Sunday, March 30, 2008

So They Say...

Now we all know that there are so many relationship problems in the world today and we all know that they say that two out of every three marriages end up in divorce but isn’t this going just a little too far? I am sure that there are a whole whack of marriage counsellors out there who would be willing to give their right arm to help such a marriage in distress… well… maybe in light of the headline above, the right arm analogy might not be the most appropriate but you get the idea!

Now believe it or not, the focus of this post has nothing really to do with the shark bait topic… I just wanted to bait you (groan!!) The real subject is the pronoun “they.” In the first sentence of this post I wrote that “they say that two out of every three marriages end up in divorce.” What I want to know is… “Who the heck are “they?” How many of us have seen commercials that say something like “two out of three doctors recommend BioFlush for your constipation?” What does that mean? Does it mean two out of every three doctors or two out of the only three doctors who were asked? Did they ask medical doctors? Dentists? Or Doctors of Philosophy? Kind of misleading isn’t it!

I suppose that credibility has a long way to go when it comes to selling a promise, a guarantee or a fact. Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of these snake oil companies that make claims that, in fact, are nothing but hollow promises and unsubstantiated “facts.” The other day, I watched a commercial where you strap on a vibrating belt to help you shed pounds right off of your waist! For heaven’s sake, didn’t they scoff that fact right out the window in the fifties?? Anybody knows the futility of spot reducing! But what did the commercial claim? “Five out of six personal trainers say that you can melt the pounds right off of your tummy by using this spot reducer for fifteen minutes a day.” As far as I am concerned, the product is nothing but a glorified personal vibrator! Besides, it would be a heck of a lot cheaper to hug a washing machine rather than buy one of these worthless pieces of exercise equipment (if you could call them that!!)

Now I can go on and on and on and on and….. Anyways you get the message. I could go on forever writing about these bogus claims but they all add up to the same thing…. They are all hogwash!

… At least that’s what they say!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Carnival Repair Man

Now I know that we all want summer but this is certainly pushing it!

Just on the other side of the fence where I have been parking at work for over the past eighteen years is an amusement company's ride repair facility. Throughout the spring and summer months, their parking lot is usually bare as most of the rides are lurking about at mall parking lots throughout the province of Ontario. In the fall, the parking lot is loaded with trucks bearing rides returning from their profit making racket. In the winter, the company moves the rides into their gargantuan facility in order to repair them. In the spring, the trucks return once more to cart the rides off to run the circuit once again. You can almost tell by what goes on across the way as to what season it is.

Just as it appeared that spring was just around the corner, a snow storm reared its ugly head and took away all hope for tomorrow. The storm was furious for a while to the point where I was worried as to how wet my clothes would become as the wet snow dumped on me on the way to my car.

As I walked through the stormy weather, my eyes caught a hold of something rather peculiar in the parking lot next door not to mention rather dangerous. High up on a tall Ferris wheel structure was a man fixing parts of the ride… in a friggin snow storm! I could hardly look up without drowning my eyes with flakes and here is this guy who looked to be in his fifties fixing this darn ride. Of all the things to do in a snow storm. I think it safe to say that Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board would have a hard time sanctioning such working practices had they witnessed what I had seen. Now I know that it is almost spring but c’mon folks, this is hardly justification for working under these conditions!

I stood there for awhile as I watched in shock. If I was a betting man, I would have bet good money that the chances that he might have fallen would have been high. Pulling my camera out of my car, I snapped a few shots because I have no doubt that you would have to see it to believe it. It was snowing so bad that I thought the snow would ruin my camera.

Anyways, evidently, the guy did not fall and the ride was fixed. Nothing like playing with fate! I’ll tell you one thing… You sure wouldn’t catch me up there… In good weather or bad.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My 200th Post... Well, Actually my 201st!

Yesterday, on Easter Sunday, I have reached my 200th post. The experience of having you all read my thoughts day in and day out has been very much appreciated. All of your comments have meant so much to me.

When I compare the number of posts I have written to the number of posts in many of your blogs, 200 seems quite a low number and yet, to me, it represents a large part of my life over the last couple of yours. My posts are more like memoirs to me. Down the road, I want to be able to go back and read about what was going though my mind during those years of my life. I want my children and grandchildren to one day read their father’s and grandfather’s thoughts as he travelled through life and maybe learn just a little bit more of who I was and what I appreciated most about life.

In celebration of my 200th, I was going to make up a list of 200 things which I wanted to do before I die but when I got to number three, I all of a sudden realized that I wasn’t going to make much past three… well maybe if I stretched my mind a little further I might have reached ten but not much more. It was then I decided that, instead, I would repost what I consider to be my favourite post. It it such a favorite post of mine because the individual spoken about in this post represents what I would consider to be true love and dedication towards family in a world where many consider family secondary to things such as the success of the rat race in which we live. Now I know that four or five of you had already read it but since I enjoyed it so much, I can only hope that you might enjoy it once more as well. It is called “The Peanut Man” and it was originally posted on January 8th, 2007.

To all my blogging friends… Thanks for your friendship, thanks for your thoughts… I guess just plain thanks for everything!

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, March 23, 2008

The Reason For the Season

A few minutes ago, I wrote a post celebrating my 200th posting. I even posted it in pride thinking that Easter Sunday was such an appropriate day to post my 200th. A few minutes later, I got to thinking about the “reason for the season” when it suddenly occurred to me how shallow I was for thinking that my 200th post was more important than what God did for us a couple of thousand years ago by sending His son to earth to die for our sins.

Now I know that many of you may not believe in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ but yet, as a Christian, I feel compelled to announce to the world… well, at least a few of you out there, what it is that I believe makes Easter such a special time of the year. To me, Easter gives us the opportunity to celebrate and remember that “God so loved the world, that He gave us His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Now I am not going to preach to you about how important it is to further study the words to what many of us call the Road To Salvation but I will tell you this… I believe in what John 3:16 says and I believe in whatever else the Bible shows us and I truly hope that one day, you will have the opportunity to experience what many of us have experienced… God’s love and grace bestowed upon us.

So… To all of you… Have yourself a Happy and blessed Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Games Old People Play

I was at the doctor's office the other day when I came across this pinned up on the bulletin board... I thought I would share this with you.

Games Old People Play

1. Sag, you're It.
2. Hide and go pee.
3. 20 questions shouted into your good ear.
4. Kick the bucket
5. Red Rover, Red Rover, the nurse says Bend Over.
6. Musical recliners.
7. Simon says something incoherent.
8. Pin the Toupee on the bald guy.

Is this what I have to look forward to? Well, if it is, I think I am going to give up the ghost a lot earlier than planned!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yesterday, I Cut Up My MasterCard

According to Wikipedia, "Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account. Credit card fraud is also an adjunct to identity theft."

Time and time again, we read in the media how billions of dollars are lost each year to credit card and debit card scams. Experts lecture us on why it is so important to protect not only your identity but also your credit security... and do we listen? Well many do but not all.

It is almost like the times we read in our newspapers how a house burnt down without smoke detectors and then, the home owner places detectors in the house after it is fixed up. It is also like a smoker who quits smoking after they are diagnosed with lung cancer. I recall my father often saying that "there is no point in closing the barn doors after the horses have all escaped."

...Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

Well, I am that type of person who does not listen to the experts. I have never been really careful in protecting my financial security. I haven't been keeping a close eye on my credit card and bank statements nor have I been that careful in making sure my smoke detectors' batteries are replaced twice a year. I do not smoke, however so I guess that one out of three isn't bad though it certainly isn't good!

Now, fortunately, my house hasn't burnt to the ground yet and so I can get a jump on replacing my batteries but I came pretty close to major financial problems since I used my MasterCard at a local restaurant where their credit and debit keypads were rigged to skim customer information. Now according to the news reports, some customers have lost hundreds and thousands of dollars because of this. Fortunately their financial institutions will replace their loss. Now, I was fortunate that the local news reported this issue because had they not, I would never have realized that there had been a breach and if I was ripped off, I might not have noticed since I didn't used to properly protect myself... Now I do! I contacted my credit card company and they immediately cancelled my current card and asked me to immediately cut it up. I did.

So... If you do not take the necessary precautions, take them now. If you do not regularly check your smoke detector batteries, do so now. If you smoke... I trust that you will do what it takes to live a long and happy life!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pen Pals

Back during the mid seventies I had a number of pen pals. I always found writing to people around the world fascinating as it opened the doors to countries where I figured that I probably would never have the opportunity to visit. Just receiving a letter in the mail with stamps from places such as Sweden, Italy, France and Jamaica would literally make my day!

Most of the pen pals I had were female which is very similar to my blogging friends. I suppose ever since the dawn of time, this type of activity was more geared towards the female gender.

Most of my pen pal friends never really lasted that long. It seemed that most of them wanted to visit me or share with me information that I really didn’t want to know about. I suppose that this was a “female thing”… At least it was with the females I corresponded with (I had better watch what I say!) Who knows. The girl from France wanted to visit me while she was at the Montreal Olympics with her parents … Zapped that one! The Italian girl wanted me to start writing her love letters… Burnt that letter! The Swedish girl asked me to send her photos of my male friends… Sent her photos of a bunch of ugly guys instead! Really ugly! The Jamaican girl told me all about her “time of the month” as well as her bust size, hips size, waist size… Shredded that one!

Move ahead six years…

While in university, a letter arrived in my mailbox from the Jamaican girl. Now by this time in my life, I was out of the pen pal phase and the last thing I expected was to find a pen pal letter in my mailbox. Also, considering the fact that I was 900+ miles away from home and in a different country, I couldn’t figure out how she got a hold of my address… Thanks Dad!!! Fortunately she didn’t go into anymore personal detail about her bodily functions or physical sizes but she did want to visit me. I never did reply to that letter and have not heard from her since! Whew!

The other month, while sifting through some old junk in my basement, I came across my stamp album which I blogged about recently. In this stamp book of mine, I came across an old envelope from this particular Jamaican girl. I suppose I kept it for the stamps. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can bring back so many memories!

Now that I am in my forties, it seems that I still enjoy “letters” from friends around the world. Who would have thought that I would be corresponding with them through computers on a daily basis! Back then in the seventies, we didn’t even have personal computers! How things have changed! Hopefully, unlike my pen pal experience, the experience of blogging will live on for many years to come… Just please don’t anyone send me your personal information… unless you want me to disappear!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Old Friends

Every once in awhile, I get a hankering to try and track down my old friends from days gone by. Now, please keep in mind that the "Friends" characters in the photo to the left are not the "old friends" I am speaking about as they are simply just an example of what I am speaking about. I could only wish I were that popular... then again... maybe not.

I have memories of friends from my old high school, my old church youth group not to mention from my old university days in the state of Tennessee. Now if this were before the advent of sites such as Google (Go Google!), the chances of me tracking down these authors of my old memories would have been an exercise in futility.

So... Yesterday, instead of banging on my drum, I was perusing through Google plus other avenues in search of an old youth pastor of mine, and old really good female friend from university as well as a couple of male buddies from university as well. Please keep in mind that the term "old" was used to describe not the people involved but instead the fact that they were associated with me many moons ago and so "yep," a few misplaced modifiers there!

I chose these individuals to search because of what they meant to me over the years. Dean, my youth pastor back in the seventies was someone I looked up to. He never made us feel that we were ever a burden to him or just a job that he was being paid to do. He loved being around us and it showed. I can't really recall any specific experiences with him and our youth group but I will never forget him simply because he made me feel important to him.

Kelly, my friend in university was someone who accepted me and loved me for who I was. We were never in a relationship but quite simply... we were "buds." Randy, Larry and David were three compadres who, though were much older than I, were guys who didn't choose their friends based on their age or status. Randy and Larry were two bosses of mine while David was a co-worker.

So far, I have tracked down two of them. My former youth pastor is now pastoring a church in the state of New York while Kelly is a physiotherapist in the state of New Mexico. David got back to me to inform me that he was not the "David" that I was looking for. Hopefully Randy and Larry will resurface as well.

So... Why do I go back in time and try to renew old acquaintances? I am not really sure other than the fact that I really appreciated them back then and maybe, just maybe, they could do with a friendly face every once in awhile letting them know that they were and still are appreciated. I know that when someone from my past makes contact, I appreciate it!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Winter From Hell

Well, according to Environment Canada, we received approximately 40 centimetres (16 inches) of snow overnight. What's with that?? Isn't it supposed to be just about Spring time? Aren't the birds supposed to be singing amongst the trees by now? Aren't we supposed to be buying Easter Lillie's real soon? But "oh no!" ... we can't just have a normal decent March break now can we! We 'gotta' get dumped on... for the 'umpteenth time this winter. We have had more snow in February and March combined than any other year since 12000 BC... I swear!

Late last night my son and I got the jump on shovelling. We could have started earlier but we couldn't find one of the snow shovels underneath the gargantuan layer of snow. I then went into the trunk of my car to get another shovel when the car alarm went of. It took me a good a good minute and a half of 11:30pm horn blaring to clear off the car to get into it to turn of the alarm. I was not impressed and neither was my neighbour who was peering out his upstairs bedroom window. I waved to him... He just turned around and went back to bed.

After an hour or so of shovelling, we called it quits and headed back in but not before we cleared a part of the deck at the back of the house for our low-bellied dachshund. Once in, I hot the hay and slept like a baby until 9:15am.

Damn! That was not 9:15! Yes sir folks! I forgot about... yep... you know it... Daylight Savings Time! Once more, an opportunity to be not impressed! So at 10:30am, I went outside, finished off the rest of the shovelling and then took a few photos.

So... Thus starts my day!

Friday, March 07, 2008

No Longer Mild Mannered?

For those of you who know Cheryl, know that, though she cannot leap tall buildings nor fly faster than a speeding bullet, she, like Clark Kent/Superman, is quite mild mannered. It takes a lot to get her going but recently, the tide has been changing.

Over the period of what seems like forever, Cheryl has been fighting with Dell Computers over the problem with her laptop. On countless occasions she has tried to get this problem solved and, though Dell has promised to take care of this problem promptly, they have failed to do so. Now I cannot say as to whether or not this is par for this company and though I haven't had this problem with them, there is no excuse that she should have to go through this mess.

As I have read through her posts, I simply cannot understand why she has yet to start publicly swearing... I really believe that I would possibly find myself in that position if I were in her shoes. I 'gotta' give you credit... You have the patience of a ... well... umm... I'm not really sure but, never-the-less, you have a heck of a lot of patience! Anyways... I have posted this video to let you know that you are not alone!

P.S. We all really hope that your laptop woes disappear!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box Award

Over these past few days, I have been battling a cold, a pain and a few other things I suppose and so I have been away from my computer. As a matter of fact, I didn't even touch this keyboard yesterday. I didn't realize it until I happened to check my email this morning and discovered a couple of emails I should have responded to yesterday... So here I am, feeling a little better and more awake and raring to go... well, not really raring just maybe attempting to get on the ball.

I spent a fair bit of time reading your comments regarding the new design of my blog and I have to say that I truly appreciate each and every comment. The thing that I heard most was the difficulty in reading on a black background. I suppose that it never occurred to me that this would be the case but now that I do know, I can look at other alternatives. It took me quite a while for me to come up with this colour scheme and design and so I hope that you will bear with me until I can try different alternatives.

One of our fellow bloggers came up with a solution...Greeneyes said...
"... if anyone has difficulty seeing on the black... they can highlight, with their mouse, the section they are going to read and read it in reverse (same way if one were going to copy )."

Now there's a smart cookie if I have ever seen one! I would never have thought of that on my own. I tried to find Greeneyes a "Thinking Outside the Box" Award but couldn't find one and so I made one up. So Greeneyes... Congratulations on your award!!

Next week is March Break for the students here in Ontario and so, as a teacher, I have the week off as well. I look forward to a little rest and relaxation in this the coldest winter in the past few years and the most snow during this time of the season in the past 50+ years! ... And if you were wondering... No, I will not be playing in the snow!!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Welcome To My New Design! Waddya Think?

Yes... After sixteen months of blogging In My Head, I have decided to blog out loud by Banging on My Drum. To me, blogging is therapeutic. Quite often, I ramble back to some of my old posts and laugh out loud while other times I cry. On days I feel down and out, I return to the posts I have written about my children and then I don't feel so bad.

Over the past number of months, I have experimented with different designs. I wanted to have one that best fit my mood and disposition. I think I may have found one that fits me to a tee... then again... I suppose that determination will be left up to you. I sincerely want and need your input since you will be reading it... Don't worry, I can take constructive critisism. If you hate it... Tell me please.

So... I am still the same ol' Dave with the same ol' attitude and quirky sense of humour so please don't strike me off your list thinking that I am someone else!