Sunday 30 November 2014

Sleazy Bastards

What do you think about computer security?

Should we be worried?

Should we be afraid?

Should we trust that our internet providers and the big computer companies will take steps to safeguard us?

Is the government running search algorithms looking for potential trouble makers?

Are the internet security companies the ones behind all of the viruses that plague our computers?


I suppose they are good questions and ones that you and I will never get answers to. If the big boys are controlling things, then they aren’t about to let us know about it. I think the question that should be asked is “Can we do anything about it if we did find out?” Probably not. We should fight of course, but it is like slapping air, somewhat exhausting and ultimately useless.

I am one of the lucky few with nothing of any importance on my computer other than copies of these blogs and some other scribbles I have done. I’d miss the photos, but they are backed up and I could retrieve most of them.

I’m not too worried that the government is going to watch me through the camera on my computer, why would they want too? Come to think about it, I would be kind of flattered if anyone wanted to look at me. Well, not some weird, creepy guy living in his mom’s basement, but almost anyone else would be cool. What I do worry about is identity theft. It is very difficult to find the people that do this and when they are found the punishment is often too light. I’d like to see castration involved in the punishment, and fire ants and honey would be appropriate. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Get yourself a security program that you trust, figure out a way to have very good passwords and a way to remember what they are. Turn your computer off while you aren’t using it and if possible, do your banking in person.

There are about seven billion people on the planet, and with any luck the sleazy bastards will target one of them and not you.

Saturday 29 November 2014

A Big Win

We are currently in a deep freeze. It will only last for a week or so and then the temperature will get back to the normal winter conditions. Well, that is my fervent wish anyways. If not, I have a few friends that live in BC who just may get a couple of house guests till the winter is over. Now, having said that, I imagine my friends are wishing for a short, warm winter as well.

Louise and I had to get up early because we had committed to donate blood today. Normally, it isn’t a problem, but the Calgary road crews have been doing their usual bang up job of making the roads safe. I don’t know what it is that they don’t understand about their jobs. It seems simple enough to me…CLEAN THE FUCKING SNOW OFF OF THE FUCKING STREETS!!!!!!!! Perhaps they didn’t get my memo. Anyways, we did get to donate blood safely enough and once again Louise was quicker than I was in giving her donation. I keep telling her that bleeding quickly is only desirable when you are giving blood, never in a real life scenario.

We went over to Brendan’s afterwards to visit with Tsunami and I went to give Brendan a hand. His car refused to start last night in the Co-Op parking lot and we were going to try and get it started. I am probably the absolute worst person to help in any mechanical situation, but I was willing to go with him in our  -25°C weather. Of course we couldn’t get the damned thing going; it appears that positive thoughts and good wishes have little effect on a frozen engine block. Who knew?

Brendan called City Wide Towing who told him that they would be able to help him out in about twelve hours or so. Well, that’s a comfort. I told him I would call one of my neighbours who had a tow truck, All J Towing who is a nice and friendly guy. I called him and told him our problem and he said that he would be able to get to us in about 45 minutes. Done! Forty five is way better than 12 hours, any day of the week. I don’t know if he bumped us to the head of the line because we are neighbours, and if he did then I apologize for those who had a little longer wait in the cold.

I will always call the local businessman over one of the big companies if at all possible. We need to support alternative choices whenever we can. Besides, during my life whenever I have needed a tow, those big companies have made me wait hours and sometimes days. Usually when my vehicle froze up or broke down it was due to weather and everyone else’s cars were acting up too.

Brendan had to get the car towed to his mechanics and will deal with getting it fixed on Monday. For me it is always the not knowing what I am going to do in a situation like this that gives me ulcers. Once I have taken some kind, any kind of action then my life is back on track. It may cost me money or grief, but there is forward movement, and movement is good.

I am hoping to win a lotto tonight and if I do I will buy Brendan a new vehicle. Well, as long as it’s a big win.

Friday 28 November 2014

I’m Happy

A friend posted a wonderful short story about the Dali Lama the other day. At one point in the story, a waitress asked him the “hard” question, what is the secret of life. He responded that the secret of life isn’t hard at all, the secret is happiness. The hard part is how you find happiness.

Like most simple answers that aren’t really simple at all, I have been thinking about this for a day or so. I’m not going to even try to decide if I am happy or not. Like the little engine that could, “I think I am…I think I am…I think I am…”

I remember reading once that we are all exactly who we want to be at this precise moment in time. We have managed to become the person we are by putting ourselves into situations we created to get us right here, right now. All of the arguments that blame others for the direction our lives have taken are just excuses. We are the architects of our lives.

Everyone finds happiness in different ways. Some are happy watching TV all day long. Others can’t be happy unless they are testing the limits of their bodies. I’m happy riding along a highway picking up dribs and drabs of what others might call garbage. There are people in the world that can’t be happy unless they are accumulating enormous wealth. I have a friend whose happiness comes from playing guitar and singing. Another friend just loves to be riding his bike on marathon trips. One loves to cook and has a booth three days a week at a local farmers market and the other days he serves people from his food truck.  

I suppose there are as many ways to be happy as there are people in the world. Perhaps the most curious thing is that for the most part, people just aren’t happy. We spend our days striving for more and get upset when we aren’t successful. The human condition seems to focus on the negative rather than the positive. I don’t know why this is it simply doesn’t make any sense.

When you are doing what you love to do the world seems to become just a little brighter. The brightness dims a little when you can’t make enough money to feed and clothe yourself and your family. Maybe there are so many of us that it is nearly impossible to work at a job that is satisfying and fulfilling. Up until the middle of the last century, the vast majority of people worked in the agricultural industry, either in farming itself or in preparation of agricultural products. I don’t know that people were happier, but when I look back at how the world was when I was little, it does seem that way.

Our expectations are too high I suppose. We all want a good reliable method of transportation, all of the newest electronic toys, lots of pretty clothes and a home that is comfortable and sizable. It isn’t a bad thing to want more than you have, but it should be tempered with acceptance of life the way it is. Can you ask for more than enough food to eat, a roof over your head, an occupation that satisfies you and people who love you?

I obviously don’t know what it takes for everyone else to be happy. I’m happy and that’s a start. 

Thursday 27 November 2014

A Smile Would Look Pretty Good

Every year around this time I start to think about what I should put on our front window. We have this very large picture window that just cries out to have some kind of decoration at this time of year. I have tried taping lights up, but the tape gave way and the lights ended up in a pile on the floor. I can’t remember when I thought that I could paint a Christmas themed picture on that window, but I have now been doing it for a number of years.

The paintings for the first few years were not very good, and to tell the truth none of them are what I would call good art, but I enjoy coming up with an idea and then painting it. Those early years I spent trying to find the proper paint and method of going about the window. I asked a few professional window painters what kind of paint they use and how they manage to get the designs from mind to paper to window. Generally, although they are friendly enough, I would get vague responses, the most irritating was the “Whatever works for you.” answer. I guess they figured I was going to take their business away from them. If only they could see what a shit artist I am they would never worry.

It has become my Christmas tradition now, and I can’t imagine a year without painting the window. Sometimes when I think about moving to another house, I worry that there won’t be a large window for me to draw on at Christmas time. I suppose that I could just do several smaller pictures. I usually take a couple of days to finish it because the original concept usually has little to do with the final product. Sometimes I change things because I can’t draw what I would like and other times what I have drawn just isn’t right somehow.

Once I have finished, I have finished and don’t want to touch it until I take it off of the window in January. Last year I included two minions, one for each of my grandsons. One of them had two eyed goggles and the other had one eyed goggles. It turned out that Tornado wanted to have two eyes like his older brother, so I had to do an alteration. I always get helpful suggestions from friends and family. “You should have done this…” or “Maybe the shirt could have been a lighter blue…” or “Well, as long as you like it I suppose.”

It is interesting that people like to show there appreciation by offering suggestions about how it could have been a little better. I know it could have been better, but not from me. I wonder if when Leonardo took a step back from his “Last Supper” to admire his art, the Duke of Milan said “Jesus looks so sad, can’t you put a smile on his face?”

Leonardo would look at him and say “There is a reason I call it The Last Supper after all.”

“Hmmmm… you might be right, but still, a smile would look pretty good. Just sayin’”

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Hope Yours Was Better

Well, I went to the dentist for a cleaning today. I am always a little reticent about the cleaning, because for me, nine times out of ten I find out that I need to get a filling, replace a crown, build a bridge or some other equally frightening procedure will need to be done. If I were a suspicious man, I would think that my visit coinciding with Christmas coming up is just a way to pad their bank account.

I do enjoy visiting with all of the people there, they are nice and we usually have a good laugh. Besides, I get to question them about different dental procedures that I have heard of over the past few months. I could ask my friends, but for the most part they are pretty ignorant when it comes to all things dental. Dental friends are kind of cool because you aren’t really emotionally attached to them. I care…sort of, as much as you can care about someone that you pay to hurt you. The hygienist was jabbing sharp metal things in between my teeth and then complained that my gums were bleeding. Wow, that must have taken some serious training to figure the reason for that out.

I asked Dr. Julie about her daughter and she was saying that she is really smart and if she gets any smarter then her dad will have to help her with home work. Bear in mind that the kid is three. I want to think that Dr. Julie is the smartest and best dentist in the Calgary area, perhaps all of western Canada. Maybe I should get her daughter to work on my teeth. There was a point when she was showing me an x-ray of the second lingual, pointing out an invisible problem on a gray blurry thing and told me that I should let her know when I wanted it to be worked on. I asked if there was a youtube video showing me how I would do my own. I think I could work on my teeth, but I have no idea what a lingual is.

The receptionist was all bubbly because she and her husband had just bought a home. I gave my congratulations to her and asked where the house is located. She told me High River AB. I gave her my condolences and told her that she can get hip waders at Bass Pro Shop pretty cheap. High River is the town that was most affected by the flood two years ago in southern AB. I don’t think a single structure avoided flooding. The town’s name is High River and over the years it has certainly earned the name.

I wish her well in the new house; it does look beautiful and is certainly a step up from the rental accommodation where she is living now. I suppose that potential buyers are a little gun shy and those with an optimistic outlook on life get a good deal. I told her to keep anything that could be damaged by water on the upper floor and she should be okay.

They put this new fluoride treatment on my teeth today; they say it is far better than the old method. They paint it on and just leave it to wear off, the only down side is that I couldn’t have a coffee until two hours after it was applied. Anything that allows me to get my teeth checked and be told everything is fine, I can live with.

Well, that’s my boring day, hope yours was better.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Those Coats Shrunk

Just a short one tonight because I have put it off a little too long and God knows I need my beauty sleep.

I was watching one of those sappy Christmas movies tonight (that’s why I’m late) and the two main characters went sledding. Of course they didn’t like each other when the movie started but by this point in the movie we are all pretty sure they are in love and it is just a matter of time until they realize it. They were both wearing inappropriate clothing for sledding. I don’t blame her, sledding was his idea not hers. They had wool coats, knit scarves and dress pants. Stupid of them in this day and age of polyester, nylon and gore-tex®.

When I was a kid, all that we had to wear was wool clothing in the winter. When we would go out and play in the snow, the snow would cling to us and in a short amount of time we would look like tiny abominable snowmen. I think the accumulation of snow on our clothing was what determined how long we would play. There was no going back out once we came in, because our winter coat was soaked and took hours to dry. No one wanted to wear a wet, wool coat out in the cold if there was anyway to avoid it at all.

When I was a teenager, I discovered the Hercules Army Surplus store downtown Toronto. I picked up an olive green winter jacket to keep me warm and toasty going to and from school and parties. Yes, it was pretty ugly, but it fit in with the anti war sentiment that was all the rage back then. I loved that jacket and I suspect that between the original owner and myself, we pretty much wore it to bare threads.

The next warm jacket I had was a down filled one that was a robin’s egg blue and equally warm. I did look like a fluffy part of the sky had dropped to earth for a while, but who cares as long as I was warm. This jacket took a lot of punishment over the years, with tiny burn marks on the nylon, three-corner tears on the back and the forearms seemed to attract all manner of dirt and grime. Eventually, the feathers compressed and settled at the bottom of the many baffles sewn into the coat, leaving it pretty much useless in keeping me warm. I kept that coat for many years even though I never wore it again. I might even still have it buried in the basement under the back stairs.

Now, I have so many coats that I have actually forgotten about half of the ones I do have. It’s kind of nice having a bad memory, every year at this time of year I get to be surprised when I check out my options for winter wear. My problem now is that only a few of them actually fit me because either I have put on weight or they have shrunk while hanging in the dark, cool basement.

Weird how all of those coats shrunk.

Monday 24 November 2014

An Old Fart Like Me

I don’t always read the paper in the morning, mainly because I don’t have delivery, but even when I did; it was hit or miss if I would actually read it. I have access to the newspaper digitally through the Calgary Library and some days I will read the paper. Today I read the paper.

The news people like to focus on these horrible, negative stories, and even if the story is basically a feel good kind of thing, the news guys will slant their reporting to make it sensational in some way. I live in Calgary and all of the news outlets pander to the majority of conservative thinkers that live here. The papers don’t say anything negative about the oil patch and are immensely critical of those who do. The entertainment and sports sections are pretty factual, if just a little slanted to all things Canadian, Albertan and certainly any item concerning a link to Calgary will get big press.

The day after mankind landed a spacecraft on a comet; there wasn’t any mention of it in our paper at all. I checked several times because I just couldn’t believe it. I suppose that if it had crashed it would have been news or if there had been some link to our petro-chemical industry it would have been news worthy. I guess the news people just couldn’t find a negative spin on it or make it sexy enough to sell papers. Crazy frickin’ world!

Oh, you have to try this game, I hope you are better at it than I am.

I can remember when we would wrap garbage in the paper, now the paper comes with the garbage already in it. I guess that’s progress…

I won’t bore you with all of the crap that was in the paper today, but one article did get my interest. It was about a father that was claiming his son was innocent of hacking emergency centres across North America. There has been some new information that has come to light from the group “Anonymous”. They told him that there were audio signals coming from his house and he should check the light bulbs in his home. The light bulbs?

Well, he did and it seems that he found what he believes to be listening devices. I don’t know how that is going to play out, but if the government went to the effort to frame a kid and then bug his fathers house, there is no way in hell that kid will ever see the light of day. I don’t know what that kid id to piss off the rich and powerful, but he should apologize for pretty much everything he can think of.

I think that the government could do pretty much whatever they want to and we are the ones paying for it with our taxes. The only comforting thing about this is that the government are so lazy and incompetent very few of us will ever have to worry. We can start worrying if they contract surveillance out to a private firm. Well, you can start to worry; because the chances of them being interested in an old fart like me is beyond remote.  

Sunday 23 November 2014

Saturday 22 November 2014

Word ’97

I just realized that the program I am using to type this blog is WORD ’97. That means I have been using this particular program for nearly eighteen years. I imagine that Microsoft spent a few years developing it so I guess my program is of legal age. 
Word 97 seems to meet all of my needs and to tell the truth, I don’t know what a lot of the buttons at the top of the page do. I had heard once that even the people who developed the program don’t know everything it is capable of because the program design was segmented. I’m sure that after 20 years there is someone at Microsoft that is pretty good with this program. I’ve kept this version mainly because I am cheap and see no reason to buy an updated version with all of the new bells and whistles that I won’t use anyways.
Louise had to buy the new WORD for her laptop because it came without a CD drive. I am still having trouble with the whole idea, why buy WORD when I could have set her up with Open Office for free. She didn’t feel that it would meet her needs I guess, and since she actually understands much more of the buttons, she just may be right. The new WORD seems to be the same as the one from 1997, well, at least it seems that way when I use it. I’m sure it has special little buttons that will connect you directly with your twitter account and possibly seventeen thousands new fonts.

I would be happy if I could still use the typewriter, but I never really mastered it. Oh, I knew where all of the keys were and how to feed and advance the paper into the machine. I could switch from black ink to red if I ever needed to (I didn’t). Selecting a font was dead easy, you didn’t. Sure there were a few keys on the keyboard and switch like things inside the typewriter that didn’t seem to have any use whatsoever, but I managed to ignore them pretty easily. The biggest problem I had was how hard to hit the keys to produce a nice, even letter and to manage to do it for every letter that I typed.
I am glad that we have to think very little and that we really don’t have to master any kind of skill to be able to type and produce a blog on a daily basis. I live in a wonderful time, made for the mediocre.

I would switch to Microsoft Word 2013 if I thought that it would make any kind of difference in the way I write. I’m thinking that perhaps I should ease into the newer Word programs with Word 2000 or 2003, that way the changes (if indeed there are any) would be pretty easy to absorb. I use windows Vista on this machine and so far, Microsoft is still servicing it, unlike Windows XP which it dumped like last Tuesdays fish. When I have to upgrade, I guess I will go whole hog and get Word 2017 or 2023.
There are a lot of other word processing programs out there, some are better than the others of course. When I first started this blog, I was going to write it on a program called “Writer”, but it is just easier using Word. I liked Writer because it was so basic, just a green font on a black background with real time word count. I suppose that is important to some writers. Me, I just try to fill a page at a time and not bore myself too much. 

I might go back to Writer, but then again, maybe I won’t.

Friday 21 November 2014


I went to another retirement party tonight.

It is nice to see that someone else has managed to get through a lifetime of work and can now hopefully enjoy many years of doing whatever he wishes to do with his time. John has worked hard all of his life, sometimes working two full time jobs and managing six or seven income properties. He pretty much had to, since he insisted on getting married and divorced several times and having five kids to support. He always did his job with a smile and you could count on him to help someone if they needed it. He is a good guy.

We used to call him the “Slum Lord” because of his properties. He didn’t like the nickname very much which made it all the more fun to use. One day he was sitting in a relay box relaxing and having a smoke when one of his ankles was bitten by a spider. I don’t know just how long he was sitting there, but I guess long enough to have pissed off a spider or two. His ankle became swollen and quite painful, causing him to take three days off of work. When he returned, we stopped calling him The Slum Lord.

He was now “Spiderman” or “Spidey” for short. He really hated being called Spiderman. He hated it when we sang the “Spiderman” theme song from the cartoon. He hated it when we put string on his case to look like a spider web. He hated it when one guy drew a cartoon with him shooting a web with a letter attached to a mailbox. Yep, he sure hated it. That’s why we kept escalating the harassment. Fun, fun, fun!

I guess it wasn’t the nicest thing we could have done, but here we are twenty-five years later and he is quite comfortable with his name and we are still laughing. Maybe he has learned that if he ignores us then we will eventually go away.

We all worked at Depot 6 and had a great time. We laughed more than we worked and the cast of characters was a perfect blend of crazy. We would have water fights on hot summer days and our supervisor, Roger would confiscate all of the water guns just like a grade school teacher. Our depot became known as The Zoo, a place that some avoided like the plague and others were drawn to like moths to a flame. I loved The Zoo, we were a perfect fit. When I think back on the good times when I worked, it is Depot 6 that I think of.

Some of the guys and girls were there tonight, a little thicker and a little greyish, but they all still had that twinkle. I kept expecting a water fight to break out or someone to put shoe polish on the door knob. There was laughter and just enough craziness for me to realize that “The Zoo” is still very real.

I hope that Spidey enjoys his retirement and maybe we will run into each other during our travels through the neighbourhood. Maybe not, but we will forever be a couple of animals from “The Zoo”.

Thursday 20 November 2014


I just spent the better part of an hour looking for my stapler. It drives me crazy when things aren’t where they should be. I make an effort to put things in their proper place because IT DRIVES ME CRAZY WHEN THINGS AREN’T WHERE THEY SHOULD BE!!!!!

My stapler has been with me for a long time and is older than my kids. I like my kids better than the stapler most of the time. I can always count on the stapler to do what I expect it to do and it will almost always be there when I need it to do a job for me. Well, not tonight of course, but for the past 35 years or so. The “so” is important because I really don’t know exactly how old it is and I should know how old my kids are. Incidentally, I can’t always count on my kids to do what I expect them to do and they aren’t always there when I need them to do a job for me.

I searched the drawer that the stapler calls home, checked the other desk drawers, cleaned the top of the desk. Well, I moved the stuff that was on the desktop so now it is a whole new mess. I went out and accused my wife of taking my stapler and not putting it back where it belonged. She has her own stapler and actually knew where it was. I came back and searched the desk drawers once again. I searched the computer desk and there was no stapler to be found. The only other place it could be was down on my workbench. Nope!

I decided to check the drawers in my bedroom just in case I thought the sock drawer was a good place to keep a stapler. It actually would be if I could remember that’s the new place I am keeping my stapler. I just don’t have the will to keep searching tonight. It will probably turn up in mid February I suppose, or I could go out and find a new/old one at the second hand store. Maybe I will check for one tomorrow.

I went to close the drawers in the desk, and when I came to the stapler drawer, there it was sitting in the middle of the drawer without a care in the world. I don’t know where it was the first five times I checked the drawer, I’m just happy it is back now. No questions asked.

Mind you, I’d like to know just where a stapler would go. How would it go? How would it open the drawer and get down to the floor? If it left the house, how did it open the doors without hands? Did it spend some of my hard earned money when it was out? What needs would a stapler have?

Like I say, I’m just glad it came back.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Happy Seasonal Wishes

I just received another one of those facebook comments by someone that is upset that someone else is saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I suppose that the problem is that by saying Happy Holidays you will in some way take the “Christ” out of Christmas.
As my dad used to say, “Well, Christ on a stick! That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard.” He usually said that when I was talking to him about how I saw the world, but I’m sure he would have used it if he had been on facebook. I’ve noticed that the people who put comments like this on facebook are Christians only at Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The rest of the year they do their worship from under the covers.

We used to go to church on a regular basis when the kids were small. We hoped that when they decided organized religion had many flaws, they would make that decision with some real time experience to draw on. It turns out that they didn’t learn much of anything other than that there are some very odd people who go to church every Sunday. I kind of enjoyed the sense of belonging in a way. The coffee was terrible, but it was fun to learn why these people came to the church and what they get from it. Everyone was different and they all had an empty hole in their lives that they filled with religion.
I don’t know why people are bothered by the Happy Holidays comment; as far back as I can remember it has been used at this time of year. I guess the animosity began when some well intentioned person wanted to name a Christmas tree the Holiday tree. I don’t care what someone else wants to call the tree or for that matter, I don’t care if they want to call Christmas by some politically correct name either. I will continue to call it what I like.
The Christmas season is no longer just about a religious holiday. It is about money and our economy. The season brings with it a frenzy of spending on quite literally everything. There is no area of our economy that is unaffected by Christmas. Retail stores are just apeshit crazy of course, travel and all of the tourism industry, the oil industry benefits from increased movement, the Post Office which helps pay for my pension, construction getting everything ready for the season and on and on. I defy anyone to find a business that doesn’t reap the rewards of the season.

Don’t worry what someone else is doing or saying, why would you care? Enjoy Christmas or don’t enjoy Christmas, any stress is only there because you allow it to be there. Smile at strangers, give generously to those that have little, let the little children believe in the magic for as long as possible, love those closest to you and call it whatever you want to call it.

Eat too much. Give too much. Get too much. Enjoy too much. Don’t let the sad little people make you sad and small.