Thursday, October 27, 2011

MOUSE IN THE HOUSE

Right around this time every year we have an unwanted guest or two that sneaks into the house. No, it’s not one of the children trying to move back in, it’s those furry little vermin that are seeking a warm place to hide, a bit of food and a bathroom for their little black droppings. Yup, it’s mouse season.
The other night the wife and I were watching a bit of TV and one of the little buggers just walked across the kitchen doorway like he owned the place. Both of us screamed and he scurried back under the counter.
So I set up the trap and lo and behold we caught it the next morning. One down, I don’t know how many more to go. I reset the trap and, sure enough, we caught another one within a day or two. Happily, there’s been nothing since then and that’s about par for the course around here, one or two every fall and spring and that’s about it. Thankfully.
You know, they make the animated versions of these creatures look so cute like Mickey and Minnie Mouse or Pixie and Dixie from the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons but in reality they’re not that cute to me. Especially when I grew up in a house with six sisters and we lived in an old two story war-time house with a dirt basement which the mice loved to inhabit. I guess I just got sucked into all the girl’s hysteria, too, whenever one of the mice would make its appearance and the sisters would all be jumping up on the furniture and screaming and everything. Learned behaviour, you know. It didn’t help that Dad was a big tease and would chase us around with the mice he’d caught in the trap.
I remember staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s house on the farm, while I worked there for a summer or two during high school, and they had a bit of a mouse problem there, too. I slept in a converted office/den which the creatures used as their convention centre or something, it seemed, as there were crowds of them meeting in that room. I knew they were in the room with me and I got used to hearing them scurry around a bit but I drew the tolerance line when they bound across the bedcovers. Yuck!
I suppose there are worse things in the world, but still, they give me the creeps and you just never know what they’re getting into. I usually start my day with a bowl of porridge and the cereal mix is kept in the cupboard that the little beast had been caught coming out of. Once he/she was caught I didn’t give it much thought until I poured some of the cereal mixture into a bowl and because of my faulty vision I was unsure whether the dark brown/black things in the mixture were flax seeds or was this mouse using my cereal as his/her litter box. Again, yuck! And again, thankfully, it was flax seed this time and the cereal mix is going into a Tupperware container from now on.
Legend has it that Walt Disney got his inspiration for his Mickey Mouse character from a “cute”, (his word not mine), pet mouse that he either had when he was growing up or one that he befriended at a studio he was working at early in his career. He was even quoted as saying that he loved Mickey Mouse more than any woman he’d ever known! Really? Must have been an interesting tidbit of information for his wife of forty-plus years. I’m guessing they must have had an understanding. Whatever. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but one of the last animals that I’d want as a pet would be a mouse. But that’s just me.
I’m not sure if I’m related to this guy I’m quoting but I sure like the way he thinks:
“One of the simple but genuine pleasures in life is getting up in the morning and hurrying to a mousetrap you set the night before.”-Kin Hubbard (1868-1930).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE:THE SERIES-WHO FREAKIN' CARES!

After watching a few of the baseball playoff games the other night I was flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch and I tuned into the History Channel which usually has some interesting viewing on it. The show that was on when I tuned in was Life After People: The Series. I had never watched it before so I tuned in for a while.
According to History.com their “hit”, (their word not mine), “thought provoking” and “amazing” series- “Life After People: The Series-begins in the moments after people disappear. As each day, month and year passes, the fate of a particular environment, city or theme is disclosed. Special effects, combined with interviews from top experts in the fields of engineering, botany, biology, geology and archaeology provide an unforgettable visual journey through the ultimately hypothetical.”
I found myself thinking, how is this useful information? Who cares? Does it really matter what happens after mankind is wiped out? Is there some kind of ultimate purpose to the current residents of planet Earth on how long it would take Air Force One to blow itself up in five to ten years after all of the people on the planet have expired? Or what will happen to the Alaskan Pipeline, Mount Rushmore, Lost Art, Trash, Sea Vessels or Wrigley Field?
They present the show like it’s a murder mystery, too. The baritone voiced narrator tells of the destruction in a strained and sinister voice matching an Alfred Hitchcock-like thriller soundtrack as though we’re watching a horror movie.
The show begins: “Fade in to a view of Wrigley Field while sinister music plays in the background. Narrator breaks in:-(A deep strained and sinister baritone voice)-One year after people…there is no crew to maintain Wrigley Field…these vines have been flourishing since 1937 but without a grounds crew to give them their monthly trimming the ivy threatens to take over the whole stadium (Da, DA, DAAAAA)…Five years after people…the ivy has crawled up and blanketed the stands…decades after people, Wrigley Field is almost unrecognizable (ominous music strains to a crescendo)…” UNRECOGNIZABLE TO WHOM??!! Oh, the destruction! Oh, the horrible things that will happen…AFTER HUMANS ARE GONE and NOBODY will be here to CARE!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just use your remote, man. Stop torturing yourself by watching it. But here’s the thing, I wasn’t “thought provoked” or “amazed” by their subject matter as much as I was astounded by the fact that anyone would waste their money putting this show on about stuff that doesn’t really matter. Shouldn’t we be putting these kinds of resources and efforts into something meaningful?
Yes, some of the information presented in the show was interesting and my mind is as inquisitive as the next but I would much rather see a production company occupying the minds of these experts in engineering, botany, biology etc. by using their expertise to make sure that mankind isn’t wiped out by its own destructive tendencies instead of imagining what will happen if it does. Maybe we should put our resources into saving our oceans or reducing greenhouse gases and cleaning up polluted water sources or finding real and sustainable alternatives to oil and leave the mind-numbing, useless television productions to the likes of Jersey Shore or something.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”-Peter Drucker (1909-2005).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Is It Too Much To Ask For A Little Effort Out There!?

I received a phone call the other day from a regular reader of this column asking for my humble opinion regarding the Saskatchewan Roughriders latest poor outing. Well, George, I’ll tell you what I think in that regard. In a word or two…it stunk! Really stunk!
I wouldn’t normally use up this whole space to whine about a sports team…but since you asked…I’m gonna let loose.
I was reminded of the owner/general manager, Joe McGrath, of the Charlestown Chiefs in the 1977 movie Slap Shot shouting out between periods that, “ WE’RE LOSING!!! THEY’RE BURYING US ALIVE OUT THERE!!” in reference to the team’s listless performance in a playoff game after the Chiefs had been winning a lot of games. Any ‘Rider fan could have been shouting out those same words during either of the last two games that the ‘Riders have played, or not played, as it were.
Being outscored 82-8 in two games is beyond embarrassing. Coach Ken Miller defended his team after their loss to the B.C. Lions at home on the 24th of September saying, “We weren’t playing well collectively and I don’t know the reason for that. In the final plays of the game we played with tremendous effort offensively and defensively and we’re not playing like a team that is flat. For some reason, we’re unsynchronized and not playing well together. That’s the thing I have to get figured out. They played with tremendous effort.’’
How does that old saying go, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, or something like that. Okay, Ken, we’ll buy the old “there was tremendous effort but it just didn’t work out this time” for the B.C. game but not that stinker that they listlessly waded through in Calgary on the 1st of October. Generally speaking, there was no discernable effort there that I could see. Sure, some guys were trying but the team as a whole definitely looked flat in this one.
Especially at this time of year, I am reminded of the by-gone days of pick up full-tackle football games that a bunch of us Kipling guys would play in the “Little School Yard”. Any one of us would have given up anything, well almost anything, to have been privileged enough to have taken our football talents to a professional level. These professional athletes have to be aware that there is a degree of obligation to the fan base for them to put forth their best effort. Every game.
Everyone has their good days and their bad days but these guys are playing a game for a living. A game! And it’s a pretty good living at that. According to my sources the average salary for a CFL football player is $100,000.00. Some make a lot more some make less but 100K is the average. Who wouldn’t want to play a game for a hundred grand a year? And on top of that they only play about twenty-one to twenty-four games a year including exhibition games and playoffs. If they make it into the playoffs, that is.
Yes, I also know that their professional football careers aren’t very long on average but still, during their playing careers the season only lasts six months and, while I will admit that they do have to spend some of their off-season time in training, basically they’re working for half a year. Could you do that at your job? Me either.
I don’t think that we loyal followers of the Green Machine, wonky as it is, are out of line at all by demanding some effort here. Wins and losses will come and go and realistically the ‘Riders can’t win it all every year, as much as we want them to, but at least put in an effort to justify the salaries and give us some incentive to continue to put 32,000 fans into the old Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.
So again, George, that’s my humble opinion on that topic. Thank you for the compliments and for giving me a subject to write about this week. It was also cathartic for me to vent my frustration in regards to our team. Thanks again, I needed that.
“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.”-Peter McWilliams (1949-2000).

Can I eat this?

I’m confused. I know that seems like my standard state of being but today I’m more confused than usual. I just read an article that stated that salt is actually good for you. Really? Make up your mind already. Same thing with eggs. Are they good for you or not? How about coffee. Yes or no? There are so many conflicting theories out there that it’s hard to make proper choices anymore.
Right now Health Canada has it in for salt. They say that about half of all Canadians are consuming more than double the daily recommended dose. Others say that Health Canada’s stance on salt is outdated and doesn’t reflect the most recent studies. Yes, iodized table salt is apparently not good for you because it has all the good stuff that’s in it refined right out of it, but if you reduce your sodium intake too much then you will die. That is a fact. The article only states that you need sodium to live but doesn’t say where to get the recommended daily dose of good sodium from. My research tells me that if you still want your salt then pink crystal sea salt is the best one to use.
How about eggs? I went to a dietician regarding my high cholesterol and she told me that eggs are a no-no, which is true for me given that I am more “genetically sensitive to dietary cholesterol” than the average Joe, so then eating eggs just comes down to a person’s own personal health situation rather than stating whether eggs are either good for you or bad for you.
What about carbohydrates? Another article I read tells me that wheat flour is possibly the worst thing a person can ingest into their body. Apparently, over time, the wheat plant has been so genetically played with that the proteins in one of the world’s largest staple foods are all messed up. This might be a reason why so many people are on a gluten-free diet. When you live in the “Bread Basket of the World” this isn’t good news at all. The chances are pretty slim, though, that large amounts of people are going to immediately give up bread, buns, cakes, donuts, cookies, pies, pancakes, gravy, cereal etc. anytime soon, unless they have to.
I thought the old “coffee stunts growth” myth had been thrown out years ago but in my research on whether coffee is good or bad for us I found out that that old theory still persists. I’ve been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember and I’m 6 feet 3 inches tall so I’d hate to think how tall I’d have been had I not drank all that coffee. In fact, in the Hubbard family it was requirement for each child to learn how to make a pot of coffee before you turned six. We just loved our coffee! Out of the nine coffee drinking Hubbard children I think the shortest is 5’7” or 5’8”. I wouldn’t call that stunted. Is coffee good or bad? Some research says yes some research says no, I say, again, it depends on how your body reacts to it.
The human body is one amazing machine though, isn’t it? And it’s astonishing how much crap our bodies can endure, digest and live through. I am not saying that we shouldn’t pay heed to some of these Chicken Little panic-maesters telling us what and what not to eat but I am saying that if we use a little common sense and adhere to the other Golden Rule-“Everything in Moderation” then we’ll be just fine. Oh, and one more thing…don’t believe everything you read.
“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.”- Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC).

It's a television world.

Recently, while we were in the middle of our house renovations, we had to remove the satellite dish from the side of the house so we lost our TV signal for a couple of days. I know! Two days without TV?! How absolutely medieval. I managed to survive but it sure opened my eyes as to how much I was relying on the bloody thing.
But can you imagine? Right when the fall lineup of new TV shows are coming on and the baseball pennant races are heating up and the ‘Riders have won three in-a-row and the NFL and NHL are about to start up again and you lose your TV? I shudder at the thought.
I’m not the only TV addict in the house, mind you. I am sure that my wife’s greatest fear is that something very serious is going to happen to me and she won’t know which remote does what to which machine. Well, maybe it’s not her GREATEST fear but I think it’d be up there. It’s not that she is incapable of operating remotes, that goes without saying, but she’s never been given much of an opportunity to do so.
I’m pretty sure our household is not alone in that regard, with both the TV watching and the controlling of the remote control, that is. And apparently I’m not the only sports fanatic in the world either. In the United States four out of the top ten and eight out of the top fifteen most watched shows of all time were sporting events. In Canada the top five are all sporting events. And yes, four out of those five involve hockey.
Although sporting events like the Olympics and FIFA’s World Cup Finals are watched by almost billions of people other events have captured our attention, too. It is estimated that 14% of the world’s population in 1969 watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon despite the fact that the event occurred in the middle of the night in Europe and it was not broadcast at all in Eastern Bloc countries.
If there was any doubt that Elvis Presley was the King of Rock ‘n Roll then his “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in January of 1973 is proof positive. The event was the "first entertainment special to be broadcast live around the world" and was the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history, viewed by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. Some breakdowns of the figures suggest that 40% of the Japanese television audience, 51% of the American and 91.8% of the audience in the Philippines tuned in to the broadcast.
I was surprised to fine out that the world’s first mechanical television system was patented by German engineering student Paul Nipkow in 1884. The first regularly scheduled television service in the United States began in 1928 but network television broadcasts began on the DuMont Television Network in 1946, NBC in 1947 and on CBS and ABC in 1948. The Canadian Broadcasting Company began television broadcasting in Canada in September of 1952. We’ve been up to here in TV ever since.
There have been a whole lot of innovations and advances in the ol’ Boob-Tube since its inception back in the day; from the grainy old black and white images to today’s 3D television and everything in between. One thing that hasn’t really changed in all of that time is our obsession with all things TV. If there was any doubt about that just try to go without it for a day or two and you’ll see.
“Television is the first truly democratic culture-the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.”- Clive Barnes (1927-2008).