Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Spoiling a Child Fails

In fact, you are actually ruining your child’s future by doing what you think is a good thing. You are sending some very dangerous messages that can often result in a child developing into an unprepared adult.

Parents who both work to try and keep up with the bigger oversize ego box aka family house (it’s not really a home) and chasing the next bimmer (BMW, Porsche, Cadillac, Mercedes, whatever) are sending a very bad message to their children.

“You are not as important to us as the money we earn”.

So you try to use that money to buy things for them when all they really want is your time, love and attention. So on Friday night, you give them $50 to send them to the movies because you are too tired to deal with them now. Something is very wrong here. You decided to have children but you don’t want to devote the right resources to developing those children. They don’t need a bigger house and a bigger or better car. They need their parents to spend time with them to learn from the most important influences in their young lives.

So you need to change your values as parents and work on doing what is required to raise children in this world whether it was like when you grew up, what the world is now and what it will become for your children. If you don’t send them out into the world prepared, then how are they going to cope, raise children, respect all the things that are important, develop lasting relationships, etc. etc.?

You have made a commitment to those children when they arrived in this world. It is that you will do whatever you can to ensure that they get the necessary (important word here is necessary) training, values and resources that they need to grow up into a well-balanced young adult.
As a society, we have put way too much value on frivolous things like the big house, the bimmer, the best smartphone, designer clothes, the best sports equipment, and the club membership and to what end. Much of this stuff just gets parceled out in a very unpleasant divorce settlement because the parents argue over how they don’t love the children enough and ultimately each other.

And guess what, it’s true. You have shown that you love money and what it buys more than your family so you deserve to lose it all since your sense of what is truly valuable is all out of whack. And the children have no idea what is truly valuable so they just start doing really dumb and bad things and they aren't prepared to take the next step and many just don’t.

If there is any chance that society can get back to what is important, it starts at home and the smart parents already know that it is in their hands. They don’t have a problem saying no to their children because they know they will understand their explanation as to why, which is all part of loving your children.

Discipline, respect, love, educating, and sharing time all combine to create very valuable components to the lost art of family values. The acquisition of expensive trinkets does not add value to the family experience. History will show that the cause of the more recent decline of the nuclear family is largely due to the change in focus that the family took. And the parents are the ones who chose this new focus.

It is time to adjust your life lens and zoom in on what is important. Point the camera downward just a little; they are down there by your feet tugging at your designer business suit.

Was it all worth it?

Interesting when I Googled "Expensive Houses" for images, not a single person was present in the pictures. Kind of explains why they are not homes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Who’s On Your Team?

I have written about this subject before but I fear I have failed miserably at getting my idea across that the human personality is very complex and always in state of flux or change. As we go through life circumstances cause change in things that we do and how we go about them.

A simple example for me is Walt the Woodworker who was part of my personality for a long time when I had the physical space to actually have a decent shop with all the tools. Now Walt does not exist on his own, he is only how I perceive that part of my makeup. Walt is now retired because it is simply not practical to have a shop in your apartment and I also have lost the desire to do woodworking because quality wood is very hard to acquire now and it also is very costly. 

So you probably have similar people in your makeup such as Terry the Tennis Guy or Gal who may no longer play because a physical injury makes that difficult or perhaps Terry still plays but at a slower pace now and does so in a social environment like a club.

One of my most unfavourite members of my team is Helen the Housekeeper. At times, I want to shoot her because she is just plain lazy and her picture would appear next to the word procrastination in the dictionary. Of course, she is not real but she is part of my makeup partially due to the fact that I am the youngest of three boys and I was spoiled by my Mom and I still am not good at making my bed and doing the dishes. I no longer have a dishwasher so Helen can’t use that trick of hiding them for a week inside the dishwasher. 

But my Helen is getting better since I have tried to address that problem by trying some of those e-cloths and getting better dish scrubbers and using hydrogen peroxide along with anti-bacterial soap so when she gets around to doing the dishes they are at least much cleaner than before. Perhaps you have a Helen the Housekeeper that is as bad as mine but hopefully you are not as lazy as I am.

Another one whose picture is on top is Pierre the Chef. I quickly found out that I am no Pierre since I am more of just a short order cook who can make unique stuff with my microwave, barbecue, Zuko pop maker and J A Henckels environmentally friendly skillet. So he has kind of evolved in to a blend of personalities that would include Baxter the Baker and Luigi Tartufo the Sing in the Kitchen Guy (just the guy that prepares the stuff to cook) and end up being more like Rambler the Hash Slinger which is what I do best so I have found after all these years. You may be like this as well in your evolution of culinary expertise because we all burnt a few grilled cheese sandwiches along the way.

The other picture is another member of my particular team (over 50 at last count, not all active). I refer to him as Otto the Out of Left Field Guy. He used to scare the b’Jesus out of me and some of my friends because I couldn't get my head around what he was up to. He represents the creative juices that flow in the back areas of the brain and he always seem to be the most active about 4 in the morning. Matt the Musician and Gus the Guitar player seem to think he makes them a better musician but it is hard to know if you are actually playing better at that time of the morning.

Recently I penned a few songs based on what “Otto” was saying I should try and lo and behold they are not bad. Max the Music Composer, Matt, Gus and Chuckie the Computer Geek are all working on that project now.

Yep, it does sound like I have a few screws loose but I know that isn’t the case. 

As you get older you sometimes actually get a better perspective on where you are travelling in this trip called life. I like what I see now.

And Raymond the Writer has had a lot to do with making things much clearer. Sitting down at the computer keyboard and writing whatever comes to mind has been a very enjoyable journey  and especially when Gorby the Gamer, Chuckie and Infinity the Internet Explorer learned how to share better.

I do have a better understanding of who I am now. I can identify the players on my team and whether they are active or just retired. I think what really slowed the process down was the fact that one player that we all have can take too much time in your life. That would be Darth Vader the Guy We Don’t Like Much. He is really just negative waves, the dark side and the roadblock to getting anything useful out of one’s life. When you learn how to shut him up you are going in the right direction.

So you might want to play this game and get to know yourself a little better and sit down with a pen and paper or keyboard and screen and just go through life and identify your team players. You will possibly run into your Freddie the Fisherman, Phil the Photographer, JC the Skier, Bran the Businessman (hated that guy, good friends with Darth) and a whole host of others that are not part of my team.

We are all different individuals and the sum of our experiences and that is why we are all so unique and thank goodness for that. If we were only one of 4 personalities we would likely all be accountants, lawyers, politicians, doctors and engineers. No they are not all bad. The point is that if you don’t open yourself up to your Otto the Out of Left Field Guy you do become more one dimensional in how you do things and that is not much fun.

So explore who you are and were and embrace the members of your team that make you special. There isn't another person out there exactly like you and that is what makes the human race so damn interesting.

Time to end this subject, sing it Sheryl.

…all I wanna’ doOo is have some fun…

You are Never Too Old to Learn Something New

For me the whole concept was summed up in a Facebook post that someone placed about the legendary cellist, Pablo Casals. This man knew how to live and how to stay young.

When Casals (then age 93) was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

Today, I took delivery of 4 Books for Dummies specifically relating to guitar, piano and bass for the sole purpose of learning something new about instruments that I have been playing for a period of time over my life. I’m coming up on the half century mark for my time on the guitar and sort of learned how to play the piano by transferring what I know about guitar and reading music to the piano so I’m really more of a right-handed keyboard player than a pianist.

I learned to how to hit a sand wedge properly from Golf for Dummies and used some of the computer books they sold for purposes of learning more about software while I was working in the business world. The sand wedge technique was learned by the description that Gary McCord (the handlebar mustache guy on CBS and a playing member in the PGA Champions division). Gary shared how he got Kevin Costner to hit a “sand wedge” shot with a garden hoe.

It didn't work at first since it just dug into the sand every time until they bent it into a shallow curve and now it slid along the sand and the ball popped out. I learned about the concept of bounce that day and when to use my sand wedge and when to use my 64 degree wedge (which has virtually no bounce). I also know how to pick a shot out of a hard sand bunker which is something I had to learn at the semi-private course where I worked for year. Essentially, the bunkers there were a little sand on top of a hard clay base.

I also learned how to hit a smooth swing shot that goes straight and was down to about a 16 handicap at one point. I did take some lessons later but the book made it so much easier to understand what the teacher was trying to get me to do. In fact, he said I needed to work on my grip but not right away. I opened up Golf for Dummies, studied the grips and picked the one that felt right for me. The next lesson my instructor said don’t change that grip; it is perfect. The book did a great job of explaining where the v’s in your hands (between thumb and pointer finger) should line up. I fixed a lot of golfer’s bad habits on the first tee due to the stuff I read in the book.

And so I am hoping that I will find similar stuff in the various “musical instruments” for Dummies books that I just got. One is just a song book of old R&B tunes (my first love in music) and lo and behold it is part of the Hal Leonard series that I used way back in the day when I actually took structured guitar lessons. I was getting pretty good according to my instructor (who wanted me to teach entry level players) but I quit because he wasn’t teaching me what I wanted to learn. I wasn’t about to perform with an orchestra or small music ensemble.

I wanted to “play like Domenic” which is a reference to the best guitarist of my time by the name of Domenic Troiano aka Don or Donnie by his closest friends. I did meet him on several occasions at clubs I worked at or at dances where I booked his band The Rogues, who became the Mandala. I always remember asking him after a performance in our high school “How the hell did you that” and will always remember that polite and sheepish smile that said thank you for recognizing my talent. 

I can actually do a lot of that stuff that he did on stage but I know why he was so good. He practiced just like Pablo did. Sadly, Domenic left us before his time when cancer took him but he is up there playing in Rock and Roll Heaven because his reputation among other musicians was well known.

Learning something new is a lot of fun which is something a lot of older folks don’t do much of anymore. I think we all need to take a page from George Carlin and turn the life cycle around and learn how to play all of our lives just like Pablo and Domenic.

How’s it hangin’, guys. 

I bet you are teaching each other some new tricks.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to Buy a Meaningful Gift

This simple coffee cup is an example of one that fits into that category. So you can see that it doesn't mean you have to take out a mortgage to achieve this goal. In fact, since this was an economical gift, it showed that the gifter put some real serious thought into it or just found the “perfect” gift sitting on a shelf telling her that this will work very well.

If you are going to continue buying a guy another tie, please just give him a gift certificate to let him get something that he might actually like and appreciate. Why are you punishing him? What did he do to deserve that on-going punishment? Ties are only good at getting into bowls of soup, they are impossible to clean and they are extremely uncomfortable right up there with cheap wool underwear.

And guys do the same for the flowers, chocolate and other quick cop out gifts. If you aren't going to at least try to be creative, then the gift certificate will actually show that you do care enough to say I didn't want to get you just another gift that you probably don’t want.

I had an aunt who has long since passed that would handle Christmas this way. She would simply ask “what would you like for Christmas” and I since learned that I could let her have some fun if I gave her more general ideas than a specific product and size. So I said a really good cookbook, or a really big bowl that I can use in the microwave or a soup stock pot.

So over the years I got The Joy of Cooking which is probably the best cookbook you could own if you could only have one. It was pre-Internet days so it really worked out well until I learned how to google for all that stuff.

And another gift was an 8-cup Pyrex measuring bowl with lid that I used to use to make chili and soups in the microwave before I discovered how to use a slow cooker. And Aunt Jean also got me a nice sized Paderno stainless steel stock pot that I used an awful lot for all manner of meals. I still chuckle when I put the lid on the pot because the lid edge has a discernible dent that meant that my aunt got it for a good price and good for her. I didn't want to break her bank so I appreciated that she could get me this great pot and not take out a mortgage to do so.

And the cup featured above came from a co-worker for the one time we decided that we would share gifts at Christmas and the budget was under $10 per gift. Well Donna managed to do a remarkable job with that one because she is right “Everyone IS entitled to my opinion” although I would more likely have said everyone is welcome to my opinion but she did know me like a book. I still have this great little smile when I think about how she just more or less just started into a full body laugh with the huge smile that showed how much she cared that I really liked it. My boss gave me an expensive shaver and brush kit (more than $10) because she was really just meeting her agenda which was trying to get me to shave more often. I still have a very light beard and only shave twice a week. I think the shaver kit went into the garbage long ago but that mug is something I use often. I am so extremely careful when I do because I couldn't image breaking it after almost 40 years.

So take some advice from Gladys Knight and for sure you really have to use your imagination to give someone a great gift but it isn't the end of the road if you didn't hit it perfectly. It is all about the effort that you took to try a little tenderness, show some respect, or treat her right. Just like the songs it comes from the soul, not the check book or debit card.

It’s better to be leaving the room singing Ooo Baby Baby or My Girl than You've Lost that Loving Feeling or Cold Sweat.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why Do Star Players Seldom Make Great Coaches

I chose the 3 above simply as an example of exceptional players that are more familiar to me and that they also did not fare well in the position of head coach. There are certainly more that could have been shown there and there are also exceptions to this idea—Dick LeBeau and Mike Ditka are also Hall of Famers who were good coaches as their team records would support.

So Wayne Gretzky, Mike Singletary and Larry Robinson are all Hall of Famers as well. Why did they not do so well as coaches in their sports? I think if you look at the list below of what an ESPN poll revealed as to their choices for top coaches of all time, you will get a sense of what is required to excel at the position of a head or assistant head coach in professional and college sports.

Now if you look through that list and all the honourable mentions, you will easily recognize all of them as leaders in their sport even if you are not an avid follower of one or more of those sports. And I am hard pressed to see any on that list that would have made the Hall of Fame in their sport as a player in their day. I’m sure there may be one or two but just like Messrs’ LeBeau and Ditka, they are most definitely the exception to the rule.

So why did the likes of Messrs’ Gretzky, Singletary and Robinson not fare as well as head coaches.

Were they not masters of their playing position in their sport? You bet your sweet pitutti they were. Wayne Gretzky redefined the playing position of centre by the way he totally controlled the ice in the offensive zone and from behind the net no less.

Did they not have a high level of intensity when they played? That wasn’t it. Images of Mike Singletary entrenched in his defensive stance just before the impending snap of the ball say that he did. Those eyes said it all. Look out suckers I’m coming after all of you.

Were they uncoachable players? I don’t think Scotty Bowman would say that of Larry Robinson because Larry was a master of his position of defenseman and Bowman would not hesitate to put him out on the power play, penalty killing or a regular shift. I think Scotty would have liked to have the ability to clone some of those players he had in the teams of the mid-1970 era in Montreal. There was a different feeling in that room than any other professional hockey dressing room of the time.

So why do players such as these stars and so many others not make it in the coaching ranks like those in the ESPN list? What makes them lash out in a fit of rage in a manner that you never saw on the playing surface or field when they were in their game uniform? Did Larry Robinson ever turn to Ken Dryden and tell him how to play net just like he is here telling legendary Martin Brodeur how he should position himself between the pipes? Marty is showing that he doesn’t need the coach to tell him what he did wrong, he is well aware of what he may have done wrong recently.

The images of the three former players used here are not intended to show that they are of bad character. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were always respected by their teammates and like most star players were either a team captain or alternate captain at the very least. The images reflect the level of frustration that a winner now feels when winning isn’t coming as easily as it did when they played and they don’t know how to fix it.

Is it the team that the coach has to work with here a major contributor? Look at what Mike Singletary left for Jim Harbaugh to take over and lo and behold the San Francisco 49ers are immediately in the playoffs and lose one of the best Super Bowl games ever by a field goal in the following season.

So what is it then? I think it has everything to do with the fact that a star player has a great deal of difficulty explaining how he played at such a high level and that he also falls into the trap that everyone should play at that same level all of the time. That is one pretty tall order for any team to endure. So the coach ends up “losing the room” which is the kiss of death for any sports team. Mutual respect is everything and Singletary broke that code when he went on his well-publicized rant that was simply referred to as “The Rant”.

Did they fail? My answer is not really because they also did plant a seed for their coaching replacements to field a much improved team as records generally support for the three subject members that I chose here.

I think the fault lies where it usually does and that is with ownership and management. As much as I respect Lou Lamoriello as a person, I think he pushed Larry into a position he did not want and it almost ruined Larry. The move was filled with good intentions; the result was not so good.

If you owned an NHL franchise would you want Ken Dryden, Vladislav Tretiak or Tim Thomas to be your goalie coach? It may look good on the surface but I think that they would all be hard-pressed to explain their styles to up and coming puck stoppers.

For all coaches, I would want the following:
1.       You must be an excellent student of the game and be able to understand all the inner workings of that game.
2.       You must be able to analyse the playing strengths and weaknesses of your team and that of the opposition and to relay that information in such a way that all of your players fully understand how to implement your teachings and methods of defence of the opposition.
3.       You must be able to have your players play as a single unit and not as several individuals on the appropriate playing surface.
4.       You must earn the respect of every player on your team and in turn they must show you that proper respect that you have worked so hard at earning.
5.       You and no member of your team shall “throw another member of the team under the bus”. Any issues are to be discussed in a professional manner in the dressing room between coaches and players and every detail never leaves the confines of that room.

Would any owner listen to my ideas? That will never happen. I only knew a few of the individuals in this story through my time as a sporting goods representative that visited many rinks, playing fields and dressing rooms and saw the game from a perspective that only an almost invisible viewer would have. An equipment supplier was respected but was not an integral part of the team and was also not a threat to anyone’s individual ego.

Owners will continue to buy the most visible coach for purposes of selling tickets but the wise ones will look for a long term winner and they possess most or all of the skills listed above.
I don’t think I would ever want to coach though. The hours suck, job security isn't all that good and the travel would suck the life out of the most seasoned sales rep.

To Messrs Gretzky, Singletary and Robinson and all the other players and coaches mentioned here, I still have the greatest respect for what you brought to all the games that I have had the pleasure of watching. You showed that entertainment can be a sport played well by a group of individuals that could bind into a well-oiled machine called a team and that is the memory I will keep.

Owners and CEO’s seem to think that they control just about any situation if they put the pieces of their choice into a puzzle called sport or business because they are much the same thing. But trying to put a square peg into a round hole no matter how hard you try to beat the b’Jesus out of it seldom works. Maybe you should let some of your folks that actually run the team pick the team and all of its components. You need to concentrate on building your castles just like you did way back in the day when they were made out of sand and other stuff. You are a little out of your league now. 

Leave the game to the professionals.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

There is an Upcoming Election; Will You Cast a Ballot?

And I would simply comeback with my answer would be is “why bother”. I vote every day for what I believe in and that is in how I spend my dollars on goods and services. That is a much more effective method of sending your opinion to the powers out there.

Many years ago it was necessary to have some form of representation in a central government like there was in the times of Davy Crockett. I remember the Disney portrayal of this where Davy would go to Washington to represent the citizens of Tennessee since they all couldn’t go to the capital since they didn’t have the modes of transportation that we have today.

(I found it sort of humorous that when I searched through the two articles on Davey Crockett and the House of Representatives that I couldn’t easily confirm my belief that it would be located in Washington. I am Canadian so I wasn’t totally sure but I did finally find a reference in the section about expenses and how the representative were paid different sums of money based on travel distance. Mad a lot of sense then because the horses ate more if they had to travel farther).

Well that was before all this Internet stuff and cars, debit cards, smartphones and all the other things we take so lightly that are actually our tools for voting nowadays.

Nowadays an election only results in a bunch of bozos being replaced by another bunch of bozos that will work for your voting area to do everything in their power to ensure that they get this same gig next time an election is called. They just have to learn how to say a whole bunch of words that have no real meaning and don’t offend anybody because almost anyone can vote. They get paid and travel and eat well and get long vacations and they can easily just point to someone else for whatever problem they get shoved in their face. And if they do real well they can go back to practicing law for a higher hourly fee or go on public speaking tours. Why? Because all kinds of people will pay for the legal services of the now higher rate charging ex-politician and listen to the marvels of what he or she didn’t achieve in their time of office.

Let’s look at the real system in action now and specifically at Monsanto. Worldwide Monsanto is seeing the wrath of the consumer voting system in action and it will most likely have to shut down its operation because no one will buy their products. That is a very powerful voice out there and no government can effectively provide legal protection for the Monsanto problem.

It isn't a simple problem with a simple solution but that is how it gets done nowadays. If you all stopped buying at Wal-Mart because you don’t like the way they pay their employees and switched to Costco because that seemed fairer to you then you would see a panic action kick in from Wal-mart in all kinds of ways to “buy back” your business.

It would be nice to shop for locally made goods but the truth is so much is made in China nowadays but that won’t go on forever. Take the case of the computer support business where many companies choose to farm out their support to India based companies that really only greet you with a well-mannered helpful approach but really do nothing to solve your problem. My simple approach to companies who did that was to buy from someone else when I had the opportunity. So Dell lost my next computer purchase to Hewlett-Packard, Bell Canada lost my telephone business to Rogers, McAfee was replaced by Norton and the latter will be replaced by another anti-virus program when I can find one that doesn't use those offshore services.

My actions alone are not going to cause the change necessary but the sum of all the consumers out there will. Their “votes” will do more to determine the direction of our future than any single vote in a political election.

I don’t go to polling booths because I get no sense of anything that my vote meant something at the end of going through that ancient process other than maybe giving some retiree a job for the day. I do feel better though when I vote by buying a product and take some sort of satisfaction when I send a permanent divorce email to Home Depot letting them know that I have sampled business from both them and Lowe’s and have decided that Lowe’s met my requirements and Home Depot did not. The reply was almost like it was written in that same tone you would get in an online chat with a McAfee or Norton rep.

So your debit card, credit card, Paypal account and email are your new methods to go out and make your vote count. Just don’t go too crazy. No you can tell them exactly how you feel, just don’t spend way beyond your means. Some companies get it and I will continue to buy from them even if it might mean I spend a little more on the initial purchase because I know there are longer term costs attached to buying from the guy with the lowest price all the time.

Lots of suppliers are no longer in business because they fell into the trap of getting the big order at the lowest bid price. You cannot sustain a business that way. What happens when that exclusive program runs out with that big box company? The big box guy is always looking for a new supplier at a lower price.

Some of the big box operations recognize that you just can’t go around with the lowest price line anymore because they all have a match the other guy program. I think Lowe’s is a current example of one that is trying to do more than that in their acquisition of ATG stores online retail business. It is next to impossible to meet all your customers’ needs at the store level so they can broaden the inventory list by offering a large range online like they do for items like household fans, appliances and the like. Online shopping isn’t for everyone but if you know what you are looking for, the freight is usually thrown in and the nice guy from UPS brings it your door.

So I vote to buy online more than visit a store simply because it has turned out to be more efficient and cheaper for me; same product but no disappointment if it isn’t in stock in the store. One particular order was for 4 kitchen items that you can only get in a fancysmanshy boutique type store so I placed the order online. They were unable to provide all 4 from the nearest store which was about an hour’s drive away so they actually ended up sending the order from a store almost a thousand miles away and at no additional charge to me but that is what you do to provide excellent customer service so I would likely buy from them again; so the system worked well there and they got to “stay in office” for a longer period of time.

So eventually when no one shows up at the polling booths anymore the news will get hold of that one and that system might change some but don’t hold your breath. They will still try to get you to do get them back in office somehow. I handle all the political survey phone visits the same way I do telemarketers with a quick “No thanks” and a quick push of the off button on my phone. The lawyer/politician in training doing the calling will soon learn that nobody wants to talk about that stuff and he/she might actually try to get a real job.

You have a lot more control than the so-called powers to be give you credit for so use it wisely. Shop at businesses or retailers that represent values that would match yours and you could actually say I could work here. It all gets better from there.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Echo and Lyle

So which one is the master in this pair?

Lyle is the one holding the leash and Echo is a very special lady that Lyle decided to get one day as a valued companion and you can tell by his expression that it is already one of those very special bonds between pet and owner.

Lyle shared the story about the joke that more or less goes that if Martians were to invade earth and saw the daily routine that dog and owner take part in that they would be scratching their heads trying to figure out who is the master of this race.

It took a while for both of them to reach the area in front of the apartment building where we all live since Echo was stopping and checking out all manner of things in her walk and her “master” obediently stopped at each instance of this event. Lyle was in no hurry. He was enjoying her company and vice versa.

I had met them a week before on my way to the grocery store in the lobby of our building and commented with “Now that’s a real dog”. And when I asked the gentlemen “walking the dog” what its breed was, he said they told me that Echo is part malamute and we both agreed that this was not really correct since that breed is much larger and has shorter front legs good for pulling freight sleds.

So this dog is at least part Siberian husky and it proved that to me over the next few minutes when I found out that the owner had named his dog Echo. What a great name for a husky because it showed its personality when I called it a him. 

Well, Echo was not impressed and it started to growl a little and the owner corrected me and said no she is a she. (No I didn’t look, that would be rude no matter what sex the dog was).

Huskies don’t bark much but I did get one thrown at me when I made a quick move and startled her which is not something you should do around any dog. Lyle said that is only about the fourth time she has ever done that. She also has this sort of singing voice which she used in the first meeting which was more like “C’mon are you going to talk to this guy all day, let’s get on with our business”. At which point I started to head out to the grocery store and the owner and Echo went into the lobby at which point Lyle and I got around to introducing ourselves. Men are always more interested in the lady in the group than in each other.

If I were ever to have a dog, it would be a Siberian husky because they are so well mannered. Yes they do shed as Lyle found out in the spring but they also like cooler weather so the balcony is their preferred resting spot in the middle of the winter. I had to put down a favourite pet due to accidental poisoning when I was younger and it always stopped me from getting another one. The poor thing suffered and it gut-wrenched me forever.

But maybe one day I will but I can always say high to Echo and Lyle and I know that I will be well-received by both. I think Lyle has a plan in mind since he said Echo is a lady killer so I think the walks are more than just good exercise and taking care of business. There are a lot of ways to take care of business you know.

Being happy comes in a lot of forms and a loyal and protective partner does so as well. Nothing like a walk with man’s best friend, even if you don’t get to lead very much.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Computer Trap

It has changed the way people deal with other people in a not so nice way.

One of the problems of spending so much time on a computer is that you end up applying some of the learned approaches to interactions with real people in a face-to-face situation or in online chat situations.

When you want something from a computer you type in something, hit the enter key and it responds—maybe with what you were looking for and maybe not. And you can just try again with a little adjustment and you may get something different. If you keep doing it the same way it just gives you the same answer back. It won’t get mad or snap back at you.

Some people’s conception of how that works can be a little distorted as I remember in my early years of computer use in the business world. I was given the task of doing a lot of Lotus 123 spread sheet stuff (IBM just finally retired the Lotus brand in May, 2013) as part of a useful need in our national accounts program. We were wooing two large players in the retail business that we referred to as key accounts. The whole program was driven by our National Sales Manager with some direction from the Key Account Manager who acted more as team rah rah guy for the Key Account reps.

I happened to be on a short vacation and upon my return one of the Key Account reps asked me for one of the updates to a particular sheet that he wanted to review or adjust based on some recent information he had gleaned through communication with one of the new prospective customers. Seems the Key Account manager tried to get it out of my computer but couldn't understand why when he finally figured out how to turn it on that he didn't get anything back when he just wildly started hitting keys at random. This guy was no dummy but he had no clue when it came to computers. They were very new in the 1980’s. Some brainiac VP even suggested that we put them all in one room so everyone could share their use. He had no clue either. (We actually got them both as new customers with over $3 million dollars in annual sales).

So we can see that strange people skills can be found in many places. Let’s look at what today’s youth is doing since they have been spending so much time on this electronic device. I was chatting with my cashier at the local grocery store and she was lamenting on how her kids never finish their homework, they don’t read and they jump from one thing to another never finishing it (aka multitasking). Despite her best efforts to adjust that pattern, they just continue on that way and the frustration was evident in her tone and body language.

In another situation, I have had several chats in an online games where it seems us older guys naturally gravitate to talking to each other even though we don’t know each other’s ages until we ask. Seems WW and rhino are both within 10 years of my age bracket—well beyond high school age, more like waaaaaaay beyond.

I think it was rhino who coined the phrase the OCD generation. (both of them will correct me if that is wrong. They are constantly telling me where to go)

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. (in the Wikipedia description of the disorder)

What he was reacting to is the “dumb” questions that pop up in the game we are playing that is in early beta stage so it doesn't have much in game help. They are questions that are basically resolved if you just poke around a little bit and find the menu icon that relates to that issue. Instead these young players get frustrated really quickly and start asking these questions when it could be as simple as pressing the right mouse button instead of the left.

It is only a game but I worry for a lot of children today and the society they will be in when they get out there in the working world assuming they will have decent jobs and they all aren't farmed out by the VP’s that I mentioned above. If they can’t find their way out of the proverbial brown paper bag, then how are we going to get the next generation of iThings, cure cancer and make a better place to live?

It isn't all that bad because you do get some young ones in that same Help chat window that get it and ask about the tutorials and the readme files associated with the game and they admit that they have a lot of learning to do and set out to do just that instead of whacking away at their keyboard in frustration.

That young guy is going to do something special in his life because despite all the attempts by the liberal forces in education and the attachment parenting approaches some kids find out that there is a better way. His game name is Horsefly and I can see him buzzing around.  Sometimes he annoys you but he is always on a mission and he’s happy.

And some of the young ones are just plain outright rude because there is no real way to punish bad behaviour on the other end of a computer chat session. If that little guy tried that in the schoolyard, someone would kick the b’Jesus out of him back in my day. Today he is protected by the liberals in the system and both his parents who are out chasing the next bimmer or divorced so proper guidance isn't always immediately available.

Kids need to really play more nowadays instead of being trapped to their computers like so many of those episodes of the series LOST. Nothing bad really happened when they didn't punch in the code every so many minutes. It just sent them somewhere else. True they were dead but they were in transition to another place where they would ultimately find happiness.

Just watch a bunch of kids in the schoolyard or playground actually playing and look at the joy in their faces and actions and now compare it to your little Johnny whacking away at his keyboard or Xbox controller. Which one is having more fun and learning important stuff about life?

I think we all know the answer. Get your kids to go outside and mix with the other kids. That’s what real games are about. A few knicks and scrapes are all just part of growing up and just teach you by example.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How I would Beat Tiger Woods at Golf

Not what you think but we would all play badly if she was on the course with us
(and we wouldn't much care you know)

And it would also work on Jack Nicklaus I would think.

I haven’t played much golf in the past few years because quite frankly it wasn’t much fun anymore. I probably had a 16 or 17 handicap at one time or another. Games are about fun and winning is just the result of having way too much fun. But I’m going to dust off the clubs real soon because I now have two offers to play golf in my current place of residence in the city of London, Ontario.

One is with a friend who happens to be the golf pro at a private club in town. He was also my boss at a now non-existent course North West of Toronto and we both just decided that London is a better choice of a place to live for very different reasons.

The other is from two friends that I haven’t seen in approximately 40 years when we worked together in the sporting goods industry back in the day of wooden hockey sticks and hockey gloves with cuffs that actually protected your wrists. One of these fine gentlemen (they are both chuckling right now) currently lives just outside Toronto and the other currently lives in Tucson, Arizona. And guess who is organizing the golf day—the one in Tucson of course and yes we will be playing in London, Ontario and not Tucson which has a bagillion courses to choose from. (Yah it’s that ending a sentence with a preposition thing).

And that is part of my plan to beat Tiger. I’m going to try and get Lee Trevino and David Feherty to fill out the foursome since my friends will probably be busy doing something more important. Lee and David would be more familiar to you so you will understand my tactics better if I use them in the example. I will keep Bill Murray available as a backup in case one can’t make it.

Ending as many sentences with a preposition, bending every rule of golf possible (Tiger does that too though so it won’t be that effective), singing fun songs at the right moment, telling jokes non-stop, saying nice shot in the middle of a backswing (learned that from John Daly), get a bunch of those bozos that shout "get in the hole" to do that on everyone of Tiger's swings and doing everything else, that we all considered just fun, to throw him off his game.

He is way too serious and I think that is why his game isn't as spectacular as it was before. I think the other players know how to get to him and they have developed a sort of upper hand psychologically like Lee Trevino did back in that day. If Feherty ever stopped talking, (which he seldom does you know) well that would help. Between the two of them I think Tiger or Jack would just storm off the course in a great huff much liked Ted Knight did in response to Rodney Dangerfield.

Yes it’s already been done, but it would be sooooo much fun to repeat it on Tiger and then we’d all go have a beer or two and forget about the game and have some more fun. That’s what I plan to do with my friends soon just like I did when golf was a fun game with all my other friends that I played golf with. (dangle, dangle, exploding preposition)

We’re all going to be dead a really long time.

Sing it Sheryl…

…all I wanna’ do is have some fun…

(pretty good pic of her isn't it. She could do more of that, too. She does light up a room when she miles)

Imagine David Feherty as a NASCAR Colour Commentator

I think he just got paid. Yes I said paid.

I’d watch that!

And David would spell colour that way because that is how it was originally intended to be (use his voice in the whole story which makes for an interesting read that way). If you don’t know who David Feherty is (I keep spellin’ it (pronounced spellinyet) wrong) well then were you just born or just part of a group that only watches documentaries on the subject of dryin’ paint.

Well the problem would be that NASCAR and CBS or the Golf Channel (for that matter) don’t have a current working agreement and NASCAR has decided to dilute their viewing approach by spreading it out over 3 networks with no one really doin’ a bang up job, in my opinion. Ted Turner must have really deep pockets and relations in the France family (fam-a-lee′ (say it real fast) if you are trying to talk like Feherty, which I think even David has difficulty understandin’ at times). I couldn’t determine if Mike Helton was related to the France family but everyone in the south is closely related, didn’t you know.

I wonder what it would cost to get Dick Berggren out of retirement. My choice for a new line up would be to have just one network cover all the races and have Mr. Bestwick do the race announcin’ and have DW and Feherty do the race colour. I could imagine Feherty on Tony Stewart—“There wouldn’t be much danger of mistakin’ the driver of number 14 for the likes of the wee-Scot, Jackie Stewart; although their drivin’ records both show that they were successful on the track” and DW could just laugh and relay some story in his past as to how or when he raced against Jackie, even if he never did, since DW is just so plain believable.

I’d watch that but it ain’t never gonna’ happen in NASCAR. It’s not really car racin’ anymore you know in the true sense of the words. It’s all become part of the big entertainment thing and how to draw the cash out of those good workin’ folks that they attract to the events.

And NASCAR works real hard at hurtin' their eardrums (pronounced airdrums). Oh it’s not the racin’ you know; it’s more about the one that they get to sing the National Anthem before the race. I turn the volume down because you don’t want to breakin’ any windows, now would ya?

I think I’ll stick to golf. I’m more familiar with the balls in that sport.
Apparently this is not the right uniform.
(No it isn't a very good picture but we couldn't use one of Miss Sprint Cup)

While I was scanning the Internet for a suitable picture of Mr. Feherty, I tripped over this link in the NASCAR.com photo galleries. I didn’t see any connection to any racin’ though, so maybe they are wooin’ him after all.

I’m kinda’ proud of this one, the story, don’t you know.

Why The Star Spangled Banner Gets So Abused

Photoshop adjustment not required 
Hire Exposay if you need a publicity photo!

There it was another Sunday afternoon sporting event in the USA. This one happened to be the almost weekly NASCAR event that takes place every Saturday or Sunday through a large part of the calendar year. NASCAR folks are pretty proud of their country so the event is always started with a rendition of the US National Anthem—The Star Spangled Banner. Hands on their hearts, hats removed and lots of flags in plain view. But you can never be quite sure which version you are going to get.

I applaud the drivers for not wincing in pain when the latest singer (chosen by the local organizers, most likely) starts their audition for the latest season of American Idol or The Voice. They are all over the map in tempo, phrasing and even sometimes the words. And I think I have a better handle as to why that happens.

I remember a late night talk show where Tom and Dick Smothers (who are normally not real serious folks on stage) were lamenting about their displeasure about how the song gets abused. They said “It is not about the performer, it’s about the song” and you could see that the audience really didn’t understand the frustration that these talented musicians and comediennes were displaying.

So I tried Googling the American National Anthem and landed on the page for the link above. In it I learned that the words are written by a patriot named Francis Scott Key and they can pin it down to the very day that the words got written in his poem (September 14 1814) and the circumstances that triggered Mr. Key's stirring words as he wrote it during his imprisonment on a British ship that was off shore of Ft. McHenry where the American flag still flew.

But here is where the problem lies (in my opinion)—Composer: unknown. So even this site will sell you the sheet music for $4 a copy, you really aren’t sure if you are going to get the right tempo there or the “original” musical score because there isn’t one. Now since I am Canadian, I’m not likely to buy a copy of the sheet music so I don’t know if the tempo is even listed. I have never been asked to sing the anthems at a hockey game in Canada where both get played so I don’t think I need the sheet music, but I think I can do a pretty good job of the words without need of a cheat sheet.

I still think that a better patriotic song would be America the Beautiful as sung by the late Ray Charles which you still hear around Independence Day on the July 4th holiday in the USA. Ray actually sings the original words and then sings the ones they learned in school and he only really adds a lot of soul and true feeling that augments the song as opposed to abusing it. I used to sing that song sort of like Ray around the campfire at night in the lake country of Ontario. A few brown pops made the soulful styling’s of Ray come out a little easier. What a great song. Truly inspiring!

If you are a singer and you have been selected to sing the Star Spangled Banner at an event, take Tommy and Dick’s words to heart and do the song justice. Think of Mr. Key and park the trills and riffs for another song. Show him the respect he so richly deserves.

I tried to send a copy of this story to the Smothers Brothers but the email on their site is no longer valid and they are listed as retired. The AOL story here does a good job explaining why? They sure made me laugh and I thank them for that. I just wanted to show proper respect as they did.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lawyers Should Stay Out of the Entertainment Business

The same but different
“At more than $7.98 million, Bettman’s salary has more than doubled since the 2004-05 lockout which saw the entire hockey season cancelled. In that year, Bettman made $3.7 million.” (source Luke Fox, Sportsnet.ca)

And I really couldn't get a handle on whether the Chiffons vs. George Harrison musical case ever got resolved—He’s So Fine vs. My Sweet Lord.
So let’s kick this around a little, although I would much rather just kick the lawyers in this case.

I had a difficult time with the lead picture initially for this story. I was searching Google images “group of lawyers” in the image grouping and could only come up with the one which is an adaptation of one from Devrylaw.ca.

It seems that all the pictures (including Bettman’s picture in the Luke Fox story), had them beaming with smiles probably because they just got a lucrative case that will give them a nice steady income for as long as they can drag that out. And that is what lawyers are very good at. It isn’t in their best interest to actually come to a quick and amicable settlement which is how most normal people deal with disagreements. They seek to prolong the case since it is in their best interest to ensure a steady billing stream.

So I use the NHL predicament and the musical case above to discuss this concept. Think past to your youth (especially anybody who grew up with a future lawyer) and try to remember where that kid got picked in whatever game you were enjoying. He was usually in the last grouping and he dragged the game down because he just sucked at the sport or game and so he found that law was a game that he could be good at since he had no creative talent that you need to perform a sport or musically. But he could talk a good story, so the legal profession was calling.

How many lawyers do you know that have played professional sports or have performed live (musically) in front of a large crowd?  Lawyers can perform in front of a large crowd but I am talking specifically music here. Politicians are an example of lawyers who have developed an advanced level of performance skill in front of a large audience. When that gig is up, they go back to a law firm and charge an even higher hourly rate than before, so politics is good for their business in the long run.

So Gary has been “in charge” through two lockouts and the owners haven’t fired him yet for failure but a whole waft of General Managers and coaches have suffered that fate. Something’s wrong there for sure and he gets increases in salary as well. I would like to do the job for say $1 million a year but my friend and I have a better candidate for the job—Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada fame. He knows the inner workings of the sport, is fair in his approach to disagreements and is sincerely concerned for the future of Canada’s most important game and form of entertainment. (Yes Marty, he would make a good commissioner. Marty is my friend who planted this seed).

From what I can figure out about the law suit regarding so called plagiarism in the two songs, is that it really was more about the fact that two groups of representatives from each side (lawyers) were arguing over the songs and that they were the same. The whole thing is compounded by the fact that they are simple and really lousy songs and that George probably thought it was worthy of putting down a track but mind altering stuff will do that to you.

The songs are both repetitive but here’s where they are different. A song isn’t just about the melody or the chord structure. A song is also a poem or short novel that tells a story and, in this case, they aren’t the same. The Chiffons are yada yada-ing about a boy that they all would like to capture and George is into his Krishna thing talking about his new found religion and his new guiding force in life. Sort of different aren’t they?

The problem is they use a similar chord structure and boring repetition (loops) so the story gets boring and you fall asleep. They are no Taxi or Better Place to Be, Yesterday, Bridge Over Troubled Waters or I Will Always Love You.

If the lawyers got hold of all the 12-bar blues songs that were ever written they would be fighting for payment to the families of a couple of guys (or maybe one) that started strumming out the pattern on the front porch of his broken down home because he was having a bad day. Being a slave would mean that you had a lot of those.

You don’t see BB King and Eric Clapton getting their lawyers together (probably because they don’t spend much time with lawyers) and fighting over whether their songs sound the same but they have a similar pattern because melodies in music are limited to just 12 notes and the blues scale has only 5 notes so there aren’t that many permutations. Sure you can play with the chord sequence a bit and create rifts in different octaves. But when you add the words to the song, well it’s the sky’s the limit here.

You didn’t see Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston battling over ownership of I Will Always Love You. Dolly wrote it and Whitney made it a huge success which Dolly acknowledges in her usual deep down honest approach to just about everything. I have both versions in my iTunes collection. To me they are really almost two different songs but Dolly wrote the melody and the words and Whitney took it over the top with her performance. And there’s those mind altering drugs popping up again which completely distort your perspective and can end in tragedy.

So lawyers, go spend some time suing the likes of Monsanto and stay away from areas that give us pleasure such as sports and music which are only a small part of the entertainment field. Nobody had the balls to take on Carlin because they knew they couldn’t win against a guy who was better at their own game.

So the lesson here is to enjoy you, enjoy playing or watching sports, enjoy music for what it is, don’t take mind altering drugs.

And for heaven’s sake stay away from lawyers, unless you are another lawyer. Don't have to drive so far to run them over then.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blame the Victim has become the Norm in our Society


You see this type of lament on a regular basis in Facebook posts like this one that Jon placed today that showed up on my FB page. (I don’t normally use short forms but I figure Facebook doesn’t really need the advertising and you will figure this one out with no problem). I don’t know Jon in the true sense of the word friend, but we all have people in our group of FB friends that are just casual acquaintances. I’m sure that we just hooked up as an assist to make a FB game experience a little better. I do know that Jon is a sports’ fan because that is where I see home most often. (Jon was the one who said sad, not me but I totally agree with his feelings)

I won’t go into other details about Jon because I will respect his privacy. He appears to have similar values to mine and most likely would come from a family that taught him values and he learned them well.

I find that FB has more substance than Twitter and MySpace (I don’t use either). They are more about “hey look at me and read my important short meaningless statement”. If you are looking for Twitter you are in the wrong room here. Twitter is down the hall, next to the vending machines and behind the door where you find all those porcelain and stainless steel things.

Jon has chosen to use FB as a platform to just vent for now. At some point, it may blossom into full-blown “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” mode. I’m sure that many will recognize this as a quote from the movie Network as uttered by the character Howard Beale as portrayed by Peter Finch. (I found it interesting that the reviewer site here doesn’t show the image at the top of this story. They showed less offensive images only and left out the most important message of that 1976 classic).

And so it goes, our society chooses to soften or even bend the truth and to redirect it somewhere else so that the blame goes somewhere else other than where it should be aimed; directly at the face of the culprit.

And Facebook is providing a platform for those who want to vent or scream out at the top of their lungs. (Somewhere in between will be the most effective approach, I think). Take the example of Monsanto and the genetically modified program they have been flogging worldwide. Monsanto has pulled out of many countries due to public pressure and hasn’t done so in North America yet. Eventually, the pressure will become strong enough that the political bodies that protect them will have to succumb and Monsanto will have to give in.

Keep expressing your concerns on Facebook because it is having an effect. The consumer buying power is a very effective tool for change in society. That is how you vote on the matter at hand. If you don’t like the practices of one of those big box outlets, you stop buying there even if it means you pay a little more. It is as simple as that.

Just a little financial advice here—you probably shouldn't invest in Monsanto shares. Selling short would probably be a better approach.

(lol Investopedia, there is a site for everything out there. How’s it going NSA. I guess I’m probably on your radar now but that’s OK I am a Canadian. NSA Canada is an organization for slo-pitch softball.


Canadians are known to be honest and maybe not as serious as they should be. I guess we’re a little small still—35 million isn't that big of a number anymore.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

When You Move to Another Country it’s Time to Leave Some Baggage Behind

It’s everywhere throughout the world, you see longer term residents of countries not getting along with recent immigrants and it largely because both sides aren’t really willing to leave some of their own baggage behind. It is more obvious with the recent immigrant because they are often dressed in clothes that are native to their former country. There probably would be less friction if the immigrant was dressed in a Nike t-shirt and wore sneakers instead of a turban if the move was from India to North America.

And the opposite would be true if the move was in the other direction but it would be highly unlikely for a North American to don a turban and leave the t-shirt and sneakers behind. It’s not just about the clothes though. It is what they symbolize.

We are very reluctant to leave behind our previous language and culture although some do try very hard to do so. I grew up in Toronto where there was a major influx of Italians coming over from all parts of Italy in the 1960’s. Generally speaking, they spoke Italian a lot at home but would try very hard to use English in the local community and while talking to neighbours so the friction level was reduced. In fact, I took Italian in high school instead of French because I wanted to try to be able to communicate with some of the older and nicer Italian folks in the neighbourhood.

That didn't mean that they refrained from growing vegetables in their backyards and making home-made wine as they did in their native country. Land was scarce where they came from and this new found treasure was too hard to resist. The home-made wine was not to my liking but you learned how to cut it with ginger ale that was delivered to the neighbour’s house from the local Italian soft drink distributor. They wanted to welcome you into your home and share so they fit nicely into the neighbourhood.

At school, you were presented with a veritable melting pot of all cultures imaginable and everyone wore clothes that would make them blend into any crowd. In winter everybody wore a toque (head sock) because that is what you wore on your head to keep it from freezing in Toronto in the winter.

If anyone came to school with a knife, they were immediately suspended. A knife was considered a dangerous weapon and you were breaking the rules (period). We all sang the Canadian National Anthem and recited the Lords’ Prayer to start the day off in every class. The anthem was sung in a loud voice and the prayer was mostly mumbled with the exception of the Catholic kids who were more religious than a lot of other kids in the class. Nobody fought over that stuff in the schoolyard. 

We argued more about whether Johnny Bower or Jacques Plante was a better goalie in the NHL (six teams back then). It was also a stupid argument because they were both superb defenders of their nets and it was more like saying what flies higher a 747 or a DC10? They both fly way up there.

I guess my message is like all the others you see on Facebook. We need to stop being so liberal in our school system and society in general. We got a good paddling at home if we did stupid stuff, we got a smack in the head at school if we were extremely disrespectful or even the strap and we learned how to respect each other. We didn't go around shooting each other and we didn't have gangs in big numbers. There were a few but those were largely all dropouts who would amount to nothing later in life.

I think the whole world needs to show more respect for each other and that means we need to punish those that don’t starting right down there in kindergarten. And I can see all the mom’s practicing attachment parenting and chasing the next bimmer saying “Oh know you can’t do that”. Mom and Dad too, you would be better off staying at home more and teaching your kids some real values and using appropriate punishment for bad behaviour.

You know then the new immigrants might actually want to be more like you and accept the local cultural values more instead of grasping at all manner of reason to justify their need to hang onto all of their baggage. Let them have some but encourage them to take on the new ones in their new home. Instead we threaten them which make them hold on even tighter to the old ways.

Being liberal is not a bad thing if you don’t end up being an extremist and the same can be said for the other side of that argument. We don’t need to be always right wing and left wing.

I thought Dave Keon was a better centre than Henri Richard but I know you would come back with Jean Beliveau was better and I would have to agree. I would then say “You wanna play in or out” and Carlo would always wanna play in and be Johnny Bower. Man I hated losing that one all the time but the game was so much fun and we played just about all day long until our mom’s came and got us.

Sometimes my mom and Mrs. Tuzi would come together and it was kind of funny to watch. My mom didn’t speak Italian and Mrs. Tuzi only knew a few words in English but they were nodding and saying yah yah a lot. They didn’t understand the meat of the conversation but that didn’t matter. They were really good friends.

I last saw Mrs. Tuzi at my mom’s funeral (my mom passed away at the ripe old age of 93). Josepha (Mrs. Tuzi’s first name) was sad to see her friend pass on. Josepha’s English is still lacking but she still knew how to smile at me and express her condolences’ which were much appreciated since they were truly genuine. Carlo (we call him Chuck now) brought his mom to the funeral. I still have this picture in my head of my mom and Josepha running like little children to go get a shovel to scoop up the stuff the horse left that was pulling the milk wagon. It made your stuff in the garden grow real nice so they said.

The neighbourhood is not the same anymore. Murders happen on the corners where we use to stay out real late and get the smack or belt for doing so. I couldn’t live there now but it was a lot better way back then. How do we make the world like that? Maybe we could work on that a little instead of worrying about what colour dress some actress wore to the Oscars or whether a bimmer is faster than a Mercedes?

Our values sure did get twisted didn’t they?

And you know everything was in black and white with a whole bunch of shades of grey in between. Right and wrong was pretty clear and the grey just meant that everyone was just a little different than the next person. We got along.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Laughter is an instant vacation

Kiss me gooodnightt, Eddieeeeee
How many people can actually say they laugh enough? Hands up. I bet if you did that in any room anywhere in the world with an adult audience you would be able to count the number with the fingers of one or two hands.

The stories say that you will live longer if you laugh more. George Carlin only made it to 71 (we are living longer) but I bet he added years to many viewers or audience members that had the pleasure of seeing him perform. 

Even Ed Sullivan was affected by laughter because he always made time for comedians in that moment when he would call the prankster over to the side of the stage and he would urge the audience to show extra applause for their efforts and Ed was always so serious until that moment.

C’mon now let’s hear it for the little mouse—Topo Geeegggiooo! (one hand raised high in the air and the head goes into the bobble head move. I wonder if the bobble head was inspired by someone watching Ed Sullivan).
I loved that show and mostly for all the people that were on it that made you laugh. 

The Red Skelton show ran for years because that man would make you laugh until your sides said STOPPPPPPP!!!! His closing approach was so genuine—Good night and god bless. I didn't have to look any of that up on the Internet. It had a lasting impression far beyond their time on this planet.

I can be at times a grumpy old man but I have found that I can get out of that rut a lot easier now. That has only been a relatively recent phenomenon since I more or less withdrew into the safety of my own world and protected myself from further disappointment. But it didn't work. I missed something. I wasn't laughing as much as I used to do.

One of the reasons is a place that I worked shut down and it was really in the hospitality business and I worked as a sort of entertainer there. The workplace control people called it the food business but it was a place called the Kleinburg Golf and Country Club that did serve food and that is where most of the revenue did come form in all honesty.

I prided myself as an employee that was well-liked and well-received by both patrons and employees alike and it had a lot to do with the fact the General Manager supported me in just about everything I did because I was also good for business. We are still good friends.

Laughter was probably the primary reason I worked there because you didn’t make any money in that capacity. Most of the employees are actually classified as seasonal/farm workers so the pay is in that same bracket. I had no problem with joking with the customers at the starting tee or while they had to wait for the foursome ahead to clear the green.

I did find that male lawyers seem to be able to take the most cutting lawyer jokes well but the female ones sometimes chased you with their driver if they didn’t like your joke. So I learned a little bit about where you are crossing a line. I found that if you could get a patron to loosen up on the first tee that they would have a better round or at least enjoy themselves more on that day. That is in the spirit of the hospitality business and it gets customers coming back.

Almost all of my material came from patrons who couldn’t wait to tell me their latest joke. Susheel (that is not the correct spelling of his name) told me my favourite joke about blind golfers and the punchline is delivered by one of the three players in the group behind the blind golfers who is an Indian businessmen type. Susheel just happens to be a successful businessman of Indian heritage (the country not the north American Indian). I will never forget his voice as he exaggerated his Indian accent—“Tell them to #$%^ing play at night!! I laughed extra hard that day. And Susheel would always take the time to say hello whenever he saw me at the course.

Recently, I have been reconnecting with some very special people in my past. Some are those that I have not been in touch with for over 30 years. And I know why. They all made me laugh my guts out.

I try to be a clown now and that is why Bozoplay is such a good handle for my persona. I find that I at times revert to being Bran the Businessman and I hate him (even more than Helen the Housekeeper who I would shoot if I owned a gun. Lazy does not begin to describe her).

A vacation recharges your batteries, loosens up all those wound up things inside and often presents you with experiences that are brand new. Chatting with a friend (old, new or brand new) does exactly the same thing and you can do that online as well as in the more preferred method of face-to-face.

So I use the chat windows in games or Facebook and make it funny if I can, email and have been expanding my face-to-face contacts since I have but one in my new home of London, Ontario. I actually do feel a lot better and it happens so quickly and you don’t have to hop on a plane and fly thousands of miles to get there.

And why didn't I think of that before because Sometimes I’m Stupid and Sometimes I’m an Idiot

Sometimes a vacation is staring at you in the mirror. It’s a very good idea to learn how to laugh at yourself.

May I remind you that we are all dead for a very, very long time.