Tuesday 30 April 2013


One of the perks of working at the Post Office was that we could read pretty much any magazine that was printed. For the longest time, due to union/management agreement, we had to take a lunch. That meant that no matter how soon we would finish our AM portion of the route, we couldn’t leave to deliver the PM until 12:30. Sometimes I would have a couple of hours to kill and you can only talk to people and play cards for so long.

I would generally read magazines to kill the time in what I considered a constructive way. I would meet an electrician at a party and I could ask him what he thought of the new regulations concerning household wiring. I had access to all of the magazines that were delivered, and since there was no definite time that they had to be delivered, I could hold them back for a day or so until I finished the article I wanted to read. You see, sometimes I had a backlog of articles to read.
The odd time someone would call in to complain that their neighbour had National Geographic delivered on Monday and he had yet to receive his on Wednesday. Oops! Sometimes we would get in trouble because the customer would get his McLean’s magazine and there would be a coffee stain on the page. When I say we got in trouble, I mean that someone would call in to complain and when the supervisor asked us about the coffee stain, we just said that we had no idea how it got there. Must have been an inside worker.
Back in the day, when someone moved we would have to fill in a publisher notified card which would let the publisher know that customer “A” had moved to a new address. The publishers ignored these cards because back then they would use metal plates with the address etched on them to print the address on the magazine, and it was too much effort and cost for them to take the old one out and make a new plate. We would just keep forwarding the mail until the change of address expired and then we would rip the covers off of the magazines and send those back to the publisher who would then stop the delivery. That left us with a lot of coverless magazines to read and take home. We weren’t supposed to, but it was an unofficial perk.
Things have changed now. There are fewer magazines getting delivered, and I suppose that there are fewer “must have” magazines like National Geo, McLean’s, Chatelaine, Time and Readers Digest. Some of the ones that are getting delivered come wrapped in plastic, I guess to cut down on the coffee stains. With the advent of computers, there is no longer a problem changing the addresses, so the letter carrier has to buy his own magazines now. Not to mention a change in management attitude. This can earn you a suspension from work if you are found taking a magazine home with you. Even one that has the cover off of it!

Quite frankly, there are fewer magazines that are even worth reading anymore. I think that because the printing is so cheap, magazines that appeal to a very small segment of the population can make a profit. I guess change is good.
I can read most anything I want to on the internet now, and some of it is interactive. It isn’t as much fun as reading someone else’s magazine, and I make sure I don’t spill coffee on my computer.

Monday 29 April 2013

George Foreman

Today I officially started BBQ season. Well, technically I cooked on the BBQ last Friday, but it was just hot dogs and they hardly qualify as meat. Tonight I went out and tossed the steaks on the grill, closed the lid and watched the snow flakes drift down around me. Not what I would call an auspicious start for the season.
I am not one of those guys that love to BBQ. I have never understood the appeal of cooking the meal outside in the elements with bugs hovering around waiting their turn to feast on the meat or me. I am a realist in that I know when I camp it is necessary to cook out of doors and there are certain activities where the BBQ is king. I am referring to the “Tailgate” cooking that goes on at sporting events. I don’t get that either, why would you go early to a game, sit in a lawn chair in a parking lot and cook over a portable BBQ? You could stay home and cook the meal and be able to control the environment or go to a nice restaurant and help the economy. The company or family picnic is another time when food should be cooked outside and it does taste better for some reason.
Mankind has spent ten thousand years perfecting indoor living, and just when we seem to have reached the peak, some of us are trying to take cooking back outside. Insane! Why not dig a latrine in the back yard so that you can have the “outdoor” toilet experience?

I have at least two brother-in-laws that just love to BBQ. Other than that, they are pretty normal people. I will admit that they are very good outdoor chefs and somehow when they cook meat on a grill it doesn’t come out all charred and dry. I imagine that is the result of experience and dogged determination. I know they cook outside in the winter, but that is more like when I cook outside here. Turn on the BBQ, toss in the meat, and get back inside to warm up until the right amount of time goes by.

I have a theory that people who live in warm, humid climates will BBQ more than those of us that need fire to keep warm. BBQ…ing keeps the house from getting too hot on those summer days when it is already unbearable inside. We in Calgary rarely have that problem. I put in an air conditioner more for the “just in case” days. I think we used it three times last summer and then only because I took the time to put it in and by God it was going to be used!
When we were in Hawaii, we passed open air chicken rotisseries at the side of random streets. They smelled good, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat questionable meat on a stick from equally questionable vendors. Hawaii has a lot of feral chickens roaming around and the roosters make it their solemn duty to wake up hung over vacationers at 4:30 AM. My guess would be that there are a lot less feral chickens since these open air rotisseries opened. I think of it as food trucks without the truck. I don’t eat from food trucks either.  
I don’t see why it becomes the male duty to cook when the cooking takes place out of doors. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the person with the most experience with cooking to take on the more challenging outdoor “experience”? Maybe this is why I don’t like to BBQ. I am no good at BBQ…ing now, and I have never been any good, but still it falls on my shoulders to do the cooking. I can only tell people that I only cook “well done” for so long. People think I am kidding until they have to get an axe to cut the meat. I try to pass on the BBQ duties to someone that likes BBQ…ing and does it well, if they are visiting, but generally they can’t believe I would give up the “Honour”. I would just as soon watch someone do right by the meat, after all, the cow died so that we could nourish ourselves and it just doesn’t seem fair to burn it as well. That’s the way I feel anyways.

The steaks tonight were okay, a little dry but edible. I can’t help but think that my “George Foreman” grill would have done a much better job. And I wouldn’t have had to stand out in the snow.

Sunday 28 April 2013


Sometimes I just don’t want to write this blog. I understand that sometimes you don’t want to read this blog and if the stars were to align then we would both be happy. However, if you want to read a blog and I haven’t written one then you my friend are in a pickle. If you don’t want to read a blog and I have written one then I am in a pickle. If neither of us wants to write or read a blog, does the tree make a sound? I don’t know!

I have some blogs that I have started and not finished and some blog ideas that I can go to when I am in a pinch. The problem is that these ideas weren’t used for a reason. Mainly because I couldn’t take them any further or they were just plain stupid. You can imagine how dumb they must have been if I didn’t use them. Tonight I went to the blogs that need revision list and I found one that wasn’t too bad. Lucky me!

I was going through it trying to find out why it was on the “bad” list, correcting spelling and generally bringing it into line with the high quality you are used to. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I am sure there are multiple things wrong with it, but I have set the bar pretty low and this wasn’t even close. Something is wrong.

I did a search of the computer and only found the entry I had been working on. I’m gold! The trouble is, I remembered writing this particular piece, not word for word but enough to know that I would have used it. Long story short, I did use it and now I am back to square one. SHIT!

I did learn that I need to improve my filing system and not wait until it is too late to want to write the blog. The system will probably stay the way it is, but I think I can write earlier in the day. This isn’t your problem though. Your problem is how to avoid reading this when you don’t really want to.

I’m not going to help you, because I like to see the stats of how many poor misguided souls find their way onto the blog. I will give a warning in the title tough so that you can avoid tonight’s entry.

Better luck tomorrow!

Saturday 27 April 2013


Last night at bedtime I read Hurricane a book called “Ship of Dreams” by Dean Morrissey. It is about a young boy meeting the Sandman. Not the Sandman from the Spiderman comics and movie, but the real and actual Sandman that puts us all to sleep at night. Some adults sometimes have a visit from Alcoholman who puts them out for a few hours, but this book is about the Sandman. Tornado wanted “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, so we had to go into separate rooms. I really liked the “Ship of Dreams” and I may read it again myself and spend a little more time looking at the art work which is pretty impressive.

I started to think about sleeping in general and naps in particular today. Hurricane is beyond afternoon naps for the most part and Tornado actually needs one but is in that in between stage where cranky and difficult replaces quiet and unconscious. Too bad! Shortly after they left this afternoon, grandma and poppa had an afternoon nap. We are both many, many years past afternoon naps, but we had a visit from Exhaustionman.

I just can’t figure out why the boys don’t want to have naps. I love naps! Naps seem to love me! Me and napping is a match made in heaven. I have been napping for most of my life. Two or three years after I was born and then whenever I could squeeze one in as an adult. Even though I am retired and seldom earn naps, I will grab one whenever I can. You never know when you will get a chance to recharge your internal batteries with a good sleep.
When I was working, I found that if I were to walk quickly and stayed focused on the job, I could get home and squeeze in an hour nap or so before the kids got home from school. I thought that I was alone in my love for naps, but it turned out that most of my co-workers would make good use of the “power” nap. I grew older and found that if I didn’t rush through my day I wasn’t as tired and didn’t need to have a nap every afternoon. I did have a nap every afternoon, but I didn’t need one.
Naps are wonderful treats that you can give yourself if you ever have an hour or two of free time. Naps aren’t like night time sleeps, because with the night time sleeps, you are generally going to bed so that you can get up the next morning (too fucking early) and go to work. There is no pressure with a nap. Sleep, don’t sleep, it doesn’t matter and because it doesn’t matter you won’t have a problem dropping off for an hour or two of bliss. I won’t lie to you, you don’t always wake up fresh and ready to take on a dragon, but it is a little easier to face that pile of dishes, cutting the lawn or trying to decide just which TV show to watch, somewhat recharged.

I’m getting tired just writing about being tired. I wonder if I can squeeze in 30 minutes or so before bedtime…

Friday 26 April 2013

Goodbye Everyone

We are having Hurricane and Tornado for a sleep over tonight. I always love having them over of course, they bring with them all of the possibilities of youth and none of the cynicism that we adults develop over a lifetime. I am also reminded of perhaps the best times of my life, when my kids were small and cuddly. Tonight we will play and perhaps watch a movie (animated of course), eat popcorn and watch two young men fight off the sandman for as long as possible. They will wake on Saturday morning and crawl into bed with us until it just gets a little too squirmy for the cynical ones.
In preparation for the visit, I made some meatballs to go with the spaghetti we will be having for dinner. It is a meal liked by all and more importantly, there is a good chance that they will actually eat it. I was testing the meatballs to see if they were indeed cooked and what they tasted like when for some odd reason my body decided to breathe instead of swallow. What followed was a long, long, long coughing fit during which I debated the merits of calling 911 for help or calling Louise to say goodbye. Neither was the best option because I wasn’t able to talk, just heavy breathing and coughing. Perhaps the good people at 911 would put 2 and 2 together, but I’m pretty sure Louise wouldn’t. My next option was to find something that I could drive my sternum down on and thereby dislodge the piece of meatball that was causing the problem.
It turns out that the solution wasn’t to plan for imminent death, but to take a few sips of the cold tea I had and just wait for things to settle. I feel 100% now, but I plan on keeping my eyes on those meatballs at dinner tonight, you just never know when a meatball will turn on you.

Of course I started to wonder how I would like to die. There is something to be said for making one last big scene and getting the attention of everyone within a two block radius. The problem with that of course is that big scenes like that tend to be extremely painful. It might also cause years of emotional problems for those that witness my demise. No, it is best if I were to die alone I suppose.

The problem with dying alone is that you are, well, alone. I had a scare today and there is a kind of helpless, panic that sets in rather quickly. Worse I suppose if those I loved were to witness me choking to death. Nope, forget the violent death altogether, it would be way too messy.

So, that leaves alone and quiet, perhaps in my sleep or sitting in a chair writing a blog with just enough time and forethought to say, “Goodbye everyone!”

Thursday 25 April 2013

Much Needed Karma

I don’t know why I was checking out this site, perhaps because I had just returned from vacation. I always worry about having any or all of my electronics stolen or misplaced. Okay, I worry about them getting stolen, because when I am carrying anything electronic that I have paid good money for I don’t put it down. Period!
There are a few sites for locating lost and stolen electronics, and for reporting found cameras, and they are all probably quite good. I would suggest that if you lose a camera or find a camera, it would be a good idea to contact all of these sites. Who knows, your thief might just have a heart of gold. He is a proper wanker of course, but there may be a glimmer of nice buried deep down somewhere, beneath his black heart. I will list the sites at the end if I manage to remember by the time I finish.

One or all of the sites have all of the photos up and the idea is that if you see your picture or that of a friend you can get the pics back at the very least. I wonder how hard it is to prove to the finder that it is your camera. Sure, you could send a photo of yourself to verify who you are, but with judicious use of Photoshop, some thief could take one of the pictures, put his head on someone in the background and steal the stolen camera. Hey, I may have hit upon a little cottage industry here. It is well known that do gooders (like the ones sponsoring these sites) are trusting souls and tend to believe that people are good at heart. That means they are soft touches for a good con man. Just sayin’  

This map of the world with the lost, stolen and found cameras is mind boggling; by the number of flags indicating where in the world they have been located. I guess there is nothing surprising about how many cameras are lost and stolen throughout the world, but what is surprising is where there are no cameras stolen. The central African countries of Chad, Libya, Algeria, Niger, Mali the Sudan and even Somalia have almost no missing cameras. I have heard that these are some of the most dangerous and deadly countries in the world. I guess not if you are a photographer. They may not be very good with the whole human rights thing, but for electronic rights, they seem to be leading the world.

Mongolia is another country where cameras are pretty safe. I guess Genghis Khan’s descendants are comfortable with herding goats and riding horses.
Louise just mentioned that another thought might be that since some of these countries are so dangerous then maybe people and their cameras just don’t go there. I guess that’s possible…

You should check these sites out or at least keep them in mind, just in case. Also, if you have some time to kill, it is kind of cool looking at other peoples vacations and not having to listen to them drone on and on about each and every picture. Have fun!

I am sure there are other very good sites, but you can look for yourselves. If you happen to lose your camera or your cell phone, check the lost and found in your local paper or even sites like Craigslist for your city. There are very nice people in the world and if nothing else, returning a camera will make them feel good and build up some much needed Karma.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Free and Lonely

Have you ever wondered why someone’s off hand comment can cause you such emotional pain? Perhaps an action that someone does or doesn’t do hurts more than if they hit you with a hammer. We humans are pretty delicate emotionally. Some of us hide our hurt and disappointment with others very well. Sometimes we even manage to hide our feelings from ourselves and come off as a stone cold bastard.

I think I mentioned a year ago or so about a woman who contacted me through facebook that I went to high school with. She started the note “You probably don’t remember me, but you broke my heart in high school.” I wasn’t one of those guys, and I can count the number of girls I went out with on one hand. Well, maybe two hands and a toe or two. The thing is that I was by no means a player when it came to dating. I wished sometimes that I had been, but I was always pretty concerned about feelings being hurt. Usually mine of course, but in one or two instances, the other person. She was right about me not remembering her, but when I got the facebook note I looked her up in the yearbook and I did remember. I think we went out for a couple of weeks, but I assumed she dumped me. What do you know; maybe I was a bit of a player.
When Louise and I lived in Black Diamond Alberta, we had a couple of really good friends. We were like minded people for the most part and enjoyed being in each others company. They were a couple that would buy run down houses, fix them up and then sell them for a profit. I think they were going to do this until they could buy a very nice house that needed little or no work. Good plan.
One night there was a fire just around the corner and we were woken by the fire trucks. I went over to see what was going on and the house of our friends had burnt to the ground. They lost everything! The insurance replaced all that they lost, and as far as belongings went, they came out ahead. I think the house was insured for more than it was worth as well, so our friends actually came out on top.

Louise and I thought at the time that they probably set fire to the house themselves for the insurance money, but we said nothing and they never said anything either. Shortly after that, they moved to Ontario to be closer to family and we were saddened by their departure.

Perhaps because of their move, or perhaps not, a few months later we decided to move back to Ontario as well to be with our family. I was able to transfer across the country with the Post Office, but it meant that I left Louise to sell the house and look after the kids by herself. I still feel terrible about that. I was in Ontario and missing my family, but I did have time to visit our old friends.

I dropped in on them and they showed me their latest house project. It was quite a step up in size, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done. A lot! Later that day I was talking to Louise and told her of my visit and what a shit box of a place they had, but how it would be just gorgeous when they were finished. I guess Louise told another mutual friend and that friend turned around and told them, but left out the part about how gorgeous it would be eventually. They never talked to us again.
Since that time, I have been very careful about saying what I think about people out loud. We all have thoughts about how we would do things differently if we were to do it, but it is best not to tell people the truth, because people are emotionally delicate as I said.

The truth may set you free, but you will be free and lonely.