Thursday, 31 July 2014

Why Not

There is no easy answer or solution, but maybe we should give Arlo’s solution a shot. It couldn’t hurt.

Washington, MA - The Farm.
There's certainly no end to the amount of fingers people have when pointing to the faults in others. True enough for events going on in The Middle East as well as elsewhere.
And end to the conflict in Gaza will not come about through a military or a political solution, at least at present. Throughout history there's probably been over a dozen different invading armies that have had a temporary claim on the area. Some have lasted longer than others, and each has left behind a little bit of the cultures they represented. There's a rich heritage that people around the world would love to experience if it were safe to do so.
The wealth of it's heritage is not only in the tenants of religious dogma, or the latest conquering army, but in the food, customs, art and music that are alive and well. The spirit of the people who dwell there cannot be owned, bought or sold. It is what it is and who they are. The security of the people of Israel and of Gaza is interdependent. So what's the solution?
I believe there is one solution easily at hand that could lead to a political climate change.
Put aside the future questions of political solutions for a period of - say 50 years (anything between 50 and like 99 years) and withdraw the military combatants - Let everyone claim victory, which they will do anyway.
Then, I'd like to see a truly massive investment in the rebuilding of an entire area where the natural resources of a beautiful coastline and historic cross-roads of civilizations create a unique opportunity for visitors and inhabitants alike to experience the local culture in a way that offers hospitality, education, safety and security for anyone.
Let's see an economic flood of epic proportions open the borders, end the isolation and create a living breathing business, and cultural free-zone that invites investment so that everyone has something to lose if it fails and something to gain if it succeeds.
If everyone would be willing to put off the political solutions long enough to explore the benefits of prosperity, I'd be able to say, like the guy in the movie 'Oh Brother...'
"I'm with you fellers."


Wednesday, 30 July 2014


Normally, when I go to the bank it is to get out cash or deposit a cheque. I do this at the ATM machine, and most of our other banking is done online. We have automatic withdrawal, automatic deposit, debit cards, credit cards and God alone knows what else. I hardly ever see a bank employee anymore.

There was a time when we all went to the bank on a weekly or bi-weekly basis when our pay checks were handed out. That’s right, the boss used to walk around and hand you your check. I always felt that made the boss realize that we weren’t doing this for free and in some small way the corporation valued our services. Having the check in my sweaty little hand was kind of nice too. With automatic deposit, you don’t have that tactile affirmation that you did a good job. Times change…

I was at the bank today shortly after it opened, so I would be in and out pretty quickly. There were four people in front of me in the line, with five people being handled by the tellers. I should be out before the door swings shut. I wasn’t, but I should have been. I don’t know what the problem is, in the past you would go to the bank and be in a line forty people deep and still get out and back home not more than a half hour later than normal. Perhaps the only people who use tellers in this day and age are the ones with complicating banking or the very simple minded.

I stood in line looking at the backs or five people I don’t know but that I was fast coming to hate. How can these silly buggers have complicated banking? I stood in line looking at the faces of five tellers I didn’t know that I was fast coming to hate. How can they be so damned slow? I became envious of the four people in the line before me; they will be out of here perhaps hours before I get out.

There is a special teller for business accounts and if things are slow in the business line, they will wave one of us commoners forward. It’s probably like getting bumped up to first class on an airplane. Neither one of those things have ever happened to me. Once, one of the people in line ahead of me at the bank cried “THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!” and stormed out the door. He was right, but for me, that bullshit just bumped me up a position. Whenever I am in a bank, I find myself hoping someone in front of me will lose their mind and leave behind an empty spot and more than a few curse words.

There used to be large clocks in every bank, because as we all know, time is money. There are no clocks on the wall any longer; I judge time by the movement of the sun out the window. Sometimes I like to watch the sweat bead up on the person’s neck in front of me and eventually run down his back. It is his fault really, it is 30° and this bozo is wearing sweat pants and a down filled vest. He did make a concession to the heat, no shirt under the vest.

I looked out the series of windows across from me; just to be sure it hadn’t become night while I stood in line. You could see care free people walking by, enjoying the sun and their freedom. I saw one of my neighbours pass the first and the second windows walking his dog. I should mention that if this guy isn’t mentally challenged, it’s because he has yet to be diagnosed properly. If I had to draw a cartoon of a moronic neighbour, this guy would be the template. I am sure I will talk about him at a later date, but for now I am still in the bank looking at this neighbour pass out of sight from the second window.

The third window is five feet away and he didn’t appear. I’m not talking about seconds, but minutes passed and still no moron. I have heard about abductions, alien or otherwise, but they generally happen at night on some secluded country back road, not beside my bank in Calgary. He did appear eventually, I guess anal probes don’t take as long as they used to. The aliens must be getting pretty efficient; they have done enough of them. If anyone deserves an anal probe, it’s this guy.

I’ll never know why it took this guy five minutes to move five feet, but I know why the tellers are so slow. The banks only want our money; they don’t want to have to deal with us in person. What better way to get rid of pesky customers than to make banking in person so unpleasant and time consuming.

Banks are necessary, but just once I’d like to feel that they appreciate having our money and our business.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Never Say Never

My son called me the other day asking if I had a spare camp stove. A friend of his is going camping and the last time this happened one of my stoves went along for the ride. From what I understand, they had a real hot time.

I kind of hesitated when he asked, not because I don’t have a spare stove, but I wasn’t sure I had one to lend or one in good enough condition to lend. It has been a while since I paid any attention to my camping equipment in general and the stoves in particular. Wouldn’t want to have a stove of mine blow up and kill someone, unless I was around to safely dispose of the body. I told Brendan that I would check to see if any were in working order and get back to him with a yea or nay.
I went out to the garage and looked on the shelves to see if there was a stove I would be willing to part with. I should mention that I have eight or nine two burner camp stoves and I think about seventeen one burner back packing stoves. There was a time when I had an interest in camp stoves. The two burner stoves are the work horses, and can cook food or heat water for up to eight people. I have one made of aluminium that was used to feed a platoon during WWII. The case did dual duty as the pot and it will never leave my possession. It is just beautiful!
I have a couple of propane two burner stoves and the rest are naptha or white gas. I just bought some recently and they are now calling it “Camping Fuel”. Propane stoves are relatively maintenance free and are excellent if you will be using the stove a lot and from a base camp. White gas stoves are good if you are just cooking for a family and want a reliable heat source that you can control. There isn’t much that can go wrong with propane stoves, other than a leaking lid or a seal that has cracked over time. Those are all repairable things, and not out of the realm of a willing home handyman.

The back packing stoves are really quite interesting, not to anyone but me, but in my world there really is no one but me. These stoves can and do use many different types of fuel, from white gas, alcohol, paraffin, leaded and unleaded gas, diesel and I even have one that will burn brandy or perfume in a pinch. Some designs are very efficient and foolproof, while others are much more closely related to a bomb than a stove. I would pick these up at various places, bring them home and get them in working condition and put them on the shelf in the garage to collect dust. There is really only one or two stoves I considered using when camping, the MSR Whisperlite or Dragonfly.
Anyways, I did a little tune up on the stove for Brendan, replaced the fuel tank cap, tested to see if it would fire up and then I cleaned and waxed it. It is probably thirty years old, but it has at least another thirty years in it if properly cared for. I guess it is difficult to make a stove that is completely disposable. They are working on it though and in my mind the butane stoves come pretty close. The stoves aren’t disposable, but the fuel tanks are.

I came in the house and went to EBAY to see what a fuel tank gas cap is worth, I am one short now. I got side tracked by all of the intriguing stoves for sale. I thought I was over my stove collecting, but I guess you should never say never…
Vintage HIPOLITO #1 pressure kerosene STOVE.

Monday, 28 July 2014

No Blog

Well shit!

I have been stressing for a couple of months that I am going to lose my domain name because for some reason that is beyond me, I am unable to access my account to alter the credit card number that has changed.

Last night I wrote that I was going to lose the domain name and possible the blog itself. I just don’t know what will happen. I was kind of looking forward to a change, any change. Who knows what direction I will travel now that I don’t have the blog to anchor me?

I got an email today that says my domain name has been successfully renewed. WTF??? I have no idea what they are talking about, but I am good till July 2015. That’s cool…right?

Oh, I just read a little further and my account will be charged for the purchase. I’m back to last night again, not knowing if I will have a blog or that I will have a blog but no one will be able to access it. That might just be perfect for the readers, but it kind of defeats the purpose of writing a blog at all.

Who knows what is going to happen and at this point I don’t even care that much. I will let you know, or you will find out the hard way.

See you on the other side…

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Pea Shooter

Well, I have tried to pay Google for the past few months for my domain name, unsuccessfully. Whether it is a problem with Google, my computer or myself doesn't really matter at this point. 

I have given up!

I have no idea what this means, but I suppose that I will find out soon enough. Worse case scenario would be that all of the blogs I have written over the past few years will fade from the internet. I have them safe and sound, on my computer and elsewhere. 

I will continue to blog, I kind of enjoy it. What the new blog will look like or which provider will handle it remains to be seen. I may scale down the output and go for quality as opposed to quantity. I may take a vacation. Whatever happens, I will definitely be back. Some of you will be disappointed by that, and to you I say "SORRY".

I have a few loyal followers and I will contact them directly to let them know how to find the blog when it rises from the ashes. The only one I don't know how to contact is D. Stewart and if you wish to get your contact details to me I will be sure to let you know what is going on.

See you in the ether...


Yesterday, my wife picked up a Bubble Tea from a Vietnamese restaurant. Basically, it is like a thin milk shake with coloured/flavoured(?) tapioca balls at the bottom of the cup. It comes with a large straw big enough to suck up the drink and the pearls. I am told it tastes very nice, but I’ve never tasted one and more than likely never will. That is just me being me, not a reflection on the Vietnamese people or their food.
The cup and lid were rinsed and placed in the recycling, while the straw was washed and stored for future use. The straw is far too large for normal use in drinks, but I have other plans for it. It will become a weapon for Hurricane, Tornado and Tsunami to use when they are visiting Poppas place.

When I was growing up, all of the kids had pea shooters. It was the closest thing to a gun that we could get our hands on. I would spend hours practicing my shot, hoping to take down flies, knock over bottles and hit unsuspecting strangers at the movies in the back of the head. I never really managed to get to that stage of expertise, but I had fun trying. I could hit a friend in the chest or back, but more often than not I would miss them completely. They had a pea shooter too and it is exponentially more difficult to hit a moving target that is shooting back at you. That was a big part of the fun.
Another big part of the fun was that our mothers didn’t want us to have a pea shooter at all. I guess the lure of the forbidden fruit added to the allure. Moms would tell us that “If we weren’t careful we could put someone’s eye out”. That just made us want to shoot at people even more. I had visions of my buddy with an eyeball hanging by a thread bouncing back and forth as he ran home crying. It was always the left eye that was put out, as in my mind if you had to have only one eye, the right one was the best one to keep. I am sure my buddies pictured me running home with tears running down my right cheek.

Unfortunately or fortunately if you were a mom, it never happened. I would bet that even if I could hit someone on the eyeball, it wouldn’t do anything worse than leave a bit of spit in the kid’s eye. I suppose moms in the 90`s would have told their kids “Don’t shoot anyone with a pea shooter, you might put their eye out or give them aids!” Moms don’t care if they make sense, and telling them that their kids would need to have aids to give aids, would have made them all the angrier.

Sometimes if I were lucky, I could shoot a pea at a tree and I would hit a leaf. Every now and then, I would fill my mouth with peas and fire at an ant hill with a fully automatic, machine gun pea shooter. I have no idea of what terror the ants would feel being bombarded with hundreds of peas and gallons of spit. The beauty of shooting at ants is that you could pick up the peas, dust them off and reuse them. Yeah, I didn’t worry about getting some rare and virulent form of ant disease, but I bet my mom would have.

I was at the store today and I couldn’t find the right kind of peas. Actually, I think that I should be looking for navy beans. The ones I remember had a black dot on them and somehow seemed to be a little rounder than the choices I had in the store. Perhaps I could use some of those tapioca bubbles...
I have nothing but time, and pretty soon there won’t be a leaf that isn’t trembling, an eyeball that feels safe or an anthill without fear.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Not a Car Guy

I am not a car guy!
I am not a car guy!
I am not a car guy!

In case I am not being clear, I am not a car guy. I was very hesitant about getting my license in the first place, but my dad convinced me that I should take the test. Okay, he ordered me to take the test. Before the order came a few reasoned arguments for having a license, and to be truthful I used some of the same arguments on my son, but I didn’t end up ordering him to get his license. I let the realities of life make the argument for me. Calgary is not a transit friendly city no matter what the transit commissioner says.

During my test, I had to check that the seats and mirrors were adjusted properly, back up out of the parking space, pull out of the parking lot and merge with traffic and make a right turn. The first test ended right there. I knew I had failed when the guy doing the test screamed and grabbed the wheel out of my hand. In retrospect, having a near head on collision in the first three minutes of the drivers test didn’t bode well for any future driving. The screaming was rather unprofessional, I would imagine he had all sorts of near death experiences on a daily basis. He told me to circle the block and head back to the parking lot.

It wasn’t a failure I told my dad, it was a spectacular failure! Some people just aren’t meant to ride herd on 2000 pounds of metal careening down the road at 60 MPH while thousands of other terrible drivers are doing the same thing. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing I had done in my life. I had jumped off of a cliff, smoked a joint in full view of the police station, rode my bike along the top of a rotten fence, outran a speeding train, hopped trains just like a hobo, and stolen apples from the yard of a really mean guy and threw eggs at the door of the “witches” house on Halloween.

I have to hand it to dad though, he was nothing if not determined that I should have my license. I guess he wanted to know that if he had a heart attack and mom was too worried to drive and Steve didn’t want to for some reason, I would be the fall back guy. I told him that I would just call an ambulance. I couldn’t have lifted him into the car anyways. He took me out driving again and again and again, until I had mastered all aspects of the controlled death that driving is.

We went back to the same place to do the test. Since I had passed the written test less than three months earlier, I just had to do the road test. While I was waiting my turn, I could swear that the guy who did the first road test was peeking out from the back room and was repeatedly making the sign of the cross. Eventually another guy came out and the test went pretty well (no near death experiences) until the parallel parking. Even I knew it was terrible. This guy passed me! I guess they just didn’t want to ever see me again.

I can’t say that dad was proud of me that day, but he wasn’t ashamed of me which is about all I could ask for back then. I went happily back to walking, riding my bike and taking the transit, dad must have been happy that in an emergency I could drive him to the hospital. Well, he was happy until I accidentally wrote the car off on a snowy winter’s night.

Friday, 25 July 2014


I have felt a half step behind myself today. I keep trying to catch up, but the closest I can come to myself is that damned half step. You may not quite understand what I am saying, but that’s most likely because I am a half step behind the explanation as well.

I just said goodbye to an old friend. I wasn’t ready to see him go and I will miss him. I guess everything has to end, some end in the fullness of time and some leave before they should. My friend left before his time. I knew he was going today, and that might be why I have been half a step behind. They just took him away fifteen minutes ago. I couldn’t bear to watch and yet I caught a last glimpse out of the corner of my eye as they drove away.

We have been together for close to fourteen years and there hasn’t been a day I haven’t at least seen him in the distance or thought of him. He had to go; you see I have replaced him with a newer and better model. I will miss my Accura, but the shiny, new vehicle needs the room in the garage. I spent yesterday cleaning and polishing to show him at his best to the people who became his new owner today.

I have a feeling that the new owner (Peter) is going to sell the Accura for a profit. Peter doesn’t have history or know all the little ins and outs that endear a vehicle to a long term owner. I wouldn’t have felt right squeezing every last cent out of an old friend. I am happy with the deal and Peter is happy as well, for different reasons I suppose.

The Accura was beginning to show his age. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the city and any long trip was out of the question. Last fall, he sprang a leak in his radiator while I was picking up Hurricane and Tornado; they thought it was pretty cool how my car was “peeing” in the garage. Instead of replacing the rad, I put a can of radiator sealant in which stopped the leak. Temporarily.

Every now and then there would be a disturbing CLUNK when I turned a corner and hit a pothole or speed bump. I don’t know what it was, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t anything good. Maybe the old Accura needed a new set of shocks. Just a few days ago, Arwen borrowed the Accura and asked me what was wrong with the brakes. `Wrong with the brakes!?!?! What are you talking about? You know I need to sell this car, don’t mess with me.” I had suspected the brakes could do with someone to look at them in the near future.

I have never been a believer in frequent oil changes. Yes, I know that goes against popular belief, but over the years no one has ever proved to me that clean, clear and thin oil is the best. I figure that the thicker the oil, the better. It’s concentrated. I had a mechanic tell me that I should change the oil every six months or 5000 Ks. He said old oil is why I had a four hundred dollar repair bill. I asked how much an oil change was and he said about $50. It had been four and a half years since I changed the oil, so to my way of thinking I saved fifty bucks.

The air conditioner needs to be recharged and the heater fan makes some very strange and disturbing sounds when turned up to max. Peter mentioned something about a timing belt and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did need to be replaced. I suspect that the Accura was going to start costing money on a regular basis. That crack in the windshield is only going to get larger.

No, I think it was time for us to part company, before I started to resent my friend. You know, I am starting to catch up with myself, just ¼ step behind now.

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Wealth is defined as an abundance of valuable materials or money.

That is the definition from an online dictionary, so it is suspect and most probably incomplete. Researching information online is more often than not finding facts that have been gathered by a committee made up of people with little or no expertise in the given subject. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time an incomplete bit of information is just what I am looking for. I do miss real dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Not enough to pay for the online versions of course but miss them I do.

I had a discussion with Maegan a while back about this subject. Maegan was making the point that she is rich in her estimation. She doesn’t worry about where she will be living, whether she will be able to feed herself and if she sees something that piques her interest, she can buy it. She still has to work and be aware of the cost of those things she is interested in buying. No private islands, servants, Lear Jets or hand made cars for her.

I have been thinking about what she said and I have to agree with her. I read once that there are two ways to be happy in life, have so much money that it ceases to have importance to you or just enough money to meet your basic needs. It is the in between situations that drive people money crazy.

I have spent most of my life in between, always wanting more and better. It is just in the past few years that I have become comfortable with the person that I am and the financial situation I am in. Yes, I still stress over money and worry that there will be enough for my basic needs as I get older. I think there will be and if there isn’t, I will just have to deal with that challenge when I get to it.

I do like my toys, but I am just as happy if those toys are found in second hand stores or in major electronic superstores. I am just as thrilled to find a broken lock at the side of the road as I am with a new cell phone. Well, almost.

Wealth doesn’t have anything to do with money. Wealth is how you feel about yourself and the world around you. If you can enjoy a quiet evening just listening to the day end with someone you love, then you are indeed a rich person. If you can laugh freely and with abandon, you are a rich person. If you can make macaroni and cheese and be satisfied with a good meal, then you are a rich person. If you have friends and family that stick by you when you are being an asshole, then you are a rich person. If you look forward to getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night, you are a rich person. It doesn’t take a lot to be rich and happy.

I wouldn’t turn down a lottery win or money from a rich uncle. If the universe decrees that I should have an abundance of riches, who am I to disagree.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


I was walking a little aimlessly today, kind of hoping to see something of interest at the side of the road. Not very successfully at all I might add. I guess that the really interesting things like broken cell phones, shiny bits of metal, dismembered body parts from a doll, discarded ear buds, CD’s of some artist I’ve never heard of and every now and then, a nickel or a quarter. Some days it just doesn’t pay to look at your feet.

I moved my attention to the homes that I was walking past. Some were just lovely, with beautiful, weed free lawns bordered by a rainbow of flowers. Some places were just weeds and dog shit leading up to a run down home. Most places were kind of like mine, a little work had gone into the lawn and flower beds but not much time or thought. The nice places made me feel that I should put in more time out in the yard. The crappy places made me feel that I was spending too much time out in the yard. The places that looked like mine made me feel that I spent just the right amount of time in the yard. I guess that is just a variation on the Goldilocks theme.

I looked down and I saw that the sidewalk was cracked. I have come to expect cracked sidewalks; you can’t go more than ten feet without finding a crack to break your mothers back. There is one section where the crack runs lengthwise and travels hundreds of feet from section to section. I wonder what they did wrong. Not enough rebar I suppose, or perhaps the concrete mix was sub standard. Perhaps some rich contractor or city official has been scrimping on materials in order to line his pockets. Maybe the workers were incompetent or stoned when they laid the sidewalk. It could be a result of the freeze/thaw that happens in the early spring, but you would think they would have figured a way around that.

I am going with lazy incompetent workers or corruption.

Fucking unions and elected officials!!

I don’t remember seeing so many cracked and broken sidewalks when I was growing up. I will freely admit that I probably wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have, but the sidewalks seemed to be okay. We played hop-scotch chalked onto the side walk and I’m pretty sure that I learned most of my early swear words from insults written on sidewalks. “Jody sucks big dicks!” “Suzi is a f**king cow!” “Tommy’s mom is gay.”

I do remember seeing sidewalks with dates on them going back decades and decades. I don’t know why they would have put dates in the cement, maybe because they were proud of the work they did and stood behind it.

Perhaps the city workers of today should put their names and date the work they do. I doubt any of that work would still be around decades from now. We are a disposable society, but I would have thought that concrete would be the one item that we could count on.

Nothing lasts forever, not concrete, lawns, city workers or crooked developers. One thing that has stayed the same over the decades is that Jody still sucks big dicks it seems. Well, at least that’s what I saw written on the sidewalk today.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Yesterday I went with Louise to Lenscrafters so that she could exchange her glasses for a pair that work when you are at a computer. Do you blame the glasses or should you just take the hit yourself for allowing your eyes to get old? Personally, I will put the blame on anything other than myself, but I am something of an ass.

While Louise was getting looked after and since my opinion on anything fashionable is suspect, we decided that I could help the most by leaving the store. I wandered the mall for a while, came back to check on Louise’s progress, wandered the mall for a while, came back to check on Louise’s progress, wandered the mall for a while, came back to check on Louise’s progress and then wander some more. I guess that too many people were on holiday and one of the main guys who fitted the glasses had a heart attack. My initial thought was of how inconsiderate he was. It was meant to be an internal joke, but the inner me just shook his head and wondered what the hell is wrong with me. Oh well, back to wandering.

I haven’t smoked for close to twenty years, but a lot of my early memories are punctuated with cigarettes and later on the pipe. I still feel very nostalgic about the times I smoked and sometimes I almost wish that I could smoke again. Before I quit, I couldn’t understand what I would do if I didn’t smoke. Now, I wonder why I started to smoke in the first place.
In my wanderings in the mall, I noticed a Sheffield and Sons Tobacconists. When I was smoking, I bought my cigarettes and tobacco from a corner store or a grocery store for the most part. Every now and then my buddy and I would venture into a tobacconists shop to see how the other half lived. They lived pretty well!
They carried foreign cigarettes, a huge assortment of domestic smokes, cigars that ranged in price from affordable to “Are you kidding me?” There were many varieties of pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco. If it contained tobacco, this was a place that you could find it. There were so many pipes that I would have to come back many times to see them all. I loved the Meerschaum pipes that were carved into people, dragons, birds and animals. They were delicate geometric designs and pretty much anything that can be imagined. They would have any and all of the various things needed by the discriminating smoker to trim, roll, clean, polish and light the tobacco. I always felt a little like James Bond when I walked into a tobacconists shop. It was smoker’s heaven!

Yesterday, when I walked into the shop, it was pathetic. Tobacco has to be hidden behind a cabinet door according to the government. There were five or ten pipes behind glass and a smattering of lighters. I have no way of knowing if cigars lay hidden behind the doors, but I’m sure they were few and far between. There were a good assortment of those “smokeless” cigarettes and I saw something you could carry in your pocket to snuff out and save those cigarettes butts that are too big to throw away. They are expensive!

Most of the business seemed to come from lotto tickets, pop, chips and gum. Things have to change, and there are fewer smokers now, but it is pretty sad for me to watch. I choose to remember the glory days and will try to forget what I saw. For me, going into a Tobacconists shop will always be the magical experience it was when I was younger, and I will remember the smell of all kinds of tobacco in all of its past glory.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Little Bit Better

Have you ever wondered where your ideas come from? Most of us just accept them as a normal part of life and just keep on going about our business.

I just assume that everyone is more or less like me. Some are much more intelligent and there are some (few) who I am much smarter than. On the whole, I think the vast majority of us are pretty much the same. We have the same dreams, hopes, fears and doubts. Sure there are some of us that are afraid the lions will leap the fence around the village and make off with one of the babies. Some worry that the investment that they made won’t generate a 37% increase over six months. Some of us worry that the guys in the white coats will read our blog and take us to live in a padded room.

I was sitting in Tim Horton’s with Louise today and every now and then I would glance at the TV screen above the faux fireplace. This is a relatively new thing in the fast food industry. Put a flat screen TV on the wall, a fake fireplace with a couple of leatherette easy chairs and a too low table somewhere and I guess the people will think they are at home. I imagine this is to make us feel that it’s a good place to meet, have a coffee and discuss the issues of the day. Ahhhh…that’s the way it was before, wasn’t it?
I looked at the cup and thought that sometime in the not too distant future, there will be tiny screens on the cups themselves. It will be perfect for advertising, snippets of news and maybe it will connect to our cell phones giving us access to the internet. We’ll be able to settle those arguments about which year James Cagney actually died (March 1986), when the first recorded pair of bell bottom pants were worn (1813), and when they became popular with the hippies (60’s and 70’s). I may live long enough to be able to call my wife on a paper coffee cup. She’s not as impressed with technology as I am, so I’d better start to think of something worthwhile to say when I call her.
It occurred to me that I don’t have to wait; I can probably make my own today. No, it won’t actually work, but it might just look pretty good. I kept my cup and couldn’t wait till I got home. I spent a small part of an hour in the basement workshop and came up with my Tim TV cup. It had a screen in the bottom third of the cup, a couple of stir sticks that will double as rabbit ear antennas and an idea grew to fruition. Sure, the TV will cut down the amount of coffee and if you use the stir sticks the reception will be shot to hell. Other than that, it looks pretty cool.

It went from idea to real in a little less than an hour.

Most ideas just sort of creep up on us and we don’t really know where they came from, so it is kind of cool to be able to follow the whole process. Maybe someday the idea won’t be as stupid as this one and it will make peoples lives just a little bit better.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bad Luck and Trouble

I recently read a book by Lee Child called “Bad Luck and Trouble”. I enjoyed the book, it isn’t deep or thoughtful in any way, but there is action and I like the main character Jack Reacher. I wouldn’t like him very much if he was angry with me, but its fun when he is angry with other characters in a book.

I was looking at photos we took when Aunt Maegan took Hurricane and Tornado out for a fun day in Red Deer. I know, I had the same reaction, how is it possible to have fun in Red Deer? I was wrong, and so are you. We went to Discovery Canyon and what a hoot! You rent tubes for $20 and when you turn them back in you get a $15 refund, so five bucks for an afternoon of non stop fun. Take the tubes to the top of the man made canyon (not far) and the kids can ride the water down to a large wading pool at the bottom where they can start the whole process all over again.

I say the kids can ride, but really anyone can if the tube doesn’t bottom out with an adult weight on it. I didn’t even try; I did pick up something in high school science class. Maegan did, and was mostly successful, but older bodies don’t have the same amount of fun when they tip over. It is just the right amount of drop for the kids and the surrounding area is a great place for adults to sit and enjoy the warm weather while keeping an eye on the kids. I highly recommend it to anyone in this area for a nice, relaxing day by the water. Water is in short supply in Alberta, so this place will be visited again. Thanks Aunt Maegan!

From there, we decided to find the Rotary Park for some playground fun. It was a little bit of a challenge to find it, but the kids had a great time on the apparatus. They hardly needed to be rescued at all!   

Just before leaving, the boys needed to pee, “REALLY BAD!” Of course there wasn’t a public washroom available, so we decided to use the one that nature had provided. We stepped into the woods at one end of the park and after watering the trees, we discovered a stream ran through the woods. Awesome!

It wasn’t much of a stream as far as rivers go, but it was just perfect for little boys to play in and around. There were trees that had fallen across the stream making a bridge to the other side, stepping stones which were almost guaranteed to move when a tiny adventurer stepped on them. You could see minnows swimming in the shallows and somewhere just out of sight there would be much larger fish…maybe whales. There were stones at the side and plenty of targets to toss them at. In short, it was a kid’s paradise. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long and needed to get the boys back to the car and home to mom and dad. Another day perhaps.

Louise took one of the best pictures of the two boys which I have titled “Bad Luck and Trouble” It was a great day and had some magical moments.

Saturday, 19 July 2014


It’s funny what happens when we make assumptions.

I know the old saying that when you assume you make and ass out of u and me. Ass-u-me. Yep, pretty cute isn’t it? Surprisingly, it is more often right than wrong. There are exceptions of course.

If you invite someone over for drinks, it is assumed that there will be drinks for the person, and not just drinks, but alcoholic drinks. I am not much of a drinker and over the years people have come over to our place and aside from a twenty year old bottle of some weird liqueur made by monks in some tiny European mountainous country, my friends have been out of luck. I made the assumption that tea or coffee would be good enough. Now, if someone drops over they bring their own beer. I kind of feel I should be the good host and buy some beer, but what if it doesn’t get drunk? I’ll be stuck with it forever unless some other visitor drops by without his or her own beer and decides to take a chance.

By now I am pretty well known and anything that I would offer would be suspect. “Why do YOU have beer?” “What’s wrong with it?” “Did you find this on the street?” I actually did find some beer on the street last year, but I didn’t figure that my adult kids would drink it and I was right. I ended up pouring it out and cashing the cans in for a deposit. I’m sure it would have been fine, it hadn’t been opened. Seems like a waste, not for me, but those other people might think so.

I do have a can of Labatts Beer that I got during the Olympics back in 1988. I’m saving it for a special occasion. Not for me, but I am sure I can find someone who deserves to drink a twenty six year old can of beer.

I have always assumed that everyone would like me. Why wouldn’t they? It turns out that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. There is a woman that I used to works with that merely tolerates me because her other friends enjoyed my company. I’m sure she thought I was loud and just not funny. She obviously didn’t spend the time to get to know me well enough. If she had, she would have found that I am just loud enough and very funny. There are others that really just don’t like me at all. What is their fucking problem?

This song could have been written about me. Well, I think that “the everybody loves me” part could have been anyways.

I assume that I am going to wake up every morning, the sun will shine and the birds will sing about getting that early worm. I assume there will be enough money in my pocket to buy a coffee every now and then and I’ll be able to put food on the table. I assume that the people I love will stay healthy and that their problems will be little ones. I assume that people think the way I do because when it comes right down to it, I am correct more than I am wrong. I assume that everyone tries to be good and that the politicians are trying to do the right thing. I make a lot of assumptions, some are not always right.

I assume that I would never hurt the people I love. I shouldn’t make that assumption.


Friday, 18 July 2014


I have lost a few hours of sleep in the past couple of weeks due to having to work and some to stupidity. It just makes waking up in the morning more difficult as the weeks move on.

I just heard on the radio that having savings is a good idea. It appears that if some unexpected costs come up like automobile breakdown, flooded basement, medical expenses or just that spur of the moment vacation to Maui, it is handy to have cash on hand. It is much easier to dip into savings than having to cash in bonds, get a short term loan, sell a kidney or prostitute yourself down at the bus depot. All are valid ways to get cash, but generally not quickly enough.

I believe it was some conservative think tank or government sponsored survey that came up with that result. I would imagine that it cost well into the millions of dollars to find this out. They didn’t need to spend any money really; they could have just asked me. I have done most of those things to raise fast cash and I agree that having a large amount of cash in a savings account is a much better idea.

Come to think about it, I bet if they took a survey, 99.9% of the people would think that having a million dollars would smooth out life’s little speed bumps. It would sure help me get through the tough times.

I have come to the conclusion that the people who do these surveys have no idea how a large number of the population live. There are a lot of us that live paycheque to paycheque and often rely on family allowance for the “extras”. We would all like to put some money away for that rainy day, but having extra money just isn’t an option. I’d like to make these dickwads live on an income that is slightly above the poverty line for a couple of years and see if their ideas about savings would change.

We are pretty lucky here in Canada because for the most part our past governments have put some social safety nets in place so that no citizen goes without basic medical aid because they lack the money. We have social assistance that will generally put a roof over your head and food in your belly. There are many that will fall through the cracks, but the vast majority of the really poor don’t starve to death.

The well healed believe that the poor are just lazy, and if they would only show some initiative, they could take three vacations a year and live in a suburban mansion. If only it were that simple. Very few of the poor choose to have no money. Some have had a series of unfortunate things happen in their lives. Some have medical conditions that keep them from working at a lucrative occupation. Some either don’t have the temperament or the intellect to get and keep a good job.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Sometimes life is fairer for some than for others. Sometimes you can put money into a savings account, and sometimes you put your money into living day to day.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

I Don’t

I don't know what to make of me tonight.

The hot weather has more or less ended and the inevitable thunder storms have begun. Earlier this afternoon, there was tennis ball sized hail just north of the city. Windows of cars smashed out, crops flattened, house siding shattered and I would imagine more that a few animals and people are nursing bruises right now. There was a tiny amount of rain where I live and we heard the thunder from a distant storm. Everything is good in my little corner of the planet.

The storm just may have taken a u-turn. I was just outside and listened to a thunder clap much too loud and the cushion that I foolishly left out is now drying out in the garage on the hood of my car. I was going to do some weeding, but my heart isn’t in it if the weather is nice, so I don’t see myself grubbing in the mud wearing a rain slicker while lightning dances all around me. That isn’t what I consider fun. Tomorrow morning I will try to pull a few out for the garbage man, but he may just go away a little lighter than he should be.

I do like to watch interesting weather, preferably from indoors but there is something to be said for being out in the thick of it. I would love to be on the west coast of Vancouver Island during one of their famous winter storms. Huge logs are tossed about like matchsticks and very few man made structures can last more than a few years. It would truly be something to see! That is nature at its fiercest and finest. I walked the West Coast Trail in the summer, so I saw the results of the storms. One day I’ll stand well back from the beach and watch Mother Nature having fun.

I have spent my share of time walking in serious weather while I was delivering mail. I took shelter from hail storms on the lee side of a house, waiting for the larger pieces of ice to turn into cold rain. Lightning never worried me because most of the trees and house would have been hit before I was taken down. I could have been collateral damage, but I took a chance and won. I was caught above the tree line on a mountain once when a storm came in quickly. I sat on my pack and made myself as small as humanly possible. I pretended I was a mouse.

I would like to be out in this kind of serious weather, but in a plastic bubble. It’s the sort of thing that guinea pigs run around a house in, only quite a bit larger. I could watch the weather and let myself be blown around by the wind and possibly float around on the water, down streams and into rivers. Unfortunately, I will never do it because I wouldn’t be able to stop and get out when it started to get scary. Maybe I will read about some nutcase that figured a way how to do it someday.

No, tonight I will sit inside, reading a book and looking out at the storm every now and between sips of tea. Others need to be outside, but I don’t.