Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Trust



I am not really what you would call a trusting person. I'm not proud of the fact, that is just the way it is. I have tried to be more trusting, but there seems to be something within me that precludes the unbridled trust I see in others.

I can't determine when I started to mistrust those around me, but I suppose that it might have been when those I love or like behave in a way that leaves me disappointed. Perhaps when I was very young and mom and dad would say Maybe but I heard YES. Every time one of those maybes turned into a no, I lost a little respect and trust. Just a tiny bit and now that I am an adult I can understand what happened intellectually, but that little boy inside me has trouble with the concept of trust.

I shouldnt say that I dont trust people, because I do trust them. I trust politicians to make promises that they cant keep and then not keep them. I trust businesses will intentionally misrepresent their product and then charge double what it is worth. I trust employers to look after their interests first and formost and the employees interest last. They will be real sorry they had to let you go, but You understand. Business is business. I trust the bank to squeeze every last cent that they possibly can out of you, unless of course you are filthy rich and then they will fall over themselves kissing your ass. I trust the snow plows to hit the roads about three hours too late to be effective. I trust the car to break down when I can least afford it to. I trust people to drive like assholes whenever they get in front of me. I trust that there will never be a cop handy when you need one. I trust that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.

I trust that people will let me down when I least want them to. I trust that people wont react in the way I expect them to. I trust that people will do what is best for themselves no matter who gets hurt.I trust that people will make you a promise with every intention of keeping it, but will break that same promise with the phrase You understand, dont you? I trust that I wont understand and I never will. I trust that kids will break your heart sometimes.

I trust that tomorrow will be a new day full of possibilities. I trust that my dog will always be happy to see me. I trust that I will always be happy whenever I find some shiny thing at the side of the road. I trust that a bargain will keep me happy for days.

One of my favourite sayings that I cant live up to is There are two types of people in the world, the optimist and the pessimist. Of the two, the pessimists are right more often than not, but the optimists enjoy life more.

I trust that I will continue to try and be an optimist. Im not sure that I will succeed.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Alcohol, Drugs and Girls



I’ve mentioned before that the memories of my early years are sporadic at best. I wish that I was more like my daughter Maegan who seems to have pretty good memories of her early years. It is possible I suppose that nothing of any great interest happened to me during those years and therefore why would I waste time, brain cells and effort to recall them. What does a five year old have that is worth remembering anyways?

That reminds me of a story. There was this couple who had a child that never made a sound, uttered a word or even cried. Of course they were quite concerned and had their son tested by the best medical minds that money could buy. They couldn’t find anything that seemed to be wrong and in all other respects, their son was completely normal. One day at breakfast when the son was five years old, he looked at his mom and dad and said “The toast is burnt!”

Of course there was a stunned silence and the boy’s mom cried tears of joy. Eventually, she asked him why he had never uttered a word before, to which he replied, “Well, up until now, everything has been all right.”
 
I guess things were fine and as they should be until I started to remember things. I can’t remember my first Halloween, but I suspect that mom and dad took me and my brother around getting free candy from all of the neighbours which they kept and ate without sharing. Not their finest moment, but having been a parent I realize that you have to grab the goodies while you can. I imagine I was eight or nine before I was trusted to go out with my buddies, a pillow case for the candy and more than likely a burnt cork beard.
 
The hobo was my preferred costume; it allowed freedom of movement and gave the impression that I had put some thought into the costume. We were always cautioned about psycho whack jobs that would put razor blades in apples, pins in candy and God forbid that some evil bastard might steal all of your candy. It happened in the neighbourhood, but not to myself or anyone that was close to me. My kids called that “Trick or Beating”, but it never happened to them. I hope that we as a family continue to be protected by the “ All Saints” referred to in “All Saints Day”.

We would plan our route weeks in advance, trying to maximize the amount of candy we could bring back. I think the best year was two and a half full pillow cases of candy. Not all of the candy was good. Some (too much) was that hard toffee that I am sure was invented by dentists that lacked any specific taste. It was the last to be eaten and the first to be shared. In those days, people still gave out home made treats. There were caramel apples (yummy), bags of peanuts, apples and oranges (ho-hum) and one lady always gave out rice crispy squares. We always made a point of going there early just in case she would run out later in the evening. The funny thing about that house is that all of the kids hated the people that lived there. It was right beside the creek and it seemed that no matter what time of day or year you would go by, they would yell at you. You see, that particular part of the bank was pretty steep and you would need to hold on to the fence or you would fall in the creek. It never occurred to us that we could just step over to the other side just a little ways up stream. That’s why the house was always covered with eggs the next morning. Bless their hearts though; they gave out the crispy squares year after year.
 
When we got older, we realized that apartment buildings were the best return on our effort. It saved a lot of walking. Just around the same time, my friends and I discovered alcohol, drugs and girls. It wasn’t the same of course, we still carried a bag (of weed) and our costume was a tie-dyed t-shirt and patched jeans.

Monday, 29 October 2012

An Election Year



I was thinking about how best to get things done today and although I came up with some really good solutions to the problems of the world, it is all for naught. It turns out that nobody that can make changes actually listens to me.

I read a book by Michael J. Fox about his struggle with Parkinson’s disease among other things. One of the points that he made is that Parkinson’s more or less affects older people and they have little or no political or economic clout. This is one reason why research was so sporadic and has failed to make any real inroads into a cure for the disease. Aids on the other hand afflicts younger, politically active not to mention well off individuals. They were able to organize and in the decades that followed, Aids has ceased to become a death sentence and from what I understand is more manageable. Neither of these diseases should be taken lightly, and I just mention them to point out that when scientists have support and share their findings, great things can be achieved.

Whenever there is a war, everyone pulls together for the greater good and scientific leaps and bounds are achieved. Hopefully, for the side that you consider to be good, but science is science. I worry that the scientists are more concerned with getting the funding and if they are lucky, they can be the one that discovers the “silver bullet” and cures cancer, malaria or the flu. Interestingly, I just Googled the top ten diseases and Aids came out as number one. I recall reading that Bill Gates offered to match the grant funding that scientists receive if they only share their research. Some took advantage, but most seem to want the glory.

A couple of years ago Louise answered the phone and it was the Children’s Kidney Foundation asking for her to donate. Louise told them that she had just sent a cheque three weeks previously, but the person on the end of the line told her that they had not received any funding from her in over a year. She went and got the cheque book and there was a notation for her donation to the Kidney Foundation. The guy on the line said that they were the “Children’s Kidney Foundation” and aren’t affiliated with the Kidney Foundation. Louise asked if kidney disease wasn’t the same in kids and adults and was told there are similarities for sure. She was polite and told them that we had reached our donation goal for the year and wished them luck in the fund raising.

I suppose that my problem is that I just don’t know enough about the inner workings of charities. I tend to be sceptical and suspicious which is probably the wrong way to think. I would like to see all research shared and for the scientists to work together for the greater good. Maybe if we just declare war, things will advance by leaps and bounds. Maybe…


I just want to send good thoughts to all of those in the midst of hurricane Sandy. Hopefully the officials prepared to deal with the aftermath and a very few people suffer. I suspect that the federal government are not going to drag their feet like Bush did during Katrina in New Orleans. It is after all an election year and there are sixty million voters being affected.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

You Are There Too



I was just watching an episode of “American Pickers”, the one where Danielle was on a pick because Frank had his high school reunion to attend. Danielle has always intrigued me since the first episode I watched, and her personality, attitude and her tattoos always left me wanting to see more of her. I guess the shows producers realized this and of late she is getting a larger amount of screen time. I hope that she is also getting a bigger share of the financial pie as well.
 
Watching the show tonight I started to think about tattoos and how they seemed to have taken off in the last decade or two. I’m not sure what spurred the growth in body art and I’m not sure what I really think about it. I can remember that the only people who had tattoos were truckers that had the name of their girl friend/wife and something about America etched on the skin. Women almost never had tattoos, or at least the women that I knew never showed me their tattoos, which is just as well, because quite frankly I don’t think Louise would have approved. Sailors have historically been the ones to get tattooed, somewhere in a foreign land. Popeye had an anchor tattooed on both forearms, and perhaps in other places as well but those never showed. I picture a tattoo on his butt that says “I like to get Oiled” or “I’m strong to the finish” on the inner thigh. That’s just me though.
 
I know the Dixie Chicks vowed to have a chickens foot tattoo for every #1 or special career milestone. I think they have fourteen now. That is quite an accomplishment and I can see the wisdom behind that. I have a friend that has a Canadian flag (or maple leaf, I don’t look too closely at his legs) over top of EFI tattooed on his calf. He got it on the completion of a cycling trip from coast to coast across Canada. The EFI stands for Every Fucking Inch. Very significant and very cool. I hope he doesn’t mind my mentioning it. I know people that have gotten tattoos that celebrate beating cancer or some other great achievement. Well done by the way to any and all that have those accomplishments.

I guess to me a tattoo should signify something of import, not that you managed to down a fifth of vodka and remained conscious enough to drive to the Tattoo parlour. I don’t know why women get what are known as “Tramp stamps”, I can only assume they have some cool meaning. I saw a girl about 19 that had FUCK on her left elbow and YOU on her right. I know that when I was 19 it would seem cool, but that is a pretty in your face kind of statement to wear for the rest of your life. If you are going to have writing tattooed on your body, make sure you can read and understand the language it is going to be in. I did see a woman that had a vine inked on her legs and it kind of looked like patterned stockings. It was pretty. There are a lot of tattoos that look pretty, and some of those are in rather innocuous places on the body. I don’t get the four letter words on the knuckles or really anything on the face. Just me I suppose.
 
I guess I just don’t feel strongly enough to be affiliated with any picture or phrase that will be with me for the rest of my life. I could do what the Dixie Chicks did and for every book I write that becomes a best seller I will have a tiny book tattooed on my chest. Perhaps for every million in the bank I will get a dollar sign on my ass.

There are some things that I feel strongly about and in a way I am marked for life by them. I guess for me my friends, loves and my memories are etched indelibly on my psyche. They are there for anyone that chooses to look and if you are looking that close... you are probably there too.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

A Bowl of Candy and Milk



It’s late and I really can’t think of much to write about. I suppose that it might be because of worry about the hurricane. I have a feeling that this is really going to be ugly for those that are in “Sandys” path. I wouldn’t mind watching it if it were somehow possible to be safe in a clear bubble of some sort and watch the weather as it unfolds.

I will have the TV cameras of course and probably the social media will be just jammed full of misinformation and innuendo. There is really nothing that makes you feel as alive as a real thunder and lightning, wrath of God kind of storm. Should be really fun! Well, fun for those of us that are in no way affected by it. For those in the path of Sandy, I wish you well and if you can, get the hell away from the shore!

I just heard on the news that there was a 7.7 earthquake about ten miles down and just off of the coast of British Columbia. Not only that, but there is a tsunami warning from Vancouver Island to Alaska. I feel like I have been book ended by Mother Nature. Oh well, tomorrow will tell what is going to happen with the tsunami and we will know early next week what kind of a mean bitch Sandy is.

Like I said, I am pretty burned out by my own little Hurricane and Tornado, so I’m cutting this short and getting to bed. Whenever they wake up tomorrow it will be too damned early and the snuggling in bed won’t be long enough or peaceful enough. We do have Fruit Loops, so a bowl of candy and milk, the Sunday morning cartoons and a warm blankie should hold them for an hour or so.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Full Monty



The job that I have been doing for the past few weeks involves a lot of waiting time. I spend it mainly talking to the others workers that are killing time waiting to work. You can imagine that pretty much everything of interest has been discussed over and over again.

I will often walk up to someone and say “You look like an interesting person, what’s your story?”

This is generally followed by a dumbfounded silence and then we will have a nice chat where we talk about life, love and what a waste of time waiting around here is. Of course I do a lot of eavesdropping. There isn’t very much really good dirt to pick up because either these are just boring people or not being close friends; they aren’t prepared to open up. One of the conversations that I overheard was when someone asked what that Tom Jones song about the “hat” was. No one seemed to know, so I had to blow my cover and tell them it was “You Can Leave Your Hat On”.

I started to think about the song and the movie that I remember it from, “The Full Monty”. I really enjoyed that film and it was done very well on a relatively small budget of 3.5 million. Once all was said and done, the movie earned over $250,000,000, received four academy award nominations and one the Oscar for the best Original Score. It is one of those “anything is possible” movies, but there are some uncomfortable moments in it. My favourite scene is when two of the lead characters find themselves trapped on the roof of a car in the middle of a canal when a guy walks by with his dog. The guy asks if they need help and they just tell him that everything is fine. How the hell is that fine?

Later on in the day, I was in the library and saw “The Full Monty” DVD, seemingly jumping out at me from the shelf. Of course I took it out and I will watch it this weekend or early next week.

I believe that things happen for a reason. Mostly! I suspect that there is something that the cosmos wants me to learn from this particular movie or the experience of finding the movie. I’m hoping that it doesn’t involve disrobing in front of a crowd of screaming women, which would be humiliating. I don’t even like to seem myself undressed in the mirror. I don’t know what the all powerful being in the sky has in mind, but unless it involves winning $50,000,000, stripping nude, pouring honey all over my body and rolling in one hundred dollar bills, I plan to not only keep my hat on, but the rest of my clothes as well.




Thursday, 25 October 2012

Crayons and a Cookie Bribe



I was at the second hand store today, just to see if there was anything that cried out to come home with me. There are usually things that would be fun to have, but normally there isn’t anything that I have to have. Sometimes I will see things but they are usually very expensive or I just can’t justify buying them. That is a nice way of saying that I am cheap. If I buy small things that bring a smile to my face then the day has been a success.
 
Today I did find a couple of things that I brought home with me. I found a Morse Code key in a bin of electrical like objects. I have always wanted to learn Morse Code since I saw Mickey Rooney in the movie “Young Tom Edison” back when I was staying home sick when I was a kid. It was made in 1940 and I suppose that I thought I could be a new Tom Edison. Over the years, I have actually tried to learn Morse Code but have always lost interest for one reason or another. The one reason is that it involves memorization and the “another” reason is that there is no one that understands it in my circle of friends. I could be wrong about that, and if I am here is my apology.

 ..  -.. --- -. .----. -  .-. . .- .-.. .-.. -.--  .... .- ...- .  - ---  .- .--. --- .-.. --- --. .. --.. . --..--  -... . -.-. .- ..- ... .  -. ---  --- -. .  -.-. .- -.  .- -.-. - ..- .- .-.. .-.. -.--  .-. . .- -..  - .... .. ... .-.-.-  --- -.  - .... .  --- ..-. ..-.  -.-. .... .- -. -.-. .  - .... .- -  ... --- -- . --- -. .  -.-. .- -. --..--  ..  .- --  ... --- .-. .-. -.-- .-.-.-

I didn’t think so. This time I am going to learn just in case I am trapped in a mine and need to communicate by tapping messages on the wall. I am sure that the guys trying to rescue me will have watched the Mickey Rooney movie and actually learned Morse Code.

The other thing that I picked up today was an inkwell. It is a Higgins inkwell, which is a company with a history in ink and all things needed to write with ink. I am just old enough to have learned to write using fountain pens. Writing with fountain pens was something of a challenge. You didn’t just pick up a pen and start to write. Oh no, you first needed to get everything ready. You needed the pen of course and a spare nib wouldn’t be out of line, a piece of blotting paper, a bottle of ink or a cartridge and paper of course. You had better rollup your sleeve, because dollars to donuts you are for sure going to smear that ink sooner rather than later. God help you if you come home with ink on the sleeve or your pocket if the pen exploded. Ink was a bitch to wash out and mom was never happy about it.

Thankfully, the fountain pen was replaced by the ball point pen and writing became a lot easier. Less fun of course, but easier. Every now and then I try my hand at calligraphy, but that like Morse Code involves a certain dedication and perseverance which I am unfortunately lacking. The ink well that I brought home today is/was a draftsman’s tool I think. I am just guessing, because so far I haven’t been able to find an image of this particular one. I spent an hour or so cleaning it and it is now sitting as a curio on one of my shelves in the basement. There was about a centimetre of solid ink in the bottom of the jar which I had to chip out and then I cleaned the glass with alcohol. For those that don’t know, ink isn’t solid, this stuff had the liquid part evaporate. I am now toying with the idea of reconstituting the ink chips just for fun. I’m not sure how much fun it will be and I don’t think Louise will be any happier than my mom was, having to get ink stains out of my clothes.

Maybe I will try writing to Santa this year in fountain pen with a beautiful flowing script, but that’s not my style. I think I’ll stick to the basics, crayons and a cookie bribe.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cold…Hard…Cash



I got a call last night from a friend who gave my number to a guy from a focus group and he would be calling in about five minutes. I know, I thought the same thing “What a BITCH!” Normally that would be the last time I ever talked to her, but she did mention that there is a monetary compensation which I am not adverse to at all. Other than this, she has been a goodish friend and I have decided to give her one last chance.

It turns out that they wanted men between the ages of 59 and 64 for their focus group, and I fit in quite nicely. He asked if I had a problem with voicing an opinion in front of people. I held the phone in front of me looking at it as if the guy on the other line was nuts. "So, you are wondering if man aged 59 to 64 have strong opinions , I think that would be a gimme." 
The topic was over the counter cold medications with an emphasis on Cold FX. I told the guy that I don’t really take many over the counter drugs but I would be willing to participate. He asked if I had ever taken Tylenol, Benylin, Buckley’s, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, Neo-Citran and of course Cold FX. I told him that sure I have taken all of those, and then he said “So you have taken every over the counter medication I mentioned, but you say that you don’t take them?”

“Uhhh..yeah. I guess I am a good candidate for the focus group.” He agreed and told me when and where to go.

That was last night, so tonight my friend (I’m still talking to her) called and said she was going as well and if possible she would like a ride. Sure, why not? Then she told me that when we get there we need to go in separately and not talk to each other, look at each other and if possible not to seem to like each other. No problem, I don’t like you very much anyways. We parked the car a block down the street (just in case they were looking out the window) and went into the building separately. Very cloak and dagger like. When I was shown into the waiting room I gave a non committal nod and started to read the paper. Others came in and I talked with them but not Ollie. It was the perfect crime and we played our parts very well. Well, I did. Ollie kind of stage whispered to me at one point and since I didn’t really hear what she said I just nodded and smiled.

When everyone got there, all eight of us were shown into a room and sat around a table. The facilitator introduced himself and had us do the same. Then he talked in general about what we were going to do and we started to do it. It seems that most of the people around the table were very concerned about whether the medication was natural or not. I said I didn’t care how many chemicals were in it, just so long as it worked. I told them I was an old hippie and had no qualms about over medicating and in fact whenever I did get sick too many drugs were the right amount.

There was a point when he brought out a box of different medications and dumped them on the table. I had no idea there was so much stuff in the market place that did virtually the same thing. Live and learn I suppose. There was a woman there that knew all of the different cold medications and if there were such a thing as a connoisseur of cold medications, she was it. One of the other guys just reached into the cabinet and used whatever his wife had in there. One guy was a little slow I think, but pretty good natured. I imagine he is just writing the same thing in his blog about me.

It was a different way to spend the evening, I will do it again if I am asked, and I walked out of there with $80 in cold…hard…cash!  

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bad Drivers Club of Calgary.


I had a kind of a long, slow commute to work this morning, because of the snow. That isn’t really fair to the snow, sure there was snow on the roads, but not so much that traffic should have been affected like it was. The responsibility lies completely with the Bad Drivers Club of Calgary.

I don’t think there is actually a Bad Drivers Club of Calgary but then since I am not a horrible driver I guess that I wouldn’t be invited to join anyways. It kind of makes you wonder what the qualifications would be for the club. I suppose a crumpled fender/bumper/hood, windows totally covered with snow except for where the wipers had ploughed a path, or maybe once you have achieved a certain number of traffic citations you automatically become a member. Perhaps the inability to park your car between the lines in a shopping center or driving the wrong way up and down the aisles would score you that coveted position.

Whatever the qualifications for the club, I know that they must have been having a convention on the roads this morning. You would think they would pick some time in the summer to meet, or even take their cars to Vegas to cruise down the strip in all of their moronic glory. I’m not quite sure of the whys and how’s of this meeting, but it has something to do with a large triple, triple from Tim’s and for sure texting one another is involved. Kind of makes you wonder what they complain about when they get together doesn’t it.

I can see them talking about some dare devil that raced past them at 50 KPH after following behind them for twenty minutes. “He seemed to be in a hurry, but he did take the time to wave to me when he passed. Nice man!” There must be some kind of rule about not being allowed to pass one another too, because you see them travelling in pairs side by side all of the time.

I really can’t imagine why these people that are so terrified of driving in winter weather will venture out on days like today. If I were as worried about driving as they seem to be, I would take a cab to work or call in sick or even pay a co-worker that lives close to give you a lift. The worry must take ten years off of their lives. That is ten years of worry free driving for me coming up in the near future. I can hardly wait. Do I wish these people dead? Perhaps they could die quietly in their beds, but not with the sound of tearing metal and my girlish screams in their ears.

Hopefully the roads will be clearer tomorrow and the Bad Drivers Club of Calgary will have adjourned and the next meeting won’t be scheduled until the next large snowfall.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Art Harrison



I made a comment on facebook today that it was fifteen years ago that my dad passed away and like probably everyone that has lost someone that they love, I think of him on a daily basis. My world grew an empty space on that October 22nd and I have had to fill it with memories that fade and grow depending on my memory at any given time.

My good friend asked what traits I had inherited from him. I didn’t answer her on facebook, but I will try to in this blog tonight, unless it happens to get hijacked by some errant thought. It is a good question and I really have to give it some thought. Of course it is the easy thing to pick out his good qualities and just say those are the ones that I picked up on.

I guess if I am to be honest, both dad and I have/had a temper. I can get angry and so could he, in fact he was known to fly a plane over Germany and drop bombs. The most that I have done is toss a chair into the kitchen wall or make toothpicks out of a 2 X 4 with a hammer. He frightened me when I was a kid, and sadly, my kids were frightened by me. I don’t remember being a terror, but I must have been. Dad showed disappointment when we didn’t live up to his expectations, and I do the same I guess.

I have never felt as bad as the time that I was caught shop lifting (age 8) and the family court judge told dad that he was a bad parent. I felt that same disappointment once for the same reason. It is a part of life, and we move on.

I have always had the feeling that dad favoured my brother more than he did me when we were kids. My brother was very athletic, as was dad, and I quite simply was not. Dad loved sports and I just don’t get why you or he would waste hours of time watching other people play a sport. Dad would watch any sport at any time. I would avoid watching any sport at any time, so I guess that is sort of the same.

Dad was always ready to lend a hand whenever it was needed, and he was quite handy. I am willing to lend a hand as well, but I doubt that I am as handy as he was. I don’t remember dad ever getting help from anyone, although I am sure that it happened. I have no qualms about asking for help, but it is rare that I need the help.

I would like to think that like dad, I spent my life providing a loving home for my kids and hopefully they left the home like I did with wonderful memories. I don’t remember dad saying he loved me very much, but I think that is more a testament of the times and how men were expected to act. I hope that I have told my kids that I love them enough. I remember one time when dad told me that I was a good father. That was pretty high praise indeed.

Dad and I both have a kind of quirky sense of humour and I think people instinctively would like us because they could sense that we like them. Dad had the ability to make strangers laugh and I have been known to do the same. We could both make our friends laugh too. We both love our grandkids, and could sit for hours watching them play and learn. I just wish that dad could have met Hurricane and Tornado.

I can answer this question. I am my dad I suppose. He is the yard stick that I use for what a good man should be, what a good husband should be, what a good father should be, what a good friend should be, what a good worker should be and what a good human being should be. He was loved by those close to him and loved them in return.

I strive every day to be like him and hopefully in the years to come if someone asks one of my kids what traits they have of mine, they will be able to say they are a better person for having had me in their lives, just as I am a better person for having had Art Harrison in my life.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Go To The Light



Today while trying to think of something to write tonight, I was pulling a blank. Oh, there is no shortage of things to write about, and I am never going to exhaust my opinions on pretty much any topic under the sun. “I’m against it”, “the kids today” and “when I was a boy” will keep me in blogs until I die. I thought about Halloween, its history and how it has changed over the years, but it is too far away, a week and a half which is forever in blogland.

I do think that it might be fun to talk about ghosts. I am not sure what to think about ghosts, whether they do or don’t exist. Sometimes I believe and other times I just can’t believe that anyone would be so stupid to believe in the spirits of the deceased hanging around.

Why would someone that has passed on (hopefully to a better place) want to hang around some dingy old mansion or castle? You rarely hear about anyone haunting a four-plex or a modern apartment building. Even if I died in my house, I think that I would go out and find the nicest place in the city to live my ghostly years in. Why not? It’s not as if you can really communicate with the people in the house anyways, or at least it seems that way to me. It would be pretty cool if you could have conversations with the dead.

“What did you do today?”

“Oh, I scared the shit out of a kid down the block that was being a dick to his parents.”

“How did you scare him?”

“I talked to him through his puppet and made him blind for a couple of minutes. How about you?”

“Well, I watched some TV and did a little carving, nothing much.”

“You know, you shouldn’t really waste your life like that. There is a whole lot of nothing to do once you die and believe me kids with Ouija boards don’t come around as often as you might think.”

I don’t need to listen to ghosts to get advice that I have no intention of following. Stupid ghosts! When you think of it, it doesn’t make sense that one of the departed would shake chains and pass through walls for no good reason. I think if I were a ghost I would run through homes that were on fire and warn people to get out, maybe appear in someone’s car and tell them they are driving too fast. That should slow things down.

I have a feeling that ghosts are just created so that we can feel good about dieing. Well, as good as you can feel about dieing, which probably isn’t too good? Nope, I like my ghosts to be like Casper or Patrick Swayze. I wonder if Patrick is a ghost now or if he went to the light. I am pretty sure when it comes my turn I will go to the light.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

It Was Free



This is going to be a short quick one, because I spent most of the night watching television.

I think that I mentioned that we switched to Shaw phone service and so far so good. The indicator that it is good is that there is no discernable difference between the new service and the old service. That isn’t entirely true; as we have call display now which we didn’t have before and I must say it is kind of fun to know who is on the line before you answer. Kind of like being a psychic I guess, only just for phone calls and not imminent death or dismemberment, talking to the recently departed and being able to find water with a willow branch. Sure, the last one isn’t really being psychic, it is actually useful.

Anyways, the day we had our service switched, there was a glitch and when I called to say that instead of getting all of the channels we were only receiving basic cable. Basic cable? I think that is what the starving people in Africa, India and California have to live with. I felt that I had somehow been hurled back in time to a place that had antennas on every house. We only had seven channels and none of them with anything worth watching on them. I’ve become used to having a hundred channels and having nothing worth watching on them. Of course I called the cable company and the guy I talked to was extremely sympathetic and couldn’t fix the problem fast enough.

That was great, but if he could fix the problem with a push of a computer key then why did I have to wait around all morning for the guy to come to my house? Is the cable company casing houses and selling the information to other criminal interests? Perhaps the cable company is actually the Mr. Big of crime in our modern world. They control all of the computers and most of our entertainment so that everything that we use the computer for could be recorded and we only get to watch the TV that they want us to watch. How else could you explain “Honey Boo-Boo” and “Survivor” being on for so long?

That is something for another blog, but what I am talking about tonight is that because I had to call and complain, they gave me a free movie. That’s like someone telling you that they will give you a free smile. It’s nice of course but it doesn’t really cost anything or in reality it isn’t worth anything at all. So, big deal!

Tonight we watched our free movie “Sherlock Holmes something about shadows”. I don’t think it was as good as the first movie with Jude Law and Iron Man, and if they had hired a writer it would really have improved the plot. I like the explosions and the action scenes, but personally I was cheering for Moriarty. Louise and I are big Sherlock Holmes fans, the original one found in books written by Conan Doyle, and this was nothing like any of the books. It was nothing like any of the TV shows or made for TV movies that have featured Sherlock for half a century now. It wasn’t even as good as the new TV show “Elementary” staring Lucy Liu (?) which should really be quite embarrassing.

Oh well, it was free and it is true, you do get what you pay for.

Friday, 19 October 2012

That Is The Safe Way



I am not the kind of person that likes to step forwards when asked to volunteer. I like to think that I have nothing to prove and it is more than likely that someone else has more of the skills that are being sought than I do.

I have read that during WWI when there was an offensive planned, there would be saturation bombing of the enemy position and then the soldiers would race across “no-mans land” which would result in horrendous casualties and almost certain death. There were soldiers that would remain behind whose orders were to shoot anyone that didn’t leave the trench or that came back out of “cowardice”. I am one of those people that would opt to be shot in my own trench rather than “volunteer” to die. Probably not, but you get the idea.
 
When my kids were in soccer I was convinced by a friend to go to the Soccer AGM just to see how things were run. While I was there, I was talked into co-ordinating girl’s soccer. I don’t talk to that friend any more. I am sure I will go into how ill suited I was for the job at some other time, but for now I want to talk about the opportunity it gave me to see into the behaviour of others. Particularly, how parents are so blinded by the love for their children that they see what they want to see, not the reality.
 
I can’t tell you how often someone would call me or come up to me and ask why their kid didn’t make the division one team. I would ask the name of the child, thinking that being human it is possible that I made a mistake in placement. When I found out that they were talking about little Susi Smith, I would be completely baffled. You see, Susi didn’t know which foot to put her shoe on, let alone how to kick a ball from a standing position. The first few times this happened I thought the parents were pulling my leg, but it happened so often I had to develop a way to let them down gently. I wanted to say that the only way Susi would make a Div I team would be is she had a whole body replacement as well as a brain transplant. It wouldn’t even have to be a good brain, anything would be better than what she was using.

Of course I didn’t say that or anything like it, I would tell the parents that the teams were set, but I would keep an eye on little Susi and if she were playing at a higher level then we would move her up. In the six years I did the job, I only moved one kid up and that was because of injured Div I players, not advanced skill. I am still amazed at how parents would think that the coach should play their kid over another child with superior skills.

I constantly hear similar stories from people in the work world. Why would they make that guy supervisor, he doesn’t know the job at all. I would do things better if I were the boss. I would hear this crap and pray to what ever Gods happened to be hovering around that these morons would never get a promotion. Unfortunately, in our world, the Peter Principal is more often than not applied. That being in an organization where promotion is based on skill, merit and achievement, eventually you will be promoted beyond your level of competence. We have all seen this time and again, and more than a few of us have found ourselves in way over our heads.

You know, I find myself in a situation where I can’t continue this blog. I was working up to something that is happening to me now, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and it is just possible that this just might happen if I continue. I could also lose a friend or two and quite frankly I need all of the friends I can get. Let’s just say that the blog is about little girl’s soccer and not about adults not having clue one as to their abilities. I think that is the safe way.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Birdhouse Insurance



Being retired is one of those things in life that everyone will eventually experience. Some just can’t seem to shed the decades of hard work and continue to work at some meaningless job for the rest of their lives. That is up to them of course and “meaningless” is my term, not theirs. When I say “meaningless” I guess I am referring to continuing to pursue the corporate dream.

We all need to do something that gives meaning to our existence, but it is my belief that after a lifetime of chasing an elusive dream, there comes a time when less is indeed more. When you are in the midst of raising a family or building a career, you just don’t have time to spend doing those things that give you only personal satisfaction. It can be anything really, from doing volunteer work, helping out the kids or just trying to spread happiness and joy where ever you go. I kind of like the last one, but unfortunately that will be determined only at my funeral.

A benefit to being retired is that you can still do all of those things you did while you were working, but now you can take a little longer and complain about the younger generation while you are doing it. Today I found myself staring out of the bedroom window at the back yard. I originally looked out to see just what I need to do out there before winter rears its ugly head. There is the gardening to clean up and those tomato wire support things need to be put somewhere, it wouldn’t hurt to restack the wood pile and if I feel really energetic I could rebuild the sagging gate.

I then started to look at the bird house that I put up in the spring. It looks to have weathered the summer pretty well, but perhaps I should just do a little home improvement. It was a big success as far as bird houses can be successful. Birds made a nest in it and raised some little birds which is really all that it was supposed to do. Last week I emptied the house out in preparation for who ever decides to set up house keeping in it next spring. I was surprised by how much straw and other assorted crap they use to make the nest. When I emptied the nest out front, there were three unhatched eggs. What do you do with three unhatched eggs? Well, if you are me then you put them in an old glass ash tray and leave them on your work bench.
 
I think I will bring them in tomorrow and see if I can do pysanka with them. They are pretty small and mottled, but it could be interesting. I was thinking this while looking out the window and I noticed a couple of birds sitting on the bird house. One went in and then came out and the other went in. This went on for a few minutes and a couple of other birds came over and checked the house out. I’d like to think they were looking at real estate with next spring in mind. I don’t think that was it though.

What I think is that they came home after being away for what ever reason, and found that their home had been gutted! The first few times they went in and out of the house was not unlike what you or I would do if we came home and there was nothing left. Next, they called the neighbours to try and find out if they had seen anything. Like most neighbours they would say they hadn’t seen a thing. I could swear that the birds looked violated just sitting there on the top of the house. They turned their heads and looked towards my window and I leaned back into the shadows, after all, you can’t be too careful.
 
I turned away from the window and fought off a little feeling of guilt. Maybe I was a little early in cleaning out the nest, but they looked like a pretty sensible bird couple and probably had Birdhouse insurance. I wonder how much Birdhouse insurance costs and where would the birds get the money? Hmmm…maybe I should Google that.



Wednesday, 17 October 2012

No One Has Ever Complained



Well, old man winter can do his worst now. I put the snow tires on Louise’s car and just so long as she is able to stay clear of Calgary’s horrific drivers this winter she should be all right. I am aware that it is a trifle early for snow tires, but there have been a few hints of an early and fierce winter.
 
The first indication is a dead giveaway; the meteorologists at the Weather Channel have predicted a very mild short winter. They couldn’t predict a rainfall if they were standing in a puddle of water. I was going to say that I wish I could have been as bad at my job as they are at theirs and not get fired. Trouble is, I could have been that bad and still kept my job. I will tell a story a little later that demonstrates it. They say that if a Mountain Ash has a lot of berries it is going to be a harsh and long winter. My buddy has a Mountain Ash which is very nearly bare of berries. You would think that would agree with the meteorologists, but not so. His neighbour two doors down have a Mountain Ash that has its branches nearly touching the ground there are so many berries. You might be thinking that this doesn’t make sense, but what it tells us is that there is a line between my buddies place and his neighbours where there is going to be some messed up weather.
 
The indigenous peoples believe that it will be a long hard winter when the snow is so deep that no one can get in the casinos (yes…kind of racist..sorry). I figure the winter will be harsh when the gas and electric companies raise the price of gas and electricity. It will be a cold winter if one day you wake up and there are no birds at all anywhere, either that or there is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie classic “The Birds”. I guess what I am saying is that there is no sure way to tell what the winter will be like, but I am now prepared for the worst.
 
I’ve had my “snows” on for about two and a half years now. A couple of years ago I went to the auto salvage yard and found four rims to put my winter tires on. Turns out that the rims had snow tires on them already and since I had to buy them I figured I’d just drive them until they wore right out. One more winter I figure, and then I go back to the original plan. Waste not…Want not…

۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞۞

Now, as to how I couldn’t get fired if I tried. I actually did try, but that is for another time. There was this fellow at the Post Office that worked in the mechanical room where he would repair broken metal cages and generally weld and hammer all things metal. One day this guy was working very hard from the moment he came in and even worked through his break. That he was working hard should have raised more than a few red flags. In the early afternoon this guy went after his supervisor with the sword he had been making and nearly killed him. If not for the heroic actions of a few fellow workers he would have succeeded in killing his boss.

Now, from what I understand the supervisor deserved to have a long shaft of metal shoved through his internal organs, but we just don’t do that in polite society. I guess management knew what a colossal ass the supervisor was and instead of firing the worker, he was given a month or two off to pull himself together (with pay) and then given a pretty cushy job.

Post Office management aren’t complete tools, no matter what you have heard, and they didn’t think that this guy should work with people ever again. The job he was given was to wash trucks at night. He had to wash eight trucks a day. He would wash two before break, two after break, two after his meal and two before he went home. I’ve got to tell you that he didn’t do a very good job of washing the trucks, but in the ten or so years he has been doing it no one has ever complained

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Jackie Guthrie



Last Sunday, October 15th, the wife of a good friend passed away, and I didn’t know about it until today. Some good friend I am!

She lost her battle with cancer and has gone on to a better, more fulfilling plane of existence. I never had the opportunity to meet her or for that matter my good friend of close to 45 years. I am as saddened by the loss of her gentle spirit as much as I would be any friend.

Like I say, I never met Arlo Guthrie or his wife Jackie but my life is the better for having him in it. I knew about his dad before I had heard of him and I suppose most of us have been singing songs written by Woody all of our lives. When “Alice’s Restaurant” came out in the theatres in 1969 I found a new friend. The movie became one of those moments in my life that just seems to resonate and make me better for experiencing it. I guess it was love at first sight and sound.

I have followed his career as best I could, getting his albums and whenever he was on the TV, I would be sure to see him. He believed in all of the causes that I did, the only difference is that he actually did something to improve the world. I still will listen to his music whenever I need a lift of spirits and Arlo is the yard stick that I use to measure other performers by. Like most married men, he couldn’t be the person that he was without the support and love of his wife. I don’t know how you can carry on after watching the person that gave you 43 years of love and companionship move on. Luckily, he has the support of his family and a belief in how the world and existence works which will give him strength.

I saw Arlo perform at Massey Hall on November 12, 1976 and I can say that it was a high point in my concert going career. Since then, there have been opportunities, but I have either been too broke, too far away or just plain didn’t know he was doing a concert close by. Arlo continues to bring joy to me with his music and through him I have started to listen to his daughter Sarah Lee, who is continuing the Guthrie family tradition of good music and protest songs.

Here is a link to Arlos website and you can read for yourself how Arlo is dealing with the passing of his partner in this life and the next.


Jackie Guthrie
July 25, 1944 - Oct. 14, 2012


Monday, 15 October 2012

The Next Great Polymath


I was wondering the other day about Renaissance men. Not all men from the Renaissance, in fact not men from the Renaissance at all, but those that have shown the qualities that make up a Renaissance man. I have been getting tired of writing “Renaissance” so I will use the term “polymath”. A polymath is a person who excels in many different disciplines. Not only is the person a genius, but he or she is a genius in more than one field of endeavour.

I suppose that Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous polymath of all time and I would be the least famous. Okay, it is possible that I’m not a polymath at all. I did a search of modern polymaths and came up with this list from Wikipedia.


If you notice, there hasn’t been a decent polymath since Pavel Florensky died in 1937. Kind of makes you wonder what is happening to our polymaths doesn’t it. I suppose that as the world gets more and more complex, we are having a difficulty mastering more than one discipline. I can remember when you weren’t allowed to use a calculator in school; I think the reason was that it was cheating somehow because you haven’t memorized all of the different formulas that are necessary to solve the equations. Now, the belief is that in order for our students to master more and more complex theories, they only need a rudimentary understanding of the basic principles. Hmmmm…I don’t know about that, but then I’m not a polymath.

Do you think that our society has become too complex to allow for true polymaths? It seems to me that most of the polymaths on that list were either very wealthy on their own or they had wealthy benefactors that enabled them to focus on their many different fields of study without the mundane worry about a roof over their heads or how to get food in their bellies. Society has changed and although there are many people and organizations that support artists, scientists and literary geniuses, they tend to support just one activity. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the different world governments have co-opted these men and women to create weapons of war or theories that can be used to benefit their particular country.
 
Da Vinci created a machine gun, cluster bombs, scythed chariots, a barrage canon, a tank, a wall defence, a fortress, catapult, dismountable canon, helicopter, an armoured vessel a giant crossbow and a siege weapon. Perhaps the next da Vinci is working for the Canadian government. No, there doesn’t appear to be any geniuses in the Canadian government.

 
Could it be that we are no longer able to produce da Vincis, Franklins, Imhoteps or Michelangelo’s? I’d like to think that they are out there but for some reason they aren’t making a very big splash. Perhaps their genius will be recognized only after they are dead. Maybe in our world we can only excel in one or two specialties, or maybe the powers that create these amazing people are just taking a break from their labours.

Who knows, maybe the blog or tweet that you read today came from the next great polymath. Let’s hope so.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wrong Over Right



What the Hell is with people these days?

I swear to God that instead of getting smarter, generation after generation of people are slowly getting dumber. That isn’t fair I suppose, but it seems to me that so many people feel entitled to do whatever they please, without giving a thought to anyone else.

Today Louise and I were having a coffee in our favourite Tim Horton’s and a largish Enmax (power company) truck turned in off of the road and instead of proceeding into the very large parking area; he parked right in the driveway. I thought at first that there was some Power company issue, but the guy got out of the truck and came into Tim’s. He went in the washroom and then stood in line waiting to get his coffee. He must have been parked in the driveway for over ten minutes while all of the other patrons had to manoeuvre around this brainless son of a cow’s truck. I just can’t for the life of me understand how he thought this was the right thing to do. I’m sending Enmax a picture of the truck tomorrow, but somehow I doubt anyone will care.

Shortly after shit-for-brains left, another guy pulled into the handicapped spot, ran inside to go to the washroom and then left. He was only there for a couple of minutes, but there were plenty of other spots available. I can appreciate that maybe he really had to go, but since he wasn’t a five year old, he should have better bladder control than that. I’m not even going to get into his using the washroom and not buying a coffee or donut, it is a business after all.

Later on this evening, we stopped into Safeway to pick up a couple of things. Grocery stores are a constant source of amazement to me. How can anyone think that just because they change their mind about buying a fish, it doesn’t give them the right to drop it off on the Charmin toilet paper display? I saw a guy picking all of the grapes off of the stems and filling a container with just grapes. Sure it is better value for the dollar, but that kind of shit costs all of us because the store doesn’t just absorb the loss, they pass it on to all of us. Parents that let their kids graze while they are shopping are the worse kind of offenders to me. Not only are they teaching their kids that it is all right to steal, they are encouraging the behaviour. Tonight there was a kid that tore off a piece of croissant and went to his dad eating it. The dad saw his kid was eating something and just turned away. This kid was all over the store while his dad wandered listlessly through the aisles. Perhaps this is how the deadbeat feeds the kid.

I have heard people on Facebook condone this petty theft. I wonder if when their kids get caught stealing a car or mugging someone for their wallet they will take any responsibility for the crime. Probably not, they will more than likely blame the cops for making a big deal of it or perhaps the teacher that kept giving their little baby detentions for being a bully. “Just kids being kids.”

I worked with someone who spent most of the time trying to scam one thing or another. You know the kind of person. They will watch the cashier like a hawk and jump down their throat if even a penny too much is charged. However, if the cashier makes a mistake and gives them two fives instead of one they will run like a thief and brag about their good fortune to any and all that will listen. This person’s adult child was caught and convicted of a crime and put in jail. All that you heard was “Why did they turn out like this? I was a good parent!” No you weren’t! You taught that kid that it was fine to steal and cheat just so long as you come out ahead.

None of us are perfect, but we all know what is right and what is wrong, some of us just choose wrong over right.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Never Really Fashionable



I have been pretty lax about keeping the cars cleaned of late. I am not one of those guys that will spend the weekend washing, waxing and polishing my ride inside and out. I really don’t care that much. I figure that if God wants me to have a clean car then He will set things up so that I park it outside when it rains and if possible small animals that have been rolling in wax will frolic on the car and give it a nice polish. So far God has been too busy to set those things in motion and has left the washing up to me.

I realized that I had to wash the car that Louise drives when I noticed she was very careful not to touch it when she got in. It has been a few weeks and I am normally better than that. I parked out front when we came home and got ready to go out and do battle with dirt and grime. You know there is no way I am going to pay to get it washed when I can do it for free out front. I put on my car washing jacket (yep, I have a special jacket), folded my pants twice to make large cuffs and put on my regulation Post Office rubber boots. I went out and got the brush and hose and before you could say “Clean as a whistle.” I was done.

I came in and looked down at my feet and noticed the cuffs. I haven’t had cuffs for a long, long time, and to tell you the truth I kind of miss them. I always had cuffs on my pants as a kid, but I imagine that was because I always wore hand-me-downs from my brother Steve. It could be because mom and dad would buy pants that were a size or two too big and that cuffs were as good a method as any to adjust the length as I grew. I recall that most of the kids I went to school with would have cuffs on their pants as well. When you were playing, sometimes you would need to stop and re-cuff your pants so that you could run unfettered.

I have this memory of jeans lined with red and blue plaid flannel that I would wear in the winter when I was in high school. Mom probably could have hemmed them, but I liked the look of the plaid flannel poking out at the bottom of my leg. That was 14 year old Ken’s idea of cool, is it any wonder I didn’t have a girl friend.

I can remember times when I found a quarter that I had dropped which had lodged inside the cuff. There were times that I kept a spare pack of matches folded up in the cuffs and the odd time a gram or two of hash. Not very often, just when I thought the possibility was there that I might be frisked by the cops late at night. They never go down as far as the ankles, well, at least they never did on TV. Those were times when cuffs were pretty useful. Once I dropped a cigarette and it just disappeared. I looked and looked, but it was no where to be found. I don’t know what I thought had happened to my smoke; perhaps a passing angel decided the he just wanted a toke or two for old times sake. Of course it was caught by my cuff and eventually I discovered it. It may have been the smell of burning cloth that gave it away, but I suspect the little scar on my left ankle is the result of that missing smoke.

I actually own some dress pants with cuffs, but they aren’t what I would call real cuffs. They are sewn closed and pressed within an inch of their lives. I do like the look but wouldn’t it be nice if they would catch the odd quarter or add a splash of colour to an otherwise drab ensemble. You know, almost everything that was once fashionable has come back in some form or another, so there is hope for the cuff. The only problem is that they were never really fashionable.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Medium


I was just reading a little blurb about Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” from his book “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” in which he says that the medium itself should be studied, not the content in the medium. I remember reading about his ideas and having discussions about how important the ideas were. We looked at all of the different kinds of media and tried to apply these concepts. I remember it being kind of fun at the time.
 
It just sounds tedious to me now. I am not one to wonder about the sub levels which lie beneath, which are hidden and quite possibly, should remain that way. I remember asking Alice Munroe if when she was writing a story she created all of the underlying messages that we as students would find in her work. She just laughed and told me that she writes the best story that she can and it is for others to find the deeper meaning in the work if indeed there is any. Just what I thought. We are all multi layered and seldom does the general public and even those closest to us get to see the different layers. I don’t think that at any given time we are aware of our own different levels.

I know that I am a different Ken to each and every person that I interact with. I have to be because when you are with a particular person, you each have shared experiences that no one else has. I suppose that the longer someone spends with you the more aspects of your personality they discover. Long married couples know the most about each other, but even they are sometimes surprised by their spouse from time to time. Last week I wrote a blog about how my dad used to call us in from play with a Tarzan yell, and Louise hadn’t known that. It is a little thing, but it is something that shaped a part of me.

When I give people a ride in my car I will always turn the radio to a station that plays the music they like before they get in. Music is background to me and seldom does it matter what I listen to. I don’t like most rap, classics and opera, but pretty much anything else I will listen to. I just realized recently that this causes people who ride with me to think I share their taste in music. I have been doing this all of my life, so I suppose that when I die people will be talking about my love for whichever type of music they love and it will bewilder those they are talking to. Well, that’s assuming they can talk in their deep, deep, deep grief.

Years ago I had the opportunity to find out what other people thought of me, but I didn’t do it because of the cost. The idea was to send an intensive questionnaire to forty or so people that knew me and simply ask various questions and then collate the answers. You also have to answer the questionnaire as honestly as possible yourself. I talked to people who had it done and it gave them a new perspective on who they are and how they are perceived in the world. It turns out that you are your own worst critic. The feedback from friends, family and business acquaintances was almost always more positive than how you felt about yourself. I wish I had done that. I wonder if the questionnaire is still around.
 
I guess that someone who is what I consider to be a Master would see themselves just as others see them. They would be comfortable playing their own music when others are in the car, they would feel welcome where ever they go and treat everyone as the unique and special person that they are. I guess I still have a way to go. For me it isn’t the medium that is the message, it is more like the large to X-large that has the message. That was a lot funnier in my head than when it was written, but I’m keeping it anyways.


For those who care, here is the carving that I gave to my friend on her retirement.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Two Days in a Row



Tonight we had baked chicken, rice and vine ripened tomatoes for supper. I know what you are thinking, “Shit! Just what we need in the world, another food blog!” Not to worry, I am not starting to write a food blog, but there are some recipes that I would love to share. My Biscotti recipe is particularly good as is the Whipped Shortbread and my Snickerdoodles are without equal, so perhaps sometime in the future I will get to them. Tonight I am going to talk about what happens after we have eaten.

We all do much the same thing, we eat our fill and unless we are very good at estimating or very wasteful, there will be left overs. Art of our dinner ritual is finding the proper sized container to hole the food, covering it with plastic wrap and bunging it in the fridge. We almost never think about the plastic wrap itself and when we do it is because we are running out. I have been using it for the better part of my life and I know next to nothing about it.

In 1933 Ralph Wiley who worked at Dow chemical cleaning glass ware came across a green substance on one of the glasses that he couldn’t clean off. He named it Eonite after an indestructible substance in the little Orphan Annie comic strip. Dow chemical turned it into a dark green film that the military used to protect equipment from sea salt and the car companies used it for upholstery. The first cling wrap for household use was brought out in 1953 and has been used ever since.

It is made from PVC originally, but there are now non PVC alternatives since there is some concern about the transfer of plasticizers into food. We haven’t stopped using it or similar materials because it is so convenient and more than likely makes the Dow Company and the politicians living in their pockets a shit pile of money.

I can remember that sandwiches weren’t put in plastic bags or wrapped in PVC’s; they were lovingly covered by folded waxed paper. Every day at lunch time I would pull a beautiful rectangle of waxed paper out of my lunch tin and unwrap it to see what kind of sandwich mom had surprised me with today. Beside the sandwich would be a brightly polished apple and with any luck a Twinkie or a snowball. Life was good, well it would have been if that was how lunch played out. Unfortunately, when lunch time came around I would pull a crushed peanut butter and jam sandwich out of the well worn paper bag. It would have been crushed by the bruised apple that was keeping it company in the bag. Twinkie or Snowball? I don’t think so! I can’t ever remember having desert, but I am sure that I did and I am equally sure it wasn’t sweet with coconut marshmallow icing.

For old time’s sake, every now and then if I have to wrap a sandwich, I will pass on the sandwich bags and the insulated lunch bag, opting instead for a sandwich wrapped in wax paper and an apple in a paper bag. I never do it two days in a row. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

She Gets it on Friday…



I have been working on a carving to give to a friend who is retiring after the better part of a lifetime working at the Post Office. She is still more or less sane. A little less, than more I think.


I have done a number of these over the past seven or eight years and some have turned out not too bad if I do say so myself. Some have been somewhat less than perfect, and some should have stayed blocks of wood. The thought is there, and I really don’t care too much if they use them for fire wood. Sure I do, but a gift once given is a gift gone. I try to find some trait or characteristic that I can incorporate into the carving which will indicate just who the person is. Not always successful, but I do try.

                                                                   

Some carvings are a lot easier to do than others and I‘m not sure if it is because the wood is better or that I am swept away in the moment. Carving, like anything else, is an outlet for your creative juices and kind of puts you in an almost Zen like trance. Not too deep a trance of course, after all you are working with what are basically razor sharp knives. The carving takes hours and there are quite literally thousands and thousands of chips carved from the block. Once the carving is complete, it needs to be painted. Sometimes the painting is what makes or breaks the gift.

I try to put other items on the mounting block which will give a hint as to what the person will do once retired. Generally I have fun doing the carvings and get a little depressed when I give them away. They are after all a part of me since I created them.

This one for Donna I am finding very difficult. I have found that women are hard for me to carve. They are a lot more concerned about their appearance than men are generally speaking. I also have a hard time rendering women in wood. With a man I can carve a huge nose or big hips and they don’t really care, but I think women are a trifle more critical. I want these things kept and loved if possible. So far I have carved two heads for Donna and neither one looks to be right. I am going with the least offensive one and hope that Donna isn’t too touchy. I have tomorrow to finish the paint job and mounting, but since it is cold and snowy outside I have all day.

She gets it on Friday…