Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WHAT DAY IS IT?

            I'm not sure if it's just a Facebook thing, or what, but apparently the 16th of every month is supposed to be "Short People Appreciation Day". My wife heard that on the radio last Thursday so it has to be true. And, there's a specific Facebook page dedicated to it as well.
            It seems that nowadays every day has to have a theme or two or three. For instance, I'm writing this on the 19th of April so that makes it...take your pick...National Bicycle Day, National Garlic Day, National Amaretto Day or National Hanging Out Day. All on the 19th of April. How did this happen? Who said? I guess one should celebrate the day by eating garlic while riding your bicycle on your way to hang out with friends drinking Amaretto? I could do that, I suppose.
            Checkiday.com is where I went to find out what we're celebrating on any given day of the year but it doesn't tell you who decided on the themes. I clicked on my birthday, December 12, and guess what I found? It's National Ding-a-Ling Day!! Never mind. Be nice. It's also National 12-hour Fresh Breath Day, and National Poinsettia Day as well as Ginger Bread House Day. Who woulda thought?
            I put the 10th of May into the "search" box and I found out that it is National Lupus Day, National Cleanup Your Room Day as well as National Shrimp Day. No mention that May 10th happens to be Mother's Day! At least, this year it is.
            April 21st is our Grandson's 6th birthday which he will be celebrating along with, appropriately enough, National Kindergarten Day, which he is attending this year, as well as- National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day, Bulldogs are Beautiful Day and Stay Off the Grass Day! Hmmm. Odd about that last one because April 20th is International Pot Smokers Day. Get it? Haw, haw! Pot Smokers Day followed by Stay Off the Grass Day...you know... ah, never mind.
            Anyway, it's obviously an American website but it is really quite interesting to plug in a date and see what weirdness comes up. Like one of the themes on January 2nd is that it is National Personal Trainer Awareness Day? Awareness of Personal Trainers? Huh? It's not like personal trainers are like rare skin diseases or unusual blood disorders or something. I think many people know what a personal trainer is and maybe they are avoiding them like the itch but calling it an "Awareness" Day wouldn't be the term I'd use. National Personal Trainer "Appreciation" Day sounds better to me but maybe I'm just splitting hairs now.
            So, if you want to have nothing to do we have a day for you there, too. January 16th is Do Nothing Day which is just impossible because even if you wake up and get out of bed you've done something...there I go splitting hairs again, anyway, if you want to do as little as possible on Do Nothing Day you could go to the Checkiday.com website and look up every day of the year just to find something to celebrate. I think that would be quite interesting.
            I'd just like to touch base on that Small Person Appreciation Day theme for a second again here, if you don't mind? My research states that males under 5'7" and females under 5'2" qualify as official Small People. Not my rules, people, and having a personal height of 6'3" I prefer to be politically correct and not mention anyone's height to anyone, but these height parameters would take in a large number of people, I would think, so good for you short people for having your own day and Facebook page.
            Pick a day! Any day! And you, too, may find something worthwhile to celebrate!


"Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words."-Plautus (255BC-185BC).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

HOW ARE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS?


            With all of the communication tools and systems available to us these days it sure puts a lot of pressure on one, doesn't it? What is the time allowance for a return text? How about emails? Or phone messages? We are in an instant world and people expect instant answers.

            Does anyone actually answer a personal phone call anymore without knowing the caller first? Don't recognize the number?...let it go to voice mail...I'll call 'em back. If I want to or feel like it, that is. I blame the telemarketers for that one.

            But no wonder there is so much pressure to respond immediately. "Where were you? I've been trying to get a hold of you for like....minutes already! Sheesh!" We're connected 24-7-365 and there's a great deal of expectation and pressure that goes along with that.

            I was out on the golf course a few years ago while our youngest daughter was fighting a virus at home on the couch. Why I had my stupid phone turned on at the golf course in the first place I'll never know, but I did, so it was my own darn fault. She's texting and texting about medications and soup cooking and various remedies and the phone's pinging every ten minutes but now I'm hooked into the conversation so I can't turn it off or ignore it and my playing partners are getting more and more perturbed and I can't blame them and one of them says, "why don't you just phone her? We've advanced past a device that tapped out messages back and forth to people years and years ago...it was called a telegraph!!" Smarty pants. But he was right.

            I would have phoned her, too, if I hadn't thought that the last text was going to be the last text, if you know what I mean. When does the thread end? If you don't get a final response you don't think the conversation is over. Or you think the conversation is over and there's another text asking if the texting is done for now. Now I have to respond so they don't think I'm rude and around and around we go. Sound familiar?

            Language is the next barrier. I'm old school. I always thought OK meant okay. You know,  that's good, we have completed our communications I will proceed with my life now...Oh...Kay. But it goes to tone doesn't it? You can't read tone or meaning with only typed words.

            My son says he hates okay. He'll text he's going to be late getting home and he only gets an "okay" back and he's going, "What does THAT mean? Okay? Okay?"

             Is it a sarcastic okay? Was it an, "okay, fine, whatever", okay? Was he just reading into it? Is there a little guilt with the text, perhaps? Again...maybe this would be a good time for a phone call. Just saying.

            Then there was the aforementioned "whatever" word. According to one college poll "whatever" was voted as the phrase that is the "most annoying in a conversation."

            Oh yeah? Who said? Did I get a vote? Did you get a vote? Pfft...whatever.

             Such a versatile, ambiguous and, yes, annoying word. Sometimes you need to hear the tone to correctly interpret the meaning of the word...sometimes you don't.

            Husband: "I know it's your birthday, so here's a card and I'm going fishing with Jimmy. See ya later. Okay?"

            Wife: "Whatever."

            No ambiguity there. "Whatever" will mean you will be coming home from fishing to an empty house with divorce papers on the counter.

            Whatever your means of communication you better hone up on the etiquette. Establish some parameters with your cohorts so you're all on the same page with the same expectations. You know, whatever works.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."-George Bernard Shaw. (1856-1950).

 

Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbs45@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.

 

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

EASTER EGGS AND BUNNIES

            As my wife and I were picking out some Easter treats for the grandchildren a discussion arose about how Easter eggs, Easter Bunnies and all things chocolate became symbols of the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
            It’s one of those things that, I guess, we just take for granted. Things that we did with our parents while growing up and we’ve passed the traditions on to our children and their children and we don’t really look deeply into why we do it or what they represent. We just do it.
Maybe a lot of you readers know the details behind these traditions but when I did a little research and a straw poll of relatives and acquaintances about the history of Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny many of them didn’t know either so I did what every other curious person would do and I Googled it. And here’s what I found out.
The practice of colouring eggshell is ancient, predating Christian traditions. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. The Christian custom of the Easter egg can be traced as far back as the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection.
            The Easter egg tradition was also influenced by the fact that eggs were originally forbidden during Lent and since chickens wouldn’t stop producing eggs during this time hard boiling the eggs was used as a way of preserving them, then, with the coming of Easter, the eating of eggs resumes and the boiled eggs were consumed. Many Christians adopted the practice of dying and painting the eggs. Although the tradition is to use dyed or painted chicken eggs, a modern custom emerged substituting them with chocolate eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy.
            The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times, it was widely believed that the hare was a hermaphrodite and the idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and paintings of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child.
The Easter Bunny is a folkloric figure depicted as a hare bringing Easter eggs. The “Easter Hare” originated with German Lutherans. The custom of an Easter hare bringing Easter eggs for children was first recorded in writing in 1682. According to legend, only good children received gifts of coloured eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.
The egg was also a symbol of rebirth in pre-Christian celebrations of spring. As a Christian Easter symbol the egg is likened to the tomb from which Christ arose. Protestant Christian Reformer Marin Luther is credited with starting the tradition of the Easter Egg Hunt where the men hid the eggs for the women and children went along. Christian Scholar Mary Jane Pierce Norton states that, “there’s something about going to hunt the eggs just as we might go to hunt for Jesus in the tomb. When we find them it’s that joy that the women had when they reached the tomb first and found Jesus was no longer there.”
I hope I may have satisfied your curiosity as well as mine. Enjoy your Easter weekend celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ while honouring its many long-practiced traditions.

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.”-Janine di Giovanni. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

REDNECK FUN!


             At work the other day a few of us were engaged in a discussion about vermin. Oh yes, a highly intellectual lot we are. But, you see, there had been reports of a weasel running loose in one of the older areas of the original building and we were wondering if it was better to let it run wild and free or try to catch and release it somewhere.
            “Better a weasel than a rat or a mouse”, said I, “and we’re not raising chickens out here so where’s the harm?”
Sidebar here: FYI-a weasel will kill a rat twice its size…just for the fun of it, too, and if you don’t believe me Google “rat vs weasel” and there’s a You Tube video showing the whole nasty ordeal. Yuck. I had to watch the whole thing, though. Sorry…I digress.
Anyway, we got to talking about which creature would make us jump up in a chair and squeal like a little gir…what’s politically correct here? Squeal like someone extremely scared of scurrying things? Whatever… “As long as it’s not a snake”, said one co-worker; “To me, it’s spiders” said another; “Bats creep ME out”, was another reply; “I’m moving to Antarctica”, said someone else, “there are no vermin there at all and I can’t stand any of them! Rat, mouse, snake, bird, lizard…whaterver…ewwww.”
I’m going to go with rats. I hate ‘em. Back in my “farmin’” days I was tasked with the duty of repairing the rat damage in the old wooden bins on my brother-in-law Maurice’s farm. I couldn’t refuse because the upside was that I got to drive his ’48 Ford ½ Ton up and down the dirt roads while I went from field to field, yard to yard, bin to bin fixing the holes and what 16-17-year-old wouldn’t jump at that kind of opportunity? I knew while I was cutting and tarring and nailing the creepy, nasty varmints were this close to me. I am shivering thinking about it now.
It wasn’t like there was a large infestation of the things but there was enough evidence around to know that they were there. One time, though, we noticed that there seemed to be a bit more activity in and around the chicken coop in the barn. Along with bin repairs I was assigned watering and feeding the stupid chickens, which also kind of creep me out, so I was getting it double when I had to go in there.
I complained that I didn’t want to go into the coop any more so Maurice and his brother, Brent, who was my age, decided that they’d take matters into their own hands and began devising a plan to eradicate the rats. Or, at the very least, make a dint in their numbers. The plan was taking shape as the level of the Lemon Hart rum bottle was being lowered and the lower the rum got the better the plan became. Or so we thought.
Out to the barn we go…three brave souls, .22 rifle in Brent’s hand…flashlight taped to the barrel, another flashlight in Maurice’s hand and me along for moral support. It’s dark and we’re going to quietly sneak into the barn and then throw the flashlights on catching the scurrying little devils by surprise and Brent’ll pick ‘em off with the gun. Great plan.
Brent is holding the gun and Maurice is supposed to click the flashlight attached to the barrel of the rifle on at the same time as the one he’s got in his hand but, being the jokester that he is, and mostly drunk, he decides it would be great fun to run his fingers up Brent’s pant leg instead. Another great plan. NOT!
Brent screams and drops the rifle and nearly tramples me running out of the barn and Maurice is laughing so hard he can’t even turn the flashlight on and I’m just screaming ‘cause I have no idea what’s going on but it can’t be good and they’re leaving me behind in the pitch black chicken/rat coop. We’re all scrambling and screaming and slipping in the hay and fleeing the barn like the Three Stooges and we don’t stop ‘til we’re at the house a few hundred yards away, huffin’ and puffin’ and laughing so hard it hurts.
Good old Red Neck fun! Firearms ‘n booze. A nasty combination. We are soooo lucky nobody took a bullet that night. The rats had a good laugh, too, I’m sure.
The RM Pest Control Officer was called in to take care of the rats properly and I gave the chicken coop a wide birth for a few days while Maurice did the chores as penance for his shenanigans. Good times…good times.
I couldn’t find an appropriate rat quote so I’m going to go with this one-
“I hate rats.”-Perry Hubbard (1956-).

MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHILLS


            Mom and Dad met and were married in Saskatchewan but soon followed Mom’s parents to Lethbridge, Alberta, where they resided for the first twenty-three years of their marriage. In fact, eight out of Mom and Dad’s nine children were born in Lethbridge. My sister Judy was the only one of their children that wasn’t born there. She was born in Taber, Alberta, which is about 30 miles, or 50 kms, east of Lethbridge, and she lives there still, when she’s not wintering in Arizona, that is.

            She and her first husband, along with their two sons, moved to Taber in the late 1960’s and Judy has resided there ever since. Back in the day it was common practice for the younger Hubbard siblings to spend some of their summer vacation time with their older siblings so my older brother, Gordie, and my younger sister, Shelly, and I got to spend a lot of time visiting Judy’s family in Taber over the years.

            Taber’s a town of about eight thousand residents and it’s a very nice place. I always liked visiting Taber. Still do. It’s famous for its Taber Corn and the Roger’s Sugar plant and the summers are hot and dry, just the way I like them. I spent more than a few of those hot summer days with my nephews cooling off in the irrigation canals that are everywhere in the fields which produce that world famous corn, as well as the sugar beet, vegetable, cereal and oil seed crops.

            The town is located in Alberta so of course the oil industry factors large in the community and there are many thriving cattle enterprises in the area, too. The town is large enough for someone to find trouble easily and small enough so everyone will know who the trouble makers are, usually, but I wouldn’t say that it’s morally any better or worse than other communities of its size and demographic.

            Taber recently fell under the scrutiny of the national and international “24-7-365 News, News, News…All The Time News” industry, who are under immense pressure to find some new bone to chew on and this time Taber was their bone.

            You see, in a case of good intentions gone viral, the Town of Taber’s council passed a Municipal Bylaw which, according to its website would: “adopt a Community Standards Bylaw that is intended to consolidate existing municipal regulations and allow enforcement under a municipal bylaw rather than the Criminal Code.”  

            The Bylaw was intended to be a “common sense” approach giving the police and bylaw officials the ability to assess fines instead of making arrests or laying charges under the Criminal Code. Police officers would be able to issue a bylaw ticket for minor offences which would not clog up the provincial courts. Many of the infractions were already enacted in other bylaws and were simply consolidated. A side benefit would be that the fines would be paid to the Town of Taber and not paid into provincial coffers.

            But the news and social media, as per their wont, jumped on one or two sentences from the volumes of bylaws and stated that the Town of Taber had passed a bylaw that “bans public swearing, yelling and spitting”, (and only that), hinting strongly that the bylaws were infringing on Canadian Charter rights and made the town sound like the fictional dance-banning community of Bomont in the 1984 movie Footloose. The media storm was, and is, ridiculous. I’m pretty sure that if you dusted off any community’s bylaws you’d find similar laws and regulations.

Here are a few examples of outdated or silly laws and bylaws that a person could still be prosecuted for. In Windsor, ON. “you are not allowed to play a flute, recorder or mouth organ without a permit in public parks.” Or, in Quesnel, British Columbia, “you must not exercise in a manner that frightens a horse - without permission.” And there’s still a law on the British Columbia books that states “if you’re a bankrupt drunk who gets thrown in jail, the law requires the jailer to bring you a bottle of beer on demand.” Trust me, there are dozens more.

Upon closer scrutiny I don’t think that the Town of Taber’s Council were jack-boot-wearing-fascists infringing on their residents rights rather than they were just some concerned citizens trying to do some cleaning up of their old books and streamline some bylaws and they got caught up in a media frenzy. Tabor was this week’s “is the dress blue and black or white and gold”? Next week’s media target will be something new.

“Headlines, in a way, are what mislead you because bad news is a headline, and gradual improvement is not.”-Bill Gates (1955-).