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Showing posts from January, 2011

Fathers are like heartbeats

(UPDATE) Dad is home and resting comfortably. (He called me and said he'd "split some wood and shovelled the driveway"--his driveway is long enough that shovelling it is out of the question, heart attack or no--and when I began to express some misgivings, he laughed and said he was joking). ------------------------------

Fathers are like heartbeats.
Always there, sustaining, essential to life; and yet nearly always in the background, away from conscious thought, easy to take for granted.
Ken was shovelling off a friend's porch when the pain hit. Indigestion, he thought. Pulled muscle, he thought. In the back of his mind--in his heart, you might say--he knew those diagnoses were unlikely, yet he clung to them ferociously for a time. Indigestion was nothing to be afraid of. A pulled muscle wouldn't abort his trip to Florida less than two weeks away, a trip he and his wife were eagerly looking forward to. He drove the short distance home, pulled the car int…

This post is so 2005

I wonder just how long it'll take before I'm fluent in teenspeak.Despite being surrounded by teens eight hours a workday and thus being in total immersion, I don't seem to have the lingo down pat. On those few occasions when I text somebody, I almost always spell out entire words, no matter how complicated they are and in spite of the fact I'm cursing at the tiny keyboard on my phone.
That keyboard? Still larger than a BlackBerry's. This being Waterloo, Ontario, the home of RIM, nearly every teen at work has a BlackBerry, and so I've played with one a bit. My thumb covers four keys. How anybody can type on that thing without the aid of a pin, I'll never know.
I can appreciate the need for abbreviation--kids think they live such hectic lives, after all--but some of the things that get abbreviated boggle the mind. Like "ily". Does "ily" make your heart go pitter-pat? It should, because it means "I love you". Wow. You've saved…

Screaming Zellers

As a Canadian, I'm usually uncomfortable when American corporate entities buy up iconic Canadian companies. It happens all the time, and it's far too blatant a reminder that Canada is not the sovereign country it imagines itself to be. But I cheered when I found out Target bought the leases on 220 Zellers stores. I cheered long and loud. Not because I love Target (though I did appreciate the Targets I have visited in the U.S): because I hate Zellers.
We have two Zellers stores in this city, and I have found myself in a number of other locations throughout Ontario. Almost without exception, they are dark and dingy. Random piles of boxes clutter the floors. Bare shelves dot the store, showing the places where items pictured in the weekly flyer would be if they had any in stock. And some of the worst customer service experiences I've ever had have been at Zellers stores. It's almost as if staff are trained in how to ignore customers.
I remember the time I decided to improve…

Sure Glad Eva's Not A Habs Fan

I am on friendly terms with fans of the following teams:Montreal CanadiensOttawa SenatorsBoston BruinsWashington CapitalsColorado AvalanceNew York IslandersNew Jersey DevilsIt's fun razzing the Devs and Isles fans...if only because everyone else razzes me to the dogs and back. Every...damn...year.
Another lost season. When the only thing your team is playing for is to minimize the second of the two first round draft picks Boston so eagerly plucked in exchange for Phil Kessel, it kind of weighs on this fan's spirit. I'm starting to wonder if the Toronto Maple Leaf franchise has an honest-to-God curse on it. As in witchcraft, sorcery, bad voodoo, what have you. It grows mighty tiresome to watch player after mediocre player leave Toronto to blossom somewhere else; it's even sadder when players who tore up the league as rookies (cf. Phaneuf, Dion) come to Toronto and proceed to fail to live up to even modest expectations.
I'll be giving my annual report card at season…

Pairing Rather Neatly With The Last Post:

...there has been a recall on the product pictured below:

...due to unacceptably high levels of lead. These are, of course, imported from Pakistan...

One Soylent Green, coming up

(click to embiggen)
Sometime soon after I started working in my grocery store, back when parmesan cheese was in the dairy aisle and not above the pasta sauce where it is now, I bristled at the store brand of "parmesan cheese'. It was called "Compliments Value Grated Cheese Product". That bothered me immensely and still does. Is the word "product" necessary? Isn't everything a product? In a sense yes, but then again, not really: real parmesan cheese would simply say "parmesan cheese". The same way ice cream--which is a frozen dessert--wouldn't be called "frozen dessert", and chocolate milk--which is a dairy beverage--wouldn't be called "chocolate dairy beverage". (For the record: actual chocolate milk must contain at least 90% milk. Whereas a "chocolate dairy beverage" may contain as little as 51% milk. Much of the rest is "modified milk ingredients"...i.e. fat globules and such. In short, reconsti…


What a horrible tragedy today in Tucson, AZ.
The "horrible" needs no explanation. Nineteen people shot, six people dead, including a judge and a nine year old girl; a congresswoman critically injured. (As of this writing, it looks as if Gabrielle Giffords will survive a direct headshot. While not a miracle, this is perhaps the only good news in the whole story.)
I must confess I felt an immediate and overpowering urge to join what seems to be everyone else of note and politicize this event. The speed with which this image proliferated

--almost faster than a speeding bullet--compounded my sense of horror at this atrocity. (Yes, those are actual crosshairs, with a helpful list of "targets" for any aspiring wackos out there).
And yet...
I'm sure that Palin and her cotillion will call this an unfortunate coincidence. I'm also sure that in placing little crosshairs over Gifford's district, Palin did not intend that Giffords should actually be shot. Indeed, t…

I'm Weird (Volume 2893)

I have said before that I care little for appearances: we're all gonna be ugly someday, after all. Very few people believe me when I say things like this; if I stress the point, I doth protest too much. So I'm going to give you a few concrete examples.
Armpit/leg hair. I don't shave my pits or my legs and I don't understand for the life of me why women do, or are all but forced to. My wife does, but certainly not because I've asked her to. It's not that I have a preference for the fabled "gorilla my dreams"...I...just...don't...CARE. One way or the other. It's hair, fer Chrissake. What's the big deal?
High heels. I've only mentioned this is passing, but shortly after I moved in with Eva--that happened on our third date, by the way--I found myself cleaning out a closet one day while she was at work. I came across some high heels. Four or five pairs. I threw them in the trash without stopping to imagine possible reactions or indeed my defe…

Have A Nice Day

From the Online Etymology Dictionary, entry for NICE:
late 13c., "foolish, stupid, senseless," from O.Fr. nice "silly, foolish," from L. nescius "ignorant," lit. "not-knowing," from ne-"not" (see un-) + stem of scire "to know." "The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj." [Weekley] -- from "timid" (pre-1300); to "fussy, fastidious" (late 14c.); to "dainty, delicate" (c.1400); to "precise, careful" (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to "agreeable, delightful" (1769); to "kind, thoughtful" (1830). In 16c.-17c. it is often difficult to determine exactly what is meant when a writer uses this word. By 1926, it was pronounced "too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness." [Fowler]----…

And This Is Why I Don't Use Hotmail

...or Gmail, or any other 'cloud'-based email servers. One reason, anyway. Because things have this nasty habit of disappearing.. Not often, mind you. It's not something you can predict. Most emails sent to me from Gmail or Hotmail get through just fine, building my trust bit by bit until I feel I can rely on the cloud to rain on me every single time. And then, inevitably, something important goes poof. Now, that linked story above is more serious: actual received messages going poof. Neat trick, that. Way to build my confidence.
Time was I used to have nearly infinite patience with computers. That was back in the days of BASIC. Between my place, my dad's, and school, I became relatively fluent in Atari, Commodore and TRS-80 dialects of Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, with a smattering of Apple and IBM BASIC thrown in just because. I still recall hours and hours of transcribing programs from COMPUTE! magazine, then, often, even more hours spent deb…

The Flip Side Of The Coin

With the death of the old year comes the birth of the new, and it's hard to attend any birth without feeling hope.We are living in an increasingly peaceful world. It's sometimes hard to appreciate this, what with North Korea and Iran pounding their chests, not to mention a handful of lesser conflicts raging (and conflict can only be called "lesser" until you're in it). But our planet has been getting progressively less bellicose for centuries. As recently as twenty five years ago, it was commonly believed that we would blow ourselves to smithereens, something like this:

All joking aside, the possibility of total nuclear annihilation is only slightly more plausible now than the notion of California breaking off the western coast of the U.S. to go and hang with Hawaii.
So that's a good thing.
Better: the rate of world population increase is steadily dropping. Since the time of Malthus, we have been told that eventually, the spread of humanity would overwhelm the…

Going Moldy....

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