Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A BLAST FROM THE PAST!

I wrote this article back in April of 2009 and it is most appropos today as we were "this close" to putting our winter jackets away and then...SNOWSTORM!!!

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).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"WE ARE BORN GOOD, WE CHOOSE EVIL."

I very recently read an interesting statement from Canadian writer Will Ferguson’s 2012 Giller Prize winning novel 419 (four-one-nine). In the story one of the characters says, “We are born good, we choose evil. Life forces these decisions upon us.”


This, of course, will open up the whole philosophical debate regarding predetermined life and you, Dear Reader, are free to choose the philosophical doctrine of fatalism or side with the philosophy that every action has an effect and a consequence and that circumstances beget circumstances, or, in a nutshell, life determines life. Do you know what I mean? Are evildoers evil at birth or do life’s circumstances turn good people into evil people as per Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in the Star Wars saga?- “Come to the Dark Side…Luke.”-Never heard of it? Google it please.

Whichever philosophy you choose to follow there is no denying the fact that evil has haunted humankind since man’s inception. Take the recent deadly bombings and their aftermath at this year’s Boston Marathon. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, placed, (you can forget the “allegedly” this time as it’s pretty obvious who did it regardless of a future court’s outcome), two bombs near the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon and the two explosions from the bombs killed 3 people and injured 183 others. At least 15 of the injured were in critical condition as of April 16, including two children.

By all appearances these two brothers “chose” evil. It was not thrust upon them. It didn’t spontaneously appear and it certainly wasn’t visible in any way, shape or form on the day of their birth.

I am not a psychiatrist but I have put in fifty-six years at the school of life and over that time I have formed a few theories of my own in regards to the human condition and it is my humble opinion that everyone is born with an on/off switch and whether they choose to flip that switch on or off is determined by many factors leading up to that point in time when a moral choice has to be made. Switch On? Switch Off?

Parentage, geography, religious beliefs, social status, or lack thereof, intelligence and independence are all factors that can influence one’s thinking. These are factors that influence the on/off switch not excuses for the decision that is ultimately made.

I reluctantly included religious beliefs as a factor when I know perfectly well that it was a definitive factor in the brothers’ motivation in the bombing but I am reminded of what David Letterman said during his opening remarks on the first live airing of his late-night talk show right after the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11 when he said, “We're told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervour... religious fervour… and if you live to be a thousand years old will that make any sense to you?” Factor…yes…excuse…no. Too often religion provides evil a mask. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist…it makes no difference. Evil is just evil regardless of its face.

I am in no way saying that religion is evil. Or religious beliefs are evil. Religion is good for society. People are evil. Fanaticism is evil. And anyone who uses religion as an excuse to turn the switch off when it should be on or turn it on when it should be off is…well…evil.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”-Buddha



Monday, April 15, 2013

THE OL' WINTER'S TOO DAMN LONG BLUES!!


From dictionary.com-"Melancholy-[mel-uhn-kol-ee]-noun, plural-mel-an-chol-ies, adjective- 1.) a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression. 2.) sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness. 3.) the condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine to cause gloominess and depression." Or as we laymen refer to it..."Sick of Bloody Winter!!" I'm not sure about the whole "Black Bile" thing but I know a fair bit about...whadyacallit?...you know....uh...that other word for melancholy....oh, yeah...GRUMPY!! What with our crappy weather lately how can you not be? Grumpy, that is.

Here's another word for you from the same source: "Moody-[mu-de-ee] adj.,-ier, -iest. 1.) Given to frequent changes of mood; temperamental. 2.) subject to periods of depression; sulky. 3.) Expressive of a mood, especially a sullen or gloomy mood."

"Frequent changes of mood", eh? Could it be....MOTHER NATURE... we're talking about here? Sound familiar? Do you think she's going through some sorta life changes or something? My question is, what, exactly, is itching her deriere? Huh? Can we move on now? Have you been miserable long enough? Snap out of it already!

The worst thing about "melancholy", and "grumpy" and "moody" is that they are very contagious and they love company. A bad mood will spread through your family or your work place faster than a cold virus at a day care centre. And it's almost twice as hard to get rid of.

I think there might be as many words in the English language describing melancholy as there are Eskimo words describing snow, e.g.-tempermental, dour, gloomy, blue, glum, morose, saturnine...saturnine?...whaterver... sour, sulky, sullen, surly, unhappy... It can be downright depressing knowing how many words there are for depression.

I knew I had picked up a severe case of the Gloom n' Doom virus from that tempermental ol' crow Mother Nature and in an effort to help shake off the blues the wife and I thought we'd invite some friends on a trip to Regina for some virtual golf at The First Tee Indoor Golf Center. Their website states:"The First Tee's ten simulators provide the opportunity to keep your swing grooved for the summer months, (provided summer actually comes). A choice of 68 world-class golf courses and 30 formats of play lets you practice driving, chipping, putting, and sand play. Eighteen courses played by the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Australian Tour are at your fingertips." . Golfing, despite the unusually cold weather and the January looking April, sounded to us like it was just what the doctor had ordered for a bit of blues busting.

But, of course, Mother Nature says, "Not so fast, there, Used To Be Young Man, I'm not done throwing winter at you just yet" and with a distinctive "Bwahahaha" tone in her wind she proceeded to mess up the highways for the umpteenth time this winter and made the roads nearly impassible. Nearly, I said. Should we have been out there on the highway? In a word...no. Were we? In another word...yes. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all that, and judging from all of the traffic on the road that day we weren't the only fools employing that philosophy.

Our friends were smarter, or less lucky than we were, as we had travelled up on the Friday during the nasty weather while they were going to travel on Saturday but the "travel not recommended" advisory kept them at home. Nonetheless, our youngest daughter, and golf fanatic, too, tagged along and we enjoyed some indoor golfing fun.

This indoor, virtual golf was new to us but we noticed some similarities to the real thing right off the bat. The ball will do what the ball is wont to do when it is wont to do it regardless of it being on a fake or a real golf course but the weather was fantastic inside and nobody lost a ball all day! At a very affordable price and knowing that we won't be seeing any real grass anytime soon I highly recommend a visit to First Tee Golf to any golfer and I guess only time will tell whether our little golf breakaway had the desired effect of staving off the deepening of this melancholic winter hating mood or not.

"Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach,"-Sydney Smith (1771-1845).