Sunday 31 March 2013

Love and Imagination

I watched some kids today that were playing on the beach. Two brothers, one older and one younger, and they were both building sand castles. The older ones castle was more ambitious, but it appeared that they were both having the time of their lives.

I remembered when I was a kid and had the opportunity to build a castle on the beach. It was one of those castles that had a moat with a draw bridge, thick impregnable walls, large corner turrets made from overturned plastic buckets and smaller turrets from soup cans for the archers in the middle of each wall. Of course there were flags flying from the tip of each turret and a large banner flying from the spire of the central keep. There was a tunnel somewhere out the back so that in the event of defeat, the important citizens could make good their escape.
The biggest problem that my castles had was keeping water in the moat. Lucky for me I had a friendly giant that was more than happy to keep filling the moat with cans or buckets of water. I spent hours and hours protecting the outside of my castle with shells and pieces of wood that stuck on the walls. I would build a road leading up to the castle using rocks to pave it and sometimes I would build a village just outside the castle walls. Every now and then there would be some rogue wave that would decimate the walls of my castle. On the plus side, the waves would keep the moat filled.

Every now and then, instead of building a castle I would dig a hole big enough for me to hide in. I suppose that I would have liked to have my brother bury me once it was done, but I never felt comfortable enough that he would actually dig me out once I was up to my neck in sand. Ideally the hole would be big enough to kneel in and comfortable enough to lean back and watch the clouds in the sky. I loved the beach!
The reality was that the hole was just a depression in the sand which I dug until it became too difficult to go any further. In my mind, it was deep enough that I could hear people talking Chinese. The castle was just a couple of buckets filled with wet sand piled in the middle of a circular trench that I would then pour water into. I had the vision, but I didn't have the engineering know how to accomplish my dreams.

I suppose that I could build something closer to what my mind sees now that I am older, but the desire isn't there any more. Perhaps someday I will find myself on a beach with Hurricane and Tornado. The three of us will build a castle with a moat and drawbridge, lots of turrets and flags, a central keep and an escape tunnel out the back some where. We will then dig a hole big enough so that we can just about hear the people speaking Chinese over the sound of the ocean waves. I will make sure that neither of the boys are left in the hole.
Well, that's what we will try to build and that is what we will see. It may just be a pile of sand with a ditch around the outside, but it will have been build with love and imagination.

Long Day

It was a long day yesterday. I don't mean that there were more than twenty four hours, well, I guess there were in fact more than twenty four hours yesterday. We did gain about four hours and were awake for twenty three, so yeah, it was a long day.

It started out with waiting for the plane. We waited for Brendan to take us to the airport, we waited in line to check in, we waited while US customs to decide we didn't have any baggies of heroin inside of us, we waited in line at Tim Horton's, twice, we waited to board the plane and then we waited for seven hours to get to Maui, we waited for our rental car and finally, once we arrived at the condo, we had to wait a while for bed because it just wouldn't do to be up in the middle of a Hawaiian night.

The waiting wasn't without it's good points however. First and foremost we were going on a well holiday deserved holiday for Louise. Work has been stressful for her lately and I hope that some time in the sun with nothing to worry about other than just how I will embarrass her, will be good for her.

Waiting at the airport is pretty interesting too. It is fun to see how many different ways that people can be stupid. There are far too many ways to list. There were these two women that not only took up two of the few outlets at the gate, but they also spread their things over five seats. That isn't too bad initially, but when others are standing or walking about, I would think it is time to consolidate. Self centred, entitled bitches!

I am old enough to remember when people would dress up to take a flight. They would wear comfortable clothes that looked nice and were serviceable when they arrived at their destination. Even kids would look good. Those days are gone I suppose, along with Captain Kangeroo, Mr. Magoo and respect for others. I just don't like pajama pants. I know they are comfortable, we all wear them to bed. Well except for those Victoria Secret models who wear wisps of clouds and a mist of rain. Sweat pants aren't good for traveling either, especially ones that have “JUICY PINK” written on the ass. What does that even mean? Is there a company making chewing gum shapes like someones ass called Juicy Pink? Yes, they are comfy but ugly. I am sure that somewhere, on someones blog they are talking about this old guy that did nothing but complain the whole time he was waiting at Gate 25. He criticized people the whole time he was there, and I would of said something but he was well dressed...ish.

The stewardess came by and gave us a meal. Yeah, I know! Talk about the old days of flying. I told her that there was some mistake, but she insisted so Louise and I scarfed it down before she could realize her mistake. We flew Air Canada this time because they had a direct flight and although Vancouver airport is nice, it isn't three hours nice. When we flew Westjet, the seat TV's cut out after 45 minutes and there was nothing to do but talk to each other for the next six hours. Even I felt sorry for Louise. Air Canada has so many options that it's ridiculous. I watched “Skyfall” and look forward to seeing it in a larger format eventually. Louise's screen didn't work at first which is why she thinks we got the free meal. I think it is because it's my year.

I didn't feel right watching my show while Louise couldn't. Well, I didn't know how to look sympathetic for her while I was watching Agent Bond doing his thing. They eventually got the screen to work and we both found out how Moneypenny got her job.

Let's see, the flight was long and I did have to use the teflon toilet. Not as bad as I had remembered, but it's a tiny, metal toilet! The car rental went well and we eventually made our way to the condo through a nightime Hawaiian rain.

Hopefully, I will write something interesting tomorrow, but whether I do or not, I will be on Maui and you won't.

Friday 29 March 2013

Nothing To Do

There is nothing to do now but wait for Brendan to come to drive us to the airport. Oh, and take Buster to the kennel of course. That would be a bad thing to forget. I can imagine arriving home after two weeks in paradise only to find the skeletal remains of our family pet. It would be his fault, there is enough food in the house to last two weeks and there are two toilets full of water. Of course he would have to grow a couple of thumbs right quickly to be able to open the food. Not my problem though.

I hate early morning flights, because I have a history of passing out for various stress related causes on those early mornings. It causes Louise no end of worry and she has even considered cancelling our trip once or twice. I guess that’s why she books the flights later in the day now. Due to the later flight I don’t have that early morning stress, but now I have to kill hours of time. I suppose that I could do something creative or even useful, but I don’t want to be half way through something and have to stop for two weeks. That would be fine if I were doing a Suduko or a crossword puzzle, but it could be tragic if I were in the middle of heart replacement surgery. I’ll admit the last scenario is rather unlikely, but I can think of at least three different series of events that would lead me into someone’s open heart.
I am sure you are thinking to yourself “But Ken, you’re retired, don’t you do nothing all day anyways?” Well, yeah that’s true, but normally I do nothing without the stress of a seven hour flight looming over me like the proverbial sword of Damocles. Not to mention the security clearance I will need to go through. I don’t really understand the need to xray my shoes. I understand xraying the carry on bags, but my shoes? Most shoes are really much too small to hide anything that could be even remotely dangerous. I suppose that I could put a razor blade in the sole, but who has razor blades any more. Even if I did have a razor in my shoe, those seats are far too close together for me to reach my feet so that I could get the blade out. If I were in security, I would tell them not to bother with people over a certain weight because not only would they have trouble getting the weapon, they can barely get up and down the aisle to take a piss let alone squeeze into the cockpit with the pilots and navigator.
I guess that’s why most of the terrorists that you see are slim. Well, that and long hours of prayer or listening to all of the voices talking to you inside of your head. It has to be very confusing! If I were a terrorist (and I am not for anyone who might be monitoring my blog) I would just say screw it and kick off my shoes, get a complimentary coke, a pack of “Jetzels” and see what free movies there are to watch.
That is just what I plan to do, well that some reading and if I am lucky, I might just squeeze in a nap or two. If I am really lucky, I won’t have to use the bathroom on the plane.

Thursday 28 March 2013

Holiday Preparations

Well, I think I am ready for my holiday. Can you call it a holiday if you are retired?

I have packed too many shirts, four Hawaiian, three t-shirts, four bathing suits (I’m hoping that one or two will fit me), a pair of shorts, two pair of pants, socks and underwear and a jacket in case this whole global warming thing is just a flash in the pan and it gets cold in Maui. I have water shoes, sandals (for walking on water), running shoes and comfortable shoes for the flight. I think that is all of the clothes, but if I run short I plan to hit the swap meet on Saturday to get six t-shirts for $12 and a pair of shorts from the Walmart.

I have lots of shiny electronic stuff, two cameras and the wires that go with them, GPS, cell phone, iPad, laptop and a Kobo reader with about two hundred books. Probably the only thing I will use is the computer to write this blog and the iPad to facetime Maegan, Hurricane and Tornado, probably, maybe Brendan (although he is going to Mexico) and Karen and John. No one else will care or even notice that I am away and I’m not sure about the people I mentioned. The only one that will miss me is Buster, and then only because he will be in prison (kennel) while we are gone.

I can’t help but think that I have forgotten something. I’m sure it will come to me somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, but by then it will be too late. If it is something that I can buy in paradise, I will, and if it something that will burn down the house, that’s why I have insurance.

Before I travel I get a little wonky. I just seem out of sync with myself and everything about me just seems a bit off. I attribute it to not really wanting to go anywhere. Louise is good for me making me step out of my comfort zone, but I do have to say there is a reason why it is called a “comfort zone”. My feeling is that if I stay in one place long enough, all of the people I need to have in my life will eventually find me. I will catch all of the others in my next life, or the life after that, or the life after that.

Don’t misunderstand; I am not afraid of flying. Well any sane person has a little fear of a machine that weighs about 860,000 pounds loaded, and has close to 1,000,000 moving parts that were all built by the lowest bidder.

I had best go and make sure that nothing has exploded out of my suitcase. It’s a good thing that I am not a smuggler; I don’t know where I would put the contraband.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Normal Is

I had to drop the car off to get its semi annual check up at 7:30 AM. I don’t mind getting up early, but I have gotten used to easing into the day just a little slower now that I am retired. They have a drop off service, but since I could use the exercise I decided to walk home. It is only about 40 – 45 minutes and I can’t think of a better way to start the morning.

I know there are better ways, but as I become older, my options are limited. Most of the walking that I do now is with Buster and although any kind of walking is good for you, the starts and stops of a dog trying to find the best place to pee (everywhere) keeps me from getting a good work out. I can remember from my letter carrier days that the first fifteen minutes it can be pretty cold, but after that, your internal fire seems to kick in and you stay quite warm.

There is a coffee shop close to home and I thought it would be a good time to stop and watch all of the worker bees on their way to work after my walk. I came up to the door and there was my neighbour and his son stopping to get a coffee on the way to work. He asked if I was just out for a walk and I told him about dropping off the car for servicing. He asked where I dropped it off and when I told him he was just dumbfounded. It was very much like a deer caught in the headlights. It would never occur to him to walk all that way. He is a car guy after all and his idea of a long walk is when he parks his Corvette at the far end of the parking lot so that it doesn’t get scratched or dinged. We got our coffees and went our separate ways.

I guess everyone has things that they do which stun friends and acquaintances. Often I have mentioned that I am still in touch with the people I went to high school with and I will get this stunned look and a “WHY???” I’ve always liked hiking, and although I don’t do as much now as I used to, when I would mention on a Monday that I had been hiking on the weekend, I would just get blank stares. I guess that not all people who walk for a living also like to walk in their spare time.

You and I, we people, find it much more comfortable to do the same thing over and over and over again. Most of the time we don’t think about changing our lives at all. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, it just is. There is an ancient Chinese curse that translates (very roughly) as “May you live in interesting times.” Uninteresting times would indicate peace and tranquility I suppose. Those people from the middle kingdom are pretty smart, but to be fair they have had thousands of years to learn.

Doing the same thing isn’t always bad. I have a buddy that is a bike riding fool and for the past few years (that I know of) he and his wife have done these massive rides of a thousand kilometres or more. Right now he is saying, “No, last year it was only 953 K.” I can remember him talking a few years back about how a friend of his is a real “hard core” cyclist. I just stared at him like a deer caught in the headlights. How hard core is this guy if my buddy thinks he is hard core? I guess normal is whatever it is that you do every day.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

People Who Do Crack

I learned all about rock chip repairs this morning. We picked up a rock chip a couple of weeks ago and not too long after there was one of those “Dealfind” coupons on the internet that promised $120 towards a windshield repair or three rock chip repairs for only $20.
I have never had a chip repaired before, mainly because I always leave it until it is too far gone and cracks start to spider web all over the windshield. The cracks don’t bother me unless they happen to be right in my line of sight and I don’t really care if the passenger gets a headache from trying to look around the cracks. I picked up the Echo from where Louise works and drove over to Cal-Alta Glass. The guy told me to drive around back and he would meet me there. Once I got to the back, I was there, other guys were there, but the guy from the front never did show up. He must have been referring to the royal “he”, kind of like when Louise says “We should paint the kitchen.” She doesn’t mean “we”, she means me.

So this one guy comes out and has a look at the windshield and tells me that it has a dimple, and I nod like I actually understand what he was talking about. For all I know there are 100 different kinds of rock chips and “dimple” is one of them. He goes back inside and I never saw him again. It’s possible that he and the guy out front went for a coffee break. Another guy comes out with a little round gizmo in his one hand and a syringe in the other. He was here to either fix the windshield or cook some crack. Turns out he wasn’t cooking crack, he was fixing crack. Heh…heh…heh
He took the time to explain just what he was doing and how what he was doing would repair the crack. Did you know that a window is made up of three layers, the inside and outside of glass with a layer of plastic laminated between the layers? When a stone hits the window it cracks and there is a tiny air pocket that is formed. It is this air pocket that seems to cause all of the trouble. Moisture will seep into the crack and then with the freezing and thawing, eventually the cracks will spread across the wind shield. The guy told me that with any luck this repair will be 80% - 85% effective, but if there is a problem then we should bring it back right away. I should have suggested that he give me back $3 to $4 and if there isn’t a problem in say six years then I would return the money.

Just a side note, a place called Novus Glass invented the process of windshield repair back in 1972. Can you imagine the amount of glass they have kept out of the landfills? Kudos to them for coming up with an idea that saved me a couple of hundred bucks.

When the patch had cured, the guy told me that the next time, and there will be a next time in Calgary, we should come in and get an “inhouse” coupon which will be cheaper than the “Dealfind” coupon. This is interesting news. I guess you can save money because the retailer doesn’t have to pay the Dealfind people. Lesson learned; I suppose I will call the retailer before using one of the many online coupon sites.

I remember back when my dad came out to visit, he insisted on buying a new countertop for the kitchen. I said no, he said yes, I said no, he said yes… So, we found ourselves at Home Depot and ordered the countertop. When they came to install it, long after dad had gone home, the installer told us that if we had gone directly to the company he worked for we could have saved the 10% - 15% that Home Depot gets for being the middleman. I have to start learning to bargain with these stores.

Mind you, it’s a lot easier to negotiate with people who do crack.

I guess that since I am going to be getting on a plane in the very near future my mind was thinking of this little video today. So, for no particular reason what so ever, I bring you “the Kid From Brooklyn”

Monday 25 March 2013

Get Louise Online

I have been having a challenge today trying to connect all of our computers and wireless devices together on a home network. I know that it should be a simple matter of a few keystrokes and badda-boom...badda-bing, HOME NETWORK with all of the file sharing and printer sharing we could ever want or need. That is in a perfect world of course.

I don't live in a perfect world, I live in a perfectly complex world where it seems that I get one set of instructions that Einstein would be hard pressed to figure out and everyone else gets the IKEA easy diagrams. When I ask people how you set up a home network they look at me, smile and say “Why nothing could be simpler! You just go to the network and sharing centre, click on “home network” and follow the instructions, easy peasy!” They then look at me and I know what they are thinking, “Poor old fart, I bet everything in his house is flashing 12:00.” I know, because I would be thinking the same damned thing.
I have been through this before. I didn't have any luck then, and I am not having any luck this time. The last time I just gave up and although I wasn't happy about quitting, I have come to accept my limitations. Okay, I just moved on and forgot all about it. Well, I forgot about it until yesterday when we had to go out and pick up a new printer. The two printers that had been paying rent on the desktop both decided that they were going to work to rule. They didn't do very much work at the best of times, so work to rule meant that they would do nothing. Bastard printers!

So, it was off to the Bestbuy and try to find the cheapest, best printer they had. It turns out that the printer that met those qualifications was the Canon MX452 for about $60. It seems to have multiple personalities, one a printer, another scanner and the third a fax machine. I can't figure out the network thing, I am sure there is no way that I will be able to hook up the fax capabilities. I have learned in the past that before you buy a printer, you should always find out just how much the ink cartridges cost. You might get a printer for $20 but the ink will cost you $100 a pop. It turns out that this particular machine has colour ink for $40 and the black ink for $30. Now, I freely admit that math was never my strong suit, but if the machine costs $60 (with full ink tanks) and the ink costs $70, I can and should buy a new machine every time the ink runs out. That's stupid, right?
Now, aside from being way wrong from an ecological view, from a financial point of view I would be a fool not to buy a new printer every time. How did we as a society come to this crazy way of consuming things? How can it be cheaper to make a very complex machine than to mix up two ounces of ink? I understand that our friends in the Far East will work for lower wages than we do, but are the machines made there and the ink made in North America. That doesn't make any sense, business or other wise. I guess I have something to spend today wondering about.

Well, I suppose I had best get back to trying to figure out just how to set up that network. You know, our house isn't that big and I know a place that sells cables pretty cheap. I can run the cables and use duct tape so that we don't trip on them. I just have to figure out a way to get Louise on line with the cable plan.

Sunday 24 March 2013


I was laying in bed this morning wondering if there is a word for doing something that you don’t like. 

I know the Germans made up a word, “Doppelganger” which basically means that you see a double of yourself. I’m not sure if the world is ready for two of me, but it would be nice to have someone that knows exactly what I mean. Why would the Germans of all the races need a special word for this? It probably has something to do with too much beer and bratwurst on a Saturday night.

We often do things that we don’t want to do, I believe that is what you would call civilized. I’m probably not being as clear as I would like to be, what I am talking about is when there is something that you have to do and actually want to do, but dread the thought of doing it. For instance, when there is a wedding or a party of some kind that you know will have good food, an open bar and good friends. There will be lots of laughing and good times, but just the thought of getting dressed and driving to the venue is a pain in the ass. I suppose that it could be me. In fact, now that I think about it, I might be one of the few that feel this way.

I’ll be sitting here thinking about food and what I should have for supper. I think of something that has my mouth watering and then I realize I’ll have to go out to the store to get it. I go and check the fridge to see if there was something delicious that I had missed, and the only thing that seems even vaguely edible is the green furry stuff at the back of the meat tray. When I get to the store, I find there is any number of delicious things that are nutritious and good for me too.

I find that I am beginning to feel this way about going on vacation. I will be in paradise, but I have to think about what I will need, make a list, pack and arrange a ride to the airport (done), check in, go through security, and then wait till the plane boards. There is the flight of course and I can only pray that I don’t have to use that tiny stainless steel bathroom for the five or six hours the flight will take. Who the hell designs those bathrooms anyways? Must be the same people that think all women are size two and all men spend half the day in the gym. I know that I won’t be able to last for the entire flight and eventually I will have to line up down the aisle with three or four others trying to look invisible. Everyone knows what you are doing and are thankful that they don’t have to line up. They will of course, but when they do, they will of course be invisible.
While I am waiting in line, I will pray that when I do use the bathroom I become God like and pray my shit doesn’t stink. When I do get into the tiny stainless steel room I realize that I should have prayed that the person in front of me was God like. I’ll wad some tissue up and plug my nose, hoping that the person that comes in after me won’t think that I wasn’t God like. I don’t fly enough to have ever gotten good at using these bathrooms, and invariably the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign will come on and I will be pressured into finishing early. Well, I won’t be able to finish at all due to performance anxiety which I’ll have to hope that stays with me till I deplane at my destination.

I know that I should try to live in the present and enjoy the very fact of my existence. I am so lucky to live the life I live and have the loving people around me that I do. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, and I do understand this. If only I didn’t have to go anywhere to have this life.

I wonder if I can make up a word that applies to a situation where I have to do something I don’t really want to do until I get there.


Saturday 23 March 2013

Good vs. Evil

I am in the midst of reading a book which deals with good and evil. Specifically, the fight between good and evil, and although I have known since page twenty or so that good will eventually triumph, the back and forth makes for a good and exciting book. I know that good will win in the end, because it almost always does. Well, it does in the books that I read.

I have been thinking about good and evil for some time now and although the concept makes a great story line, I just don’t think there is evil. Yes, our politicians are bastards, lawyers do come as close to being evil as anyone on the planet and I am really unsure about clowns. I know that in life and nature we need extremes to quantify the degree of anything, one being low and ten being high. You can’t have hot without knowing what cold is, you can’t have dark without having light, male vs. female, yin and yang, life and death which will lead us to good vs. evil.

The problem as I see it is that all of those other things actually have a tangible opposite whereas good and evil are man made concepts. We all think we know what good is, but good isn’t the same for everyone. It would be good for me to win the Rav4 in the Tim Horton’s contest, but it would be bad for millions of other people. I used to take my holidays in the winter when I delivered mail and I thought it was good when the weather was cold and snowy while I was inside and warm. For all of the other working carriers, that kind of weather was bad. Good and bad seem to be a matter of opinion.

I am sure that Napoleon or Hitler didn’t set out to be evil. They more than likely wanted to improve conditions for their people and believed their solution was the best one. I suspect that if we looked closely at the early days of their reigns we would find that a lot of good was actually done. Yes, there was also colossal evil done as well, but I know that those caught up in the fervour of the times would be hard pressed to decide if they were good or evil. Hind sight is as they say 20-20.

When I was in grade ten, I went out with a lovely girl for a couple of weeks. I don’t know why I stopped seeing her, but I assumed that she just stopped seeing me. Forty five years later I found out that I had indeed just stopped seeing her and I broke her heart. I am devastated by this evil that I did. Perhaps more devastating and potentially more evil is the fact that I didn’t recall this incident at all. I guess for me it was a good thing, but for her it would definitely be evil. Sorry.

When we say good or evil, I suspect that what we actually mean is right or wrong. We all know right or wrong, at least we should. Okay, lawyers, politicians and CEO’s of large corporations don’t, but they are assholes anyways and don’t count. So, when you are doing the right thing, you are doing good and when you are doing the wrong thing, more than likely you are being evil.