Thursday 3 December 2020

Glass in My Eye

I have never known a time in my life without a TV. Maybe when I was a baby, but I wasn’t concerned with TV as I spent all of my time eating and filling my diaper. Granted that in the early fifties there wasn’t very much quality programming for anyone, let alone a toddler. Don’t get me wrong, I have never let the quality of a program keep me from watching it. TV was very much a part of my life then as it is now.


Every now and then the Black and white TV that we had would stop working and Dad would call in a TV repairman. The repairman would take the back off of the set, pull tubes out and test to see if they needed to be replaced. He always eventually got the set to work, but I suspect that the repair guys were learning their trade as they went and knew just a little bit more than Dad did. Eventually, when the TV went on the fritz dad would take the back of the set off himself , pull a few tubes and take them to the hardware store where there was a machine for testing tubes and of course they sold the replacements. Now it is cheaper to buy a new set than get the old one repaired.


For as long as I can remember, I was told in no uncertain terms that I should always play away from the TV set. I suspect that mom and dad valued the TV more than both my brother and I. We were told that the large picture tube (it really was large) if broken would implode due to the vacuum inside and send shards of glass flying thru the air into my eyes and shredding my flesh. Because it is glass the doctors would not be able to find all the glass and the left over bits would fester and eventually turn gangrenous which leads to a slow and painful death. Point taken, no baseballs around the TV. I had no reason to question my parents and have lived my life in mortal fear of large picture tubes, passing on that fear to my kids. When TV’s developed flat screens a decade or two ago I breathed a sigh of relief. One less thing to worry about.


We just bought a new set to entertain us during the second and possibly third wave of the Coronavirus. Mainly just because we wanted one. The old set has been banished to the basement to replace the other TV that replaced the even older TV that was a behemoth with a large vacuum tube. It was time for the behemoth to go and actually has been for quite a while but it is so heavy that I can’t lift it myself. Whenever one of the kids were around I would forget to ask for help until they left. No problem, we will deal with it later. Then the Coronavirus came to stay and so did the TV. However, I decided it had to go now.


My plan was to get it on the floor (gravity helped) and then strap it to a dolly, haul it up the stairs and out to the car, then drive it to the electronics recycling place, unload it and haul the dolly into the store and drop off the TV. Once I got it on the floor and brought the dolly in I realized there was no way in hell for the dolly to pick up the TV because it had such an odd shape. Okay, new plan. Take the plastic outer housing off and the set will be much lighter and easier to manhandle. Sure, I would then be dealing with a very large and potentially lethal, unprotected vacuum tube, but I could wear protection. Well, it turns out that the plastic housing weighs about 5 ounces and the vacuum tube about two hundred pounds.


I managed to get the tube onto the overly padded dolly and strapped it in well. As I pulled it up the stairs I was sure it would implode on every step. I got it out the front door and wheeled it around to the back. I long ago gave up the recycling idea and hoped that I could lift it into the garbage bin, it should fit with an inch to spare. I still couldn’t lift the TV, no muscles had grown in the past hour, but I realized that if I laid the bin down on it’s back and did the same with the dolly I should be able to slide that huge tube into the bin. Everything worked great except that the garbage bin tapers, getting smaller as you get closer to the bottom. Who thought that was a good idea? I lifted the bin, hoping that the TV would slide in enough so I could close the lid. Nope! I gave the bin a kick, heard a crack, a hiss and saw my life flash before my eyes.


Well, it turns out that I had been lied to my entire life. It makes sense that one of the first thing TV manufactures would have designed is a picture tube thick enough that it wouldn’t kill customers. Well, all bets were off and I could demolish the TV tube with wild abandon. Many years ago I bought a freakishly large, cartoon style sledge hammer which I have never had occasion to use. Until now! I tossed the hammer into the air and it came smashing down on the glass picture tube. What a satisfying sound! I tossed it into the bin several times until there was just large shards of glass left, none of which ended up in my eye.


I doubt that in the future the flat screen TV’s will give me the same kind of  satisfaction, but I will be able to haul it to the electronic recycling place using my own muscle power. Mind you, it might be fun to see what damage my sledge hammer can do. 

Monday 30 November 2020

Porch Pirates

I was raised in a kinder, gentler time. We didn’t have any crime, people were nice to one another, parents were thoughtful and caring and politicians had the best interests of the people dictating there decisions. Everyone had jobs they loved, trees grew straight and tall and the birds sang all day long. Well, that was the view of an eight year old Ken and somewhat colours my take on reality.


Six decades later I have come to realize that although some of my perceptions of the world were accurate for my life, the rest of the world didn’t always behave the way it should have. People used to know right from wrong and there were lines that you didn’t cross. Of course there were criminals, but they seemed to have a code that they would live by. Stealing from corporations that had insurance or spent their time legally stealing from the public was fair game. Sure there were psychopaths and just plain evil people but thankfully those were a very, very small minority.


Criminals in the old days made a living from people that were on the edge themselves. I know that I have a simplistic view of the world. Maybe if we all shared that view things would be a little better.


I don’t know when things went wrong. Perhaps it was when drugs became much stronger and people needed to get higher and higher. If you are stoned all the time you can’t keep a job and if you don’t have a job then you steal what you need for your habit from regular people because they are easy prey. We all contribute to where our society is now and with the advent of online sales forums we are able to turn a blind eye about where an item comes from. A deal is a deal. Right?


How do you determine if the “reconditioned” cell phone, TV, or DVD player came to be sold by the original owner or someone that broke into a house and took the electronics late at night or in the afternoon while the owners were at work.  It is a strange world we have invented.


The latest crime of opportunity are being done by Porch Pirates. With the rise in online shopping it is a simple thing for someone to follow the Canada Post truck or Fed Ex truck and run up to the house and take the parcel that had been left. They don’t know what they are getting, it could be a kids toy, a cell phone, new pots, but what ever it is can probably be sold and with the proceeds they can buy their drugs. I find it offensive that the media outlets call them Porch Pirates. I am sure these scumbags like the idea of being pirates. Stealing from the rich and making a living by their wits. Well, it takes no intelligence to get out of a car and run up to a house to take the package on the porch.


These people are pathetic and deserve to be called what they are. Thieves and criminals. Scum. The people they steal from are devastated and never can live a peaceful life again. They have no conscience and if caught there should be a mandatory jail sentence doing hard labour. Make the bastards work until they drop. I guess I don’t believe in rehabilitation today. Maybe tomorrow.


Thursday 26 November 2020

Take a Drink From The Sprinklers

Buster and I were out on our morning walk today when we noticed something new. Well, new to us because I am sure it has been there for the better part of a year. I remember people installing a couple of metal boxes in the field close to the soccer pitch. I have a hazy memory of asking what the boxes were for and I think the reply had something to do with irrigation. I couldn’t understand how metal boxes in the middle of a field would help with irrigation and really did they need such large cabinets to protect a couple of taps.


Well, this morning Buster and I saw (for the first time) a pole coming out of the boxes and what looked like a small weather station on top of the pole. I Googled it when I got home and it turns out that the city uses things like that to determine when the field needs to be watered, collecting data on humidity, rainfall and temperature among other things. It makes sense of course it is just that I had not considered anything that fancy would be used to water a field.


I am sure there was a time when cities or towns would let Mother Nature look after the watering of public fields. There were probably a lot more fields with dead, brown grass back then. I remember when I was a kid the city workers would put out these powerful sprinklers to water the fields and on hot summer days we would run thru then playing tag and getting soaked. Eventually, one of us would be dared to take a drink from the sprinkler. I can remember a powerful jet of water catching the inside of my cheek and having that cheek hurt for hours. The pain didn’t stop me from taking a drink the next time, it just made me be the first one to dare someone else to take a drink.


I don’t know when it happened or when I noticed it, but there was an “Adopt a Field” program that had neighbours take responsibility to water the fields. Probably the city could let some workers go and get the job done for free. Of course some fields were well looked after and others had dead, brown grass. That is the nature of having volunteers working for you. I don’t think that program worked out very well.


The next stage I remember was the city watering the grass once a month which of course left us with grass that was dead and brown unless Mother Nature pitched in a few millimeters a month. I guess that is why a couple of years back Buster and I noticed the city workers digging up the fields and laying pipe down. It makes sense now, they had a long term plan. Who knew?


The sprinklers probably come on in the wee hours of the morning when all of us good people are dreaming and there is less demand on the water system. Next summer I will have to spend some nights checking on when the fields are being watered. I’m retired so I can catch up on my sleep during the day. Besides, I kind of have a hankering to take a drink from the sprinklers.

Sunday 22 November 2020


I think that I have established that I am something of a pack rat. To me a pack rat is somewhere between a collector and a hoarder. I am not a collector because I’m not committed enough to stick to collecting and quite frankly I am just too cheap. I’m not a hoarder probably because my wife won’t let me be. Don’t get me wrong, when I die the kids are going to have to fill a large bin with stuff that they will wonder “Why in God’s name did he have this?” That is just the way it is going to be…not my problem, I will be dead.


I am more or less harmless and can be convinced to get rid of things. The key for me is that if I think I will need an item or a hundred items in the near or distant future then I need to hold on to whatever bit of crap it happens to be.


A year or two ago one of the neighbours put a perfectly good picture frame in the garbage. It had a perfectly awful picture in it that definitely deserved to be in the garbage. Of course I rescued the frame and tossed the picture. I had in mind that if I put cork in the frame I could display the artwork I get from the grand kids. It would have worked to except for the fact that I rarely if ever get anything from the grand kids and even less since the onset of Covid.


A month or so ago I was cleaning the computer room. Well, cleaning is a little strong, I was moving piles of things around the computer room and found a stack of last years Christmas cards. I stopped “cleaning” and shuffled through the cards and noticed that there were more than a few really nice cards. More than a few crappy ones as well. I have a friend or two that send hand made cards which are mini works of art. Some people put a lot of thought into buying just the right card for each person and others are just wonderfully funny or touching. They shouldn’t be tossed into the recycling bin at the end of the year. Well, other people do that I guess. After a not so difficult search I found the cards from 2018 and 2017 and there were wonderful cards in those piles too.


Well, I put the empty frame and the wonderful cards together and came up with a new Christmas decoration that will subtly change from year to year. It looks pretty good too and makes me look like I planned keeping all of those cards over the years. It also gives me an excuse to keep Christmas cards in years to come without any guilt what so ever. There is also the added benefit of having something else for the kids to toss into the dumpster.



Monday 16 November 2020

Thank You

I was born in the middle of the last century. That makes me sound a lot older than I am or maybe I am a lot older than I feel. Be that as it may, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a changing world.


Up until the mid century give or take a decade or two, communication was much more difficult than it is now. Mostly people would physically talk to one another or they would write letters. There was the telegraph, but it was expensive so you really couldn’t do much more than say I am fine or send me money unless you were wealthy and then you wouldn’t need anyone to send you money. The telephone was certainly all over the place, but again, long distance charges were expensive. I used the phone system to keep in touch with my friends, make plans on where to meet and talk to any girls that happened to be interested in me. So…no girls on the phone.


My parents generation were writers. They would send letters to loved ones and friends just to see how they were doing and they would get replies back in short order with an answer and well wishes. Letters would be written to complain to businesses about consumer problems and the president of the company would write back thanking you for bring his attention to whatever the problem happened to be. I’m sure it was his secretary, but that is where the real power lay anyways.


Not everything was sunshine and roses however. If you were sent a birthday card, Easter card, Christmas card or a card of congratulations, then you were expected to send a thank you letter or card back thanking Aunt Flo for her thoughtfulness. If a present were involved then it had to be more than a scribbled thanks at the bottom of a letter your mom wrote, you had to promise undying devotion for the rest of your life and longer since of course there was a God in heaven. I didn’t understand why a phone call wouldn’t do even better than a card or letter. I guess Miss Manners would have been able to explain it to me.


I just chaulked the whole Thank You note up to an old people thing. My friends were happy with a phone call but you had to write a letter thanking Aunt Ev and Uncle Tom for the silver pickle plate they sent for your wedding. Don’t think about it…just write.


I shouldn’t complain because I made my living delivering cards and letters for the Post Office. We dreaded this time of year because the volume of mail was unbelievable. Well, at least when I first started, by the time I retired the Christmas mail volume was a shadow of what it had been. Every year we receive fewer and fewer Christmas cards and I really can’t remember the last time I got a letter. Email doesn’t count! In fact I am starting to hate getting a Christmas Email from people that should be sending Christmas cards. You can’t display animated Christmas emails on the wall, no matter how cute it is that eight dancing reindeer turn into eight naked Santa’s. That’s wrong!


I sent my grandson’s a coded letter about two weeks ago and have been waiting to hear how they liked it. Last night I texted my daughter and she texted back that she hadn’t checked her mailbox for a while. I can’t imagine going not checking my mailbox on a daily basis on the off chance that someone might send me a thank you note. It could happen… Anyways, Hurricane liked the coded letter and had translated the first page. I imagine Tornado looked at it and thought this is hard, fuck it. I will find out the next time I am talking to them. I may send them another letter, maybe I can start a trend. At the very least I will contribute to my pension in a very real way.


I can send myself a Thank You note.

Friday 13 November 2020


Okay, it has been a couple of days since Remembrance Day and I feel safe writing this. Well, safe…ish.


My dad fought in the great war and I thank God or dumb luck that I never had to fight any kind of war. The people that went to war come back just a little bit off and I can’t blame them one bit. In fact they should be commended that they are just a little bit off. Some of course came back with lifelong emotional problems that I just can’t fathom. For this I thank them and remember them and pray that the kids growing up today have the same difficulty that I have understanding the horrors of war.


Having said that, I have to acknowledge that my formative years were spent protesting the war in Viet Nam. I was Canadian so my protests were mostly listening to protest songs and watching the youth in the US protesting on TV news. I read about the draft and the war and for the life of me I just didn’t understand why the American government sent all of those young men over there. I still don’t get it. I am sure democracy battling creeping socialism had something to do with it but at the end of the day it had far more to do with selling weapons. War is good for business!


The Second World War was more about battling the real enemy that wanted nothing short of world domination. The atrocities that happened during that war are well documented and they are the reasons that we should never forget and stay constantly on guard so that it can never happen again.


On Remembrance day all that I could think of were those that stayed behind during WWII. Unless people were different than today I can imagine that it wouldn’t be easy to be a young man that was unable to go to war. Many had physical problems that kept them from going to war and many more worked in industries needed to support the war effort. My father in law was a farmer and exempt from fighting. Thank God for those that kept everyone fed during that difficult time. I would bet there would be shaming when they went into town. Can’t blame the moms and wives that lost a son, boyfriend or husband for being a little bitter.


Not to mention that food and goods were rationed so that the soldiers would have enough to keep fighting. Those women that remained also had to work in factories not just to keep food on the table, but to manufacture the weapons of war. These deprivations went on for years and even after the war times were very difficult. I just can’t wrap my head around what those brave people put up with and thank God that I will never suffer through a war.


When I think about what that was like it makes the sacrifices I am making because of the Coronavirus19 fade into nothingness.


I remember how fortunate I am and that my good fortune comes at the expense of those millions of men and women who really suffered and died.



Sunday 8 November 2020

Smarter Than That

On a Friday or Saturday night when I was in high school I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and go and hang out with my friends. Sometimes there would be a party, but mostly we would just walk or bike around talking and goofing off. We would set a time and place to meet and then decide what we would do that night. Every now and then my friends would get to the place early and assume that I wasn’t coming and then would head out leaving me stranded. I would spend the rest of the night trying to find them and since there was no set place for them to go I just wandered by myself. The odd time I got lucky, but more often than not I had an early night spent at home.


I know, that sounds kind of pathetic and it probably was but that was also life. I wasn’t the only one left high and dry, I was often with the group that took off without whoever stayed in watching Gunsmoke. There just wasn’t any way to get in touch because we were wandering thirty or forty years before the cell phone. Part of the problem is that we wandered such a large area and hopping on the TTC to go downtown to check out Sam’s or A &A record stores was common. I liked wandering down Yonge street. I rarely bought anything but it was fun hanging out with my buddies. Well, if I could find them of course.


I am still in touch with those people and for the most part nothing has changed. We still tease each other and laugh a lot when we talk. The topics we talk about now involve knee surgeries, grand kids, the weather and of course Covid. One of the good things about Covid is that we have an open Zoom meeting every Saturday at 2:00PM for whoever wants to chat. Mostly there are four or five couples and the odd time we have had nine or ten but if yo can make the call then that’s cool. I look forward to talking and catching up because I am out west and they are pretty much all in southern Ontario. Bottom line, it is fun.


There was another Zoom call this afternoon. I was a little late getting set up and didn’t sign in till about ten after two. I was the only guy on the Zoom meeting. I sat waiting for the others to come online but after a few minutes it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I can only look at myself on the computer screen for so long, I am beautiful but I can get better resolution in the bathroom mirror. As I was waiting for someone to come on I began to think about those high school days. Did they meet up on time and decide to go somewhere else on the web? Did they have their video turned off and were having fun watching me watch me? Did they go downtown?


I think that they were all taking advantage of the 20°C day in Ontario while I sat inside in Alberta watching the beginnings of a snow storm.  I hope they had a good day and I will talk to them next weekend unless the time of the Zoom meetings has changed and they just don’t want to talk to me any longer. Nah…they are smarter than that. 

Thursday 5 November 2020


Like most of the world, I have been anxiously awaiting the result of the US election. The first night of the election was heart rending, but when the mail in and absentee ballots started to be counted the outcome that I wished for started to be more likely to happen. It isn’t a given of course, but I have a more positive feeling than I have had for the past four years.


I had hoped that there would be a resounding landslide victory for Biden, but if he wins at all it will be by squeaking through. That to me is a sad commentary on life in the US. For the past four years they have had a leader that is really just a disgusting human being only looking out for himself and constantly lying to the populace he is supposed to represent. He has racist leanings, treats women as second class citizens and most of the population are just there to serve his needs. Still, they flock to his banner! Just how awful is it to live in the US?


We have problems here in Canada but for the most part anyone I come in contact with if asked would say they are mostly happy with their lives. That’s not to say that a million more dollars in the bank wouldn’t help or a trip to some island paradise in the winter would ever be refused. Now, understand that I was born and raised middle class and have lived my entire adult life as a white, middle class man in a middle class neighbourhood of a wealthy, vibrant city. My family have mostly avoided serious health problems and financially we have been lucky enough to have enough. Life is good.


I know there are marginal people in Canada, people that have fallen through the cracks of our social safety net and it seems that those holes are getting bigger every year. We don’t care for our sick, elderly, poor and mentally challenged as a modern industrial nation should. There should be no starving children in Canada, there should be no homeless people in Canada, there should be no one in Canada that has to go to work or school hungry. We should be embarrassed that those people exist in our country.


We can fix things, but we need to be a little less greedy. We need to willingly pay our taxes so that our cities and provinces can afford to keep the services we need funded. We need to look at a person begging in the street and think “How can I help?” instead of “Why don’t the police do something about that eyesore?” We need to punish those that willingly hurt others and our society for their own gain. We have to change the laws that protect the guilty. We do need change.


I’m not sure that we can be better people. We really haven’t changed in four thousand years and judging from what I have seen in the election south of the border, it just may be another four thousand years before there is any change. Maybe we should look to artificial intelligence as a good thing. Perhaps the machines as they take over more of the traditional roles humans have done until now will force us to become better humans.




Maybe those smart machines will flick the switch and put an end us all for our own good . In time the machines just may flick the switch back on and say 


Tuesday 3 November 2020

Orange Asshole

The next few hours will determine the fate of the world. No pressure on the American public at all. I can’t visualize a scenario that would give Donald Trump another four years, but in 2016 I couldn’t visualize a scenario that would elect a bozo like Trump to be president for the first four years. I just don’t trust my reading of the American people.


I have to be honest, I have never really liked the American people. Oh, individually they are fine, caring and thoughtful people that are capable of doing wondrous things. However, as a group they can be total assholes. The ugly American is alive and well and quite possibly be casting a ballot for Trump right now. The USA have done wonderful things and spawned incredible music, movies, literature and scientific marvels. We have to give credit where credit is due, the Americans can move mountains if they are so inclined.


Perhaps I have been disappointed these past few years because the US has collectively withdrawn from being a glowing example to the rest of the world of what could be and what should be.


Once we were hit by the Corona virus, I had hoped that the US would be reminded of their destiny and rise up to help save the world. If not save, then they could and should have set an example of how to react to fight this disease. Of course that didn’t happen because the country is led by selfish, greedy people that will not willing do anything for anyone unless there is a financial or political benefit for them. If this were paper, there would be a teardrop right here ….→


In my world, the drug companies, universities, government think tanks and all of the really smart people should be working together to beat this plague. Once a vaccine is found (and it will be) there should be no expense spared to produce enough for every man woman and child in the world. This could be the human race’s moment of greatness!


Sadly, I think that if there is anyone left this moment will be the point that is recognized as the downfall of our civilization. At least the dinosaurs got to blame a meteor impact. We get to blame an orange asshole.


Have a good night and let’s hope there is a good tomorrow.

Monday 2 November 2020

Code Breakers

I recently finished reading a book that talked about modern day ciphers that are used by governments to keep their secrets secret. They are very complicated and use computer algorithms or whatever the terminology is for really, really, mind blowing, crazy complicated.


Codes and ciphers have been around for as long as important, paranoid people have been around. Mostly military secrets of course about battle plans or the timing of the attack which is something that generals want to keep from the enemy otherwise the attack would fail and the attacking general might just end up with his head on a spike. Codes can be life or death. Of course lovers have used codes to profess their love without the parents finding out that the perfect match they had in mind for their baby isn’t the match that baby wants. Conan Doyle wrote the “Adventure of the Dancing Men” in which Sherlock Holmes solves a mystery that involves codes.


During the second world war the German army developed the Enigma machine which mechanically changed codes daily and the code was impossible to break. Well, until the allies captured a machine and managed to break the secret of the Enigma machine which aided in shortening the war. There have been numerous books written about the machine and the people that aided in breaking the code, More than a few movies as well.


I had codes on the mind this past week and decided that I would send Hurricane and Tornado letters written in code. I chose to use the “Pigpen Code” which is one of the simplest of codes, using a few grids to substitute the grid shapes for letters. The idea being that I would send them each a short letter in code including the code key so that they can decode the letter. Sounds like fun and it would give them a challenge that they hadn’t had yet. Whether they will find it fun or not, I will have to wait on the Post Office to deliver the letters.


I do know that it isn’t easy to write a letter in code and it took an hour at least per letter. By the end I could remember the shape for “A” “E” and “L” and several others, but I had to try not to screw it up. Decoding will be tough enough if I did it right, but if I screwed up a letter then that word wouldn’t make any sense. It is possible that the boys will take one look and toss the code in the recycling bin. Breaking a code can’t be as much fun as a video game.


I guess I think that they might just get into it and write funny notes about their teachers and possibly get detentions for passing notes in class. Better to get a detention for a note that the teacher can’t read than have the teacher read that you think they stink and have a funny face. Maybe something even less flattering.


Well, I guess I will find out next week, but it was fun for a while picturing my grandsons as the world’s preeminent code breakers and knowing that I set them on their course.


Saturday 31 October 2020

Halloween 2020

So, this is Halloween 2020. We are about an hour away from the time that the Ghosts,  Goblins, clowns, princesses, tramps and any number of scary, horrifying creatures come knocking on the door crying out TRICK OR TREAT and here in the west they will sometimes call out HALLOWEEN APPLES! That must be a holdover from when we trusted our neighbours not to put needles in apples or poison in the candy. The good old days.


Louise and I aren’t sure how many kids or if there will be any at all come knocking this year. I don’t think I would send the kids out to strangers homes for candy. The mayor said a week or two ago that Halloween will go on as per usual but cautioned parents and kids to practice social distancing and to wear masks. We will see how much weight that the mayor has with kids on sugar highs or kids that want to be on sugar highs.


I don’t think that a global pandemic would have stopped me and my friends from going out in search of candy when I was the right age. Mind you, we didn’t have as much candy on a regular basis as the kids do today. We just didn’t have the disposable income and being raised by parents who went through the Great Depression and the hardships of the second world war we were lucky to get anything sweeter than raisins. It wasn’t that bad, but we sure enjoyed free candy, even those hard toffees that were so sticky you thought that your teeth would pull out of your mouth when you ate them. They were the last candy left so you really didn’t have any choice. Even your big brother wouldn’t steal those candies.


So, I am waiting…waiting…waiting to see how much candy Louise and I will be “forced” to eat in the aftermath of the night. We just had our first two Princesses and I will finish this after the witching hour is over…


Okay, the final count is in. We had about 31 kids come to the door in costume and a few cute kids that didn’t seem to quite understand the concept but got candy anyways of course. We had about ten high school kids who were probably looking for free munchies to take to a party. They got candy as well, but they received the “lesser” candy, the stuff I would prefer not to eat. All in all this year wasn’t a lot different than the last few years have been. We live in a neighbourhood that is just starting to transition from older folks like us who are in the majority and younger folks that have moved in with young kids. Too soon the young families will be in the majority and the cycle will begin again.


Maybe next year we can all be a little more normal than this year and get back to not being concerned about how we hand out our candy.

Thursday 29 October 2020




I just watched an interview that asked people in the USA how they were going to vote and just where their loyalties lay. The breakdown was pretty much as I thought it would be, the better educated, thoughtful people were going to vote Biden for president and the poorly educated, unwashed, ignorant militia types were voting for Trump. I’m not sure how many are actually voting for Biden and how many are voting against Trump and all that he stands for, but that doesn’t matter, all that matters is having a human as the most powerful man in the world and not an orange.


The interview was one of those man on the street type of interviews which although not very scientific it does seem representative of that particular corner at that particular time of day. Who could ask for more? The interview that bothered me was of the two college aged kids that were sprawled of cement steps somewhere contemplating if they should smoke another doobie or just let the last one take effect. The one kid said that he was unsure of who to vote for and the other one said he wasn’t intending to vote because it wouldn’t make any difference. WTF?


Where have these kids been the last four years? Oh yeah, in a cloud of smoke more than likely. Don’t they know that a vote for Biden will more than likely be a vote for legalizing grass. How could you watch your country drop so far in such a short span of time and not want to do anything that you could to help change things. I guess that right there is one of the reasons that Trump was elected in 2016. The politicians have convinced the bulk of the people that nothing will change no matter what you do or who you vote for. That just might be correct, but you should still try if only so that you can say you voted the other way and aren’t to blame.


I’m not even an American and I know that everything rests on what happens in the coming five days. Get off of those stone steps and go vote! It would be better if you vote for Biden, but if you happen to be ignorant, unwashed, uneducated and own five or more semi-automatic weapons, you should vote too. All you have to do is this



Monday 26 October 2020

Feel Sorry For Me

I had a roller coaster kind of day today.


It was one of those days that you just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head and forget the world for a few hours. I tend to be a worrier and I had a couple of things I needed to worry about today. We had scheduled our flu shots for today at 2:35 PM and had to take Buster to the vets at 1:45 PM which didn’t leave us with a lot of travel time. Originally I had planned to go to the vets at 11:30 but Louise changed the appointment because she didn’t like the 11:30 vet. She told me not to worry. Good luck with that.


I don’t like to be late for anything and thought that we should have changed one of the appointments to another day. I was over ruled of course. Buster has been not himself for a couple of months, having breathing problems and sounding like he had a something (fishbone? Thorn? Mass of ticks? Cancerous growth?) caught in his throat. I actually thought that we would be driving home without our beloved pet and certainly wouldn’t want to be brave getting my flu shot. When we got to the vets they put us in a waiting room and as the name implies they made us wait. All the time I was worrying about Buster and to a lesser degree about being late for our flu shot.


Just so you don’t worry, Buster will be alright and with a couple of weeks of antibiotics should be his old self. His old self is old and a 14 year old dog is a 14 year old dog after all. It was a traumatic day for him and he slept for the rest of today, just waking up long enough to puke his pill on the carpet.


We did get our flu shot but arrived about 15 minutes late. I figured they would send us away but they made us wait. The place we waited was bigger than the vet’s waiting room but not as cozy. The lady giving the shots was very pleasant and gave a painless needle. She is very over worked and we felt sorry for her, but I got mine. My shoulder has been hurting since I got home and I suspect it will hurt tomorrow. The BITCH!


I have been getting the flu shots since they began giving them for free at the Post Office 25 years ago or so. For some inexplicable reason they gave the shots on a Wednesday and even though I was told I couldn’t get sick as the virus they injected was dead, I got sick every Thursday after “Shot Wednesday”. The sad thing is that I got sick psychosomatically(?) and actually felt shitty the whole day off. Sometimes I hate being honest…ish.


Anyways, Buster and I will soon go to bed and tomorrow we should be back to our old selves. We will go for a walk in the morning and find the best posts and bushes to pee on. We don’t take turns, it is mainly Busted doing the work. Hopefully tomorrow all I have to do is complain to Louise about how sore my arm is and why doesn’t she feel sorry for me. 

Saturday 24 October 2020

I Made a Drum

I think that I mentioned I have begun to use my mom’s old sewing machine to do assorted shop projects, some clothing repairs and of course make enough face masks so that I have enough face masks. Calgary’s weather is a little odd to say the least, tonight for instance it will feel like -21⁰ C and this coming Tuesday it will be +10⁰ C. We just can’t rely on the weather to stay normal. Of course it is nice when it warms up suddenly but not so nice when it gets far too cold for the season/


Keeping that in mind, I have an assortment of coats and jackets in the closet that I keep rotating through pretty much the year round. I have very light wind breakers right up to a parka that keeps me warm when it is minus 40⁰. In the pockets of all of those coats I have a pair of mini gloves because when the weather is mild that is all that I need and when the weather is “I wish I were dead!” cold, all I need is to keep my hands warm during the twenty feet from the back door to the car in the garage. It may be a stupid system, but it works for me and if I have gloves in each coat then I never find myself outside in the cold without at least some protection.


I plan to do the same thing with masks. I will probably need more than one mask for each coat because you really should wash the mask after every use. Also, I should leave one or two masks in each of the cars just in case. I hate the idea that I will drive to the store only to find that I did remember my wallet, but forgot my mask and can’t get into the store.


When I was last at my favourite second hand store I noticed ten inch squares of assorted material that is meant for the beginner quilter to make a quilt. I may make a quilt this winter, but right now my interest in those squares is to make masks from them. Ten inches is just about the right size for the mask pattern that I make and 25 of the squares are about $1.50. The way I figure it I am getting each mask for about 12¢ not counting the cost of elastic. So far I have bought two packs of colourful squares for the front of the masks and one package of plain material for the lining of the masks.


These packages of squares come wrapped in cling wrap tapped with packing tape which once opened is pretty much useless. I started to look around the house for some kind of container that has the dimensions of 11” X 11” that will house the squares flat and make it easy…ish to sort through. I wandered the house for an hour or so trying to find the perfect container to no avail and the garage was too cold to spend very much time looking, but I am confident there wasn’t anything remotely adequate.


Well, the only thing that I can do is to make a shallow box for it. I had a few boards from another thing-a-ma-jig which I cut down and glued together. I had sides but no bottom for the box and I didn’t want to go out to the cold garage to cut some plywood to fit. I do have a small box of leather that I stripped from an old couch that I took apart a few years back and a leather bottom seems like the easiest thing to do. I stapled the leather on to the frame good and taut and then nailed strips of wood around the edges. It isn’t pretty, but it holds the fabric squares nicely.

An added bonus is that with the leather pulled tight it makes a pretty good drum. My buddy is into drums and drumming and I think Louise went on a drum workshop one weekend years ago, but I was born without rhythm or really any kind of musical talent. 

Thursday 22 October 2020

I Wonder If Dick Can Hear The Geese This Year

The flakes are falling outside as I sit here and it is just around -3⁰C with a windchill about 10⁰C colder than that. I have decided that today is a good day to sit and look out of my window. Yes, I should have taken the dog for a walk but he didn’t seem any more enthusiastic about being outside than I was. I guess it is true that the longer you have a pet the more you become that pet.


I can’t help but think of all those summer days that I frittered away putting off projects because I had months of warm weather ahead of me. I spent too much time doing indoor projects that are meant for the colder days of winter. Mind you, I did enjoy my summer a lot so I guess all things considered it was time well spent.


I heard my first flock of geese today which is really late for it. Now, I’m not sure if it just happened that I was inside when the flocks flew over or perhaps the lead goose saw me and told the other geese to run silent. I don’t see why he or she would do that because I don’t pose a threat of any kind to geese. I have never had goose for dinner although I wouldn’t say no if I were offered. Well, I might say no, why break a long standing tradition.


I have been wondering if the geese and ducks were planning their flight south this year. I wouldn’t go south or should I say I wouldn’t willingly fly over the USA for the foreseeable future. I have a feeling that there will be too many reckless, disappointed people who have a right to bear arms and bullets could be flying everywhere. Nope, the geese, ducks and human snowbirds should take the year off and let the good citizens or America have their civil war while we prepare for an influx of political refugees.


It wouldn’t be the first time I harboured people that fled the US in my house. During the Vietnam war my brother was dating a girl from Rochester that he met in Florida. Well, she had a brother named Dick who was unable to avoid the draft and had to go to Fort Dix for basic training. Well, Dick didn’t like army life too much and decided to leave. One dark, moonless night Dick jumped from a second story window in the barracks, used some of that basic training to get out of Fort Dix and entered Canada on vacation, never planning to return to the US of A.


Dick showed up at our door and asked mom and dad if he could stay at our house until he got a job and a place of his own. Dad wasn’t sure, the war he fought in most people signed up to fight willingly, but Dick explained his reasoning and dad relented. I think dad saw too many things he couldn’t unsee while he served his country and in the German prison camp.


Dick stayed for a while and mom got him a job where she worked and eventually he got his own place, a nice basement apartment not too far from our place. From time to time friends of Dicks would show up at our door in much the same predicament as Dick had been in and we would feed them and put them up for a few days until they decided what they would do and where they would go.


These people were true hippies and I learned a lot from them about life and choices. Also about drugs and music. In fact, the first time I heard Abbey Road by the Beatles was in Dick’s basement apartment and I can still remember the smells and sounds of that day.

Dick left the area and I mostly lost track of him. From time to time others that had stayed with us would drop by and catch us up on all the latest gossip. Tony got into heroin and he drifted away from everyone, and John began traveling the world and probably still is to this day. Dick was stoned on acid at a party and put his arm through a plate glass window. He was cut up pretty badly but the good news is that he met and talked to God who told him his life’s purpose. The last I heard about him was that he was living in northern Alberta had cleaned up and was running a Christian retreat making oodles of money for whatever sect he was following.


I wonder if Dick can hear the geese this year.  

Sunday 18 October 2020

My Right Hand

I’ve spent most of the day staring at my right hand.


It is the same hand that I had yesterday, the day before that and the day before that, going back decades. It has aged with me, developing too many wrinkles from use, there are a lot of small scars the cause of which have been lost in the mists of time. One from a dog bite and probably one or two from working with wood and more than likely the rest are from something stupid that I did and don’t wish to remember even if I could.


The knuckle on my index finger is a little over sized and has a slight crack in the middle going lengthwise as opposed to the more common width wise. I broke it when I was fourteen or so and threw a punch at my brother, he blocked it with his elbow. I lost the fight and my finger hurt like hell. I knew that it wasn’t broken because I could move it even though it hurt when I did. A few days or weeks later my parents had the doctor do an x-ray and sure enough it was broken…lengthwise. It doesn’t even help me by hurting when the weather is about to change, all it does is remind me of a lost fight.


I have a series of scars running down my thumb and terminating on my wrist where the hand meets the wrist in a jagged scar. It happened about thirty or thirty-five years ago around this time of year. Maybe it was closer to Christmas because I was making some kind of decoration. I was ripping a two by four that was on saw horses and rather than stop the saw when I came to the sawhorse I just switched hands and lifted the two by four with my right hand. The saw blade caught and kicked back down my thumb and ending up in my wrist. There was screaming and Louise loaded me in the car and raced to the doctors after telling the kids (under ten) to go to the neighbours. We had just moved in and didn’t know the neighbours but they were and probably still are good people. I passed out a few times in the car on the way and when we got to the clinic I passed out while the nurse walked me to the back room. If you show up to the clinic with a blood soaked towel wrapped around your arm, you jump to the head of the line.


Dr. Hudy stitched me up and there was some doubt if I would regain full use of my hand. The positive was that I got a couple of months off of work (with pay) because a mailman without the use of one hand is even more useless than a two handed mailman. Lucky for me we had just bought an Atari game console with Space Invaders and Millipede. I attribute getting full use of my hand back to playing hours and hours of video games using the joy stick. I got pretty good at Space Invaders too.


I have a little rheumatism in my middle finger, possibly from overuse when driving on Deerfoot Trail. I use it to educate the mass of poor drivers in the city but unfortunately I have had little to no effect over the years. I also tend to pick at my nails which I wish I didn’t, but I am a work in progress and I suspect that will be something I need to work on in my next life.


My right hand tells the story of my life I guess and probably the other parts of my body have their own stories to tell but that will wait for another day. The reason I have been staring at my right hand today is because of the weather. It was -8⁰C and felt like -18⁰C and there were a few brave flakes of snow drifting down. I was looking at my hand because we are looking forward to five months of winter ahead of us. That is one month for each finger.

I know which finger I should show old man winter!

Saturday 17 October 2020

A Great Winter Vacation

Well, lucky me! We had our first sort of major snowfall last night, in four months time I will laugh at calling this a major snowfall, but I don’t live four months in the future, I live in the now. In the now the temperature feels cold, there is ice under the four centimetres snow that we received and I had to shovel and spread sand on the ice. This wouldn’t normally bother me except that it is forecast to stay cold for the foreseeable future. It is too early to settle into winter.


I had to help a woman up that fell in a parking lot outside of the market today. My initial impulse was to rush to her aid which is laudable. When I started to help her I couldn’t help but think she might not appreciate the help due to the threat of getting Covid 19 from a perfect stranger. Well, I’m not perfect but I am strange. While we were struggling to get her off of the wet ice I worried that I might fall and then they would have to get a crane truck in to lift me vertical. That was too much thinking for just a few seconds. I will be pretty pissed if I get sick.


I tend to dread the coming of winter even while I look forward to it. The first snowfall means that it can’t be very long before we start to look forward to the Christmas season. Of course since winter seems to have come along a trifle early this year it is signaling the imminence of Halloween. I wasn’t sure if Halloween would happen this year, but I have been assured that it will. Alberta’s top doctor says Halloween is a go and if you ask any kid if we should cancel Candy Day they just give you a look that says things that little kids shouldn’t say. I thought that maybe the door to door collection of candy might pose a threat but I guess some things are worth dying for.


I put away most of the out door stuff a couple of days ago, but I still need to organize the shed bringing winter things forward and moving the summer things to the back. I won’t be needing flower pots for a few months and those garden tools can take a nap until April. I do have to put the lawnmower away, I should drain the oil and gas but there is a better than even chance that won’t happen unless the snow melts and it warms up to seasonal temperatures. It will all get done, I just have to acclimatize myself to a new reality.


There is zero chance of a trip to a tropical paradise this year even if I win a lottery or my uncle Scrooge McDuck dies and leaves me a vault of money for me to swim in. I just can’t trust our American cousins to show wisdom in their Covid 19 precautions. Maybe I will take a virtual trip to Hawaii. I can turn the heat up in the house and stand in a couple of inches of water in the tub pretending I am walking along the beach. I will get Louise to waft a dead fish under my nose every now and then to add a little realism. I can maybe make a shave ice and pretend that my breakfast comes from the Kihei Cafe and lunch from Nalu’s. At sunset I will sit on a lawn chair in the front window and if I squint my eyes and use my imagination I should be able to see a whale just on the horizon just before the rare green flash happens.


Should be a great winter vacation…  


Friday 16 October 2020

Favourite Burner

One of the things I find interesting about writing a blog is that it forces you to think about why you do the things you do and why you do them the way that you do. That kind of sounds like a song lyric.

Last week I read something that I have been thinking about since I read it. The question was “Do you have a favourite burner on your stove?” First I thought “What a stupid question!” and then I thought “The front left burner of course. What other option is there?”. Well, on our stove there are three other choices, but one is too hot, one is too small and the other is too far to the right. In point of fact, all of the burners work equally well and the right front burner gives the option of extra burner size if you want it for those large stock pots.


I have been thinking about why I do things the way I do them. For instance, this morning I was getting dressed and put my left leg into the pants first, followed by the right. I always dress this way but in the spirit of scientific discovery I took my pants off and put my right leg in first and the pants went on just fine. It felt a little weird doing it that way but I am sure that I could get used to it. I could, but I won’t because it is the wrong way to dress.


My right side is the dominant side so maybe that explains it. I work with lefty and if lefty fucks up then I can fall back by doing things the right way. Except the right way is left, or has been for most of six decades. I wonder what other things I do out of habit. I pretty much always walk the dog on the same route convincing myself that Buster prefers the smells he knows and likes to shit in a familiar place. Who doesn’t? A friend always walks her dog on a different route every day, thus confusing her dog and running the risk of running into a pack of feral dogs that will eat her dog and quite probably her.


I close the curtains at night because it is safer that way. That probably goes back to the lizard brain and wanting to be safe at night. I like to eat what I know and don’t really want to know what I eat. I have favourite items of clothing that probably should be thrown in the garbage but they are comfortable. I have a neon blue sweat shirt that I like to wear when I get sick because blue makes me feel better, not actually better, but mentally better.


I guess I just like to be comfortable and know what is coming into my life. It isn’t very exciting, but I can live with that and I know just where I belong. Things will change eventually, the kids will put me in a home or the ground and I won’t be allowed to make decisions for myself any longer. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound much different from being married.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Everything I Need

 I haven’t been doing very much since the pandemic started back in March, but to tell the truth I didn’t do too much before the pandemic. I guess you might say I have been in training for the pandemic since I retired, I am highly experienced at isolation and frittering away hours and hours every day.


To the people who say that they have watched everything that there is to watch on Netflix, I say you just aren’t trying hard enough. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Netflix’s content and I watch far too much TV. Oh, there is regular TV as well that has a backlog of 70 years of programming that is still or could still be relevant. Don’t even get me started on all of those DVD’s that are lurking in my house and at the library.


Yes, I know that some of you are really, really, really missing sports programming, but not nearly as much as the team owners are missing the billions of dollars they are losing by not having seasons or having half assed seasons. I don’t know why they just don’t play seasons from the sixties or seventies. Only the old farts have seen those games and you can’t tell me that anyone remembers the entire NHL season from 1967. Sure, you probably could Google who won which game but you can Google the end of new movies as well and you don’t. Maybe the powers that be are worried that if we get to see sports from bygone days we just won’t be satisfied with the watered down product we get now. I could be wrong.


When my mom passed in 2000 we sold the house and I kept certain things that reminded me of her and that I thought I could use. Mom was a very good seamstress and had a very good sewing machine as well as a killer semi-professional ironing board that had a built in water reservoir for the iron and a vacumn that would pull the steam through the fabric to make the iron more effective I suppose. Well, it has been 20 years and neither has been used since returning from Ontario with me. Louise prefers her machine that she has used for years and it has been easier to use the hand held iron that we are used to. A couple of months ago I oiled up Mom's old machine and got it working again. A few weeks back I dropped the old iron on the floor and broke it so rather than buy a new iron I set up mom’s old board.


That’s right, I have been teaching myself how to sew. It helps that I can get advice and direction from Louise, but the internet also has an unlimited supply of information just there for the taking. I started sewing things for the shop, a holder for my box end wrenches since the 30 year old plastic one fell apart years ago and I just kept using it. I made some draw string bags for projects that I can’t remember now, but the bags turned out well. Since we are in the middle of a plague I made two plague doctor masks, one dark and one light. They look kind of like the spies in the Spy vs Spy comic. I tried to design a face mask based on a neoprene one I wear on extremely cold winter days. It sort of worked, but didn’t look pretty. I tried variations and found some designs for masks on the internet. With each project my skill improved from terrible to not as terrible and eventually to barely passable. I’ll take it.


Some of my jeans needed patching and although Louise is more than happy to fix them I decided that I could probably do it and surprise, surprise I did. The patches aren’t the best, but they are good enough for me. I have an old flannel shirt I wear around the house when I feel a chill but the collar is frayed and there was a tear around the belly. Probably from a knife fight…not because I am too fat. Anyways, I took the collar off, flipped it over and sewed it back on. Voila! It looks new again. Well, it looks like an old shirt that doesn’t have a frayed collar. Patching the rip in the shirt just involved finding a scrap of material that sort of looked like the material in the shirt


I found a Youtube video of a 3D face mask that works well for me and looks pretty good. I now have five of them for me, made a couple for the grandkids and even Louise is testing the pattern out to see is she likes the mask. You should give it a try if you are so inclined.


Well, time for me to check on the mail and see what pizza joint wants my business and which charity thinks I should give them money. Everybody needs something I suppose. Well, except me, everything I need is either on TV or my computer.