Saturday, 30 November 2019

Greatest Christmas Movie Ever?

Well here we are, friends; November 30th, 2019. Christmas is now just a little over three weeks away.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but yesterday could quite possibly be a day to go down in infamy as the first time in my life that I've ventured out to take advantage of a Black Friday sale. Yes, you heard that right; I can't believe it either. I seriously cannot remember ever doing that before. Historically, one thing Black Friday sales always lacked was … me.

So today, the fourth last Saturday before Christmas, my better-half and I plan to start watching some of our favourite seasonal Christmas movies. There are all sorts of classics that we could choose from, but once again this year, we'll start with our favourite; Die Hard. Truly, it's a Christmas classic, at least in our humble opinion.

I know, I know; some of you scrooges do not agree with our assessment. I actually have family members divided in their own homes over this. One spouse agrees with our viewpoint, whereas the other vehemently disagrees. Kind of funny, actually.

Not to be forgotten, there are the biblical birth narratives of Jesus which trump all other Christmas stories. I will give you that and will never personally deny it. THAT is what Christmas is truly all about. No arguments from us … ever!

As for that Santa guy perched on a cheap throne in shopping malls; well, he's just creepy. Why our society thinks it cute to let our children sit on a strange man's lap, as he hides his true identity behind a usually phoney beard, is beyond me. If that horrid practice happened any other time of the year, the creep would be swiftly, and rightly, locked up! Still, the modern Santa religion and/or cult permits and condones it. In all fairness, I never grew up with this tradition.

However, I've digressed. We were talking about our favourite Hollywood-ized Christmas movie classics. Keeping that action-packed movie genre in mind, the greatest non-faith based Christmas movie ever, has to be Die Hard. There is nothing on the big screen that yells out "Christmas" as much as seeing Hans Gruber falling off the Nakatomi Plaza. The scene still brings a joyous tear to our eyes. Isn't that just beautiful?!

"Yippee Ki Yay … " 😏😏😏

So from our house to yours, Merry Christmas.

Photo/Cartoon Sources: Unknown

Saturday, 23 November 2019

A Dog's Life: Inside or Outside is the Question

We have a beautiful mixed breed dog we rescued from an animal shelter about four years ago, who perhaps ironically, rescued us as much as we rescued her. At 56-kilos (123-pounds), she's no little girl, and probably could stand to lose some weight, as I previously blogged about here.

She's a bit of a sap, but she's our sap, and we love her. One thing she's not is an outdoor dog. Yes, she loves going for walks, but she also gets exercise on a treadmill for about 30-minutes each morning before her breakfast. Like all dogs, the backyard is her outhouse, though I am convinced that if she could figure out how, she opt for using the same toilet we do.

Our fur baby is not overly sociable with strangers and doesn't play well with other dogs, but then again, my wife often jokes that I'm not overly sociable either. I guess we're made for each other. Wherever we are, she wants to be as well, and she adores our grand babies and protects them like they were her own pups. For that we are blessed.

However, I have a confession to make; things were not always like that.

Growing up we had dogs, but they were never allowed in the house, with the exception of extremely cold nights, and even then, only in the basement. As I grew older and got married, we again had dogs, but I am sorry to say that they spent too much time outside and away from the family. In retrospect, my wife and I both still feel horrible about that; the dogs just wanted to be a part of the family, and we by our actions, essentially denied them that. How sad! We really should never have had them, and after the last dog passed away, we went several years dog-less. Maybe we needed that break to learn how to become real dog lovers and appreciate them as much as they appreciate us.

Thankfully things are very different with our current dog. I couldn't imagine her not being in our home and in our lives, even with having to vacuum up enough dog hair every week to knit another dog. She is a part of the family and we are committed to giving her the best home possible.

Our house is her dog house.

Recently I discovered a video by Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian, who did a little experiment to learn what it must be like for a dog to live outdoors in a dog house during winter. As I suggested above, we have come to believe that if you're going to have a dog that only lives outside, you probably shouldn't have one at all. I will now never be convinced otherwise. However, as Dr. Ward's experiment shows, especially don't leave them outside in cold sub-freezing weather … please.

I also like how Dr. Ward briefly makes reference to homelessness among humans, another deplorable problem in society. Certainly much more can and needs to be said and done about our inhumanity toward our fellow man in even allowing it, but that's a separate topic for another day.

Just my humble opinion. Peace.

"The world would be a nicer place if everyone 
had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog."
M.K. Clinton

Saturday, 16 November 2019

I'm Offended!

I'm offended that you're offended by me taking offense at your offensive offensiveness.

At the risk of offending and perhaps bordering on a political argument, both of which I strive very hard not to do, one thing has bothered me lately: When did we suddenly become a society of spineless pansies, always seemingly offended by our own shadows?

Please understand that I don't believe in going out of my way to deliberately offend anyone, and I do not condone that in people who do. However, it seems to me that modern society has become a little more stupider of late. Maybe my saying that also offends. Hmm.

Someone shares an opinion, something that last I checked, we were all equally entitled to do, and suddenly someone else cries "foul" and everyone suddenly goes berserk and into a dither back peddling to appease the offended and pseudo-offended. That's it; I had my little feelings hurt, and I'm going to sue for damages! Really?! What a bunch of wimps we've become! Whatever happened to the proverbial, "Suck it up, buttercup?" But no; we cry at every offence, and what's worse, society caters to it. "You can't say that; I'm offended!" Good grief, how did we as a society get our knickers into such a tight knot?

What have we become?

You don't have to look very hard, and you certainly don't need me to cite examples, to prove my case; it's everywhere. When did we suddenly lose our spines and get offended at every second remark someone, usually innocently I might add, had the audacity to proclaim? I don't remember it ever being this bad back in my day; all this nonsense seems like a recent development of only the last few years.

Sportscaster Don Cherry shares an opinion about people who don't wear a poppy, and on Remembrance Day, the very day he tries to honour, get's fired for sharing his opinion about remembering those who gave their very lives in the defence of freedom. Wow, the irony! No matter how much I back play the alleged infraction, I still don't know what he said that was perceived so evil. Offended over what? Using the phrase, "you people?" Telling it like it is? Having an opinion of his own? Publicly saying what many others, based on the public outcry surrounding his firing, apparently also think? Sheesh!

When did we start holding sportscasters to a higher standard than our politicians? Politics; now there's a comedy of errors that maybe we do have a right to be offended about.

Just my humble opinion, if I'm still allowed to have one, that is. I'm offended too, by the offended, in case anyone cares. End of rant!

Don't get mad at me when I pull a you on you.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

of Nachos and Captain Jack Sparrow

You know you've been married for a long time when you and your better half both have a craving for the same food at more or less the same time. Funny how that works.

This week the craving for nachos seemed to resonate with both of us. While we could have gone to our favourite watering hole and ordered a platter, as we've done a time or ten before, this time we opted for homemade instead. While a little more work, it was a nice treat for our Friday night movie. Pirates of the Caribbean never looked so good.

No doubt there are a thousand and one ways to make nachos. Definitely not a case of right or wrong. This mouthwatering feast began simply enough; with ground beef, browned, drained, and seasoned with a taco spice. It had about three layers of tortilla chips, each layer topped with a medley of chopped jalapeno peppers and green onions, taco ground beef, and a grated blend of three different cheeses. Just for good measure, to the third and final layer I added an extra sprinkling of Armstrong Old Cheddar. After all, one can never have too much cheese, but one can certainly have too little.

After a quick heating in the oven to melt all the yummy cheese, it was time to sit back with Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swan, and the rest of the motley crew … and enjoy the show.

For the record, there were a few left overs, but not many.

"Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate."
(Captain Jack Sparrow) 

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Sweet Potato Soup: Cure For A Cold Day

There is nothing like a hearty homemade soup on a cold day. It is still only September, but somehow the mercury found itself below the freezing mark, and with it came the first fresh blanket of that nasty seasonal white stuff … snow.

Time for a delicious homemade soup.

One of our favourites is sweet potato soup. Not sure why we don't make it more often; it is, after all, rather simple to make. On a lazy colder day, it once again seemed like the perfect dinner choice.

I'm afraid that I am not really that great at creating recipes, since I rarely measure anything. It is always some of this and some of that; whatever seems best at the time. So if you're looking for an exact step by step recipe, well I'm afraid this post may not be much help. But if you're creative, and have a sense of which end of the kitchen is up, I'm sure your homemade sweet potato soup will be equally awesome. So here's how I made mine … sort of:

I began by peeling some sweet potatoes. Though I still don't know the difference, I've substituted yams before too. They're equally good. These I cut into smaller chunks. I had about half a dozen carrots left, so I peeled and chopped them too. They went together in the same pot and boiled them until soft.

Once soft, I drained the water, added a can of low sodium mushroom soup, and two cans of milk. After mashing the mixture, I went a step further and pureed the mixture as well. You can add more or less milk, depending on the consistency that you prefer. We like it a little thicker. While all this was happening, I cut several small white potatoes into little chunks, skins on, and let them boil. Once tender, the white potatoes were drained, and folded into the sweet potato and carrot puree.

After reheating, we were ready to eat. I like to add a dollop of sour cream and a few cut green onions before serving. I have sometimes also added bacon bits. Tasty, filling, and wife approved. A perfect meal for that cold day … even if it is only September, and old-man winter gets confused and comes way too soon.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Oh Crap!

"Every time a bird poops on my car,
I eat a plate of scrambled eggs on my porch,
just to show them what I'm capable of." 


Pardon me for chuckling, but this story my wife shared with me was worth an extra snort.

It seems that a politician in Chicago was discussing a pigeon pooping problem with reporters at a transit station in that city known for its bird feces problems, when a pigeon promptly did its business and pooped on the politician's head. Well, crap; I guess the birds did get the last laugh after all!

Karma? Political savvy of our feathered friends? Hmm, maybe not. But perhaps the lesson is that, if you find yourself in Chicago's infamous  "Pigeon Poop Station," you might want to consider carrying an umbrella. Or at the very least, invite a politician to join you. After all, apparently they know just what to do with politicians.


Story Source: Pigeon Poops on Lawmaker Discussing Pigeon Poop Problem
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Retirement: The Other Side of the "Tire?"

"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."
(Fred Rogers)

Well here we are, almost two months past the date in which I had planned and hoped to retire. The previous retirement goal was five years earlier. That one didn't work out so well either. Hmm, maybe it's time to rethink this retirement thing.

I guess I had hoped that retirement for me would be more than just putting on a new set of rubber on the old car, and continuing on with it, much as before, with no end in sight.

Re-tire-ment? Bad joke; sorry.

So here I am, still hard working at a high-stress job. Do I begrudge it? Am I angry or depressed because things didn't quite work out (yet) as I had planned? Not at all. Far from it, actually. In truth, I am very grateful for a number of reasons, a few of which are these:

I am blessed with a good job.

Though I am on salary and put in far more hours than I technically get paid for, and though sometimes I have joked that I am a volunteer, I certainly cannot (and dare not) complain. Someone once said, "I complained of having no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet." The wage is good, the benefits are good, working conditions are great, my immediate supervisor has been great; what more could I ask for? This year I even qualified for a fifth week of annual paid vacation, not to mention several personal days to take as I wish. Yes, I am blessed.

I am still able to do a good job.

It is one thing to consider retirement when one feels like they can no longer do the job. But I can still do the job. Yes, sometimes I pull out what's left of my hair doing so, but I can still do it. That's got to still count for something, wouldn't you say? I would think so. A few years back my job position once again changed, and the new position dictated that I successfully complete a certain level of Power Engineering education. It wasn't easy, but I did it, and thereby successfully moved into my newest role.

My employer hasn't put me out to pasture yet.

Maybe I shouldn't wish myself out to pasture yet either. Like many of us, I've seen some colleagues face those dreaded Friday afternoon Human Resources meetings in which they were no longer welcomed back to the job site Monday morning. Maybe one day it will be my turn as well, but thus far, that has not been the case. "No news is good news," someone once said. I must still be doing an acceptable level of work. Certainly I've had some positive recommendations on my LinkedIn account by colleagues and former bosses.

Retirement age?

So there you have it. Retirement age? Maybe that's a subjective thing; different for everyone of us, and based more upon a plethora of personal circumstances and abilities than physical age. Yes, I am in my sixties now (don't ask me how THAT happened); retirement age for some, but for others more a time to re-rubber the old cow and carry on for another ten years or so.

Retirement? God only knows if/when. One day, maybe. But for now, it's "one day at a time." Maybe I'll make another month, another year, or another five years. Whatever it may be, I'm at peace with it; and I guess that's the best that I can hope for.

The only question that remains is, How did that poor old cow get herself into that predicament with that tire? Did she also attempt to retire too early? Hmm.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Penile Self-Exorcism: The Ultimate Manhood Test?

Ladies, you'll forgive me if I address this post to the men in your lives. I suspect that it will make most, if not all, men cringe in a way that only they would fully understand and be able to sympathize with.

It's a man-thing.

Like many of you, I have had my share of kidney stones. Some were small that could be passed on my own with an interesting measure of pain; others were so large that they required a general anaesthetic and surgical procedure to remove. Some were laser blasted. Others involved ultrasound waves. Some had stents implanted between the kidney and bladder, only to be removed under another general anaesthetic about about four weeks later. Some kidney stone attacks happened on the job, others while on vacation, which forced a hospital visit to finish off the holiday. Good times.

I remember asking my urologist once what causes kidney stones, thinking that if it was a dietary thing (dairy products maybe?), then perhaps I could avoid future kidney stones by simply avoiding certain food groups. He said, "No, some people are simply blessed with them." What an interesting "blessing," I thought.

Fun, fun, fun (Yes, I am being facetious).

Well, as my luck would have it, recently I had yet another kidney stone attack. I felt like someone hit me across the left side with a 2x4 stud! Wow! During the subsequent ER visit and associated tests, I learned that this kidney stone was about 8mm in size. That's about the size of a kernel of corn. I since learned that, apparently the largest size of kidney stone that anyone can pass on their own is about 4-5mm in size. So here I was, lying in an ER bed with a moving kidney stone almost twice that size! Two bags of morphine dripping through my IV bag did nothing to help the pain. Lucky me!

Fast forward a few hours and I am in surgery, and all was good … except for that stent they left behind to assist with the removal of post-laser stone fragments. OK, past experience reminded me that they would simply put me under again in a few weeks and remove the stent. Right? Wrong!

Penile exorcism: The ultimate manhood test?

Well, apparently it is now common medical practice to remove one's own stent! Yup, you heard that right! My post surgical medical advice told me that, about one week after surgery, I should go stand in the shower and pull on a string, about 1-2 inches long hanging out of my private parts, and remove my own stent! Excuse me? A quick look at the calendar confirmed that this was not April 1st and thus not an April Fool's joke!

"It will be fine," the doctor said. "Simply take a couple ibuprofen before hand." Yeah, right; bubble gum would have about the same effect on me. I opted for a few ounces of whiskey instead.

So there I stood in the shower, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled some more, on what turned out to be about 24 inches (60cm) of stent and leader string, through my penis. Are you still with me guys?

Well the good news is, I survived this scene from a horror movie with little more that a headache from banging my head against the shower wall. The post exorcism ordeal left me with a bit of pain for about a day afterwards, but all is now once again thankfully good.

Still, the fact is, I am convinced that man is not meant to self-pull a 24-inch long demon out through his privates! Certainly, at least, not whilst sober.

Definitely high up there on my weird-shit-o-meter!!!


Photo #1: via Google, source unknown
Photo #2: 12-inch (30 cm) stent after self extraction
Photo #3: 12-inch (30 cm) pull string leading to stent

Monday, 8 July 2019

Beards: To Shave or Not to Shave?

Yes, that's my mug shot. The real me. The man behind The Other Side of Will. Awesome, isn't it?! I think so too. LOL.


I don't know what prompted me to create this meme. Perhaps it was just some of the many (envious???) stares of late, or perhaps it was one too many old Santa jokes. Then again, maybe it was simply my humorist side once again sticking out its head.

Excuse me, Miss;
my eyes are up here.

However, are beards really just a trend or a fad as some people claim? Yes and No. I have often joked that, if God gave me the ability to grow a beard, He must have meant me to wear a beard. Other than a couple brief hiccups, I have chosen to remain bearded for most of the past forty years. And as it stands today, I have no intention of ever being clean shaven again. Ultimately, my life; my choice. I'll be buried bearded, if I have any say in the matter.

But the fact is that, as far as any of us know, men have been bearded since the beginning of time. Still, there have clearly also been times when history has recorded eras when men either chose to be clean shaven, or were commanded to for various reasons to be so. Even in today's modern times, some vocations enforce a clean shaven face. I cannot help but wonder, if a clean shaven face were suddenly a requirement of my job, would I do it? Or would I quickly be looking for a new job? Tough choice. I know what I'd be tempted to say; at the risk of offending someone, I'd be tempted to reply: "Next time, maybe hire a woman?" Ouch! Hmm, probably wouldn't go over too well. LOL.

I ran across an article a while back that studied male healthcare workers (the industry I currently work in), bearded and non-bearded, and found that the bearded were less likely to acquire certain illnesses than their clean-shaven brothers. Interesting. For more on that, see: The Health Benefits of Beards. Are there health benefits for men to remain bearded? You decide. At least one study seems to suggest just that. Personally, I like their findings. Hmm.

Beards are not a trend; history has clearly shown this to be true. If there is any trend or abnormality to be had, I'd suggest that it is the notion that men should shave their God-given facial coverings. But that's just my humble opinion. From the beginning of time, I'd be tempted to argue that bearded generations far outweigh the non-bearded generations.

So if you're a history buff like me, and interested in some of the history of beards and shaving, you may want to check out this little article I discovered: The History of Shaving and Beards. It's actually quite interesting. Doesn't make me want to shave, though.

Finally, please don't hate me because I'm "beardiful," and I promise I won't suggest to your womenfolk that they ought to raise their standard if you're beardless. After all, a man without a beard is somewhat like a lion without a mane; again, in my humble opinion. Finally, to my beardless brothers, I apologize that your women keep staring at my beard. Not really my fault.


However, maybe there's a hint to be taken here. Hmm.

"Kissing a man without a beard
is like drinking champagne without bubbles."

"Never date a woman
who can grow a better beard than you can."


A Caveat: To my beardless brothers, my sympathies. I understand how hard it is to sometimes align ourselves with the wishes of our female other halves. May God give you the strength to recover those key masculine parts from her purse. I trust you'll also appreciate that, this entire post was meant in jest and with my often twisted sense of humour at its core. No offence is intended. Peace.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Why I Don't Diet

Note to Self:

Having chocolate in both hands is not really what the term "balanced diet" refers to. Who knew?!


At a recent visit to our vet, we were informed that our precious fur-baby could stand to lose some weight. Apparently her 56-kg (123-pound) girth is a bit to much for her. Perhaps ironically, my doctor would like to see me shed a few pounds too. Hmm, can you say, "conspiracy?"

The problem is, this man and his best friend both like to eat. Besides, how do you explain "diet" to a fur-baby? What kind of nonsense is this "diet" stuff anyways? If you haven't yet experienced that agony, try explaining to your dog as to why her dinner rations have been cut back, and let me know how it goes.

I cannot remember when this picture was taken, but I was amused by the fact that in it our beloved fur-baby had her eyes closed, almost as if she just heard another painful and bad Dad-Joke. Maybe she did. Maybe they can understand humour. Maybe dogs are smarter than we've typically given them credit for.

Well there you have it. The next time your significant other, or someone else not so significant, suggests that you should consider a diet, you can now add a religious argument to your arsenal of anti-diet arguments. How could you possibly justify removing that fat, which the Lord has clearly said belongs to Him?

Maybe my being fat is God-ordained after all. Hmm. Yea, let's go with that.


Monday, 20 May 2019

Facebook Evolution: Memorial Pages?

"What happens on social media stays on Google forever."

I came across an article recently that claims that within the next fifty years or so, there will be more Facebook accounts belonging to the dead than to the living. I guess I've never really stopped to think about that before, but it does stand to reason. My own Facebook account, which boasts a fairly small number of "friends," currently shows at least three friend accounts that I'm aware of belonging to deceased friends. There were still others as well, but I'm assuming their family members deactivated their accounts as I no longer see them.

I don't mention this to be morbid or somehow insensitive. Rather, I'm just making an observation. It would seem that Facebook may be, by its very nature, rapidly evolving into more of a memorial media than a social media.

Perhaps that's not all bad. Facebook users typically share a plethora of pictures and stories of their life events. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their Facebook page. Everything from their family to their vacations; from their religious to their political views; from food creations to parties; from employment to retirement. For many, it's already all out there for the world to see. The only question is, should it stay there for all eternity after we pass on from this life? After all, if we're okay with our stories being public this side of the grave, what difference does it make if the same stories remain public the other side of the grave?

Ultimately I suppose that's up to our families' discretion.

On the occasion of their sixtieth wedding anniversary, my parents published their 300-page memoirs. Anyone searching for it can purchase a copy on Amazon or other booksellers if they so wish. Though they've never been much for social media, nevertheless their story is also out there. In some ways, maybe that's not so different than someone's Facebook social media page evolving into a Facebook memorial page. In both cases, the once private has become public.

Facebook Evolution: Memorial Pages? Yea or Nay? Why or why not? Do drop me a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Peace.
Story Source: Here
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons

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.


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

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

How To Get Your Case Thrown Out Of Court?

Did you hear about the two bed bugs that met in a mattress? They got married in the "spring."


Have you ever been dragged into court? Maybe "dragged" is the wrong word, but you were in a situation where an unwanted court visit was a necessary evil. Now what?! Wouldn't it be nice if there were some way out of it?

Maybe there is.

It would seem that a lawyer attending court in Oklahoma managed to do just that when he showed up in court with … are you ready for this ... "an abundance of bed bugs falling out of his clothing." Yup, you read that right; bed bugs!!! Apparently, according to the article, the lawyer was so non-chalant about it, that he didn't even seem to notice the bugs crawling all over him or the files that he had laid on the desk. Now maybe it's just me, but I very quickly notice and get annoyed by even one fly or mosquito taking up residence on my body; how could one apparently not even notice, much less seem to care, about an infestation of bed bugs hitching a ride on one's body? Now maybe if he were headed to Walmart, that might be overlooked (Yuk, Yuk), but he was headed to court to presumably defend some poor sap! The court building was apparently evacuated and closed down. Go figure!!!

Are you grossed out yet?

Begs the question, however, as to what happened to the cases on the docket for that day. As much as we might like to think that they were thrown out of court, they were probably simply rescheduled when everyone was just too "bugged" to continue on that day (Yuk, Yuk).

Morale of the Story: If a lawyer is necessary, find one with bugs? Hmm. 😆😆😆

Got a phantom itch that suddenly needs scratching? Sorry.

Read Source Article Here

Photo Source: Shena Tschofen; Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

One Day at the TV Repair Shop

"Have you ever noticed that families on TV never watch television?" (Henry Youngman)

Kids today are so hard done by! They really are! Sorry, but in their quest to have the latest in cell phone technology, or perhaps that new Samsung 'The Wall' TV, they've missed out on that hi-tech fun that my generation went through, such as having to actually get off the couch and walk a whole ten feet through shag carpet just to change the TV channel.

Yes, I'm being facetious.

I remember as a kid going with my Dad to our local TV repair shop with our big bulky cabinet TV in tow. When the appliance repairman began filling out the work order, he asked, "And what's wrong with the TV?" Legitimate question.

Unfortunately for him, he had yet to have the pleasure of my father's rather twisted sense of humour, that so many others have come to enjoy, and which I and my brothers have also since inherited. My Dad answered, "It has no colour."

As the TV repairman noted the concern on the work order, I wondered how long it would take before he noticed that our old 26" Admiral black and white TV never did have colour. Dad soon let him in on the joke, however, and the real reason for our visit was duly noted.

True story. I am still laughing over that one when I think of it. 😂

In retrospect, if we had not let him in on the joke, it would have been interesting to see if we would have ended up with a colour TV after all. Probably not.

Photo Credit: David Kessler; Flicker Creative Commons

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Cockroach Milk: The New Superfood?

One of the more bizarre things I've read lately from the world of science is that the next superfood could actually be cockroach milk. Yes, you read that right; cockroach milk.


As weird as all this sounds, scientists claim that there are all sorts of health benefits to cockroach milk that may be perfect for some people's diets. It is dairy-free, dense in calories and nutrients, and is a time-released food. Call me a Doubting Thomas if you will, but I'll pass. Apparently I'm getting too many calories already, and as far as time-released goes, that's easy; eat more often. Problem solved.

Yes, I'm being facetious.

I wonder what they're going to call it? Bug juice? Probably not. I suspect, however, that they may want to change the name to try and make it sound a little more palatable. Otherwise advertising might be a problem. I can just imagine a TV commercial now: "Cockroach milk; part of a nutritious and balanced breakfast!" Doesn't that just sound yummy? Somehow I doubt there will be too many people calling from the kitchen, "Who left the empty cockroach milk jug in the fridge?!" And what would one pair it with? Chocolate covered ants?

Also, just as cow's milk often has a picture of a dairy cow on the label, I wonder if the containers of cockroach milk will have a picture of little bugs on the label, maybe like the one above. This in turn begs another question: How will we know if it has gone bad? Will it start to smell good? Hmm. But then again, what do I know; many people eat bugs. Once you get over the shock of it, it might even taste kind of good … Nah!

Well there you have it; cockroach milk. Watch for it in your grocer's dairy cooler. Cheers!

Read the source article here

Photo Credit: Joachim S. Muller, Flickr Creative Commons

Retirement: Does Retiring Earlier Mean A Longer Life?

Now, here in my sixtieth year, I've been mulling over the big "R" question … Retirement. When is the right time to pull the plug? Can I afford to pull the plug? What kind of lifestyle do I really need and/or want here in my later years, and what is it going to cost to maintain that lifestyle?

The other day at work, two people shared with me that they had read an article that suggests that lifespan, and more specifically, the number of retirement years that one enjoys, may be related to the question of when one retires.

Intrigued, at home later that day I looked up the article and found it. It would seem that there was a study conducted of pensioners from several large US-based businesses that compared the retirement lifespans of people who retired at age 55 versus those who waited to retire at the more traditional age of 65. Those who retired at 55 years of age collected their pensions for an average of 25-years, while those who retired at 65 years of age only collected their pension for an average of 18-months. Wow!

"Retire at 55 and live to 80; work till you're 65 and die at 67 … Ten working years could cost you twenty years of your Retirement!"

Obviously there are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances, however, the study seems to show that the typical busy stress-filled workplace is harder on older bodies. I think there is some truth to that. Looking at my own situation, lately I am starting to find it harder and harder to get through the work week than I once did when I was younger. Sure, I can still do a quality job as well as the next person, but maybe it is time to look a little more seriously at the big "R" sooner rather than later.

Choosing to retire earlier doesn't mean the rocking chair in a nursing home; not by a long shot! Like many other retirees, I can see myself still working part time, two to three days per week, at something much more low key, less stressful, and in line with hobbies or other interests. I guess the point is, why kill yourself at the daily grind any longer than absolutely necessary? Besides, Lord willing, I'd like to enjoy a little more than only 18-months of retirement before family and friends gather for my funeral.

I guess if I have one piece of advice for younger generations, it would be this: Plan early for your big "R" while you still can. You'll blink one day and suddenly forty years ago will seem like yesterday. In the words of an elderly lady I once knew, "I ain't never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul." Her point was, we're not taking all those trappings of the world with us anyways, so maybe we would be wise to re-evaluate the "Keeping up with the Jones'" materialism mantra in favour of an earlier and healthier retirement. Just a thought.

Read the source article here

First Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence, Flickr Creative Commons
Second Photo Credit: Marco Verch, Flickr Creative Commons