Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Random Thoughts-55
May 4th, 2009

I became an Uncle when I was six years old. Now, I am an Uncle to twenty-six nephews and nieces, a Great Uncle to twenty-nine of their children and a Great Great Uncle to two more. Of course, I always thought that I was a great great great Uncle to all of them.
I guess my point is that I have always been surrounded by babies. I grew up with them. I even had three of my own. Not alone, mind you, my wife had something to do with it, but I have always been very comfortable around babies.
This experience will come in very handy as I recently became a Grandfather when our oldest daughter delivered a bouncing baby boy! Yeah I know, GRANDPA.
In talking to my siblings about their Grandparent experiences it sounds like it’s going to be a blast. How does that bumper sticker go? “If I had known how much fun Grandchildren would be, I would have had them first!!” Ain’t it the truth?
I think many children are hard-wired to buck the authority of their parents. There seems to be a delayed timing mechanism built into them that makes them realize that their parents were right only after they have made the same mistakes that their parents had warned them to avoid. Make sense?
At least that has been my experience as both a child and as a parent. I know that somewhere my late Father is laughing away because he knows that I am raising me, if you know what I mean!?
I am trying hard to practice what I preach as I try to avoid the “Can hardly waits”, as in: “I can hardly wait until…he can walk, he can talk, he can skate,…” But I can hardly wait to spoil him and send him home to his parents!
Unfortunately, for me, I never had the chance to really get to know my Grandfathers. My maternal Grandfather passed away when I was three years old and my paternal Grandfather lived on the coast and passed away before I was ten. My children’s Grandfathers both left this earth far too early for our kids to fully appreciate their presence.
We humans have little or no control over how much time we have to live this life, so I for one am going to do my best to cherish each and every moment that I can spend with Treyton Perry Laverdiere and all the other grandchildren that may come my way.
“There is nothing like a newborn baby to renew your spirit-and to buttress your resolve to make the world a better place.”-Virginia Kelley.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Random Thoughts-54
April 6th, 2009

Do you know who must really love Saskatchewan? Clothing manufacturers. As a wise person recently stated, “In Saskatchewan, there’s no bad weather only bad clothing”. How true. That’s why we need lots of it. Clothing, that is.
Here in good old Saskatchewan we may have any one of the four seasons break out on any given day of the year so your wardrobe better be adequate and accessible at all times.
You will, of course, have to have your standard set of parkas. A heavy one, a heavier one and the heaviest one. Ditto for head gear and footwear.
Especially at this time of year, (late winter or early spring or whatever it is), one may have to put on or take off, depending on the temperature, one, two or three layers of clothing during the course of a day.
“Honey, have you seen my ____________ coat?” (fill in the blank with fall, winter, spring, hoody, waterproof, windbreaker, fur-lined or hockey, which, of course, will be all of the above), is a question you will hear at many a Saskatchewan home.
This question is usually followed by the scary answer, “It’s in the front closet”. Which will then be immediately followed by a huge groan.
Which brings us to the other manufacturing group that must love Saskatchewan: the distributors of closet organizing products. Coat hooks, shelving, clothes hangers, boot racks and closet rods must be sold by the millions here. Whether they are ever installed and used as directed is another question.
I have never spent any time in a place like Arizona but can you imagine how little the residents would have to own there?! I would think that a couple of pairs of pants, a few shirts, a pair of flip-flops, some shorts and 100spf sunblock are about all that would be required.
I’m thinking that a single closet would probably hold all of their stuff. Here, we need a few closets, a couple of dressers, a trunk, a box in the basement for winter boots, a box in the basement for summer shoes, a box in the basement for rubber boots, a box in the basement for cleats, skates, ski boots, flippers, curling shoes, snow shoes, a box in the basement for…I know, I know, you get the drift!
Aaahhhh Saskatchewan, ya gotta love it! If “variety is the spice of life” then we’ve got plenty of spice! Think of how boring it would be to live in t-shirts, cut-offs and sandals all of the time. When would you ever get the chance to show off your new turtleneck, or bathing suit, or parka, or shorts, or touque, or thongs…
“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.”-Kin Hubbard (1868-1930).
Random Thoughts-53
March 22, 2009

A few weeks ago I had an idea that I thought was pretty good at the time. You see, I had been watching a fair amount of curling and kinda got the bug to get out on the ice. I’ve only really played a few games in my life but, what the heck, how hard could it really be, you know?
Deb and I called our good friends Max and Shelley and convinced them to enter a team with us in the Kipling Open Bonspiel. Little thought was given as to how we were going to make a team out of a Third, two Leads and a couch potato. In order, that would be Shelley, Max, Deb and me.
We had actually entered the event to “Bonspiel” and hoped that the curling wouldn’t get in the way too much, if you know what I mean? Well, it turns out that we are damn good at one and not so bad at the other.
They made us play six, that’s right SIX, games over four days and we actually won as many as we lost. Not too shabby, in our humble opinions.
The curling, of course, was always secondary to the social nature of the event. If there was ever a “Ring of Honour” for time, (and money), spent in the Curling Club Lounge, we belong on it! Our team is confident that the Curling Club will put the proceeds from our self abuse weekend to good use.
I guess the game is like many other televised games for two reasons. One, it looks so damn easy on TV and two, it’s not! I have a newfound appreciation for the pro’s shot making skills, the strategy of the game and the physical demands of the sport.
I awoke muscle groups that I forgot I even had! And most of that was from climbing the stairs to “The Lounge!”
One of the great things about this event was the variation in the age groups taking part. The youngest participants were in their very early teens and the oldest participants have been cashing in Canada Pension cheques for a while now. And the competence level ranged from very, very good to “what were you thinking?”
Regardless of the level of competence the one element that bound every participant together was the level of fun. On a scale of 1-10 it was a 10 for me and I am sure it was for many others, too. I know that our team had a blast.
I won’t lie to you; there were a few moments during the weekend (like the 10:30 draw on Saturday morning!!) when I wondered if my great idea wasn’t so great. But then again, the pain reminded me that I was still alive and, in the end, the fun factor far outweighed the pain factor.
“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”-Unknown.
Random Thoughts-52
March 9, 2009

As if our extremely cold winter, the bombardment of gloom and doom news regarding the current recession and the “Taxman Cometh” weren’t enough for you to consider multiple depression medications here’s another little tidbit of news to push you over the edge. I hope you’ve had your flu shot because this will likely make you sick.
According to Forbes Magazine, Will Smith was the top earning Hollywood star taking home some $80 million dollars last year. That’s right, 80 freakin’ million dollars!! It’s not Will Smith’s fault, he’s just livin’ The American Dream, but somehow, to my way of thinking, all the free market, capitalistic dogma cannot justify those kinds of numbers.
To put that into perspective, if you were to be paid $20.00 per hour and worked a regular 40 hour week, earning the Canadian average annual salary of $40,000.00 per year, you’d have to work 2000 years to make 80 million dollars. 2000 years!! That’s 104,000 weeks! Here are some more mind-boggling numbers for you. Keep in mind that these are annual salaries.
JK Rowling (Harry Potter creator/author) $300 million=7,500 years!
Oprah Winfrey $275 million=6875 years!
Hannah Montana/Miley Cirus (16 YEARS OLD!) $25 million= 625 years!
Tiger Woods $115 million=2875 years!
David Beckham $50 million=1250 years!
The above people are either in the entertainment field or sports celebrities but excessive earning power isn’t restricted to them. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives the top-earning Canadian CEOs earned more than the average annual salary before 9:30 am on January 2nd! Can you imagine? More than $40,000.00 before the first coffee break of the year!? How do you justify that?
When you compare these excessive, outrageous compensation packages to the salaries of our world leaders it’s not hard to think that the Apocalypse is upon us. Our Canadian Prime Minister makes a little over $300,000.00 per year and the president of the United States makes $400,000.00 per year. Do you think our priorities are straight?
When numbers like trillion dollar bailout packages and two-year baseball contracts worth $45million are bantered around its very hard for us simple folk to keep it all in perspective. At least it is for me.
Now, I’ll be the first one to admit my lack of knowledge when it comes to world economics but do you think that maybe with a little bit more restraint and a little less greed some of this doomsday economic meltdown may have been avoided? I know I don’t have any of the answers but with these kinds of numbers it sure raises a lot more questions.
“Greedy eaters dig their graves with their teeth.”-French Proverb.
Random Thoughts-51
February 22, 2009

I was going to do a rant about the Negative Nillies that inhabit every community. You know who I’m talking about; all of the Chicken Littles of the world who think the sky is falling and they only see what is bad about a situation, never what’s good about it. But, alas, what good would it do? You see, they’re a stubborn lot, and regardless of how sound one’s argument against their attitude is, you can never change their minds.
While their numbers are small their voices are loud making it difficult to ignore the negative rhetoric. No matter how hard one tries to ignore the negativity it always surfaces with half-truths and rumours.
Now, I know that I am sounding a little negative myself so that’s all I am going to say on that matter. If you give them too much attention they might just think their way of thinking is right.
I will say that the negativism that I am talking about is regarding the shooting of the film Rust. I have stated in this column before and I’ll get on my soap box any time to proclaim my staunch support for this project. It’s great for Kipling, it’s great for rural Saskatchewan and it’s great for any project that starts with the words, “They’ll never do it.”
Well, they are and they did. I was an eye witness. Yes, we were asked if they could use our house, warts and all, for some scenes in the movie. We immediately said “Yes”, then immediately said, “Whoops”.
For you know that “A guest sees more in an hour than a host sees in a year”. That, coupled with the facts that our handyman has been on hiatus for a while and the empty nesters, that occupy the house, have been relaxing a little bit more than they ever used to, so we were a bit worried about what we were exposing our home to.
But, what the heck, how many people do you know that have had their house used in the making of a movie?
So, on Sunday the 22nd, in they came and transformed our humble home into a sound stage. There had to be close to forty people involved in the fourteen odd hours of shooting in our house. We were fortunate observers to the amazing process of movie making. There aren’t enough pages in this paper for me to properly verbalize my feelings on the events that took place throughout that day. In the risk of being redundant it was, again, simply amazing.
The cast, crew, producers, directors and support staff were respectful and gracious guests in our home. Permission was asked for everything. They used a mixture of our stuff and theirs to get their required effects and when they left there was no evidence (other than the pictures on our camera) that they had even been there at all! Everything was returned to its original spot, down to the tiniest knick knack.
I know that the vast majority of the town of Kipling, and its surrounding area, are very supportive of this project and I think the whole production staff are genuinely happy with the local support and the results that they have had. My family is thankful that we could be of service in this unique adventure and the only gratuity that is required is to see our house in the finished product of this film.
I read an article about the film project in the January 27th edition of “The Globe and Mail-Canada’s National Newspaper” and a few readers’ comments were published after the article. I will leave you with a quote from one of those readers:
“Is this the next “Slumdog Millionaire”? Good job, Kipling, for showing the gumption to do something like this. And well done, Mr. Bersen for taking the “leap of faith” on a small town.”-Michael Cawthra from Lakewood, United States.
Random Thoughts-50
February 8, 2009

My guess is that there were about fifty people witnessing history being made on the night of February 7th, 2009. These people, film makers, film crew, Kipling Film Production members, Kipling Volunteer Fire Department members, local residents and people with good and bad connections with the building, had all gathered at an old farm house to film and watch it burn down. The burning of the house is a very integral part of the story being told in the movie “Rust”, which is currently being filmed in and around Kipling.
For many reasons, and for many people, it was a very emotional event.
Exhilaration, sadness, awe, excitement, closure, contempt, fear and even anger were felt at different times by the different people that had gathered there. To me, it was amazing to watch so much history evaporate, for the most part, in about an hour and a half.
Unfortunately, the house’s most recent human history involved a demented pedophile and the abhorrent acts he performed on his captured victims. Those actions erased the years of family history that had, no doubt, lived out in a home to people that had experienced all of the same emotions as the witnesses gathered to watch it burn.
We (the human race) tend to humanize inanimate objects. The house did not kidnap anyone. The house did not cook Christmas dinner. The house didn’t even have a say in its occupants. But for some who gathered in that yard, that night, the house burning was another step in the healing process for his victims and their families.
For others, it was the end of an era. The disappearance of an icon as one interested observer put it. Yes, the flooring and the rafters, the floor joists and shingles, the windows and the doors are all gone, but like any building, the memories of the past occupants and their activities remain.
I hope that the sacrifice of burning this old house for the movie will satisfy the needs of the families of the victims while honouring the memories of the families that had made the house a home.
Regardless of one’s relationship to the house and its former occupants our (again, the human race) fixation with fire is universal. Talk to anyone and they will tell you how fascinated they are with fire and, as I stated earlier, this fire was amazing.
Not only were we witnessing an awesome display of the power of fire but we were also witnessing the making of a movie. Yes, a movie! Right here! Right now! The reality of this much-anticipated event was brought home in a spectacular way. The scenes that were being filmed during the house burning are the first shots recorded for the movie “Rust”. You know, it wasn’t just real…it was surreal.
I think the last time that I had feelings like that it was during the long weekend in September 2006 during “Saskatchewan’s Biggest House Warming Party Ever!”. I don’t know for sure if it ever left, but it seems like the magic’s back.
“So live that your memories will be part of your happiness.”-Author Unknown.
Random Thought-49
January 25th, 2009

My wife and I, like millions of other people on the planet, watched the United States President Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on the 20th of January. Our curiosity was piqued by the significance of the event, his undeniable charisma and the hope that his positive vision will inspire our troubled world.
A co-worker wondered aloud why so many Canadians, especially younger Canadians apathetic as they are about Canadian politics, are being caught up by Obamamania. Judging by the reaction of many Canadians being interviewed, you’d have thought Canadians actually had some say in how he was elected.
It has been my observation that American influence on Canadians is as old as the relationship between the two countries. Our preoccupation with life in the “Excited States”, to quote former Regina Leader Post Editor Bob Hughes, preceded the electronic media age, but since radio, television and now the internet allows unlimited access to what’s happening south of the 49th parallel, one would have to be a hermit to not know what’s going on down there and be influenced by it.
For many years now many people, mostly from the mass media, have been trying to define what a Canadian is. While never being able to exactly establish what we are; we continually state what we are not…and that is Americans.
I, too, am caught up by the nationalism displayed in things like the “Joe Canadian Rant” ad that was made by Molson Breweries a few years ago and nothing makes me feel better than to see a Canadian team or individual athlete defeat the Americans on the international stage.
While expressing my great Canadian pride, right down to my maple leaf tattoo, I am also very aware of America’s influence in the many facets of our daily lives, be it through television, music, movies, the vehicles we drive or the clothing we wear. Commodity prices, foreign affairs, imports, exports and political leaders all have some influence on Canadians in varying degrees.
In keeping with my great Canadian pride I am a huge fan of the CBC, (not just on Saturday nights during hockey season either), and one of my favourite shows is “The Rick Mercer Report”. Coincidently the first post-Christmas Rick Mercer Report show happened to be on the 20th of January and he succinctly summed up the answer to my co-worker’s question in his rant regarding the current climate in both American and Canadian politics.
Customarily, I close my column with a short quote appropriate to the subject matter so this week’s quote is from Rick Mercer’s rant from that episode.
“Think about it. In the last American election, the defining themes were “change is possible” and “hope”, and they had the highest voter turnout in 40 years. In our last election, the defining themes were “stay the course” and “destroy the enemy”, and we had the lowest voter turn out in our entire history. Cleary we are on two different tracks.”-Rick Mercer (b.1969- ).
Random Thoughts-48
January 5, 2009

The decorations have all been put away ‘til next Christmas, the Christmas CDs are filed away, the left over pastries are getting a good start on their freezer burn and those loose-fitting jeans aren’t so loose-fitting any more. The much-anticipated “Season of Joy” has passed, once again, all too quickly.
Now, we transition right into the next season…the “Winter Blues” season; which, unlike the lead-up to Christmas, takes little or no preparation at all. Regardless of the ever-so-slight increase in daylight minutes per day we’ll still be in “winter” mode for a while yet. Especially if Mother Nature continues her argument against “Global Warming”!
After the December rush, it’s hard not to get dragged down into the melancholic afterglow of another year coming to a close. I’ll now insert my excuse of “Winter Malaise” as my reason for having written nothing in a month!
So what are we to do to offset those winter blues? How do we escape the incessant hum of the natural gas meter? How do we keep our relationships intact while moodily slugging along until the crows come back?
A trip to some tropical locale would be in order if Christmas shopping and SaskEnergy hadn’t eaten up all of the savings! Ditto on the ski trips! So, if travel is out and you’re looking for a low-cost solution I’ll try to help you out.
You have to keep in mind that not everything about winter is bad. Consider the fact that there are numerous hours of serious NFL playoff football games to be watched on the weekends and there’s probably a hockey game on TV every night of the week, too!
Okay, alright, that’s maybe a short-term fix and you would probably have to actually like those sports to really enjoy them. I suppose you could always watch something else, but stay away from the warmer climate shows like movies set in Hawaii or golf games from Florida and such. It’ll just make you more depressed.
Medical science has an actual term for the “Winter Blues”, it’s called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” and it can be very serious in some cases. There are many ways to treat “SAD” including light therapy and medicine’s ever popular anti-depression medication. It goes without saying that you should consult your physician before you decide on any treatment at all, including “Couch Potato Therapy”!
Exercise and diet are the best and easiest fixes. Exercising rids feelings of depression by increasing serotonin levels. The use of fitness centres, skating rinks and toboggan hills are just a few examples of fun ways to remain active. “You are what you eat" holds true when depression creates an urge to indulge in high-sugar foods that gives temporary liveliness, but eventually decreases energy.
Above all, show your true Canadian colours and embrace the winter before it embraces you!
“The simple solution for disappointment depression: Get up and get moving. Physically move. Do. Act. Get going,”- Peter McWilliams, Life 101.
Random Thoughts-47
December, 14th, 2008

So, are you all excited about the big day? Getting a little worried that you were a bit more naughty than nice? It’s too late to worry about that now anyway, right?
There’s definitely a “feeling of Christmas” in the air. The anticipation, as the big day approaches, is as palpable as the stress loads of a couple of weeks ago were. Maybe your stress-loads haven’t even peaked, yet. All I can say is good luck with that. I’ve got my own to contend with.
In anticipation of a large number of my family members joining us for the holidays, my wife and I have taken on chores that have been ignored for a while. Yeah, I know, hard to believe, eh?
Ever since we became “Empty Nesters” our three children’s bedrooms have become sort of warehouses for “Christmases Past”. Many of the articles they either wouldn’t or couldn’t take with them when they moved out. It was time to tidy-up the clutter.
The stuff wasn’t all old Christmas gifts. One particular child had a habit of bringing home other people’s “treasures” that turned into our “junk”. I thought that saying was the other way around! Anyway, while sifting through the debris, we were taken back through the years of toys and books, electronics and clothing, games and gadgets.
My idea was to box up some of the cra… neat stuff and re-gift it to them for a Christmas present. “Killing two birds”, if you know what I mean? Needless to say, the idea has had a rather cool reception. The children want their rooms to remain museums to their youth and their mother wants their keepsakes just as bad.
My self-serving argument, throughout the years, has been against the emphasis on gift-giving and receiving. To my way of thinking, it would greatly reduce the amount of two things: the stress in looking for the appropriate gifts and paying for the appropriate gifts. Now, I am not anti-gift-giving, or receiving, for that matter, I just believe in “everything in moderation.” I feel that the accumulation of vast amounts of cast-off stuff is proof in the pudding.
While searching my memory banks from many, many Christmases past, my thoughts of memorable Christmases always relate back to relatives. Siblings with children coming home for the holidays; Aunts, Uncles and cousins stopping by for visits. Toboggan parties, card games and charades, eggnog and hot chocolate, homemade pastries and enormous meals. All being shared with friends and family.
Sure, there are a couple of significant gifts that remain fresh in my memory, (that was one sweet rod-hockey game that my brother and I received too many Christmases ago), but, truth be told, I have a hard time picking out more than a few.
So, when word came that my 87 year-old Mom, accompanied by my sister’s family, would be here for a short time over the holidays, it rekindled old feelings of anticipation that had little to do with what ended up in my stocking, or under the tree. It was that anxious feeling of waiting for the day when the company would arrive.
We are reminded every year to look for the true meaning of Christmas and how it hardly ever comes in a gift-wrapped box. This year, I think I’m going to be living it.
From our family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas!
“The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family,”-Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).
Random Thoughts-46
November 20, 2008
Oh, the weather outside is….not so bad! Wasn’t it nice getting November excluded from this winter season? I didn’t even freeze any digits putting up the lights this year!
With the recent nice weather and so little snow on the ground, it seems like Christmas should be further away than it really is. I don’t mean to panic you other unprepared souls but there’s still lots of time left, isn’t there?
With on-line shopping, 24/7 store hours, (or so it seems), and so many local options there is no reason why you shouldn’t have your Christmas shopping done in good time. Well, I suppose there are a few reasons you might not be done.
Avoiding crowds, not having a clue what to buy her, uh, I mean everyone, lack of funds, Scroogeitis, and the crowd favourite… procrastination. Why do today what you can put off until you have to run around in a stressful panic! Ah, ‘tis the season!
I’m writing this on the last day of November and you can feel the pressure mounting.
“Okay, we’ve got to really clean this house, buy the tree, decorate the tree, get the baking done, buy way too many gifts, put the baseboards on, (and I mean it this time!), do some more shopping, go to sixteen Christmas parties, do the Christmas cards, get some shopping done…”
Wow, I’m getting tired thinking about it. No wonder it’s one of most wonderful and stressful times of the year; all at the same time.
As usual, the season will pass and we’ll have had a great time. We’ll get between 87 to 95 percent of what we were supposed to get done, done, and nobody will remember or notice the forgotten percentage.
Let’s all just try and enjoy the season. So, c’mon now, take a few breaths… that’s better, just relax, it’s not that bad, it’ll all get done in the end. Here, have some eggnog. It’ll make you feel much better.
“Next to a circus there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit,”-Kin Hubbard (1868-1930).
Random Thoughts-45
November 9th, 2008

While trying to cram in some outdoor home improvements, before the impending Saskatchewan winter sets in, I was reminded of Tim Taylor.
You remember “Tim the Toolman Taylor” from TV’s Home Improvement show don’t you? Tim Allen played the stereotypical macho male thirsting for more power out of all of his power tools and appliances. Tim Taylor could never walk by a hardware store without the pull of the Power Tool section drawing him in.
I know a lot of guys that are like the Toolman and can’t wait for the weekend to arrive so they can spend some quality time in their workshop. Although I have had to be a handyman because I live in a house that is nearly one hundred years old, my handy work has been more out of necessity than the want and desire to purchase and use new power tools. I may have alluded to that fact, all too often, before in this column.
Now, apparently I am not the only male in this category. Guys, as a rule, probably won’t readily admit that they aren’t the macho power tool loving kinda guys; at least not to other guys. The recent formation of “The Ladies Without Baseboards Club”, started by a local plumber’s wife, (not mentioning any names, Susan), has provided the evidence that this is so.
The Club meets quite often at the molding section of the lumber yard to dream and sigh at the various styles and colours of baseboards that may or may not make it onto their walls. Engaged ladies and newlyweds are encouraged to attend so their home improvement expectations will be diminished; especially if they are engaged to or have just married a carpenter. Face it, there’s no way you’re gonna get much work done on the weekends after these guys have put in a saw-dust-eating week at somebody else’s house.
Now I shouldn’t assume that any of the above mentioned spouses have neglected the baseboard installations because they aren’t particularly fond of using power tools. There may be some very logical and rational reasons why they haven’t gotten around to that particular task. I have my own valid reasons, (some would say excuses), and I will leave it to them to justify theirs.
“The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.”- Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Random Thoughts-41
September 3rd, 2008

So, how was your summer? Mine was pretty good. Thanks for asking. As usual, it went by way too fast, especially when Mother Nature decided to close the door on summer weather at 8:16 pm August 30th. Bang! There you go, that's it, we're done.
I much prefer to ease into the next season with a gradual decline of evening daylight and a slow procession of dropping temperatures. Unfortunately, I have absolutley no control over such things.
While most of the summer weather was very suitable for exterior home improvements, yardwork and outdoor recreational activities, the sudden stop has left too many items on my outdoor to-do list. Had I known that it would end so abruptly, I may have put off those extra golf rounds for a few more hours of fixing the roof. Ya, right, who am I kidding!
Thinking back, the time between buying new baseball cleats, for the early summer Twiliter tournament, and half-past August seemed to flash by in seconds. Now, it's almost quarter after September! Growing older seems to make time go by quicker, at least it does for me.
Although I haven't had to return to school in thirty-plus years I still get a queasy feeling when I hear those three unpleasant words..."Back to School." You see, I was never really all that excited about going back to school. Not that I was adverse to being taught or anything. Well, okay, that may have had a bit to do with it. And, contrary to what some of my teachers may remember, I almost enjoyed some of the stuff they were teaching. Anyway, I was just not happy that it signified that summer was officially over.
Gone are the days of t-shirts and cutoffs, flip-flops and swimming suits. Sure, we'll get a few more days of warm weather and sunshine, but fall is definitely in the air.
Just when you think you have a handle on the stupid slice in your driver, you start reading about the upcoming National Hockey League season beginning and how the junior hockey teams are already on the ice. It seems to me that we no longer let the seasons play out as they were intended. We are so anxious for the next thing to come along that we don't spend nearly enough time enjoying time in the present.
You can't buy a swimsuit in July unless it's on the clearence rack beside the winter coats. "Back to School" sales start earlier every year. Someone said they already have Halloween candy out! Seriously! Halloween candy?! C'mon.
There are no brakes on a time clock and I can lament the passing of summer all I want, but that's not very productive. Hopefully, there's enough time before the snow flies to tidy up a few more items off of my outdoor to-do list. Before we know it the cold winds will be blowing and the SaskEnergy bills will by sky-rocketing. Time to stop whining about the passing of summer and go get some wood cut for the fast approaching winter.
"There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past."-George Carlin (1937-2008).
Random Thoughts
June 30th, 2008

Pardon my absence from these pages, Dear Reader, but after I complete one of my rambling articles it is completely out of my control as to whether the words ever hit the paper.
Sometimes my well-honed procrastination skills are to be blamed. Sometimes not.
While attempting to stick to a bi-weekly schedule, with one missed deadline or one article hitting the cutting room floor, it is easy to be absent for weeks at a time. I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.
During Saskatchewan's seemingly nine-month-long winter conditions, it is a pleasure to sit at a keyboard and peck away as the cold wind howls outside the window. However, by trying to put as much outdoor time into our lightning-fast twelve weeks of summer, I find it more and more difficult to take the time to write.
What with the omnipresent yard/home improvement schedule, vacation time and baseball, barbecue and beer drinking season upon us, some hard choices have to be made. Well, okay, maybe "hard choices" is stretching it. But choices none the less.
"Making hay while the sun shines," is an adage that has been repeated time and again. And cooping oneself up inside while a golf-friendly, grass cutting, garage shingling sky is overhead is not "Making Hay." In my opinion, anyway.
I very much enjoy having the opportunity to present some of my thoughts to you, Dear Reader, and will continue to do so. I am also thankful for all of the positive comments that I have received regarding my Random Thoughts articles.
When I started submitting these columns to The Citizen, I promised myself that I would not put words onto paper simply for the sake of putting words onto paper. Although I am sure some of you may think that is exactly what it is. Que sera, sera. If I can not, or will not, (depending on the situation), take the time required to write something that I feel is worthwhile, then I won't.
So, what does all this babbling mean? Short story long, as usual, I will suspend my contributions to The Citizen for the summer. If they will allow me, and God-willing, I am still able, I will return to these pages in September.
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self,"- Cyril Connolly (1903-1974).
Note to readers: It is difficult to keep current while writing for a weekly paper. After I wrote this and before the impending deadline I got some news. Well, well, well, look who's just sold the broadcast rights of her song to CTV/TSN. The following still holds true. In my view.

Random Thoughts-39
June 8th, 2008

If any of you are regular viewers of the CBC's “Just For Laughs”show you will be aware of the little green mascot that comes on at the end of every program to declare, in a crying voice, that “It's Over.”
That's exactly how I felt after the final game of the 2007-2008 National Hockey League season and playoffs. Some of you may have been exulted after the final game, and your, “It's Over”, would have been more thankful than pitiful.To each their own.
After viewing what seems like a couple of hundred playoff games, it will take some getting used to not tuning in to a hockey game every other night for weeks on end. I may get over it. I guess I'll have to get over it.
Not only am I saddened by its ending, but I am also saddened by the fact that word has come out that CBC and Dolores Claman have not been able to negotiate a new contract to renew the CBC's use of her “The Hockey Theme" song. The two sides could not resolve disagreements over a 2004 lawsuit and licensing rights to continue airing the famous musical intro.
Apparently, the latest contract had Claman receiving $500.00 per airing for the famous tune. I am no mathematical wizard, but seeing as she wrote it in 1967 and the CBC has played it on every broadcast since1968 she has received more than chump change for her efforts.
Is it Dolores Claman or Copyright Music and Visuals, the Toronto agency representing Claman, that are holding out? In a standard case of “He said, she said”, Copyright Music & Visuals say the CBC doesn't want to renew the contract and the CBC says it's the other way around.
Either way, when does fair compensation turn into greed? If Dolores had been told, in 1967, that she would be receiving royalties for the next 40 years for her tune, how would she have reacted?
I just wonder how many times someone has sat down with an idea and said, “Great, I'll write this or that, invent this thing or make a few of those and then...viola! I'll get rich.” Maybe it's a lot, but I would question the success rate.
My theory is that the primary reason for following through with any good idea is the actual idea itself, not the cash that can sometimes be the result of that idea. Monetary gain is usually secondary. When the secondary motivation becomes the primary motivation, then it's greed. Clear as mud? I thought so.
According to my #1 source of all information, Wikepedia, they say that-“Greed denotes desire to acquire wealth or possessions beyond the needs of the individual, especially when accumulation of possession denies others legitimate needs or access to those or other resources.”
I have listened to the Hockey Night In Canada theme song hundreds of times since 1968 and, in fact, it's the ring tone on my cell phone, (a little obsessive? I'm seeing someone about that), and I don't think I'm alone when I feel that my “legitimate needs” are being denied.
If the impasse continues, and the CBC cannot renew the contract, will it stop me from tuning into the first game of the 2008-2009 National Hockey League telecasts from the CBC? No. Will it alter the way the game is played and presented? No. Will it be lacking something? Yes.
“One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish our need from our greed.”-Author Unkown.
Random Thoughts-38
May 25th, 2008

Remember a couple of articles ago I kinda wished that a few weeks of ugly weather would ease my guilty conscience while watching hours of sports? I was kidding! I didn't think it would happen!
How was I to know it was going to be so cold and windy, (windy being a kind word for what we have endured), for 40 days and 40 nights.
It actually is 40 days, I wrote that article on the 14th of April and today's the 24th of May. Count 'em up.
Then, Old Mother Nature had to throw a couple of 20+ degree days in there just to whet our appetite; the miserable old.......
Anyway, that wasn't the first time I noticed some coincidences between my writing and actual events. So, if it's that easy, I'm wishing for a few million dollars. You know, just enough to afford to keep driving and eating and such.
That's the thing, isn't it? If one could conjure up some good luck just by saying it, what would you wish for? World peace? Why waste a good wish? It's just not going to happen.
A long and healthy life? Yeah, that's okay, too, but how long? Do you really want to outlive your kids and your friends? To me, there are too many variables in that equation.
Then that leaves wealth. Yeah, I know, the old greedy card. But wait. Think of how much good you could do with vast riches. Aside from the fancier cars and clothes, the travelling and maybe a good alarm clock burning ceremony, there are many, many causes that could benefit from one's generosity.
Judging by the amount of 1-800 phone calls I get at suppertime, (every day!), there is just no end to the charities that are in dire straights. All great causes and all, but seriously, one would have to be a millionaire to give a donation to every one.
Now, I don't know where the wish factory is, or who does their books, but I'm wishing my wishes aren't being used up on stupid stuff. I want it on the record that it wasn't an official wish that we would have ugly weather for a while. I was just saying that if it happened it wouldn't break my heart. That's all!
So, here's wishing for a beautiful summer, a plentiful harvest, a little more peace in the world and a lot more wishes for my remaining years.
“We would often be sorry if all our wishes were gratified.”-Aesop (620-560 BC).
Random Thoughts-37
April 28th, 2008

The other day I was killing a bit of time between NHL playoff telecasts by trying to catch a couple of z's on the couch. Yeah, I know, tough life, eh? Anyway, the window was open and I was just dozing off when I heard a sound we very seldom hear anymore. It was a train whistle, or horn, or whatever they call them.
I guess if you live on a main railway line you still hear the old whistle quite often but, in Kipling, not so much anymore. In fact, it's so rare that I imagine some young children were running home in fright, wondering what that loud, unfamiliar sound was!
It's just another sign of the constant change in rural Saskatchewan. I'm not trying to be all “Grandpa-ish” about the old days, because it wasn't that long ago, but it's odd how some things just slip away into the past without much notice.
There was a time, in the recent past, when there was a “prairie skyscraper” (grain elevator), every few miles, or so it seemed. Even the tiniest hamlet with a total population of three, (the elevator agent, his wife and their dog), had a train stop by a couple of times a week, the whistle a-blowin' announcing its arrival. But as Bob Dylan so aptly put it “The Times They Are A-Changin'”.
A little more than a few years ago, before my wife, our oldest daughter and I moved back to Kipling, we lived very near the rail yards, the Regina Airport and a highway. Needless to say, we were very accustomed to train whistles, screaming jets and vehicle traffic at all hours.
After we moved to Kipling, we had to adjust from too much noise to nearly none at all. In fact, it was so quiet that all I could hear at night was the ringing in my ears. More than once I woke up in a panic thinking I was in a “Twilight Zone” episode where I could possibly be the only human left alive on the planet. A timely train whistle would have at least reminded me that I wasn't alone.
I could probably do a rant about how some wizards and geniuses decided that moving all of the heavy products on train tracks wasn't economically sound and how pounding the stuffing out of our highways by moving these heavy products via trucks to larger, more convenient locations was a much more viable solution, but, alas, what good would it do?
I'll just have to suck it up, accept that change is the one constant, and fill the train whistle noise void with the sounds of the retarder brakes of the semi trailer trucks as they backfire all the way into town.
“What we call “Progress” is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.”- Havelock Ellis (1859-1939).
Random Thoughts-36
April 14th, 2008

What a glorious time of year to be a sports fan. Between the NHL playoffs, the world curling championships, the Master's golf tournament, the major league baseball season beginning and the NBA entering its most crucial time of the year, one needs a couple of extra pairs of eyes and a few TV sets just to keep up!
I came by my sports fanaticism quite naturally. I wasn't born a “Blue Baby”, I was born a “Blue and White” baby. My Mom was a die hard Maple Leafs fan. Yes, my parents and all eight siblings were huge sports fans. In retrospect, given the Toronto Maple Leafs futility since their 1960's glory days, I sometimes wish she would have cheered for someone else!
Mom's 86 years old now, and I'm not sure if she watches much hockey anymore but everyone who knows her at all had better not call her when her beloved Blue Jays are on TV! How can anyone not know when the Blue Jays are playing, for Heaven's sake!
One of my earliest childhood memories, of sports watching, was coming home from school to find Dad in the living room with the windows covered over, blocking any sunlight coming in, so the fuzzy black and white TV images of the afternoon World Series games were easier to see.
Now we have 52” High Definition Plasma TVs. We have satellite dishes bringing in hundreds of stations. Gone are the days of fiddling with tin foil wrapped “rabbit ears” antennas with your brother yelling at you to move it to the right. NO! THE RIGHT!!
The family tradition has continued as my three children became sports fans almost through osmosis; they have always been exposed to it. Even now, years later, they know that the “Hockey Night In Canada” theme song signifies “Quiet Time”! For them anyway!
Our eldest daughter was just over a year old and spending a lot of “quality time” watching playoff hockey with me. Her budding vocabulary was starting to take on a more interesting vernacular when her mother put an end to my “cheering”?! Not all the cheering, just the saltier stuff.
Again, my cheering came naturally enough. Mom could not restrain her disdain for Danny Gallivan's bias calling of the Montreal Canadiens' games. As I recall, she did a pretty good impression of Danny calling out “CORN-WHY-AY”every time Yvan Cournoyer touched the puck!
As our thoughts move toward the fast-approaching springtime and the imminent yard-work it entails, I for one, wouldn't be too disappointed with a few more weeks of ugly weather. I'm not hoping for it! But if it happens, it might ease my guilty, sports-addicted conscience.
“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer,”-Mark Twain (1835-1910).
Random Thoughts-35
March 31, 2008

A few days ago I ran into an old friend and he said something interesting during our conversation about the weather. He said he wants to be optimistic but he knows it doesn't work!
I know he said it tongue-in-cheek but it is truly the Saskatchewan way, isn't it? If there ever was a “World Wide Whine-Off” we'd probably place about eight in the top ten. Things are never ever good enough for us.
Insert your best whiny voice here: “It's too wet”; “It's too dry”; It's too cold”; “It's too hot”; “There's too much government intervention”; “The government isn't doing enough”; “How come everyone else gets to go on Daylight Savings Time!?”
Saskatchewan has had world champion curlers, hockey players, trap shooters, speed skaters and the list goes on. To me, what we are really world class at... is whining.
Anybody catch the Ford World Women's Curling Championships? Here's our own World Champion (three times, no less), Olympic Gold Medal Winner, Hall of Famer, motivational speaker, Joan McCusker pointing out every flaw in the Canadian Team's efforts.
I thought it was just me, but a number of the people I talked to remarked at how negative the TV coverage of the, now World Champion Jennifer Jones rink, was.
I know Canadians are supposed to be all humble and modest and not like the braggart and brash Americans but, c'mon, can't we be a little more supportive? Huh? We love ya Joan and we're proud of you, but is it too much to ask for you to lay on a bit of praise now and then?
Then there's Leader Post columnist Bruce Johnstone's editorial: "Saskatchewan's silver lining has black clouds" (Page D1-Saturday March 29/08). After stating that economists, politicians, and regular Joes are enthusiastic and optimistic regarding Saskatchewan's recent economic boom and population growth, Johnstone asks, in typical Saskatchewan pessimism, (dressed in realists' clothing), “What could go wrong?” Then states, “ Well, quite a bit, actually.”
Johntone goes on to state how the poor U.S. Economy, the labour shortages and housing availability and affordabiliy are immediate risks to growth!
Talk about raining on the parade before the first block is completed! He may very well have some valid points but can't we just bask in the sunshine for more than a moment or two? Again, is that too much to ask?
Okay, you're right. I sound like a world class whiner myself. How do I justify whining about whiners? I'd like to think that I'm challenging their negative ways. You may label it any way you want, but I will insist that I am an optimist and I firmly believe it works.
"The optomist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose."-Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931).
Random Thoughts-34
March 16th, 2008

In a recent speech to SARM delegates Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall admitted to letting his 14 year old daughter drive on country roads. No biggie? Not according to NDP MLA Frank Quennell who demanded an apology from the premier for breaking the law and bragging about it.
How many of you had your first driving experience in a truck, or car, while driving down an old dirt road or in a field? Thought so. Thank you. You can put your hands down now.
Now, how many of you didn't have a legal driver's license or were under the age of 16 during that first driving experience? Again, thanks. That's what I thought. Me too.
I could go on about how the experience of handling a vehicle at such a young age, sometimes in not the most ideal conditions, is far more beneficial to one's life-long driving prowess than hours and hours of simulated driver training or black top exercises could ever provide. Common sense suggests that it is.
Or one could make the argument that fourteen year olds can legally drive in other jurisdictions or even be legally married in some countries. Is that right or wrong? You can be the judge of that.
The point some politicians are making is that a law is a law and if you are breaking the law you are wrong whether you are Joe Farmer training your kids or the Premier of Saskatchewan.
The issue, to me anyway, is not the point of law. It's plain old “mountains out of mole hills” posturing. While the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly is in session for only 611/2 days a year, I'm wondering if they should be tying up valuable governing time by debating, in my humble opinion, what amounts to be a non-issue.
One's political leanings are very personal. Whether you cry out your allegiance from the top of a soap box or secretly mark your X on the ballot is your choice. Personally, I've been a secret ballot kinda guy. However, I will say that my leanings are a little more left of centre. Politically speaking, anyway. In other words, my Dad was the big conservative lover in the family.
Having said that, some issues cross party lines. It's not so much which political party is throwing the mud but the texture of the mud being slung. And in this particular instance the shot was taken because the shot was available, not because of the merits of the case. Anyway, that's my view on it.
I don't think I'm the only one who gets frustrated with the constant bickering, the politicizing and the whizzing contests that are the norm as the political parties are in continuous campaign mode. Just stop it! Get on with business!
Shouldn't they be more worried about hospital patient wait times, school closures, labour shortages and crumbling highways? Speaking of such, why hasn't a government in the last 30 odd years finished #48 highway from Kipling to the junction of #9 highway at Kennedy?
If she ever gets the opportunity to travel that road, Brad Wall's daughter is going to need every ounce of her driving experience, once she gets her license, to maneuver a vehicle down this goat path they call Highway 48 between Kipling and Kennedy.
“The problem with politcal jokes is they get elected.”-Henry Cate VII
Random Thoughts-33
February 24th, 2008

I guess you could say it was fortuitous, maybe Karma or, as Rev. Elizabeth would say, a Godincident. Perhaps it was just plain old circumstances begetting circumstances. Maybe it was a little bit of all of the above. The bottom line is, in 1971, I signed up to take the Grade 10 Typing class.
As much as I would like to think there was some karmic force at work, I don't recall being motivated by the possibility that typing would come in so handy later on in my life.
Truth is, it was the path of least resistance. You see, back then, students were only required to pass twenty-one classes (credits) to receive their High School Diploma. Typing seemed like a pretty cheap credit to me! At the very least, it seemed much easier than Chemistry or Physics and the Typing class had about a 10-1 ratio of girls to boys! It was a perfect combination for an underachieving, testosterone filled 15-year old male!
That year, Mr. Miller was our teacher and I can still hear his metronome going “click-clack-click-clack” and his constant instruction to, “Keep in time and elevate those wrists!”
For someone with an attention deficiency, (I'm just guessing, nobody diagnosed ADD back then, you were just a “troublemaker”), I managed to survive the school-term and got a pretty decent mark, if I remember correctly.
What the heck, I thought, I might as well take it again in Grade 11, too; cheap credit and all. Turns out we got a new teacher for the class that year. She had a deficiency as well. She was deficient about two yards of material from her skirts! Wow, those mini skirts were, well...mini! I was locked in!
By the time I finished high school I was typing about 65 words a minute. I can't remember if that was good or bad but it was good enough for a passing mark. With all of the distractions it's hard to believe I could hit any of the correct keys at all!
“Good enough”, “close enough”, “gettin' by”; those were my mottos, back in the day. As far as my academics were concerned, anyway. I don't recall too many report cards that didn't say, “Perry would do much better if he would just try harder.” "Try harder!? Whadyamean?! I'm gettin' by!”
Do you really think that boys are receptive to the learning experience between the ages of 13- to-18? Most, you say? Some, perhaps? Maybe someone should check it out. Maybe they have. I know this boy wasn't too excited about school when I was thirteen and by the time I was 18 I knew everything anyway! Or so I thought!
Whatever the motivation, or lack thereof, the old typing skills have come in quite handy in the thirtysome years that I have been out of high school. I guess if one truly is a little attention deficient and is fortunate enough to inhabit the planet for a long period of time, many of the skills picked up along the way may just become quite useful indeed.
“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”- Lou Holtz.
Random Thoughts-32
February 17th, 2008

As human beings, every one of us has one thing in common: we're all a statistic. Whether someone has just taken their last breath or their first, they're a statistic. You can't escape. You are data. You are a number to someone somewhere.
We are inundated with statistics every day. Whether it's the weather stats, or the Canadian dollar level, or your favourite hockey team's stats, we are all affected by statistics.
One can't help but observe statistics. A while back I was the statistician for the Old Vienna Hockey League in Regina for a few seasons. Statistics fascinate, frustrate and sometimes infuriate me.
There have been some interesting numbers jump out at me from some recent articles that I have been reading. I will list off some of them for your perusal. Some of the information may make you just grin and shake your head. Others might have you reaching for the high blood pressure medication. Here goes:
According to a recent study, Canada's highest paid private sector CEO's earned $38,010.00 (the average Canadian salary), by 9:46am on January 2nd!!
A Saskatchewan minimum wage earner will earn $17,160.00 for 52 weeks of work at 40 hours per week.
The cost to air a 30-second 2008 Super Bowl Commercial....US$2.7 million.
Two-thirds of the population of the state of Mississippi is overweight. Yes, TWO-THIRDS!!
In Canada, the prevalence of being overweight among children aged 6 to 11 has doubled from 13% in 1977/78 to 26% in 2004.
The average National Football League game contains about 120 actual plays, which take an average of 6 seconds each. That's 720 seconds of play, or 12 minutes. An average game takes about three hours to play. This means that a regular-season game contains 12 minutes of action and 168 minutes of inaction! Are you with me so far? As an offensive player, Peyton Manning, whose salary this past year was $11,000,000.00, played, at most, 8 minutes out of the 12-minute total of each of the Indianapolis Colts' 18 regular season games, or about 24 minutes in all-which means he made some $4,583,000.00 per hour! Hmmmm.
Trevor Hoffman, the San Diego Padres' relief pitcher received $367,775.83 per inning pitched.
Alex Rodriquez, the New York Yankees third baseman, received $420,528.24 per home run.
For the first time in 15 years the teen birth rate in the United States increased! Canadian stats are a few years old and do not show the same alarming trend, yet. The United Nations' last comprehensive tally of G8 countries, from 2004, showed the U.K. has the third-highest teen birth rate, with 26.8 births per 1000, slightly lower than Russia (28.2) and well above Japan (5.6), France (7.8), Italy (6.7) and Germany(11). The U.S. is at 41.8 per 1000!
Just a note: this isn't really an official statistic but a Winnipeg High School offers a daycare program specifically to accommodate students and staff, although the main users of the program were students. Despite the school's acknowledgment of teen pregnancy, there was not one condom dispenser in the entire school or any sex education courses. Again, hmmmm.
Numbers are numbers and they can be used in numerous ways, but one thing is for sure, numbers don't lie.
"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you." - Rita Mae Brown.
Random Thoughts-31
February 1st, 2008

Life's weird, eh? Just after I write a column about luck, I am struck down with a terrible viral infection. Luck probably had very little to do with me getting sick, being that it's cold and flu season and all. It was just a matter of probability. The probability of catching something was also increased by the fact that I ignored Nurse Betty's recommendation for a flu shot. Again! Too smart, too late!
I guess the luck part comes from the timing of the sickness. Is there ever a good time to be sick? Not likely. I am sure it wouldn't matter when we got sick, it would seem like it's at the most inconvenient time. I don't know if I would call it lucky, but my week-long bedridden illness just happened to co-incide with the coldest week of the winter. Not a bad time to be in a warm bed for a week. It's a stretch, but sometimes you gotta look for the silver lining!
Either the flu and cold strains are getting worse or my immune system, or lack thereof, is just not what it used to be! I don't know about you, but I just can't seem to get a good old fashioned cold anymore. You know, you get the sniffles, a bit of an itchy throat and a few "aahh choos" later you're back to normal.
Well, not any more! Not me, anyway. It starts out that way, then I turn into some kinda mutant mucus manufacturing machine! Yes, I know! I'm a sicko! In more ways than one! Anyway, then the fever hits and you're thinking, 38.8C isn't so bad, because you're still not converting it to something we older adults can relate to. A hundred and what?! No wonder I'm hallucinating!
Between the fever and the medication, all kinds of weird thoughts go through one's mind. Like, why can't we just put a tap on our sinuses and drain it out, like a maple tree, or something! Or how about a fine wire with the tiniest bristles on the end so we can just scratch that spot, without detonating the gag reflex, on our throat instead of dry-coughing to the point of passing out!? But, nooo, that would be too easy!
Then, while you're in the drugstore, waiting for your prescriptions, you have to listen to everyone's personal theory on cold and flu prevention. Yes, I know, take lots of Vitamin C, echinacea or Zinc, eat lots of Grandma's homemade chicken soup, move to the Antarctic or somewhere that the flu virus or any other living thing can't exist. Well, thanks for the advice but if I would have done that, I wouldn't be standing in line, now, would I?!
Apparently, you can also list irritability as one of the symptoms of cold and flu season. Well, excuse me if It's hard to keep a sunny disposition when you're oxygen-deprived from your stuffed sinuses and your brain cells are nearing the boiling point! I guess the one saving grace to getting the flu, is that you never really know how healthy you are, 'til you get really sick.
"It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like."-Jackie Mason (1934-)
Random Thoughts-30
January 20th, 2008

Some of you may remember "Badluck Shleprock". He was the hapless and unlucky character from The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm cartoon show from the '70s. The character was so unlucky that the name "Shleprock" became an icon and stereotype for any unlucky individuals.
I have never really thought of myself as a "Shleprock". At least, not until a lot of my co-workers saw me spending so much time in front of the First Aid Station that they started wondering if I was the guy that restocked it, or if I was the one using up most of the supplies. I can only tell you that I wasn't the guy that restocked the cabinet.
To tell the truth, I didn't think much about whether I was lucky or unlucky. I hadn't been in any major car accidents (touch wood), or hadn't spent as much as an overnight stay in a hospital as a result of an accident (touch wood again!). Conversely, I have never won anything big, lotteries and such, or even smaller prizes like 50/50 draws at hockey games.
I wouldn't say that I am overly superstitious, either. Like most, I am a little more aware of my surroundings on a "Friday the 13th" day and I try to avoid walking under ladders and I toss salt over my shoulder after it has been spilled. Other than those kind of things, and maybe a few more, I wouldn't say that I was fanatical about it. Just enough of a believer to, I don't know, not push my luck, as it were!
After the "First Aid Station" ribbing, from my co-workers, I started to wonder about how lucky, or unlucky, I really was. So, I did an inventory of the old memory banks to see if I could see a pattern developing. Maybe there was an incident, recently, that turned my luck.
Could it have been that stupid "Chain E-Mail" letter that I broke a couple of years ago? Who knows? Could it just be that I am a bit slower, as I age, and I am now unable to move my thumb away from a swinging hammer, as I once could? Is my brain so overloaded with thought that I lose concentration, on the task at hand, and cause mistakes? Nah, let's go with the damn chain mail!
What is luck anyway? If you look it up in the Webster's New World Dictionary, it's right there between Lucifer and lucrative! Seriously! Look it up! You can draw your own conclusions regarding that! You can also spend a couple of hours looking up "luck" on the old on-line encyclopedia-Wikipedia. Both sources state that: "Luck is a chance happening, or that which happens beyond a person's control. Luck may be good or bad."
Another '70s fictional character also had something to say regarding luck. "Dirty Harry" Callahan asks the wounded criminal, "You've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well,...do ya punk?" I guess it all comes down to your point of view. I may be a bit of a klutz and I'm not holding my breath on winning a big lottery or anything, but in the overall scheme of things, I think I would still consider myself pretty lucky.
"It is bad luck to be superstitious."-Andrew W. Mathis
Random Thoughts-29
January 7th, 2008

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone is completely recovered from the Happy Holiday Season and ready to get back to "Normal". Of course, you know what "Normal" is? For a lot of us, it's only about one-and-a-half notches down from full blown Christmas warp speed! So don't be too eager for a real slow-down in January.
We prepare and prepare, and cook and clean, and shop and party, then clean some more, then cook some more, then shop some more and go to a couple more parties and whine that the season went by sooooo fast! And, you know what? It does!
I bet it even goes fast for all those weird folks that have everything bought and ready by the end of Agribition! You know the ones. They're whistling Christmas carols on November 1st and have their greeting cards in the mail the day after Remembrance Day and everything. Well, good for them.
To me, it just takes some of the excitement away, from the occasion, if you're not feverishly running around the last few days before Christmas and you actually listen for how many shopping days are left! But then again, I am a natural born procastinator. I don't even have to work at it!
Our family tries to buy as many local products as possible for the season. Once upon a time, I was a local business owner, too, and I know full-well the importance of supporting our local merchants. That said, there are always items that require the requisite trip, or trips, to a larger centre to endure the Mall Madness and the Wal-Mart Wars.
Nothing says "Christmas" like looking for a spot in the Food Court or rubbing elbows with a few hundred other people trying to find that last DVD or listening to the children cry as, once again, they're told to "WAIT 'TIL CHRISTMAS!". Ah, 'Tis the Season!
I am not exactly sure why, but we were unable to go on our annual trip until the 22nd of December. Yes, the 22nd of December! I still can't remember why we put it off. Hmmm?
Anyway, it was nuts! But, this time, it was a good nuts, if you know what I mean? People weren't angry, clerks were very helpful and we even found a spot in the Food Court! Maybe there is something to be said about glad tidings and all.
Shortly before Christmas, I had a conversation with a colleague about his plans for the holidays and I asked him if he was prepared. He stated that the best thing about Christmas was January 2nd! Whoa! Talk about Bah-Humbug! I'll admit that the season doesn't have the same magic as it did when I was 10 years-old, or even when our children were 10 years-old, but still, it's not that bad, is it?
To him and his ilk I pose this question. If you were to repeat one day over and over again, as in the movie "Groundhog Day", and you had the choice between the 25th of December or January 2nd, which day would you chose? Thought so!
"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right,"-Oprah Windrey (1954-).
Random Thoughts-28
December 9th, 2007

As we are fast approaching Christmas Day, the season known as "Happy Holidays" is into full swing. I was going to do the old whiny bit about all the glitz and commercialism, the lights, the decorations, the stresses, the excesses, the wife going all "Martha Stewarty" on the living room and such. But that's too easy!
I know it! I live it! I have been using it as my excuse to excuse myself from most of the participation in the preparations; if you know what I mean? I think my wife is getting a little bit sick of it, too!
"You know what? If you had done the lights when I said you should have, you wouldn't have frozen fingers, now, would you?", I seem to recall her saying in her best, "I told you so voice".
Psst, it really bugs me when she's right, and please, don't tell her I said that,okay?
So, I may Bah-Humbug my way into the season and get a little Scroogie at first, but soon I'm caught up in all the hype, too. The Christmas parties, the eggnog, the carols, the 37th time watching "It's a Wonderful Life", the shopping, (okay, not the shopping so much), but the eggnog and even the "Martha Stewarty" living room. Did I mention, the egg-nog? It's hard not to get caught up!
So yeah, many tend to overdo it a bit over the festive season, but what the heck? You only live once! As excessive and stressful as it can be it is also a great time of year for generosity and sharing. In general, people are happier, livlier and give more of themselves. Are there exceptions? Of course there are! There will always be exceptions. But in the end, sitting in the wrapping paper, smelling the turkey cooking and enjoying the company of family and friends, it will all have been worth it.
I am reminded of the e-mail story, floating around, about the frustrated mother, dragging her two cranky, tired kids through the mall feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of the season saying, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot!" A gentleman overheard and responded, "Don't worry, we already crucified Him!"
"At Christmas, play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year."-Thomas Tusser
Random Thoughts-26
November 23rd, 2007

Almost every time friends and families get together a game of "Remember When" seems to break out. Okay, it's not really a game, but eventually the conversations all start with the words "Remember when?". I am sure that all of you have played it at one time or another.
It's not just for old folks that are trying to relive their glory days, either. My wife and kids play it all the time, when we have the opportunity to gather for a meal or a visit. Usually, "Remember when" is followed by an anecdote about how they were all embarassed by something their father or husband had done.
Classmates, teammates, workmates and childhood friends conjure up memories from their past as the game can grow into a battle of one-upmanship to see who can remember the most. Each story rekindles another memory from the past, usually prompting another person's story of their shared time together. It's very contagious and can go on for hours.
If the sentence "Remember when?" is started by someone of the older persuasion, like me, it is usually followed by groans, from one's children and their peers. It's because the story just might have some life-lesson in it, or the story will relate to how life was so tough way back when or something. Not always, but more often than not, they are right.
During a recent conversation, with some young people, I started a "Remember when?" story about television viewing. "I remember when we moved to Kipling, in 1970, we had one channel on the TV to watch. Yes! ONE CHANNEL! Can you imagine!?"
Now, I know it doesn't compare to travelling across the prairie landscape on a "Red River Cart", or even milking the cows BY HAND?!, but in comparison to the hundreds of channels available, today, it seems downright primitive!
Our family has progressed to our current satallite TV package that includes 97, yes 97!, channels. Sure, some of them are duplicates, but remove half of them and it's still a far cry from ONE! Even TWO channels would have DOUBLED our viewing selection in 1970, for crying out loud!
In retrospect, one channel wasn't all that bad. We older folks tend to justify our long-ago hardships as character builders and such. When there wasn't anything to watch on tv, which was pretty much all the time, we played sports or games and invented new ways to entertain ourselves. Sometimes, it wasn't in the most constructive manner, either. But I'll save some of those stories for a different round of "Remember When?".
One would think that with all of these channels available, to us, there would be something worthwhile on the ol' tube at any given time. My experience has been that that is not necessarily the case.
I have stated that, in my humble opinion, watching poker on tv is a colossal waste of time. Well, I have to report that I have found something even more useless to do with your time. You can watch RADIO on TV! Yes, RADIO on TV! You can watch The Fan 590 Sports Talk Radio, from Toronto, on TV!
Now, there are two things that are very disconcerting, to me, about this. One, is that it's even available, and the other is that I watched it! In my defence, they were talking about the 'Riders chances in the Grey Cup; but still, RADIO onTV?! We must always be careful as to what we label progress!
"So live that your memories will be part of your happiness."- Author Unknown.
Random Thoughts-26
November 4th, 2007

A few years ago a friend of mine approached me about joining his network marketing scheme, which involved selling some natural vitamin supplements or something. I tried my best to put him off without being rude. I just wasn't interested. My experience with these types of things had been that they were usually more about signing up people than selling the products.
I am not trying to be too critical here. There are many fine products and many fine, successful people that are able to distribute their products and make a good buck using this system. I'm just not one of those people. Believe me, I've tried.
Then I made the mistake of telling him that my excuse was that I just didn't have the time to put into the enterprise. His comeback has stuck with me for some time. He said that it wasn't a matter of having the time available, it was a matter of making the time available. He said he didn't go bowling on Sunday nights; not because he didn't have the time, he just didn't want to take the time.
So, there it was. My excuse was blown out of the water. I'ts the same reason that we don't have time to exercise, or time to bake that cake from scratch or time to mend the fence. It's not that we don't have the time, it's just that we choose to do something different with the time available to us.
Without the time excuse, my only way out, then, was to be rude. No, just kidding! Now, I can't remember exactly how I got out of that one, but there's probably a whole other column, in there, about fibbing and how, sometimes, it just can't be avoided.
I was having a conversation, with another good friend, about the old days, when we were both a lot younger and co-workers in the construction industry. At that time, when we said, "It's Wednesday?!"; it meant that there was way too much time before the weekend.
Now, our priorities have changed and when we say, "It's Wednesday?!", it means that there's no way we have enough time to get everything done by the end of the work-week! Oh, how times have changed!
According to The Rolling Stones: "Time is on my side, yes it is." Well, maybe it was when I was a twenty-year-old green construction worker praying for some "Beer Clouds" to break up the work-week because I couldn't wait for the weekend! And, in my youthful mind, at the time, it wasn't my top priority to make sure that deadlines were being made. My boss, on the other hand, probably had a far different outlook.
If you have some time to spare, (ha, ha), log on to the old internet and look up "Time" on Wikepedia. In an effort to define "Time", they talk about it being part of the fundamental structure of the universe and the physics of time and space as fundamental quantities and stuff. Interesting as it sounds, it might have helped me understand "Time's" meaning, but in an effort to completely understand what they were saying, and in the two minutes it took to read and the four minutes it took to reread and reread it; it adds up to six minutes of time that I'll never get back!
"Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save."-Will Rogers (1879-1935).
Random Thoughts-25
October 19th, 2007

Here is something that everyone can do,
The task is simple, the qualifications are few.
There are many subjects, of which you can choose;
There's fashion and films, you can even do booze.
Just take your subject and pick it apart.
Now your job as a critic has got a good start.

Politics, books, TV and news,
Teachers, mayors and especially Tom Cruise.
When Britney and Paris are acting all sleazy
Then a critic's job becomes way too easy.
From the critic's position, it's not hard to judge,
Particularly when they are holding a grudge.

Watching sports in my favorite chair,
My coaching mistakes are always rare.
I'm batting 1000, I can't miss a shot,
Every swing of my club hits the sweet spot.
I can never lose, while I'm sitting here,
I don't even sweat or wear any gear.

We are blessed to live in a country so free,
But not even Canada escapes scrutiny.
Our roads, our weather and our wages, too;
Immigration and healthcare we all like to boo.
Like armchair quarterbacks our decisions are right.
But the greatest calls are usually hindsight.

Critics can ruin a politician's life,
For his choices in clothing, or even his wife.
Policies? Platforms? We don't care.
"Look at that hat! And who cuts his hair?"
I'd laugh out loud, if it wasn't so sad,
That nobody cares if they're good or bad.

Thanks for your patience, while reading my rhyming,
It just felt like, you know, the right kind of timing.
Now, go ahead, and critique if you must,
Into your hands, Dear Reader, I trust.
Pick it apart, tear it to shreds.
It's too late anyhow, it's already read!

"Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger."-Franklin P. Jones.
I have been submitting a bi-weekly column to our local weekly paper for 2 1/2 years and I am going to attach a number of those columns to this blog. Local readers have told me numerous times how much they enjoy my writing and I would like to share it with a larger audience. If you enjoy reading this material please pass along the blogspot address or respond with your comments or tips.


Here's a reprise of a little Christmas poem I threw together for you. Three Kings, shepherds and a babe in the manger. The E...