Friday 31 January 2014

I Have a Sore Throat

I was just lying in bed trying to sleep this sore throat away when I started to think about the best way to launch a rocket from our planet. Of course I would think about that when I need to rest, what a tool!

It’s not as if I know anything about rocketry, gravity, space or really anything scientific at all. I have read a lot of sci-fi books and I have seen pretty much every Star Trek episode, so in that way I am an expert I suppose. Years ago, a work friend was into rocketry and I took the kids to watch his club launch a bunch of toy rockets. I’m sure all of those people in that club and any club would be offended by my referring to the rockets as toys. In my mind, if the rocket can’t at least send a monkey or a cat to a possible fiery death, then it is a toy.
I was thinking about those NASA launches that are just so damned impressive. The rocket is surrounded by the gantry with all sorts of hoses and wires attached, fog or steam is leaking off and then there is the countdown.
“We have ignition”
Clouds of billowing smoke and superheated gasses shoot out in all directions and the ship struggles against gravity, until finally it begins climbing into the sky. Faster and faster the rocket travels until it is just a white contrail in the sky. There would be nothing I would love to do more than to watch one of those launches in person.
Unfortunately, NASA has gotten out of the launching business, preferring to let their once arch rivals the Russians take over getting payloads into space. I don’t understand why NASA retired the shuttles before having some kind of replacement vehicle. I guess like a lot of the businesses in the US, NASA decided to outsource their space program. I wonder if it were a dollar and cents decision or if it became a political hot potato. Either way, if you want to get yourself or something into space, it’s the Russians, Chinese or private enterprise. Whatever works I suppose.

While I was lying in bed, I was wondering why it takes so much energy to launch a rocket. It doesn’t seem to take as much energy to launch an airplane and they get up to about seven or eight miles high relatively painlessly. The atmosphere gets thinner and thinner the higher you go, so I would imagine pushing that extra four or five miles shouldn’t be a problem for rocket scientists.

I know what you are thinking, “Ken what the fuck do you know about anything?”, and you would be right. I just thought that by this stage of my life I would be able to buy a ticket to take a vacation on the moon or Mars. I thought there would be flying cars and personal jetpacks too. I had hoped Cancer would be cured and that a simple sore throat would be a thing of the past. Well it’s not, and not only am I terribly disappointed in this life, I have a sore throat!

Thursday 30 January 2014

Anyone Need Some Penicillin?

I have been getting increasingly sicker and sicker for the past few days. I’m not alone in this; I suspect that many of us humans have been feeling like shit this winter. Just last week I was thinking that I must have an iron clad constitution to have avoided getting sick this winter. I wish I had kept my thoughts trapped in the mire that is my brain.

Years ago, when I got sick I would go over to the walk in clinic, sign in and within a half hour or so I would be talking to the Doctor and he would write a prescription or tell me that I would just have to suck it up for a few days. Easy peasy! Now, the minimum wait at the walk in clinic is a couple of hours and when you finally do get in they will often advise you to go to the emergency room at the hospital. I guess they are covering their asses from the growing number of people who like to sue doctors. The Clinic gives a less than desirable examination and will often be useless or just plain wrong.

I have switched to a family doctor and I am more or less happy with her. Not keen about getting the full physical from a female doctor, but I’m sure she doesn’t like it as much as I don’t. She is one of those doctors that will take time to talk to you and find out just how “you” are. She is concerned and thorough, making sure that all the tests are done and that I leave feeling like I will indeed eventually feel better again.

I have been sick for three or four days and I figured I should call and make an appointment. Well, Louise told me to call and make an appointment, but I’m just too sick to argue with her. The problem with family practice doctors is that they are always busy and often you need to book the appointment a week from next Tuesday. By the time the appointment comes around, you’re either better or dead. I fully expected to make the appointment and I planned to cancel it if I were feeling better by early in the week. The receptionist told me that they just had a cancellation and could I make it at 1:30? See the doctor when I’m actually sick, what a concept.

I walked into the office and up to the reception desk to tell her I was here on time. I brought a book to read because I expected to wait about 45 minutes. She said “Follow me” and took me to an examination room. I figured I would get to read the book there, but before I could get my coat off the Doctor walked in. I must be sicker than I thought; I am hallucinating early appointments, no waiting in the waiting room and doctors where doctors shouldn’t be.

I explained how sick I was and she said there is a lot of this virus going around. I thought “Oh, a lot of people are coughing up razor blades?” She looked in my ears and throat, making a comment about how red it was and then she listened to my lungs, took a swab of my throat and wrote a prescription for some penicillin. She said it will probably run its course, but if I don’t feel any better by Saturday then I should fill the prescription. She walked out and left me there still feeling shitty, but at least someone else knows how I feel. Small consolation I suppose.

Wait till Saturday? Fuck that! I’m an old hippie and I have a piece of paper that says I can legally buy drugs and that’s just what I’m going to do, even if I don’t need them. It’s always nice to have extra drugs on hand.

Anyone need some penicillin?

Wednesday 29 January 2014

A Bunch of Monkeys

I was reading an article today that was talking about how the falling Canadian dollar is good for the economy. Well, the article was actually refuting the myth that a low value on the dollar is actually good for the country because it makes our manufactured goods more desirable (cheaper) to foreign buyers. The theory is that those manufacturers will make money and then will expand causing them to hire more employees which will make the country a vibrant and happy place, only rivaled by Disneyland.
I call BULLSHIT on that idea. I won’t even mention that most manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries. The companies that are left in the country fall all over themselves to keep costs down which means keeping a minimum number of employees. I have never bought into the concept of what’s good for the corporations is good for the country. This is all for another blog at another time.

The article I was reading had some comments by people who had read it which I found interesting. One guy said that the dollars downfall has been orchestrated by Harper, his advisors and the Bank of Canada’s president and things won’t change until we get rid of the present government. The next comment was what bothered me. That guy said that there is no other option other than the conservatives because everyone else is untried in positions of power. In effect, he was saying that we have to keep the conservatives for the rest of time. BULLSHIT again!

That idea is based on the idea that politicians actually know how to run the government at all. The newly elected get assigned to a department, generally one they know next to nothing about. The elected official is simply a mouth piece for the federal employee that actually runs the department. He tells the minister what they can and can’t do which is based on running a country, not running for re-election.
They could put a monkey in charge of the economy (some say they already have) and it would run just as smoothly as it does now. I suspect that the only time things really fuck up is when the politicos force their ideas into reality. When they stay away from parliament, the country runs just fine thank you very much.

The House of Commons sits anywhere from 90 days to about 130 days per year. That means that on the best year, there are 235 days when the government runs itself. I would imagine they would wish the politicians stayed away for the entire year. Me too.

There is very little we can do about the way the country is run, but so far they haven’t randomly selected bloggers to put in a gulag somewhere around Winnipeg, so things are okay.

I’d like to see the Canadian dollar go up in value, for holidays and big ticket items I want to buy, and also to allow Canada to have some pride in them selves. If we don’t give a value to ourselves, no one else will either. Well, in another couple of years we get to elect a new bunch of monkeys and hopefully they will think we are worth as much as our neighbours to the south. 

I sure do.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

A Caring Soul

The world is short a caring soul tonight.

Monday 27 January 2014

Almost None

I guess I am one of those trusting kind of people.

Well, not trusting in the sense that I believe that someone who calls my phone number randomly actually wants to do me a favour, but trusting in the sense that I don’t understand why someone would lie to me. Sure, I understand they are trying to make a buck like the rest of us, but if you are going to steal then steal from the rich. You don’t have to be like Robin Hood and give to the poor, keep what you have honestly stolen for yourself.

When you steal from the poor, you are no better than banks, insurance companies and the government. I don’t want to talk about thieves and liars tonight. Just last week in the news they were talking about a woman that faked cancer to bilk good hearted people out of money. There is no punishment strong enough to deal with someone like that. Well, I suppose that you could give them cancer, that would have a kind of symmetry.

Tonight I want to talk about Facebook. There was an article on how you can help rid yourself of a cough or cold by rubbing Vicks on your feet. Strangely enough, I had heard this before, but for the life of me I can’t remember when or where. Possibly it was in one of those Bathroom Readers. I gave it a shot the other night and it didn’t do anything. It didn’t help and it didn’t make things worse. I suppose that my feet are smoother than they were, but that wasn’t the point.

I would like to assume that somewhere, someone tried this and it worked for them. Maybe they were so excited about how well it worked, they forgot to include all of the steps involved. Perhaps you need to stand in the middle of a pentagram during the winter solstice while rubbing Vicks into your feet and patting yourself on the head. Maybe…

I’ve tried other things that I read on Facebook with about the same success. There was one where you mixed baking soda with peroxide and it would make your baking pans shine like new. Well, that was bullshit! I made the paste, rubbed it on and all that happened was the pan was covered with a peroxide/baking soda paste. We have tried different recipes with some success, but it never looks as good as the picture on Facebook.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I will stick with my belief of putting as much trust in people and things as they have earned. In other words, almost none.

Sunday 26 January 2014

First Losers

Like 44 million other people around the world I watched the Grammys tonight. I don’t know why I bother because I don’t know most of the performers and those that I do know are getting some kind of longevity award. “Oldest 70’s Rocker With More Than 50% of Their Teeth”, or “The Guy Who Sounds Most Like They Did Fifty Years Ago” aren’t awards so much as they are testaments to survival.
That being said, I did enjoy the show. It is so much more entertaining than the Academy Awards which seems to be more about the show itself than the people being honoured. To be truthful, there were more than a few songs that I have heard on the radio and actually like. Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Pink and Lorde sing songs that I enjoy, but I guess I am just a big old girl.

I forget who was on stage singing when a couple of women in the front of the audience were moved to stand up and dance to the rhythm. I have never been a fan of that kind of behaviour at concerts and I sure don’t like to see it at the Grammys. I suspect that a lot of the time it is done to show off a new outfit and go “look at me…look at me!” Sit the fuck down and let the rest of us enjoy the show!

The way I see it is that when those two ho’s stood up, the five people behind them had to stand up to see and then the fifteen people behind them had to stand up and before you know it, the group onstage think they are getting a standing ovation, when in reality there is a pie shaped group of angry people who didn’t get to enjoy the performance. If you want to dance, go dancing, if you want to dance at a concert…DON’T!

To be truthful, most music is just background noise for me. Even the stuff I really like to play, I like at low volume and just above the hearing range. It’s pretty rare for me to stop what I am doing and just listen to a song. Pretty much the only times that happens is when Louise or someone else I can’t ignore, punches me in the shoulder and says “Listen to this song!”

Perhaps if I were to play music I would have more respect. I still don’t see me sitting in rapt attention while an album plays through. I have done that on occasion, with “Abbey Road” and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”. On both occasions I was very stoned and couldn’t do much more than listen or crawl, and since listening took less effort than crawling, I listened.

The Grammy show is over, and the stars are well into their parties, grumbling about how unfair life is. Yep, seeing a millionaire that regularly gets love from thousands of adoring fans miss out on a gold plated piece of junk doesn’t make me tear up.

I would like to send condolences to the losers and congratulations to the winners. Those that weren’t nominated, well, you were the first losers. Okay, I was the first loser, but you guys come next.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Snow Removal

I’ve lived in Calgary for most of my adult life. I have on occasion wished that I lived elsewhere, but for the most part I have been happy living and working in Calgary.

There are things that need fixing of course, but all cities have issues of some kind. Most of those issues are due to lack of finances, aging infrastructure and lack of political will. It doesn’t matter where you live, there will always be something that needs attention and right quickly.

The issue that has bothered me from the first winter I lived here is the lack of snow removal. A year or two before Louise and I arrived the city decided to sell off its snow removal equipment and make due with earth movers. To be fair, for the most part the graders do a fair job and when combined with frequent Chinook winds, our streets are often clean of snow and ice. The problem when there is a city that has little snow for a number of years is that the people who are hired to clear snow don’t get any practice and when there is snow(God forbid), they are at a loss about what to do.

We have had a more than normal amount of snow the last three years. Last year there was a fire on the night of a blizzard and the fire trucks couldn’t get past the drifts of snow which allowed five houses to burn to the ground. No loss of life, but that was more luck than anything else. There was such a hue and cry that the city was forced to change the snow removal policy and increase the budget.

It has been a little better, but the difficulty is that the people drawing up the plan have no real experience at clearing snow in an efficient and timely fashion. They should have hired someone from Toronto or Montreal to come out and show them how to clear streets and keep them cleared. I have been behind three graders driving side by side along a highway at 20 KPH. Yes the street was cleared, but not only did it take a long time, but it caused a worse traffic problem than if they hadn’t been there at all. They came up with a seven day snow removal plan which deals with primary streets the first day, then secondary roads and bus routes the second day and then they fan out after that.

The problem this year was that the snow didn’t wait the full seven days before it fell again, so the city had to restart the removal from the beginning. This happened several times in a row and left everything except for the primary streets (downtown) covered in snow that kept getting deeper and deeper. The residential side streets became so bad that cars were getting damaged by what was by now mini glaciers. There have been so many complaints that the city increased the snow removal budget and are doing a one time clearing of the residential streets over the period of a month. That is nice, but all we really wanted is to be able to drive to our homes without tearing off the muffler or putting the wheels out of alignment.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has held off on the snowfall, and today the machines were on our street removing the snow. They were working all day and should be finished sometime tomorrow. Our street isn’t very big.

I guess in a world that is constantly changing, I can look to Calgary’s city snow removal guys and be satisfied that for over thirty years they have been a bunch of incompetent assholes.

Friday 24 January 2014

Sorry For The Plank

I was downstairs today feeling sorry for myself. The thing about feeling sorry for yourself is that you should have something in your life that isn’t going well. Maybe I was downstairs trying to find something to feel sorry about. Who knows, I’m inscrutable sometimes.

Basically, I was sitting on the couch and taking in all of the different items that are in the room. Most of the things down there are our second rate belongings. The first rate stuff is upstairs where a rogue flood or sewage seepage can’t do any damage. There are some nice things down there, but they either take up too much room due to the size or they are in rotation. Most of it is interesting stuff, so I was enjoying myself while I was feeling sorry for myself.

The last couple of years the grandkids have pretty much taken over the space. There are toys strewn all over. I generally pick up after they leave, but sometimes it is a little over whelming. There is also exercise equipment in that room as well. I guess I should really feel sorry for it since all it does is collect dust. Kind of sad when the thing you were built to do never gets done. Maybe the elliptical can start writing its own blog.

 My eyes eventually fell upon a pine board that is leaning against the wall. It has been there for quite a while, so long in fact that I can’t even remember why it is there. I’m sure I was going to do a project and found that for what ever reason the project was a no go. It is a pretty nice board, what they call “clear” pine now. I don’t call it clear pine, but then I remember when clear meant no blemishes in the wood at all. Don’t get me wrong, I like a wood that has personality, just not one that pretends to be something it isn’t.

I’m going to either have to move the plank or find out the reason it’s down there. I do need to make a calendar holder or a door frame for the “fort” I built for Hurricane and Tornado under the stairs. THAT’S IT!!!
Now I remember! I built a secret door from the fort to the next room over and the wood was going to be used as a secret bookcase that would open and reveal the door. Louise and I have always wanted a house with secret rooms and passages. Well, it looks like I have a bookcase/door to plan and build.

Maybe I should check the internet for some plans, or I could just feel sorry for the plank

Thursday 23 January 2014


I put off writing the blog for too long tonight. Sometimes that happens…sorry.

I feel bad that you won’t have anything when you feel the need to read. Since all written things are simply dictionaries out of order, I have provided links to the three best online dictionaries in the English speaking world.

I look forward to reading how you rearrange them.



Wednesday 22 January 2014



I think it has always been a crime, even back in the days of the Vikings. They were the worst! They would come to the shores of England in their ships with the shields and axes, hacking, killing, raping and generally causing all sorts of mayhem. I suppose that as long as there have been ships sailing the seas there have been criminals willing to kill to take what they had.
There was a point when during the Elizabethan era pirates were given licenses and worked for the English government. I don’t know if they had to split the take with the Queen, but it would have been a good gig. They got to be criminals without being criminals, kind of like modern day politics.

We have pirates to this day who will run down and board ships of all kinds on the oceans. I suppose the Somalian pirates are the most feared today. There is a movie with Tom Hanks that deals with that exact subject, “Captain Phillips”. I haven’t seen it and I probably won’t, but it is about pirates.

Speaking of movies, it seems that all of the DVD’s that I watch seem to think it is important to announce that PIRACY IS A CRIME! Yes it is, but what’s that got to do with me?

I have a DVD ripper program that will take that stupid warning out when I make a copy of the movie. If you’ve seen the warning once, that’s enough. No one likes pirates. Well, the ones in Peter Pan were kind of harmless. I wonder if the warning is on the Peter Pan movie. Whatever…

I live in the middle of a continent, so I don’t ever have to worry about the pirates; I guess I am just lucky.