Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Years Eve 2014

Ahhh…New Years Eve 2014.

Anything can happen on this most magical of days. This is the last day of the year and if you aren’t paying attention it quickly turns into the first day of the next year. It really isn’t a magical day, it should be, but I suspect all of the magic has been used up by Christmas and the world needs to stockpile a little more energy before it can freely dispense magic again.

That doesn’t mean that it is a normal day by any means. It is one of the few days (nights) of the year when you can get stupid drunk and no one will look at you sideways. In fact, getting stupid is pretty much expected. The level of stupid tends to peak in the early twenties and taper off as the years pass. I personally used up my entire stupid quota by the time I turned thirty. I’m still stupid; I just am stupid without needing any external help.

It was an odd little day though. I was waiting for my buddy to do his banking, sitting in one of the leather easy chairs they have and watching people mill around. Well, they mostly stood in line like so many cattle, shuffling an inch or two at a time. Eventually they get to go to the teller and do whatever business they need to do. There was a woman whose head was much too large for her body that was talking to a woman whose body was much too large for her head. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but I imagine the one said “Oh my, but don’t you have a large head!” The second woman would have replied “I’d much rather have a head with the capacity for a big brain than a head that would disappear if you turned up your collar.” They wished each other a Happy New Year as they walked away from each other, so I don’t imagine they were actually talking about the size of each others head. My buddy finished his banking just as an old guy started to ask me how much I made on my old age pension and I made a break for the door.
We went for coffee after that and as is my way, I was watching the people wandering in and out of Tim’s. I saw this guy get out of his car who had a Hulk Hogan style moustache. He also had on a tight black dress with a zipper up the side and a tight blue sweater. I told my buddy that this guy has a dress on and when he came into the restaurant, Ken said he also has pretty big breasts. What? I didn’t turn around to look, I just watched the other guys in the restaurant as they caught sight of this guy. It was pretty interesting and I got to see him as he left with his coffee.

Now, I don’t care how someone dresses or if they are in the middle of a sex change. You have to do what makes you feel happy in this life, no matter what it is that makes you happy. I just thought it odd that he hadn’t really committed one way or the other. If he is trying to be a woman, then shave your face. If you are trying to be a man then don’t wear a tight dress. If you are trying to screw with the people at Tim’s, he did a pretty good job. I wonder if he is going to a party tonight, and I wonder if the rest of the party would be similarly dressed. It is times like this that having a tiny spy cam would be helpful.

I can’t help but think that at some bar tonight as the clock gets closer and closer to 12:00, there will be some guy looking at the guy from the restaurant and telling his buddy “I’d do him!” 

Tuesday 30 December 2014

It Is a Good Deal

I was browsing the Memory Express website last night and I came across this item in the clearance section of the site.

Needless to say, I was intrigued how the regular price could be $79.99, have a 125% discount and the clearance price would be $180.00. Now, I don’t profess to have any kind of mad math skills, but if I had handed in a paper with this equation to my Grade 10 math teacher Mr. Scott, I would have ended up in the hall once again.

Today, I decided I just had to know what this advertisement was all about. I asked the guy at the front desk where it said “INFORMATION” and he said “That’s the only way we can do it. Go talk to one of the sales guys.” The sign on the desk would be more accurate if it read “FUCK OFF AND DON’T TALK TO ME”.

I got in line to talk to a sales guy and eventually one asked me if he could help. I gave him the printed information and he looked mystified when he read it. He wandered into the back and I watched him go back and forth five or six times. He came out and wandered over the desk that should read “FUCK OFF AND DON’T TALK TO ME” to talk to the guy there. He came back and went into the back room again for a minute or so. Next he wandered down the discount/clearance aisle and then came back and asked another sales guy about it, who pointed to the back of the store. Thankfully he didn’t point to the “FUCK OFF AND DON’T TALK TO ME” desk.

I followed my guy to the back of the store and he disappeared into another back room. I couldn’t see him, but I can only assume he walked back and forth six or seven times looking for this item. Just about this time I started to feel a little guilty because I really had no intention of buying this thing at all. I just want to know how a clearance item can cost me $100 extra for being on sale.

He finally came out with a smile on his face and a box in his hand. It turns out that it is a mother board, a processor and 8 GB of RAM. Basically all you need to build a pretty good computer for someone that just uses a computer for word processing and surfing the net. He told me that it is meant mainly for bit coin mining. HUH? He talked about my computer looking for or doing something with bit coins. He might just as well have been talking to one of those South American tribesmen that still use stone spears for hunting. I didn’t have and don’t have a clue about “bit” money. He said I could use it for a computer, but he said it like he would say “…you could use your car as a snow plough”, but why????

I told him thanks for the effort and I would have to think about it. There is a part of me that is interested, but there is also a part of me that knows I would somehow mess things up and have to pile it with all of the other unfinished projects I have laying around the house.

Still it is a good deal…

Monday 29 December 2014

Old Pictures

I have been scanning some of the old photos of my mom and dads into the computer. I am being somewhat selective, only scanning pictures with people or places that I recognize. I’m sure I’ll kick myself for not scanning that pick from November 1963 of the grassy knoll in Dallas. I don’t intend to toss the pictures, but I do hope to consolidate them and when I die the kids can have the fun of getting rid of them. Maybe I’ll become famous and they will go to the archive.

It’s funny what stands out when you are looking at old pictures of yourself. There were a few pictures of the Smith’s, who were long time family friends. Generally pictures of laughing kids and adults sitting in the living room at Christmas or some other now forgotten significant event. What stood out to me were the curtains that hung in our living room. They were cream colour with a sketched street scene from some European city. Possibly Paris. They would be quite out of place in todays off white colour palette.

I don’t even remember the kid’s names even though I know we spent quite a bit of time with them. What I do remember is that the youngest son was accidentally killed when he knocked a gun off of the wall. Very, very tragic. The mother never could get over it and I believe that it was an incident that ended the marriage eventually.

Taking pictures back then was kind of special. Each shot cost you money whether it turned out or not, so people were a lot more circumspect when choosing what to take pictures of. They were of events rather than every day occurrences for the most part. Maybe that’s why we like to look at old photos so much; they actually meant something to someone. Today with digital imagery we take thousands of images and more often than not they are pretty mundane. I can’t imagine my kids or grandkids going through my computer files looking for significant pictures that document highlights in my life.

Pictures of my brother and myself were generally taken at Christmas or birthdays. Sometimes in the aftermath of significant snow falls that have us standing on a clean driveway beside a veritable mountain of snow. I remember spending hours shovelling the driveway. Well, the driveway probably took about twenty minutes and the snowball fight with the neighbour kids would have taken the rest of the time. We would be covered in snow, head to toe with smiles that went ear to ear. Okay, Steve would be smiling and I would be smiling on the inside.

There are pictures of houses before the shrubs and trees were planted or fences were erected. They look so impersonal and well, vacant. Eventually the houses develop a lived in look or maybe I just have memories that are from the later years.

I’ve just scratched the surface and it is a monumental job that I will tackle one handful of glossies at a time until I am done. Then, I will move on to our family photos pre-digital cameras. Louise liked to take pictures and she worked for a time at a photo shop so the developing was free. 

God help me!

Saturday 27 December 2014

Your Music

I’ve mentioned it before, and will mention it now and in the future more likely than not, I am a sucker for all things holiday related. I don’t know why, perhaps it is because in holiday songs and movies everything always turns out for the best. Songs in particular depict a perfect image of a perfect life. How can you not love that?

Yes, I know there is suffering and unpleasantness in the world and an argument can be made that they can be worse during the holiday season. There was that post on facebook which suggested that people not buy their children lots of expensive toys and clothing because they may have friends whose parents can’t afford the same kind of gifts. No one wants kids to feel bad about themselves, but it is a fact of life that there are always going to be haves and have-nots in the world. Even in communal societies, people aren’t equal no matter how much that is the desire. People aren’t equal! They have equal potential.

Anyways, I want to talk about Christmas music. It was late November when I heard the first complaint about Christmas music in the malls and on the radio. How can you get sick of something that just started? I suspect that the complainers just don’t like Christmas music at all and would be quite content if they never heard another one of those sappy songs again in their life. Of course they don’t bother to mention the music that they find brings peace and contentment into their lives.

These people tend to be music snobs. Some of them can only listen to music if it furthers a cause and somehow will benefit the poor and down trodden in society. Some only like music if it is played at an ear spitting volume. Some only like music if it has a heavy, rhythmic bass beat and promises to kill whitey and off the pigs! Some like music that is heavily orchestrated and isn’t over till the fat lady sings. Some like anything that is played by young boy bands or a cute seventeen year old girl. We all have our musical preferences.

I like easy listening music that was mostly written and performed in the seventies. There are a lot of good songs that have been written in more modern times, and they just may make my play list. To tell you the truth, mostly I like music to be in the background. I don’t necessarily need it to lift me up, just to be there to kill the silence. Nature abhors a vacuum and so it appears do I. I do have favourites that I will stop and listen to, but mostly I just like to have a pleasant sound in the background.

I don’t get upset and rant about someone’s poor taste in music when I am confronted with sounds that I don’t like; I just change the channel on the radio or turn the volume down. When I have friends with different musical taste in my car, I will tune to the channel that plays the music they like. During the holiday season I won’t subject them to my taste in holiday music, that’s not polite. It isn’t polite to tell them that their particular taste in music is juvenile or pretentious. It is I just don’t think it’s polite to tell them.

If you don’t like my music or really any music, turn the volume down, change the channel or just fucking suck it up princess!

Friday 26 December 2014

Self Aware


I was almost finished typing today’s blog when it just disappeared. That has never happened to me before. Sure I have accidentally deleted a document, but that was stupidity on my part.

This was different. I will be the first to admit that these blogs aren’t great literature and do little or nothing to benefit mankind in general or the readers in particular. The world will still spin and lives will carry on. This I understand.

What I don’t understand is why my computer decided to delete the near finished blog. It makes me wonder if somehow my computer has become self aware. Not only has it become self aware, but it has developed literary taste. I can tell you it didn’t get it from me. It should have developed terrible taste.

I always have thought that once computers became self aware they would either self terminate because of the mess the world is in, or they would wage war against us as the species that destroyed the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t relish the idea of fighting a lifelong battle against machines; it just seems logical that a superior species would automatically decide we weren’t worth keeping.

I guess it is possible that I inadvertently hit a series of random keys that deleted the blog. What are the chances of that happening? Surely, self aware, intelligent machines are the more likely of the two scenarios.

Well, I know when to take a hint. Someone or something didn’t want that particular blog to get out in the blog-o-sphere. Who am I to argue with an all powerful and obviously all seeing being? 

Thursday 25 December 2014

A Very Merry

Christmas is fast coming to an end and the magic has settled on each of us for another year.
Love your friends, your family and yourself.


Wednesday 24 December 2014

A Visit From St. Nick

I have a friend, a real friend, not just one of the “I have 437 facebook friends”, that asked people what their family Christmas traditions were. Okay, she did ask it on facebook, but she has been a friend since long before facebook.

It is kind of a neat idea and I like to see how other people celebrate a holiday that I love so much. Some of the traditions are, well, traditional and some are a little off centre, but they all have meaning to the people involved. Unfortunately, my tradition doesn’t include posting my traditions on facebook. Well, maybe it will this year, but I will have to see.

One of the people who responded said their favourite Christmas memory was having their daddy read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “Frosty the Snowman” to them on Christmas eve. That’s is so nice and I imagine if she closes her eyes, she can hear his voice, smell his scent and feel the comfort of his arms around her. I can almost feel it when I close my eyes, and it’s a little disturbing for me.
I am a sap when it comes to these made for TV Christmas movies. They are all pretty much the same; a single mom/dad has lost their belief in the magic of Christmas and somehow their young boy/girl manages to bring the magic back to them. Usually there is a magical being that may or may not have lost his memory and the very fabric of Christmas could be destroyed if the kid doesn’t learn how to believe. There is a point during the movie (Christmas Eve) when the mom/dad/aunt/uncle will sit down with the kid and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The camera will pan away and when it comes back, the child is in blissful sleep just as Santa is saying “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

Now, I love the poem and have read it to my kids on Christmas Eve as well. However, with my kids and I suspect most real world kids, they are so wired that nothing short of a heavy dose of horse tranquilizer would put them to sleep. Certainly not a 177 year old poem that takes less than four minutes to read. Even with lots of pictures and three candied up nutbars asking all sorts of questions, it still comes in at under ten minutes. It is a nice tradition though.

My daughter is out for Christmas this year and we are going to see the last instalment of The Hobbit (Battle of the Five Armies) tonight. We don’t have any little kids around so it seemed appropriate somehow. Maybe when I get back, I will sit beside her and read our copy of “A Visit From St. Nick” to her. I’ve got three minutes to spare for tradition.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

A Better Day

What a crazy time of year!

I had to go to Superstore to pick up a few last minute groceries tonight. I waited until after nine, thinking that I would have the store pretty much to myself. There were several hundred people who thought the same way that I did. I guess that old saying is true, “Great minds think alike…and fools never differ!”

I was hoping for the empty store, but wasn’t too surprised by the crowds. It is after all the holiday season and you are bound to run out of some essential item for that family favourite Christmas dish. We needed some frozen spinach, baby mum-mums, baby carrots, whipped cream, milk, eggs and that thing I forgot and still can’t remember. Hopefully I will remember tomorrow and be able to pick it up early tomorrow morning when I will have the store pretty much to myself.
Today the news people said that this is typically the biggest sales day for retail stores for the entire year. I don’t know, Black Friday has to be pretty damned close. I hope that all of the people who were shopping managed to find the special gift they have been looking for and that the sales people maxed out their commissions. If the stores have done well, that means the manufacturers have done well which in turn means that our GNP is going thru the roof. People will keep their jobs and some more will be able to get a job so that next year they can keep the financial ball rolling.

For us men, pretty much everything has been done that we can do. Perhaps I should say that all we are going to do has been done. It’s now up to the cooks in the family to work their magic in the kitchen. I know that there are many men who love to cook and some families have only men to do the cooking. I am speaking of the Norman Rockwell image of Christmas dinner. The family gathered around a beautifully appointed table, with smiling faces and saucer shaped eyes as they watch mom carry in a perfectly cooked turkey. I can smell it now, and it smells fine!

 I guess one of the few that still have a lot of work yet to be done is Santa Clause. His busiest day is fast approaching and I can imagine there are more than a few wrinkles that need to be smoothed out before tomorrow night. He can handle it, he always does. Whether by good planning, a dedicated team of workers or perhaps magic, Santa will do what needs to be done tomorrow. I hope that when his long night is over, he can come home to a warm hearth, a soothing drink and perhaps a good long rest. He sure will have earned it.

I wish you a good day tomorrow (whatever day you read this) and a better day after that.

Monday 22 December 2014

Mysterious Ways

My mother-in-law just used to love this time of year. Not the whole Christmas season, although she probably did that too, but just a few days before Christmas. She loved getting into the malls and rubbing shoulders with everyone and their grandmothers, searching for that last minute gift. I don’t think that she had any more shopping to do, but just being amongst all of that shopping energy is something she couldn’t get enough of.

Thankfully that genetic trait must jump a generation or two, because neither Louise nor any of the kids seem to want to dive into the deep end of shopping. It is entirely possible that one of the grandkids will have this affliction, but that won’t be my problem.

We did go into Superstore today around noon, but we had a good reason. Maegan wanted to pick something up and we needed some vegetables in order to counteract the handfuls of cookies and candy I have been shovelling into my mouth. My theory is that for every gram of greens eaten, it will negate a pound or two of sugar and fat. I’m quite sure that someone somewhere has a study to prove that to be true. It is the season to believe, and that is something I choose to believe.

I was busy holding the basket while Louise was rifling through the Mandarin oranges. There was a produce employee taking the green tissue paper from off of each orange and having trouble keeping up with the people emptying the bin as fast as he filled it. Louise told him that his mother probably spend the better part of his childhood giving him shit for playing with his food, and here he is playing with food for a living. They both laughed, Louise wished him a Merry Christmas and we went on our way.

I looked at Louise and said that was pretty funny. She said that moms do scold their kids not to play with food. I agreed, but said that wasn’t what was really funny. What I thought was pretty funny is that Louise wished a Merry Christmas to a guy with a nametag that read “JESUS”. Pretty fitting really.

Who knew that Jesus worked at the Superstore? God does work in mysterious ways.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Nod and Mumble

You know that Christmas is close when I start planning to pick Maegan up at the Airport.

She arrives tomorrow just before noon for a whirlwind visit cramming in some shopping, some visiting, the new Hobbit movie, a gingerbread house or two, eating of fine, fatty foods and of course a mega dose of the nephews and niece. Seeing Hurricane, Tornado and Tsunami is the main focus, everything else is superfluous.

I always look to her visits with a little trepidation; she often tells me things that I don’t really want to hear. Things like “I’m not perfect” and “my ideas are too simplistic” and “That’s just stupid!” She is always right of course, but I don’t have to like it or listen to it. I just have to nod and mumble.

I look forward to seeing her for months and do the countdown like a kid waiting for Christmas. I get nervous that something might happen and the visit won’t go well. I worry that we won’t have the food that she eats now and I will be stuck eating all of the fattening food myself. I worry that I’ll somehow miss her at the airport because I won’t pay to park and in the free lot I only have a half hour before I have to exit and re-enter. I wouldn’t blame her for that, any flight leaves you anxious to get away from the airport just as quickly as possible.

Once she is here, I start the countdown in reverse. Only seven days left…only six days left…only five days left…

The best part of course is the time I spend with her in the present, no matter what kind of idiotic things I might say. I am looking forward to the visit. Just one more sleep!

Saturday 20 December 2014


Last week I read a well written facebook letter about Christmas. The letter talked about showing restraint when buying gifts for your children. Other children, perhaps their classmates may not have parents that are as affluent and can’t afford lots of expensive gifts, so the kids have to settle for a colouring book and some underwear.
I understand the sentiment, but I think the theory is flawed. You can take this to the extreme and say that no kids should get any gifts because there are children who aren’t Christians and they get nothing at all for Christmas. We are always going to have poor people and rich people in our society, and they will spend their money as they see fit. Most people that are wealthy will give to many different charities to help the poor. That doesn’t help the kids of middle class parents who can’t drop $750 on an iPad for each of their three kids. I suppose this is one of those life lessons that you learn fairly early in life.
I think that if those parents could afford the best for their kids, they would give it to them too. I remember when I was a kid, I was jealous of those “rich” kids that got to go away to summer camp every year while I had to stay in the city. I did get to go to my grandmother’s cottage almost every weekend, and I am sure that there are kids that I knew who were envious of that. Those kids that went to summer camp shouldn’t have been kept at home and I should not have been kept from the cottage just because some of my friends didn’t have that option.

Wealth is a relative thing. I have never met anyone who thinks they are rich. Well, my daughter does because she has a definition of rich that encompasses her situation. Most other well off people understand that they aren’t suffering, but they don’t figure they are what you would call rich. My dentist is what I consider rich, but she thinks she is just an average Joe. Probably because she knows people who have much more than she does, and they are rich!
We pride ourselves that we live in an egalitarian country where there are no castes or classes. Well, no obvious ones anyways. Over the years I have watched friends and family fall in love and get married. There isn’t one of them that have married out of the social, economic strata that they were raised in. Well, some grew up poor but they studied hard and became middle class. We stay in our “class” simply because we can’t afford to get out of it for the most part. I didn’t get to grow up with the “camp” kids and they didn’t get to know the kids that summered in Switzerland. That is just the way of the world.

We convince ourselves that those rich people are just greedy bastards who don’t care about anyone but themselves. They give money to the poor and understand that they can’t help everyone. I’ve met some wealthy people (what I consider wealthy) and for the most part they are just nice, normal people who are trying to do their best in the world. I’ve met some poor people who are nice, normal people who are trying to do their best in the world. Yes, there are bastards, but they would be bastards with money or without.

Life can be hard and money doesn’t make anyone happy. Poverty doesn’t either as it turns out. Happy is something that you have, not something you can buy.