On Voting, Immigrants, And Communists

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My [step]Dad was born in Russia in 1900. For you history buffs, this will let you know that his formative years were shaped by two major events: World War I (the war to end all wars) and the Russian Revolution.

Dad was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, so it was no surprise to learn that he finished school early and, by the time he was 18, was teaching school himself.

This was not good, according to the authorities. People in power were systematically killing anyone who was in a profession. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors were being spirited away. Never to be seen again. Not one or two. Ultimately millions.

By tradition, Mennonites, with whom my Dad identified, are non-violent and peace loving. Not Dad, although he changed later on. He joined the Selbschutz (self defense), teamed up with the White Army, and systematically did away with as many Red Army soldiers as he possibly could.

Dad was eventually found out, and he escaped from Russia just a few hours in front of a massive manhunt. All very James Bond-ish and exciting for a young lad to hear.

This is all a long and involved way of saying that Dad hated Communists. Loved the Russian people but hated Communists.

When he made it to Canada, Dad spoke no English. His “papers” for his education were deemed useless, and he ended up working for a farmer. He taught himself to speak English without an accent (spoke with a mouth full of gravel to do it), went through teacher’s college, and became a teacher again.

This was a profession that he loved, and he taught for more than 40 years. Doubtless he touched many lives in a positive way. I know he did so for me.

Why so much info about my Dad? Well, I have discovered that my political views now are actually the same ones that I had in my youth. The same ones that Dad had a large hand in shaping.

When elections would come up, there was one hard and fast rule for Dad; governments are bad, so you should keep them as small as possible. Oh, and never vote for a communist.

This meant that, for as long as I knew him, he voted Conservative.

Liberals, he detested. This was the era of Trudeau. No, not that one. His Dad. Pierre Elliott.

To be fair, it wasn’t just my Dad who didn’t like him. I suspect that you wouldn’t have found many people west of Ontario who had any use for him. Except maybe some women. He was quite a dashing fellow (for a politician), and many women secretly thought he was pretty cool.

I never did ask my Mom what she thought of him. I liked him because he flipped off the people of Salmon Arm, BC.

Anyway, the Liberals had come up with many ways to screw the West out of any chance of being a “have” province, by taking Alberta oil revenue and Saskatchewan grain revenue and using it to fund programs that benefited the East.

I’m going from memory here, but I’m pretty sure those are the facts. Maybe they teach it differently in Ontario.

So, we did not vote Liberal.

We for sure did not vote NDP. For Dad, the NDP were Communists. Not just had more communist leanings. Nope. Actual Communists.

It didn’t help that the head of the NDP in Saskatchewan was Roy Romanow. Romanow, my Dad explained, was an English spelling of Romanov. As in Czar Romanov. As in the people who helped destroy his beloved Russia.

Not a Communist himself, but …

Well, we don’t vote for Communists. Ever. And for no reason. Verboten.

So, it was Conservative or nothing. And, as voting was your civic duty, it was Conservative.

All of this has, apparently, made a pretty solid impact on me. Without my knowing it – or maybe without really thinking about it – I have been a Conservative all of my life.

To be fair, I mostly agree with what (small “c”) conservatives believe; that governments should be small and stay out of people’s way. I am still arrogant enough that I think that I can do a better job of running my own affairs than anyone in Ottawa. Thank you very much.

The last few elections, however, have had me in a quandary. Which has made it tough, as I’m not 100% sure what a quandary is.

One problem has been the member representing my riding. While he may privately be a fine individual, I find his political leanings to be racist, fear-mongering, discriminatory, and other words that I shouldn’t use, as I like to keep these things rated at least PG-13.

As he is part of the Conservative party, this has made voting difficult. I can’t vote Liberal (they only do what’s right for Ontario), and I sure as hell can’t vote NDP. Because they are communists.

However, it is my civic duty to vote, so …

Shit.

To be fair, it is not just the member in my riding that has me confused. The Conservative party is no longer conservative, at least in my eyes. Government is getting bigger, poking its nose into my business more and more. What I think of a US electioneering has become standard. Rhetoric is now all “us” vs “them”.

And somehow it is all the immigrants’ fault.

Oh, how quickly we forget that, unless you are a First Nations person, we are all immigrants. Likely you have a similar story to my Dad’s. Somewhere along the line, either by the necessity of fleeing for their lives, or a chance at a better future for their family, your ancestors came to Canada.

They often came with nothing. They often didn’t speak English. They were often professional people in “the old country”, but now could only get work as labourers.

I worked for an NGO for a number of years, and I can’t tell you how many doctors, lawyers, and judges have been cleaning toilets and emptying trash cans.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a labourer. It’s just that … ah, you know what I mean.

And as I read the rhetoric online (I don’t have TV, so at least I’m spared some of the BS. Not that it isn’t entertaining. And I’m guessing that comedians will have a ton of stuff to talk about. It’s just that I don’t need that crap in my life.), I’m struck by déja vu. 

Where have I heard this stuff before?

You know, we have to get them before they get us. Immigrants are ruining this once proud country. More government – with more power – is the only way to keep us safe. And other stuff like this.

Where have I heard it before? Oh yeah. Just south of the border, about a decade ago, from one George Bush, Jr.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the direction that our country is going. I have no interest in becoming US North.

I like the quaint ideas that Canada was built on. Ideas like welcoming immigrants as partners who can make this country better. Ideas like doing good in the world, to the point that Americans were sewing maple leafs (leaves?) on to their backpacks for better treatment abroad. Ideas like the armed forces can be used to keep the peace.

Crazy ideas like a person might need a hand up, at the beginning, but that that gesture pays off a thousand fold on the back end with hard working, loyal, and proud Canadians.

And so … who to vote for? It appears that I am actually going to have to think about it, this year. I’m not sure I agree with “my” party, anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with much that they stand for.

This only leaves a few other choices. And, unfortunately, I can’t vote Liberal, because they only do what’s best for Ontario.

And I sure as hell can’t vote NDP. Because they are Communists.

 

MBTY Or Why Politicians Are The Way They Are

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Early in grade school, maybe around Grade 3 or so, boys discover something: someone in their class has a larger penis than they do. This isn’t a huge deal, at the time, but it sinks into the male psyche and troubles the individual.

Sometimes for the rest of his life.

Since there is nothing – physically – that you can do about this discovery, boys come up with different ways to assert the same reality … “Mine’s Bigger Than Yours” or MBTY.

“I can run faster than you.”

Translation: Mine’s Bigger Than Yours.

“I can climb higher than you.”

Translation: Mine’s Bigger Than Yours.

“I can multiply and divide complex numbers in my head.”

Translation: Mine’s Bigger Than Yours.

Of course, in our teens and early twenties, we mature. We no longer spend most of our time running, climbing, or doing complex mathematics. We have evolved. Instead, we buy fast cars (MBTY), have drinking contests to see who pukes first (MBTY), and talk about how much we make per hour (MBTY).

As we continue to evolve, we no longer talk about going fast, puking, or what we make per hour. Instead, we talk about how big our house is, how much we paid for our fine wine, and what we make per year.

Translation: Mine’s Bigger Than Yours.

Sadly, since most people who run the world are men, this continues to be played out on the national – and even international – stage.

PM Harper just dissolved parliament*. In the first place, this is good – less BS to filter out of your daily news watching. In the second place (and if you are in second place, it means someone else’s was bigger), it means that we will be bombarded with a whole new bunch of BS. All of which is grounded in MBTY syndrome.

Or, to use the technical phrase, Grade Three Potty Syndrome, or GTPS.

You laugh. Ron, you say, there is no way that respected world leaders are really trying to compare their penis sizes with leaders from other parts of the world.

That would be crazy.

Exhibit A. George W Bush.

Poor George. His daddy had already proven to the world that his was bigger (remember Gulf War 1: The Televised One). Now poor George II had to prove the same.

“George,” some advisor said, “Why not declare a War on Terror?”

“Is that even a thing?” asked George W.

“As far as you know,” said the advisor.

Let the measuring begin.

Exhibit B. Adolf Hitler.

Adolf was jolted from his sleep by a terrible thought. “Oh, no! I just remembered. In Grade 3, I happened to see Hans Zimmer’s penis in the north hall bathroom. It was bigger than mine.”

He jumped out of bed and invaded Poland.

Exhibit C. Not that we need it. Julius Caesar.

“Brutus,” Julius said. “They’ve said if I bring the army back over the Rubicon, I’m a traitor to the cause.”

“Who said so?” asked Brutus.

“Gaius Flavius.”

“Weren’t you in his Grade 3 class?”

Terrible thoughts of inadequacy leap into Julius’s mind. Stupid Gaius!

“Let’s go home, boys.”

Even here in good old, mild-mannered, Clark-Kent-style Canada, we are not immune to GTPS. Take our parliament, for example.

I understand that an election has been called. For the next 37 and one half months, we will be bombarded with rhetoric of all types. None of it remotely helpful or uplifting. In fact, the best we can hope for is that it will be entertaining.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the election brings out the absolute worst in people. After all, they’ve been practicing for the last 4 years.

Conservative: Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker. (Don’t you just hear Oh, Oh, Oh Mr Kotter!” Yes, Horeshack?”) The honourable member (interesting, too, that they use the word member to refer to each other. But I digress.) is a jackass.”

Liberal (leaping to his feet): Mr Kotter. I mean Mr Speaker. I’m afraid that, due to a lack of intelligence, and – likely – penis size, the honourable member of the majority is, in fact, the jackass.

NDP (not wanting to be left out): Mr Speaker. I think I can respectfully say that the members are both jackasses. And, since I really, really want to be part of this elite group, I will just say that it takes one to know one.”

Mine’s Bigger Than Yours.

So, they’ve got 4 years of ammunition saved up. And they are not afraid to use it. Even if it isn’t true. Or is fear mongering. Or panders to certain groups. Or attacks the most defenseless in our society. Or … well, you get the picture.

What I’d like to see is this: throw Harper, Trudeau, and Mulcair into the cage and have a good, old-fashioned, no-holds-barred, Stampede-Wrestling-style cage match. Whoever survives is able to say that his is the biggest and, therefore, is best suited to rule Canada for the next four years.

Hey, makes as much sense as what happens now.

You know that Trudeau wouldn’t stand a chance. Sure, he’s the youngest, fittest, and possibly the strongest, but he wouldn’t last more than a few seconds.

Trudeau: “Hey Harper. I sure like how you handle yourself. Oh, and Mulcair, you sure look good in those tights.”

Then Harper would kick him between the legs and Mulcair would rabbit punch him, and he’d be out.

Harper and Mulcair would be a great fight. I think Mulcair is physically stronger, so you would think that he would be the winner. Don’t count Harper out, though. Just when you think Mulcair is winning, JR Foley – I mean Peter MacKay – would distract the referee. Then, from out of nowhere, the recently disgraced Mike Duffy would pick the lock, climb to the top rope, and finish Mulcair with a flying elbow smash.

When the referee turns back, all he’d see was Harper covering Mulcair for the count and a couple of stray expense forms on the canvas.

That, my friends, would be a great election.

Personally, I’m pulling for May of the Green Party. I took a quick read of the Green platform, but really … who cares? Why ruin your election entertainment with pesky facts? The candidates won’t, I assure you.

Nope, I just think it would be a nice change of pace to have a woman in charge. Yes, technically we had a female PM, but … Anyway, imagine the refreshing ways of thinking that could ensue.

Why? Presumably, as a woman, she would not be afflicted with the crippling GTPS. Better know as Mine’s Bigger Than Yours. Because she, without being too graphic, doesn’t have one, and so is free from comparison.

Imagine what she could do!

“PM. We’d like to have a made-in-Canada War on Terror.”

“Why?”

“Well, there are a lot of BS reasons, but mostly it’s to show the world that Canada’s is just as big – or bigger – than any other country’s. Plus we’d be able to buy some really cool, really shiny jets.”

“Are these jets on sale or something?

“No. Things are never on sale for governments.”

“Sounds stupid. Denied. What else you got?”

“Umm … Some of our wealthy friends think that they should be taxed less than what low income earners are taxed.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Well, it’s just that we like those rich guys to think we are righteous dudes. Besides, they all have big ones, and we are envious and want them to send us money. So we can get girls.”

“That’s just as stupid as the last one. How does it make sense that the people most able to afford the taxes wouldn’t be taxed as much as those least able to? Denied!”

And I imagine she has a big rubber stamp that says DENIED, and she slams it down on each idea. That would be sweet. That, my friends, would be good television.

Advisor nervously dabs at his forehead with a handkerchief. Which normally he wouldn’t be caught dead with, but he saw a pro athalete with one and figured the ladies liked them.

“Um … Ah … We’d like to create a completely new, kick-ass international force that would be just like the RCMP, CSIS, the border people, Coast Guard, and Foreign Affairs all combined. And they’d have cool, James Bond-like gadgets and have an ordinary name but that looks cool as initials and …”

May, cutting him off. “We already have those organizations in place. Get them to cooperate with each other and let’s move on.”

Advisor is aghast. “But, they don’t cooperate.”

“Well, then, put some women in charge.”

“But … that force would be really cool.”

“And what would it cost?”

“Just a couple of hundred million a year, or so. Plus it would make Canada look truly bad ass.”

“Meanwhile, there are kids starving on our very own streets. In Canada! Denied. Oh, and get out.”

DENIED! On the grounds that penis size is irrelevant.

Well, it’s too much to hope for. No doubt, we’ll have good old Harper for another four years. Not that he’s any better, or worse, than any other. It’s just that he’s so … well … boring.

Oh for the days of Jean Chretien. “Well, if you come at me in a crowd, I ‘ave to take you out.” Or, and this was my all time favourite: “A proof is a proof is a proof. Once it has been proven, it is a proof.”

Who can argue with that?

True, I couldn’t understand a word he said, but there was a guy who could give a fiddler’s fiduciary about what anyone thought of him. Politically correct? I think not.

Or even, gulp, Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau was crap for the country, but his line “Just watch me” had more MBTY attitude than anyone. Plus, he flipped off the people of Salmon Arm. That will never happen in this election.

If it does, I’m voting for the person who does it. And it doesn’t have to be Salmon Arm. Just some in-general flipping off will suffice.

Actually, and this was before my time, Lester B Pearson was the guy we need more politicians to be like. Lester said “Hey, if we, along with the UN, use our soldiers to keep the peace, instead of making war, we can do some good and stabilize the Suez Crisis (also before my time).

“But Lester, it will make us look weak if we cooperate with the other countries. Plus, making war is a lot cooler than making peace.”

“Screw it. It’s the right thing to do.”

One Nobel Peace Prize later, Canada has a solid, global reputation of fairness and general help-outive-iness.

So, for my comedian friends (paid and otherwise) out there, enjoy the next 37 and one half months. They will be a gold mine of material. For you political junkies, enjoy as well. As for me, I’ll continue to stay unplugged from the political maelstrom, and I’ll be the better for it.

I’m not sure what that says about my penis size, but I’m not in Grade 3 anymore.

*By the way, notice that parliament is not running the country for the next while. Uh oh. I guess that’s the end of Canada as we know it. How will we survive?

And The Lights Went Out All Over The World!

 

 

Cylon
Cylon, from Battlestar Galactica at DeviantArt.com

I am a fan of technology. I think smartphones are cool, although I don’t like them when they interrupt conversations. Computers can do amazing things, and the internet, in spite of being created by the military to host porn, has democratized information. So, all in all, I’m a fan of technology.

However … there are places that technology should not be. Places where, thank you very much, good old plain, analog solutions are best.

Take the restroom, for example.

The word “restroom”, by the way, must be one of the best euphemisms ever created. I don’t know about you, but I have never rested in a restroom. Done my business? Yes. Washed up? Yes. Seen amazing feats of boyish prowess performed? Yes.

Rested? No.

I’m a bit of a connoisseur of restrooms. This is not because of some morbid fascination I have with human processes. No – and this is probably too much information – I just happen to spend quite a bit of time in restrooms.

On a regular basis, I get some special sauce dripped into my veins. (And no, this part has nothing to do with restrooms … although I understand your confusion.) This is done, appropriately in my case, in the bowels of an old building. An old, and until recently, analog building. Not too long ago, though, the twentieth century reared its head.

We got the internet.

Now, I didn’t do a cartwheel or anything – which, by the way, is tough to do when you have an IV in your arm and you are attached to a pole – but that was nice. Cell reception down in the bowels of huge, old, concrete buildings is never very good, so the interweb helps while away the hours while Dr Oz is playing on TV.

Nature often calls during these times, and, when nature calls, I always choose to respond.

I walked into the restroom, and I immediately knew something was different. The light, whose switch until recently had a sign on it saying “Please turn off lights when leaving”, came on. Automatically! Is this some sort of witchcraft? I hesitantly made my way in and settled myself in my favourite stall. Which is actually the only stall, but why split hairs.

So, there I was. Resting and minding my own business. And the lights went out.

Now, I’m not afraid of the dark. As a kid, I was, and so I forced myself out into the dark to confront my fears. I guess I must have been successful, because the dark doesn’t scare me. Much.

The dark, however, makes certain, restful movements more difficult. Not the movements themselves; more like the clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Ron.

I figured – and here is where my technological savvy was most helpful – that the light was motion activated. So, I thought, if I just make some motion, the light will come back on.

It’s sound reasoning like that that has gotten me to this life of luxury that I enjoy  today.

So, I shifted on my restful perch. Nothing. I wiggled around and moved my legs. Nothing.

I reached my arms into the air and sang “YMCA”. Which is tough to do when you are in a small stall with your IV pole crammed in with you.

Nothing.

I carefully stood up and stretched an arm heavenward. Success! The lights were back on. Hurray for technology!

I finished resting and proceeded to reach for the flush mechanism.

Hmmm. Where the heck is it? And what is this blinking red light? Are the Cylons taking over the earth, starting with restrooms?

Again, my vast, technological prowess took over. Perhaps the toilet operates on the same principle as the lights?

I waved my hand in front of the blinking light. Nothing. I tried sitting down and standing back up. Nothing. I even thought I’d try lifting a hand heavenward. Hey, it worked for the lights.

Nothing.

There must be a button or lever or something for cases like this. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find anything.

Shit. Literally and figuratively. You see, I can’t not flush a toilet after I’ve used it. People coming after me don’t need to see the surface of Mars in the toilet bowl. Although, one time, there was a pretty cool statue of Michelangelo’s David.

So I frantically searched for some way to flush the stinking toilet. By now, I’m on my hands and knees, with an IV pole riding my butt. As I grope around the toilet, somehow – and I’m pretty sure there was some divine intervention – the toilet flushed.

And the lights went off. But the lights I could fix, so I figured my ordeal was nearly over.

I just needed to wash my hands.

Until recently, I was able to wash my hands using a simple tap mechanism: I turned the handle and water came out of the tap.

There were no handles.

However, the same spawn of Baltar appeared to be controlling the water flow, so I moved my hand in front of the blinking light.

Nothing.

I tried waving my hand in front of it. Nothing. By now, my frustration level was mounting, and if the nurse had taken my blood pressure, it may have been slightly elevated.

As I tried to calm myself, a voice spoke in the back of my mind. “Ronald-san. Paint the fence.”

When Mr Miyagi tells you to paint the fence, you paint the fence.

I moved my hands up and down, to no avail. “Ronald-san. Try side to side.”

I tried side to side. Then I tried “Sand the floor”.

Nothing.

Out of frustration, I gave the sink the finger.

Out came the water.

I quickly put my hand under the flow, but it turned off; however, I was able to restart it by continuously keeping my driving finger extended.

Success! I nearly cried with relief.

Now, the only issue was to dry my hands. Until recently, I had been able to pull a paper towel out of a slot and dry my hands. Apparently this was too difficult a task to manage. Now the helpful Cylon was suggesting that I wave my hand to receive a piece of paper towel.

I placed myself directly in front of the towel dispenser, drew myself up to “attention”, and threw the machine a smart, crisp, one finger salute.

The lights went out just as the dispenser dispensed some paper towel.

We Don’t Climb Trees

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I try to mind my own business – which is hard, because it seems there are so many people who could benefit from my wisdom. But …

There are times when I have to stand up and be counted. Have my voice heard. Rail against the injustice. Even if it’s done on an obscure blog that only 7 people have ever read. And one of those is my Mom, so I’m not sure Google counts that as a view or not.

I was at the dentist’s office the other day. Wait. Wait! It’s not another “Dentist Story”. Really. The setting was the dentist’s office. That’s all. Honest.

In the “stall” next to me, a very young brother and sister were getting their teeth checked for the first time. The dentist was counting their teeth, giving them rides up and down on the chair, and generally making a trip to the dentist appear to be like a trip to the fair. If they still had fairs.

Now the fact that I never had fun at the dentist is not where the injustice in this story happens. If you can believe it, this is not about me. Well, I’m sure it is. Maybe it’s not overtly about me.

From what I gathered – I was staring at the ceiling with a drill, some sort of pick, and I think a small basketball in my mouth, so my attention wasn’t focused on the outside world – the sister was in the chair, and the little boy, who was maybe 3 (get them young!), was looking out the window.

“Daddy! Look at the trees! Let’s go climb them!”

As much as I could, with the dentist’s hand – and possibly her foot – in my mouth, I smiled. You see, I loved climbing when I was young. Trees. Barns. Monkey bars at school. My Mom was convinced that I was part chimpanzee, at least on my Dad’s side.

Who am I kidding? I still like to climb stuff.

There is something about climbing. It unites your body, mind, and spirit in a way that few things do. Yes, your body is the vehicle for the climb, but your mind must be active. You need to plan your route, look for appropriate hand and footholds, and, if climbing trees, be on the lookout for a dead branch that won’t hold your weight.

But your spirit … Oh, my friends, what does a climb do for your spirit! Upon reaching the top, you are swept into a feeling of ecstasy and wonder. At the very least, a job well done. Mission accomplished. Fear and danger overcome.

At best, a sense of wonder, excitement, and the knowledge that you are one with the world. Yes, I was a tree hugger before it was cool.

And so I was excited for the little boy. I pictured myself helping my sons into trees when they were young –  and smaller than I. The excitement on their faces. The lure of adventure. These were the things I imagined for this little guy.

Then his father said these 4 (or possibly 5, depending on how you count contractions) words that no father, mother, or grandparent should ever say:

“We don’t climb trees.”

You don’t climb trees? What the hell? Pardon my French, but this is outrageous. You don’t climb trees? This is not an OK thing to say. Not only is climbing a tree a religious experience, it is one of the true joys of life. You don’t climb trees?

The father continued on. “Climbing trees is dangerous. You will get hurt if you climb a tree. You could fall out of the tree and get really hurt. We don’t climb trees.”

I didn’t know what to say. Well, I couldn’t say anything, as there were potholes being filled in my oral pathway, but my flabber was so gasted that I was speechless.

I’m not saying the father was wrong in his assessment of tree climbing. Yes, if you climb enough, you will get hurt. Skinned knees and hands. A branch in the eye. Momma birds will attack you if you come close to her nest.

And yes, you will fall.

But you have to weigh the pros out as well. You need to remember the feeling of accomplishment that you get. How you overcame adversity. How you experienced pain and kept on going. How, in spite of wearing old, brown, suede, worn-smooth Converse runners, you made it from point A to point B. And lived to tell the story.

These things are not only required, but they are our birthright. Better a broken body than a broken spirit. Or worse, a spirit that lives in fear.

What did that little guy learn that day? Not only can’t he climb trees now, but he won’t be climbing anything in the future, either. Plus, the world just became a little scarier. Now even the trees are out to get him.

Society is obsessed with safety.

I was fortunate enough to have grown up in an era when it was OK – expected even – to get hurt. To try new, and often dumb, things. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, but I did learn them.

I tried to give those same experiences to my sons. I remember putting them both into our big willow tree for the first time. The nervousness in their eyes. Fear even. The few tentative handholds. The confidence in their ability to go higher. The shining eyes after they made it to the top and experienced the thrill of accomplishment.

These are experiences that have become a part of who they are. Was I worried about them when they were high enough to break something on the way down? Damn right, I was. Was the risk worth the reward? Absolutely.

Nowadays, everything is safe. Playgrounds have thick padding, and all the “dangerous” items have been removed. Helmets are required for everything. Trampolines are a thing of the past. Safety labels assume that you are brain dead. “Hoisting this 500 pound refrigerator on your back may cause injury.” Really. I’m amazed we don’t have airbags on bicycles.

But safety is like a unicorn: a nice idea, I guess, but it doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.

A friend of mine, who carefully and faithfully saved his beans over a lifetime of work, had about half of his net worth wiped out by the recent “market correction”. It’ll come back, but his retirement has been compromised.

I’m not saying don’t save for the future. You should. It is not only prudent, but it is also wise. Just don’t think that it makes you “safe”. Things happen.

I’m not a political guy. I don’t follow the news. But even I heard about Bill C-51. I don’t even pretend to know the ins and outs of it, but I suspect it was passed to protect our safety.

I think I mentioned that I think safety is a dragon: it flies, is scaly, has that cool ability to shoot fire, but, ultimately, doesn’t exist.

So we give up a few more rights and freedoms to be kept safe. I can now be held for something like 7 days if CSIS decides that I’m an unsavoury character.

All in the hopes of keeping me safe. All because we live lives of fear because we aren’t allowed to climb trees anymore.

How about that? Worldwide attempts to combat terrorists all comes back to not letting little boys (and I only use boys as an example. I also hope that girls are climbing trees and doing dumb stuff, too. Why should boys get all the fun?) climb trees.

What a funny world we live in.

And so … take some risks. Maybe you’re past the stage where you are climbing stuff. Although, really, are you? Or are you just afraid of what people would say if they saw you at the top of the tree in your front yard?

Anyway, find out where you can be a bit “unsafe”. Push through your fear. You might just discover that the pain was worth it. Required, even. A difficult path makes the destination that much sweeter.

After all, you wouldn’t stop having sex just because it might be messy and just a bit awkward.

So, the next time we meet, go ahead and say what you want about me. Pie in the sky. Not grounded in reality. Pollyanna. Idiot. Fool. I’m a peace loving Mennonite, so I’ll take it in stride.

But, if you say “We don’t climb trees”, and I don’t have a mouth full of dental instruments, I might just have to punch you in the mouth.

Is It Still Safe?

 

 

isitsafe

Szell (Laurence Olivier) performs dental torture on Babe (Dustin Hoffman) to determine if it is safe. From the movie Marathon Man.

I may have mentioned that visiting the dentist is not my favourite thing to do. In fact, I can think of quite a few things that I’d rather do; pay a parking ticket, receive a quick kick to the shins, or clean dog poo off my lawn. [And this in spite of the fact that I don’t own a dog. Clean up after your own pets, people!]

Still, it’s not the worst thing that can happen.

I’ve had a series of interesting experiences with dentists. One of the earliest I can remember was when I was about … hmmm … I guess I can’t remember. Early on, anyway.

My dentist, who was about 6′ 6″ tall and about 400-500 lbs*, came in to have a look. “Mmmm. Uh huh. Oh.” And on and on like that. Finally, after spending about 7 hours in the chair (me, not him), he says “We are going to need to do an extraction.”

This, by the way, was back in the day when they still did extractions.

I said “Sure. But what – exactly – is an extraction?” Except that it came out more like “Saaah. Baa whaaa – aaaaly – ss aaa traaactor”, because he had most of his fist in my mouth.

I learned what an extraction was. And I didn’t like it.

So, my early emotional and physical scarring may have something to do with the fact that I now view dentists with some skepticism. That and the fact that I think they’ve got a bit of a scam going.

And by a bit of a scam, I mean a scam. Come on – $150+ to get your teeth cleaned? Yes, I know that your Water Pic is really fancy, but still.

Anyway, there was a period in my earlier life where my teeth required a lot of TLC. I’m not sure why. Maybe genetics. Maybe diet. Who knows. I can’t think of any behaviour that I was regularly partaking in that would cause dental problems. Risk of blindness, sure. But not dental problems.

Anyway, my more recent dental escapades have been chronicled elsewhere. Suffice to say that not all things have gone well.

A couple of months ago, an old filling was loose. And by old, I actually mean less than a year old. More accurately, I could have said a new filling was loose.

Apparently something hadn’t been sealed properly, and decay had set in under the filling. And the decay irritated the root. Which became infected. Or impacted. Or abscessed.  Whatever you call it, it hurt.

I decided to find a new dentist.

I made an emergency appointment with a dentist at a nearby clinic. When I was introduced, I was not thrilled. You see, she was young, intelligent, and attractive.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have nothing against young, intelligent, and attractive women. Or old, intelligent, attractive women. In fact, you could say I have a “thing” for intelligent, attractive women.

So much so that I married one.

Anyway, my previous experiences with attractive dentists have not gone well, and this one didn’t start off any better. “Mr Schellenberg, you seem to have some issues going on in here.”

I would have said “No sh*t, Sherlock”, but her hand was in my mouth.

She then proceeded to lecture me on dental hygiene, the dangers of not having regular dental checkups, and the sorry state of Canada’s foreign policy.

Now, I don’t now – nor have I ever – enjoy being lectured. In fact, because of my past dental escapades, I am pretty good in the oral hygiene department. I brush regularly, use a dentist approved toothpaste, and floss bi-annually. Or bi-ennially. I always get those two mixed up. I also have my teeth checked daily by a professional.

I may have gotten something mixed up, there.

My righteous indignation, which I righteously keep just below the surface, righteously bubbled up. I was about to explain how my hygiene – oral and otherwise – was pretty good, that I do have regular checkups, and that Canada’s foreign policies have been in the crapper since the days of Lester B Pearson.

I got control of myself, however, and kept my mouth shut. Or, in this case, open.

“You are going to need either a root canal or an extraction. I would strongly recommend a root canal, as there is hardly any money in extractions.” She may have worded that differently, but that’s what I heard.

Refer to my previous post for my thoughts on root canals.

“I can’t help you today, but, if you can come in early on Monday morning (this was Friday), I’ll come in early and help you out.” As they had squeezed me in in an emergency situation, I thought this was a pretty good deal. She gave me a prescription for penicillin and sent me on my way.

Monday morning came, and, as I hadn’t slept much anyway, I was at the dentist’s office early. “So, what have we decided?” she asked. I’m not sure what we decided, but I had decided on an extraction.

“OK,” she said. Cheerfully. “Let’s get to it.”

She hauled out a needle, jabbed it into my gums – and down into the bottom of my jaw, I think – and let it “freeze” for a bit.

“Feeling numb?” she asked.

I assumed she was talking about my mouth. “No,” I replied. In fact, I didn’t feel any numbness, tingling, or even shortness of breath.

“Hmmm. You must be resistant to the medication.” This is not surprising, as I have had, at one time or another, nearly every medication known to humanity shot into my veins.

For medical reasons only, of course.

She gave me another shot. Nothing. Cheerfully, she got out Big Bertha (my term, not hers) and had another go. This was a much larger needle, with a trigger on it. Like a trigger on a gun. Or, in this case, a cannon.

Thankfully, at least my gums were numb, because I could feel that the needle was so large it was punching holes into my gums. And maybe even into the ozone layer. Although I’m not a scientist, so don’t quote me on that.

A few minutes later, I couldn’t feel a thing. In any part of my body, actually.

And so the ordeal began. And by ordeal, I mean about 15-20 minutes. A little wiggling here, a little cranking there, and finally some pulling and … out it came.

This in sharp contrast to the last tooth I had had extracted. Which took two dentists – one being a cute blonde and the other being a good looking man with forearms the size of Popeye’s – over an hour to extract.

With plenty of “pressure” for yours truly.

It is rare, in this new dawning of the Age of Aquarius, to meet someone who truly loves her work. My new dentist is such a person. As she was trying to get the last root out, she was laughing delightedly. So was the assistant.

“Ron (it was Ron, now, not Mr Schellenberg), you’d be laughing too, if you could see how this root keeps dancing out of the way.” I took her word for it.

It was as painless a procedure as I could expect. Since then, I have had more work done, and all has gone well. In spite of the fact that this is all to fix fillings that were done in very recent memory.

By a dental office which shall remain nameless.

I’m not passing any judgements, just yet. I figure I’ll have to give it a year, and see how it goes. My insurance is already burned through, and there’s still some more to do, but … so far so good.

I don’t know why people want to be dentists. Sure, I guess the money is good. And by guess, I mean the money is good. But you have to look at some disgusting stuff, smell bad breath all day, and use devices that have been banned as instruments of torture since medieval times.

And you have to be bathed in that ugly, yellow light. Let’s face it, that’s not the most flattering shade. Plus, it can’t be great at a cocktail party. [Do they still have cocktail parties? If so, do you just stand around and drink cocktails?]

“And what do you do?” the lecherous older man asks the young, intelligent, and attractive woman.

“I’m a dentist,” she says. “How often do you floss?”

“Oh. Um. Yes. Well. I say, isn’t that Lester B Pearson over there?” (The sound of footsteps running.)

Still, I’m glad there are people who do it. It would just be nice if they were all … you know … good at what they did. Let’s just say that I am cautiously optimistic about my new relationship … with a young, intelligent, and attractive young woman.

Just don’t let my wife find out.

 

*I mention his size simply to give you a visual of how imposing he was. And by imposing, I mean scary. Which, if you are a dentist, is probably a good thing. “And here, Mr Schellenberg, is the bill.” I gasp and fall to floor in the fetal position. The dentist looms over me. “If you know what’s good for yous, yous’ll keep your trap shut and fork over the loot.”

Because, for some reason, my dentist now works for the New York mafia.

Is it Safe?

Going to the dentist is not my favourite thing.

While I don’t dread the dentist (it’s pretty far down on my dreading list), see my opening statement for how I feel about them. Or him, in my case.

Actually, out of curiousity, I looked him up on the the old internet, and found that he generally has a high to very high rating. And many – likely women, but I’m not one to judge – found him handsome to extremely handsome.

He doesn’t do it for me, but you might feel otherwise.

Sorry, I don’t have a picture or even a selfie with him. (Note how cool and hip I sound when I use pop culture references as if I know what they mean. Actually, I do know what a selfie is, but I was brought up not to discuss such things in mixed company.)

So I went to see my dentist – as I often do with my dentist – because I had a problem. A tooth ache, to be truthful. An abcess, to be precise.

The politically and socially correct thing to do, apparently, is to have a root canal.

In the past, I’ve had 3 root canals done. One worked without a hitch. Which is good, because, frankly, I have no need of a hitch. I haven’t needed one since we sold our horse – Big Jim – when I was a kid.

Big Jim was an awesome horse, but he doesn’t have anything to do with this story.

The next root canal went horribly wrong. It was performed by my current dentist’s former partner, which, according to that famous philosopher, Dark Helmet, makes us absolutely nothing.

If I would have been rating her on the internet, I would have rated her in the handsome to very handsome category.

Her dental work, however, was less than spectacular. Actually, her dental work was fine. What I meant was that the work she did on me wasn’t that good.

Sorry for the confusion.

In the end – after she had moved on to another job … perhaps as a model or TV weather announcer – my regular dentist had to pull it. Which is what I think should be done in most cases, but … well, I don’t want to give away the ending.

Note how I skillfully build up the suspense.

Tooth number three. Yes, I seem to have had a rash of bad luck when it comes to nerves, lately. My doctor thinks it has something to do with the (likely) radioactive stuff they drip into my veins on a regular basis.

I think it has to do with working in the ministry, but I’m not a medical expert.

Where was I … Right. Tooth number three.

Again, my regular dentist was unavailable to do the work. In fact, I’m wondering if I should call him my “regular” dentist, at all. If I say that again, I may mean “my occasional dentist”.

His new partner, however, was available. Having had such a satisfactory root canal performed previously, I lobbied hard for what the Dental Association of Canada calls “an extraction”.

I was informed as to the dire consequences of such a drastic and unthought (yep, pretty sure that’s a word) out action. I would be unable to chew properly, my whistling ability – which, let’s face it, is how I make most of my income – could be severely impaired, and small children in the developing world would likely be worse off … in some horrible, unknown way.

Against my better judgment, I had the root canal done.

I am about 90% happy with the results of that one, which, according to Schellenberg’s Law, means that I’m really only 10% happy with it.

Schellenberg’s Law of Dental Work – The patient will actually be 100% unhappy with any dental work that doesn’t give 100% satisfaction.

My regular dentist is quite certain that any pesky dis-satisfaction with that one can be remedied. And it shouldn’t cost my firstborn to achieve it.

Actually, I’d be happy to trade my firstborn for a healthy tooth, but no one is taking me up on that offer.

Perhaps they’ve met him. My firstborn, not the dentist.

So … two out of three (or 2/3, for you math challenged types) of these procedures (or what the Bible calls “ordeals”) have gone bad.

Imagine if someone handed you a revolver and said “Hey, it’s Russian Roulette (which, by the way, I strongly advise you NOT to play). I’m going to fill 4 of the 6 chambers with bullets. Spin away and good luck.”

Four of six (or 4/6) is actually the same as 2/3, but I don’t know of any 3 shooters out there.

I’m trying to keep this accurate.

Can you imagine how menacing a desperado of the Old West would have been with a 3 shooter?

Desperado: “Reach for the sky, pilgrim, or I’ll fill you full of lead.”

Pilgrim: “When you say “full of lead”, do you mean all three bullets?”

Desperado: “Well, I’ve actually got to save two for a shootout I’m having at high noon, so I guess fill you “full” of lead may have been an overstatement.”

Pilgrim: “I’ll maybe take my chances.”

So, tooth number four. I went to my dentist with every intention of having an extraction. I had all my ducks – or, in this case, teeth – in a row. I had a reasoned argument for extraction. I even practiced saying “extraction” without a smirk, when you and I know it really just means “pulling”.

The root canal, according to him, went well.

It turns out that getting an extraction is like pulling teeth.

Some of his arguments:

1) The side of your face may fall off
2) I will get laughed out of the dental society for letting a “live one” go
3) I really need to take my kids – see how how cute they are? – to Disney World this year

All of this, of course, happens while he has a diamond tipped drill spinning at 88 000 rpm sitting inches from your eye (tooth).

So, it turns out, after finding the chamber (difficult to find. Not unusual, in someone of your age. Lots of calcification.), he had little trouble with the canals themselves.

Perhaps he once was a gondolier in Venice.

As I lay there – I was in my happy place, and was only jolted out of my reverie a couple of times. Once, when said drill came dangerously close to the few brain cells I have left. Another time when I heard “Whups”. And once when, I’m pretty sure, I heard him say “Well, that’s Sally’s plane ticket and Disney pass paid for.”

Sorry, lost my train of thought. Anyway, as I lay there, I was feeling pretty good about “my” decision.

My regular dentist said “Well, I’ll just put a temporary filling in, and we’ll see if it settles down in a few days. And remember, as I promised, if there’s any problem, I’ll pull it.”

But, I could see that he had his fingers crossed behind him. That’s the problem when you’re working with mirrors. Granted, they were crossed backwards, but I could still figure it out.

The temporary filling fell out a couple of hours later.

Now, some of you more vengeful types might think I should have my day in court. If I did, though, I don’t think it would work out in my favour.

Judge: What brings you here today?

Me: Well, my dentist gave me a root canal – against my will. I tried to get it pulled – and he put in a temporary filling, and it came out a few hours later.

Judge: First, everyone knows that dentists don’t even know how to pull teeth anymore. And, by the way, it’s called an extraction.

As far as the temporary filling goes, what does the word “temporary” imply to you?

Case dismissed!

Me: But, your Honour …

Judge: Quiet! I’ve already ruled. Another outburst like that, and I’ll sentence you to another root canal.

Actually, that might be a good way to cut down on crime. No more prison. Just root canals, given against your will by a dentist who says, over and over, “Is it safe?”.

[This is a reference to the movie Marathon Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Sir Laurence Olivier. The movie came out before I was born.] [OK, OK … that’s a lie. I was born.]

And no freezing, either. (I’d use “anesthetic”, but I’d feel pretty prententious about it. I’m no dentist, after all.)

I can see a Nobel Prize in my future. As well as free dental work for life from a grateful dental society.

Goooaalll!

I think I might be getting even more crotchety as I get older.

I was getting my “oil changed” – no, nothing kinky, just my monthly infusion of … well, I’m not too sure what it is, but hopefully it’s helping.

There’s a TV in the room where this happens. It was on.

I was not in charge of the remote.

Soccer was on. Or football, if you prefer. Personally, I don’t, but I’m not here to judge.

I’ll be perfectly frank. I don’t like soccer. I didn’t like it when I was young, and I don’t like it now. Oh, I know … it’s great exercise. It fosters teamwork. And I’m sure there’s something else good about it, but I can’t think of it right now.

Two teams were playing. One team was in blue and something, and the other team was in white with green(?) stripes.

I was there for about two hours. I think I saw about a third of the game.

That’s my first beef with soccer. It takes too long. I think it officially takes 7 and a half hours to play a game. (OK … I may have exaggerated. It’s more like 90 minutes – although this one went 94 for reasons that only a soccer fan would know.)

Now I know what you are going to say. “But you watch a movie that’s longer than that” or “A Rider game takes longer than that … with commercials.”

Yes, but those things are interesting.

I do like the announcers, though. They are tasked with making a boring game even remotely interesting.

“Jimbo (not his real name) has it up to Johnny. Johnny – What a Great Play! – taps it up to Fred. Fred takes a look and passes to Ferdinand (his real name). AND FERDINAND LOOKS LIKE HE IS GOING TO BE APPROACHING CENTRE FIELD AT ANY MOMENT!

And the crowd goes wild! I’m not making this up. A guy gets near the centre field line and the crowd erupts.

“And he is turned back at the line. The ball goes back to Johnny, who taps it back to the goaltender.”

Now there is a sucky position. Goalie for a soccer team.

Playing Goalie always sucks, and that is why only weird people play the position. Don’t write me. You know it’s true.

The goalie has an impossible task. It’s not like an NHL goalie. Those guys are generally about 6’4″, weigh a couple of hundred pounds, and, with equipment on, leave only 2 square feet of space upon which to be scored. (Note how I pulled out my grade 10 English for that last sentence.)

No … the soccer goal is about 90′ wide and 37′ high. (Sorry, metric types. I’m ranting and don’t have enough time to do the conversion.) The goalie is less than two feet wide and 6 feet high.

Essentially, he’s screwed. And by essentially, I mean – he’s screwed.

Fortunately, there are only two real scoring opportunities per game.

As I continued to watch – did I mention I didn’t have the remote? – I thought to myself that something was missing. Yes, excitement, but that wasn’t it. What was it?

Oh yeah … the pool.

Pool? My dear sir, you are thinking, this is football. There is no pool … except perhaps from all the tears that are shed when a red card comes out.

You are correct. And thanks for calling me sir. There is no pool, but, with all the diving, there should be.

Puhlease! I saw a guy come close to another guy (this isn’t how the announcer called it. I may be paraphrasing.) The one guy tripped over his own feet. Hey, I’m not here to judge. This happens to me all the time – although I do it for free. Anyway, the guy goes down.

The guy he fell close to sees him. He immediately grabs his knee and falls to the ground. As he writhes in pain, the camera moves to the original guy – let’s call him Mr Klutz. Klutzy sees the histrionics. He was in the process of getting up, but now, in an Oscar worthy performance, clutches his thigh and falls to the ground.

As far as I can tell, there has not been any contact between the two. I’m sure, not being a student of the game, that I missed some nuance.

I’d hate to think they were just a couple of cry-babies.

Trainers both go sprinting onto the field, seeing who could get in on the scene first. Coaches on both teams are gesturing wildly at the referee and the other guys (umpires? linesmen?).

Now, if it was me, I would have kicked (heh heh) them both out, after giving them wet willies and nipple twisters.

Grow up, you people!

I mean come on. Even the Russian judge was saying (heavy fake Russian accent) “That was a fine dive on the first guy’s part, but the reaction was pure genius! I give him a 5.9.”

I’d love to see those guys up on the 3 metre (your welcome, metric types) platform to see how they would do in an Olympic setting. I could see Billy Crystal MCing and using these antics in his pre-Oscar shtick. Does he still do the Oscars?

They get things squared away. After lots of crying and very dirty looks. The ref wrote something on a card, I think. (Probably a note to get into a different line of work. One with fewer cry babies. Like in a hospital nursery.) I was getting my blood pressure checked right about then, and I may have been distracted.

“Your blood pressure seems abnormally high,” said the nurse.

“No kidding,” I said. “This game makes me crazy.”

The game continues. I’m not sure if they play straight time or not. It doesn’t feel like, that’s for sure.

Now one team actually gets the ball across the centre line (centre field? half field line?). The fans go insane.

Some idiot pulls out a horn and blows it.

All hell breaks loose. There is singing and chanting. Half the people are on their feet. The home team, I presume.

The announcer is about to have an aneurysm.

“Ferdinand (his real name) has it up to Bill. Bill appears to pull a hamstring but – NO! It’s a trick! Oh Bill, that crafty veteran. The old grab-my-hamstring-but-it’s-really-a-trick trick. He’s completely fooled these youngsters!”

“Bill has it up to Thurston. AND THURSTON LETS THE BALL GO TOWARDS THE NET!

Now, the fact that the ball actually missed the net by 48 feet doesn’t seem to phase the announcer. Poor Thurston is – literally – pulling his hair out. His team mates are all consoling him. There are a few tears. An older fellow in the crowd is given CPR, but he refuses to be taken away to the hospital.

The goalie congratulates himself for not filling his shorts on international television.

And finally, with about 6 minutes left in the game, the blue guys score. Or, to be more precise, the guys in the blue jerseys.

I didn’t think it could get crazier. I was wrong.

The crowd went insane. The coach on the scoring team was going insane. The announcer gave himself a small stroke.

And that’s how the game ended. 7.5 hours of “action”, and the score is 1-0.

That’s the other thing wrong with soccer.

Newsflash – I don’t want to watch a bunch of very fit guys run around, kicking a ball and looking for acting contracts, for 7.5 hours and have the score be 1-0!

The goal, according to my calculations, is 3330 sq ft. How, in the name of all that is holy, can highly paid professionals miss a goal that big? Does it need to be bigger? Perhaps they need a rule change: only little people can be soccer goalies.

Maybe I should have watched women’s soccer. They have to be tougher than the guys. At the very least there might be some hair pulling or eye gouging. Or something.

I know. I know. 4 billion people watch or play soccer. I know. I’m a bumbling, boorish boob for not “understanding” the game. I know. I don’t understand the subtle nuances and the mind games being played.

But I do know boring, and when you look it up in the dictionary, there’s a picture of a soccer ball.

Chickens vs Ron – the Uneasy Truce

I have either been getting used to the chickens, or the chickens and I have begun to think as one. I am now waking at a slightly more reasonable hour, with less hatred in my heart for my fellow fowl.

Of course, I am eating chicken every chance I get, so maybe I am winning a war of attrition.

The weather continues to be great, although it is VERY windy here. There isn’t enough hair product to keep hair in place.

We have been exploring the island. I am very excited to say that we have discovered some places to shop. Always my favourite … In unrelated news, I watched the movie Snitch yesterday afternoon.

As always, I am often more interested in people watching than doing stuff. Especially if it can be done in the shade.

We spent some time in Lahaina, and I was able to spend most of the afternoon under a massive banyan tree, talking to / observing the people.

Here are some of the things I observed:

A shop owner on a break – “all you Canadians are so happy. We sure are proud of you up there!”

“Thanks,” I said. It feels good to be validated by our brothers and sisters thousands of miles away.

The economy – is definitely hurting here. My wife was shopping (shocking, I know). While looking at a necklace, a person literally – not making this up – took my wife’s necklace from around her neck and put a new one on. My wife was a little ticked, and if it wouldn’t have been for the fantastic deal, she would have been offended.

After the money changed hands, the sales lady said “thank you. Now, goodbye!” It makes you feel good that people around the world really care for each other …

Lost in translation – a tour bus went by. On the side was the name of the tour company, in English and Cantonese. OK, it could have been Mandarin. What do I know?

The translation was less than spectacular. It was The Good Merry American Tours bus. I’m sure this was something really cool sounding in the original language.

Looks can be deceiving – there was a man sitting on the bench next to me. He had a bulging backpack, and I could see a sleeping bag sticking out of it.

As I like to pigeonhole people – so as to keep feeling superior – I mentally said “homeless”. He was busy writing, and, after a while, I asked him if he was writer.

“No,” he said ” I’ve got to get my taxes done to keep the f$&@ing IRS off my back.”

In the back of my mind, I had this little fragment of thought. Something about a book by its cover …

Looks can’t be deceiving 2 – a young woman was crossing the street. She was … Um … amply endowed, and wearing what I would call a tube top – but that probably has a different name by now.

Fashion is one of the many things that are not my strong suit.

As she walked, I thought of all the rules of physics she was proving – an object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion … Well, the one law she was having the most trouble with was gravity.

Let’s face it, we all do.

Just before I could avert my eyes, I was scandalized by what I think of as a free show – or in this case, half a show. As she said a few, and in her case, appropriate, comments, I was reminded of the wise words of my uncle John. “You can’t shove 10 pounds of rice into an 8 pound sack.

Words to live by.

The food so far hasn’t been great – other than some fantastic ribs at Ruby Tuesdays. I spent an agonizing day and night with food poisoning after some lousy fish at a local restaurant.

I guess if you have to be sick, it’s better to be sick on Maui.

Well, I’ve bored you again. I know, it’s like I never left …

Have a good one. Time to see what the day has to offer.

Aloha

PS – I have some great pictures, but I’m unsure as to how to get them from the camera to my iPad. I’m sure there is a gizmo that will do it, but, frankly, I don’t want to put any effort into it. So, instead, I’ll paint a mental picture. Imagine a woman in a tube top …

Ron vs The Chickens

Aloha from the valley isle of Maui. Sun, surf, and sand. 28 degrees with a cool wind off the ocean.

Life is good …

Unless you hate chickens – which I am beginning to do. In 92 or 93, Spielberg was filming Jurassic Park when a massive hurricane blew through the islands. In the storm, chicken barns everywhere were destroyed, and chickens ended up on every island.

They run wild and free to this day.

At 5 am, they come to life. Their crowing, clucking, and just plain cussedness has woken me two days in a row. Does anyone have a good recipe for chicken?

Maui is quite different from Oahu. Waikiki, for example, has a night life. Kihei, where we are staying, is in bed by 9. This is not a bad thing … I’m just saying.

About a km and a half from our hotel is a strip mall. We walked there last night and had an interesting experience at a local Denny’s. (yes, we are party animals)

We ordered our meals, which came not-quite-as-expected. My wife’s cranberry almond chicken salad, for example, came without cranberries … Or almonds.

In all fairness, however, it did have chicken.

When we pointed this out to our waiter, he said he’d “take care of it on the bill”. And then went on an extended break.

Penny (a Big Bang theory reference for you fans) took over.

Now, I am on vacation. I have no set agenda, and I have no particular place to go. So if ordering 6 Puppy Pancakes (little deep fried balls o dough) takes as long to come as our meal did … So be it.

When we got them, our first thought was “Oh. I guess they make chocolate ones.” Which is kind of exciting because … well … we like chocolate.

It turns out that they weren’t chocolate after all. We did, however, discover why they had taken so long. Apparently they had spent all that time sitting I’m the deep fryer.

When we sent them back, Penny was at a loss. “People usually like these”, she said.

I agreed with her, thinking that we must be pretty unreasonable tourists.

Then the fun began – although, to be fair, I had been having fun all along, as my meal was fine.

How to take the puppies off the bill? Penny hemmed and hawed – which is sight in itself – and worked away at some numbers on a pad. She went to the computer and worked some more. Finally, she asked another server for help. His helpful advice was ” just take it off the bill already.”

So, much later, we finally get our bill. As I go to pay it, Penny (not her real name) says – and I’m not making this up – ” can you add this up to make sure my math is right?”

I said “aside from being charged for a cranberry almond salad that never really arrived, I think it looks OK.”

Sarcasm, my friends, is a lost art.

Penny, to her credit, said “No, I mean the space where you add the tip. Can you add the tip and then add the total up for me?”

I am a patient man. I’ve been married nearly 26 years. I have two sons. I work in a profession where patience is a necessity.

So … I remained calm. I could have said “my tip would be to move into another line of work. Perhaps nuclear physics.” Or “maybe a job in the hospitality industry would be right for you”.

But no. I simply suggested that if she were to add 0 dollars for the tip, that would be ok with me.

Sarcasm, my friends, is a lost art.

I can’t wait to go back. It’s pretty rare that, while on vacation, you get entertainment for free.


Aloha.