Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In Search of Aunt Thelma

Research has always been a hobby of mine. Over the years I have carried out research for historical as well as genealogical purposes. About eight years ago, I rewrote the history of a church I was attending after I had discovered that they had been misspelling their church name incorrectly for close to one hundred years. To add insult to injury, I informed them that they celebrated their one hundredth anniversary in 1983… 22 years too early! I ended up rewriting their history for them. They ended up celebrating their one hundredth once more in 2005.

Over the past 15 years, I have carried out genealogical research on family trees on both sides of my family. During this time, I have come upon many interesting facts and stories which no one alive claimed to have known.

“No, John and Charlotte were not married when they immigrated to Canada from England… She was really his housekeeper.”

…That sort of thing! We discovered photo albums dating back close to one hundred years, parchment wills dating back to the early 1700s and a family Bible dating back to multiple generations. I discovered relatives living in parts of the world where none of the family had ever been. I found locations of where family members were buried. I could go on but I will save that for later posts throughout the year.

This year, I have a new task at hand... I am attempting to find the whereabouts of my father’s sister who he lost contact with over 60 years ago. I do not know if she ever got married, I know not of her surname if she was married, I don’t even know what country she lives in. I also don’t even know if she is still alive. Nobody has seen nor heard from her in all this time. Talking to relatives is an exercise in futility since most of them are deceased.

My father is 82 and, as it often is with people approaching the end of their lives, they want to find lost loved ones in order to be with them one last time. Every day, my father prays for her discovery. Ever day he thinks of her. Every day he blames himself for losing contact with her.

So, this is my goal for 2007 – to locate my Aunt Thelma. I am not sure if I can pull off this task but I am sure going to try. Wish me luck!

One more thing… regarding Sweetie… She is still sick but she has managed to keep down the steamed rice we gave her for supper. So far so good!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Our Dog Sweetie

We have a dog named Sweetie! When we first got her, her name was Saki. We weren't sure as to whether or not she was named after a Japanese rice wine (sake) or a Kawasaki motorcycle but either way, her name just had to change as nobody liked it. We decided to give it a week or so before we decided what to name her. During that time, since we had no name for her, we referred to her as "Sweetie." We never did find another name for her since we realized that the name Sweetie suited her to a "T".

Yesterday, on the way out the door, I fed Sweetie. As usual, she was extremely grateful for her bowl of food despite it being the same brand of food that she has been getting for the past number of months. An hour later we arrived home and, as expected, she met us at the door with her tail wagging away. As I walked into the hallway, I noticed that she had vomited her food on the living room carpet. The next morning, I awoke only to find the same thing at another location on the main floor. Our dog was sick.

Sweetie has always been a healthy dog and it was very unusual for her to throw up or not feel hungry. She is a laid back dog, mind you but never lethargic… today she was lethargic. We are not sure as to what is wrong with her but you never know what the problem may be.

Before Sweetie, we used to have a Blue Heeler and before that a Husky. Neither of these dogs seemed to fit in. The blue Heeler was way too high strung and the Husky was too much of an outdoors dog for our lifestyle at that time in our lives to give it the attention that it needed. We found Sweetie through an ad in the local newspaper and once we met her, we knew she was the one for us! The minute we got her home, she lay down in the living room and fell asleep… That was our kind of dog!

She has been with us for over eleven years and, for a long time now, we have not seen her as a family pet but instead a family member. We have a lot of great memories with her. My son was five and my daughter eight at the time we took her into our home. She has never displayed an aggressive manner to anyone…ever. She is loved by all and the worst she could do to you is to lick you to death.

But today she is sick. We are not too concerned about her condition but I cannot help but wonder, at her age of 13 years old, what this may signify. Now, maybe I am thinking too much but with an old dog, you never know. All I know is that all of us in the family would be devastated should something ever happens to our Sweetie…Besides, who else would chase the grey squirrels out of our yard! She has been trying in vain to carry out this responsibility for over ten years, but as of now, she has yet to become successful in evicting a single squirrel! We love her anyways!

We know that dogs don't last a life time and so it is important that you show them the love you feel for them before it is too late. I have read that the death of a family pet is a good way for children to experience the death of a loved one. Well... I would rather have my dog Sweetie last a lifetime rather than provide that experience for my children... I am sure that my kids feel the same way!

Sweetie... Our wish is for you to last forever! Take care of yourself and get well!

Monday, January 29, 2007

My New/Used iMac G4

For about eight years, I owned and operated an, “on the side” computer repair business during the evenings and weekends while teaching high school during the day. What prompted me to go this route was that, since I was fixing my friends’ computers for free, I might as well turn my services into a business.

When I first started out, I thought I knew everything there was to know about computers but as time went on, I soon realized that there were a billion things that I had yet to learn which only went to show that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.

About a couple of years ago, I migrated out of the business after eight years when I decided to "close up shop" due to increased competition with other computer technicians in the service industry as well as my increasingly busy schedule. I am now back to just servicing friends' computers once more.

Now, for the most part, you can give me any computer and I should be able to diagnose and fix whatever problem it has … as long as it is a PC. Give me an iMac and I am at a total loss at what to do. Fortunately, no one has ever called me to fix a Mac computer and if they did, I would have to turn them down as I have absolutely no knowledge regarding them. I haven’t even used one before! I have had no reason to do so… until now.

About a month ago, a friend of mine gave me a used iMac G4 computer that her boss had no longer any use for. I was ecstatic. I wanted to get my hands on one for a long time but could never afford one. The only problem was that it did not work.

“Hmmmm… I am a computer tech guy… I should be able to fix it.”

Three weeks later, I am still unable to fix it. I am sure if the same problem was on a PC it would be fixed by now but being with a Mac, it is like trying to fix a computer from another planet... not because of it being a Mac but because I am a Mac "newbie." It ceases to amaze me how Geordi LaForge of the Enterprise (all trekkies should know what I am talking about!) is able to fix anything on an alien spacecraft and yet I am unable to fix a computer from the planet Apple!

Anyways, my goal is to get this computer up and running by the end of February. I will let you know how it ends up regardless of whether I have egg on my face or not. Maybe, If I am lucky, I shall post my February 28th post on my blog via my new used iMac G4! Wish me luck!

Now for a little humour… watch these two videos!





Saturday, January 27, 2007

Well...It Finally Came!

The snow, that is...

By this time of year, we should have had snow for at least six to eight weeks. Now I know that the winters are getting warmer and warmer but still we should have had a lot more snow before now. Up until now we have had rain, warm temperatures, rain, one million of an inch of snow... did I mention rain? Well, you get the idea.

Over the past few days, we have received some flurries but nothing much to speak of. This morning we had to scrape a few inches of snow off our vehicles. This afternoon after work we had to scrape and clear a lot more snow off the cars. By 1pm the roads were getting pretty slick and, not surprisingly, accidents were abounding. By 4:30pm we were in full blown winter ... and thus this picture.

Back when I was a kid I remember when we would look out our windows and go berserk at the first snow flake hitting the ground. It was like our favourite soccer team… errr… football team scored in the World Cup. We would cheer, jump up and down and beg mom to dress us up in our boots, coats, hats and mitts and let us out. By the time we got out, there were probably about 15 flakes on the ground but we didn’t care… snow had arrived and that’s all that mattered.

Now that I am an adult ("Har! Har! Hee! Hee!"... That would be the sounds I would hear if any of my friends or family were reading over my shoulder right now!)… Anyways, where was I? Oh yes … Now that I am an adult we look out our windows and go berserk at the first snow flake hitting the ground but not for the same reasons. It was like our favourite football team just got scored against… Arrrrrrrgh!!!! We would groan, slam our foot through the floorboards, hold our heads in distress and wish that we got our snow tires on earlier in the season. By the time we got our lazy butts out the door, there would be five bazillion snow flakes on the ground as we try to plough our cars down the road with our tires spinning madly.

So… winter is here and, of course Josie just has to inform me that spring has arrived on the west coast of Canada… Well, Josie… I am not on the west coast now am I!?! Then I remember that Josie has already had her winter so I suppose she deserves her better weather.

So, despite the impression I have given you about my opinion of snow, I quite enjoyed it while strolling through the park today with camera in hand… So, when you hear me go berserk about the snow, just ignore me because deep down inside, I am still a kid at heart and welcome the snow… as long as I am NOT driving in it!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gilligan's Island...A Wholesome Show

Back in the early sixties, there was a daily half hour show called Gilligan's Island. The story line was plain and simple... Seven men and women are stranded on an uncharted island following a torrential storm. Now how complicated a storyline is that! The show only lasted for three seasons but during that time, it pushed out 98 episodes. The story lines were basic and yet very entertaining.

Though there were a couple of very pretty ladies in the show, sex was not a main focus. Though there was some roughhousing, there was never any violence. Also, there was never any vulgarity.



Looking back at TV shows back then, they appeared to be so much more wholesome than shows are today. So many shows today are entrenched with themes of sex and violence that we sometimes shudder while watching them. Unfortunately however, some of our children's cartoons are worse than most adult comedy shows. Fortunately, despite questionable shows being on the uprise, there are still various shows which are considered family entertainment and are very wholesome.

So, the next time you are with children or even alone for that matter and want to watch a television show, check the TV listings and consider watching something without violence or sex for a change. Now, if you have a difficult time locating this type of program, relax… You are in the same boat as the rest of us.

How unfortunate!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

“Not One Single Case of Throat Irritation Due to Smoking Camels!”

Over the past few weeks I have posted a couple of vintage ads dealing with the way society views the female gender. Today’s vintage ad deals with something a little different – society’s view of smoking. Now before I go any further, it is not my intention to offend any of you who smoke nor is it my intention to pass any judgement upon you. We all know the medical dangers of smoking but whether or not you smoke is entirely up to you and I respect that.

I am not sure about other places around the world but here in Ontario and maybe even in all of Canada, it is illegal for advertisers to place ads in magazines and commercials on television which promotes smoking. They even go a step further in banning cigarette companies from sponsoring athletic teams and special events. The government is adamant to encourage young people to shy away from smoking and to drop the cost of healthcare by eliminating smoking all together.

I came across this vintage ad and couldn’t help but notice how we have changed from the ways things once were in our opinion of cigarettes. There were two phrases that caught my attention while perusing the ad. The first one was found at the bottom of the ad.

“Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels!”

Well, maybe not while smoking them but, as we now know that not only does smoking irritate the throat, it also is capable of creating cancer of the throat plus many other diseases.

The other phrase that caught my attention was a quote in the yellow box from American actress Joan Crawford.

“I wanted a cigarette with rich flavour that agreed with my throat. Camels have a wonderful flavour and the mildness that I demand!”

I think it safe to say that we would be hard pressed to find anyone that would honestly agree that cigarettes agree with anybody’s throat.

We have become a smarter society when it comes to medical knowledge regarding smoking. Youth are constantly targeted by health awareness organizations regarding this habit… More and more companies are investing billions of dollars into nicotine substitutes such as nicotine patches and gum. The law is becoming stiffer and stiffer regarding under age smoking. It is also illegal in Ontario, Canada for an adult to purchase cigarettes for a minor.

So, the ad is not only vintage, the statements are false and outdated as well… a very good example of how society’s attitudes towards a belief and way of life have changed. It is my hope that one day, for the health of a nation, smoking will be eradicated.

Incidentally, though Joan Crawford died of a heart attack, she was previously diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer which one of the main causes is due to smoking.

Something to think about!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Six Things That Make Me Weird!

Well I take it that Lone Grey Squirrel thinks I’m weird! Now, what did I do to him to make him think that way? Hmmm….

Anyways, I get on my blog this morning to read and respond to the comments I received over the past 24 hours. I enjoy this task as it gives me an opportunity to interact with people who take the time to visit me (thank you!). Anyways… So I get onto my blog and the first person’s comments I read is LGS only to find out he thinks I am weird!

All kidding aside… I spend the next eight hours trying to figure out six reasons that make me weird. After the eighth hour out of sheer frustration, I ask my friend for help and when I do, she has absolutely no problem whatsoever in coming up with six things. I have to admit, however, that she was probably right on each of her six suggestions! Actually it was five that she came up with as the first one, she said that she did not know about… “No kidding!”, I responded… “It’s not like I would tell just anybody!”

So here it goes!

I love to dance to music when nobody else is around. Now I am not talking about just a little bit of boogie… I am talking about down and out Michael Jackson style…without the crotch grabbing of course. I crank up the tunes and let it rip. Now when I go to a dance, I am much more conservative in my moves to the point that I feel like I am one heck of a lousy dancer but when the rest of the family is away… I play!

I love Marmite. (For info click on the word "Maramite")In the past twenty or more years, I have kept a constant supply of Marmite in my house. I just love the stuff…especially on fresh bread. Mmmmmm Good! Now please don’t confuse me with Love Marmite Fan Club (For info, click on the fan club name) because I would certainly not be a member to any club that would subscribe to the following:

“Eat Marmite? You don't just want to eat it, you want to bathe in it, wallow in it like a hippo in mud, slather yourself from head to toe and wrap yourself in bread and butter... And you know what? That's fine. Just fine.”

Forget the club! I just want to eat the stuff!

I refuse to blow my nose within earshot of others. Man, I have this buddy of mine who would blow his nose within 6 inches of me if I let him! Now that is just downright rude! I, on the other hand, would fly to the Ozarks if I could to perform this duty just so that nobody would hear the… anyways, you get the idea!

I was told by my friend that I eat way too fast. She told me that she swears that I inhale my food. “Yes,” she had the audacity to say that inhale it! She proved it to me by showing me how much food she had left by the time I finished mine. My indigestion alone proved her right. I am trying to slow down but alas!

I wear my sunglasses at night. Yes, it sounds like I come right out of a song sung by Corey Hart. As a matter of fact, I wear them at all times of the day and in all types of weather. “Why do you?” My friend asks me. “How the heck am I supposed to know why?” I respond. She just shakes her head, smiles and walks away.

The last thing I do that makes me weird is that I love to go mountain biking in the teaming rain…not just a drizzle but an all out rain storm. I don’t know what it is but I always have gone out harder and faster when the rain is pouring off my face. Now please keep in mind that I do not go out when it is lightening but when I am already out and a lightening storm approaches, I simply hide under the largest tree I can find for safety.

Anyways, there you have it! You judge for yourself if I am weird or not. Now if you say that I am NOT weird, you are probably lying through your teeth. If you say I AM weird, you will absolutely crush me…So what are you gong to do? Lie to me or hurt me? “Abstain from commenting” you say? Good answer!

By the way... about hiding under a tree during a lightening storm ... Do you really think I am that dumb?!? Please don't answer!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Advantage of Walking

It’s amazing how things can look from a different perspective! Just the other week, I submitted a post about a creek that I discovered in my very own neighbourhood while out on a photographic excursion during an ice storm. While on another photographic excursion, I came across another scene that I had not noticed before… It was this railway track. Now, I knew it was here and I knew where it was going but I had no idea how beautiful it looked from this angle.

I took this photograph from a bridge…a bridge I had travelled across by car thousands of times before but had never walked across in order to view what lay on the other side. The road that you see run directly across the tracks is a road that I have also driven across thousands of times before but never took the time to look left or right for any length of time to see where the tracks came from or went to. There are also a number of tunnels that go under the track that I have driven under to get from Point “A” to Point “B” on many occasions and so, I would never have been able to see the tracks from that vantage point. I had often stood on the train station platform that you can barely see at the end of the tracks and expectantly looked down for an incoming train but never focused on the track’s surroundings. The point being is this, I knew the track well, I have seen many a train travel down it but I had never really observed one from this bridge where this photograph was taken from.

This photograph was taken while I was photographing some iced over nature. I had been out in the frigid weather for some while and due to numb fingers, I decided to call it day and head back to my car. On the way across the bridge, I couldn’t help but notice this train slowly moving away from me down the track. Not really wanting to but figuring that it was a good photo opportunity, I crouched down and snapped a few shots and made my way back to the car without giving it a second thought… until I saw the photo on my computer screen.

I was in awe. I was in awe of how beautiful that part of my town looked. I had lived in that area for over ten years but yet had never taken notice of how the tracks split a tree line in such a manner.

I suppose that If I have been learning any lessons from my photography ventures it is that sometimes you miss the beauty of nature when you spend more time travelling via car versus foot. Let me encourage you to take the time to walk around in your city and observe for yourself what sits just out of sight of the roadway and maybe then you can experience what I have experienced… seeing new and beautiful things in your community that you have never seen before or never would have had you not taken that walk down the road.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Owl and the Pussycat

Back about 30+ years ago, while in elementary school, I was in a play. As most of you know, in order to be in a play, you must be able to memorize some lines (unless you are playing the part of a tree!) I don’t really remember the name of the play or even what part I played in but I do remember what I had to learn when I was part of the group that had to recite a poem. This was not my first play that I was in. Durung the year before, I was in a play titled “Sneaky Fitch.” In that play I had more lines than anybody else as I was the narrator. Out of all the lines that I learned, I remember only one that I had to sing…

“Sneaky Fitch, Sneaky Fitch was a low down yellow son of a …” and then someone would yell out “Prairie dog!”

Now this poem that the group of us had to recite never really made sense to me but never-the-less we had to memorize it and we did. Now what I want to know is, out of all the lines that I ever learned, out of all the poems that I ever recited and out of all the Bible verses that I ever memorized, why was it that the only thing I am unable to get out of my head is that confounded poem we had to recite!

It is not uncommon for my friends and family to roll their eyes and walk out of the room as I break into the poem from way back when… “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear (1812 – 1888).

I
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

II
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.


So, you can thank your lucky stars that you don't have to hear me recite this poem time and time again. I wish that I could just erase it out of my memory but I can't. I have even tried to a self help group such as Owl and Pussycat Anonymous (OPA) to recover and help forget (don't believe everything I say!Especially the OPA stuff!) but I cannot forget. So, I have finally decided that the only rational thing to do is to accept myself for the way I am and carry this poem with me to the grave!

Wish me luck!

(artwork by Chet Phillips, 2005)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Herman

Newspaper comic strips never really attracted my attention. Now, if you handed me a D.C. comic about Batman or Superman; that was a different story… Those were real comics… until, when in the mid seventies, I came across a syndicated comic by some guy by the name of Jim Unger called Herman. Now here was a real newspaper comic! To this day, I still get a laugh out of reading his hundreds of single frame comics. I don’t really know what it is but his humour regarding life just seems to get me “right here.” Now I will not bore you with any more details of the author or about why I enjoy his work so much … I will just present to you some of my favourites. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Newly Acquired Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game

If you are about to read this post, may I kindly suggest that you read my post titled My Jean Beliveau Table Hockey Game dated Monday, December 18, 2006 first as it will help you better understand what I have posted below.

************

Well, guess what! I found one! I found myself a vintage Jean Beliveau Table Hockey game!

About a week ago, as I do on a weekly basis, I searched eBay to see if I could track down a vintage Jean Beliveau Table Hockey game. To my surprise, one showed up on the auction block. Due to past weekly lack of success, I really didn’t expect to see one and the only reason I was carrying out the search was basically merely out of habit. To my surprise, one showed up. I had to look twice to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming or hallucinating but sure enough, there it was…right under my nose … well, almost! I had yet to own it since the auction didn’t end for another four days.

For the next few days, all I could think of was gaining possession of this “toy” (“yes,” I am 46 years old!) and I was willing to pay almost anything for it... Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea. I was going to make sure that the same thing didn't happen as the last time where I forgot to bid for it. This time I was hell bent to not be left on the sideline of losers!

Anyways… let’s move forward. The day had come and I set my cell phone alarm for the time of the auction. I was prepared...I was most definitely prepared! The time wound down to five minutes… four minutes… three miutes…two… one… At this point, I set my stopwatch for the last sixty seconds and when it got down to fifteen seconds my finger was on my mouse ready to submit my bid with a few seconds to go. 10 seconds… 9 seconds…8 seconds. At 7 seconds, I clicked in my bid and won by $1.00. Had I bid less than what I had bid, I would have lost and I would have been totally upset… but that was not to be the case today. I was no longer a sideline loser… I was a champion!

Anyways…enough of the play-by-play. Needless to say, I am in a good mood today as my newly coveted Jean Beliveau Hockey game arrived at my door.

Now, talking about sideline losers, I am not going to report to you about my other auctions other than I was not too happy about them but the satisfaction of my Jean Beliveau Table Hockey game win made all the other auctions I lost pale in comparison!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Please Stop Laughing at Me...

It is very seldom that I actually read an autobiography and when I do, it has to be on someone who I actually respect.

One day, as I was looking for a book to read, I came across this book titled “Please Stop Laughing at Me… One Woman’s Inspirational Story.” After flipping through the introduction, I became instantly interested in it as it had to do with bullying. Now, as far as I can recall, I have never been bullied before but I am very sensitive when I see bullying occur. Due to the nature of my profession, a high school teacher in a boys custody facility, I am constantly witnessing this type of behaviour and it incenses me… and so my interest in this autobiography.

The autobiography starts off when Jodee was in fifth grade and travels through to her high school graduation. In it, she talks about the countless times that she was teased, shunned and physically assaulted by her classmates because she was different. To combat her bullying, her parents transferred her to religious and private schools hoping to combat the problem but the problem persisted. Blanco was often subjected to medication, psychiatric diagnosis, counselling and various medication. Her family and others around her concluded that her bullying was brought upon by her and she fumes that her tormentors were never held accountable for their actions. It wasn’t until after graduating from high school did her torments disappear and it wasn’t until then that her life became optimistic.

The autobiography goes on to show how Jodee Blanco goes on to triumph over all adversary and to become a seasoned publishing executive who has worked with best selling authors, Academy Award-winning actors, Emmy Award-winning producers, and Hall of Fame professional athletes.

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a parent of young children and teenagers or who are involved in working with children. To me, it is a “must read!”

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vienna Teng

My daughter has never really latched on to what some would call “mainstream vocal artists.” Time and time again, she has purchased CDs of musicians who a lot of us have never even heard of. Modest Mouse, Lifehouse and Björk are just a few of her favourite selections. Through her influence, I have become attached to certain musicians that had it nor been for her, I would have never considered.

A few years ago, she started listening to an artist by the name of Vienna Teng, a San Fransisco based Taiwanese-American pianist and singer-songwriter. After purchasing Vienna Teng’s first CD, Waking Hour (2002) for my daughter, I soon became caught up in what I would describe as beautiful music. It didn’t take long before I bought her second CD, Warm Strangers (2004) and just in the past year pre-ordered her third CD, Dreaming Through The Noise (2006) months before its release date. One day, while listening to her music I decided that if one could fall in love simply by listening to a person’s music, I might have fallen madly in love with her years ago!

I have just been looking for a concert of Vienna Teng’s to take my daughter to and I think I have finally found one. It’s not a local concert and will take about 4 hours to drive to but I think it will be just “up our ally.” It will also give me the opportunity to spend some much needed time with my daughter.

So, without much further ado … Listen to her and please tell me what you think.



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Ice Storm

Lately, I have been taking my camera with me wherever I go…You never know when an opportunity arises to take that “priceless” photo. With me, I never take just one photo. The way I figure it, if I take ten and 20 percent of them turned out nice then I would have at least 2 shots that I would be satisfied with.

After leaving work, I decided to take the long way home with the intention of admiring the breathtaking beauty that has visited our city. Every tree, every bush and every blade of grass has been covered with a fine layer of ice. As I was driving around, I came across an entire field of ice covered trees placed right in the middle of the bright sunshine. I wish that my photographs could do it justice but I don't think that any photograph could effectively convey the breathtaking scenes throughout our city. As I stood outside my car, planning the perfect shot, I could literally hear the ice crackling as the boughs swayed in the frigid breeze. This particular tree bent under the weight of the ice. I wouldn't be surprised if its branches split and crashed before the temperature rises above freezing!

The weatherman figures that it will be days before the sheaths of ices covering each and every branch will melt away. I think that he is correct as the temperature dropped well below freezing by mid evening.

By the time I had taken my twenty or thirty photographs, my ears, fingers and toes were numb... Thank goodness for car heaters! I headed around town for a while longer until my other responsibilities outweighed my need for that perfect shot. Tonight would be different! It was my intention to head out after dark and catch those ideal night photos. I could only imagine what the tree lined streets would look like with the street light reflecting off the ice.

Once supper was over and done with, I headed out into the night freeze with camera and tripod in hand and drove around looking for that perfect tree with that perfect ice. It didn't take me too long. As I walked across the street from my car, I quickly realized that I had left my hat at home... My ears were going to have to pay the price! After taking another fifteen or more shots (thank God for digital!), I headed back to my car and thawed out while figuring out where to go next.


By the end of the evening, I had accumulated quite a few photographs and headed back to the warm confines of my home. It certainly was frigid and yet it was worth it! I have no doubt that one day down the road, while looking at my photographs, I will smile and be glad that I braved the sub zero temperatures in order for my creative juices to flow.

I hope that, by looking at my photographs, you will be able to appreciate the beauty of our current weather. If you like, click on the photos to get a better appreciation of the ice.

I have no doubt that I will be out again tomorrow to catch me some more of that winter beauty!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Surprise in my Neighbourhood

Today we had an ice storm! I woke up this morning to get ready for a regular teaching day but no sooner did I get up when I found out that school was cancelled because of the weather. Since I was already up and ready to go but had no place to go, I decided to go for a walk with my camera to capture the beauty of the ice. What I came across during my walk was a complete surprise to me!

About a five minute walk from my house, I came across a stream that I had never noticed before down the side of a gully. Now I have lived in this area for over nine years and yet there were still things about my neighbourhood that I had yet to learn. I swear that I drive past this point 4 or 5 times a day and yet, here I was oblivious to this piece of nature.

One thing I should say is that I was aware of the woodlot in this area but I had never had reason to go into it. Most of my hiking is done outside of a fifteen kilometre radius of my house…I had no idea there was this creek so close to home.

For the rest of the day, ice covered every surface of the city. Every tree and every blade of grass was covered with a thin coat of ice. Every road and sidewalk was treacherous.

Later on in the day it took me one hour to get into my car as well as scrape the ice off the windows. I was planning on Bar-B-Quing but as you can see, I was in no mood to clean off the Bar-B-Que after I had just finished with the car. Enough said!

Well, I think that winter has finally come to our neck of the woods! Hopefully it won’t last long… I will be glad when spring arrives. That’s all I have to say!

Stay warm!

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Rust Bucket


According to the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com), the term "rust bucket" is defined as “an ancient car or ship, covered in rust.”

Now this car in the picture is most definitely a “rust bucket” if I have ever seen one! If you want to take a look at a similar car in its hey-day, click on the rust bucket and check it out. About three or four times a week I drive by this particular rust bucket and every time I have driven by it, I have wondered what kind of car it was. I had always figured that it was a PT Cruiser but I was not sure. I also wondered as to what type of life it had “lived.” It could have very well rolled down Colborne Street during the parade that celebrated the end of World War 2. It could have been around when the Queen of England visited my home town. It could even have been decked with Canadian maple leaf flags during Canada’s 100th year celebration in 1967. Either way, it was still here and in pretty much one piece. I have no doubt that it’s metal surface is a heck of a lot thicker than today’s automobiles and I know that it probably lasted years beyond what an average car would last today but I also wondered what it went through before it was deposited onto this vacant car lot. Well, today was going to be the day I ventured out of my car to investigate my queries about this car!

I rolled off the Garden Ave Bridge, across the median and onto a muddy driveway close to the vehicle. Getting out of the car, I ventured close to the vehicle and snapped a series of photographs. I wanted to look inside the car but I was unable to do so due to the “No Trespassing” sign that hung by a solid metal chain hanging across the gateway effectively barring me from getting closer. Glancing around as people drove by, I couldn’t help but notice their stares as I ventured near… I didn’t care what they thought…I just wanted my photographs!

Finishing off my task and getting back into my car, I drove off satisfied that I had begun my investigation of the abandoned car.

When I got home, I spent a fair amount of time searching the Internet until I finally identified the model of the car and the approximate year it was manufactured. It was a 1940s Hillman probably built in England. This car was almost 70 years old and it was still sitting on its tires! Impressive!

If I had the money, I would have considered picking up this relic and restoring it. I don’t know everything there is to know about cars, but, if given the chance, time and opportunity, I would relish such an adventure. One day, I am going to find myself a car to do just that. By the time I arrive at that time in my life, I have no doubt that this car will have disappeared off the lot but I am sure that there will be others to take its place. This is just a dream I have but I am sure that one day it will become a reality!

Dreams are made to be lived!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wanted...Women!

I just want to thank all of you for your requested comments regarding the Canadian Government's ad from 1900. I learned a lot from reading each and every one of them. I would encourage each and every one of you who read the blog to check out what my blogger friends had to say. We can all learn from each other and become wiser for it! I know I have!


Click on graphic for easier reading



Back in 1900, the Canadian government tried to encourage men to go out west (from the Atlantic coast to about the middle of Canada) to build the railway and cultivate the soil. The only problem was that, as a result, there were not enough women for the men. Well, the Canadian Government decided to advertise that fact. Above, is an example of the tactics that the government tried to get the women to follow.

I am going to leave it at that but what I would like is to find out what you think about the government’s tactics over one hundred years ago.

So…What do you think?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My Old Stomping Ground

Recently I came across a web site where you could get a satellite photo of just about anywhere in the world where large masses of people reside. After a few minutes of searching the world, I popped in the address of where I grew up and volia! As I looked down “from above,” memories of my younger days came streaming into my mind. There were a lot of memories… some good and some not so good … most of it good however. I located nine areas of my neighbourhood … well… a bit more than my neighbourhood where I grew up. Within these nine areas, I could spend a month’s worth of stories blogging to you but I will refrain from doing so (whew! You say right?)

I will, however, spend a few minutes it telling you about at least one memory from each site I labelled.




A. The church I attended… When we first moved into town we joined the local Catholic church. I became an alter boy there. It was the third church in two countries where I served the priest during mass.
B. Elementary School (Grade 5)… I attended this school for one year. I don’t have too many memories of this school other than when a teacher held a boy out the third floor classroom window by his feet! I played a lot of basketball on the basketball court there. Most of my evenings and weekends were spent there "shooting hoops.”
C. My house for ten years. My parents worked hard to provide a home for us. For that, I will always be extremely grateful!
D. Elementary School (Grades 6 to 8)… I’ll never forget that hot and humid summer day when some of the boys killed a skunk at the back of the school. Unfortunately, the wind carried the stench right through the school!
E. Before the shopping plaza and parking lot were there, it was a secluded field with trails and trees. A lot of great memories there! I won’t go into details just in case my parents ever read this blog!
F. High School… Five years of making great friends, some which I still have. They didn’t have the running track back then but none-the-less, I spent a lot of time running in the fields behind the school.
G. McDonalds Hamburger joint… Opened up while I was living in the area. I was the first one to order a milkshake there. I used to eat two large hamburgers, a fry and a drink each time I was there. Nowadays… I am much too old for that!
H. Sports Park… Here, I played a lot of baseball and ice hockey. Just along the bottom edge of the park was a bowling alley… Hung out there every once in awhile.
I. Two large stores… A hardware store and a grocery store. My first bike was stolen from the hardware store. I got my head stuck in a turnstile in the grocery store… right in front of a bazillion people! The maintenance guy had to dismantle the whole thing just to release me. My mother was not impresses and neither was the store manager!

Okay… there you have it! A brief glimpse of my life as a kid. Every once in awhile I drive down in that area and relive a lot of my memories. Our experiences that we survived through in childhood make us who we are today. Sure, there were a lot of heartaches but there was also a lot of laughter as well.

I would encourage you to check out Google Earth and see where you used to live… See what memories you can pull up! I hope that most of them were good!

Cheers!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Agreement Forest

I had about an hour to spare the other day and so I stopped by the agreement forest for a walk that I had been meaning to take for some time now. I had resigned myself to take this walk in the upcoming spring since I gave up all hope for going there before the bitter winter weather but, thanks to greenhouse gas emissions, I was able to take it earlier than expected. I suppose global warming does have its advantages! (Please note my sarcasm!)

It had been a few years since I had been in this particular forest. The last time I was there was when my friend and I took all five of our kids for a winters walk. Returning to this area brought back a lot of memories. The snow ball fight, the running through the trails, the rosy red cheeks, strolling down the boardwalk through the marsh, the sounds of laughter… all great memories! The kids were a lot smaller back then. Now, one of my children is in college, one of my friend's children is soon heading to college and the other three are still in school.

Now that I look back, I don’t think I took my two children out onto the trails and into the forests enough. I regret not doing so because, as a result, I never really exposed them enough in order to love and appreciate the beautiful outdoors like I do. I think that in today’s society, children spend way too much time on computers, video games and other electronic gadgets. Our society is turning out children whose reality extends no further than their LCD computer monitor or plasma television… How unfortunate!

I do believe that, as parents we have to take the responsibility for this. I have no doubt that, had I taken the time to do so, maybe my children would have been more aware of God’s creations. Looking back, I just wish that I did a better job in introducing them to the great outdoors. Unfortunately, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that society has to offer that we let valuable opportunities to walk across God's green earth slip through our fingers.

It may be too late to change the grain of their lifestyles but not too late to at least give it a shot every once in awhile by trying to get them to slow down and spend some quality time outdoors with me so that they can see for themselves what they are missing .

Now that’s a good New Year’s resolution!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Speaking with Forked Tongue

Somebody is speaking with a forked tongue!

I am not totally sure as to where this phrase came from but I think it safe to say that when we hear this phrase, we think of the act of lying. This metaphor could have its origins in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Now, despite the fact that this particular phrase is not found anywhere in the Bible, we do know that it says that Satan, in the form of a serpent lied to Eve. We also know that serpents have forked tongues.

Most of us who have experience with watching early American movies will have heard in these “cowboy and Indian movies” the "American Indians" accusing the "white man" with speaking with forked tongue.

Well anyways, as I was out for a hike the other day in the middle of winter, I came across a snake… “Yes,” a snake in the middle of January! And “no,” I am not speaking with forked tongue! …Now for you who are not familiar with Canadian winters, snakes don’t usually go for a “stroll” down a trail or a garden path in the middle of winter! I don’t ever recall seeing a snake out in the middle of winter before… until today and just so you don’t think that I am lying, I took a photo of it to prove it.

Now, I have always been taught that January is freezing and that snakes are usually off somewhere hibernating. The weatherman tells us that January is supposed to be cold…. Well someone is speaking with forked tongue… and this time it is not the snake.

You want the truth? Well, it’s all because of global warming!

Now I am not going to pretend like a fellow I work with that I am an expert on global warming but I have to say that I can think of no other reason that the weather is so warm during this time of year. I also believe that if we do not take care of our environment soon, we are going to lose our seasons the way we have known them for a millennium and that is not the only thing on our planet that we are going to destroy!

And that “ain’t no lie!”

So, the next time you consider doing something environmentally unfriendly, think of what global warming will do to you, your children and your children's children. Let's all do something to make our planet last a little longer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Lesson Learned

Generally I am a person who likes to keep to himself. “I bother no one and no one bothers me” tends to be my philosophy. I am most certainly not saying that I am a snob or that I see myself as better than anyone else because that is not the case but I suppose that some people would probably see me as “standoffish.” I have to thank a friend of mine who brought this to my attention. Friends have a way of saying things and wisdom would dictate that a wise person pays heed to the opinions of those that are close to them. I have tried to overcome that stigma of being standoffish by responding to strangers with a little more openness and I think that I have had some success in interacting with them.

The other day, while shooting some photographs on a bridge in a small town in Ontario, Canada, a ruffled old man called out to me to ask me what I was doing. Now normally, I would answer in a short curt manner and move on my way. I probably wouldn’t be totally forthright with him and probably would have not told him exactly what I was doing but today I decided to move beyond my level of comfort and actually be somewhat friendly to him.

“I am taking some photographs.” I responded. “Can I take one of you?”

After making sure I was not a newspaper reporter, he allowed me to take a couple of shots. I further told him that I was taking pictures for the Internet and would I be able to use his photograph. He seemed pretty pleased as he gave me his permission.

I have a friend who works in the area where the photo was taken and upon me recounting this story to her as well as describing him to her, she instantly recognized him as an old fellow named Randy. “Randy,” she said, “is a homeless man.” Now judging from the way he was dressed, I could see how he could very well be that. His clothes were mismatched and well worn, his shoes were tattered and his hair unkempt. Judging from the bag he was carrying, it appeared to me that he carried the total sum of his belonging in it. My friend further told me that he was currently staying in this temporary housing shelter but would soon be evicted as he had been there the allowable maximum amount of time.

Homeless people are unfortunately often seen as “lower class” with social skills that would often drive people away from them … and yet he was friendly, he was sociable and he was certainly not standoffish! I stood there for a few short minutes in conversation with Randy and I must say that it was one of the best conversations I had with a stranger in quite a while!

As I bid Randy “goodbye” and returned to my photography, I couldn’t help but look back and watch him make his way across the bridge. It felt good that I made his acquaintance. Randy will probably never remember me and neither will he probably ever know that he taught some “photographer guy” a lesson that day. I learned from him that I can learn lessons from people I don’t know and in places I don’t expect and become a better person for it. I may never see him again but I don’t believe I will ever forget him.

“Thanks Randy! … It was nice to make your acquaintance!”

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"You've Come a Long Way, Baby!"

From what I understand, the term women’s rights typically refer to freedoms inherently possessed by women and girls of all ages. These rights are often ignored, suppressed or even violated through law, custom and religious tradition. It has just been over the past few generations that women have been afforded rights that their female ancestors were denied. It has only been because of women such as Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), Kate Sheppard (1847-1934) and Dora Russell (1894-1986) just to name a few, that women have rights which guarantee them equality among themselves and men.

Over the years, organizations such as world governments, corporations and human rights commisions have had to recalibrate their ways of thinking in order to recognize the worth of women throughout the world. Business marketers and advertising agencies have also been forced to apply new ways of reaching the masses without violating female’s rights. Some tried to compensate their thinking by attempting to reach the female population in order to sell their products but failed miserably.

Virginia Slims Cigarettes came out with a slogan that appeared to celebrate “the woman” as an individual with the saying “You have come a long way baby!” When I look back at read these adds, I cannot help but laugh at the irony. “Yes,” they may have been successfully celebrating new women’s rights and successes but they failed by calling them “baby.” How many women want to be called “Baby?”

“Hey Babe, wuzz happenin’ !”… “Hey Baby, you wanna dance?!”

I think it safe to say that if I called my female friends “Baby,” I would probably be the one crying like a baby after I double over in pain with a kick… you get the idea!

As you will find out over the next few months, I have an interest in vintage magazine ads as well as a being proponent of human rights. What better way to enjoy both areas other than by combining the two together. I just think that many of these ads, though may be seen as appropriate in their day are so very chauvinistic, racist and "behind the times" when you look at them through the eyes of the 21st century. We may laugh at them now because they are so “way out there” but there is nothing funny about treating people in an unequal manner.

So… every once in awhile, I look forward to venturing onto this road of discussion.

“Hasta la vista … Baby!” (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator 2)

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Peanut Man

Last August I visited my grandmother’s grave site at our local cemetery. During this visit, I noticed an elderly gentleman in his seventies walking across the cemetery with a bag of peanuts in his hand. By the strength of his gait, I could see that he was not merely wandering through but instead heading to a specific location. On the way, he would pick up fallen flowers arrangements and respectively place them back on their rightful headstones.

He finally stopped by a headstone that hid in between two cedar bushes. As he paused, he started up a conversation to what appeared to me to be with no one in particular. After a few minutes of observing this, what I incorrectly thought to be, “bizarre behaviour,” I finally realized that he was actually speaking to whoever was buried beneath this particular headstone. I didn’t have any idea as to who he was visiting but I was sure that whoever it was he must have been very close to.

Shortly after this brief conversation, he walked over to an old oak tree and proceeded to throw peanuts to the local grey squirrels. After this kind gesture, he turned around and headed back to his car. I got the feeling that feeding the squirrels was something that the person he was visiting used to do throughout their life and it only seemed like the right thing for him to do now that they were gone.

About a month later, I returned to the cemetery only to once again find this gentleman walking across the cemetery with a bag of peanuts in his hand. It was as if I was in a state of déjà vu. After the conversation at the gravesite, he again fed the squirrels and then promptly left as before. Up to date, I have seen this gentleman six times and each time, he follows the same routine.

Often, when a relative of ours departs this earth, we attend a funeral in their honour and return to our homes after the interment. For some of us, we may visit on a weekly basis, others annually while others never. I suppose that our visiting frequency of the grave site would depend on the relationship that we had with the person now deceased. Regarding this gentleman that I observed, it would appear to me that he was extremely close to the individual he was regularly visiting. I cannot help but assume that he felt some sort of comfort in conversing with this deceased individual.

Yesterday, while taking some photographs for another headstone blog that I was working on, I observed this gentleman yet again silently in conversation with whoever he felt such an attachment to. I would have loved to approach him and ask him as to whom he visited every week but fearing that I would be invading his privacy, I chose to silently observe off at a distance. After he left, I approached the grave site that he so religiously attended to get a better idea of who he had been visiting. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was probably his parents who were there resting in peace.

I can only imagine how much this seventy plus year old gentleman loved them and how much he missed them. If each of us could love our friends and family in life just a fraction as much as he loved them in death, our homes would be a much happier place to live and our lives so much richer. When I think back on all the times I witnessed this gentleman, the word that most often comes to me is "precious." How precious can one's love be for another!

Just after I snapped this photograph, I watched him as he kissed two fingers on his right hand and then lightly touch the headstone. If I was close enough, I am sure that his parting words to the ones he loved so much would be...

"Goodbye Mom and Dad, I will see you next week!”

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bloopers, Misprints, Weirdness

Okay… Now… Here it goes! I am really apprehensive about finishing this blog since I think I have created too much hype about it. I decided to share this article with you because it constantly amazes me how foolish one can sound (not us, of course!) when they write without thinking. To me, the article was really funny … My family and friends, they think my sense of humour is way out of whack! They suggested to me that I get a real life and a new sense of humour! Hmmmm … I posted this as soon as I woke up for fear of "Blogger's Wrath!" (Isn't that an online disease?) Well here goes nothing!

And so, without further ado…

The title of the article was Bloopers, Misprints, Weirdness.

The author of the article provides the readers with a list of hidden gems in a year’s worth of car owner’s manuals, press releases and news items. Many of these hidden gems are either mistranslations and sometimes they are just as a result of what the author called “overworked publicists.”

How often do these editors go out of their way to simplify things to us to the point that they insult our intelligence! Below is a number of the misprints and mistranslations… Hopefully they will bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

You didn't mean me, did you?
The local Canadian Auto Workers union in Oshawa, Canada, home to General Motors, distributes "Buy Domestic" licence plate frames. One is spotted on a Korean built Chevrolet Optra.

Why Tony Soprano (a TV mob boss) will never drive a Hyundai
The Azera's manual advises, "Never let passengers ride in the trunk."

That'll leave a mark
Mercedes warns to "be careful that you do not close the hood on anyone."

Chardonnay? ChardonNo!
Mini's cupholder carries a symbol warning you not to insert a wineglass.

They're those things near the floor, right?
Lexus states, "Do not drive if you are unfamiliar with the location of the brake and accelerator pedals."

Yes, that rolls off the tongue much better
Lincoln introduces its new crossover with a press release that reads, "The new Lincoln MKX (pronounced Mark X)..." When the vehicle finally arrives, the company decides to change it to MKX, with each letter pronounced separately.

Work those muscles!
Hyundai Santa Fe warns, "Do not allow passengers to fold up and down and up the seatbacks and seat cushion while the car is moving."

Leggo my Eggo
Toyota FJ Cruiser comes with a 115 volt outlet, but warns, "To prevent any damage caused by heat, do not use any electrical appliances, such as toasters, in any locations including ... the seats."

Just set the car on fire
Ford warns to "not use the navigation system to locate emergency services."

Stop if you hear squishy sounds
Nissan Murano warns, "Do not fold down the rear seats when occupants are in the rear seat area."

They're much safer at Christmas
AAA Michigan issues a press release titled, "Trick or treaters are at higher risk on Halloween."

Smart key, dumb driver
Nissan warns that its Intelligent Key system won't start the car "if you have an Intelligent Key for another vehicle with you."

Taking all the fun out of driving
Mercedes Benz issues a warning, "Do not pull the (hood) release lever while the vehicle is in motion."

Whole other kind of help
Honda prints an incorrect customer service phone number in 1.2 million U.S. owner's manuals. The number directs callers to a phone sex line.

And you thought Touareg was odd
Volkswagen announces it will name its new SUV the Tiguan, a combination of "tiger" and "iguana." Tiguan is chosen after it wins a survey, defeating Nanuk, Namib, Rockton and Samun. Nationwide, journalists bemoan the loss of "Nanuk of the North" headline possibilities.

Try a firm grip on your coffee cup
Nissan suggests that "the cupholder should not be used while driving, so full attention may be given to vehicle operation."

Sounds like a nice feature
The Dodge Nitro's manual helpfully explains that "the backup lights will come on when your vehicle is in reverse."

But tiedown hooks ARE back there
The Nitro's manual also cautions, "To help protect against personal injury, passengers should not be seated in the rear cargo area."

Pennywise and poundfuelish
Researchers at the University of Illinois say that Americans are using almost 940 million more gallons of gas than they did in 1960 because the average driver is now 24 pounds heavier, which adds to fuel consumption.

Ya can't fix dumb
GM invests $10 million (U.S.) in a new crashtesting facility to improve occupant safety in rollover crashes. Rollovers account for only 2 per cent of all crashes, but 40 per cent of all fatalities on U.S. roads. Problem is, 70 per cent of the people killed in rollovers didn't bother to wear their seatbelts.

Okay!...Okay!!... Show's over! I have set up my "comments" section of my blog to "Approval Before Posting!" for this blog. I am waiting for the onslaught ... Naw just kidding! I can take it... I am thick skinned. If I judge the interest rate on this post by my friend's comment to me over the phone, I would be in trouble. After reading it, all she could say was "nice one Dave... you mean I wasted my time for this?"

Well, I thought it was funny... I just hope that there is at least one of the lines that made you smirk.

Have a great day bloggers!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Nothing Goes As Expected!

Oh man!!! You are not going to believe this! On second thought, you probably are ... No you’re not … yes you will… Okay let’s just get it over with! About 2 hours ago, I retrieved the newspaper from my car so I could complete this blog which I posted yesterday… You know what’s coming next right? Well, I opened it up only to realize that I stole the wrong friggen page! Now not only have I broken the commandment not to steal but now I think I have broken the swearing one as well! (Sorry Josie!) And I broke it real friggen good! #2!%7^*#$!!! (You get the idea!)

Now I was not going to let this get the better of me. I could have been dishonest with all of you and simply pulled out another article and claimed it to be the one I was talking about yesterday but I could not do that to my blogging friends… that would just be way too dishonest! I am sure that there must be a code of honesty between all of us. Besides, I really liked the article and I would be “darned” if I let it get the better of me.

And so off to Arby’s I went to commit yet another crime … Conspiracy to Commit Crime and Theft at the same time. Now, I walk in there and, for the first time in a millennium, there is no newspaper on the counter… I am not impressed. I casually walk around the restaurant scoping out the newspapers. I feel the beady eyes of this male cashier on the back of my scull… I ignore him and continue to look for that ruddy page. I finally track it down … The only patron in the place had it in his greasy mitts… This was going to be a long day.

I go up to the counter to “Mr. Beady Eye Man” and buy a drink and a fry. Upon retrieving my food and drink which I never really wanted in the first place, I sit down within eyesight of “Mr. Greasy Mitts Man” ready to pounce once he vacates the premises. I was no sooner munching into my fries when the patron in question, gets up to depart. I watch him… I watch him put his coat on… I watch him pick up his tray… I watch him pick up the newspaper… I watch him as he throws his wrappers and cup into the trash can … I watch him as he throws the newspaper in right after the garbage!!!

Well, once more, I was not impressed! @!#$%^&#!!!!!

Upon the realization that the newspaper was all but gone, I considered other options regarding my blog. Now I did consider retrieving the newspaper out of the garbage but hell had not frozen over yet and besides, I am sure that Mr. “Beady Eyes Man” would have called the police on me!

To make a long story short, because I was hell-bent on retrieving this confounded article, I purchased another copy from the local newspaper office … about 11 kilometres away! What I will do for my friends!

… Okay, I have gone way beyond my self imposed 1300 character blog limit and I have yet to talk about the article. I am actually afraid that I will lose readership over this. My faith, however, is in my blogging friends’ tolerance and patience. I promise…. I promise… I will come through with this now three day old news article … Tomorrow; I will have it for you… Please be patient with me.

Adios!

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Newspaper Article

I took my children to a burger joint named Arby’s the other day. Now every time we go there, though the food is really good but the service is pretty slow. I am not sure as to why exactly it is slow because every time we go there, I swear there are no more than 3 or 4 of the 30 or 40 tables occupied. Anyways, fortunately for me, there is always a current newspaper at the far right of the ordering counter. Now, I cannot help but think that my guardian angel must put it there in order to stave off me dying from sheer boredom.

So, on this occasion, as usual, I pick up the newspaper and begin to peruse through Section G which is the Automobile Section. After 5 or 6 minutes of looking for a good article, I finally found one.

“Your meals are ready!” calls the young cashier.

Now, under the normal circumstances, I would be grateful that the food only took 6 of the standard 9 minutes it usually takes to process the order but this time I was not impressed!

“Why couldn’t she have just messed up the order so that I can read this confounded article?” I complained to myself.

Smiling, I nodded my head, picked up the tray and headed to our booth … but not before I absconded with the article! I was going to steal it! Oh, I know … theft … but it was just a sheet of day old newspaper, I tried to justify to myself. Deciding to forgo the urge to pilfer, I proceeded to ignore my children at the table and read the article. I really don’t think that my kids even noticed as they were wolfing down their roast beef burgers, fries and cokes at such an alarming rate that I swear the McDonald's Hamburgler was in the building!

I wasn’t even half way through reading when I thought …

“I need to share this with my blogging friends!”

Now I knew that my memory was not good enough to memorize the entire article so I decided to pilfer this particular page as it was more important to me that I share this article with you rather than leave it on the table for someone else.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I stole it for you guys… my blogging friends! (Oh brother.. what a pathetic excuse!) Now that’s what I call justification!!!

Now that I have spent 395 words (Thanks to Microsoft Word Counter!), I have no room to tell you about the article I read! Yah, I know… Another pointless blog right? But wait!... There’s more (sounds like an TV infomercial)… If you get back to me tomorrow, I will give you the jist of the article without further ado!

Now if you yell and scream at me in your comments, I won’t become offended! I will just have to hold off yet another day! No, just kidding! See you tomorrow!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cemetery of the Past

Thomas Scott Sr. - Born June 1790 – Died August 1869
William Pike – Born March 1806 – Died September 1851
Elemena Bacon – Born January 1839 – Died June 1856
Joseph Nelson File – Born February 1832 – Died November 1855

These are the names of four of the deceased buried at a rather small 50 ft. by 50 ft. cemetery called Batson & Tranquility Methodist Cemetery just north of the main part of the city in which I reside. It is a quaint cemetery. Most of the occupants of this small plot of land are from the same family. Except for a few of the older headstones, most of the headstones are placed in an arc spanning the width of the cemetery.

By reading the inscriptions on the headstones, it is safe to say that the family cemetery was in use for about one hundred years. Until recently, the area in question has been way out in the country and on fertile farmland. If I were to imagine myself attending one of these funerals, I suppose that, while standing there, I would look around and see little or no housing and quite possibly not much of a road leading to it. It is quite possible that, being farmland, this small piece of land was on private property. Little or nothing is known about this cemetery and I suppose that anything I say about it is mainly conjecture but what I have mentioned gives you a fair idea.

So… a hundred years ago it was in the middle of nowhere. Now, look where it is! (Click on the photo for a better view) About 30 feet east of it lies a five-lane road, a beer store, a Nissan dealership and a WalMart. North of it, sits a Hyundi car lot. South of it an automobile parts store parks itself and west of it resides a large farm house and an 18 hole golf course. I have no doubt that before each person that was buried there in the eighteen hundreds, they thought that they were going to rest in peace for eternity. Well… time and modernization has changed all that!

It amazes me how our communities are growing. Cities around us are gobbling up farmland faster than I could ever have imagined. People are pouring in at a rate faster than house builders can build. In no time there will be nowhere to rest. Hopefully, when I die, I will be buried in a place where it is quiet forever… well at least for a hundred years. After that…all bets are off!

Rest in Peace!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Uniqueness in Nature


On January 1st, I went out for a hike with camera in hand. Here in Canada, we have what we call rail trails. Rail trails are stretches of land that were decommissioned by railway companies and converted into trails for hikers, bikers and horse riders. In Ontario alone, we have thousands of kilometres of these types of trails.

Anyways, as I was hiking down one of these trails, I came across this tree that immediately caught my attention. If I had a wider angle lens on my camera, you would have been able to see that this tree was the only one that was covered in this type of moss. Now, along the trail, there are other trees covered by moss but none of them held up to the beauty of this tree. The photograph doesn’t really do it justice but, with the naked eye, I could have sworn that the moss on this tree was fluorescent. As I looked around the vicinity of this tree, I couldn’t help but notice that everything within a twenty five metre or more radius of this tree was dead and grey. What made this tree so different? What made this tree so noticeable?

Somehow, while out in nature, we always seems to come across something out of the ordinary and most of the time the view is outstanding! How often do we consider something in nature as ugly? I, for one, am hard pressed to consider anything natural to be ugly. Well, maybe I should give that statement more thought before I go spewing such rhetoric but then again, I don’t think that there is any point to look for ugly things in nature!

In the next few days, I will no doubt be out hiking again and I will be sure to come across another unique form of nature… You just wait and see!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tax Time!

They don’t waste time now do they!

Today is January 2nd and already Revenue Canada is asking me for money! We don’t even have to submit our tax forms until April 30th and they are already reminding us! Give me a break! I am broke right now! I am still recuperating from Christmas! It’s not like they need my money ahead of time. Besides, they have been in debt billions of dollars for as far as I can remember so what harm would it do to wait for at least a couple of weeks before reminding me that tax time is just around the corner.

Over the past decade, I have owed the government scads of dollars. Now, I am not blaming them for this though if I did, I would feel justified. I have to admit I was the creator of my own financial tax woes. Because I had been working two jobs all year for a number of years, I was paying taxes in the wrong bracket. Well, when it came to tax time it took a bite out of my butt and I have been paying for it ever since. This year, however, it is different! I have spent the last three years getting extra taxes taken off my pay cheque to even out the score. This year, I will have paid off my debt to the government and will, in fact, be getting a refund … Holy cow! A REFUND!

Now comes the question … What am I going to do with my refund? Here is a comprehensive list of ideas… Pay bills!

When does it end? When can I simply buy myself something with my tax refund? Well, maybe one day down the road when I have no more debt, I will be able to buy myself a new Jaguar (the car, by the way!)… or even a used one … or maybe I could settle for a new Ford… And then I would be right back in debt!

So, where does it all end? It never does and ultimately the government gets it from you anyways … Sales tax on the new car, road taxes, gas taxes, insurance taxes …

So, my tax forms came in today … big deal! I’ll just shelve them until April 29th because if I don’t I will just have to pay the accountant for his services earlier and then the government will just take their slice out of that as well.

It’s no coincidence that we have birds on the back of our $100 bill… My money just flies away as soon as I get it … How appropriate… How symbolic!

Now that that’s off my chest!

Monday, January 01, 2007

How Do You Measure a Year?

"Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?"

From the movie Rent (2005)


How DO you measure a year? To some, they measure a year by minutes, days, weeks and months. To other folk, they measure a year by the seasons. Others measure it by special days such as birthdays, holidays or religious feasts.

It seems that as I looked back last night to judge how my year went, I found myself measuring the past year by memories. A number of my memories were good memories though I certainly had my share of bad ones. I don’t measure my life by years since if I did that, my life would gallop full tilt and I would have no time to do anything. Some years go slower than others … those are usually my bad years. Other years fly by … those are my good years.

So… how did my year go this time? Have you ever been in “bumper-to-bumper” traffic? Well that is how my 2006 went. Some months were great months where all went my way… Of course those months went way too fast! Other months were dragged out and about to the point I couldn’t wait to finish them!

Now, as I sit here in the wee hours of the morning of January 1st, 2007, I wonder at what speed the next few months are going to travel. I am sorry to say that I think they are going to go pretty slow! Now if I am starting to depress you, please don’t go down that road. Though the next few months may be tough, I am confident that the ones after that are going to swing right by! I do have some optimism!

So… now that I have droned on about how I think my year is going to measure out, I would like to know about how you foresee your year! I sincerely hope that it will fly by!

All the best to all of you in the World of Blog … Have a great New Year!