Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Happy Hour Redefined

"Why limit HAPPY to an HOUR?"
(anonymous)
😄😄😄

Most people have probably heard of the term Happy Hour. Basically it is that period of time when bars offer reduced prices on alcoholic drinks. Often these are complimented with reduced prices on various appetizers or other menu items. I confess that over the years I've had more than my fair share of Happy Hours.

But those days are in the past. These days I seem to have redefined the term. The noisy bar room scene has lost its former appeal. It's been replaced with a recliner in the corner of the living room, or on nicer days, a lounge chair on my deck under the lilacs. Nap time has become my Happy Hour. Funny how I once used to laugh when I heard people refer to their afternoon siesta in such a fashion. Not quite as funny is the fact that I've now become that old codger who would sooner have a good nap than that cold pint or three of yesteryear's beer. Interesting, isn't it, how life has a way of changing that which we deem to be important?

Having said that, I still regularly reach for a cold "bubbly," so to speak. The difference is that this bubly has zero calories, zero fat, zero sodium, zero carbohydrates, and zero sugar. If I once were to hear such a comment, I likely might have added a wisecrack, something to the effect of, "it then must also have zero flavour." However, in my humble opinion, that simply is not true. I've come to love and crave this stuff as much as I once did reaching for a cold beer. Yes, life has a way of changing.

So here's to my new chapter in life and here's to my new Happy Hour; a nap and a couple cans of ice cold lime bubly. Cheers.
😄😄😄

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Sanctuary: My Definition

Recently I came across two definitions of the word sanctuary that I really like. They are, "Our safe and peaceful haven," and, "A comforting place of refuge and rest in a noisy, chaotic world." I find that I need both. Perhaps you do too.

Welcome to my sanctuary.

My sanctuary is my backyard. We don't have a cottage by a lake somewhere, or a fancy RV trailer, as nice as both of those no doubt could be; we have a simple backyard. We built it up in a way that suits us and our tastes. In the warmer months, after a long day on the job, this is our peaceful haven, our comforting place of refuge and rest from an often noisy and chaotic day.

Like all worthwhile things, however, they come with some maintenance. This weekend's main chore was pressure washing the previous winter's gunk off the deck to prepare for another outdoor season. Perhaps a fresh coat of stain next weekend, and we're good to go.

My sanctuary, however, is not just an after work refuge; it's often also a place of early morning prayer and meditation in advance of the workday. A couple days ago, just before dawn, with my faithful fur-baby at my side, it was here in my outdoor sanctuary that I also enjoyed my first coffee of the day. There in the quiet outdoor stillness, my day began.

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." (Dr. Seuss) I love that! There have been a lot of fond memories created in my sanctuary over the years, and we're looking forward to many more. Sanctuary; yes, we are blessed. Peace friends; God is good. 😊

Photo Source: Unknown

Friday, 24 April 2020

of Orthopedic Shoes and Other Dad Jokes

This classic Dad Joke is probably as old as the hills themselves. It is certainly not original to me, and I take no credit for it, but I thought it worth commemorating with a meme.

Meanwhile in the podiatrist's office, Mrs. Smith learns that time wounds all heels.

James Bond wasn't a very good secret agent until he started wearing sneakers.

Originally slippers were made from bananas.

Finally, before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them, you're not only a mile away, but you also have their shoes.

I could go on, but I probably should quit before I get the boot from this blog.

😏😏😏
Photo Source: Unknown

Thursday, 23 April 2020

AHS, You Rock

"What if you'd lived every day as if you were our society's future and hope?"

We have some new neighbours a few doors down from us. We've chatted a couple times as I walked past their home while taking my fur-baby out for a stroll. They seem to be a really nice family. Today after work I walked past their home again and saw this new lawn art:

AHS 💟 You Rock

As one who also proudly works in healthcare, and has seen some of the pressures first hand, I can wholeheartedly concur. Yes, Alberta Health Services; You Rock! That's awesome!

So here's to healthcare workers, not just here in my home province of Alberta, but healthcare workers everywhere. Thank you for your compassion and professional care during these difficult times of global pandemic. Thank you for all that you do; it is appreciated. And a big thank you also to my neighbour's kids for such a wonderful tribute and reminder. You guys rock too!

😃😃😃

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Mortgage Woes

This is a tongue 'n cheek meme that I created poking a little fun at what is likely the biggest expense for most people; their home.

That is certainly true in our family. We are fortunate in that, when we still had "just one more payment" to go on our mortgage, our home was still in a little better shape than the one depicted here. Still, we too have various home improvement upgrades to do. I suppose that never ends.

With the length of many mortgages today, maybe this meme isn't too far off the mark for some folks. Consider a thirty-year fixed rate $200,000 mortgage at only 4.5% (I still remember 18% rates). At a monthly payment of $1013.37, by the time that debt has been paid off, the borrower will have paid $164,813.42 in interest alone, or a total cost of $364,813.20. All that just to get into their family dream home!

On top of that, add in the required minimum downpayment amount just to qualify for that mortgage, plus any other line of credit that may also be attached to the home, and you have a pretty hefty investment. Increase that 30-year term to a 40-year term, as I've heard some folks are choosing to do, and while the monthly payment may be slightly less, the interest to be paid back potentially goes up by another 25%.

I don't know how young couples today do it. All humour aside, it's all really quite sad actually.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Alien Thoughts on Pageants and Sports?

"Beauty is not flawless;
it shines even through your flaws."
(anonymous)

Call me a prude, but I don't much like beauty pageants. In the same way, I don't much care for body building competitions either, male or female, for the same reasons; they're all so subjective.

As the old adage says, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder." Who is the beholder? Answer: The judge(s). What makes them so right? Put the same contestants in front of a different judge or panel of judges, and the outcome likely would be very different.

Likewise we've all seen couples who, if we're honest with ourselves, made us wonder "What does she see in him?" or perhaps, "What does he see in her?" Correct me if I am wrong, but sometimes it all seems so much like the old Mutt and Jeff comic strip. In all seriousness, however, there is someone for everyone. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and it is completely subjective. As such, maybe everyone is rightly a winner.

However, the main reason that I do not like those pageants and competitions is because of what it indirectly says to the loser, not to mention those who never qualified in the first place. To them it says, "You're not good enough." It reminds me of the child in school who is always picked last for team sports. When she/he is eventually picked, it is little more than to be a bench-warmer, since everyone is supposed to participate. Those last-picks aren't fools, though. They know that the situation indirectly says to them that they are not worthy of a beauty pageant or a body building competition; it says they're not good enough to play on the team.

If I'm not worthy, does that then make me ugly? Does that make me a loser? Of course not, though by default, one could certainly argue that. Taken one step further, what does that then do to the person's self-esteem? Many people have enough trouble with low self-esteem already. Then there is the additional argument that could be made against the flaunting sexuality that often accompanies the parading half-naked bodies across a stage. Do not these kinds of competitions dehumanize others?

Maybe that's why I also have a hard time with professional sports. Society has essentially deified professional athletes with media attention and celebrated them with obscene pay checks. To each their own, I suppose. I mean no disrespect to those who do enjoy such things, but for me personally, I'm reminded of something my grandfather used to say. He would say, "Sports is what you do, not what you watch."

Yes, maybe I'm just an old-fashioned prude; but that's the way I see it. Besides, in my way of thinking, the real beauty pageant winner is my wife. As for the rest of the contestants, I'm sorry for your loss.

End of rant. 😉😏😊

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Dogs Make the Best Therapists

To err is human;
to forgive, canine.

Almost five years ago we visited our local Humane Society and rescued this beautiful girl; a Great Pyrenees Lab cross. Since then she has often returned the favour by rescuing us as well. Dogs make the best therapists.

One of our favourite places to go for a walk is nearby Henderson Lake, a 24 hectare man made lake. We are fortunate to have such a gorgeous spot practically in our backyard. Since both our vet and family doctor have suggested that we both could stand to lose some weight, walking around the lake is a good way to start working toward that goal. The exercise and fresh air does us both good.

So if you're in the neighbourhood, perhaps we'll meet you and your fur baby therapist at the lake. Why not join us? Peace and blessings, friends; God is good.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Companionship and Fresh Air in Troubled Times

Doris Day is quoted to have said, "I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source."

I like that. While the quote doesn't address the strength that I also get from my faith, it does speak to that special bond that I have with my 'little' fur-baby.

OK, at 56 kilos, maybe she's not so 'little.'

In these troubled times the powers that be often preach self-isolation in an effort to flatten the global pandemic curve. As such, perhaps it is even more important now than ever before to get outside in the fresh air and take fur-baby for a walk.

As the world goes nuts, egged on by the media and social media, fear mongering and paranoia run rampant. Combine that with that other equally sad and comical twist, toilet paper, and we're left wondering at the intelligence level of the human race. I'm sure that many of our neighbours by now must certainly have a 40-year supply of toilet paper on hand.

Yes, perhaps it is even more important now than ever before to get outside in the fresh air and take the beloved fur-baby for a walk.

So today fur-baby and I did just that. It was a beautiful day for a walk. We both totally enjoyed the outing. And strange as it may seem for an introvert like me, and especially in these deeply troubling and anti-social times, we even stopped to talk with our neighbours along the way. How about that?!

Well, there you have it. Be safe friends, and do take the necessary prescribed precautions.

But if you're still deeply troubled, as Doris Day mentioned, maybe you need to go to your local animal shelter and adopt a dog. Then get yourselves outside for a walk. The good news is that, in doing so, you can still be self-isolated. The dog will thank you for it in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. Besides, if you're at all like me, you probably could benefit from clearing your self-isolated head in the fresh air. The bonus is that, just maybe, you both may even get a little exercise too.

Peace and Blessings friends.

Friday, 13 March 2020

How to Leave the Planet

Ever thought about leaving planet Earth? No? Me neither, but I did come across a little quip as to how one might be able to do so, if one were so inclined. For those of you who have thought about it, you may want to try following these five little steps:

1. Phone NASA. Their phone number is (731) 483-3111. Explain that it's very important that you get away as soon as possible.

2. If they do not cooperate, phone any friend you may have in the White House - (202) 456-1414 - to have a word on your behalf with the guys at NASA.

3. If you don't have any friends at the White House, phone the Kremlin (ask the overseas operator for 0107-095-295-9051). They don't have any friends there either (at least, none to speak of), but they do seem to have a little influence, so you may as well try.

4. If that also fails, phone the Pope for guidance. His telephone number is 011-39-6-6982, and I gather his switchboard is infallible.

5. If all these attempts fail, flag down a passing flying saucer and explain that it's vitally important you get away before your phone bill arrives.

Well there you have it; five steps on how to leave the planet. You're welcome. I ask just one favour; do send me back a postcard via inter-galactic mail as to how it worked out for you. Alternately, leave me a comment in the comment box. I'm sure most planets and star systems have Wi-Fi. Bon voyage.

😉😉😉
Photo Source: Lars Lundqvist; Flickr Creative Commons
'How to Leave the Planet' Source: Douglas Adams; 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'
Caveat: No drugs or alcohol were consumed in the creation of this blog post (Ha, Ha).

A Sign of the Times?

Limit of 2 per customer.

Limit of 2 what? I'll give you 3 guesses, and the first 2 don't count. We all know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about none other than that wonderful product that has become the 'butt end' of so many jokes lately (pun fully intended); toilet paper.

A sign of the times?

Certainly a sign of something; a sign of media induced paranoia, if you ask me (and even if you didn't).

This was evident in watching some of the people in Walmart today. The poor frightened soul in the cashier line up ahead of us was practically shaking in his boots as he constantly wiped the handle of his shopping cart over and over again. I exaggerate not when I say that he must have wiped it down a dozen times as we watched. In between wiping down the handle, he constantly wiped his hands, and even his jacket sleeves, with the disinfectant wipes. I felt sad for him.

Paranoia.

But it wasn't just the toilet paper aisle that was empty. Also noticeably empty was half the pasta aisle, and specifically the formerly huge Kraft Dinner selection. Likewise the flour section was conspicuous by its absence. It all kind of made us wonder how many other aisles that we did not venture down also would have had empty shelf sections.

A sign of the times? Perhaps.

😕😕😕

You may also want to see another related post: How to Stop Living in Fear.


"Life is ten percent what happens to you
and ninety percent how you respond to it."
Lou Holtz

"Courage is knowing what not to fear."
Plato

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

How to Stop Living in Fear

I love this cartoon! What can we do to stop living in fear? A great question and an equally great answer! Click!

Perhaps the biggest fear right now for many is COVID-19, or the Corona Virus. Now I'm not a medical professional, but we've all been down this road before. In 2003 there was another Corona Virus called SARS. Remember that one?

Bad? Yes. Do we need to take certain precautions? Yes, of course. However, I cannot help but believe that, like all bad news, the current fear is made much worse than necessary by the media. After all, bad news sells.

So whatever you're fearing, be it the latest global virus or political nut-case leader, perhaps the first line of defence is to turn off the television news. And while we're at it, perhaps unfollowing some of those self-proclaimed social media authorities, most of whom really don't know their a** from a hole in the ground about such matters anyways.

After all, what other possible explanation could there be for this latest crazy mass hysteria of folks running out to purchase a 40-year supply of toilet paper? Seriously? How exactly that's going to help, beats me.

😉
Cartoon Sources: Unknown

A Corpse in the Middle of the Road

While traveling out of town early this morning, well before dawn, and while on a dark lonely 2-lane highway (I know; it already sounds like a country song, but it's not), I found myself suddenly being forced to come to a full stop. Due to a large truck in front of me, I couldn't see what the reason for the abrupt stop was, so I sat there patiently.

Soon traffic was diverted into the oncoming lane by flag men from the fire department. It looked like an accident. As I inched my way by, I could see a body laying there motionless in the middle of my lane. It hadn't even been covered yet. Poor guy. It must have just happened, as the police were not even there yet.

The vehicle involved in the accident was pulled over to the side, with obvious front end damage. The driver seemed rather shaken. It's not every day (thankfully) that one sees a corpse just lying there in the middle of the road.

Needless to say, I was alert for the rest of my business trip.

Oh, but that poor … deer.

😁 🙈 🙉 🙊 😉

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I didn't have any helium balloons with me.

Photo #1 Source: Flickr Creative Commons
Photo #2 Source: Unknown

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

of Playing in Canadian Streets

FA·CE·TIOUS. adjective. Treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humour; flippant.

😑😑😑

You've got to love this time of year! We've still technically got plenty of our Canadian winter left, but already golf enthusiasts are discovering that many communities have already opened up several new golf courses. You'll probably find one or two on a street near you. How cool is that?!

My dad once wrote a letter to the mayor suggesting that they rename the street on which he lived 'Rollercoaster Alley,' since the potholes had become so bad and plentiful. The interesting thing was that, within a day of the arrival of Dad's letter in the mayor's office, there were crews out filling the worst of the potholes. Kudos to that mayor! I could think of a few other politicians, both municipal and federal, who could probably learn a lesson or two from him. But I've digressed.

This is not about golfing and potholes.

Playing in the street and on the railroads is perfectly legal in Canada, as evidenced by some of the many groups of children across the country out enjoying the fresh air and playing their little protest games while police and liberal politicians politely look on, presumably waiting for their turn to play. What fun! We've evolved into such a nice polite society, after all, not wanting to hurt their little feelings, especially in these young formative years. Back in the day responsible parents used to caution their children not to play in the street and on railroad tracks, but what did they know?! It's nice to see that those old archaic ways are finally behind us and that the whole world is now our playground.

What we're left with after removing all oil-based products?
Work? Who needs to work? We'll just all think nice happy thoughts of trees and bumble bees, and all will be fine. So get outside and enjoy the day. Invite your friends. Bring your flags, pallets and other junk to block the roads and the rail lines. Oh, and whatever you do, don't forget the golf clubs. There are already plenty of new holes for your enjoyment, and if not, I'm sure you can always dig up a few more. Who knows; if you ask nicely, the police and liberal politicians might even help lend a hand as they watch you play.

It's your world now, kids. I can't wait to see what you do with it now that us old know-nothing boomers are gradually dying off. Just one word of advice: When playing in traffic, play safe; trucks and trains don't stop on a dime. Cheers!

😏😏😏
  • I usually try to avoid political stuff, but on this subject, I've made a tongue 'n cheek exception.
  • For more on all this fun and games, Google: Canada Protests 2020.
  • Facetiousness and satire fully intended.
  • Photo Sources: Unknown.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Self Checkouts: An Overdue Rant

My better half and I went shopping early Saturday morning, as has been our weekly practice for several years. We habitually seem to always go to the same store. After today’s experience, however, that may all change; they may well have lost another customer. Why?

I’m glad you asked.

We used to do virtually all our shopping at that particular big-box store. In all fairness, we found that many of their items were cheaper than some of the competitors. Still, it was not uncommon for us to drop $200 week after week in that store; sometimes even more. At $800+ per month, you’d almost think that we should be shareholders by now! (Ha, Ha).

Then gradually something weird started to happen. Items we regularly purchased for years were suddenly discontinued. Certain brands of jam spreads, and tea varieties, just to name a couple, suddenly began disappearing off the shelves. Yes, they had other options for us, but we were not interested in them. We knew what we liked, and we wanted what we liked. Occasionally we tried a few substitutes, but they normally proved disappointing. Consequently, time and again, when we suddenly could no longer find something, the private family joke had become, “Oh, they discovered that we really liked ‘X’, and so they pulled it off the shelves.”

Ultimately it is their store, so it is also their prerogative to carry what they will and manage their business as they will.

However, it seems to me that they also need to do so wisely, because the consumers they wish to attract also have the right to shop where they choose.  In our experience, we reasoned that if we can no longer find what we want at our normal grocery store, then perhaps other stores would be happy to have our business. We were right. Other previous irregular shopping destinations, started seeing more and more of us. We even discovered a small local butcher shop with a beautiful meat selection and some great weekly specials.

As for our previous big box store, we now spend about half of what we used to in that store.  The $200+ weekly purchase is usually now typically barely over $100. As such we want to say a big Thank You to that vendor for opening our eyes and introducing us to other shopping options amongst their competitors. Well done! (Yes, I’m being a little facetious).

But back to this morning’s shopping experience. Again, as we do week after week, we visited the same store about 08:00am, an hour after they opened. This time, however, we came very close to waking away from our semi-full shopping cart, and walking out the store empty handed. Why?

I’m glad you asked!

Sometime between our visit last week and this week, they seemed to have been inspired to reduce the teller operated cashier lanes, and virtually double their self-checkout lanes. We approached the tellers only to find that there weren’t any! Instead of the one self-checkout area there was the previous week, there were now two giant self-checkout areas. In between lay the unstaffed normal check out lanes, the number of which also seemed to have been reduced sometime since our last visit. Three or four staff members were wandering around in each of the self-checkout lanes, but none were in the real checkout lanes actually serving their customers! What did we do?

I’m glad you asked.

Rather than play the self-checkout game, we stood beside our shopping carts opposite the closed checkout counters and waited. Soon, another lady with even a fuller shopping cart stood beside us and also waited. After a little chit-chat with her, it became apparent that she too wasn’t interested in this self-checkout game/fad either. Eventually a cashier arrived from somewhere, and, seemingly begrudgingly (based upon a strange look I received from her, though my wife said she never noticed that look), opened the nearest till to serve us.

I get it; times are tough, and all of us in business need to find ways to tighten our belts and save a dollar or two, or we soon may not be in business. My bosses are lately always dictating cost savings measures in our industry too. I really do get it; it’s a sign of the times! 

However, all of us no doubt already spend more than enough on basic foodstuffs. As such, there is no way that I think it right that I then also have to scan and check out my own groceries! Yes, I’ll play the game and do the self-checkout when I only have two or three items; I’ve even occasionally done so with six items. But much more than that, no way! One of these days I may yet leave a cart full of groceries at an abandoned checkout lane, and walk out of the store without my would-be purchases in hand. No doubt that will cost the vendor money too as some poor staff person will then have to restock all my items.

It’s not like I’m expecting the grocers to pack my groceries out to the car for me, although I do remember that wonderful era when grocery stores did provide exactly that higher level of customer service. I am simply saying that, if a grocer wants to continue to enjoy my business, my humble little $800+ per month, they can provide a check out clerk to assist me with my transactions. Alternately, I fully expect to get a paycheck like other employed staff there, if I have to do the checkout myself.

To date no grocery stores have issued me a paycheck.

I am encouraged that I’m not alone in my self-checkout boycott. I was in a different store recently, and was pleasantly surprised to see a lineup of 10-12 people at a single open till, most with only two or three items in hand, while the adjacent self checkout tills remained completely empty. Could those customers have gotten out of the store quicker by checking themselves out? Most certainly, yes; I’m sure they could have. Like me, however, they also probably had not yet received their employee’s paycheck. So on principle’s sake, in line they stood, if for no other reason, than to make a statement.

Back to our shopping experience this morning, for both my wife and myself, it was one of the more stressful shopping experiences yet in our almost 40-years of marriage. Strange how by 09:00am, on a Saturday morning, that store had rattled our nerves so much that we joked that we needed a strong alcoholic drink!

No, we didn’t have the strong alcoholic drink. We went home and opted to calm our nerves with a strong coffee instead.

End of rant!
__________

Postscript: Rather than publicly identify the grocer here, I’ve chosen to keep them anonymous. A link to this post, however, will be emailed to them. Whether or not they change their practice, is up to them; whether or not I continue to spend hard-earned dollars in their store, is up to me. Peace.

First photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons
Second photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons