Thursday, March 31, 2016

ALL FOOLS' DAY

            Before we get too far into this thing I will remind the regular readers of this column, and inform the new ones, of my feelings towards practical joking. You see, I’m not a big fan of them as I find many practical jokes are very seldom practical and I feel that laughing at someone else’s embarrassment, confusion or discomfort is cheap humour. Just sayin’. Besides, I really hate being laughed at.
Now, having said that, I will qualify my statement by emphasizing that I don’t care for “cruel” jokes that might cause personal harm or property damage. You know, putting a live chicken in someone’s front porch while they are at work for the day is one thing…putting an entire 30-chicken brood in there is another thing entirely. One’s a joke the other’s a disaster!
I will admit, though, that there are some cerebral jokesters out there who put some real thought into their jokes. I am reminded of the older gent from Wawota who, after a rain shower, would rise early to adjust his neighbours rain gauges by taking some rain water out of this one and adding it to that one so he could then listen to them argue and argue later on at the coffee shop over how much rain had fallen the night before. Tee-hee-hee.
            Some practical jokes not only take a lot of thought but time and effort as well. Back in the 1920’s American painter, Waldo Peirce, was living in Paris when he made a gift of a large turtle to the female concierge of his building. The woman doted on the turtle and lavished care on it, which Peirce knew she would. A few days later he substituted a somewhat larger turtle for the original one and he continued for some time with larger and larger turtles. The woman was beside herself with happiness as she displayed her miraculous turtle to the entire neighbourhood. Then Peirce reversed the process sneaking into the woman’s apartment with smaller and smaller turtles…much to her dismay…and to his amusement!
I don’t have any quantifiable evidence to support it but I’m pretty sure practical joking has been around about as long as humans have been. Who doesn’t like to jump out from behind a rock or out of the cave to scare the be-jeepers out of some unsuspecting victim?
Geoffrey Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales, (1392), contains the first recorded association between April 1st and foolishness. The custom of setting aside a day for prank making is recognized around the world. The Ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, the Holi festival of India and the Medieval Feast of Fools are precursors to today’s April Fools’ Day. Flemish poet, Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1st, 1539. On April 1st, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed.”
This edition of The Citizen is scheduled to come out on Friday April 1st, April Fools’ Day. Have fun, play a joke, be a fool, but please don’t be nasty and remember that any person playing a joke after midday is the “April Fool” themselves.

“The first of April, some do say
Is set apart for All Fools’ Day;
But why the people call it so
Nor I, nor they themselves, do know,
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.”

-Poor Robin’s Almanac 1790.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

            Would you look at that? Spring has arrived! Old Man Winter is doing his stubborn best to keep the winter bite on us with this most recent cold spell but even these latest efforts are a little toothless this time around. Actually, the record setting “warm” winter was too long for me anyway, despite the mildness, but that’s in the past now, Easter and spring are upon us and grass cutting and golf club swinging are merely days away. I hope.
            According to Environment Canada, our “meteorological winter”, (December 1st-February 28th), was ranked as the warmest that the Earth has seen since record keeping began, over 135 years ago. If you are like me you will be tempering your wish for future winters to be as mild as this past one with your concern over the long-term effects of Climate Change and Global Warming. 
             Wait, wait now, before you get all indignant about Global Warming and Climate Change being a myth and start lining up your scientists to argue with my scientists and go on and on about David Suzuki and his followers being so full of crap and how acting more environmentally responsible to the planet and to our future generations will collapse the whole world economy even though we should all be less selfish by erring on the side of caution instead of ignoring the vital signs while burying our heads in the sand and saying, “It’s okay, nothing to worry about here, folks, just a bunch of scientists spouting off;  everything’s fine” and all that, please keep in mind that I am trying to deliver an upbeat message here about Spring and Easter so let’s not get all bent out of shape over it, shall we? Thanks.
            As with spring, Easter is a symbol of hope, renewal and new life, or, resurrection, as it were. In Christian belief, resurrection means Christ’s rising from the dead and the Cambridge English dictionary defines resurrection as, “the act of bringing something that had disappeared or ended back into use or existence.” Yes, it works for both the Christian religion and spring’s arrival.
            On Easter Sunday Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ who was crucified and died on the cross on Good Friday. Easter Sunday also marks the end of Lent, which began on Ash Wednesday. Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Good Friday and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. Easter is not a fixed date as it is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring.
            Spring in the Northern Hemisphere signifies rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, re-growth and resurrection, too. As the axis of the Earth increases its tilt, relative to the Sun, daylight increases bringing warmth. As the season progresses the warmth increases causing new plant growth to “spring forth”.
            There is great cause for celebration as we celebrate both Easter and the arrival of spring and here’s hoping that you have a wonderful Easter weekend and a most pleasant spring season.
            “The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”-Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897).


IT'S FLU AND CURLING SEASON AGAIN!

            I cannot say with absolute certainty, and there really isn’t any scientific evidence to back up my argument, but I’m pretty sure that my immune system is a curling fan. For the past few years I have had some kind of flu or sinusitis or some bloody thing putting my whiny, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, achy body on the couch for two or three days in a row right around this time of the year. Coincidently, the majority of great Canadian curling action happens to be going on at this exact same time. Hmmm?
            If it isn’t the Canadian women’s championship, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, it’s the men’s championship, the Tim Horton’s Brier. I seem to recall my illnesses lining up with these curling events with regularity over the past little while.
            Now, I know what you’re thinking…and it’s not hooky. Really it isn’t. I certainly enjoy watching curling but if I was to purposely skip work for some recreational activity it wouldn’t be to lie around the house all day watching curling. Hockey maybe, when Team Canada is playing and the games are coming from Russia or somewhere where you can only watch the games live starting at six or seven in the morning, or whatever, then that would make sense. But curling? Not worth losing your job over, I don’t think.
            Anyway, this season’s sinus infection just happened to coincide with the Tim Horton’s Brier which just wrapped up on Sunday the 13th of March. I was recuperating at home for a couple of days and I was able to take in some of the morning and afternoon draws. There were some pretty good games to watch as this year’s field of teams was as good as it gets and every game was competitive.
Unfortunately, Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock’s foursome could only muster five wins out of the eleven round robin games and finished out of the playoffs. Not that our Saskatchewan champions get a lot of television coverage, mind you, as the network carrying the games, TSN, tend to follow the “big-name” curlers like Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe, Glen Howard et al for most of the televised games, leaving “small market” teams, (Sask, PEI, Yukon/NWT), with a token mid-week-morning TV slot.
In 2011 I wasn’t at home with a viral infection but I happened to be at home awaiting surgery for a herniated disc so that time I got to watch the Saskatchewan Scotties Champion, Amber Holland and her rink, win the whole kit n caboodle in Charlottetown at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. She was 8-0 and cruising and a TSN commentator mentioned how Amber Holland had been “flying under the radar”. Who’s radar? TSN’s radar, I’d say. She was 8 AND 0! But…guess who got the last laugh?
The Ford World Women’s Championship runs from March 19th to 27th in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Calgary’s Chelsea Carey and her rink will be representing Canada at the championship. The field is solid with many returning champions making it a tough event to win.
 As much as I’d love to be able to watch as many curling ends as possible I’m sick n tired of being sick n tired, if you know what I mean? I’m going to have to pass this one up; immunity be damned.

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.”-Thomas Fuller (1608-1661).

TELEMIRACLE 40

            In last week’s column I had reviewed a number of upcoming events during the month of March but somehow I excluded one of Saskatchewan’s nearest and dearest events. It’s a little annual show they like to call Telemiracle. The Kinsmen Foundation’s Telemiracle 40 was held this past weekend on the 5th and 6th of March in Regina.
            The Telemiracle website states: “Telemiracle is a 20-hour telethon that has raised over $111,000,000.00 over 39 years, more money per capita than any other telethon in the world. All of the money raised at Telemiracle is spent in Saskatchewan helping Saskatchewan people.”
            In addition to the Kinsmen/Kinette Clubs of Saskatchewan’s much needed fund raising abilities, which provide resources to residents with specialized needs for medical services and equipment, the Telemiracle telethons are a great place to showcase some of Saskatchewan’s amazingly talented stars. Both well known and not so well known.
            Over the years there have been many international, national and Saskatchewan’s own performers hitting the stage in both host cities of Regina and Saskatoon. This time around, the 40th version of Telemiracle was hosted by the City of Regina.  
            The Kinsmen Foundation was established in 1971 to manage the money raised by the Saskatchewan Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs. As the demand for dollars far exceeded the funds on hand they felt a larger fund-raiser was needed. Their first idea of a car raffle was kyboshed by the government so instead of a raffle they came up with the idea for a telethon. Apparently, things happen for a reason as “Plan B” turned out pretty darn good, don’t you think?
In 1977, the first telethon raised more than $1 million, which at the time was considered a record for per capita telethon fund-raising in a 20-hour period. The telethon passed the $2 million mark for the first time in 1983, and the $3 million mark in 2001. Telemiracle has exceeded the $4 million mark seven times and $5 million five times, most recently in 2016, and the all-time high of $5,906,229.00 was reached in 2012. 
Over the years there have been many local entertainers and presenters from Kipling, and area, making it hard to name them all and I don’t like excluding anyone but I will mention Calvin and Jennifer Wenneberg’s daughter Cheyanne who performed a great rendition of “Tomorrow” from the Broadway Show, Annie, at this year’s event and Jordan Toppings also performed as he accompanied Regina singer Amy Nelson’s performance. I am sure there were other “local” performers so my apologies to those who I have missed.
Although most of the monies collected for Telemiracles comes on the weekend of the event the Kinsmen Foundation takes donations 365 days a year and if you missed donating to this year’s Telemiracle you can still contribute by connecting to this link: http://www.telemiracle.com/html/donateToday/index.cfm.
 Congratulations to the Kinsmen Foundation on the fantastic success of the past 40 Telemiracles and here’s hoping you’ll make it another 40!

“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.”-Margaret Cho (1968-). 

THE ARRIVAL OF MARCH

           We have just passed Leap Day, the quadrennial milestone day of February the 29th, which leads us into the third month of the year, March. I hope the folks celebrating their Leap Year birthday on the 29th of February enjoyed the one day that they get every four years to actually celebrate on the real date that they were born.
            I would easily take the 2016 Saskatchewan version of February as it was one of the warmest Februarys that I can ever remember. I seem to recall flight personnel trying to pry my hands off of the doorway of the plane after we landed in -50C temperatures in Regina on the return flight from the +38C degree weather of Cancun, Mexico, a couple of years ago. My, isn’t it funny how our winter weather can change from year to year.
            March is one of seven months that are 31 days long. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox is on the 20th of the month and it marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
            March is an event filled month with spring’s launch, Saint Patrick’s Day and Easter all being celebrated this month. Don’t forget that on March the 13th there will be the return of Daylight Savings Time in every jurisdiction of the country, save Saskatchewan, which is on “permanent DST”, blah, blah, blah.
            Spring is indeed on the way as I am noticing a significant increase in the lightening of the sky on the morning drive to work; ditto during the early evening walks. Although we are entering the month with the weather more than a little lamb-like every long-range forecast that I have looked at shows that it won’t be too Lionish at the end of the month either, making it a good three month start to the new year. Weather-wise that is.
            Major League Baseball’s Spring Training has begun marking another sure-fire sign that we are quickly leaving winter behind. I haven’t started shining up the golf clubs, yet, but I’m itching to get the old clubs into the new Christmas gift golf bag I received from my wife this Christmas.
             If the above dates and events weren’t enough to get you geared up for March you’ll be happy to know that March is also National Nutrition Month, Red Cross Month, Women’s History Month, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Umbrella Month, Noodle Month, Mirth Month, Poetry Month and, of course, Humourists Are Artists Month, (I was unaware that there may have been some confusion with that one!?)
            Don’t forget that March 3rd is If Animals had Thumbs Day (?!), March 8th is International Women’s Day, the 10th is both Employee Day and Money Day, (hint, hint Employers), March 14th is Pi Day, the 15th is, of course, The Ides Of March and just in case we haven’t covered all of the bases the 26th of March is Make Your Own Holiday Day!
            So we’ve got a lot to celebrate during the 2016 version of March, if you needed an excuse. Every day should be cause for celebration, if you ask me, but if extra incentive needs to be used then who am I to argue. Make the best of whatever life throws your way this month and enjoy your March everyone.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it summer in the light and winter in the shade.”- Charles Dickens (1812-1860). 

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