Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer hits the trail

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 - Well folks, this is it.  This is the end of August. Tomorrow it is September and you know what that means right? Christmas decorations will begin appearing in a retail window near you.  Indeed Costco has had their Christmas decorations, trees and outdoor lights in stock and on display for over three weeks already. Soon, the city will be out putting up new fall and winter banners, and school will be back in session.

How was your summer? Did you get enough time in the sun? Did you soak up a year's allotment of Vitamin D? Did you commune with nature enough to give you your warm and fuzzies until June? How about all those fishermen and campers? Did you get out there a sufficient number of times so as not to say next year I will try and get out more? I know I didn't get nearly as much golf in as I had wanted to this season, and so I will attempt to play a few more rounds in the fall - when all the kids are back in school and the weekdays on the course can return back to the adults. But, no doubt I will be vowing to play more next year.

I thought this year I would spend some time hiking on not so level terrain in hopes of getting a bit more physical and maybe get ready for a larger hike in a foreign country. I was ready to stock up on hiking boots (ooh... an excuse to buy shoes), and get one of those handbags that have two straps and are worn on one's back that these outdoorsy people all seem to have. I've been told to hit the trail a few times, and this summer I fully intended on doing just that.  I even developed my own trail mix blend that not only tasted good, but was loaded with both healthy good stuff and a requisite amount of dark organic chocolate chunks. Hmm... maybe a trip to Whole Foods is in order.  My trail mix is actually pretty good off the trails, and it is Trail Mix Day. Organic almonds, dried cranberries, pecans, walnuts, chocolate and mango is as good as it gets.  Add to that a cheese plate and a glass of red, and you have the kind of dinner or dessert that says "I have taste, but not too domestic."  With this, I can live.

Alas, as we say good-bye to August, and we near the end of baseball, boys in tight white pants, and summer vacation, we look forward to the fall.  A new collection of fall sweaters in the latest colours and warmer trousers is always good. I don't look so out of season in the fall when I'm bundled up in a sweater or two. I bet that I could pair this seasons latest colours with a pair of hiking boots and matching trekking jacket and hit one of those trails yet. After all, if we were to take that trail stroll in that foreign country, I'm thinking it wouldn't be so warm at the top of the hill.  I'll go get the nuts.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Holy Holistic

Monday, 30 August 2010 - The Internet has changed much about how we approach life.  Even for the simplest of questions, we no longer look to a book, or a dictionary, or our thesaurus.  Instead we go to Amazon.com, Dictionary.com and Wikipedia.org.  When we think about vacations, we no longer go in to a travel agent, we hit the web and look at Travelocity.com, TravelBestBets.com, PriceLine.com, CheapFlights.com or Expedia.com.  Amazingly, we know not only where to look, but we know the web address and no longer go looking for the phone book.  Hell, if you need a phone book, we go to 411.com, Canada411.com, YellowPages.com, WhitePages.com, or DexKnows.com.  When is the last time you opened up a cookbook? Myself, I go to recipes.com, FoodNetwork.com, epicurious.com, or food.com and spin the laptop around on the bar.

I can't remember the last time I went to a book store for the sole purpose of buying a book.  A trip to a bricks and mortar bookstore for me is to browse to see what I will order online and have downloaded direct to my Kindle, and to sip a 'quad grande Americano, easy water non-fat misto'.  Do you remember the last time you were at the movies and an actor on screen reminded you of another movie they acted in but you couldn't remember the name of the movie? I do, and on my phone, I quickly opened by imdb.com app and got the name of the movie.

When I'm out grocery shopping in a real store (something I could be doing online at Stongs.com or NetGrocer.com), I often rely on google.com, celiac.com or the MayoClinic.com website to ensure the foods I'm about to purchase are indeed gluten free. The Internet has certainly changed the way we do 'everyday life.'  Even the common cold is researched before a trip to the Doctor's office.

The internet has had a massive impact on the way we are diagnosed, and our interactions with the medical community.  Today, patients are going in to their physicians armed with intelligent questions, ready for a consultation and discussion, not just a diagnosis and a prescription.  The recent focus on holistic and alternative therapies, partially driven by our urge to self diagnose and often self treat (thanks to all those zero's and one's) has also contributed to a big boom in natural treatments. When I have any symptom, I go straight to the net to see what it could be, and what alternatives there are to treat the same. I don't just do this for myself. I do this for my dog as well.  Rex has hip displaysia. There are traditional veterinary options to treat this, ranging from NSAIDs and cortisone to pain control. Fortunately, my DVM is also a firm believer in alternative therapy. Instead, she's recommended natural joint lubrication and anti-inflamatories, and I've gone online to find massage therapists and chiropractors that will treat my dog. Add to that a little water therapy (beach time!!), and Rex is on the path to a better life.  As it is Holistic Pet Day, I think Rex is on the correct path indeed.  We can avoid a whole whack of unpleasantries by looking for alternatives.  Shame it isn't also Holistic Human Day.  There are a whole whack of us who could perhaps use a new outlook.  Just search it out online.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lay off the salt

Sunday, 29 August 2010 - Life without flavour would be a terribly dull place would it not?  What about life with only one flavour? Or one food that gets presented day in and day out?  My dog has been eating lamb and apple for the past 40 days. I'm sure that gets a little hard to swallow after a while, so today I switched out the lamb for Salmon and Herring.  He was drooling more than the usual small puddle at brunch, so I'm assuming he was excited about the change. I doubt he will still be as excited in another 39 days.

I had rice cakes and peanut butter for dinner last night.  For breakfast this morning, I had rice cakes and peanut butter.  Funny enough, they tasted just as good today. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I try for the same again tonight, I might not find them as delicious. North Americans have really become spoiled for variety, even though many of us have a fairly habitual eating regime.  Take away our flavours and even the most habitual of eaters will take notice. In the summer, fresh basil is my favourite flavour.  Thyme and lemon are also pretty spectacular.  In the winter months, garlic and oregano seem to fit best.  At work the other night a whole baggy of oregano was found... I can't imagine anyone wanting to carry around their herbs, but perhaps they were going home to make a little Italian fare, no?

Hmm.... you mean that wasn't oregano? Here I thought he was a Chef d'Cuisine.

Today is More Herbs Less Salt Day.  If you are going to be burning a few herbs today, perhaps you need to snack on fruit and stay away from the salty munchies.

There is a move on to make 'herbs' legal.  I don't know that this will necessarily accomplish much. In Vancouver anyway, police will rarely do much for possession of a small personal amount of herb. There are legal, medicinal marijuana locations, that those who have a prescription can obtain their herbs. For people with particular disorders and diseases, and those going through difficult treatments, it turns out a little oregano can be very beneficial.  So what would legalizing really help?  Perhaps you could collect herb taxes, similar to tobacco taxes but I would bet they would be much much higher. If you legalize it, are you actually going to then issue business licenses to grow ops?  Would the government become grow ops or would the houses with the tinfoil curtains merely become industrial, cheapen the process, decrease the THC content, increase prices, and start short changing the baggy size all in the name of profit?

I'm guessing that you would never eliminate black market sales - like reservation cigarette sales - where 'herb'alists will be looking to avoid paying the grossly inflated taxes. The grow-op next door won't actually lose the tinfoil drapery, but they could put a nice bright neon sign on the roof advertising their business hours. Now you not only have a mold issue, but light pollution, which could lead to a whole new area of neighbourly strife.

Legalizing oregano could lead to another type of roadside breathalizer, and new traffic woes. Instead of speeding and weaving drunk drivers, you would have way too mellow drivers.  The posted speed limit signs would need a new set of minimum speed signs to ensure traffic continues to move. Imagine how pretty those traffic lights could really seem.  Red light?  What a great colour.  Did you see how red that light was man? Wow, that's amazing.  Oh yeah, where was I going?  Oh, I'm late.  Oh well.  I'll get there soon enough.  Ooh.... Yellow.   Yellow is a really great colour.  Did you see how yellow that light was man?

Hey...  it is Sunday today.  Relax, take a load off.  Pull out your herbs, and lay off the salt for the day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A short trip

Saturday, 28 August 2010 - Summer seems to go by at the speed of light. It was only a couple of weeks ago that the rainy spring was finally breaking and the sun was out to grace us with its presence. And then, lo and behold, the last week of August is about to appear, and I'm not sure I've even begun to appreciate summer.  I've worked a lot this past couple of months (no big change there huh?), and spent very little time out enjoying the warming rays. Here I sit, at the kitchen bar, laptop open, towel on my head, *thinking* about maybe sauntering out to enjoy a bit of Sol.

Hmmm  Sol......  isn't that a light refreshing beer?  Ok, change in plans.  I will saunter off to the closest patio, take my Kindle, and have a Sol in the Sol. I'm reading a book that is staged in Thailand in the sun and heat.  That is three checkmarks in the sunshine category.  Perhaps I will call a few bubbly friends with sunny dispositions and see what kind of revelry will ensue.  Isn't this what summer Saturdays are for?

Sadly, this will all take place in my head, as I will again be at work today.  I will spend my afternoon and evening sometimes above ground, but often times below ground.  One thing is for certain, there are many many other people out there soaking up the Sol while soaking in the Sol.  There will be many a beveraged buddy out there tonight to deal with. On the up side, I won't need to be there until late afternoon.

I will indeed saunter down the road, find a cafe, bring my kindle, and my dog and bask in the sunshine for a short while anyway.  I don't know where you might find yourself today, but where ever it is you go, be sure to take the slow road. Meander meaningfully, and enjoy Sauntering Day.  Take it easy.  There is only so much summer left and you had better take it in...  fall is around the corner and she takes you on a very short walk straight in to winter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What does your car say about you?

Friday, 27 August 2010 - The world is full of anomalies. There are things that just make good sense, and then there are things that make you go 'hmmm.' How about cars?  Make good sense right?  They get us were we need to go, and they get us there quickly. They come in a variety of styles ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. My current favourite is the Dodge Charger... It is like sex on four wheels. I think laying on the hood of it and revving the engine might be as close as you could come to 'auto'erotica. There are minivans for transporting all those kiddies which make you wish you hadn't had sex in four wheels. There are convertibles that leave you hoping there is a brush in the glove box, and there are sedans for when we get old. In reality, our cars tell a lot about who you are... practical, emotional, yuppie, under-endowed, family focused, egoist, tree-hugger, asian, student (you know you had one of these cars once... held together with duct tape), workaholic, drug dealer, pimp, or in the midst of a mid-life crisis.

My car is a cross-over... part mini-van, part hatch-back, part car. Any way you slice it, my car says practical - which actually doesn't say much about me at all.  I have this car because it gave the Dog his own space. Fortunately, it is also good on gas and still fits well in to the small car spaces in the parkade. Of course this doesn't say much. There are many SUV's and trucks parked in these stalls, so close to the other cars that you have to hope the Mini Cooper next to it has a sun-roof so the guy can get back in to his car.

So in this era of reduce-reuse-recycle, why is it that you still see so many giant new vehicles on the road? Other than the obvious need to pump up their munchkin member, what must the fuel bill be like for these beasts? Are the car companies getting a kick back from the oil companies to continue to produce such unnecessary vehicles? Maybe today there will be a large sale on Suburbans and Expiditions in celebration of Oil and Gas Industry Appreciation Day. We can all celebrate this one today. Let's rev our engines, idle for hours, and then fill up and thank the Oil and Gas Industry for all they have done.

Seriously, it isn't as though the large majority of us are going to give up our cars for Mother Earth, but we can learn to drive smarter, less often, and whenever possible, move to more fuel efficient cars.  Perhaps then we can stop the rushed raping of the earth's oils and avoid some of the greatest environmental disasters we've seen - thanks to the Oil and Gas Industry.  BP and Exxon have caused enough damage in this lifetime I'm sure.  So yes, today we appreciate this industry, and at the same time, we scratch our heads about the damage they cause. How can you appreciate BP, especially if you live along side the Gulf of Mexico? Today is also Global Forgiveness Day, so maybe we don't appreciate BP at the moment, but we can forgive them could we not? After all, we still drive cars to go to 6 blocks. Perhaps Mother Earth will forgive me when I trade in my practical and fuel efficient car on my black Dodge Charger with a V8 Hemi.  Keep pumping that oil folks, I'm gonna need it

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Creativity and caffeine...

Thursday, 26 August 2010 - There are days when the words spew off my fingertips without much thought or consumed energy. There are times when after consuming liquid creativity the words fall off my fingers and spew.  Then there are days like today.  I know there are words trapped in the grey matter, I am just uncertain how I will get them from my closed net to the public net.

Perhaps I need coffee.  BRB.

Ok, so while the coffee brews, let me see what spills out.  When I was in school, creative writing was not my strong suit. In fact, writing was one of those things that I dreaded.  Book reports and essays were surely going to kill me.  As it turns out, they didn't, and when I thought I had handed in pure crap, I would still come away with a good mark. It is entirely possible that I have much higher expectations of myself than I need to have. Yet, time in and time out, when I hear those words "good job" or "nice work", I have a real difficult time swallowing the compliments. I am always sure I could have done much better and still don't feel I've accomplished 'good.' That is the perfectionist in me, and it isn't necessarily a positive trait.

Perfectionism translates in to feelings of mediocracy. If you can't reach perfect, does that make you mediocre? Seems a long way apart, but in my mind... if you don't have one, you have the other. The flip side of that is, if I feel like there is no perfection achievable, I just don't bother. Now I'm not saying these posts are perfection, and often times I don't know what to expect when I start typing (just like today), but they are a channel for some of the thoughts and ideas in my head that I have no place else to put. Many days, they are the melding of thoughts and ideas that don't really get filtered, but just put on paper.  Imagine if the Seattle Post or the Vancouver Sun were written this way?  I might actually start reading the papers again.  Give me a stream of consciousness about that shooting in Burnaby, or the beating by transit officials of a couple of street kids in the Seattle underground. I'm sure there would have been far more insight (or incite??) to the stories.

Mmmm... coffee.

Ok, so today, I have a couple of topics, and I have no idea how to string them together without being rude, degrading, or just off the mark.  So maybe I should stop aiming for perfection and just let it out.

Today is Dog Day, yes it is an entire day dedicated to your dog.  Isn't every day a day for your dog? My dog has the best of everything every day... a bed from LL Bean, a Dogirondak Chair that houses his water and snacks, lots of love, and a dog-walker who is very kind to him. When we travel, he usually travels with me, and gets much love and attention away as well. It helps that he is a remarkable dog. But today you should be extra kind to your four-legged buddy.  It is Dog Day.  I would like to make this very clear... it is NOT the Dog Days of Summer.  The traditional Dog Days of Summer are related to the rising of Sirius (Canis Major) or the Dog Star.  They are typically from July 3 to August 11 - or 40 days in that vicinity. No, today is just a day to spoil your dog.  So go ahead, spoil those bitches.

Speaking of spoiled bitches, today is also Women's Equality Day. This is one day we just don't need.  Every day seems to be about women't equality... still.  I get it.  We want to be treated like men. Well, here's one for you... I'm not a man. I have no interest in being treated like a man. I sit to pee, and I will likely always sit to pee.  Now don't get me wrong - I still believe in equal pay for equal work. Indeed there is nothing wrong with wanting to be treated with equal levels of hostility when you screw up. But if we are going to be treated as equals, then there are a few ground rules that need to be put in place.
First, be equal in everything.  Second, be equal in everything.  Third, be equal in everything.

I think the coffee kicked in!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beige, I think I'll paint the ceiling ooh... look at these shoes!!!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010 - Kids grow really really fast. I watch my nieces grow and I am absolutely astonished at just how fast the girls grow out of stuff.  Any stuff really.  There was the seat that you could prop them in...  too small for them now.  There was the bouncy vibrate'y chair thingy that you could soothe them in... to small again. There is the Olympic wear that every good little half breed (half Canadian) should own... awfully tight. It is a common theme, and it seems to be a 6 week cycle.  I visit every 2-4 weeks.  I have made it my mission to bring on visits things they will not outgrow that quickly. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what that might be.

As the girls grow out of things, they are growing in to others.  Some of which were handed laterally from other girls a little older, but growing just as fast. The clothes that no longer fit are handed off to another family who too is watching their offspring spring right out of their clothes. It's a little 'reduce, reuse, recycle' and it works really well. A second-hand wardrobe - or third or forth hand - makes excellent sense when you are talking of the wee ones.  Hell, there are times when a second hand wardrobe could make good sense for the not so wee anymore ones. Today is Second Hand Wardrobe Day so if there is anything in your closet that you think should be being worn by someone, but that someone is no longer you, pass it off.

I have a large Rubbermaid container full of clothes that need a new home. I got a suggestion the other day that I put it outside with a sign saying the first $10 takes it.  The idea is that by putting a value on it, it is more likely to be stolen. Is it stealing if I just want to give it away? Second Hand Wardrobe Day could be about more than just moving things from your closet to another's.  Maybe it isn't selling, or offing, or dumping your stuff, but providing something for those who need it more than you. There is always someone out there who needs it more than you. (I'm not talking just about those out there with ZERO fashion sense and who do not own full length mirrors.)

Look around you.  Everywhere you turn these days it seems there is someone in need. As the summer turns to fall, people begin to look for warmer clothes. Clothes can be very expensive as we all know. Second hand stores and Good Will are great ways to help. A good shirt for $3 is easier for many than $75. Jeans for $5 rather than $105 is certainly more affordable. Sweaters and jeans could go a long way to providing a bit of protection from the elements. Whether they are in need of a 3.5 inch spiked leather knee boot with back lace-up or not is another question. And I'm not certain I'm ready to part with these babies yet.

I was out at a gala one night in a very sexy brand new pair of Bruno Magli shoes.  They were pointy and high and strappy...  and pure torture.  Not really the kind of shoe you give away to the homeless.  I on the other hand, threw them out of the window at a hooker we passed on the way home.  She seemed pleased.  And honestly, if you spend most of your time on your back, they shouldn't be so uncomfortable. They were really really hot shoes... so if her "dates" aren't very attractive, she can at least put her feet in the air and admire the shoes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things go whoosh boom burn

Tuesday, 24 August 2010 - If you live on the flood plains, why are you surprised when your basement floods? You live in tornado alley, yet when your mobile home becomes upwardly mobile, you look for answers.  The question should be why you rebuild your life in the path of a tornado? There is clearly understood economic reasons for living in the path of natural disaster. Often, people who live in these areas do so because they can afford to live there. Moving out of the area could take money they just don't have. Perhaps the family home has been passed down - and moved from concrete pad to concrete pad - for generations.  When, as a family, you are marginalized, it is no easy task to pack up your life and move. How will you pay for the move? How will you create a new life when you can barely afford the one you have?

Hurricane season too is but a month away which means there are a few people who's lives will be turned upside down and sideways - or at the very least, the car in the driveway and the lawn furniture will get a ride.  For me, it means low season prices on Mexican vacations, and a week in the sun.  If a hurricane comes through, it means an extended vacation and a few good stories when I get home.

You would think that after years and years of history repeating itself, people would have naturally migrated away from areas of danger as an example of evolution. There are patches of civilization that haven't altered their way of life in thousands of years. Some of these tribesmen live deep in the jungles of Brazil and Africa.  Some live in patches of land in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Yet this is nothing new.  On today's date in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius burst it's top in what was undoubtedly one of the largest single volcanic eruptions in history.  Over 3,300 people became part of the geology. If that wasn't lesson enough, in 1631, Vesuvius blew again, this time killing over 3,600.

Today is Vesuvius Day.  In honour of such natural disasters and the urge to live where one probably shouldn't, we should think to our friends in Insurance.  If you are not able to purchase flood insurance, you might be living in a flood zone.  If you can not purchase earthquake insurance, you might live in an earthquake zone. If you are unable to purchase volcanic damage insurance... well you know how this goes.

Myself, I live in one of the most beautiful parts of North America... a mere 100 miles from Mt. Baker - a volcano that has been known to spew and steam, a few kilometres from the San Andreas Fault, and blocks from an international Airport and a mass transit project.  I suppose I should know better, but honestly, I live in paradise. Ask Adam or Eve... even paradise is fleeting. One day I might look back on my decision to stay here and wonder if perhaps I too failed to learn from history.  In the mean time, I pay my insurance, and ignore the risk.  That could pass as a mantra for my life.  So far I am unharmed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And he shall be known as Shvitsil

Monday, 23 August 2010 - One of the advantages of living along side the Cascades is the views. Everywhere you turn, there are purple mountains majesty, and snow capped peaks with such beauty at which you can marvel.  The scenery on the coast, especially the Pacific Northwest is like nowhere else.  The mountains provide an unending playground for the adventurous and the not so adventurous year round.  There is the Grouse Grind which is a gruelling climb - part hike, part staircase - that sees hundreds of visitors every day.  Day hikes and weeklong treks, mountaineering and mountain climbing, skiing, boarding, snowshoeing, heli-skiing, tubing, tobogganing, zip lining, hot tubbing, clubbing, camping, hotel guesting...  the options seem endless indeed.

The weather on the mountains also provide excellent variety. In one day you can experience warmth, cold, fog, rain, sun and snow, and get a bit of all of it again on the way down. But mountain adventures are had all over the world.  What about the folks who scale Kilimanjaro, Everest, Mount McKinley, Mount McKay...  are they adrenalin junkies?  Or maybe they are short statured and looking for a leg up?  There are so many cool places in the world that can provide adventuresome travel, some places where you can go it alone, and others where you might want to consider a sherpa.

In the coming year, myself and a couple of mates are looking at a mountaineering trip to Peru or Ecuador. Maybe that doesn't seem like the relaxing vacations of the Caribbean variety, but I'm sure that the weather will be warmer than it will be here on the 49th parallel, initially anyway.  I have been assured that there are several days of easy'ish hiking as we ascend mountains, passing streams, lakes, rocks, and snow. The crampons that will adorn my shoes are what I will call "mountain golf shoes". There are tents involved, but I've also heard word of Inns and "porters." A porter I've been told, is like a sherpa, only they lug up your stuff, set up tents, look after you, and then wait for you at the base camp to ensure you come down off the mountain alive. A porter sounds to me like a vacation slave.  Now see... I'm finding positives in this trek all over the place.

I have always wanted a slave.  I shall call him Shvitsil.  He will by my house boy, pool boy, shoe boy, man servant all around handy dandy 'porter.'  I will hug him and squeeze him and treat him well, but I will have very high expectations of him.  If I were very lucky, I would also have a driver... and he shall be known as Hobdee. I thought about calling him James - but it's just so last year. The driver slave will be responsible for all the driving... something of which I could really be happy to do away. I'm not enamoured with driving... but I am all over the keeping of slaves. Here's hoping the United Nations doesn't link to my blog. Today is International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and it's Abolition.  I'm guessing sherpas and porters don't really fall under the category of slave trade. I wonder though if my porter will allow me to call him Shvitsil?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tomorrow never comes.... pass me a drink today.

Sunday, 22 August 2010 - When do you know it's time to say enough is enough? Do you need a sign?  Some kind of celestial signal? Perhaps it is time when your horror-scope says it's time.  I think everyone needs a sign... some kind of beacon or alarm that denotes time.  There is the morning alarm clock which ultimately tells you it is time to wake.  There is the pop up window that tells you it's time for your meeting, and there is the buzzer on the oven to tell you it's time to put in the roast. But what is the tell-tale sign that it is time to stop procrastinating, or some kind of kick to the behind that says you can think about it forever but if you don't actually put the shoes on, that run will never happen.  Seriously... why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Well, I suppose that is because tomorrow never really arrives.  There is ALWAYS a tomorrow... well, at least we can hope that is the case.  In reality, our next breath is assumed. Tomorrow may never arrive, and all we have is right now. We can't spend out lives waiting on tomorrow, or planning to 'start' that soon.  Sometime you just need to start. Start now, not tomorrow, don't wait for the perfect day of the week...  Monday... everything should start on a Monday.  Or Sunday - hey... that's today - because it's the start of the week according to the calendar.  

So it is Sunday, it is the start of the week, and it is now.  What will you start that you have put off?  I have been putting off many things because sometimes it is just easier to think that there will be another day to get to that.  I procrastinate myself right out of great ideas. It took me 11 months to settle on a sofa.  Rome wasn't built in a day you know.  On the other hand, at least the Romans got around to building the city.  If it were left to me, the gladiators would still be living in cardboard boxes on the side of dirt paths.

Alas, it is Sunday.  I will get started on a few things today...  like the laundry.  I've been looking at the pile of laundry that is beginning to take over my room and certainly the closet for some time now.  I have a large Rubbermaid container full of old clothes and household crap that I no longer want nor need that I have been moving from room to room for those same 11 months that it took to find the sofa upon which I am now sitting. I have hit the green grocer and stocked the fridge with the things that make my body happy - vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and fruit so that tomorrow I can eat healthily.  Today is already a right off.  I've had an enormous coffee and a Coke Zero for Breakfast, chased down with a Burger King Whopper - minus the bun.  Last night I was certainly no Angel, but today will be better - and will not include wine.  There was enough of that yesterday.  I may not have had a healthy start to the day, but I will have a healthy finish.  And tomorrow will flow from today.  I am no Angel, that is for sure, but seeing as it is Be An Angel Day, I can put my best foot forward and give it a go.  If I wait for tomorrow, it will be too late.

Of course, if I start tomorrow... it would be the start of a new week.  I like that plan the best.  Now, be an Angel and get me a glass of vino.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Left... unlucky

Friday, 13 August 2010 - Ah... Friday the 13th?  Good day for a horror film no?  What about a good day to run through the neighbourhood with a goalie mask?  Sickle?  Butchers knife?  Talking doll? (Sorry, wrong movie.) This is one of those days where anything you do or say is blame free.  Honestly?  Who could blame you? So where does the evil shroud of Friday the 13th come from, other than from some B Movie horror film with a guy named Freddie?
Fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia... and if you aren't afraid of the day, you should be afraid of having to pronounce that!  Seems to be that until the 19th century, there wasn't any real record of a Friday falling on the 13th being a bad luck day. But think about all the bad that is associated with the number 13?  There are 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock face, 12 apostles, 12 zodiac signs, 12 Olympus Gods...  Maybe 13 is unlucky cause it messes with the order of things.  And Fridays...  well, they say its a bad day to start a project, is a bad day for the markets (Black Friday ring any bells?), and it seems Friday wasn't a great day for Jesus. There are not too many 13th floors in towers and buildings (unless you are Chinese, in which case there isn't too many 4th or 14th floors).  Who knows what brought this about, all I know is that today is Blame Someone Else Day, and I have no intention of taking any blame for anything today. I will blame it on the day, on the numerology, on the evil spirits among us, the black cat next door, or that I walked under a ladder.  I WILL NOT take any actual blame myself... I will blame the curse of Friday the 13th.
Is being left handed a curse? I know that much of the world is built for right handedness, but being a right hander myself, I'm not sure how this really applies. Being careful where you seat people at the dinner table should be considered... and if you can put all the lefties on one side, and the rest of us on the other (hey - segregation has it's purpose), there will not be a battle of elbows. You could put all lefties in right hand drive cars and they can shift with their naturally dominant hand - or force them all to drive automatics. How do you build a left handed keyboard?  Would you move the backspace keys to the other side? Put the escape on the right (hey, learn to use your right and you too could escape). Fire extinguishers are build right handed. The pin is pulled with the right and the nozzle is controlled with the right.  Can a zipper be right or left handed?  Golf clubs are always available in Right, but need a Left set and you can wait awhile. Tennis rackets are right handed.  If you play with them on the left, the logo is backwards.  Maybe if you string them the opposite way?
Is it a coincidence that today is International Left Handed Day and a Friday the 13th?  Or, is left-handedness just as bad luck?  Actually, some of the most brilliant people I know are Lefties. Maybe because you are forced to think about even the smallest and most mindless moves you activate more synapses and get more brain action than you do as a right hander. It's possible that you have to activate larger areas in the brain for smaller tasks, and the flow of all those extra neurotransmitters is good for brain power. It's entirely possible. Perhaps the lefties just need to be smarter or they would be that much easier to mess with at parties. Just a right-handed thought.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pan, tilt, zoom, keyhole, focus......

Tuesday, 10 August 2010 - Things just taste twice as good in twos. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - taste best in twos.  They are easier to share, and cuts the guilt in half. Twix... comes in two. Kit Kats come in fours... easy to share, and twice as good again. What about stuff that is so good that you just can't get enough?  You just want more and more and more.   Does three mores make a Smore or is that just wanting s'more? What is it in your life that makes you want s'more? It's Smores Day.  Life may not really be a box of chocolates, but a mixed bag of cookies.  Sometimes hard, sometimes soft and chewy, often full of nuts, occasionally full of frosting, and even better when full of marshmallow and chocolate, the cookies are the things in life you want, or need, or don't yet know what to do with....  the bites of life.

So what "cookies" do you want more of? For me, it's a good times with the important people in my life.  I want more good times, more experiences and just more.  I want more time with family.  I want more time with friends.  I want to spend more time living in the moment, and more freedom to do just that.

What do you want less of in your life?  For me, I want less time alone.  I want to tell less lies to myself. I want to admit that the things in life I have always said I didn't want were and are exactly the things I do. I want to work out a way to have a heart-to-heart with myself about this and come to some kind of agreement. After all, how hard can it be to talk to yourself about the things you want out of life?  I guess when you have waited this long to come to grips with it, and you face the possibility that it may be too late in life, you could be creating quite an argument with yourself.  I only hope I don't have to send me to the sofa for the night when we finally get around to having that conversation.

Life is a cruel game most times.  You spend time being who you think you need to be, only to find out it is neither who you need nor want to be. You spend time convincing yourself and others around you that you made the choices you did because dammit they were the right ones. In the end you manage to convince everyone, only the truth is, you are full of Smores. You are winning in life when what you want and what you project jive.  That's when not only do you want more, but you get more.  I fear that I have left this dance too long.  Perhaps if I can find the focus button I can get this projector working with better focus. First things first, I want more cookies in that box of life.  Add good friends, graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and a heat source, and you have more and more and more... Smores.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Curling up with technology

Monday, 9 August 2010 -  What is your source for news?  Do you open the newspaper each day over a coffee, or during lunch? Do you listen to the morning broadcasts on radio or television while you get ready for your day, or wait until you get home for the early edition and the evening news?  Do you flip on the news before going to bed?  Maybe you listen to the all news radio on the way in to the office and on the commute home. Or... are you like so many of us, and have really just started reading the news as it is presented to you, embedded in to your search tool, or on the front screen of Sharepoint?

I do seek out a newspaper, but all I really read are the comics and then proceed to hunt out the crossword puzzle. My news is obtained online, and in the last few years, on my iPhone... there is an app for that. News has gone digital, immediate, and collaborative.  Like never before, you can read or watch the news online, then comment along side millions of others, getting to be a part of the news without getting caught in the flashbulbs with blood on your shirt and a ball peen hammer in hand.  There is often more value, or at least more entertainment in the comments than in the news article. Newspapers all over America are folding (not in the middle to fit in a newsbox), but disappearing from the news box all together.  Some have decided that they will only be delivered to your inbox, and in an effort to add value (and justify a subscription fee), are tailoring the news you receive to what you have specified as important. Others provide different content to their electronic posts than they do to the paper version.

I once lived in a small town on an Island that proudly had a local paper.  It printed three issues a week whether there was any news to print or not.  If something happend on a Saturday, it was sure to show up in the following Wednesday's edition. There was nothing immediate about news here.  By the time the photos got to the front page, they were beginning to take on a sepia tone. Even in major centres, the newspapers just can't get the news out to print as fast as they can now. I wonder if children today will have the same appreciation for the delayed news that is the newspaper?

And what of books?  Remember when you waited each week for the Bookmobile to come around to your street so you could swap out the books you borrowed last week and get a whole new pile of words to enjoy? And then when you were old enough, you went to the library... the holy grail of books... where there were stacks upon stacks of fiction, non-fiction, biographies, encyclopedias, magazines and even newspapers.  You would borrow books, and hopefully bring them back in time to not incur late fees.  This was often the first lesson in short term payday loans one often got.  Those who took this lesson to heart probably never needed the Caterpillar.

Today, books are also going the way of the newspaper.  Sure they still print them, and people still buy and read them.  They pass them along when they are done - often several times over.  You can buy your books online. There you are, sitting at home watching yesterdays Oprah on Tivo, when the latest book club selection is discussed.  It is no longer necessary to write the title down and hope you'll have that piece of paper with you when you pass by a Chapters or Barnes & Noble.  Log in to Amazon, purchase it, and wait for your book to come to you.  Still not fast enough?  No problem.  Even the book stores have figured out that readers are just as likely to read electronic books. Now if the Publishers would all get on board.  What difference is it to them if I pay to download a book, read it, and pass the file along? If I pay for the paper version, I'm doing the same thing.  I once registered a book with BookCrossing and that one book passed through 7 readers that I know of, and in 4 different countries. I'm guessing the electronic file is cheaper to publish as well.

Me, I have a Kindle.  I have taken a great shine to the immediacy with which I can not only search for a book, but purchase it (1-click shopping), and have it delivered to my Kindle in about 48.5 seconds.  I am reading the book before the end of the commercial break.  If I don't have my Booklike Thingy with me, I have my iPhone which will let me pick up on the same page I left off on the Kindle or for that matter on my computer.  The book I'm reading follows me.  I may be a book lover, but I'm a newly converted e-book lover.  Today, on Book Lover's Day, I think I'll download a new book.
There.  Downloaded.  Now off to curl up with a good Booklike Thingy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thou shalt stick your head out the window

Sunday, 8 August 2010 -  When asked my religion, I am quick to say that I do believe in Dog.  There is so much we can learn from Dog, and many spammails (smails?) have touted the importance of learning from Dog.  These are life's commandments as written by Dog:
  1. Thou shalt live life in the moment
  2. Thou shalt always show your appreciation
  3. Thou shalt be enthusiastic, even when the ride ends
  4. Thou shalt be there to lend a paw
  5. Thou shalt enjoy each meal with vigour, even when it's the same as yesterday
  6. Thou shalt snooze like you mean it
  7. Thou shalt chase the things that make you happy
  8. Thou shalt make every attempt to keep your mate's feet warm
  9. Thou shalt always be loyal and true
  10. Above all, thou shalt wag more, bark less
If we could live by these rules, life would be no less complicated but would be more liveable. Some of us live more in one or two of these commandments than others.  It is no different for Dog Disciples (a.k.9 pet dogs). Assistance Dogs live more in Commandment #4, #9 and a little of #8.  Assistance dogs are the holy grail of Dog.

Imagine a fuzzy face that not only gets your slippers and brings you the newspaper (that is so last century), but brings you medication, picks up quarters, supports your weight when you fall, pulls your wheelchair, opens doors and carries the grocery bag, steers you around obstacles and tells you when you are approaching stairs, or lets you know the baby is crying or someone is calling your name.  This is not only a Dog send for people with disabilities, vision impairments or are deaf, but the difference between normalcy and dependence.  Today is it Assistance Dog Day.  It isn't quite Easter, but it is something we should all appreciate. It is also a day to celebrate and praise the families that open their homes to raising a puppy that they will one day give away for a better cause, to the trainers who make certain these dogs are ready for their important role, and to the Assistance Dog users who have found a way to independence that relies on the love of a canine friend to help open doors. 

Today is also Odie Day... a special day marking the birth of Garfield's pal Odie.  Sundays are meant for pancakes and comics, and Odie knew that well - just ask Garfield and Jon.  Living by Commandments #2, 3, 5, 7 and 9, Odie knows that a laugh, a good meal and a wag is all you need... Sundays and any other day.  Happiness is all in the wag.  Ultimately, your wag is in your head. Happiness happens. Happiness exists because you want it, because you live in the moment, because you show your enthusiasm and appreciation, because you chase that golden ball. Today may be Happiness Happens Day, but happiness should happen everyday. Just roll down the windows and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Speaking of which...

Saturday, 7 August 2010 - Do you ever leave the house and for just a moment fear you've left your cell phone behind? But before you go back in to the house, you pat yourself down, checking pockets - front and back, and in my case, check both sides of your bra?  This little cellular pat down... or the 'phone grope' seems a pretty common event in my world.  I must grope myself half a dozen times a day.  Like one of those OCD'ers who turn the lights on and off 11 times before leaving the house, and re-locking the deadbolt 8 times times to ensure it's locked,  I'm getting a little obsessive about checking for my phone.  My current phone isn't working all that well, and yet there I am, going for the phone grope in hopes that I haven't forgotten my life line.

I don't have a land line, and I don't carry around a day timer, a note pad, laptop or iPad.  My phone contains my life. I cross the border, and verify that it picked up the new carrier as soon as I've traversed the 49th. My phone allows me to play scrabble with NYC, gives me music whenever I need a beat,  acts as a GPS when I'm lost,  and fills in as understudy to the Kindle when I leave my Booklike Thingy at home. I have maybe become far too attached to this tiny piece of technology, but everyone has a vice. I have a few, but no other vice has be groping myself so frequent or so openly. Sure you get the occasional stare, but as soon as you pull out your phone, those watching all nod in full understanding, and then look down in shame as they realize they too probably get caught doing the phone grope.

In front of an audience, it is important to take your phone out, put it on silent, start the stopwatch, and leave it on the podium in front of you.  When public speaking, it is not the time to go searching for your phone with a little personal patting.  There are better things, more professional things, you can be doing with your hands. (Make gestures for emphasis, point at illustrations on your presentation, write on the board... what did you think I meant?).  For all you public speakers out there, Happy Professional Speakers Day. Without you, we would not have any need to attend conferences and would have to go to other cities for fun and frolic. Without professional speakers, we wouldn't need laser pointers... and what cat owner doesn't need a laser pointer?  Without professional speakers, there would be no politics... and therefore no comedy... other than Charlie Sheen.  For this, dear speaker we thank you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Putting your foot in it

Friday, 06 August 2010 - Take a road trip. What else have you got to do on a Friday morning?  But if you are going to get in the car and hit the highway I would recommend sleep.  On the other hand, a middle of the night escape means you can shave nearly an hour of the excursion.  But there is nothing that can describe road trip breath... its a combination of coffee, coke, chocolate, and french fries.  It's like a gritty lint from an old couch on the roof of your mouth and grease at the back of your throat.  Trust me when I say this is not a great way to arrive.  First order of business, brush your teeth, your tongue, your soft pallet, gums, and if you can, the back of your throat.

Problem most people face on a road trip is they rarely pack their toothbrush on top, in an easy to access location.  Fortunately, I am always pretty aware of the location of my dentition scrubber. So the moment I can stop somewhere and get the road off my teeth, I'm all over that action. Today is Fresh Breath Day... also celebrated as Halitosis Day.  Not sure, but that seems a little like saying it is Black Day... or White Day.

Halitosis does not seem something that should be celebrated, but rather stamped out - or brushed out - as the case may be.  Why would you want to celebrate the buzzard breath of the guy next to you in class, or that woman on the elevator yesterday who's breath was so bad is was 'supercalifrajalisticexpehalitosis'.  Legendary. This is not something you would write on a cake unless it was mint. You could send chlorophyl cookies with a card I suppose.  How about a magazine subscription to Oral Hygiene Review? An anonymous Costco sized box of breath mints would work for a co-worker or the mailman. My favourite soap would make an ok breath mint for someone with a both a large and aromatic mouth.

There are so many ways to celebrate today.  How about a garlic and onion pizza?  Personally, I went with pepperoni, cheese, peppers and olives.  Maybe I should have thought to finish this post before the day was almost over. I could have been more selective in my toppings and gone for something with some kick... and some kick back.

August is Foot Health Month.  I suppose it's as good a month as any for a pedicure.  I would think that when you go to put your foot in it, a healthy foot would be best.  On the other hand, perhaps foot in mouth disease is a root cause of Halitosis.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Plumbers and Panties.

Thursday, 05 August, 2010 - Eight hours of sleep each night.  Eight hours at work each day. One hour or more of commuting. That means that each day you have roughly 5 hours to live your life.  But that 5 hours also includes time you need to prepare breakfast, shower, dry your hair, pick out the days duds, make dinner, eat dinner, wash up, and get ready for bed. So what kind of life can you have in the remaining time?  Thank god for weekends.  But so many people take work home with them on the weekends as well.

Working like a dog seems to be the way of the world these days.  Computers were supposed to make our lives easier, and give us the ability to work more productively. Work is much easier. It is now so much more easy to work on the weekends and at night... we need only log in. We can work on our own computers and email the files to ourselves, and answer email even while on vacation.  Work is not something we leave anymore.  That eight hours becomes closer to twelve.  That means we really only have one hour to ourselves.

Today is Work Like a Dog Day...  surprise surprise surprise. And on a Thursday no less.  I'm sure more work gets done on a Thursday than any other day of the week.  Monday is too hard to face, and takes too long to get geared up.  Tuesday seems to bring on a lot of meetings - which are never conducive to productivity, and Wednesday is a good day for a long lunch and getting meeting notes done.  Thursday is the day the real work happens.  Commuter traffic is always a little busier on Thursdays, and the rush hours last longer.  Maybe in celebration of Work Like a Dog Day, you should take an extra long lunch, and not bring any work home with you.  In fact, it is a perfect day to work like we did 30 years ago.  Go to work, punch in, do your thing, punch out, go home, find your slippers and a happy hour cocktail, read the paper and get a good night's rest.

Now if you are a plumber or electrician, I recommend working hard, but please please please wear your schnicks. You earn tradesman wages.  You must have enough in the budget for a pair of gruds or two that fit.  Even if your trousers fall down to the middle of your ass, you could keep that cleave covered.  Celebrate Underwear Day by wearing some.  For the ladies, I think today's underwear should be sexier than you might normally wear to the office.  Go with something small and lacy... sexy skivvies can give you an edge if you do get called in to a meeting. Our smallclothes, our unmentionables can set the tone for your day.  Nothing like a good pair of WonderWoman UnderRoos to give you an boost for the day. Tightie whities probably don't have much impact at all.  A pair of leopard print silk boxers could have you walking with a wiggle.

Whatever your undergarmet choice is today, may it give you a wiggle, a giggle, and a little secret (not a dirty secret please... wash your drawers).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On a boat with no name...

Wednesday, 04 August 2010 - Summer time is a good time to hit the water. Whether you are on a 40 ft cruiser, a canoe, a kayak, or sporting a pair of water wings... summer is all about the water.  If you work on the water, the summer is so much easier than working in winter. Gales, high seas and bitter cold are just part of the job... the part of the job that makes you appreciate summer.  But not all jobs on the seas are the same.

Cruise ships don't see a whole lot of winter.  Every day is summer, and when summer fades, you just rev up the engines and sail towards another summer. I can't imagine to many of us North Americans flocking to the cruise ship that takes on the North Pacific in December.  Working on a cruise ship isn't that glamorous a job. Sure you are always in the geographic location of summer, but you work 16 hour days, often split shifts, and may not see the outside decks for days.  The crew sleeping quarters are in the bottom of the boat, unless you are the Captain or one of the high ranking officers.  In that case, your quarters are just outside the door to the bridge.  Talk about a short commute.  The folks that work in the laundry on board those ships really get a bum deal... and I bet they earn less than the servers.  In the bowels of a boat, steaming hot, with hundreds and hundreds of sets of sheets that have everything on them from wine and burger juice to DNA... and your job is to spend 8 days a week in that bowel.  Not very enchanting at all.  What about the servers?  They serve three meals a day, get an hour off here and there, and are forced to wear monkey suits, sing and dance at least one night a week and smile when what they really want to say is "Are you sure you need another dessert lady?  Have you seen the size of your 'cruiser' ass?"

The fishermen of "The Deadliest Catch" have it even harder.  They face waters that you would not believe are survivable, and they do so for weeks and months at a time to haul in the Alaskan King Crab that the servers put in front of the wide loads in the dining room on the cruise ship. But what about the personnel, retirees, reservists and volunteers of the Coast Guard? What are their jobs like? If people volunteer to do the job, it can't be all bad.

The Coastguard has been continuously operating since 1790. In peace time, the Coastguard not only patrols the waters, but takes on all kinds of missions...  environmental cleanup, search and rescue, maritime law enforcement,  maintaining navigation aids and homeland security.  Today has been Coastguard Day... and to celebrate one should at the very least, appreciate the Coast, and the safety and freedom we take for granted.  If you don't have a seashore to visit, or a lake to swim in, then do your body some good and at least drink a little water today.  Eight glasses a day.  It's enjoying the water in the summer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hey... I went to School with that guy

Tuesday, 3 August 2010 - August has arrived.  This puts us on the back side of the year and marching quickly to the end of the year, and no worry, Christmas will be upon us soon.  But in the mean time, we can now enjoy the peak of Summer... the heat of August.  On the west coast (normally the wet coast), we have had one of the driest July's in over 30 years, and what is normally very green is a fine shade of Chesapeake - ah, I mean, Dead Grass.

Everything is brown.  If you want a green lawn, you are going to need to get that sprinkler out, and set the water to start in the middle of the night so you don't get fined for watering against the restrictions.  I guess that as it warms up, people get thirsty and make so many ice cubes that there isn't any water left for the front lawn.  August is Water Quality Month... and it's a good thing too.  Imagine poor quality ice cubes?  How could you be sure your Scotch is safe?

August is also Picnic Month. Though I'm sure I've been on a picnic where there was an opportunity to form other memories, what I remember the most is ants, a bee sting, looking for a bathroom, a stranger's dog that did not listen, and fear of food poisoning. On television, picnics always look like so much more fun than this.  My next picnic will incorporate smuggled in wine, cheese and crackers on a bench in the underwater viewing area at the aquarium.  I will watch the fishies and the whales and when the picnic is over... head out for sushi.

Aquariums are very high on my favourite places to visit list. I have been to the aquarium at every city I've visited if there is an aquarium to visit. In Seattle I brought with me a service dog who too has a thing for water and water life.  When we got out to meet the seals, my dog and the seals had one heck of a conversation. I'm thankful that the aquarium was near empty of other patrons as it was near closing time. In London, there is a glass floor you can walk across... that is across the very large shark tank. If you look down, it looks as though you could very well be swimming with the fishies with the very large and numerous teeth.  As cool as this is... my heart was pounding pretty hard.

Atlanta has a spectacular aquarium.  The sharks are huge, and their teeth, well, are plenty big enough.  Vancouver's aquarium is special to me.  I hadn't been near the aquarium in several years.  I returned this summer to discover a real treasure.  The whales and the dolphins are amazing to watch.  The underwater viewing areas are beautiful, and there is so much to see and do, that you really do need a full day and a picnic lunch. This is a picnic to which I look forward. I shall pack watermelon. After all, today is Watermelon Day an it seems appropriate.  Do you think it would be in bad taste (and by bad taste I mean delicious) to pack sushi?

Add to Technorati Favorites