Monthly Archives: January 2015

‘Chuck on the roadside, Pal. That old Supermom will pick up after us’

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A couple of years ago we went on a fascinating boat tour of a mangrove swamp in Chiapas, Mexico. It was intriguing. We saw colorful little crabs climbing up the vegetation, huge termite nests, waterfowl galore with many species of herons, egrets, etc. Loved every bit of it as we wove amongst the gnarly mangrove trees. Trees that have the ability to turn salt water into fresh.

Yet all the while our charming and eloquent guide apologized for the crud in the water – pop and beer cans, ubiquitous plastic water bottles and other bits of crud that dotted the surface of a place that should have been pristine. I thought he overstated his sense of responsibility for the crap mainly because the swamp had tidal access to the ocean right next door.litter

And, as we know, the Pacific Ocean contains a mountain of thrownaway detritus about the size of Saturn, replete with fucking water bottles and other items humans are too damn lazy to dispose of properly – as in ‘recycle’. I was told that one of the most common items is disposable cigarette lighters. That’s the ticket, indulge an unhealthy habit and then chuck the means of indulging in that habit.

In recent years some hotshot marketers came up with the pod coffee maker. Not enough crap, they felt. One of the most common items is the Keurig (but there are other brands, too) that uses those little single cup pods. Single cup pods that don’t happen to be biodegradable. And those suckers proliferate everywhere.

I don’t get the allure. I love me a cuppa joe with a passion. But, sometimes you don’t want to brew up a great big pot. Sometimes you just want a cup. I understand that. So, get yourself a Bodum, if that is the case. Those dandy little gizmos make wonderful coffee and if you have a single cup size then your problem is solved. We have a couple of them – a small one and a big one. The small one we actually bought in France, which seemed apt. However, I think the moment the clerk realized I wasn’t French, the price was immediately jacked up. They’re like that. So, it was a bit costly, but you can get much cheaper ones here. Get one. I recommend it.bodumz

The point of this screed is to observe how far too many people – you can judge by the crap along our roadways – seem to feel no sense of obligation to pick up after themselves. Do they think there is a gang of supermoms out there to do the job. They were obviously raised by such mothers, the lazy sods.

When I walk across our park next door I am regularly picking up fast food packaging, cans, dog-poop bags and even dogshit the disgusting slobs cannot be bothered to deal with. Why is it so hard to dispose of stuff for such people?

And now you have manufacturers of certain coffee makers actually catering to baser impulses.

And at this moment I am consuming a cup of excellent coffee that I just made in the Bodum. It took all of five minutes.

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The Comox Valley’s six-week nightmare has finally come to an end, Lord be praised

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The nightmare is over – finally.

Just yesterday we learned – after six-plus weeks of agony – that we can once again drink deeply from the community’s water supply.

Of course there were some of us who blatantly ignored the advisory and drank of the Adam’s Ale like there was no tomorrow. Of course, if the water had been really tainted, there would have been no tomorrow.bottles

But I checked for negative signs that come about from drinking crummy water. I mean, I’ve been in Mexico so I know it can happen.

So, nope, no diarrhea. That’s one of those symptoms that you ‘always’ know you have. At least you better know. Here’s a bit of advice in the trots department. If you ever want to book an illicit day off work, simply ring up and tell your boss that you have the old Montezuma’s. He/she won’t argue with you. Nobody argues with diarrhea. “Well, feel better soon and please don’t come into work. We only have one staff toilet.”

Checked for other bad stuff too like typhoid, typhus, diphtheria, ecoli, and even ebola just for good measure. No such symptoms.

So, I concluded it was all a tempest in a teakettle – the kettle I wasn’t going to boil in order to fulfil the conditions of a draconian decree. Furthermore, I wasn’t going to make those pesky bottled water companies even richer than they already are.puking

So, what we had, as I understand it, was a bit of silt in the water. WTF? No poop in the water, just a bit of harmless crud. Talk about First World Problems. What is silt? Just dirt. Dirt that came about after our recent high water and flooding problems. So what? How did it happen? Well, we know how it happened though nobody is owning up to having transgressed in any way. Ha!

How did we become so soft. Years ago when I lived south of Courtenay and we were on Union Bay water, well we got silt, mama. We got lotsa silt. We, in stormy weather, ran brown baths. Our ice-cube trays had a layer of brown at the bottom, invariably. But, I guess we were tougher in those days. We were assured the water was entirely potable, even though it looked a bit ugly. So we drank it and bathed in it and never got sick. So, don’t tell us ugly water veterans what we can consume.

But, here’s an idea. Why doesn’t the community take charge of its own water supply just to preclude this happening in future. If we don’t, in the next stormy season it will happen again, otherwise. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Max introduced us to a brave new world right in our own back yard

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Wendy and I often marvel about how our lives have changed since we got Max. That doesn’t mean we don’t have other things to marvel about, but the impact of a simple 75-pounds of smooth-collie/malamute cross has been consequential.

Not just consequential in that we have to buy dogfood and go and pick up poop, but consequential in terms of our relationship with the community and our activities within that community of ours.

Here are just some of the changes Max has brought about for us:

– Neighbourhood: We are neither of us asocial or anti-social people, but basically the only people we knew when we were dogless were the neighbors directly next door on either side. Otherwise, we simply passed by houses in this pleasant residential suburb with no idea of who dwelt within. But now, and over recent years we have gotten to know Abby’s dad, Jake’s dad and mom, Ben’s dad, Meatloaf’s dad, Broadway’s dad, and Zoe’s dad and mom. Those people all have names and we feel quite bonded with them now. And then there are the owner’s one meets on farther afield walks and we have gotten to know them and their canines as well. And I know the names of the dogs of any number of people on Facebook.DSCN2600

– Walkies: I almost feel ashamed to admit that pre-Max we had no idea about the Northeast Woods here in Comox. That exquisite sylvan tract was an alien thing to us for, I guess, we had no reason to know. Likewise Mac Laing Park or even Hawk Glen Park in East Courtenay. Now, of course, walks demand that we learn about those places and, for example, the NE Woods is a mainstay of our lives three or four times a week when the weather permits. Max loves those trails, as do we. And if you have a dog you gotta walk it, not only so it can spend a penny but also to keep it fit and also sedate. Consequently Max has gone for good walks all the way from this community to Northern California. He especially favors the beaches of Oregon, as do we.

This isn’t to say that I am a lazy slug and never walked before. I have decent enough energy and I like walking. A priori most of our walking took place in the Courtenay Airpark. But once we got Max that walk came to an end mainly because the good burghers of the City of Courtenay have a pretty sucky attitude towards dogs and demands that they be leashed at all times, which means they don’t understand the canine temperament and fail to recognize that leashed dogs are often much more aggressive than unleashed dogs. So be it. I pay my taxes in Comox and I’ll confine my dog to my more enlightened community.DSCN1968

Max is an effusively friendly dog and actually has his ‘public’. I have said before that in some ways I wish I had gotten him when I was single because he is so charming that I speculate I might have gotten more action than Sinatra such is Max’s attractiveness to female persons. I’m not saying I’m charming, but that Max is, so I’d win by default.

This whole treatise is a roundabout way of saying to non-dog owners that if you are thinking of getting a canine – and I would hope it would be a rescue – be prepared to have your lives change in a dramatic manner. You have to be up for that, and if you’re not, then avail yourself of a goldfish or gerbil. Dogs are demanding and they will inject their personalities on your household.

And if your acceptance level is high then you will realize that such a change has been the best thing that ever happened to you. It’ll be different and it’ll be so much better.

$2 is a stupid and unneeded monetary denomination, but keep your damn hands off our $5 bill

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The Chinese once manufactured their coins with holes in the middle so

that the possessors could run strings through them and carry them that

way, in lieu of a change-purse.

When the Canadian two-dollar coin appeared in 1996 (dubbed the ‘toonie’ in a collective unimaginative continuation of the pop title given to the one dollar ‘loonie’ of a few years earlier) the early versions had a tendency to fall apart. I thought at the time it might be wise for my compatriots to embrace the old Chinese practice, and string coins through the big empty spaces in the middle of the so-called toonies. It would provide a practical way to carry the cumbersome coins, and also offer the side benefit of a tinge of nostalgia for recent Asian immigrants.

Now, the since rectified falling apart business was pretty stupid, when you think about it. It came about because of the initially dumb idea of using two different metals in one coin. Whatever federal mint wonk arrived at concept (in the name of esthetics, one assumes) didn’t have a basic understanding of the properties of metals – which is, that they tend to contract at different rates when exposed to cold.

Metallurgical ignorance on Ottawa’s part (there’s lots of ignorance in the federal capital, so why should metallurgy escape the buffoonery of the overpaid and underworked who ostensibly toil therein) notwithstanding, I have never liked the concept of the two-dollar coin. It’s big and cumbersome, and it leaves me with a tendency to think I am broke, because all I have is change in my pocket. Coinage, frankly, doesn’t seem like real money, only folding money does. I like foldin’ money. That’s ‘cash’, ‘lettuce’, whatever you want to call it. A two-dollar coin somehow seems less valuable than one of those old red bills.

In truth, I don’t really understand why we even hold on to a two-dollar denomination. The Americans don’t use them any more. Once upon a time they had two-dollar bills. Once upon a time they had them, but the denomination was defeated by superstition. Somebody, somewhere, decided the denomination was bad luck, maybe even satanic, and voodoo could only be assuaged by ripping off the corner. Eventually the treasury decided to phase them out. Anyway, they thought, who the hell needs them? A dollar bill and a five-dollar bill will work fine.

Likewise, the British don’t have a two pound note. They go from one to five, and none of it makes much difference, since the purchasing power of a fiver there is about the same today as was that of the long-defunct farthing in its day.

So, doesn’t Canada get rid of the denomination and join the rest of the grown-up world? I really have no answer, but am reminded of the fact that we are dealing with the same people who thought years ago that the fifty-cent piece made no sense. What a boneheaded decision that was.

Now, if you want coinage that does make no sense (at least the silliness of the penny had been addressed) look to the nickel and dime. Dimes are such a pain in the ass because they’re so small, and nickels I invariably confuse with quarters. You could even mount an argument to do away with that quarter. A four-bitter, on the other hand, would still retain a bit of cachet at the till, much as the fifty-pence coin does in the UK.toonie 22

When the toonie did arrive nearly two decades ago, there was much debate over what to call it. ‘Two-dollar-coin’ was too cumbersome, even for Ottawa bureaucrats, who normally thrive on cumbersomeness – witness ‘Human Resources Development’ for the old and I guess politically incorrect ‘Manpower’. So, they had to think of something more user-friendly. Again, a typically bureaucratic response to a situation. This is vox populi stuff. Civil servants don’t make such decisions, the public does. Titles for currency, as for many other institutions, are ‘folk-art’ of a sort, never something imposed from above. Nobody in the ranks of officialdom ever decreed that a dollar should be called a ‘buck’, or the pound, a ‘quid’ in another jurisdiction.

Even the public was uncertain at the beginning, and for a while toyed with the name ‘doubloonie’. That was in respect that the coin was the value of two loonies, and it had a certain piratical air about it, no doubt.tangaroa 2

My personal preference was ‘Queen with a bear behind.’ Not out of disrespect for Her Majesty, but because it described the coin – the Queen was on the face, and there was a wandering bear on the obverse. I mean, if the Queen can handle the Cook Islands currency with her head on the front, and the hugely phallic sea-god ‘Tangaroa’ with his big schlong hanging down on the back, she can take anything.

Eventually ‘toonie’ prevailed, and now we are stuck with them, even though I retain my displeasure with the concept. Our quest now should be to keep the bastards from tampering with the five-dollar bill, which they have also threatened to do away with. I’m sorry, but my upper thigh is already bruised from lugging loonies and toonies around.

Seems that all the ‘oops’ moments in our lives have added together and have come back to haunt

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A group of pleasant looking ladies is dancing around and having fun, but the implication of a certain ad is that they just might be having wee (used advisedly) accidents in their undies. That is because, we are told, that “pee happens” and you just might need a little padding in your knickers to avoid embarrassment.

Now, I had heretofore thought that potty-training many years earlier took care of such a problem. But, as I have been duly informed, such life-events as childbirth, not to mention the aging process evoke change in earlier pee-pee fastidiousness.

This was a point I made earlier in a Facebook posting in which I noted a huge amount of advertising on TV and in magazines to incontinence and other issues indicates that not only is the boomer generation getting older (duh!) but that it still controls the marketplace in terms of target purchasers of various items that relate to having put on a few miles.

However, as a friend aptly observed, younger people are connected electronically for the most part, not by TV and mags. Fair enough. But obviously there are still enough of us out there that the corporate world is shelling out for situations in which, for example, Junior is given the keys to Dad’s beautifully restored Mustang with the message “it’s time”. Well, what it is really time for is for Dad and Mom to get laid, since Dad has taken his Cialis or whatever that is dealing with erectile dysfunction, another plague for the increasingly infirm (used advisedly yet again). No, folks, we’re not longer talking about Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver, Mom and Dad ‘do it’ and obviously like it. Different times. I still don’t like to think about my parents having sex and they’ve been dead for years.grandpa

A lot of time and space devoted to COPD in ads with wonderfully healthy looking grey-haired folk and scarcely a wheezer in the lot. But, I guess those of you who grew of age in the Mad Men era and regularly knocked off three packs a day are now paying the price for your sins. The smoking thing is never stated, but we know what the ads are really about.

Crestor and other cholesterol control substances are big market items. Your Kentucky Fried Chicken binges have come home to roost so take this stuff or you’re gonna die. Add them to your blood-pressure meds and your blood thinners, also hugely advertised.

Got a touch of the rheumatiz? Well lots of products to deal with that.

And finally, if the missus or mister have walked out, there are even dating sites for the more venerable.

I am going to start to get uneasy when funeral home advertising begins to proliferate.

Welcome to your Golden Years, dears.

Slip-slidin’t away, and how I fawed down and went boom

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I thought briefly it would add drama to the tale if I told people the bandaging on the bridge of my nose was there because Wendy had decked me.

But that would be patently untrue and immensely unfair to her since her level of care following my conflict with gravity yesterday could not be excelled..

Here’s what really happened – I fawed down and went boom, pure and simple. I was in a passageway on my way to the kitchen with a bag of flour – I was making bread – and somehow got tangled with something or other – like a throw-rug, and down I went. I don’t mean a stumble to my knees. I toppled is what I did, from completely upright to a face-plant on the floor. First thought was, as I ran my hand under my nose and left it red with blood, was ‘fuck, I’ve gone and broken my nose’. Blessedly I hadn’t. But what shocked me was that it was so unexpected and it happened so quickly and I realized in those microseconds how easily a body could be accidentally killed.

It was humbling. Not to mention a bit undignified.

It actually shook me to my fundament and I momentarily went into shock. The color drained from my face completely, Wendy said and I was cold and sweaty at the same time and Wendy, bless her, was worried that I’d had a stroke and that had been what prompted my fall. I hadn’t. I merely tripped on something and within mere minutes things had returned to normal with me, leaving me with the thought – I’m only half way through getting my bread mixed up so I want to finish it.boom

Wendy, in no uncertain terms (and she’s very proficient when she is in ‘no uncertain terms’ mode) let it be known that the bread could wait. We were going to emergency to get me checked out. I didn’t argue. Fortunately the hospital is mere blocks away so it wasn’t to much of a challenge to get there, and I admit I was still feeling pretty shaky.

We got there and there didn’t seem to be too many people ahead of me. I got triaged and told the admitting nurse my tail. I knew there nurse so I thought (vainly, it turned out) that this would bump mine to the head of the roster. Silly me. So we sat and we waited and looked at the people and I thought, it is sheer madness to go to a hospital emergency ward on a Sunday afternoon – it became painfully obvious.

And we sat, and we sat, and I developed airplane seat bum in which I shift from cheek-to-cheek to try to find some comfort, and this was worse than a plane ride because in this case I wasn’t going anywhere exciting.

If I’d been a football fan – but I’m not – I would have been diverted by the fact they were running the game between the Seahawks and Green Bay and that would have made the time pass agreeably. The guy sitting across from me, and obviously a fan, was having a wonderful time and was conversing regularly with the screen.

Otherwise it was people coughing and hacking and leaving me to think this was a deucedly unhealthy place to be. I tried to divert myself from impatience by watching a pleasant seeming young mom interacting with her hyper (but not unpleasant) little girl. I pondered whether or not I should have felt guilty about glancing down her bodice top – her left breast was tattooed (sorry, but I’m observant) – and I decided that whatever it took to pass the time agreeably would be acceptable in the eyes of God.

Eventually I grew exasperated and told Wendy there didn’t seem to be much wrong with so we should go home. This was 2 1/2 hours into the exercise of sitting. To prove to her I was fully functional I was able to tell her exactly where I was in my bread recipe. She finally agreed. I went to my nurse friend and she gave me some of those little butterfly tape things so I could look like a banged-up hockey player, as her perusal of the bridge of my nose indicated I didn’t need stitches – the tape should do the trick.

So that was the damage. When I did my face-plant I was wearing glasses and drove the nose-piece into the bridge of my nose. The poor glasses didn’t survive the impact. I’m still wearing that tape. I think it looks kind of cool.

It distressed me to have my oldest Canadian friend sound like ‘he come from a land down under’

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In December of 2006 I had a chance to meet up for lunch in Victoria with my friend John. It was John, his lovely wife Joy and my lovely wife Wendy. It was so nice to finally be breaking bread together.

What made it especially pleasant was that I hadn’t seen John since the late 1980s. For it as at that time he and Joy decamped for Australia. Joy was already from there and had been teaching school in Canada for a number of years when she and John met. John was actually born Down Under but came to Canada when he was six or seven. So, when I knew him he was a regular old Canadian.

I’ve known John since he and I were about 12 and we were just a couple of Canadian teenagers in the years that followed; you know, running after girls we fancied, buying junky old cars that should never have been on the road what with terrible brakes and dodgy steering, but they were and we survived. I recall once that we junior drivers were so broke that we had one serviceable battery that we shared amongst three different cars owned by three different young louts. Oh, and we used to also get illicitly drunk in the days when drinking age was 21, and we also used to get ‘not laid’ in the era of ‘nice girls.’

Anyway, good times with my longest duration male friendship. But, when we linked up, something had changed. Not our friendship. It’s one of those kinds of friendship in which you pick up conversation almost as if you had left off the week previously. What had changed though was John’s talk. He had an Aussie accent. Not a profound one, but certainly a noticeable one to my Canadian ear. I pointed it out to him, but he denied it immediately. But, I know he denied it because we don’t really ‘hear’ ourselves when we speak. I recall how when I lived in England in 1980 and ’81, for just a year that accents grew meaningless to me. I’d be watching TV and find that past a certain point the commentators no longer seemed to have English accents. My ear had become inured to dialect differences. Then when I got home to Canada people mentioned to me how I had acquired a bit of a UK accent. I denied this was so, but I confess I have a kind of sluttish ear when it comes to opening myself up to the speech patterns of those around me.

Give me a week in Ireland and I end up with a patter that sounds a bit like I was raised in Killarney, bedad. Living as I did in Norfolk, England, a flat-bottomed enclave that has the most difficult dialect to master – known as Broad Norfolk – I found I was at a loss to understand what was being said when first I heard it. Yet by the end of my stay it sounded as normal as the utterances of my next-door neighbor here in Canada.

Actually John’s accent was a bit disconcerting to me because he no longer sounded like the guy I grew up with, but I also know that if I were to spend a bit of time down there I’d no longer notice and would probably end up sounding a bit like the guy with the fake ‘Oz’ accent who advertises Outback Steak House.