Monday, 29 April 2019

Funeral Services: A Low Cost Alternative?

It is no secret that funerals can cost a small fortune. If only there was a way to reduce costs.

Well it would appear that there is now a third option for those who can't justify the costs of the traditional burial or its less expensive cousin, cremation.

Wood chipper service may now be available at select mortuaries and funeral homes near you.

Think about it. What could be more environmentally friendly than, when your days are over, being turned into mulch and spread throughout the flower garden? Forget the distant cemetery plot; now, in a way, you don't even have to leave home at all when that final curtain call comes. And think of the money you'll save for your loved ones. That alone may make this third alternative worth a second look. Hmm.

No need to thank me, but do feel free to include me in your will. 😏

Monday, 8 April 2019

Asthma Cigarettes: For Your … Health?

Do you suffer from asthma? How about hay fever? Some other throat or bronchial ailment perhaps? If so, you owe it to yourself to try Dr. Batty's Asthma Cigarettes. Guaranteed temporary relief of paroxysms of asthma. It will even deal effectively with bad breath.

Well it would seem that in the late 1800's, cigarettes were viewed by some physicians as an effective way to get bronchial medications directly into the lungs. They were viewed as completely harmless, even for children, though this advertisement does say that these cigarettes are "not recommended for children under 6."

OK, so pre-schoolers should wait at least until school age then before starting smoking? Hmm. Yes, I'm being a little facetious.

My, how times have changed!

But it wasn't that many years ago that smoking was still sociably acceptable, even on school grounds. In the early-mid 1970's, as a high school student, we were still permitted to smoke on school grounds, and even right up to the school doors. Air travel allowed smoking toward the rear of the aircraft. I still remember the little ashtrays built into the passenger seat arm rests. Restaurants and bars, all permitted smoking in their establishments until not that many years ago. Even children's Saturday morning cartoons promoted smoking cigarettes; the Flintstones, one of my childhood favourites, included.

Age Test: How many of us remember these commercials of yesteryear? Hmm ...



Yes, times have changed.

Cigarettes no longer are advertised on children's cartoons (thankfully), or for that matter, on TV at all. Cigarettes no longer have the sex appeal they apparently once did. And as for their ability to cure throat ailments, well, we now know that the opposite is more likely to be true; they actually cause those ailments, not to mention a host of others. I guess the proverbial "Good Old Days" were not always as good as some would have us to believe.

So hold the Winston's; here's to health and the changing of the times. Cheers.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Living Is Hazardous to Your Health

Well-meaning individuals have often told me that I need to get into shape. When I hear this nonsense, I like to remind those meddlers that I am in shape; round is a shape. So there!

😆😆😆

But seriously (sort of), I'm always impressed by people who discipline themselves in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They don't smoke, they only drink alcohol in strict moderation (assuming they even drink at all), they almost religiously follow recommended food nutrition guidelines, and they get plenty of exercise. I've even seen some people running with no one chasing them! Can you believe it?! Kudos to them; they're an inspiration to many of us. They'll probably live a long life and eventually die … of nothing at all.

Yes, I am being somewhat facetious.

I don't know where this cartoon came from or who the artist is, but it made me chuckle (in a sad twisted kind of way). The proverbial "Quality of Life" as perhaps depicted here, is of course, subjective at best. Everyone has their own idea of what that term means. Of course we all want to live long lives - and hopefully healthy lives - but that may or may not be. I suppose that's life.

I guess what it all comes down to is that Living Is Hazardous to Your Health. By all means we should take care of ourselves, but in the process, let's not forget to live. So what if the steak I'm going to enjoy for dinner tonight is bigger than the recommended size of the palm of my hand. So what if I have a glass of wine, or maybe even two, with my meal. So what if my FitBit says that I only walked 5,000 steps today instead of the recommended 10,000 steps. Maybe tomorrow I'll clock that magic 10,000, and then again ...

I intend to enjoy life to the full with things and with people that matter to me today, regardless whether or not my pseudo-healthy lifestyle (or lack of it) gains me an extra twenty years. Perhaps you do too. As someone has so eloquently said, everything in moderation, but do live life to the full.

And if per chance I do live to be 100, I fully intend to start smoking cigars again. And now and then, I might even allow myself a nice glass of 30-year old single-malt scotch whiskey to go with it.

With that I'll have to say goodbye for now; I've got some beautiful pork ribs out on the charcoal grill that are begging for this carnivore's attention. Cheers.

"Age is not how old you are,
but how many years of fun you've had."
Matt Maldre

Friday, 29 March 2019

The Dinner Interruption

I've always believed that, just because a phone rings, doesn't mean that it has to be answered.

Remember back when the family dinner hour was almost held as a sacred thing? This was "family time." It was a time to catch up with each other at the end of a busy day of school and work. It wasn't about friends (unless they were invited over for dinner), it wasn't about work and the stressors of the job, it wasn't about the neighbours, and it certainly wasn't about telemarketers. This was a private family time, and to interrupt it was not just annoying, it was just plain rude. And perhaps for some of us, maybe it was even a little sacrilegious. Perhaps too, that is why the family dinner hour was (and maybe still is) also the preferred time chosen by telemarketers, because there is a greater likelihood that they would find someone at home to answer their annoying calls.

Yes, I've always believed that, just because a phone rings, doesn't mean that it has to be answered. But sometimes answering it can also prove to be quite entertaining, such as this anonymous story I discovered recently:

😆 😆 😆 😆 😆  😆 😆

I was at home the other night in the middle of my dinner when the phone rang.

ME: Hello.

AT&T: Hello, this is AT&T.

ME: Is this AT&T.

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: This is AT&T.

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: Is this AT&T?

AT&T: Yes! This is AT&T, may I speak to Mr. Byron, please?

ME: May I ask who is calling?

AT&T: This is AT&T.

ME: OK, hold on.

At this point I put the phone down for a solid 5 minutes thinking that, surely, this person would have hung up the phone. I ate my salad. Much to my surprise, when I picked up the receiver, they were still waiting.

ME: Hello?

AT&T: Is this Mr. Byron?

ME: May I ask who is calling, please?

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: This is AT&T?

AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T ...

ME: The phone company.

AT&T: Yes, sir.

ME: I thought you said this was AT&T.

AT&T: Yes, sir, we are a phone company.

ME: I already have a phone.

AT&T: We aren't selling phones today, Mr. Byron. We would like to offer you 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

ME: Now, that's 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day?

AT&T: (getting a little excited at this point by my interest) Yes, sir, that's right! 24 hours a day!

ME: 7 days a week?

AT&T: That's right.

ME: 365 days a year?

AT&T: Yes, sir.

ME: I am definitely interested in that! Wow!!! That's amazing!

AT&T: We think so!

ME: That's quite a sum of money!

AT&T: Yes, sir, it's amazing how it adds up.

ME: OK, so will you send me checks weekly, monthly or just one big one at the end of the year for the full $52,560; and if you send an annual check, can I get a cash advance?

AT&T: Excuse me?

ME: You know, the 10 cents a minute. 

AT&T: What are you talking about?

ME: You said you'd give me 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That comes to $144 per day, $1008 per week and $52,560 per year. I'm just interested in knowing how you will be making payment.

AT&T: Oh, no, sir. I didn't mean we'd be paying you. You pay us 10 cents a minute.

ME: Wait a minute, how do you figure that by saying that you'll give me 10 cents a minute, that I'll give YOU 10 cents a minute? Is this some kind of subliminal telemarketing scheme? I've read about things like this in the Enquirer, you know.

AT&T: No, sir, we are offering 10 cents a minute for-

ME: THERE YOU GO AGAIN! Can I speak to a supervisor please?

AT&T: Sir, I don't think that is necessary.

ME: I insist on speaking to a supervisor!

AT&T: Yes, Mr. Byron. Please hold.

At this point, I begin trying to finish my dinner.

SUPERVISOR: Mr. Byron?

ME: Yeah.

SUPERVISOR: I understand you are not quite understanding our 10 cents a minute program.

ME: Is This A T &T?

SUPERVISOR: Yes, sir, it sure is.

ME: (I had to swallow before I choked on my food. It was all I could do to suppress my laughter and I had to be careful not to produce a snort.) No, actually, I was just waiting for someone to get back to me so that I could sign up for the plan.

SUPERVISOR: Ok, no problem, I'll transfer you back to the person who was helping you.

ME: Thank you.

I was on hold once again and managed a few more mouthfuls. I need to end this conversation. Suddenly, there was an aggravated but polite voice at the other end of the phone.

AT&T: Hello, Mr. Byron, I understand that you are interested in signing up for our plan.?

ME: No, but I was wondering - do you have that "Friends and Family" thing because I'm an only child and I'd really like to have a little brother...

AT&T: (click)

😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

Well there you have it. So next time the telemarketers call, don't just hang up; that would be boring. Play along. Ask them to hold a moment and then pass the phone to your three year old and tell her/him that it's Santa. On the plus side, the kiddies probably enjoy talking on the phone, and you can go back to enjoying your dinner. You're welcome.
_______________

POSTSCRIPT: I take no credit for the above story or it's corresponding photo. Neither is original to me, nor do I know the source or to whom to give credit. If someone knows the source or author/artist, please drop me a note with the details through a comment. I'd love to give  proper credit. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Biblioburro: The Donkey Library

Find this book HERE
"Children are made readers
on the laps of their parents."
Emilie Buchwald

In a world often full of sad and depressing news, it's a real welcomed treat to come across a nice and wholesome feel-good story for a change. This is one such story.

Meet a school teacher from La Gloria in Columbia by the name of Luis Soriano. His passion for almost thirty years now has been to bring books to less fortunate children right into their communities. Since these children had no other access to reading material, Mr. Soriano was concerned that they were unable to even do their homework.

Assisting him, often several times a week and over countless kilometres, are his two cleverly-named donkeys, Alfa and Beto. Together they form the Spanish word for alphabet: Alfabeto. Untold thousands of children have benefited over the years by the Biblioburro. This story made my day. Kudos to Luis Soriano.

😊 😊 😊

For more of the Biblioburro story, click HERE.

Find Biblioburro on FACEBOOK.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss




Sunday, 17 February 2019

Is Your Employer Torturing You?

"Early to bed, 
early to rise; 
makes a man 
healthy, wealthy 
and wise."

Are you familiar with that old maxim? I grew up hearing one variant or another of it. But is it true?

Well now it would seem that, according to some scientists, we may have been misled if that has become our mantra and reason for an early start to our workday. They've actually gone so far as to label any kind of work prior to 10:00am as akin to, are you ready for this? … "torture."


Yes, you read that right … torture.

It would seem that a leading Oxford University researcher, Dr. Paul Kelley, has suggested that starting work before 10:00am plays havoc on the Circadian Rhythm, otherwise known as the body's internal clock. He says,
"Staff should start at 10 am. You don't get back to (the 9 am) starting point till 55. Staff is usually sleep-deprived. We've got a sleep-deprived society. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don't have to."
He goes on to say that in as little as one week in which we get less than six hours sleep per night, the body experiences up to 711 changes in the way genes function. Now, I'm no scientist, but I cannot help but wonder how many of the plethora of modern illnesses that plague mankind are perhaps in some way related to this "torture." Hmm.

A British school tested this theory by changing the class start time from 8:30am to 10:00am and found that not only did grades significantly improve, but so did attendance. Hmm, interesting.

Now I realize that in today's 24/7 world, we cannot all come strolling in to work at whatever time we like. Yet at the same time, maybe there are a few take aways from this study that employers can adopt to reduce stress and increase productivity in the workplace, and in the end have a more energetic workforce. Who knows, they may even save a few dollars on the coffee budget. Then again, maybe we all just need to get to bed a little earlier, and in doing so, we may just find that the office "torture" chamber isn't quite so bad after all.

But seriously, and with all due respects to Dr. Paul Kelley, no matter how bad a day one might be having at work, "torture" seems a little overkill of a word for this application. History is full of examples of real torture that unfortunately are 1000's of times worse than simply being over tired at work.

Just my two-cents worth. Peace. 😉

Read Source Article Here

Photo Credit: Neil Moralee, Flickr Creative Commons

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Move Over, Breakfast Cereal

"All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast."
John Gunther

It's been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I believe it. For me personally, it is also often my biggest meal of the day. The noon meal is a little lighter, and often the evening meal, assuming it happens at all, is typically the lightest. I load up with the calories early in the day, and then as the day progresses, my calorie intake gradually goes down. It may not be typical of most, but it works for me.

Perhaps the reason many go without a hearty breakfast, especially on work days, is because they don't allow themselves enough time for much else other than maybe a quick bowl of cereal. Some people I know don't take time for even that much. That's unfortunate; I don't know how they do it.

A big hearty bowl of porridge with fruit, prepared the old-school way from scratch on the stovetop as opposed to an instant package in a microwave, two or three hard boiled eggs, rye toast with butter and jam, and a tall glass of cold milk. I love it! Oh, and of course, strong black coffee.

But sometimes you've got to mix it up ...

For some time now I have been making freezer packs of all sorts of interesting meals that I can quickly pull from the freezer on my way out the door in the morning, and thanks to office microwaves, I've got a decent hot meal for lunch. Today I tried something similar for weekday breakfasts by preparing the bulk of those breakfasts ahead of time on the weekend.

It looked like this:

  • boiled potatoes, drained, and seasoned with a Cajun spice mixture
  • beef/lamb burger patties, about a 1/4 pound each, with a Guinness sauce
  • baked brown beans

Now on weekday mornings, when time is at a premium, but I still want and need a good hearty breakfast without all the fuss, all I need to do is to quickly reheat of one of these dishes. Add a couple fried eggs on top, and a couple slices of rye buttered toast, and voila; I'm good to go.

Cold cereal? Thanks, but no thanks. I need something more to start my day.

"One should not attend even the end of the world
without a good breakfast."
Robert A. Heinlein