Monday, 22 June 2020

How You Use It

How do birds know where to find food?

I sort of understand that a woodpecker knows that if he or she pecks the bark of a tree long enough and deep enough then if it is the right kind of tree there should be some tasty bug to be found. It would be odd if the woodpecker didn’t know where to find those tasty bugs after hundreds of thousands of years. The same goes for Robins that strut across my lawn, cocking their little heads every now and then and when the time is right they use their beak and somehow pull up a worm. The worm seems to be struggling. But how much struggle can you put up without and arms, legs, eyes or ears? How did the robin know thew worm was there? It isn’t as if the worm was making a lot of noise slowly working through the topsoil. He didn’t have any shovels, earth movers or dynamite to help get by that pebble in his way that the bird might have heard. It’s a mystery to me.

Picking up ants or grain from the dirt would be a pretty simple lesson for Mother Nature to teach our feathered friends. I mean, the food is just sitting (walking) there. I imagine that starvation is a good motivator in finding food.

I can remember standing on the beach in Fort Lauderdale Fla when I was a teenager and the seagulls that would hover at the waters edge waiting for me to toss a piece of bread in the air. More times than not the bird would catch it and a scuffle would ensue as the other birds tried to take that hunk of bread from the lucky bird that caught it. I had never seen anything like it. I eventually ran out of bread. The birds didn’t know that I had run out of bread and if anything they became more frenzied, hovering, dipping, climbing and hovering once again following me down the beach. The birds wanted more food! I am of an age that Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” was terrifying in 1963 and continues to worry me well into my sixties.

Standing on that beach I could picture there birds pecking out my eyes and ripping any soft part of my body. I liked the soft parts of my body and wished to keep them as parts of my body. I reached down and grabbed a handful of wood chips, cigarette butts and small shells off of the beach and tossed them to the birds as I slowly backed away towards safety. They soon realized that I didn’t have any real food and most of the birds slowly flew away to find some other sucker with a few slices of bread. One particularly vindictive bird shit on me.

So anyways, today I was watching a crow and he/she landed close to a garbage bin and flew up to stand on a plastic bag in the bin. He pecked at the bag until making a hole and within moments had pulled out something that looked like a small slice of bread. How did he know there was food in the bag? Is that how evolution works? We have only been using plastic garbage bags since 1950. A longish time for humans, but a drop in the ocean for evolution. I wouldn’t have known and my brain has to be twenty times the size of the birds.   

I guess it is true what they say, “it isn’t how big it is, it is how you use it.” 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Who Says You Can’t Buy Love

I never had a pet when I was a child. Well, not a real pet, one that you could cuddle with, play with and one that would love you unconditionally. I feel that I was short changed in some way just because my dad didn’t want a pet. I don’t think he had anything against animals in general but I suspect he knew that in spite of what his two boys said it would be he that walked the dog, cleaned the kitty litter box and paid the bills for food and health of those animals.
 My canary is very sick: Why do birds die more often during Dog ...
When I was eight or so I had my tonsils out and when asked what I wanted I told my mom and dad I wanted a dog. I got home from the hospital and instead of a dog there was a very sickly looking canary that instead of singing would give out a pathetic “peep…peep” every now and then. He came from a neighbour that had kept it in the basement without love or the basic minimal care any animal needs. I quickly tired of the canary, it couldn’t fetch, roll over or sit up. Every now and then it would fall off of it’s perch, but that was from exhaustion not a clever trick. Eventually my grandmother took the bird and nursed it back to health just in time for it to die.
 How to Take Care of Baby Fish - Pets
We had two guppies that quickly became two thousand which dad released into the wild sewage creek behind our house. The most entertaining thing the guppies ever did was flop all over dad when he slipped going down the bank, some of them ending up in his underwear. Still the stuff of family legend.
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My brother brought home a stray, snow white cat once. He said it followed him home but I would bet it came home in a bag of some sort. We called it Snoball. It was a wonderful pet during the daytime, but at night it would run up and down the hall howling and in the morning would hide under mom and dad’s bed so that it could rake it’s claws across dad’s ankles the instant his feet touched the floor. Good times…good times!

I kept grasshoppers in a jar until they died and did the same for frogs, butterflies and fireflies. I guess we weren’t a pet friendly home.

When I had kids of my own I vowed to get a dog so they would have built in playmates and I would have something that looked forward to seeing me when I came home no matter what kind of an asshole I had been in the morning. So for we have had Benji, Bailey and are currently blessed with Buster. If  it weren’t for Buster I wouldn’t get any exercise at all and I wouldn’t have anyone to listen to me. Louise tolerates me, but all I have to do is give Buster a treat and I own his soul. I think the kids liked the idea of having a dog growing up because they have all had dogs as adults.

This past weekend I went with Arwen, Hurricane and Tornado to pick up a rescue dog at an Animal Shelter in a nearby town. I was there to look after the boys while Arwen went in to do the paperwork involved in pet adoption. She came out with a Shepherd cross and the hopes that it won’t get too big over time. The name the shelter gave her was Marley, but as soon as they got home she became the dog named Sue. I have seen a few pictures of everyone in the family in various stages of cuddling with Sue. I think Sue found a loving home and a loving home found Sue.
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Who says you can’t buy love?

Friday, 15 May 2020

Convict Work Detail

I have mentioned in the past that I am something of a human magpie. I like nothing better than walking at the side of a road or highway checking out the interesting stuff that ends up in the gutter. I know that this is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but it gives me a chance to defocus on my life and look into the lives of others. Those others are litterbugs for the most part.

You might wonder just what I find so interesting so I will tell you just what I found on my walk yesterday morning. I found five Bingo scratch tickets and a $21 dollar Lotto Max ticket from May 1st. Not surprisingly, the scratch tickets and the lotto ticket didn’t win anything. I have found ones in the past that paid off but not yesterday. I did however manage to remove the tickets from the side of the road to the recycle bin behind my house. I found a 500 foot roll of 1/4 inch white ribbon which may or may not be used for crafts and or wrapping presents. It might get buried at the back of my workbench and whoever cleans out the garage when I die will have to toss it in the large bin they will need to rent for all of that crap I have collected. I found a slotted screwdriver which aside from having a slight bend (since straightened) is in good condition. A pair of sunglasses that I will never use but will clean and keep in the car for anyone who needs a shield from the sun. I also picked up an iPhone 5 that was damaged beyond repair.

I have a small collection of phones that someday I plan to use for a costume, craft or to cobble together a communication device after Armageddon. More than likely those phones will find themselves in the large bin after I die. Not yesterday’s phone though. While lying in bed this morning I realized that the phone was found where a day before there was a terrible accident caused by road rage and one young fellow died. I took the phone to the Calgary City Police head office which was locked and when I called the security office I was told that I would have to go to a district office. Weird!

When I worked at the Postal plant there was no postal outlet for people to mail items. Seemed kind of strange at the time and still does, but I suppose there must be a reason. I guess the reason could be that the place was run by idiots.

Speaking of which, I drove to the District office and phoned the number that was on the locked door. A cop answered and when I told him about the phone he reluctantly agreed to come and get it. He took my name and phone numbers and I drove home. I knew it wasn’t going to go smoothly, but I had done a good deed.

An hour or so later I got a call from a detective in the homicide department who wanted me to write a statement and send it in. Sure…in for a penny; in for a pound.
I got a response thanking me for the statement and a bright red warning that I should not share the email or part thereof with anyone. I guess that would make me a criminal. I have visions of being grilled by a defense lawyer at some time in the future about what the weather was like and just why I picked up evidence in a criminal trial. Of course I will go into the human magpie story and how I like to walk at the side of the highway picking up other peoples garbage.

I doubt I will get more than three years in a minimum security facility. On the bright side, I might get on the convict work detail cleaning up the highway.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Army & Navy Store

Army & Navy permanently closing because of COVID-19 - NEWS 1130



Just last week I heard that a favourite store would be closing permanently due to the effects of the Corona Virus. The store is just in BC and Alberta and has served us for 101 years. I am talking about Army & Navy Store.

Just last year they celebrated 100 years in business and were looking forward to another hundred. I think that thinking was optimistic, but at least they were thinking positively. The last few times I had visited it seemed that the variety of stock had shrunk and I had the feeling that fewer people were in the store. Of course that could just be the time of day that I as a retiree I can shop and when the working people of Calgary finished work the store may have filled with lower income people. It was a store that sold low end merchandise for the most part.

You could get work clothes for a third the price that Marks charges and although they may not have been as long lasting, they were very good value for money. When I started in the Post Office we had to have black, leather, lace up shoes and Army & Navy sold exactly what I needed. The shoes were black, made of leather with laces and had a good thick, oil resistant sole that would last me two years, all for about $30 or $40. Considering that I got $150 a season for shoe allowance I found myself financially ahead for a change. In later years I picked up clothing for working in the back yard that would be warm and I didn’t care what happened to it because after a month or so it didn’t owe me anything.

The Army & Navy Store also carried the best assortment of low to mid range camping, fishing and hunting gear. I am guessing about the hunting and fishing gear, but the camping gear was pretty good. Not great you understand, but for the one or two weekend a year camper it was just fine. Again, the price point was low and the gear did the job. There was a woman that ran the sporting goods section that was possibly the most knowledgeable person in the city when it came to camping and camping needs. Most of the Scout leaders I knew would often go and ask her advice on different equipment and gear. She would steer people to a higher end store if the need and usage was beyond Army & Navy stock. They also had the best price on white gas.

Every year they would hold a shoe sale that anyone (women) that appreciated shoes would make a point of going to. From what I understand from some women in my life the varieties and styles couldn’t be beat. Louise rarely went when she didn’t return with a couple of pair.

I am going to miss the store. I won’t even get the opportunity to go to a going out of business sale due to the Corona virus. They have just let the staff go and shut the doors. I am sure that the remaining stock will be liquidated somehow but I generally hear about those sales on the six o’clock news after they are over.

The world is going to lose a lot of stores and businesses that we have taken for granted over the years and I hope that other entrepreneurs manage to fill the void in years to come. 

Thursday, 7 May 2020

The Guy Next Door

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the living room debating if I should watch something on the TV or maybe I could do something creative. I have to tell you that I was leaning towards frittering away my time mindlessly watching something that might make me feel happy. It probably wouldn’t make me feel sad, until I am at the Pearly Gates and trying to explain all of those wasted hours to Saint Peter. That’s something to worry about in the future.

Louise came in from a walk and told me that the neighbour has locked her keys in the car. My initial response was “How is that my problem?”, but the mini angel on my right shoulder whispered something about the milk of human kindness and that I am indeed my brothers keeper. Hmmm… I looked out the window and saw three people huddled close together while one of them threaded a coat hanger into the drivers side window. I thought about the Corona virus and wondered again how this was my problem.

SHIT! I got up and walked out the door thinking that there was probably nothing I could do and if no good deed goes unpunished I just might die with some severe respiratory illness alone and in pain in the newly added Corona virus wing at the hospital. I walked to the side of the car that had no people and looked at the problem. SHIT again! I think there is something I can do.

Ever since I bought my first car and locked my keys inside, I learned how to open every car I have since owned without a key. Some were easier than others, but all can be opened. However, it does no good if the tool you need is locked into the trunk of the car. The newest car I have I don’t worry about because it is a push button start and if the key fob is in the car then the door should open unless the fob’s battery is dead. If that is the case then I’m back to the bent coat hanger.

I left the group with their heads together and went to my garage to get a length of plastic strapping that I have been saving for just such an occasion. When I got back I tried to get the passenger door open but was unable to get the strapping past the rubber door seal. Dick the helpful neighbour with the coat hanger had used a screwdriver to pry a gap at the top of the drivers side door. I held my breath and elbowed my way past the owner of the car and her son to get at the drivers side window. I slipped the plastic strap easily into the window and ten seconds later had managed to lasso the knob, gave a tug and the door opened.


I walked back home and in my mind I heard praises and wonderment sent my way. Truly I imagine that the neighbours won’t sleep as well knowing that the guy next door can break into their car in ten seconds.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

This is a Test

Okay, this is my new program for word processing, it is called WPS Office and according to the website it does most of the functions that Microsoft Office does except this one is free. Louise has Office and for about a year or so I just tagged along as an add on to her program but last night it wouldn’t let me tag on any longer unless we paid another $3 per month. Not a lot, but free is less. I didn’t do too well in Math during my school years, but I did learn that zero is lower than three.

Of course time will tell if this program is any good or if I will indeed need to pony up that three bucks every month. The info on this program did say that there were some unobtrusive ads that pop up from time to time, but so far there has been nothing. Maybe I will be able to type and save my documents only to find out that I need to pay to get them back. Kind of a digital protection racket as it were.

I kind of miss the days when I could just take the cover off of the typewriter, slip in a clean, fresh, white sheet of paper and proceed to type. Granted that the page looked pretty bad by the time I finished typing because I could never get through a whole page without any mistakes and back in the day there was no back space and delete to retype the word. Of course there wasn’t any auto correct function either. I would have freaked out if all of a sudden the typewriter erased and typed what it thought that I meant by “fucked up”.

I did think at one time that I would write all of my blogs by hand and then post a photo of the handwritten pages on the blog space. That fell apart because my handwriting is less than legible and I have never written a full page without numerous mistakes. Often I add an extra stroke onto an “a” making it a “d”. I cross out the extra stroke, but that just looks terrible. I also love fountain pens but they don’t always love me and will blot and blotch randomly on the page and there seems to be no way that I can control it.

I just wrote this to test if the WPS Office program will indeed work for my blog which is really the only writing that I do. If you are reading this then it worked or I gave up and spent the cash to be added onto Louise’s Microsoft Office program.

IN A PIGS EAR!!!

Bread and Circuses

haven’t written very much lately because like the rest of the world I don’t know what is happening. Oh, I know what is happening I just am having a little trouble processing it. I don’t understand how so many people feel that the governments all over the world are for some reason over reacting to the threat. I guess that a certain percentage of deaths is acceptable.  

The way that I look at it is that humans, especially the humans that are rich and powerful like being rich and powerful and will do anything to keep rich and powerful. None of them would willingly part with a penny let alone shut down their businesses unless there is a very serious threat to their bank account. They cancelled hockey in Canada for God’s sake! If that doesn’t indicate the seriousness of the pandemic then nothing will.
  
Wash your hands and keep working from home if you can and if you can’t then from this day forward you will be considered heroes. Some of us have always known that the common, every day workers are the ones that carry our society forward, not the pampered babies that think they run the world who are cowering in their gilded cages. Enough!

I just finished baking a couple of loaves of bread. I like this recipe because it makes okay bread. It is good for sandwiches and toasting. Some breads that I have made taste much better than this, but I have no will power and can’t keep from eating the “good” loaves quickly. I have been striving for bread that is good but not too good. 
  
Since the beginning of the pandemic I have been watching a lot of youtube videos and found a very good sandwich bread recipe. It makes just one loaf and is very much like store bought Wonder bread. Very good for sandwiches but not as good for my morning toast. You can’t have everything I suppose. Anyway, I have been rotating the different breads and every now and then I toss in a really good artisan type bread. That never lasts too long in the pantry. I wish it would disappear as quickly from my waistline.

Last week I found a pita bread recipe so I thought “What the hell?” 

I’ll tell you that there is nothing like watching the pita puff up like a ball in the oven and when it comes out (in minutes) it is melt in your mouth. Well, not your mouth because the chance of you getting any is slim to none. This recipe will go into the rotation with the other breads. 
If nothing else comes from this strange time we live in then I have at least found a couple of bread recipes I can stuff in my mouth while I am social distancingI’ve been social distancing ever since I retired so the world isn’t that much different for me other than no more trips to Tim Horton’s for a daily coffee and there was no Roll Up The Rim this year.  

We all make sacrifices...