Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween 2014

Well, it is Halloween again, seems like only a year has passed since the last one. The little ghost and goblins are terribly excited. They are thrilled to put on costumes and equally thrilled that they will be given bags of candy just for ringing a doorbell tonight. It is truly a magic evening!

I can remember planning for Halloween weeks in advance. There was the costume of course, but back then it was more or less just wearing your dad’s old clothes, rubbing a burnt cork on your face and having a stick with a handkerchief on the end. I went out as a Bindlestiff more times than I can remember. We had to plan just how we were going to carry the candy and we had to find the optimum route. It had to be loops starting and ending on our street, so that we could drop the pillow case of candy and get back on the street without wasting too much time. There were a few places we had to go to, out of respect we would hit our friend’s homes to show the parents our costumes and over the years we learned who gave out the best candy. You didn’t want to waste time on anyone that would drop an apple in your bag.

Best time of the year for a suburban middle class kid! It came very close to Christmas, but without the family obligations and the Christian act where you had to exchange equal gifts. Nope, Halloween was about excess, unrepentant and unapologetic excess.

Times have changed somewhat, the costumes are mostly store bought and you know just by looking what a kid is dressed up as. Parents are afraid to send the kids out alone and sometimes will have a Halloween party in a house somewhere so that the kids will be safe. The malls would host Halloween for a few years, but they realized pretty quickly that the parents would bring their kids but wouldn’t end up buying anything at all, so they stopped encouraging Halloween at the mall. Most kids that come door to door now will have a parent in tow and what I consider to be a ridiculously small bag for the candy.

Our neighbourhood has gotten older and there are fewer kids than when our guys were tick or treating. Back in the old days, we would have anywhere from a hundred to two hundred kids show up at the door. Some years it was -30° and they still came, costumes covered with parkas and toques. Now, the numbers are twenty to forty kids and a quarter of those are high school kids with the munchies.

I was wondering today just where this tradition came from. I know it is loosely based on All Saints Eve and All Hallows Eve which are tied to the Catholic Church in some way. No, I mean, who was the genius that converted it into a Godsend for the candy industry. It has taken a few decades, but Halloween now rivals Christmas with decorations and money spent. I heard it said on the radio today that women like Halloween because it is the one time of year they can dress slutty and not have their friends be critical. I don’t know about that, but it is kind of fun to put on a costume and mask to be someone different even for one night. Our lives are for the most part a string of sameness and it is nice to get to be someone different and flamboyant for an evening or two.

Have fun shedding the old tonight and enjoy the change. Laugh at the little ones who really believe that they are Superman, Dracula, Anna or Elsa, a Bear, Tiger or some recent movie hero. You never know, you just might see a kid dressed as a bindlestiff, with burnt cork on his face, a baggy jacket and pants, carrying a pillow case stuffed with candy…and some apples.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Bright’s Shoe Repair

My parents grew up with parents that lived during the depression and consequently they learned the value of a dollar saved. What that meant for me was a lecture anytime I asked for money to buy candy. It meant that I would wear the clothes that my brother grew out of and when a hole would appear in my pants, they were patched. Our shoes would have extra life added to them when the shoemaker put on either hard rubber or steel “cleats” on the heel and toes.
The rubber ones were okay, but the steel ones were very slippery on tile floors but made me feel like Fred Astair. If the sole wore out, we would take the shoes in and have a new one put on. It was much cheaper to put a sole on rather than buy a new pair of shoes. It was also much easier than breaking a new pair of leather shoes in.
When I was working at the Post Office, I found a pair of shoes that were just perfect for the spring/summer/fall. They were black, leather, lace ups with an oil resistant, thick sole which were light enough for walking and heavy enough to let the dogs know you meant business. By the end of the season, they would be pretty much worn down and once the snow started to fall and I switched to boots, I would take them into the shoe repair guy and have new soles and heels put on them for the coming spring. I always took them to Bright’s Shoe Repair which was located at my local plaza. A week or so after dropping them off, I would pick them up, pay $15 or $20 and have what amounted to a new pair of shoes. He would shine them and add dye to blend the new rubber with the old. They had an odd blend of new and old shoe smell to them.
Eventually, he couldn’t add a new sole any more and I would have to buy a new pair of shoes every five or six years. I had been doing this for about twenty years when it became impossible to find my shoes any more. I guess they didn’t fit the current fashion sense. The price of shoes had also come way down due to cheap foreign imports. Canada stopped putting tariffs on imported shoes which effectively killed the home grown shoe market, putting thousands of people out of jobs. I switched to light hikers at work and although they couldn’t be repaired, they were light and lasted a couple of years.

I stopped going to Bright’s just because there was nothing he could do for me. Louise would take in a leather purse to be repaired every now and then, but you couldn’t say that we were very good customers. Just about eight or ten years ago, I noticed that the shoe repair was closed due to illness. When I asked around, it turned out that the old guy had a pretty serious heart attack. He came back to work a couple of months later, but when I walked by he never did look very healthy.

I guess all of his customers were like Louise and I, it was cheaper to buy new than to repair the old. Well, today when I was walking past the shop, it was virtually empty, just a few boxes here and there. Mr. Bright was loading the last plastic bin on a dolly to take to his car I suppose. He has earned a restful retirement, but I can’t help but think he would rather keep working if there was work to be had. He is a victim of cheap Asian shoes and cheap Canadian consumers that would rather buy new than have the old shoes repaired.

The shoe repair shop is disappearing like the milkman, payphone, the ice wagon, the bread man, the knife sharpeners and soon the postman. Progress I suppose…

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Anal Do-Gooders

Every now and then, I look to see which blog is being read. Mostly, the blogs being read are all mixed up, but sometimes I see a title that I don’t remember or I just feel like reading one of the old blogs.

Sometimes they are pretty interesting, sometimes they are kind of funny and sometimes they are less than they could be. I don’t mind that, you can’t be on your game all of the time. Well, I can’t be, I don’t know about anyone else.

Today was one of those days that I saw a blog and decided to reread it. It was from sometime in 2012 and called “The First Day of School” I think. It wasn’t too bad, and I actually wasn’t ashamed of it. Well, I wasn’t ashamed of the content, the spelling is another matter.

I have never claimed to be one of those people who will lose my shit if someone uses “there” when they actually mean “their”. I shake my head and either blame the over crowded school system of today or the use of those tiny keypads on cell phones. It is possible that the radiation from the cell phones is directly affecting the area of the brain where spelling is located. I try to spell things correctly in the blog and I hope that the grammar is also correct.

I have spell check of course and although it has a desire to use American spelling, it is generally not too bad. The same goes for grammatical errors. Often I want the blog to sound like I speak, so I will intentionally keep the bad grammar in. If it “sounds” right to me, then I will keep it in. The odd time, nothing “sounds” right so I just leave it anyways, the theory being that often your first guess is the right one. It didn’t work in school, I don’t know why I think it will here, but I do.

My problem with spell check is that it has no idea what word I wanted to use and as long as it is spelled correctly then it hasn’t a problem with the word. For instance, if I had typed “ward” instead of “word” in the previous sentence, spell check wouldn’t really care. It would be nice if the program would be able to read what is written and be able to make sense of it. I guess I am talking about artificial intelligence. The drawback to having a computer spell check with artificial intelligence is that when I wrote the blog it would more than likely tell me that some people just shouldn’t write.

Be that as it may, the point I have been trying to make is that I noticed more than a few mistakes in that blog from 2012. There are times that I don’t reread what I have written, and I guess that night in 2012 was one of those times. What I want to do is to apologize to everyone for the mistakes and really apologize to those anal do-gooders who lost sleep over the mistakes. I will try not to let it happen again.

Watch…I’m not going to check this out either!

Monday, 27 October 2014

A Paper Bag Over Your Head

My brother called on the weekend, kind of panicky about a computer problem. Actually, it was a printer problem. I guess when they were going through the printer set up, it asked them if they wanted the ABC News daily updates. They clicked OK and every day they got pages of news highlights printed up for them.

I am no computer geek, but Steve is a neophyte when it comes to computers. He has never had a need or desire to surf the web until about a year ago. I have had many different computers over the years, starting with a Commodore 64 and in my own slow, painful way I learned a few things about how to deal with a malevolent computer. Sometimes, it is best to junk the beast and start fresh with a computer that doesn’t know how ignorant you actually are.

I walked Steve through the process of de-selecting an option; it was pretty simple, only taking us about 30 minutes. Freakin’ printer! We got to talking about computers and the security that they have or don’t have. I thought I was a conspiracy freak, but Steve is even worse than I am. I tried to tell him that “THEY” know all about him and nothing he does will stop "THEM" from knowing. He actually had a piece of paper that he used to cover the camera on his computer to keep “THEM” from watching him. I told him that “They” would more likely put a lens in his big screen TV if they want to watch. Oh, sure the computer too. I told him not to worry because “THEY” have little or no interest in a couple of old farts like us.

I didn’t convince him and I am sure there is a little square of paper covering his camera right now. 

Mine too.

Today I was reading a Temperance Brennan book and in it, her mother found the location that an email was sent from. It sounded really simple and I figured that it just couldn’t be that easy to find out someone’s location from their email. Guess what? It is! I just looked up an old email from a buddy that lives on Vancouver Island and not only did it show a Google map of the area (Parksville), it gave me his longitude and latitude as well as the first three digits of his postal code.

That was from a free program that anyone with wifi can access. There is a version of that program that you can pay for which I have to assume would have even more information. I just can’t imagine the programs the governments of the world have at their fingertips. I don’t want to imagine. 

You just keep that piece of paper covering your computer's camera Steve, and while you are at it put everything electronic made in the past twenty years in a paper bag too.

Oh, and you had better put a paper bag over your head as well.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


I guess the first fear that I had was the fear of being born. Well, I may not have feared it, but birth was a major change and from what I have seen, it must be pretty painful. There are all sorts of changes that are happening and I have never dealt with change very well, I guess it must have started at birth.

The next fear that I can remember is the fear of my dad and mom. I didn’t like to get spanked and unfortunately I found it pretty hard not to do the kind of things that would result in a spanking. Parents spanking their kids was an indication that they loved us, not that they needed to be charged for abuse and the kids taken away from them. My next biggest fear was the fear of getting out of bed at night. I think this fear might just be the same as fear of my parents, but I was pretty sure there were monsters living under the bed and in my closet. Sometimes the monsters from under the bed went on holiday and left alligators to keep me in bed at night.

The next few years had a few fears, nothing really major. There was the terror that someone would hit a ball to me when I was in left field or that when I did get up to bat I would strike out. Like most fears however, the more you were confronted with them the less fearsome they became. There was Gary Templeton who was a grade school bully and an assortment of other playground bullies. Luckily, I didn’t irritate these guys too much and the ones I did bug, my brother would protect me from.

Once I hit high school, I was afraid of exams. I often knew the work; I just was terrified of testing. Oh, there were girls, those mysterious creatures that I avoided most of the time but was inexplicably drawn to. I’m not sure if it were the fear of girls, or the fear of rejection, probably rejection. I think that at the time I could take most of the girls I knew in a fair fight. Well, if they fought fair and I sucker punched them I would win…maybe.

Once I became an adult, I feared what most adults fear. I was afraid that my wife would come to her senses and leave me. I still worry about that, but then as now, I have no way to stop her if she wants to go. I feared that something horrible would happen when she was giving birth. I feared that I wouldn’t be a good father after she had given birth. I was afraid that I would murder the kids when they pushed me past insane. Just to be clear, we started with three and still have all three.

There is a special fear when your child has a potentially life threatening illness. I guess the fear comes from not being able to do anything about it at all. That same fear is there for the grand children, not being in control I mean. I doubt that I would do any better than my kids do (I know I wouldn’t), but not being in charge leaves me helpless and afraid. I’m afraid that Hurricane doesn’t believe in magic any more. I think I am afraid that I won’t be able to convince him that magic is all around, waiting to be seen and enjoyed.

I don’t have many fears left. I do fear that I haven’t given my wife the life she deserved. I fear that I will die without watching Hurricane, Tornado and Tsunami grow into adults with fears of their own. I don’t fear death; in fact when it comes (in 50 or 60 years) I will embrace the adventure. Well, not if the afterlife involves that Teacup ride at a carnival. I’m afraid of those things!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Do You Have a Minute or Two?

I had one of those phone calls yesterday where you pick up the receiver and say “hello…hello…he” and after the second ring you can hear that there is now someone on the line. That someone is in a large room that has many other someone’s talking on the phone.

They all start the same, “Good evening/morning/afternoon, can I speak to Mr. Harrison?” You know by the way he just said “Harrison” that he has never said it before and quite possibly is wondering why he is speaking to Harry’s son and not Harry himself. Generally this is the point that I will hang up, but every now and then I am kind of interested in what they are selling.

If you ask them what they want, you will interrupt their memorized sales pitch and they have to refocus. Once they start again, just ask them what they want again and once more there is a pause and then refocus. Sometimes they will say the phone call is being recorded and I will interrupt them to say that I don’t care about that…what do you want?

It always makes me smile when they say that their company wants to save me money. I ask them “Why would a company that I have never heard of before want to save me money? How is the company making money?” He will say “Oh we aren’t making money.” “Well then how do you get paid?”

On a good day I will just tell them I’m not interested, but on a bad day I ask if their mother is proud of them for ripping unsuspecting people off. Do you feel good about yourself? When a friend asks what you do for a living, do you tell them you are a swindler and a thief that preys on the elderly? You should be ashamed of yourself!

Somewhere in there they will either just hang up or they start to defend themselves and sometimes have even told me to Fuck Off! Then I ask is this conversation still being recorded and if so, I am guessing you will be looking for a job real soon. Maybe you can kidnap little girls and sell them to the child sex trade. Oh, have a nice day…

I don’t get as many calls now that I have call display. If I don’t recognize the number then I just let it go to the answering machine. I must be getting soft in my old age. Everyone has to make a living. Personally, I would rather see my family starve than feed them stealing money from some other families mouths.

There are legitimate outfits that do cold calling, and I feel sorry for them. They get lumped in with the scammers and tele-crooks which is unfortunate. They will just have to figure out another system to sell their product. I’d prefer it if they would come right out at the beginning and say, “Hi, I am selling furnace cleaning for the XYZ furnace company. Do you have a minute or two to talk with me about how I can save you some money and make some for my employers?

Friday, 24 October 2014

Crank Calls

I seem to be getting more of my blog ideas from facebook lately. I don’t know if that is a positive comment on how thought provoking facebook is becoming, how boring my life off of the computer is or just how desperate I am for blog ideas. Let’s go with the first one, it makes me seem a little less pathetic.

A young friend has been upset lately about getting calls at all hours from telemarketers. I feel her pain; those bastards need to get a taste of their own medicine. We should find their home numbers and have a million or so people calling them at all hours of the day and night. I would prefer to put them in stocks to be ridiculed in the marketplace, but unfortunately, we don’t do that any longer. Those calls are irritating, but they are a part of modern life.

She is so upset, that she is planning on cancelling her land line and just living with mobile devices. She is pissed off that she’s paying $45 a month for nothing! The $90 or so she and her husband are paying for cell service (each) is okay though. My own daughter has been living without a land line for at least a year now and so far she doesn’t regret the choice at all. I don’t get it, but then I’m not twenty to thirty something.
When I was growing up, the phone was still respected as a modern technological marvel. It had a place of importance in each household, with its own table and a special chair that was reserved for talking on the phone. If the phone rang, it was answered whether it was the middle of the night or the middle of the day. You would never think to screen calls, even if that had been an option.

One of the most disappointing things to have happened to me in the past ten years or so was when I found out that my children were screening my calls. They would actually look and see that I was calling and then choose not to answer! Me! Their father! The guy who loved them more than I love myself! The guy who didn’t even like to talk on the phone, if I call, it is short and to the point. No hour long gab fest with me. I still don’t believe it.
Now, they don’t even use the phone for talking anymore, if I call and leave a message (they rarely answer), it can be a day or two before I hear back from them. However, if I text I will generally get a response pretty fast. I don’t like to text, it is cold and impersonal. My fat fingers don’t like the little buttons and auto correct is an asshole. Yes I know it is an inanimate sub program, but programs can be assholes. Perhaps the kids are using texting to force me to embrace the realities of modern living. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, old dogs like to lie in the sun and watch the world turn.

I will keep my land line for ever probably. I like the idea that when the cell networks fail (and they will) I can still make a call on my land line. There won’t be anyone to call of course because everyone else in the world has gone mobile. Maybe I will make crank calls to the few pay phones that are still in service.

“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”
“Well, you had better let him out before he suffocates!”

Most of you won’t get that last bit since crank calls went out with the advent of caller ID.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Happy With No Regrets

Yesterday, two people died in Ottawa, one because he was a member of the armed forces and the other because he had an ideology that didn’t fit in with this country. There is a young man who is on trial for murdering his parents; it seems that the voices in his head were controlling him at the time of the murders. There was a guy at the second hand store today that was upset with me for looking at his truck and smiling. Yesterday, my buddy asked some kids that were parked in his alley eating their lunch if they wouldn’t mind taking their garbage with them when they left. They said no problem and an hour later we came back to see the alley littered with garbage. There must have been a misunderstanding.

All of those people mentioned weren’t always bad people. They are not necessarily bad people now; they do have some behavioural problems though. I can’t imagine they were always like they are now. I hope they had happy childhoods, but you never know.

When I was a little guy, I had a happy childhood. I would play with my brother and my friends. I went to school and although I didn’t stand out, I think I was in most ways a normal kid. I had food to eat, juice to drink and every now and then I would get candy. Santa was always good to me and the Easter Bunny never missed a year. Yes, my brother was a real bastard at times and I think my mom and dad didn’t love me as much as they did him. My clothes were hand-me-downs and I was terrible at sports. My grandmother called me “solemn Kenny”, but I didn’t think of myself as solemn, I was just smiling inside.

Today on a walk to the store, I saw two little kids, a brother and a sister playing in piles of leaves. They were tossing them in the air, making “leaf angels” and they took turns burying each other. In short, they were having a great time. Just a little further up the street, there was a toddler playing in a small pile of leaves while his mom did the raking. I don’t think the little guy knew what to do exactly, but he was pretty sure that leaves were fun. The fun stopped three houses further on where a woman with a sour face was raking the leaves in her yard. How can the same thing generate such different emotions?

I am sure that the people mentioned in the first paragraph had good childhoods. They may not have had enough money, or even enough food, but kids don’t know any better and they make do with what they are handed in life. We should all take notice and act accordingly. They would have played in the leaves, played with their friends and however their parents treated them, that was love. We all start in the same place and our choices are what make us grow into the people we are.

Eventually, if given a chance, all of those people will grow into old men who will look longingly at the kids playing in the leaves while walking to the store. They hopefully won’t remember the bad times and maybe they will regret some of the things they have done getting to where they are. Maybe they will be like me, happy with no regrets.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Orcs

I first read “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” when I was a teenager. It was one of the first books that I became totally immersed in. I was with Bilbo when he found the one ring, when he passed it on to Frodo on his eleventy first birthday and I was there when Frodo and Gollum fought for it on the precipice of Mount Doom. I was in Helm’s Deep when we rode out to certain death, only to find a forest where millions of Orcs had been the day before. I sat with Merry, Pippin and Quickbeam while the less hasty Ents were deciding what to do about Saruman at the Entmoot. It was a wonderful adventure!

I have read those books many, many times and know them far too well according to those who don’t know them as well as I do. Can you imagine creating a world and its history for the enjoyment of generations of people? Fantastic legacy.

I liked the movies that Peter Jackson has made and look forward to the last instalment of the Hobbit which will hopefully come out this year. Being a bit of a purist, I can understand why Peter Jackson left certain parts out of the movies and added others that weren’t in the book. I wish he had left my favourite parts in. The part with Tom Bombadil I miss terribly, and I   felt that the scouring of the Shire should have been a part of the movie. It tied the books up so well for me and I think it would have been a more fitting ending for the movies. That is just my opinion, and those that haven’t read the books done get to voice an opinion.
Saruman is driven out of Orthanc and disappears for a time with Wormtongue. When the Hobbit heroes return to the Shire they find that it has been changed for the worse due to Saruman and Wormtongues influence. Saruman teaches the lesson that “the wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.” We try to protect ourselves, our families, homes and even our country from the dangers of the wide world. Sometimes we are successful for a time and then we have to deal with reality face to face.
There was an unarmed soldier gunned down in Ottawa today. We thought the troubles of the world were just that, troubles of the world and that somehow we could avoid them. I guess we couldn’t avoid them forever. When you play ball with the big boys, sometimes you get injured. Canada has for many years been world wide peacekeepers. We were respected for that and we were quite good at it. Sometime, I don’t know when, we decided to take sides and once you declare yourself a friend of someone’s enemy, you become an enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with that decision and it is unfortunate that young men and women from all sides will have to die. I just hope that the powers that be don’t settle for an uneasy truce. If we are to do this horrible thing, then it should be taken to the end. The orcs should be decimated and dispersed, ending once and for all this insanity.

What bothers me most I suppose is that we just may be the Orcs. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Dark Circle of Life

A friend of mine uploaded a picture from outside of his home this morning on the way to work. Well, I think it was outside his home, but it is really too dark to see anything at all. There is probably no worse feeling than to be awake and on the way to work when all normal humans are still comfortably wrapped in their blankets. Okay, laying naked covered in honey on a fireant hill would be worse, but not by much.

I spent a good part of my adult life being awake before others, tip toeing around the house trying not to wake anyone else up while I got ready. The truth was that I would have been hard pressed to wake them up with a bass drum and a trumpet. I would get in the car or on my bike and ride the empty streets to work. The streets are much busier now; a combination of the city getting larger and more services are needed to accommodate those getting up earlier to service the people getting up earlier…
I don’t like the idea that we early risers have to now share our dark, quiet world with the rest of humanity. The whole benefit of going to work early was that you could at least avoid the crowds going and coming. Now, it is slightly less crowded than later, certainly not worth giving up an hour or two of the best sleep of the whole night. I think we can agree that those magic moments before you wake in the morning are worth ten times the sleep between 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM. Well, that’s how I feel.

I can remember a job I had in my early twenties that made me feel like a sub human, living my life underground, only coming outside while it was dark. I could have been a vampire except for the fangs, cool cape, ability to turn into a bat and oozing sensuality. I worked for the Canada Pension people changing the numbers on small cards for each and every pensioner that collected OAS. They had recently gotten an increase of 19¢ and the cards had to reflect that change. I asked if payroll used the cards which started the supervisor chuckling. It turns out that no one would ever look at these cards until there was another raise and they hired twenty or thirty temps to change them again. Stupid fucking job!
I would roll out of bed, have breakfast and shuffle to the bus stop in the dark with all the others of my ilk. I would stand on the bus rocking back and forth, staring out the window hoping and praying that something would be out there worth looking at. There never was. From the bus I would walk into the building and into the basement, still in the dark. We would spend the day adding 19¢ to hundreds of cards with no real end in sight. The day would finally come to an end and we would emerge from our subterranean hideout only to find that the sun had once again set. I walked to the bus stop in the dark and stared out the window watching nothing happen in reverse. I did this for months. The job ended not when we ran out of cards, but when the government decided that new cards had to be made up for all of the OAS recipients. That was a job for a different part of the country, and I can only assume it wouldn’t start until the sun disappeared again.
I am now one of those people who get to stay in bed while others get up to toil in the dark. Soon I will be a recipient of OAS and I imagine some young people will earn a pay check adding 19¢ to a card in some darkened basement of a government office building, never seeing the sun for months at a time.

This is the dark circle of life…

Sunday, 19 October 2014

No One Plays With Real Cards Anymore

I wonder how much of our lives are spent waiting? Waiting, just waiting would be a large amount of time just by itself, but if we were to include the other forms of waiting, like the time it takes to get from A to B on the bus, subway or even in a car, the number expands. How about waiting for dinner to get cooked or that favourite show of yours to come on and waiting while the computer boots up. These things all take time.

Often, we fill those empty minutes with what we deem to be a constructive use of that “free” time. Reading the newspaper, book or magazine is what I consider to be a pretty good use of stagnant time. Reading expands your mind and brings the important issues of the world to you, unless you are reading the Calgary Sun or Calgary Herald. Then you are doing worse than wasting time, you are wasting your life and potentially poisoning your mind with conservative drivel.
In the winter, I have spent waiting time making footprints in the snow and then trying to walk backwards in those same footprints. You just never know when you might have to convince someone tracking you that you went that-a-way. Once I spent ten or fifteen minutes writing “leaf” on the leaves of a hedge in felt marker. I don’t consider that a waste of time because with any luck, someone would have noticed it and had a good laugh. Leaves can be used as boats if there is water running down the gutter. Just pick two similar leaves and bet which one will make it the furthest. More often than not, I pick the one that gets snagged on a piece of newspaper or small stone. No sense wasting my supply of luck on a stupid leaf is there.

I guess my favourite way of killing time is to watch the people around me. They are endlessly fascinating and often give insights into their lives. I will create characters based on these people, some of them quite involved. Mostly they are just people going to work or slogging through life doing the best that they can do for themselves and their families. It is wonderful how their faces light up when they talk to friends in person or on the phone. The light comes from happiness I suppose.
When there are no books or papers to read, no people to watch and no leaves to sail down the gutter, I sometimes will play solitaire on my iPad or computer. I normally play Spider Solitaire, but I also like to play Scarab Solitaire on my computer. I decided that I was spending too much of my iPad waiting time on Spider Solitaire and should get a copy of Scarab Solitaire on my portable device. They didn’t have Scarab Solitaire, but they did have a couple of games just like it. They were better in a way, having cute animated figures and silly, upbeat music to go along with the play.
There is a dark side to these games though. When you stop winning as I inevitably do, you run out of points. Points? WTF do I need points for? Well, to keep playing the game of course. I did run out of points and I still wanted to play the game. Lucky (?) for me, the company that designed the game was willing to sell me points, as many points as I could afford. They wanted me to pay them real money for a pretend game. A game that I could play with real cards on a real table in the real world.

I know, no one plays with real cards anymore, and neither will I. I also won’t pay to play a cartoon pyramid solitaire, so back to Spyder Solitaire or reading the shitty Calgary newspapers during my wait times…