t know why I am surprised that the insurance companies do these kinds of questionable activities, because it is their nature. What bothers me the most I suppose is that our government allows this practice to continue unchecked. The way I see it is that we elect our politicians in part to protect us from being ripped off by thieves and charlatans.

A civilization needs specialization of its members in order to function at a high level. I don’t expect everyone to know what is involved in getting a parcel from here to the Ukraine, and I can’t sew a pair of pants and a shirt for myself to wear tomorrow. I could learn, but it isn’t necessary because there are others that know how. Just like I don’t know if that medication the doctor gave me for anxiety is also a medication used for weak hearts which would void my insurance if I had a heart attack out of country. In my mind, our insurers should be the ones that make the policies clear and simple. Whenever making a profit is the driving force behind an industry and the CEO is answerable to investors and not the clients, this is the kind of treatment we get.

I can’t help but wonder why the Canadian government won’t regulate the insurance companies and make them answerable for ripping us off. Hmmmm….I wonder if there is money going to re-election campaigns and maybe even out and out corruption. I have very little faith in the government to do what is right and even less faith that the insurance companies will do the right thing.

The answer? You know, I just don’t know. I thought that I would say you have to do your own research and know your medical history, but for most people that just isn’t a reasonable thing to ask. I guess if you call your insurance company, record the conversation (for quality control), have your doctor on the other line to answer any and all medical questions that might come up, you just might get it right. Maybe.

The only sure way to beat the system is to not get sick while on vacation. Stay healthy and check out the Marketplace episode online, it is a real eye opener.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Two Beer Ken

I have always had a low tolerance for intoxicants of every kind. It is a pretty good trait when you are a high school student and have very little discretionary money.

There was a time in high school when my buddies referred to me as “Two beer” Ken. It was pretty accurate, because after one beer I would have a good buzz on and by the time I finished the second beer I would be saying inappropriate things to the girls, breaking furniture and trying not to puke on my blue suede shoes with the yellow piping. It was also kind of embarrassing as well. You just can’t be macho at a party when you turn down the second beer because “you have to be able to function tomorrow morning.” It isn’t even a case of being macho. When you spend the night nursing one beer, people get the idea that you are a cheapskate. They would be right of course, but back then I was still trying to impress people and there is a very small demographic of girls that think cheap is cool.

I wasn’t much better with the illegal intoxicants either. I would fly higher and soar longer than my friends on the same amount of fuel. I could out last any “dry” spell that would hit Toronto by being frugal or should I say economical in the use of consumable resources.  

I figured that as I aged I would develop some kind of tolerance to alcohol. Not so apparently. I went out drinking with the boys after work one Friday and I got so drunk I couldn’t even walk. It was really cold out and the coffee that I bought to warm and sober myself, kept spilling and burning my hands. I figured that if I couldn’t walk then the only logical option open to me was driving. I got to the car and started to drive home. Just about half the way there, I began to see double. I was pretty sure this wasn’t a good thing, so I covered one eye and drove the rest of the way home without any more problems. I imagine I may have caused some accidents with my weaving all over the road, but this was Alberta in the 70’s, so it was more or less common place.

Yes, it and I was (were) pretty stupid, and I have never gotten that drunk again. I really can’t imagine being any more drunk than I was.

My point is that I seem to have a low resistance to drugs. Now, that being the case you would think that any antibiotics or really any medication would have a huge effect on me. I should be able to be cured just by someone just waving an aspirin in my general direction. Somehow, the world in all of its wisdom has chosen NOT to have helpful drugs work well with me. They pretty much work the way for me that they work for everyone else I guess. The only one that seems to work especially well is antihistamines.

 I took one tonight because I had to go over to look after a sick Hurricane and Tornado for an hour or so. Luckily Louise came with me. It is nice to have a responsible adult around when you are looking after kids. When I got home, I kept dozing off on the couch. Normally that doesn’t bother me, but tonight, it was during the exciting parts of a show. Louise would wake me up and tell me to go to bed. I’d wake up and say “I’m not tired!” and then start to drop off again.

Well, it is getting close to bedtime and I am pretty much wide awake. Perfect! Well, I guess I will just have to “surf” until my eyes begin to droop and I fall off of the chair.

I hope that Hurricane and Tornado are feeling better tomorrow.