March Madness

I know it’s April! I’ll get to that.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana

Of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, a wrinkled sack of aches and pains wasn’t on my list.

I can’t brain today. I have a bad case of the dumb.

It’s finally Spring here in Southern Ontario. I know this, not because the robins are back. I’ve heard them for almost a month, but actually saw one on March 31. Not because the little kids have their skateboards and bicycles out, and the bigger kids, me excluded, finally have their motorcycles out, but because, on March 31, as I saw my first robin, I was on my way to the supermarket two blocks away – and they have their Garden Center set up in the parking lot.

And just to show how pissed Mother Nature can be when you don’t get her a nice enough card for Earth Day….  After a week of 60s and even 70s F temperatures, last night she put a big cloud over my total Lunar eclipse, and dumped an inch of snow on my driveway and deck.

The Ode to CWC6161 post, which I published last August 10th, was found by her younger sister, who left a lovely comment on April 11th, thanking me for my friendship and concern for Candice, as well as the tribute I posted. While not a happy thought, she provided closure, and confirmation of The Kindly Hermudgeon’s death. As a sad irony, she died on September 21, 2012, my 68th birthday. The sister must have informed friends/family. By the end of day, I had had 4 views of that post.

The grandson phoned to ask for a ride the other day. On Saturday, May 10, he and his fiancée have a chance to enroll in a one-day Introduction to Falconry seminar. This will be a full day, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Not being a driver, he thought it was near Hamilton, ON, an hour drive. Actually, my research shows that it is just off the main highway, about halfway there – only a half-hour drive, so I won’t have to get up quite as early.

Falconry??!….WOW. They may never use what they learn, but still, a very interesting day. It’s way out in the country. I may catch up on my sleep in the car, and might have to drive somewhere to score a lunch, but I just couldn’t deny them this opportunity.

At the recent Detroit gun/knife show, one of the exhibitors had an old, original movie poster as part of his decoration. From the days when the western was king, this 1951 movie was titled “Snake River Desperadoes.” It was populated with never-really-made-it, C-list actors.

The only name I might expect even my older readers to recognize and remember, was Smiley Burnette, who went on to fame and fortune as the engineer of the train that pulled into Hooterville, on the Petticoat Junction TV show.

The name on the poster that caught my eye, was Tommy Ivo. Tommy was a showboating, California drag racer in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He helped form the sport as it was becoming organized and sanctioned. I thought that his nickname, “TV Tommy” had been because his fame got drag racing televised.

Research shows, however, that he was a teen actor, as taken with racing as he was by the silver screen and the new boob-tube. He used some of his acting income to hire expert mechanics to build engines and bodies, which he and his youthful reflexes piloted.

He was a showman, and a forward thinking racer. Understanding the Power to Weight Ratio idea, he was one of the first to install two smaller engines in one car, while others were striving for bigger power-plants. He first placed them one behind the other, and then in subsequent vehicles, learned how to synchronize them side by side.

Despite the death of James Dean, most studios didn’t have forbidden-pastimes contract clauses. His employers didn’t seem to realize what dangerous ways he was spending his off time. Finally, just as he was 20, they caught on. That was the year he produced the aptly-named “Showboat” race car.

Taking the power to weight thing to the max, he built a 4-engine, 4-drive wheel dragster, with big drag slick tires on all four corners. Sadly, the initial thrust of acceleration torqued the front two off the pavement just enough to lose traction and spin the front tires uselessly. Instead of getting added traction and speed, all he got was a crowd-pleasing cloud of smoke, and slow times.

The studios ordered him not to race anymore. The racing body were afraid that his crazy contraption would injure him or someone else, and refused to let him compete in it, and only allowed single-car, display runs. His racing year ended when a small-block, Pontiac-engined, single-motor dragster defeated him for the top prize.

Its top speed was 179 MPH. The same scientists who mathematically “proved” that the bumblebee can’t fly, insisted that the theoretical top speed in the quarter mile was 177 MPH, and dismissed it as an optical illusion, or equipment failure. When it happened again and again, they learned about “directional friction.”

Tommy did a few more resoundingly forgettable movies and TV shows. Unlike many, he wisely invested his income, and used the dividends to become a racing developer and sponsor, helping to make drag racing into the profitable spectator sport it is.

Oh yeah, why March Madness in April?? Because it’s a great title. Because I’m fractured and forgetful, and because, as usual, I’m late and behind on things. “Scuse me, I gotta go have a talk with the Easter Bunny about some more of those Easter Creme eggs.

Self Improvement Courses

Once again, the female staff will be offering courses for men of every marital status. Please note: the name of some of the courses have been changed. Attendance in at least 10 of the following is mandatory.

  1. Combating Stupidity
  2. You Can Do Housework Too
  3. PMS – Learning When To Keep your Mouth Shut
  4. How to Fill The Icecube Tray
  5. We do not want sleazy underthings for Xmas. Give Us Money!
  6. Understanding the female response to your coming in drunk at 4 AM
  7. Wonderful Laundry Techniques – Formerly titled “Don’t Wash My Silks”
  8. Parenting – NO, It Doesn’t End With Conception
  9. Get A Life – Learn To Cook
  10. How Not To Act Like An Asshole When You’re Obviously Wrong
  11. Spelling – Even You Can Get It Right
  12. Understanding Your Financial Incompetence
  13. You – The Weaker Sex
  14. Reasons To Give Flowers
  15. How To Stay Awake After Sex
  16. Why It Is Unacceptable To Relieve Yourself Anywhere But The Washroom
  17. Garbage – Getting It To The Curb
  18.  #101 – You Can Fall Asleep Without It – If You Try

    #201 – The Morning Dilemma – I Don’t care If “It’s” Awake, I’m Not – Take A Shower

  19. I’ll Wear It If I Damn Well Please
  20. How To Put The Toilet Lid Down – Formerly Titled, “No, It’s Not A Bidet”
  21. The Weekend and Sports Are Not Synonymous
  22. Give Me A Break – Why We know Your Excuses Are Bullshit
  23. How To Go Shopping With Your Mate Without Getting Lost
  24. The Remote Control – Overcoming Your Dependency
  25. Romanticism – Other Ideas Besides Sex
  26. Helpful Postural Hints For Couch Potatoes
  27. Mothers-In-Law – They Are Human Too
  28. How Not To Act Younger Than Your Children
  29. You Too Can Be A Designated Driver
  30. Male Bonding – Leaving Your Friends At Home
  31. Honest, You Don’t Look Like Mel Gibson, Especially When Naked
  32. Changing Your Underwear – It Really Works
  33. The Attainable Goal – Eliminating %$#@ From Your Vocabulary
  34. Fluffing The Covers After Farting is Not Necessary

Please register immediately, as courses are in great demand – as if there were any doubt.

**

Once upon a time, long, long ago and far, far away in the South Seas, there was a small island, ruled over by a great king. Also on the island lived a native who was very jealous of the great king, and his power and wealth. This man wanted very much to be the king and have all the wealth and power. He wished and wished and wished that he could be king, to no avail.

The king was young and strong and healthy, and even if he were to be killed accidentally, there were other members of the king’s family who would take over as ruler. One day though, this young man had a thought. Even if he couldn’t be the king, he could at least have the king’s throne.

So, one night, when it was very dark, he managed to break into the palace and stole the throne. He carried it home to his little grass shack on the beach, and very carefully concealed the throne high up on the rafters, under the roof.

The next day, the king’s men came around to search for the throne, but failed to find it hidden in the roof, and went away to look elsewhere. The young man stood at the front door of his hut, and watched them disappear down the beach.

As they went out of sight, he shouted exultantly, “I’ve done it! I’ve done it!” He stepped back into the hut and slammed the front door. Unfortunately, the vibration of the slamming door dislodged the throne from its hiding place, and it fell down and landed right on his head, killing him instantly.

The moral of this tale is, “People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones.”

Flash Fiction – Part 4

All Dressed Up – and Everyone’s Gone

Streamers

 

 

 

 

I stared at the picture, waiting for it to say something to me, so that I could say something about it.

I thought and thought – but nothing! Gahh, writer’s block.

It should be easy. Pretty little plaza, decorated for a celebration of some sort….but wait, where are all the gaily-dressed people? Oh dear, I’ve seen all these movies, the UFO just landed, the rebels launched poison-gas shells, the drug cartel took hostages.

No, no, it’s just siesta time. Soon, as it cools, Mariachis will play, children will cavort, senoritas will swirl and tequila will flow. Ay caramba, all’s well, ole!

 

Some Atheist Thoughts

JESUS
Jesus wasn’t gay! He just hung around with twelve other guys. He was a radical, non-violent Revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti death penalty, anti-public prayer (M. 6-5); but was never anti-gay, anti-abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a co-pay, and was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming, Middle Eastern Jew.

***
A young truck-driver who regularly attends the Free Thinkers meetings is as aggressively Atheist as many Christians, to the point that, if someone were to bless him, a fist-fight might occur. He is religiously confrontational and wears a variety of printed tee-shirts, such as one which says, “Abortion just means babies’ souls get to meet God earlier.”

Tattoo

Like many truckers, he has several tattoos. He recently added this Atheist one, on the inside of his right forearm.

 
That’s what it looks like on the skin. The picture below is clearer, taken right from the online tattoo catalog. Like the brands in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons book, it is an ambigram, reading the same thing, both right side up, and upside down. You can prove this by standing on your head, but I want photos of you doing it. He says it means that, coming or going, he’s a good Atheist.
atheist tattoo
The following is another, more triangular ambigram version of the word atheist.
triangle-atheist

 

 

This picture is of a two-word ambigram. One way, it says Atheist, the other, it reads Godless.
godless-atheist
Many Good Christians, consciously or unconsciously, hypocritically believe that, simply by dint of being Christian, everything atheist-i-amthey do is somehow Good and Honorable. Ergo, they also believe that anything done by non-Christians, is Mean and Evil. I am much tempted to purchase this tee-shirt to remind them they may be wrong, but I don’t go out enough to justify the expense. Maybe the trucker has one – or would like one. Hmmm, must talk to him about it.

What I’ve Learned

What I’ve learned is….there is a lot of shit on the internet. There’s a lot of shit I never suspected existed, and there’s a lot of shit I wish didn’t exist. What I’ve learned is that I’m getting better at locating and accessing information I need and want, but I’ve learned that I have to keep learning how to find it better.

I am not particularly good with computers and the internet, because I am not a child of technology. That’s because I am not a child! If you want a program installed, or uninstalled, or your Kobo unbricked, give it to a 14 year-old. If you want your computer defragged or debugged, let the 14 year-old do it. His/her 16 year-old brother/sister is already a bit behind the curve, and the 18 year-old neighbor is as puzzled as I am.

I can usually find what I’m looking for on the internet through trial and error, lots of trials, and many errors. Tenacious sounds better than stupid stubborn. I used to complain that search engines were too literal and precise. If each and every word wasn’t spelled just right, and the punctuation wasn’t exactly correct, they had no idea what you were looking for.

The programmers have changed all that, but not always for the better. Now the search engines make guesses, sometimes wild guesses. “Did you mean Popsicle sticks?” No! I was looking for a recipe for apple cobbler. “Well, it did say to pop it in the oven.”

I was looking for a place called Cheney, ON the other day, and gave it to MapQuest, which shrugged its shoulders, but listed places like Cheney Plumbing in Chatham, ON. My little hometown has a Wikipedia page, which I just emailed the Promotions Committee to make a correction/change to, so I handed Cheney, ON to Google. The first page of results were all Dick Cheney, on Bush, Dick Cheney on defense spending, Dick Cheney on shotgunning a friend. Did you notice that the O and the N in my request were both capitalized, indicating a location, and yours weren’t. ??!

I gotta remember to put quotation marks around my search terms, although I’m not sure that would have helped, above. If I ask for Angelina Jolie, so that I can get information about her knife collection, the first responses are always about Angelina Jolie. I asked Google about a young English actor by the name of Lee Ingleby, and the first response I got was from some New York State blogger who took a road trip, and met a guy named Lee, in Ingleby, PA.

Ingleby’s been working for about fifteen years, and he’s been busy! He has to be. Unlike American actors, English actors are paid shit, which is somewhat odd, because the pool of English actors is so small. We often see the same actor in two different British shows, broadcast the same night. An English actress stated that she had played every female role, from ingénue to witch – in one movie, two different female characters, and in another, a society doyenne – and the butler.

British shooting schedules are not as long, or as tight, as American.   Lee has done both movies and television, as well as BBC radio. In a couple of cases, while he was doing a series, he also did a movie or an episode or two of another show. He had a minor part in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but that’s inevitable. Daniel Radcliff said that the pool of actors was so small, and the crowd scenes were so huge, that every British actor, not actually filming, was dragooned onto the lot. Guys from the caterers, or just delivering bottled water, wound up waving a magic wand.

I searched the name Ingleby at surnamedb.com, and it claimed it was a locational name, the “ingle” meaning English, and “by” meaning a small town, therefore, “a person from an English village.” I believed that, for the second it took me to realise that a name site is not a dictionary site. They’re all English villages.

I went to dictionary.com, which told me that an ingle is a fireplace, or the fire in it. An inglenook is a small bench built into the corner of a fireplace where one could sit to do chores and keep warm. The place-name Ingleby then, means a small town, prosperous enough that there are a number of homes with stone fireplaces.

When you ask the dictionary site for a word meaning, you get not only the meaning, but a display similar to a set of Google responses. There are several words ahead of, and behind, the one you just typed in, and there is a list of related search topics. Of course, there are always a couple of commercial listings at the top. They have to pay the bills somehow.

The top listing on “ingle” was for dryers-loaders-blenders.com, a company which sells plastic-handling equipment, similar to what the son’s employer uses. They sell a number of manufacturers’ machines, but concentrate on stuff from the Inglis Corporation. Ingle to Inglis is a bit of a stretch, but, that’s business!

The second listing was for “Clases de Ingles online”, with a link to openenglish.com. English as a second language for Spanish-speaking immigrants, this Ingles means English. Below that was a reference to a character in the classic movie, Casablanca. Other than Rick, Ilsa, and Sam the piano-man, I don’t remember anyone else’s name. Then came a listing for a Supreme Court case of Ingle vs. Schmoe. That one I got.

The final four entries still baffle me. They were for Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, and cappuccino toppings. I read page after page, on each of these links, and never saw the word “ingle.” The only guess I can make is that there is a company named Ingle, which manufactures cappuccino toppings, and these three supermarket chains carry them. Any of you guys want to make a guess??! They’re three for a buck.

 

 

What Canada Isn’t

Canada is a great country, whose one identifying characteristic is, that it doesn’t have an identifying characteristic. Those of us who deal with non-Canadians, spend great amounts of time and effort explaining to the rest of the world, what Canada isn’t.

We are like the middle child in a family. We have to explain to the Americans, that we are not English. We have to explain to the British, and the rest of the world, that we are not Americans. We explain to the French, that even the Quebec portion isn’t French. Vive le Quebec libre somewhere else, monsieur DeGaulle. De gall of dat man, heh?

We are not a colony anymore, and we are not ruled or led by a European county. We are an independent democracy, but we are not Jingoistic about it. We provide socialist support for our citizens, but we are not communist. Although we are a country of large geography and small population, and have acquired the reputation for being a well-mannered Mr. Niceguy, we are not a pushover. Anyone who saw the movie Argo, viewed a piece of American-made hype, but got that message.

We aren’t equipped with a huge set of Armed Forces, but we aren’t afraid of getting our hands dirty, and the job done, to the point that we aren’t often called on to prove it.

One of our home-grown comics, who moved to The States because we aren’t rich enough to afford to pay our best performers what they deserve, said that Canada is a subtle flavor – like celery. But remember, celery is strong and crisp, with lots of fibre….and so are we.

Some of our Provinces, Territories and areas have their complaints and demands, as the siblings in any family do, but we are not coming apart at the seams as the Balkans, and other SSRs did. Canada is not a country which imprisons, executes or oppresses social, ethnic, political or religious minorities.

Canada is not perpetually covered with ice and snow. It is not inhabited by toque-wearing lumberjacks, living in igloos. Canada is not an exporter of wars, aggression, terror or ideology. Canada is not a bucolic backwater, because Canada is not afraid or incapable of adapting to rapidly changing, social and technological climes.

Canada isn’t a troublemaker, or a creepy neighbor, partner, or ally. All in all, what Canada isn’t….is a bad place to live, work or visit. Y’all come now, y’hear?

Canadian Flag

 

But ……………………………Canada Kicks Ass

The preceding political message has been brought to you by a Citizen and booster, as proud of the many things that Canada isn’t, as the many exemplary things that his country is.

 

Old Stuff I Own

BrainRants has recently published a couple of posts about strange old stuff he owns, with the accent on strange. The first was about a truly bizarre little plastic/rubber Gollywog, whose childhood acquisition and continuing possession may help explain his current mental state.

I don’t own any strange things, although with me, that’s hard to prove. I do still have chunks of glacier in my freezer, from the last ice age, so I thought I might write about a couple of long-owned/old items that the Historical Museum hasn’t got their hands on yet.

SDC10528No surprise, I’m starting with a knife. This was the second knife I ever bought, just before I turned 16, late in the summer of 1960. I had possessed several knives before this one, but they had been gifts or found items. The first knife I bought was exactly the same size and shape as this one, except that it had rough faux-bone handles.

While the “hold” was better, I preferred the sleek white faux-seashell look of this one, and lost/sold/broke the first one. Back then folding pocket knives didn’t lock in the open position, and care had to be taken when using them, lest they close on an unwary finger.

I carried this one till well after I got married. We moved into a geared-to-income housing compound. Built by the lowest bidder, there was a round electrical box on the ceiling of the basement laundry area, but no light fixture. I didn’t want to wait for an overburdened maintenance dept. and, being a Handy-Dandy DIY guy, (Yuk, Yuk) I decided to install one myself.

Since there was no light to turn on and off, I traced the electrical cable back to the breaker box, and then the black power line down to its breaker, which I turned off, for safety. I climbed back up on a wooden chair, and pulled down the power line to cut the insulation off, so that I could connect the fixture.

Suddenly, there was a ZAP, and a photo flash went off right beside my eyes. When I could see again, I looked at the wire and my knife. There are two power lines inside each cable. I had turned off the power to the black one – and cut into the still-live red one.

SDC10528b

The more sharp-eyed among you may already have noticed what this close-up shows. I had bridged from the live wire to the edge of the box, and burned a notch right out of the center of the blade. I wasn’t shocked, except by the damage to my pretty little knife, which has gone into semi-retirement in the utility room, cutting off shrink-wrap and into cardboard food boxes.

 

Soon after, in the fall of 1970, I found this replacement knife at K-Mart, that defender of the American Way. Manufactured when Pakistan thought that it could produce steel, and I only cared about a pointy tip and a beveled edge, I bought this little Sabre knife, making it about as old as Rants.SDC10529

With wooden scales and a thicker body, this one is a bit easier to hold and use. It also has a back-lock at the rear of the handle, making it a bit safer to use. It has outlasted 6 or 7 belt pouches, going into retirement in an indestructible nylon sheath which only needed its Velcro closer replaced.

This was largely a “work” knife, cutting strapping, plastic and vinyl sheet and cardboard cartons. It has cut at least two co-workers out of shoes whose laces just would just not untie. It has quartered and cored countless apples and pears, and started tough banana peels. It has opened several cans of pop (soda) whose tabs broke off. It has also acted as a can opener to several tins of beans, soup and pasta, for friends who mistakenly thought the lunch room had a working can opener.

I’m a lot more careful about the tips and edges of my carry knife these days. After almost 45 years of tough usage, this little $5.99 “piece of crap” doesn’t owe me a thing. More old stuff, including jokes, later.