Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Get outta your car... and on to your ass

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 - We have evolved, from primate to homo sapien sapien over millions of years (more years than our brains have yet evolved to truly comprehend). During that time, we have gone from hairy to smooth (well, most of anyway... there are a few Italian and some South East Asian men that have not caught up). We have gone from quadripedal movement, to dragging our knuckles, to bipedalism (again, sorry, but there are a few men who have not yet caught up). We have moved on from tree nests to tree houses in the back yard. When you attempt to rationalise and understand the changes we have gone through even before recorded history, it's easy to see why there are so many who may not be capable of comprehending the possibility and turn to religious explanation. It is easier for the human brain - not yet fully evolved - to believe in a magical start. The time scales currently hypothesized are so immense that we do not have a human experience that can compare or give us a comparison point.

So we came up off our knuckles, for the most part, and began to walk upright. This freed our hands to carry spears and 9mm PX4 Beretta Storms. After that, civilization was just around the corner. But this also made walking our number one mode of transport... well until the invention of wheels and the Ford Motor Company. Now, we have carS in the driveway, and we walk about 3 blocks maximum before we reach for the keys. On any day but today we should feel a modicum of guilt for what is surely the human spirit. Today is International Car Free Day the perfect day to leave the car at home and take a walk, a bus, a cab, or a slow and deliberate stroll to your favourite watering hole.  Besides, with the new drinking and driving laws, this should be a no brainer.  Leave the car at home people.

In fact, not just because you might have a beverage of the adult variety, but because our asses are getting wider and wider. We stood upright to make it easier to get around. Yes, it made it easier to carry weaponry and wage war on the buffalo, but it also means we could commute without needing bandages for our knuckles. Yet still, the soccer moms and the wide loads use a car to travel 500 yards to gather the kids and Almond Joy.

For just one day, if we all took alternative transportation I bet we would find that there really is another way to get there. Take a bus to the dead body exhibit. Ride a bike to the pub. Walk - for dog's sake walk - to the corner store. It is good for the air, good for the environment, good for your ass, and good for the day - if only for a day.

There are parts of the world that still rely on other modes of transport - donkey, cart, horse and buggy, and the decorated and revered Elephant. Go ahead and board your pachyderm, for today is also Elephant Appreciation Day.  I wonder if Joseph Merrick ever rode on one?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hike hike hi... OUCH

Tuesday, 21 September 2010 - Sport provides so much that each and every one of us should play something. Whether its badminton (hey... I work in Litchmon, ah, er, Richmond), polo, mountaineering, hockey (hey... I live in Canada), alligator wresting, UFC, or golf, sports teach us about ourselves, and about the sharp end of the alligator. Sports also teach us how to play nicely with others, how to hit without getting benched, how to score, how to strike out, how to yell at the ump, how to take a hit, how to fake an injury, how to use your eraser, how to count (1, 2, 2, 3, 4 - par), and how to blame the equipment. These are life lessons that just can't be learned without a little sport in our lives.

Imagine a Sunday afternoon without the gridiron or a winter evening without a battle of the blades? What would you do with the men in your lives so you can get a bit of time to yourself? And how about one of those gorgeous sunny spring afternoons that have your golf clubs creeping toward the door all on their own? There are times when sport isn't a luxury, it is a necessity, a way to blow off a little steam, soak in a vat of beer, and let the rest of the challenges of life be buoyed by the play in front of you. Getting out on the field yourself, wether a pitch, a diamond, a course, or a rink can be good for the soul. Time with friends, a little exertion and some trash talk reinvigorates you, and gives that tongue of yours that you bite during the rest of your day gets a little sharper. Have fun with your words. Use them in combinations and permutations that you don't often get a chance to use in the other parts of your life - well for most of us anyway. "Mmmmm, quarterbacks DO taste like chicken."

For those Sunday warriors who are getting a little older, wider, or wiser, there are modified versions of all these sports. Some might say they are the woman'ized versions... Baseball getting a little rought and the welts don't heal as fast - try Softball. There are beer leagues everywhere.  You now look like a defensive lineman but you just can't get up off your knees after the snap... Touchball and Flag Football. No hitting, and no padding needed.  That ought to lighten you up enough to get up. Just can't get that club around the middle the way you used to? Have your arms got shorter or is the equipment failing you? No problem. There is alway Miniature Golf, but since there are only 17 holes you can really make it on, you might want to play for $1.06 a hole. Hell, today, go all out and play for $2.12 a hole. It is Miniature Golf Day. The best part of mini golf is that if you do sink a hole in one on the 18th hole, you don't have to buy a round for the whole clubhouse, but you do get a free round for next Sunday. If soccer is your sport, sorry old timers, but there isn't an easier version of this game. You'll just have to play one weekend, and recover from your injuries for the next three. Lucky for you, there's a full schedule of sports in HD just waiting for you and your ice packs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sesquipedalophobia is the fear of big words

Sunday, 19 September 2010 - Fear is a great paralyzer. Everyone has fears, some of which are valid, others are a little irrational. But the beautiful thing about fears is that they can often be overcome. Of the top ten most common fears, I have seven, but I also have fears 14, 15, 16, 17, and 31. Take for example the fear of public speaking. This is number two on the list, topped only by the fear of flying. More people are afraid of speaking in public than those who are not. How could you not be a wee bit afraid of getting up in front of people you don't know where you will be judged on your look, your mannerisms, your word, you knowledge, your reactions, your tone of voice, your hand gestures, your hair, your ensemble... Crap.  I didn't used to be afraid of public speaking until now.

But fear is one of those things that real or imagined, they can be overcome. Fear of flying? Don't fly. Book a ticket with an airline and let someone else fly. Besides, without wings its too difficult anyway. Fear of heights is number 3 on the list. Putmebackonthegrounddammitophobia can be overcome, but honestly, why would you want to? You can jump out of a perfectly good aircraft with nothing more than a sheet and a few ropes, climb a few mountains, and hang out at the top of the Space Needle, but in the end, you will be back on the ground, shaking with fear, and damned thankful to be back on terra firma.

Does fear of the dark paralyze you? Keepalightonophobia is good for the power company. Fear of intimacy - dontyoutouchmephysicallyoremotionallyophobia - is a tough one. If all your relationships just barely scratch the surface, how will you ever get close enough to scratch a bare back? Fear of death or dying - ohcrapireallyshouldhavereadthewaiverophobia - is irrational. Your next breath is merely assumed. That proverbial bus or MI isn't always predictable. Fear of failure and fear of rejection isn't really a fear as it is the human condition. Though failure usually brings about life lessons, rejection or thisoneistoosmallthrowitbackophobia can be a little more painful. After all, don't we all just want to be a part of something? Fear of spiders - arachnophobia - has been made much worse thanks to Hollywood. Before this movie, I thought spiders were rather fascinating amazing creatures. We could learn much from spiders. Spin an intricate and functional net, catch your prey and have your way with them. It is a recipe for success... if not a little self indulgence. Number ten on that list is fear of commitment. Now here is one to which I not only relate, but have lived by for all my years. Perhaps this is a result of what I have been exposed to over my lifetime, perhaps it is as a result of my fears of intimacy, failure and rejection. Icandothisallonmyownidontneedanyonethatmightleaveintheendanywayaphobia can really put you in a holding pattern. If you have a fear of flying as well, you could really be in for a bumpy ride.

The 18th most common fear is the fear of water. The withoutwateritshardtobathesoyousmellbadophobia can also cause people to be afraid of you - or at least be afraid to be within olfactory range of you can really cramp your social life. If you live on the coast, you might want to consider moving. We are surrounded by majestic mountains and seascapes. There are rivers, and lakes and oceans everywhere we turn. And honestly, for 365 days a year, most of us stay pretty landlocked. Or in the words of a Pirate, we are land lubbers. Fortunately, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. You don't have to get over your fear of water to celebrate, but you should perhaps keep it to yourself.

Avast Matee, how's your grog? Too early for grog? I bet the clock is telling the right time somewhere on the seas. After all, it's Sunday and the Catholics have already had wine. If the Catholics can do it so early in the day, I'm sure us heathens, doubting Thomas' and those suffering from a fear of god - whoisthisgodthatcansmitemedownandsendmetohellohshitophobia-  can have a wee tipple by now. It is grog o'clock somewhere. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

R E S P E C T... find out what it means to you

Saturday, 18 September 2010 - A good friend told me once that everyone has a wall built up around them. There are few people you will respect enough in your lifetime that you will allow to knock a few bricks down and find their way in to your inner self. If there is someone there who you can let in, someone you can share your pains with, and your joys with, then that is a special someone indeed.

I fancy myself pretty lucky. There are a few people that mean enough to me, that I respect enough, to allow them in to that inner place... that inner sanctum of my protective barrier. My bubble is pretty thick, but there are a few who get inside. Maybe it is self preservation, maybe it is a way of keeping my cards close, but what it really seems to be is common.  Everyone has a wall.  Some walls are 4 feet high, some are 12 feet high. Some require nothing more than a short run at it to get over, others need a grappling hook and special shoes. It is a revelation to me to find out that we all have one of these fine borders around us, and brings on a deep sigh of relief. Who knew?

Ok, maybe instinctually we all know this. It is the human condition to protect ourselves. Trust and respect is a hard thing to gain, and when we gain that of those around us, we are acutely aware of the fine line that threads it together. As the saying goes, it takes years to build trust and respect, it takes merely suspicion not fact to destroy the same. Today is Respect Day, a day to respect those and that which surrounds us. Is there something or someone you respect, or once respected, but let suspicion get in the way? This is your day to put that aside and go back to that happy place.

What do you respect? Who do you respect? What is it you respect? I respect honesty above all else. I also can respect the need for silence, and the need to share. I respect bleeding emotion when it's too much to hold inside. I respect all of this in others. In myself, I fear these are the failings that will lead to a lack of respect. Is this common? Is respect for the self built on a different foundation than the respect we have for others? Are the foundations we build for ourselves so slippery that a heavy rain, or a good cry, will send our house of cards tumbling in to the river? Can we gain strength in the drought, or does the drought make the foundation that much more fragile? In the dry season, we can put aside our emotions and get on with life when it is at these moments that we should be working on our foundations.

Every foundation has cracks, that is what keeps us honest and humble. Some cracks are bigger than others. A little sealant, a little glue, and we're good to go. Sealant can be as simple as getting out an enjoying the things in life that make us happy. A day in the field throwing around a ball, a day in bed throwing around a ball, a day in the mall shopping and having a ball - what you enjoy grounds you. Respect yourself enough to get out and be yourself. Respect Day might be about respecting others, but if you forget about you, it gets real hard to celebrate this one. Admit it... you are one person you can always count on. Respect that Aretha.

Friday, September 17, 2010

As American as going postal

Friday, 17 September 2010 - Some days are just harder than others. Some days, you hope that the world would just stop spinning long enough for you to get your bearings and give you a moment to find a crutch. Then there are days that just seem to come and go, and you don't remember there being a difficult moment. What makes a good day good, and a bad day challenging? And how do you get through the rough spots without patches?

Like your favourite pair of Levi's as long as they can still be buttoned up, and your butt cheeks aren't falling out of them, life can be pretty comfortable, until you get your ass caught on a nail and a tear opens up. Suddenly you are faced with a few choices. Do you throw out the old jeans in favour of a new pair that may or may not fit as well? Do you try and mend the old pair, and hope the patches won't show too much? Do you just go ahead and walk around with a gaping hole and hope few people notice how bare you really are? Is vulnerability such a bad thing to show? Why is it in this country, showing vulnerability can be perceived as a negative? The roles we play are so clearly defined by our genes, so it doesn't matter what jeans you wear.  Or does it?

It's as American as Apple Dumpling Day to be a guy's guy. The macho American stereotype is alive and well everywhere you look. Hit the local pub and there is sure to be a table of guys on one side of the room checking out a table of gals on the other side of the room. They are rarely at the same table, and when they are, there is still a dividing line. It is as American as Levi's to hide your emotions and stuff them down. It's a hard place to be when you have so much going on in your life that you want to look for that crutch. It's even harder when you need to be there to be the crutch for others. It's American to hold everyone else up, and stuff your feelings deep down where even you can't get to them.

If you stuff your emotions down long enough, and you support those around you long enough, the people who you hope to support you will assume you are fine and move on.  If you stuff your emotions long enough, you can partake in that other great American tradition... going Postal.

After a particularly bad day at work, a bad day at home, and then bad news we don't always know the best way to deal with the pressures and stress. Talking it out can certainly help, and finding someone you can talk it out with - or to - is one way to deal with things. It may even be more productive than an evening alone with Mr. Fiddich.  There is always the gym, and the Bonobo chimpanzee method of uncomplicated physical 'relations'. You could take a walk, take a break, take time to savour dessert, take a few clips to a target, or take a nap. Life is complicated. The best way to treat complications is with the simple things in life. That may not be 'American' but it sure is human

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rock and roll over

Thursday, 16 September, 2010 - A shelter near to home had a dog who was convicted of being a dangerous offender, and was sentenced to euthanasia for later this week. Someone has now broken this dog out of prison/shelter, and the dog is free to harm again. It's pretty similar to the revolving door justice we have here in general. How many times has this same dog has been imprisoned and then freed on bail, on a promise to appear, or even pardoned? How many times does a dangerous offender have to be through this cycle before they finally get a sentence that sticks (or sticks in a catheter)?  And an even better question is why would you want to have a dangerous dog in the first place?

My dog has that look... yellow eyes, stripy fur, and a nice big wide head. But, alas, he is a Chesapeake, and cautious of his own shadow. Small dogs terrify him, and cats are a complete unknown. Keep your eye on them, and play dead if they get too close. People are stick/ball/frisbee throwing machines who occasionally also provide food, water and frozen raw turkey necks. He has on occasion caused the odd person to jump back in fear, and each time, I'm not sure who is more startled. Bubba will also jump back and then wag furiously to try and win them over. His 'cousins' include one toddler, and one recently able to reach out and grab munchkin.  They will pull his tail, pull his ears, drape over him, throw balls, and feed him Cheerios. He has yet to so much as take the Cheerio with too much vigor. These are his puppies and he looks after them.  As a pet, my Chessie is as good as it gets. But there are other animals out there that make for good pets are there not?

How about those elongated rats that people keep in cages?  You know the ones I'm talking about.  They are rats fresh out of traction, and by the smell of them, the traction place is somewhere between the downtown eastside, and a pulp and paper mill. They have an odor that not even an owner could love. The point of these critters is beyond my comprehension. (Sorry C, but I never did understand.)

There are Iguanas - who for the most part are all named Iggy.  This is NOT original people. If you are going to have an Iguana, why not name it Klaus, or Sven? I had a goldfish once. I would like to say he was a great pet, but what he lacked in entertainment value, he made up for in sheer determination. I would let this poor fish swim around in dirty water and often forget to feed him. But whenever he was found floating belly up, you could give him a couple of good pokes and he'd wake up, and swim around some more.  Usually, that was when I knew it was time to clean the bowl and give him a snack. The goldfish didn't so much as have a name as he did a sound effect. His 'name' was Glllppp - not quite Gulp... there is no vowels and more of an inhaled throaty sound. If I knew then of this clicking language I might of tried one of their words.

Some people keep birds. Other than a badly tie-dyed poodle, this could be the most colourful of pets. They can be purchased to match any decor. I've gone with a grey/orange theme.  There is a bird out there that would match perfectly. If not for the bird shit that would inevitably hit the ground, the sofa, the divan... I could accessorize nicely with a feathered friend.

When my dog is no longer with me, I will seek to keep a more peaceful, quiet, less demanding pet. You can be sure this won't be a cat, or a rat, or a dog in a hat. I'm seeing something a little more organic, and easy to care for.  I shall not name him Rocky, or Stoner, or Petro, or Sandy, or Bonny, or even Flint. I shall name him George. I'm guessing George will be a little sedimentary, but as far as pet rocks go, G is going to be something special. Perhaps I should start by celebrating Collect Rocks Day. I think George will need to fit in to a pocket to make it easier to slip him in to the office. Rex is a little harder to sneak in, and if I can bring my pet to work, I surely won't need a rock walker or rock sitter. I can't imagine the house without a pet. The good thing about bringing home a new rock is they generally sleep through the night right from the start. No early early morning walks, and no late night strolls. They don't bark, don't scratch the furniture, are house trained, and they don't shed. I don't recommend taking them to the beach. Once they hit the water, they have a tendency to drown. But you can be sure that they won't cause your insurance rates to go up, and they will never turn on you or anyone else. Since the likelihood of them ending up in a shelter for dangerous or violent behaviour is pretty slim, you won't ever have to break them out. Pet Rocks rock.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vote for Pedro

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 - Unlike many human beings, North Americans have lived their lives in a mostly just, mostly open, mostly accepting, mostly responsive society. For us there are so many things that are taken for granted and for which we rarely give much thought or thanks. Take democracy for an example.  Democracy is what gives each and every one of us (over the age of 18) the right to vote, to express our opinions, and to have a say in how we will be governed. This is a luxury that so many countries do not afford it's citizens. Can you imagine living under the regime of the Nazi's? And what if you happened to not only live under a Nazi government, but also happened to be Jewish? It was today in 1935 that the Nuremburg Laws took away citizenship to all German Jews. That same day the Nazi flag (swaztika and all) was adopted as the new German flag.

Turn on the television set, and we get bombarded with ads for this bill and that bill. We get told how this candidate did Debbie, and that candidate drinks shaving lotion, but at least we get to choose. Ok, so there isn't always a lot to choose from, but still you get to put an X in a box that corresponds to your opions, beliefs, values, and fetishes. Nazi Germany may be gone, but there are still hundreds of countries that don't believe the citizens should have a say, and often times, even have a value (unless of course they have gold fillings... then they are worth $1267.81 per ounce).

In 2008, the United Nations decreed that September 15 shall be International Day of Democracy. The preamble to the decree reads as follows:
while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region...
democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.
The point of such a day is to promote the role of parliaments as a key to democracy and all that democracy promotes, and to encourage Governments to celebrate democracy and newly formed democracies. It is not the point of the day for countries to invade other countries and force democracy upon them. That would be wholly undemocratic. Surely there are parts of - say - the Middle East that could benefit from a democratic system of some kind, but I doubt the West would be the best to deliver that message. If you tape a note to a bomb, the note burns up too. That is just simple physics. But now if there is oil in them there hills, you might want to not only create a democracy, but also build up a really good relationship with the newly elected. Perhaps you could provide support payments for parliament and help to solidify that good relationship. Then, when negotiating for oil, it would be a little like negotiating for alimony. There is something parliamentarians know all about.

Today is also the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.  Yes, the month begins on the 15th of September and ends on the 15th of October. It's just like a month, only different. Maybe that's how the Mexicans do things. Or perhaps, it has to do with living on Latin time. They had every intention of starting National Hispanic Heritage Month on September 1st, but just didn't get around to it until today. Ok, the real reason September 15 was chosen is because September 15, 1821 is the day that five Latin American countries all declared independence. Mexico - true to form - followed a little late, and declared independence on the 16th. To celebrate, show up late.

You may or may not agree with any of this post, but the real beautiful thing about living in a democracy - writers can write anything they want. Readers can read anything they want. If you have read this far, and are seething, that is ok.  If you have read this far and agree, that is ok too. There is a place to post comments underneath this post, and you can post anything you like in response to these words. Isn't freedom and democracy a good thing?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Need help?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 - Have you ever noticed that the magazines and diet books are always found near the checkouts of the grocery stores? They don't put them in the chips aisle, and they aren't found near the ice cream and frozen cakes. That would not be good for business. Instead, they are at the check-outs and after you have already filled your cart with the four essential food groups - bagged, boxed, bottled and canned. But there you are, waiting in line (the slowest line in the store no doubt), reading the covers of Elle, Flare, Cosmo, Women's World, Vogue, O, and Prevention while munching on a bag of Doritoes for which you are yet to pay. There are articles on the latest fashions and the newest looks of course, but there are also pages and pages of the latest super food, beverage, supplements and secrets to losing weight. By shedding a few pounds you will be able to wear this season's corduroy tights without looking like last year's Thanksgiving turkey stuffed into a cornish game hen's trousers, your sex life will look like that of a porn star, and you will be a more successful. How does CEO sound? But hey... no pressure folks.

As consumers, we get bombarded with diet plans after we've filled our cart with groceries. You go to a book store looking for the latest Tom Clancy, only to find that the fiction section is now half the size it used to be despite a boom in publishing. The self help aisle, on the other hand has more than doubled. If you need help being a better, more focused, easier to get along with, smarter, more flexible, better organized, happier, more relaxed, better at relationships, less bitchy, more desirable, more manly, more engaged, healthier, less cranky, more courageous, spiritually enlightened, self-connected, assertive, emotionally mature, outgoing, positive, mindful, more passionate, less co-dependent, friendlier, more optimistic, new and improved version of you, than you are in luck. No doubt there is a book or six on the shelf just for you that will guide you through on the journey of self discovery to You 2.0.

September is Self Improvement Month. A trip to Chapters or Barnes and Nobel, and even those without issues will be convinced they need help. If you come up with something that worked for you to get over a loss, or life change, it would be worth finding yourself a publisher and a promoter and sell your technique. Promote yourself shamelessly, and next thing you know you will have a variety talk show where you can help fix the illiterate masses too. Next thing you know, people will be looking to you to fix their lives so they too can become bigger (well, smaller maybe), better, and faster. September is also Shameless Promotion Month. Go ahead and promote your self-help solution. Physician... heal thy masses.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Make your cake and eat it too

Monday, 13 September 2010 - Why can you not have your cake and eat it too?  What is the point of having cake if not to eat? Cake does make for great decoration, and if you are going to decorate a cake, you might as well go the whole hog. Pour the fondant, make ribbons and bows, and then... for dog's sake... eat the cake.

C is for Cake... a special food. If cake were not so special, it would not be the centre piece of birthdays,  weddings, and anniversaries. But why limit the reach of the cake. There are graduation cakes in the shape of the mortar board chapeau, congratulations cakes, cakes for baby showers in the shape of baby buggies, Christmas cake in the shape of a well formed door stop (this is one cake that is special in its number of uses), surprise cakes large enough to encase a stripper, and liver and peanut butter cakes for dogs in the shape of bones.  I'm sure there are other celebrations that could have cakes too...  the "Hey you failed a grade cake" that doesn't rise in the middle.  There is the "you're fired cake" that is pink in colour and there is only enough for everyone else.  The "wake cake" shaped like a coffin and soaked in rum could make someone a fortune.  Hey, your customers are dying to get one of these cakes.

There is an entire other market for cakes that may be overlooked. The sans cake cakes... you know the ones... lacking in eggs, dairy, gluten.  A good cake really needs eggs, dairy and gluten, but for the cardboard lovers out there, the sans cake cake is at least cake like, and often shaped like a cake. With enough icing, the sans cake cake can taste remarkably like cake. There was a time when the sans cake cake took some fancy bakery work and a lot of patience. Today, Betty Crocker has cake mixes for sans cake cake that mean us Celiacs can actually have the holy grail of party food. Celiac Awareness Day could be celebrated right after all. Pour a bottle of gluten free beer and you have a virtual party with virtual party food. Sadly, the one thing gluten free beer needs to taste like beer is gluten. But don't lose heart.  Think positive, there is no gluten to speak of in Scotch.

Hell, think positive all day long... it's Think Positive Day.  With that kind of attitude you could probably make gluten free donuts taste alright for at least one day.  Ok, maybe not for the whole day... gluten free donuts could really use a little gluten. Besides, there isn't any wisdom about having your gluten free donut and eating it too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The gene pool is awfully shallow....

Sunday, 12 September, 2010 - Darwin may have known something we knew instinctually, but hadn't put thoughts around.  The strong survive, the weak get eaten. And the strong pass on their genes. Take a look at humans over the last hundred decades.  We are taller than we used to be. The tall survive, the short get eaten. This could be a function of the length of stride and required leg turnover in order to outrun the rest.
We mature much faster than we did before.  Girls with breasts survive, the breast challenged get eaten. Even breast-less chickens become food for other chickens.  But are we getting any smarter?

When you look at the birthrates of North America at least, it seems as though the birthrates are declining in the suburbs and upper west side, but the projects and the east side continue to grow.  Does this mean that the smart have careers, the not so smart have children? In which case, are we skewing evolution? If two very smart people have children, do they become adults with twice the smarts - and thus able to carry the weight of smart requirements for a larger number of the not smarts? Will they also pay twice the taxes?

What happens when the weak, short, slow to develop, not so bright people do really weak, short, slow to develop, not so bright people things that has them die up to their potential?  Like the guy who scaled the 10' wall at the Gorge to get in to a concert only to find the other side of the fence was the gorge and plummeted to his death?  Darwin would be proud.  The Darwin Awards, awarded posthumously to those who lose their lives doing really stupid things, is yet another example of the strong, tall, developed and smart survive. When stupid people do stupid things that lead to their death, not only does it help chlorinate the gene pool, but it is suicide by stupidity.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. There are many people among us who are down, depressed and may feel as though there is no way out but to take their own lives. Would you know if there is someone in your life that feels this way? Can you recognize the signs? Do you have the tools to help? If you answer no to any or all of these questions, you are not alone. I work on an automatic train system, and every day on the job I hope that today isn't the day that someone feels that deeply desperate. I don't know that I would recognize the behaviours that indicate a person's intention to do harm to themselves, but I do hope that my instincts would tell me what I need to know. If we all let our instincts tell us someone is in need of help, and have the grace and the guts to act on that feeling, we may be able to prevent someone from doing harm to themselves. They may yet have something valuable to add to the gene pool.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rumours and information... never the twa' shall meet.

Friday, 10 September 2010 - When there is no water cooler, and there are no scheduled meetings, and you have a brilliant idea, where do you go?  What if you have the juiciest bit of gossip that you swore you would NEVER tell, but you always tell your cubicle mate everything and you can't find him? I mean, if you don't tell somebody you are going to burst.  After all, why be privvy to info if you can't share? And the juicier it is, the harder it is to keep to yourself.

So ultimately, if you have juicy info about yourself that you don't want spread around, why would you tell even one person? The trick to perception engineering is to only release the info you want to have spread by the gossip girls and the rumour males. Then, you control the gossip and the outcome.  But you can't participate in this gossip. You need to merely plant the info with one 'confidante' and let the pieces fall into place.

Where I work, there is not a lot of opportunity to see everyone all together. We work spread out over kilometres and as a result, rumours are often the only way we get to 'keep in touch'. It actually replaces real conversations and rumours become the reality.  If this is the case, we have one team member who is dog's gift to women (he seems to have a half dozen on the go) and a supervisor who is a true tyrant (who appears to be responsible for everything.) I guess the reality and the rumour at some point intersect, but after the story gets told a few times, it takes on a life of its own. Deep down inside, we are all writers who embellish and give creative license to our tales - whether true or not.

Creativity is one of the things I have always thought seperated us from the animals. Creative ideas is what has pushed civilization in to the digital age. If Grampa Moses hadn't had the idea that if he had a small box with buttons in his hand, and some way of transferring the actions from one device to another, he could change the channels directly from the barcalounger. Now there is the opposite argument - that laziness is the mother of invention, but even laziness can stir creativity. I mean, what else do you do with your mind while you lay about?  The wheel - too lazy to carry shit.  The TV - too lazy to hold a newspaper.  The talkies - too lazy to read.  The computer - too lazy to spell.  But all these ideas turned out to have big impact on everyone. And some ideas spark further ideas.  And an exchange of ideas IS what separates us from the animals. Today you can celebrate being human by participating in Exchange of Ideas Day. No matter how big your ideas are or how insignificant they might seem, a small idea can spark a larger idea, that can spark a change in the lives of us all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Out with the old...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010 - Storage rooms could be more aptly named "Black Hole" room or "Avalanche" room or the "Crap" room, not to be mistaken as the 'crapper' or the room in which one craps. It is the catch all room of the house that is the equivalent to the junk drawer, but on a larger scale.  The question is, what exactly ended up in that room, and if you emptied the entire contents would you find not only that pair of shoes you are sure you still have, but also your long lost cousin Saul?

The storage room, or catch all black hole/avalanche/crap/venti junk drawer, is a great place to visit once and awhile. It is not, however, a 'stop by for tea' visit, but rather a long weekend. There are going to be things you find in the back of that room that will not only make you wonder why you still have it, but will take you on a virtual reminiscing vacation. Those knee-high rainbow socks seemed like such a good idea back then. There is a set of golf clubs behind the door that you could have sworn you sent out to the back alley before the last move, and a box of old greeting cards and birthday wishes from people you haven't seen in a decade. Of course visiting this particular room will also cause you to dig through old phonebooks and day timers looking for the phone number of that guy who used to work in the building across from that place you worked 11 years ago who came to your birthday party that one time and brought with him an excellent scotch. Surely he will remember you... if only you could remember his last name or the name of the company he worked for.

Keep digging and you find a box of snap shots you knew had been here somewhere. You just didn't expect that it would be in the bottom of the snorkel gear bag. Those pictures are worth a thousand words...  each.  Or at the very least, they are worth a thousand shudders, a few head shakes, a couple of shoulder shrugs, and a glass of wine.  Huh. Did you know you even owned snorkelling gear? And from where the hell did this chef's jacket and pouffy hat come?

The storage room is really a room of mystery and memory. It's better than a photo album, and more entertaining that Thanksgiving and there is no better day than today to go through yours. Today is Another Look Unlimited Day. This is meant to be a day to go through your stuff, take a few moments to reminisce, and then decide what you no longer need to keep and pass them along to charity or someone else. If you didn't know you owned snorkel gear, you probably don't need it. The fronts of greeting cards can be donated and used for arts and crafts, and used film canisters can always find a new use.  Why you still have 3 cases of them, you'll never know. You can always Google a donation centre near you. Perhaps your Cousin Saul could be donated to charity.  How is he with a shovel? Now if only you had found that bottle of scotch... guaranteed you could put THAT to good use.  

PS - Happy 10th Birthday Google. Now where did I put that box of birthday cards?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Procrastinating won't stop the fall

Monday, 6 September 2010 - Here we are, Back to School Eve.  How are you feeling?  Getting excited yet? Ready to jump in with both feet, pack your shiny new backpack full of new supplies and a fifth of gin to help get through Day 1?  As a kid, I was always very excited to go back to school, and I couldn't wait to unpack my bag with all my new pencils and notebooks.  I was always disappointed when it dawned on me that this was only half a day, there was no need for the new notebooks or my mega-pack of coloured pencils, and we really didn't learn a thing. I no longer go to school, and I don't have children to pack up and send to school, but Labour Day always makes me happy.

From tonight on... all the neighbourhood kiddies will be going to bed early.  They will not be hanging out at the golf course all week, and when I take my dog to the field in the mornings and afternoons, we will have the park to ourselves - mostly.  There may be other dogs and their humans, but they will NOT be school aged. I very much welcome routines and schedules, especially those routines and schedules of others.

Alas, Labour Day is also the end of summer. So what did summer bring you this year? As I look back I can say it has been a summer of ups and downs. July brought my best friend closer to home, I spent lots of time with my family in Seattle and got away just often enough to feel like I had a break from work. I finally furnished my flat - and in doing so discovered that I can play the role of adult in a pinch. I have made great strides at the office - I found a balance in my mind and am learning to let work be work.  These are all big ups.

There were downs as well.  In my attempt to deal with the sadness that was my birthday, I let a friend see the weak side of me. Result - she walked out of my life. I learned that the old adage "you know who your friends are in difficult times" is true. Thank goodness it wasn't something serious huh? Then there was my anchor, who in anchoring her own life moved away. People enter your life for a moment, a season or a lifetime. On the up side, it has given me a kick to get moving myself.  Wonder how far I can run this time?  I accused a friend of running once. Funny I didn't see that mirror I was holding at the time.

Though today may mark the end of the summer season, it is the start of a new start. Take it and run with it. Make the changes you want to make. After all, today is also Fight Procrastination Day. My hunch is that this would be a difficult fight. In order to fight something it has to come to the fight - and procrastination isn't there yet.  However, if you can battle the procrastination within yourself then today is your day... even if only for a moment, a season, or your lifetime.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Your first job says so much

Saturday, 4 September 2010 - What was your first job? Was it flipping burgers at a McDonalds? Bussing tables in a restaurant? Working the dials at a radio station or working in a hotel gift shop? How long did you keep your first job? Was it longer than a few months? Did you quit the first time they asked you to work on a Saturday night when you could be out with your mates?

There is a distinct possibility that your first job has an impact on the career you are in today. If you turned out to be a good employee and worked your way from bus boy to head waiter - you are still a mover and a shaker. Or, you now own or manage a restaurant, or chain of restaurants. If you started out at a fish farm feeding the fish and pulling out the dead ones, would you be working now as a data specialist? Theres real numbers in fish in, fish out, fish thin, fish stout. Was your first job picking fruit at an orchard? What about the guy who goes around harvesting all the juice out of those tiny little buckets hanging from all the apples at Motts?  He's now a successful TV Infomercial sales guy who's developed a more efficient way of getting the juice out of the apples. Hey, he may have started out small,b ut today, Jack Lalanne is making juice out of carrots, and oranges, and pears, and cabbage.

My first job was as the Chicken Mascot for a radio station. My feathered alias was the LB Bird. I would go from the chicken suit to the control room where I would work as a DJ on the overnight show.  Today, I write a blog that few read, but it gives me an outlet of some version of creativity in the middle of the night. I was a chicken, I am a night hawk now. I once looked in to a paper route, but they expected you to deliver papers in the morning.  There was no way that was going to work for me. I still don't work in the morning.

A paper route was the first job for many of us... and our folks. In reality, the job of paper boy also required collecting the delivery fees from your route each week, and submitting the right amount. You might have helped, but mom or dad did the math, put the money away and drove you to the paper office each week.  The paper route carriers that took this job serious and managed their own money are today the top financial guys at Yahoo, Google, CNN, and  They may not read a paper paper anymore, but they are still very up on the events of the day and the financial implications of every link you follow.

Today is Paper Carrier Day. Though the paper today may have gone mostly digital, but there are still paper carriers delivering the daily news. Of course they don't have quite as much work to do as before.  The papers are smaller, and therefore much lighter, and the money is gathered electronically. There is no muscle required and no math. Todays paper carriers are tomorrow's e-reporters, UPS delivery drivers, FedEx execs, and if they live in India, Purolator call centre employees.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Living breathing buildings

Friday, 3 September 2010 - Something I rarely do is to spend time downtown amongst the concrete and glass. It is a part of the city I look on and a view I admire. But as for spending time in that concrete jungle, I usually hover on the outskirts for no other reason but to avoid traffic.  On a Friday afternoon, let me just say the traffic is worth avoiding. Yet, hanging out downtown on a beautiful day just seems to be worth the traffic woes.  There is an energy to being in the heart of the downtown.

It is curious how blocks and blocks of skyscrapers - a blending of concrete, steel and glass - can seem to breathe. There is an entire world living right here under our feet and above our heads.  The skyscrapers are alive with energy, and they are often the trademark image of cities around the world.  Vancouver's skyline pictures are often taken from the water.  From the North, no image of Vancouver is the same without a picture of the sails over Canada Place.  From the south, the West End is not complete without a shot of the Burrard Street Bridge.  In Seattle, there isn't a picture of downtown that represents Seatlle without the Space Needle.  The Experience Music Project, though an extremely unique building, isn't as well known - and likely never will be. I could say the same about the New York skyline, but since the unplanned demolition of the World Trade Centre, the skyline is still taking some getting used to without the iconic buildings.

Skyscrapers provide character and identity to so many cities.  The was once known as the Sears Tower, Empire State Building, the twin towers in Kuala Lampur, the Taipei 101, the CN Tower....  these buildings are icons. There is more to these buildings than office space, observation decks, hotels, and shopping on the lower levels. They provide identity to the city in which they live, and no doubt created much discussion before the ground underneath them was broke. The race to the sky may have slowed a little, but trust me, the need for a ruler has not. These buildings are often borne out of a need to be bigger... and taller... then the next one. It's a lot like a urinal check... you know the one where you sneak a peak next door to see how you 'measure up'.

Today is Skyscraper Day. If you haven't ventured up to the top of one of these structures, take today to head up to the top. If you don't live near any great tall structures, than may I recommend you find the tallest building in town and ride the elevator. Scared of heights? No worry, I am as well.  I can go up, I just can't look down. So look out. see your city from the eyes of the skyscraper. I trust you will find that as the building inhales and exhales, it sways a little too.  Plant your feet and enjoy the ride. The view is pretty good too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I do recall...

Thursday, 2 September 2010 - There are so many varieties of apples available it could make your head spin. Gravensteins are a variety that I have been seeking since the first time I had one of these apples back in 1997 on Vancouver Island. Yesterday, I found them in a fruit and veggie stand in Seattle. I guess it makes sense.  September is Apple Month. I have been to an Apple Festival - a gathering of all things apple - no Gravensteins.  I have been to the Okanagan and to Washington orchards - no Gravensteins.  I round the corner on my way home in Seattle, and there, in big flashing letters is a grocer who not only has Gravenstein apples, but is proud and loud. I hesitate to stop and gather some of these precious apples. What if they are not as I remember? Do I want to tarnish a memory that for 13 years has served me well?

Memory is probably our most human attribute. Memories can be massaged in to anything we want them to be.  You can recall even a bad time in a positive environment and water down the negatives. Recall that same memory surrounded by pleasing people and places, and that memory is watered down again.  Eventually, those bad memories can be replaced with memories of the positive parts. What about positive memories? When we recall those happy times, do we continue to make them even happier, thus making the past better than what the future can bring? Like telling a story, or witnessing a crime, each time the event or story is re-told, it takes on shades of the environment and the frame of mind you are in while you are recounting the tale. After a while, the story is nothing at all what it was, but may indeed be a better story.

This is the problem with eye-witness testimony. Eye witnesses are rarely able to recall the events as they happened. They mis-remember the colour of the shirt, and then every time they replay the events in their mind, the shirt will be the mis-remembered colour.  The 'perp' was no longer in the navy shirt he was really wearing, but the red one you were sure he had worn.  Next thing you know, the guilty party (the one in the blue shirt) goes free, and the poor sap in the red shirt that you are CERTAIN you remember gets punished.  The court system doesn't move that fast, and often times, by the time you would get to a stand to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, it is a year or two later. Imagine how many times you have told your story in that time, and how many times you've replayed the events in your head (complete with mis-remembered details).  There is nothing to say that what you are telling isn't true... it is your truth, but may not actually be nothing but the truth. So this rarely questioned, but wholly questionable evidence is often what puts away the bad people... hopefully.

So what about a capital murder trial? Same thing goes huh? I sure wouldn't want to rely on the frailty of human memory to determine my fate. A death sentence is a hard one to take back once its carried out. Once one's head is separated from one's body, there is no way to re-attach it because the witness realized they may have remembered things inaccurately.  Don't think the drug cocktail they use to put someone down is reversible either, and once thousands of volts of electricity have ravaged ones cortex, I doubt you can re-allign the neurones and the sodium ions to bring the body back to life.  Sure there are appeals, and lots of time to ensure you really do have the right person sentenced to death, but innocent people have died that shouldn't have. Maybe when beheading was the flavour of the day there were a few heads in those baskets still saying "I'm innocent".  How long before the brain knows the head is no longer attached?  How long do the eyes continue to register what they are seeing before the world goes black? Hey... we maybe avoid the guillotine now, but I bet those heads could still see and hear for longer than you might think. Today is Beheading Day.  Let it be a comfort to you to know that if you do lose your head today, the moment the blade goes through your neck is likely not your last memory.  Your last memory might be the weave of the basket in to which your head fell. On the up side, you won't have enough time to recall the memory, so it will most likely still be a pretty accurate memory the rest of your life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm a nut, you're a nut, everyone's a nut nut

Wednesday, 1 September 2010 - It is a new month, and as often happens at the beginning of some time delineation, we get to thinking of all the things we can begin. September is the beginning of a new school year for so many. It is the start of diet season for so many more, and fitness classes will see a boom in participants - at least for the first few weeks. Funny, for all the years I went to school and for how much I enjoyed school, I still dread September.

September to me feels like the start of a rapid downhill slide to the year's end. Another year will have come and went, and I yet I continue to stand still. I dreamt last night of my grandfather. In trying to sort out what that might have meant for me, we came up with a few options. Perhaps he represents a time in my life when I felt more secure. He died when I was but seven years old. Maybe he represents the lack of stability - that eventually everyone leaves. I occasionally wonder what it is about my past that has me frozen in my present, unable to make commitments and so fiercely independent. My reality is, that I want to make a commitment. I want to be needed and to be needy, and I want a future. Am I the only crazy one here? I look back at the men in my life and I can see why I've always run from commitments.  Nobody stays forever. They die. They leave. They take their masks off. They bail. They run. They get suffocating. So rather than experience that all over again, it's easier not to get in to the situation in the first place. Right? Come on.... agree with me dammit.   No?  Hmmm, turns out maybe I'm a nut. However, I guarantee I am not alone.Pick up the phone, and call any one of the people in your address book and for sure there is something about all of them that is a little nutty.

It used to be that making a call to anyone in your contacts list required going through an operator.  She or he would connect you to your other party, listen in on the conversation, and at the end of the conversation, end the connection and the call. I can only imagine how nutty the people in those calls seemed to the operators. Mind you, at that time, I'm betting we didn't just call up a girlfriend to talk about the too short skirt Peggy had the nerve or lack of sense to wear yesterday. We certainly didn't make calls just to pass the time because we waiting at a table in the bistro down the way for our dining mate to arrive. Operators played an important role in communications at one time. It was on this day in 1878 that Emma M. Nutt was hired on as the first woman telephone operator in America. Emma worked at the job for 33 years, and probably in that time heard her fair share of insane conversations. Today is named in her honour - Emma M. Nutt Day - and is meant to celebrate telephone operators.  I suspect that at one point in time you would have had operators you could invite to a celebration and to whom you could feed cake. Nowadays, operators are just automated voice messaging systems, and unless you are also serving pizza and cases of Coke, the geeks that now program our 'operators' probably aren't interested in a tea social. Emma Nutt would have enjoyed the celebration. She was a swell gal. She was also very thankful her first name was not Imma.

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