Racism Hurts – Both Ways!

First, a word from the wordsmith.  The word is, *Discrimination*.  Not too long ago, the word discrimination had a good sense to it.  A discriminating man ate Fine food, not fast-food, drank Fine wine, not cheap plonk and wore well-made clothing, not K-Mart, Blue-Light Specials.

If I wished to hire a person for a position, and gave two people a test, and the brown guy scored ninety and the white guy scored a hundred, I’d hire the white guy.  I would discriminate against the brown fellow, not because he was brown, but because he didn’t do as well on the test.  Say the test was devised by a white man.  Say that the test reflected a white way of life.  It’s still My company and My customers I have to think of.

Ted@SightsandBytes seems upset at my most recent post.  He doesn’t say why, but I feel that he may think, if I call one a Paki, I call them all Pakis.  Or, perhaps he feels I shouldn’t call anyone a Paki.  I’m out to prove both those assumptions wrong.

I have lived and worked with quite a number of Indo-Asians.  Many (most?) are nice.  I used to work with a young Pakistani woman who invited me, and another worker, to her home several times, for an ethnic-food lunch.  She later invited me to her wedding and reception.  The saris and jewelry were gorgeous.  I would never call her, or anyone like her, a Paki.  Paki is a term reserved for some a**hole, so abhorrent that he deserves the approbation.  Maybe I lived beside one for ten years.  You decide.

He bought the house beside me.  I didn’t mind; I’m not racist.  Then he built an illegal mini-apartment in the basement, contrary to building and safety codes, so that he could move his 60ish parents and his two younger sisters in upstairs, And Charge Them Rent!  Contrary to grading and water-flow by-laws, he filled in his side of the swale (valley) between our houses with gravel and sand and topped it with paving stones, washing out parts of our gardens, and endangering our air-conditioner, and almost diverting water over the top of my foundation and in my basement window.  He put plastic barrels on the pavestones to collect rain water, for his mother to carry inside, by pail, to do dishes and laundry.  Despite requests from me and the neighbor on the other side, he refused to put mesh over the tops to prevent breeding of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Next, he had built, a full-width, rear, roofed deck.  Told me it was to improve the resale value.  Like the basement apartment, he did not obtain a building permit, submit plans, or have it city-inspected.  If he, and my wife, were in their respective backyards, he would refuse to reply to her if she spoke, because she was a woman.  That didn’t stop him from telling the consummate gardener what flowers and shrubs she should put in, and where.  He liked blue.

When his father retired, and the older sister got married and moved away, the other three had some problems paying his rent.  He knew people who needed day-care and babysitting so he arranged for his 63-year old mother to take kids in.  The final count was nine, breaking another city by-law restricting unlicensed day-care facilities to a maximum of four.  What a thrill it was, having all those vehicles in front of my house each morning, blocking my driveway, or beeping car horns goodbye, after I’d worked a late shift.

It all came to a head one day, when some whirly-gig seeds from the maple tree in my back yard blew onto the roof of his new deck.  He demanded, not asked, and definitely not nicely, that I come over and clean them off, AND, cut down the maple tree. Even after almost ten years of this shit, I still didn’t get nasty.  I nicely declined and told him that God had put them there, and he could ask God to clean them up.  Then he got nasty.  He told me that, if I didn’t comply, he was going to phone The City.  I saved him the trouble.  I called by-law enforcement, and reported every infraction.

An inspector came around and had a look at everything.  There was nothing he could do about this douche charging his own family rent, but, the daycare stopped.  He was told to remove the sand and gravel and return the runoff to its original slope.  He was to get a retroactive building permit for the back porch, submit drawings and arrange for building inspection.  The basement apartment was declared unsafe and either had to be removed, or an outside exit had to be installed.  If any portion of my tree extended over his fence he was allowed to lop it off, without further damaging the tree.  If my maple keys blew on his property, he was to take it up with God.  And I didn’t even prime the officer with that comment.

The City officially told him to do all this, so he did it, right?  Sure he did!?  What he did, was, he immediately put the house up for sale and palmed all these problems off on the unsuspecting buyer.  He located an apartment for himself and told his parents and sister that they’d have to find their own place to live.  Pakistanis are usually pleasant, friendly folk.  The parents and sisters were nice people and great neighbors.  Actions and attitudes, this pile of putrefied dog-dump, and others like him, are what I refer to when I use the pejorative, Paki.

W.T.F. Inc. II

Co-workers that make you go Hmmm??!  A couple of happenings recently reminded me of a couple of the gems I’d been honored to work with over the years, and I thought I might regale you with more tales of clerical buffoonery.

Long ago, I worked in the inventory department for that steel fabrication company.  There was another young man who worked with me as a clerk.  He was honest, reliable and hard-working, but so was my Labrador Retriever.  He wasn’t stupid in any way.  He did the job well, but he definitely came to work each day on the short bus.  Does anyone but me, remember Candice Bergen’s father, Edgar Bergen, the ventriloquist?  This guy was like the dumb dummy, Mortimer Snerd’s even dumber brother.  For the younger crowd, imagine Jeff Dunham’s character, Bubba J, without the urbane smoothness.

Reality could sneak up on this boy.  Hell, reality could come dancing in wearing wooden shoes and a bright pink tutu, and he wouldn’t notice.  He wasn’t even distracted by squirrels or shiny objects.  He had a one track mind, but it was narrow-gauge.  I worked with him for over a year but never asked him if he was a local city boy or if he was raised in the country.  Country seemed likely, but I thought I might not survive the story.

The fourth in the series of James Bond movies had recently been released.  I had seen them all.  The wife and I had attended the most recent, a couple of weeks before.  He came bubbling in one morning all agog about this movie he had found.  It was a real action/thriller movie about this English spy.  I should go see it.  The guy who played the hero, whose name he couldn’t remember, was this really good actor, whose name he DID remember.  It was Seen Conaway.

He lived in a front apartment, in a fairly big apartment building on a main street.  He told me one day that he had asked the supervisor if he could hang planters from the windows and balcony rail.   I asked him what he wanted to plant.  Apparently the super had also asked him what kind of flowers he was going to put in.  He told the super that he wanted to grow vegetables.  Interesting, but if he wants some fresh radishes or beets, more power to him.

Later that summer I had to be in his section of town and looked up to his apartment on the fourth floor.  I almost crashed my car.  He was growing corn.  Each planter box had three corn plants, one at each end and one in the middle.  The roots were already three feet off the ground because of the height of the window-sills and balcony.  The guy in the apartment above him might have been able to reach the cobs, to harvest them, but I don’t know how he ever did.

The best Newfy jokes I’ve ever heard have been told by Newfies.  The best Polack jokes I’ve ever heard have been told by Polacks.  I’ve never heard a Paki tell a joke, because, when they packed to come here, they only had enough room for all their attitude, and had to leave their sense of humor behind.  Both Newfies and Polacks insist that, no matter how dumb the joke, one of them has actually done it. I worked with a Polish-Canadian woman who was so dumb, she didn’t know that she was Polish.  She was animal-cunning and street-smart.  She parlayed a divorce settlement into three houses.  Two she rented.  The first was paid off.  The rent from #1 paid the mortgage on #3.  The rent on #2 paid the mortgage and helped on #3.

All names have been changed to protect the writer, in case she finds out that the internet exists.  She and three other Polish women used to sit together and gossip at lunch.  There were two Skis, and two Polish toboggans.  For those of you shaking your heads, many Polish names end in SKI, they’re the Skis. Most people know about the Polish heritage, but, other names, like Zuwala, or Yantha, or Dueck, are also Polish.  These are the Polish toboggans.

I kidded her one day, about the four Polish women, sitting around, plotting to take over the world.  She had no idea who I was talking about.  I named all four of them and said they were all Polish names.  She explained to me that her name, Gutowski, was not her maiden name.  Remember, she was divorced!  I had just assumed that she had gone back to her maiden name, so I asked her what it was.  Pacheski!  But that’s still a Polish name.  “But Dad spoke perfect German!” she insisted.  What?  And if he could speak Mandarin, you’d have slant-eyes?

She was a prank-playing shit-disturber.  One day she had four people, including me, willing to wring her neck, all at the same time.  To her, this was fun.  She couldn’t understand why anyone would get upset.  She started a water fight with a guy in the plant, that ended with her getting three gallons of water dumped on her, and couldn’t understand why he would do such a thing.  I saw it happen, and reminded her that she had started it.  “No I didn’t.”  She got a drink from a big thermos of cold water and threw the last of the glass at him.  He went and got a full glass and threw it at her.  She grabbed a hard-hat and filled it and poured it on him, so he grabbed the pail of process water and poured it on her.  “But HE started it!”

Nobody wants to take responsibility for what they’ve done.  Some are so stunned, they don’t even know that they’ve done something.  Looking back now, I can find things like this amusing.  I’m just so glad that I no longer have to put up with this s**t, any more.

Dr. Strangeblog – Or, How I Learned to Start Posting and Love The Attention

HAPPY 1000

By the time I get this blog composed and posted, I should have reached the one thousand visitor mark.  This was not something I considered when I set out on this journey.  It’s probably not something very many bloggers considered, before they started.  If you get into blogging for the fame and fortune, you will achieve neither fame, nor fortune.  You have the wrong mindset, and most of the potential fans will feel that.

I wonder how many of my readers GOT the title.  It is, of course, a reference to the movie, Dr. Strangelove.  It was a seminal movie, and number three on AFI’s 100 Funniest Movies.  I remember watching it as a teenager.  Then again, I remember having our paper delivered by a T-Rex.  He had trouble getting it up onto the porch, because of his short arms.  The movie was released in 1964, long before most of the people in “my group” were born.

I feel sorry for my wife.  She has inhalant allergies which keep her in the house much of the time.  A day of shopping can mean two or three days of breathing problems.  She don’t get out much anymore.  Once, a fairly social person, she had to “divorce” her toxic family to prevent anxiety attacks.  When the medical problems forced her to stop working, she lost what little other social contacts she had.  The daughter set her up with a WordPress account, and she blogged once, back in December.  I feel that, if she would get into this blogging thing, she would be happier by being more socially cocooned.

The blogosphere is a huge multi-faceted place, with something for everyone, and a few things no-one should have to see.  It can be a wild and crazy carnival, and that suits me fine.  I’m sure the wife could find a group of safe and pleasant bloggers, who could be a support circle for her, and help lift her depression and feelings of abandonment.

As I retired, the wife was worried about what I would do to fill my time.  Perhaps she was worried, as many older wives are, that I would be bored, and that boredom would impinge on her peaceful lifestyle.  As previous posts have revealed, more and more of that spare time has been taken up driving her, the daughter, and now myself to a bewildering array of doctors and medical facilities. 

 When I first started posting, I thought that the writing was *what it was all about*.  I soon found that, followers, and the give and take of commenting and being commented at, was the replacement for the intellectual and social intercourse (Heh, Heh.  I said intercourse!) I’d had when I was working.  Also, I can pick an intelligent, insightful, interesting, linguistically capable, expressive group to associate with, something not guaranteed at any place of employment.

The World Wide Web is indeed, worldwide.  I am intrigued by the geographical span of my readers and followers.  I have readers from Ireland and Australia, but at least they speak English there.  I wonder more about readers from places like Denmark and Croatia.  Who/what are they, and why are they there?  I have a follower who is a Texan, living in a beautiful old city in southeast France.  I have a new follower, who is an English-speaking Asian, from Singapore.  I can take advantage of these contacts to learn more about their regions. 

could question these folks about their backgrounds, and, if the Cheeky Monkey curiosity becomes too great, I may.  I find though, that not knowing is more exciting.  I can write a back-story in my mind, for each of them, explaining how they followed a husband or a wife or a job or an adventure, to a foreign land, or how, as natives of these far-off countries, they came to read and write, sometimes impressive prose and/or poetry, in clear, easy-to-understand English.

 My mind, my imagination and interest, continues to expand.  Fortunately, the thick bones of my Scottish skull will prevent any possible sociological explosion.  I don’t think I will ever be able to cram so much in, that I develop cracks and leaky seams, like Edward Hotspur, and spew forth such a wildly esoteric mix of reality and strange imagination.  I’ve been plodding, but I hope to start treading more quickly, composing-wise, perhaps even getting to the point of skipping lightly.  Please continue to visit.  I feel that it can only get better, and I feel better when you visit.

Socialized Larceny

I mentioned to BrainRants, that one of the drawbacks of socialized medicine is inefficiency.  Most practitioners – doctors, nurses, technicians, are in it for the good of their patients.  Some of them though, and perhaps more of the clerical support, don’t have that commitment.  They know that their job is almost guaranteed by the government, so there is no need for speed or accuracy.  This is one of the reasons for things like long wait times in emergency.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, about having two different clerks take exactly the same information, sometimes the reason for a position disappears, but, the redundant clerk remains, unfireable, sometimes unnoticed.

Another downside of socialized medicine, is the unnecessary and/or excess billing by doctors and clinics.  Higher than necessary and non-valid claims are sent to uncaring, overwhelmed government clerks, too busy to pay close attention, and, in many cases, more interested in Keeping their job, than in Doing their job.

Not that I am suggesting anything illegal or unethical, but, these are just a few of the things I have noticed lately.

I had blood work done for my vision problem.  My doctor’s receptionist called me and told me that I needed to come in to see the doctor about my high cholesterol, which I did.  When the doctor came into the exam room, she didn’t even know why I was there.  The base-line for the tests I took is 5.5.  My result was 5.7, the same as it was a year previous.  I didn’t Need to come in, but it was a billable visit.

My wife had some blood tests run.  The clinic at her doctors’ building is open from 5 till 8 PM, five evenings a week plus Saturday and Sunday.  We got a – I don’t want to say *urgent*, perhaps *strenuous* – call on a Saturday afternoon, from a clerk, who informed her that she had anemia, and should come in to the clinic the next day for a prescription for iron medicine.  We waited three hours for her to be seen by A doctor, not Her doctor, then we took the prescription to our pharmacy and had it filled.  Commonly used to drug bills from $300 to over $1000, I was astounded when the pharmacy clerk wanted $1.79.  It was an over-the-counter pill that could have waited for her next visit to her doctor to be recommended, but, that was a billable, urgent-care visit.  The doctor who wrote the unnecessary prescription is a cosmetic surgeon.

It seems a good idea to ascertain the cause of anemia.  It could be an ulcer, or other internal bleeding.  The wife had an appointment booked with her doctor about an ongoing sore throat and cough.  While she was in, she asked about the anemia.  Her doctor checked the results.  Like my case, the base-line is 130, and her result was 127, barely below the warning line.  The results did show that she produces red cells of different sizes, an unusual occurrence, not necessarily dangerous, but definitely worth investigating.  The other doctor didn’t mention a thing about that.

The wife and I both recently got two/each hearing assistors.  We were told that they were $2000/pr.  My retirement benefits would pay a thousand for each of us and the government gets stuck with the balance.  When the wife went to file the paid invoice, she noticed that each $2000 bill, was actually over $2900.  Besides the charges for hearing aids, the government got billed for the hearing tests.  There were $450 dispensing fees.  There is a 30 day check-up, and a 90 day check-up, and then yearly  follow-up visits.  I’d like to think that, at least some of that is included in the $450, but I’ll bet not.  There were even $85 ear-mould charges.  I don’t remember any ear-moulds being taken, especially since these things have a soft ring on the inner end, like a ski-pole bottom.

My daughter was also tested and prescribed hearing assistors at the same time.  Three at one blow, sounds like the little tailor, killing flies, for Mother Goose.  She is disabled, and all her medical bills go through the Ontario Disability Services Plan.  Because of this, we were led to believe that her units would be somewhat less expensive than ours.  After several weeks of not hearing (Oh, funny!  That’s why we went in.) about her units, she called her case-worker.  Perhaps thinking that this was just another, typical government agency, they had recommended a $5000 pair.  She’s tried the wife’s units.  They work just fine.  We don’t need a Porsche, and the ODSP will only pay for a Ford.  I don’t blame them.

I think this hearing company is now under watch, if not investigation.  The daughter now has to go to another hearing clinic and be retested and resubmit.  ODSP will accept no further submissions from this company.  This means that the daughter’s chances are less than they were, and, even if her next request is honored, there will be bureaucratic delay.

Not every crook is a Bernie Madoff.  Many just keep chipping away, small scale.  Many never get caught.  The egotistic greed is disappointing.  Instead of this money buying a cottage or a bass-boat, it could be used to actually help someone who really needs it.

Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of The Way!

 I heard it again today!  I heard automotive-apathy, by-way-blocking, car-coma, distracted-driver, errant-egotism!  I heard the sounds of stunned, thoughtless, I-don’t-know what’s-going-on, and, if I did, I-don’t give-a-damn, drivers.  I heard a fire-truck, trying to get to an emergency.  What I didn’t hear, was that truck succeeding.  I hear the sounds of failure all too often.

My property backs onto a major, local, four-lane road.  The street is about a hundred feet back and, when it went in, there was a six-foot high sound-berm installed, to keep the worst of the traffic noise out of my house.  Works pretty good, too, but we can still hear what’s going on.  Three blocks down the road, we have a fire sub-station, complete with ambulance bay.  If there’s an accident, or a fire, often, these vehicles race up the street behind my house.  The fire truck has a two-part, get-out-of-the-way noise system.  There is the high-pitched siren, and, when that doesn’t work, there is a lower-pitched WHOOP, WHOOP.

That’s what I heard.  I heard the siren, almost from leaving the station, coming my way.  And then, WHOOP, WHOOP, pull over!  A hundred yards and WHOOP, WHOOP, get out of the way, and another hundred yards, and another WHOOP, WHOOP.  Put the damned cell-phone down and pay attention to what’s going on around you.  It is disheartening to look out my back bedroom window to watch a fire truck and/or an ambulance going by, and see two pieces of used butt-wipe matching exact speeds of forty/KmH, in a sixty zone, blocking an emergency vehicle.  I needed that ambulance the day I dropped my motorcycle.  My case was not time-sensitive but, would you like to be the one to go home and say, “I killed a guy today because I was too dumb and distracted to pull over”?  Of course, drivers who create havoc like that are too stunned to realize what they’ve done, and return to the roads to commit more motorized mayhem tomorrow. 

I saw yet another car the other day, with a bumper-sticker which read, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you”.  And you’re proud of that???  Of course we’re all behind you.  You’re creeping along like you’re on your way to a tax audit, and the rest of us can’t get past.  Did you know that even on four-lane city streets, the left lane is the fast lane?  If you ain’t goin’ fast, find a curb lane!

I have noticed that the numbers of freeway shootings in LA have dropped off significantly, since BrainRants has been posted to Kansas.  Pure coincidence?  I think not!  I feel that we should be allowed to carry paint-ball guns in our cars.  Some asshat pulls something stupid like this, lean out the window and put about three electric purple splats across his stern.  When the cops can’t read his plate for paint, he gets pulled in for license re-examination.  A guy in my neighborhood has a little red car with sick-frog green paint across the hood, and then along one side.  It’s difficult to decide if this is supposed to be some sort of artistic statement, or somebody’s vandal revenge.

A paint-baller I worked with gave me an even better idea.  Freeze the paint-balls.  They’re hard as marbles.  They’re out of the way in the house, and you won’t step or sit on one and make a mess.  A line of dents might convince the BMW driver to signal, before he cuts you off.  My guy lived on the third floor, with a balcony that overlooked his parking spot.  One summer evening he looked out and saw a couple of kids messing with his car, trying to break in.  He loaded up the gun with the frozen pellets and started sniping.  Got one in the ass of the pants and on a bare bicep.  The other one took a marble to the hand.  No-one has seen them in the parking lot since.

A woman I worked with had a 17 year-old daughter with an 18 year-old boyfriend.  He lived in a different part of town, and often came over on Sunday afternoons.  One day he came in, literally shaking, and collapsed into a chair.  Instead of taking main roads, in my strangely laid-out city, he saved time by cutting through a commercial section, on a street with a level train crossing.  It had bells and flashing lights, but no barricade arms.  With the stereo jacked up almost high enough to blow the windows out, he skated across the tracks.  He told her that he had looked in the mirror, but had seen no-one following him.  Just as he cleared the tracks he noticed something behind him.  “Where did that guy come from, so fast?” he thought, and almost fainted when he saw the side of a train, whipping past, six inches from his back bumper.  Missed the red flashing lights, missed the bells, missed the headlight of the oncoming train and missed the train horn.  Almost missed the drive home, too!

Ted, from SightsandBytes, wants an old-fashioned locomotive cow-catcher.  My son says, if he ever wins a lottery, he’s going to buy a brute-ute and have something similar made in chrome-moly tubing.  Don’t move over….Flurp, you’re in the ditch, or on the boulevard, wondering Wha’Happun?  The sheep will never improve because they’re not smart enough to know they need improvement.  The rest of you, pay attention out there.  I don’t want to lose some of the best writers and nicest people I’ve ever met.

Neighborly Help

My wife, my son and I all tend to be loners.  We are not anti-social.  We are merely un-social.  We are friendly with many people, but Friends with very few.  We have a relatively new neighbor.  She is a delightful, bubbly, divorced woman of about forty.  The RIM Corporation, which produces the Blackberry phone, and various other electronic devices, is headquartered locally.  She works for them in the marketing department.  I understand that she gets paid extra to help haul away part of the huge pile of hundred-dollar bills lying around.  She has two Blackberries, one a gratis unit, used for company business, and another, which she got at cost, for her personal use.

She rang our door-bell one evening, to apologise, and explain a strange little occurrence.  Her father is my age.  He could retire, but he is a professor, who still teaches a couple of courses at the University of Buffalo, New York – two hours away, in a different country.  He drives up to visit regularly, and we had met and spoken, and at least exchanged names.  He had called from Buffalo, earlier in the evening.  Quite computer-literate, he had looked up our phone number on-line.  He said that she should have some company, and wanted to know if they were still there and if she was all right.  The wife carried the cordless phone outside.  There was a pick-up truck in the driveway.  She went up to the door and rang the bell.  There was conversation from inside and the smiling daughter answered the door.  The wife assured him that everything was well, and asked if he wished to speak to her.  He declined, but asked that she tell the daughter to call him later.

The City of Kitchener is where the blue box recycling system was invented.  Now we also have green bins, for kitchen waste and large, heavy paper bags for yard waste.  I’m all for saving the planet but, it can be a pain in the organizational ability, at times.  Most blue boxes are about a bushel capacity, and stand a foot tall.  This woman is a busy, single person who probably doesn’t cook, just for herself, much.  I haven’t gone through her blue box, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it contained lots of pizza boxes, Chinese take-out containers, Michelina microwave-dinner boxes, etc.  Perhaps because of the excess of packaging, she got a double-tall blue box.  It’s the only one on the street.

She put it out a couple of weeks ago, and came home to find it missing.  The first one is free.  Buy any replacements at a hardware store.  She got another one.  Garbage day again, she was coming home from work and there, five houses up the street, is her box, still with her house number, in big bold black magic marker.  Somebody’s got a lot of nerve, but not a lot of brains.  She stopped the car and brought it home with her.  Now me, I might have thought about calling the police.  Having taken her stolen property back, she is now worried about??…What?, the guy’s going to come down and demand it back?

She was on the phone to her dad in Buffalo, talking about many things, including this little contre-temps.  She uses a VOIP-type computer system for long distance, but, in the middle of telling her dad about her worry about the thieving neighbour, the local provider cut out.  At that point her guests arrived and she just left calling Dad back, till later.  But he got worried and tried to call her back and, of course, got no answer and thought perhaps her silly worries might not be so silly.  All was well, that ended well, and we were more than happy to reassure a worried parent.  I am sure that she would do the same for us.  We exchanged land line and cell-phone numbers as well as email addresses to ensure that we can.

Last Friday evening, I took a slightly panicked call from her.  The singer, Jann Arden, was performing locally, and she had a chance to get three last-minute tickets to the show.  She bought and paid for them on-line, but when she went to print off the confirmations, with the bar-code necessary to get in, she hasn’t been printing enough stuff, and the ink in her printer was all dry.  Do we have a printer?  Yes!  Could she bring over the file on a thumb-drive, and print them out?  Of course!  She only needed three sheets printed, but brought a dozen with her.  The show starts at eight, and it’s six-thirty.  She still had to pick up her friends, drive to the venue, park, walk in and get seated.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  I hope she had a great time.

We have had her over twice, in a year, for an informal supper.  She has a surfeit of friends, but I think that aside from the minimal social contact, she, the non-cook, appreciated a homemade meal.  We have done the same with some of my daughter’s friends, and ex-friends, and others who have impinged on our tiny social circle.  We have not pursued these people, to live in each others’ pockets, as friends, but we continue to be friendly with those who come near us from time to time.  Feel not sorry for us, for we are not complete hermits.  We love mankind – just at a distance.

Excitement Unexpected



I may have to borrow BrainRants’ Thai hot-sauce.  My life is beginning to acquire some taste and flair.  T’was not always thus.  My life has been uninterestingly, go to work, come home, eat, watch some TV, repeat, repeat, repeat, for years.  That’s the way my medical providers and I have wanted it.  I have raised lowered bland to new depths.  If boring were an Olympic sport, I’d be at the top of the podium, wrapping the gold medal around my neck, while the guy with the drying paint watched the other guy’s grass grow.  There’s a Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.  Between my hopefully now defunct eyesight drama, and the ever-growing blogosphere adventure, this has been an Interesting six months.

Wow!  Lightning struck three times on the same day.  Well, actually, it was more like the static sparks you get when you scuff your feet on the carpet and touch a doorknob, but they impressed the Hell out of me.  I have a very low tolerance.  First, LadyRyl read one of my pieces out loud to two of her gal friends.  One of them was sufficiently impressed that she wished to follow me, so LadyRyl posted a link to my site on her Facebook page.  Exposure like that might get me two, maybe three more potential readers.

Next, I got my Jerry Seinfeld piece reblogged.  Abauerporsche is a blog from a small Porsche dealer/repair shop in Oakland, California.  I would have thought that a lot full of Porsches would be enough to generate interest, but somebody there sieves the internet and reposts four or five blogs a day.  They’re always about cars.  They’re almost always about Porsches and many of them contain photos of body lines and chromed turbochargers and races.  I didn’t see any search terms.  I don’t know how my site was reached, or why that particular packing case of verbiage was shoehorned in, but, I’ll take the exposure.  Now I have upscale readers to consider.  I can write for Intelligent, but I’m not sure I can write for Expensive.

And finally….KayJai couldn’t pass on that case of strep throat, so she inflicted me with my second case of Versatile Blogger.  I guess every blogger must have some degree of ego, or we wouldn’t be here.  I have a very small one.  That’s why KayJai could massage it and still be done in time to get home for lunch.  Ego!  Pay attention!  I feel like Sally Field, accepting the Oscar.  You love me!  You really love me!  Either that or, I’m being given something to do, to get me out of your hair for a couple of days.

You all know the rules.  If you don’t, look ‘em up.  It doesn’t matter.  I didn’t follow them the first time, and I’m not going to follow them even worse, this time.  I am going to proudly thank KayJai.  She is a strong, kind, intelligent blogger, whose writing I appreciate, and whose opinions I respect.  It is humbling to receive such recognition from a person like her.

Hmmm, seven things about me…?  Go back and read my first acceptance speech.  I feel that I, personally, am about as exciting as tapioca pudding, but, I keep my eyes and ears open, and interesting people and things have passed though my orbit.  I have been within ten feet of Queen Elizabeth.  The Second!  I’m old, but I’m not that old.  Twelve feet from Prince What’s-his-name.  I got a kiss on the cheek from the Secretary of State for External Affairs.  She was a woman, or at least, that’s what she told me.  And, I had a very brief conversation with (and some photos of) the singer, Roger Whittaker, dressed up as Don Quixote.

Blogs I wish to acknowledge….include the group I wrote about a month or so ago.  SavortheFolly is partly back, and much welcomed.  H E Ellis was also M.I.A., and sadly missed, but is now back, to den-mother us.  I continue to take baby steps and expand my circle of blogs-read.  Some I have liked, others, not so much.  Two I wish to add are; from a link on Rants’ site, TheByronicMan.  Intelligent and well written.  He has something to say, and says it well.  From a recommendation from the missing Hellis, TheHaremsMaster.  He drops the occasional clot of keystrokes.  Sometimes talks about himself, sometimes about politics or life in general.  Sometimes prints excerpts from, not one, but two books he’s simultaneously working on.  Damn!  Am I the only one not working on a book?  Well, there is that ever-growing pile of research notes that the Hermudgeon keeps urging me to deal with.  If you think I live on the tundra, visit Harem Master’s place.  He’s so far north; the only thing keeping him from falling off the top edge is the North Pole itself.  He gets his internet delivered by dogsled, and it takes him an hour to defrost it.

Another management seminar impressed how a group decision is almost always better than any single person’s.  In the short time I have been observing “my” group; I have seen the individuals teach each other, new, better, more creative ways of doing things and challenge the others to new styles and new heights.  Figuratively, I have graduated from Velcro runners, to tying my own laces and taking those baby steps.  But it’s time to stop all this shoulder patting.  Let’s get out there and impress someone.

Highway to Hell

Nobody wants to take responsibility for being an asshole, a criminal, an antisocial creep.  Everybody who gets caught doing some indefensible horror, wants to defend it by blaming it on somebody or something else.  My father beat me, my mother put peanut butter sandwiches in my lunch, the kids at school didn’t like me, and bullied me, my library card expired.

Sadly for our sex, it’s almost always the men who commit the most horrible of crimes.  It’s even worse though, when some submissive female, eager for attention, aids and abets some pervert.  TV shows like Criminal Minds tell us that the possibility of two sex offenders working together is remote.  The likelihood of a male/female team is almost to the point of flipping a coin and having it land on edge.

My son has told me the story of his high school mathematics teacher talking about probabilities and that one occurrence will not affect subsequent ones.  The man took a Canadian nickel out of his pocket, flipped it into the air, and watched it hit the floor….where it caromed off a desk leg and whirled back out, and came to a stop on its edge.  Before cell phone cameras were common, the teacher told them to stand quietly, and anyone who could, was to take a picture.  No matter how unlikely an outcome is, sooner or later, it will happen.

We have had, reasonably nearby; two coins come to rest on their edge.  A little over ten years ago, about an hour’s travel to the east, we had a serial rapist.  He had attacked over a dozen women, and the police heat was building up.  He moved some distance away and met a girl like the one described above.  It’s hard to understand how he could have convinced her and harder still to believe that she would have gone along, but, that’s what happened.  She helped lure 13 and 14 year-old girls into his van.  She helped kidnap, torture and murder two of them.  He says she actually did the killing.  She says he was the one.  It doesn’t matter; there is video evidence that they were both there.  She drugged her own 14 year-old sister, and offered her virginity as a wedding present.  The sister also, unintentionally, died.  Eileen Wuornos, the Monster, killed a bunch of men, but how could one woman do this to other women, especially to children.

To his very small credit, the guy took his punishment, and has kept his mouth shut.  The gal involved though, even though she got a sweetheart deal for rolling over on him, blamed the usual suspects.  Her parents were too strict, they loved the younger sister more and she got away with more.  She had to go out and get a job and HELP support herself, even though she was still living at home.

The asteroid missed us the other day but, what are the chances of having another female enabler show up in the neighborhood?  Too damned good, apparently.  Last year, a little 8 year-old girl was kidnapped, raped and had her head bashed in.  Video evidence showed that it was a young woman who enticed her into the van.  Here’s where it gets strange.  Confronted with the evidence, she immediately pled guilty, and is serving time.  She claims that her boyfriend told her that he wanted to molest a little girl, so she went out and got him one she knew, and had babysat.

Having pled guilty, there was very little trial or testimony.  The boyfriend denied her story and pled not guilty.  His trial is now well under way.  She is hauled out of jail to testify against him.  Despite all that has happened, she still appears to be covering for him.  She has now testified that she bought the garbage bags, and the hammer which she claims SHE used to bash the girl’s head in.  They are equally culpable, but if she paints herself as the bad guy, he might get parole earlier.  I don’t know what her motivation is at this point but, she now claims that after he was through, she bashed the kid’s head in, in a spontaneous fit of rage, stemming from some un-named and undescribed abuse, suffered when she was young.  That’s a hard sell, especially with the video proof of the premeditated purchase.

A Member of Parliament had to issue an apology recently, for having suggested that we put a length of rope in the cells of people like this, hoping that they will do the right thing and remove themselves from civilized society.  Over the last thirty years, the courts have convicted seven or eight men for crimes they didn’t commit.  A couple were sentenced to death before the death penalty was abolished.  These examples are used by those who want to keep it that way.  I don’t understand the reaction to the MP’s suggestion.  We’re not executing scum like this; we are merely providing the opportunity to prove that they are truly sorry for what they have done and ensure they will never do it again.

This has been a downer of a post.  Even my rants are usually upbeat.  To see male members of the population acting like bloodthirsty savages is disappointing, but not surprising.  To see members of, “the gentle sex”, committing such heinous acts, just about sucks out what little hope I have for the betterment of the human race.

I See That I Can Hear

Just when I thought that I had my medical problems pretty much under control, I got blindsided.  The wife is the youngest of nine children.  The five oldest, each in turn, have had to get hearing aids as they hit the 60/65-year-old range.  Some genetic weakness apparently.  The oldest warned her twenty years ago that her time would come.  The one sister, with the husband who ran his own small specialty plastering business, and who had more money than any two or three of the rest, cheaped out and only got a hearing aid for one ear.  She was born during the depression, but that was a long time ago….Really?  Another sister denied a 40% hearing loss until the audiologist put his hand in front of his mouth and asked what he was saying.  She had unconsciously learned to lip-read to make up for the slow loss.

The wife’s doctor moved from an office two blocks from my disabled daughter, where she could quickly and easily get there in her powered wheelchair, and a mere five minutes down the street from our home.  She moved to the far side of the neighboring city.  Fortunately, highway access is nearby, but it still takes twenty minutes, and now I have to drive the daughter, who used to have a small degree of independence.  The doctor moved in with four other doctors in what is described as a limited clinic.  I think the correct pronunciation is MONEY MILL.

If you just walk in, the first doctor who has an opening will see you.  If you want to see your specific doctor, you make an appointment, and with a set-up like that, appointments can be two to three weeks.  The group of doctors owns an entire one-floor building.  Their offices and examining rooms are at one end.  They have leased space to a captive pharmacy at the other end, and in the middle, is where the real money is made.  They employ a staff who provide massage therapy, osteopathy, physiotherapy.  They do cardiac echograms, and they have a hearing testing booth with hearing assist diagnosis and suggestion.  You can almost hear the cash registers ringing as you walk in.  It’s like a licence to print money.

Once upon a time, manufacturing companies made a product, from the sale of which, they derived a profit.  Now, companies make money.  Banks used to take your cash and lend it out at a profit, from which they paid a portion to you as interest.  Now, banks make money, and you even have to pay them for the privilege of getting your own money back.  Doctors used to heal sick people.  Now doctors make money.  If someone happens to get better in the process, it’s co-incidental.

The wife finally decided to book an appointment to have her hearing tested.  Since the big Costco store is on the edge of town as we come back, we picked up the daughter, so that we could do some shopping on the way home.  The daughter is probably subject to the same genetic hearing problem as the wife.  Her turn would normally come in about twenty years but, about eight years ago, she had a terrible double-ear infection.  They gave her Cipro, you know, the stuff that stops anthrax.  Normally it’s a five-day dosage.  She was so bad that she got ten.  As the wife left to get her test, the daughter commented that she wished she could have her hearing checked also.  The wife popped into the exam room for a few seconds and then came out and waved the daughter down the hall.  Apparently they had some free time in the schedule.  Because of the infection, the wife and daughter’s results were almost identical.

The wife remained with the tech and the daughter came back to the waiting room to give me the results.  I was happy that they now had quantifiable results and said; at least I didn’t have to go through this, when the wife stuck her head out of the door and crooked her finger at me.  Sure enough, there was enough time for me to get tested too.  I worked in a reasonably noisy plant the last twenty years.  The government mandated that the company had to have us checked each year.  I knew that I had a slight loss, but agreed with the tester, who put it down as much to normal aging, as plant noise.

Within twenty minutes I was being fitted for new electronic hearing aids, excuse me, Hearing Assistors!  They were cheap at $2000/pair.  Apparently the government will pay for half, and they had already checked to ensure that my retirement benefits would cover the balance.  KaChing!  How can you say no, to something free.

These things are somewhat like a Bluetooth.  They hang over and behind each ear.  They don’t fill the ear like (especially the old) hearing aids, a tiny tube runs into the ear with a soft rubber ring on the end, something like a ski-pole bottom.  The normal sounds go through the openings and this programmable unit just adds the ranges that you are missing.

A man is convinced that his wife is going deaf.  To prove it, from the living room he asks, “What’s for supper?”  No answer, so he moves to the hall and repeats the question.  Still no answer.  He’s more convinced than ever and moves into the kitchen and asks once more, “What’s for supper?”  His wife turns around and says, “For the third time, stew!”

My wife’s hearing loss is in the mid-range, where my normal voice is.  My hearing loss is in the upper range, where her voice is.  We weren’t ignoring each other; we just couldn’t hear each other.  There goes my excuse for not doing some of the things she asks.  I can hardly wait to see what my next technological improvement will be, a motorized walker perhaps.  Maybe I can get John Erickson to help me mount a .50 cal. to deal with handicapped parking spot violators.

Free-Range Rants

I posted recently in a blog, that I used to be liberal, understanding, forgiving.  I have tried to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and the right to their opinion.  However, when some people open their mouths, or let their fingers type, what spews out, more and more, just tries my patience.

In the Op/Ed letters in today’s paper, there was one from a familiar name.  Let’s say it was Sahib Shah.  Definitely not a local boy.  He’s one of those regular contributors, getting a letter published almost every 60-day restriction period.  He’s always bitching about political and social standards….as they apply to him and his army of beige friends.  He wants to change all of the Canadian ways of doing things, so that they become more like what he was used to.  The shrill and ever-more-common rants from folks like him just fuel my intolerance and obstinacy.  If you don’t like the way we do things, why did you come here?

Today, he was bitching about the race for the GOP candidate in the United States.  He apparently loves Ron Paul and hates the three front-runners.  According to him, Gingrich, Santorum and Romney favor, or would allow, military action against Iran.  He’s all worked up about politicians in a country he doesn’t live in and their possible actions about another country he doesn’t live in.  His letter generated some very un-PC thoughts.  Like, “Why don’t you phone up your good, personal friend, Nasty Smurf, the president of Iran, and convince him to cancel his nuclear program, or, better yet, why don’t you take your rag-head family of terrorists and move to beloved Iran.”

I hate assholes like this, not because they’re narrow-minded, opinionated fools, or that they’re doing their best to pull our way of life down around our ears, but because by constant, continued exposure to this asshattery, like Rush Limbaugh, they’ve dragged me down to their level.  I used to be better than this.

The story of a local man, arrested, STRIP-SEARCHED and held in jail overnight, with only a blanket to cover himself, has apparently gone international.  Americans, used to a chicken in every pot and a gun in every drawer, are wondering what in Hell this is all about.  His four-year-old daughter, in junior kindergarten, drew a picture of him with a handgun and told the teacher that her dad used it to shoot monsters and bad guys.  Now me, I’d treat any story that included monsters, very sceptically.

Everybody involved in this farce is now in full CYA mode.  The teacher says that, if a child is felt to be in danger, they must call Family Services.  Did the teacher ascertain if the gun was real, a toy, or imaginary, before shouting that the sky was falling?  Why does the mere presence of a gun automatically expose a child to danger?  Did the Principal who made the call, actually see the drawing?  It was done on a Dri-Erase board and, guess what, it got erased.  Did Family Services interview the kid, or visit the home, before calling the cops?  Did the cops over-react and throw their weight around unnecessarily?  Personal opinion, Oh Yeah!  They arrested him at his kid’s school, when he went to pick her up.  If they wanted to take him in, one officer should have sufficed.  For safety’s sake, two would have been understandable.  They sent three!  The police claim that the strip-search was for safety reasons.  He was supposed to have a gun at his home.  A thorough, routine pat-down should have been enough.  Where did they think he had the gun, up his ass?

Someone, probably the police, must have interviewed the little girl.  The newspaper reported an ass-covering statement that, “There was a jaw-droppingly accurate description of a semi-automatic pistol.”  From a four-year-old girl??  Most four-year-olds would have difficulty giving an accurate description of a mud puddle, if they were sitting in it.  Turns out, it was made of mostly transparent plastic and fired little plastic beads.  I guess the police “forgot” to ask the questions that gave those answers.  I feel so safe and secure.  I won’t give up socialized medicine but, there are times I’d be tempted to trade it for the respect and freedom that American citizens enjoy.

The police made his pregnant wife come down to the station for questioning, but didn’t release him on bail.  Family Services took his other three kids away, questioned them and kept them from the parents overnight.  The police threatened that Family Services would keep his kids forever, or until they obtained a search-warrant if he didn’t sign a waiver for a(n illegal) search of his house.

The word-Nazi goes crazy about incorrect usage, especially by “professional” writers.  Amateurs, I can understand and grudgingly forgive, but, if you’re getting paid for it….  I used to rant that, if you’re going to use an eight-dollar word to make yourself appear erudite, the least you could do is use an eight-dollar dictionary, to ensure that you said what you thought you said.  Nowadays, with free on-line sites, you don’t even have to invest the eight bucks.  All you need is intelligence and commitment to your craft.  And we all see how well that’s been going.

A recent newspaper article described the ongoing campaign of a Scotsman seeking the independence of Scotland from England.  He didn’t get all the concessions that he wanted, but he did get some compromises, and agreement to further negotiation.  Despite the lack of a clear victory, the article stated that, “his overall tone was EMOLLIENT.”  The women readers know that emollient is a (skin) moisturiser.  I think that the writer meant ebullient, meaning bubblingly happy.  Then again, maybe he meant, left-handed, or corkscrew.  I don’t know, the Pretentious-to-English translation site is temporarily down.