Monday, May 28, 2012

YOU CHEATIN'....



I was feeling a bit guilty about how I may have been cheating a little with last week’s column by sliding in a three-year-old article instead of submitting one that I had started from scratch but then I read the definition of cheating as: “referring to an immoral way of achieving a goal. It is generally used for the breaking of rules to gain advantage in a competitive situation.” So, I guess, in that sense, I wasn’t really cheating because it wasn’t like I was taking steroids or blood doping or using someone else’s writing or anything like that and all I really did was submit some old material for a new deadline. Lazy?…maybe…kind of …but immoral?...no…cheating?…I don’t think so.
If I was feeling guilty for using some old material then I certainly got over that by Googling some real cheaters. Of course, when I think of cheating or cheaters the first thing that comes to my mind is what the definition above states-“to gain advantage in a competitive situation”- like Tour de France cyclists or track stars and baseball homerun hitters juicing up to gain some competitive edge but if you Google “cheaters” the first thing that comes up is marriage or relationship infidelity. You know, Tiger Woods or Bill Clinton or Henry VIII or Arnold Schwarzenegger or Prince Charles or...never mind, we could be here all night, I think you get the picture.
And you don’t even have to be a celebrity to get your mug on camera because of your infidelity either, there’s actually a Reality, (only the producers really know what’s real), Show called “Cheaters” where cameras follow suspected cheaters and “out” them to their mates which usually ends in massive amounts of swearing, face slapping, drink throwing, crotch kicking, almost real apologies and almost real people performing all kinds of non-family-like entertainment. Of course I am using the word “entertainment” loosely here but there must me a market for this kind of stuff because they are working on their 12th season right now?! I know! So if you are thinking of foolin’ around on the ol’ spouse tune in to a few episodes of this “entertainment” to see how NOT to do it!
Enough with the infidelity, let’s get back to the sports cheaters. I’m pretty sure that the first time anyone played any game of any kind someone was thinking of a way of cheating to win and there have been way too many examples of cheating in sports but I’ll narrow down a few of the more blatant ones and some of the denials are more immoral than the actual cheating acts. Or that’s my view on it anyway.
I’ll just throw some of these out to you instead of rating them because they’re all pretty bad:
Ben Johnson-Canada’s hero for two days in the Summer of 1988-until he tested positive for steroids after winning a Gold Medal in the 100m dash in the Seoul Summer Olympics breaking our Canadian hearts.
The 1919 Chicago Black Sox-Eight members of the team, including super-star Shoeless Joe Jackson, were involved in intentionally losing games in return for oodles of cash from gambling gangsters when they lost the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Strange but true-Dora Ratjen was a German athlete who competed in the 1936 Olympics in High Jump. Dora was actually Herman, a man who was coerced by the Hitler youth into tightly binding his genitals and competing against women. And not very well either apparently. He/she finished fourth. Maybe the genital binding had something to do with the poor performance.
Stranger but true, too-Rosie Ruiz is probably the most famous marathon cheat of all time. Ruiz “won” the 1980 Boston Marathon in a then record time of 2:31:56, but it was later discovered that she had simply registered for the race and then jumped out of the crowd close to the finish line.
Baseball’s Steroid Era-There are over 130 baseball players who have admitted to, have been suspended for or have been implicated by other steroid users to using steroids or HGH (human growth hormone) to enhance their performances. Prior to 2006 Major League Baseball did not have a specific drug policy to deal with performance enhancing drugs, nevertheless, in keeping with the true definition of the term, any player who was “juiced” while playing was, in my mind, cheating.
“But human nature dictates that there will always be cheaters. That's inevitable. Where there's money involved and glory, there are going to be people that cheat, and there will always be ways to cheat.”- David Millar (1977-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SERIOUSLY...I DON'T REALLY CARE

The number 56 has significant meaning in my life. I was born in 1956, it’s the age that I will turn in December this year and it’s also the number of consecutive games that Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio had a hit for the New York Yankees, my favourite sports team, in 1941, which happens to be one of the longest standing records in sports. Oh yes, by the way, my 56th birthday falls on the 12th day of the 12th month of this year, 12-12-12, which be the last time anyone else not born on that particular day, will experience that kind of event until 2101.


In honour of that number, and due to a complete lack of creativity this week, I will reprise the 56th Random Thoughts article that I wrote three years ago, which also happens to be dead on, once again, for what seems like a perpetual state of renovation around our house.



So it began. The paint samples were, once again, laid out on the kitchen table in an attempt to determine which colour we would be using to repaint the outside of the house, the hallway and the kitchen cupboards.

Didn’t we just do this? I was sure we had because we are perpetually painting some area of this old house. Doesn’t my answer from the last time still have merit? I believe my response the last time was, “Whatever you want. I don’t really care.”

Apparently, this isn’t the correct response.

“Now, what do you think? I like “Goat Cheese” for the cupboards, “Duck Egg” for the hallway and “Blooming Flax” for the outside of the house. Or should we go with, “Salt Cellar” for the cupboards, “Soda Bread” for the hallway or “Steamed Milk” on the outside?”

“Huh? Are we still talking about paint!? Whatever happened to orange, blue, green, red and yellow? To me, this sounds like some kind of weird quiche recipe or something.”

I think I’ll stick to “Whatever you want. I don’t really care.”

Still it continues, “If we go with the “Steamed Milk”, on the outside, should we do the trim in “Ripe Oats” or stick with the white?”

“Is white even a colour? What do you mean about the comedy routine? I was just asking?”

“How about having this three-and-a-half hour conversation with one of your sisters, because I think I’m missing the hockey game and they probably care.”

Whoops, did I say that out loud? Once again, wrong answer!

Amazing as it may seem, when we went to purchase the paint, there were two other women there that had experienced virtually the same thing with their spouses. Who would’ve thought?

My suggestion, to them, then, was to form a splinter group off of “The Ladies Without Baseboards Club” name it the “What Colour Do YOU Like Club?” and then they could all meet and share and choose colours with people of like interests.

Apparently, this isn’t the correct response either.

Yes, I know, you don’t really care if we care; you just want us to engage, you know, play along, at least make it seem like we care. But chances are we won’t.

So, go with the “Billy Goat” on the walls, with a border of “Always Mine” and the trim in “Boy Bait” (seriously, I’m not making these up!), if you want, but just tell me where you want me to start cutting in.

“Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.”-George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).

THE WELL-BEATEN PATH DOES NOT ALWAYS MAKE THE RIGHT ROAD

I am not sure how many times I have driven the Kipling to Medicine Hat and back route over the years but it’s way more than I care to count. Ever since Mom and Dad moved their family to Saskatchewan in 1963 we’ve travelled back and forth to Alberta to visit family many, many times. When Mom and Dad moved from Kipling to Coledale AB, in 1980, and then on to Medicine Hat in the early ‘90’s, my Alberta trips increased. Last weekend my wife and I took another fast trip out and back in one weekend making our time riding in the vehicle seem longer than the actual visiting time we spent there.


While my siblings and I were growing up and travelling with Dad and Mom we didn’t take leisurely trips. The trip was never the thing; the destination was the thing, if you know what I mean. Get in the car and get to where you are going in as little time as possible with as few “rest” stops as possible. We didn’t venture off the beaten path to explore anything and it appears that the proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as I have made that #1 Highway trip a hundred times, if I’ve made it once, and I have seldom strayed from the road top.

Over the years I have witnessed a lot of changes along the route and many of them are improvements, like the twinning of the highway making travelling faster and safer, but there are also many of the same old landmarks and signposts that I have been seeing along the way for over forty years.

I still think of my brother and me tee-heeing in the backseat whenever we passed the “Uren Road” sign, a little west of Chaplin, and I’ve always wondered who named the “Ear-View Road” near the Alberta border. What does that mean? Who’s ear? It just seems like an odd pairing of words to me like it’s a misspelling of “Deer View Road”, or something.

There are also a number of neat little rest stops and camping areas along the way. Besant Park Campground comes to mind right away. The spot is on the south side of the road between Caron and Mortlach SK and from the highway you can’t even tell if there’s much of anything there but if you were to drop down into that park you would find a beautiful prairie oasis. I know it’s there because we used to have our year-end school picnics at Besant Park back when our family lived in the Moose Jaw area too long ago and we’ve also dropped in a couple of times to show our children where it is.

That’s the thing too, eh? There are so many little “hole-in-the-wall” campgrounds and parks, not just along the Trans Canada Highway, but all over Saskatchewan that only get known by word-of-mouth or by chance encounters. While playing Twilite Baseball over the years our team has stayed at some very nice small out of the way places like Field Stone Campground north of Moosomin, Craik and District Regional Park, Moosomin Lake Regional Park and Eston Riverside Park to name a few.

At work the other day a few of us were discussing our May Long Weekend plans and of course a few people are going to the usual haunts like the Provincial Parks but it was suggested that maybe some of these lesser-known spots would be ideal for a quiet weekend of camping, if that’s what you are looking for, or even a day trip to break up a working weekend.



I know that this advice might have been more helpful earlier than a day before the May Long Weekend starts but you can keep it in mind for next year or some other weekend or occasion coming up.

I think I might just take my own advice this weekend and search out a nice quiet spot for some relaxation and I won’t have to get off the beaten path too far to find it.

“A well-beaten path does not always make the right road”,-Proverb quotes.

MOM MAKES IT HOME

Appropriately enough, this coming Mother’s Day weekend, many of us Hubbards will be moving my, or more accurately…our…Mom from the apartment building, which she has been living in for the past twenty-one years, to an apartment in a Senior Citizen’s Housing unit. I guess, at 90 years old, she felt that it was maybe okay for her to move in with the “old fogeys” now, (a group that she had never been previously a part of, mind you).


If you can imagine, in all of her 90 years of living, the longest length of time that Mom has ever lived under one roof has been in the apartment in Medicine Hat that she is now moving out of. It wasn’t something that her parents or she and Dad had really planned out, I think, but various circumstances dictated that both families moved around a lot.

You know, there’s an old idiom, “Home is where you lay your hat” and to some degree it’s true but sometimes apartments, or houses, or even farm yards can be your home long after you’ve moved on. Other people may even be living where you used to live, or there might not be anything left on the land where your house used to be, but the memories of when it was your home still make it so. As I was growing up and living with Mom and Dad and my siblings from the age of zero to eighteen-plus years of age we lived in four different residences in four different towns and I have many vivid and happy memories of them all. As long as Mom and the rest of my family were there it was home.

Of course Mom’s current place is full of possessions and trinkets and many things which produce a flood of memories but it’s her voice and her smell and the taste of her food that make it MOM’s place. It will not be easy for Mom to leave “her place” but I am sure that in a very short time her new place will feel like our family’s home once again.

Appropriately enough, again, it just happens to be a coincidence that my own little family has been living in our house the same number of years that Mom has lived in her apartment. So, my children’s Mom, my wife, has made this house her home and our kids and their kids are coming home to her voice and her smell and her cooking…to our home as the circle of life continues.

For Mother’s Day, in lieu of the usual quotation to finish this column, I found a little poem:

The heart of a home is a mother

Whose love is warm and true,

And home has always been "sweet home"

With a wonderful mother like you!

WHAT??!! NO BAGPIPES??!!

I was recently reading that, according to a CBC article, Vancouver city officials had ruled that bagpipes were being included in a group of instruments that were banned from being played by street performers. Apparently the City’s rule states: "Instruments not permitted for street performance: percussive instruments and bagpipes." The CBC article further states that “Tambourines, bongos and drums also fall into that category, which would imply the hippie-filled west coast city will somehow try to prevent drum circles, too. Officials in the city's engineering department said noise concerns were the reason for those particular instruments being banned.”


Bagpiping buskers were miffed by the City’s ruling and had kilt-wearing Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, in their corner to help in overturning the ruling within days of the ban being made public.

That’s all fine and good and I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you would rather have a bagpiper, car horns or a city bus invading your personal audio range while strolling downtown Vancouver and, personally, being a piper lover, (which is kind of similar to your feelings on the New York Yankees…either you love ‘em or you hate ‘em…and I love ‘em), I’d go with the pipes but, in the end, it was a “difference between” joke in the article that caught my eye. The old joke asks the Question: “What’s the difference between an onion and a bagpipe?” The Answer: “Nobody cries when you chop up a bagpipe”. Ba-dum-dum-tish. Regardless of your bagpipe feelings, the joke’s funny isn’t it?

So in that vain I thought I’d look up some “difference between” jokes and share them with you. Keep in mind that I didn’t write these things so don’t “shoot the messenger” because I am going for “comedic effect” not “politically correct” here. You will understand my disclaimers when you read the first one as it’s my wife’s least favourite joke.

Q: What’s the difference between a wife and a girlfriend? A: About 45lbs.

Q: What’s the difference between a man and a computer? A: You only have to tell the computer once.

Q: What’s the difference between a dog and a violinist? A: The dog knows when to stop scratching.

Q: What’s the difference between a catfish and a lawyer? A: One’s a bottom-dwelling scum sucker and the other is just a fish.

Q: What’s the difference between a new husband and a new dog? Answer A: After a year the dog is still excited to see you. Answer B: A dog only takes a couple of months to train.

Q: What’s the difference between a tornado and a redneck divorce? A: Nothing-either way someone’s losing the trailer.

Q: What’s the difference between you and your boss? Answer A: When you take a long time, you’re slow. When your boss takes a long time, he’s thorough. Answer B: When you don’t do it, you’re lazy. When your boss doesn’t do it, he’s too busy. Answer C: When you make a mistake, you’re an idiot. When your boss makes a mistake he’s only human.

“I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.”-Hal Holbrook (1925- ).

WE NEED A NEW MISSION


Recently I started watching “From the Earth to the Moon”, the 1998 twelve-part HBO television miniseries co-produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Tom Hanks which detailed the landmark Apollo expeditions to the Moon during the 1960s and early 1970s and I was transported back in time.

Remember when Humankind had big dreams for our world? Many of you will but most of you won’t. Back in the early, heady days of the 1960’s when a young, dynamic, ambitious American President, John F. Kennedy, announced to the world that the Americans would win the Space Race by "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" before the 1960’s decade was out. I was four-and-a-half years old when he made that announcement in May of 1961 and I was twelve-and-a-half years old in July of 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped off of the last rung of the ladder on the Lunar Module stating, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.”

Now, before we go any further, I’ll insert the following for all of you Conspiracy Theorists who insist that the Moon landings were all a hoax and shot on a Hollywood sound stage, or something. “There is empirical evidence readily available to show that manned moon landings did indeed occur. Anyone on Earth with an appropriate laser and telescope system can bounce laser beams off three retro-reflector arrays left on the Moon by Apollo 11, 14 and 15, verifying deployment of the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment at historically documented Apollo Moon landing sites and so proving equipment constructed on Earth was successfully transported to the surface of the Moon. In addition, in August 2009 NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter began to send back high resolution photos of the Apollo landing sites. These photos show not only the large Descent Stages of the lunar landers left behind but also tracks the astronauts’ walking paths in the lunar dust.” So there!

Now where was I…oh, yes…one could argue, of course, that the motivation for the Excited States of America to put a man on the Moon was purely political and it was only Cold War muscle-flexing to show that their, the U S of A, and our own Canadian political ideology, Capitalism, was better than the Soviet Union’s political ideology, Communism. And given that during that exact same timeline, when JFK was setting out the Mission to the Moon initiative, the two Cold War combatants, the USA and the USSR, came this close to lobbing nuclear warheads at each other and I, for one, am very glad that they decided to compete in a race to see which nation would accomplish the most in Outer Space as opposed to an all out war on each other here on Earth. Regardless the motivation, the ambitious vision was carried out within Kennedy’s timeframe.

So where are the world’s visionaries now? Where are all the big ideas? Who’s going to lead humanity into a better future?

Does the world need a new Apollo mission? Do we need to set a new goal for humanity? My answers are yes and no. No to the first question and yes to the second. In my view humanity does not need to explore outer space or other planets when we should be putting our resources, energy and efforts into cleaning up and preserving the one that we’ve got but the ambition and vision of achieving something beyond man’s imagination and seeing it through to its end is something that mankind should be continually striving to do and at this point in our history it is time to set some real goals for the long-term life of our planet.

“Ambition is not what a man would do, but what a man does, for ambition without action is fantasy.”-Bryant H. McGill (1969-).

POWER FOODS?

Last week a few of us similarly aged workmate Baby Boomers were comparing aches and pains as the barometric pressure played havoc with our muscles and joints.


Don’t laugh now, studies have conclusively shown that the joints and muscles in the body are surrounded by fluid, which can register changes in air pressure and in 1997 the "British Journal of Neurosurgery" reported that researchers found, during changes in barometric pressure, that individuals experiencing cerebrovascular disease were more likely to sustain a brain hemorrhage. So when Old Uncle Joe’s knee is telling you that in a couple of days we’re going to be getting six tenths of rain/sleet in a twenty-seven hour period with a 30km wind from the southeast you had better believe him.

We Boomers were comparing old injuries that we had sustained in our younger invincible days, either by accident or fate-tempting sporting events or something, back when we were completely unaware that our actions would catch up with us one day in the form of an aching shinbone, a crick in the neck, a twinge in a shoulder, a throb in one or both ankles, a barking hipbone or, many times, all of the above. We’re chewing up all kinds of supplements and vitamins, like so many Smarties, in an effort to gain some relief from the pain of it all and we buy shares in Bayer in an attempt to recoup some of the money we’ve dumped into the Aspirin making company over the years.

Then I came across this article regarding “Power Foods” that we should all be eating to extend our life expectancies. Foods like Kelp which is a possible anti-breast-cancer crusader. Kelp is loaded with calcium, vitamin K and other essential nutrients. Hold on now…sidebar here…there’s a vitamin K? Since when? I guess I’ve never taken the time to check out ALL of the vitamins but apparently there are vitamins from A to U including 20+ separate forms of vitamin B. Who knew? So anyway...because of kelp’s natural alginate fibre it helps block fat, it’s also a natural source of iodine, which helps with Thyroid health, it’s high in iron and Kelp contains fucoidan, a complex carbohydrate that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Unfortunately the article does not reveal where one can purchase the seaweed in Saskatchewan.

But something that Saskatchewan does have in abundance is another apparent “Super Food”…Barley. Barley is a supergrain which is rich in niacin (for healthy hair and skin) and cancer-fighting lignans, plus, the soluble fibre keeps your cholesterol levels healthy, too. Now, now…hold on all you beer drinkers out there. My eyes lit up too making the connection between barley, beer and your health. But I think that in order to get the full impact of the grain’s healthy benefits you’re supposed to eat it as a replacement for pasta, rice or oatmeal, which, unfortunately, would eliminate its fermented liquid state. I know! Damn!

Now with all of these age-defying foods and supplements available to us it creates a whole new slippery slope doesn’t it? The quality of life has to be factored into the length of one’s life, too, right? I don’t care what you’re eating, nothing’s going to take away all of your aches and pains. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to live a long, long life depending on my level of health, of course. But here’s the thing…back in my retail days I recall a co-worker and I delivering some goods to an elderly women and she asked us to put the stuff away for her because her health had deteriorated so much that she was unable to do even the most simple of tasks and because of her current unhealthy state she told my co-worker, “Honey, this isn’t living.”

Canadians are already living, on average, nearly twenty-five years longer today than our forebears were living only two hundred years ago so my suggestion to you would be to make sure that life-lengthening health choices, while prolonging your life, should also make your quality of life better, too.

I looked for aging quotes from centenarian George Burns (1896-1996) and found the following:

“You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.”

“When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick.”

“You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.”

TOP 100

I think that the column you are about to read is going to qualify as one of the Top 50 Best Of “In My Humble Opinion” columns ever written. I’m absolutely sure of it! Yes, you are correct, if I have only written a little over one hundred of these things then the bar is set pretty low, but that’s not the point. Apparently, EVERYTHING has to have a “Best Of” list including the Top 100 Best of Lists. Seriously, there really is a list listing the best lists you can list. According to who, or is it whom, they do not say.


And these lists not only claim that they are uncovering the greatest or the best of….as in: the best songs, the best books, the best poems, the greatest romantic comedies, the greatest Canadians…et al, they are claiming that these things are the greatest or best whatevers of ALL TIME! Not just of the Twentieth Century, or the past decade, or the things released in the month of October, or something, no, of ALL TIME!

Topping off my list of the lists that bug me the most is the list of the Top 100 Most Beautiful Women of All Time. Let’s take a serious look at the flaws in this statement shall we? First of all, the population of the planet Earth has just topped over 7 billion beings so for easy figuring let’s say that half of them are women so we’re at about three and a half billion women in the world, right now, and considering humans have been around for quite some time and we can extrapolate that the historical number of women produced throughout time going back thousands of years maintaining today’s ratio of 103 men to 100 women and calculating the descending population inversely to today’ numbers added to the already 3.5 billion…the results …WOULD BE AN ATRONOMICAL NUMBER OF WOMEN!! And you can narrow that number down to 100…ALL TIME? Really? I aint’ buyin’ it, man.

You know, people’s tastes are so diverse how are you ever going to get any kind of consensus on any of these lists anyway. Besides…nobody but the list compilers really care what the “Top 100 Car” songs, (not to be confused with the Top 100 80’s band “The Cars” songs), are. Also, do they mean songs that you sing in the car while on a trip like, “Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts”, or “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”, or do they mean songs with a car theme like “Little Deuce Coup”, or something? Only the list makers know for sure. Or seem to care.

And let’s not forget the most debatable of all things Canadian… all of the Top 100 Hockey Themed Lists. Unfortunately, this list includes the Top 100 Hockey Tweeter Lists??!! Seriously? And you can find lists from the “Top 100 Greatest Goalie Saves”, (like you can narrow that one down, too, from a couple of zillion saves to 100), to the likes of “The Top 100 Greatest Goals Scored By A Right Hand Shooting Left Winger That Played On A Team With The Colour Blue In The Uniform Between 1930 and 1967 With A Minimum Of 200 Games Played In the NHL”, or some damn thing. They have to have something to fill in the never-ending hockey coverage, don’t they?

So there you have it. This column might rate a number 7or 8 out-of-10 based on the allowable criteria set by the “Column Readers of Kipling & District” which would then place it near the top of the #’s 20-10 on the list with a likelihood of cracking the Top 10 depending on the scoring of the…….oh, who cares!?

“If you name one person out of one hundred “The Best” you have created one winner and ninety-nine losers,”- Bruce Lee (Calgary Productivity Coach).