A To Z Challenge – Z

april-challenge

Well, we have zigged, and zagged our way to the bottom of the alphabet.  It all comes down to Ground Zero, at zero hour, in zero gravity, with zero thought, to write the final composition for the letter

Letter Z

a letter that the Dutch explorers, traders and colonists already present, especially around the area that would become New York City, taught the newly arriving English settlers of America to pronounce as ‘zee’, a mere 400 years ago.  Think ‘Zuider Zee.’  The rest of the English-speaking world uses the Froggy French pronunciation, ‘zed’, imposed by the Norman invaders of England, almost a millennium ago.

For all you hockey nuts (and you have to be nuts to regard hockey as anything more than mildly interesting time-wasting), I thought that I would write about Zamboni.  That’s the ice-resurfacing machine that drives around the skating surface between periods.

Resurfice Machine

Then I thought better of it, and decided to give you a little more local history/geography/commerce. About 15 miles north of where I live, up in Pennsylvania-Dutch, Mennonite territory, is the large town/small city (10,000) of Elmira, Ontario.

Twenty-five years ago, the Schlupp family (doesn’t that name sound Mennonite?) reverse-engineered the Zamboni, and began producing Olympia machines at a company called Resurfice.  There are various sizes, and gasoline and electric models.  They will do what the Zamboni will do, at a better price – and they are Canadian-made.

They’ve had to fight the ‘Kleenex viewpoint’, which says that every facial tissue is ‘Kleenex’, even when it’s Puffs, or Royale, but their sales are steady, and increasing, even in the US.  Despite the Zamboni brand-name recognition, and allowing for some bragging, Resurfice sells 50% to 70% of machines in North America.

The ‘Kleenex viewpoint’ is visible in an online court brief, apparently posted by a relative of an idiot complainant trying to sue poor Resurfice.

Hanke was the operator of an zamboni
→ Overfilled the gas tank of the machine, releasing vapourized gas which was ignited by an overhead
heather
→ The ensuing explosion and fire caused Hanke to be badly burned
→ Hanke sued the
zamboni maker for negligence (design defect), arguing that the gas and water tanks were similar in appearance and close together on the machine, making it easy to confuse the two.

English rules of construction insist on the word ‘a’ before another word beginning with a consonant.  It should be ‘a Zamboni,’ with a capital Z – except, it wasn’t a ‘Zamboni’, it was a Resurfice Olympia.  The genius operator pumped water into the gasoline tank in an area with open flame.  His genius brother (cousin?) writes, in a court brief, of an ‘overhead heather’, and repeats the incorrect, uncapitalized ‘zamboni’ again.

If I have poked fun at places like Newfoundland, or Alabama, I humbly apologise, and acknowledge the existence of local possessors of ‘a glorious lack of sophistication.’

AtoZ Survivor

I thank all of you who have followed me through the alphabet. I’m trying to decide if it’s worthwhile or possible to do it again this/next year.  This free-style, pick-and-choose method didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.  Perhaps next time I could do a themed version, possibly A to Z wild life, from Ants to Zebras. Wild life could include C for College dorm parties.  Or A to Z in musical groups, from AC/DC to ZZ Top.  In the meantime, I’m going to take a copy of that ‘Survivor’ image, and go have (another) nap.  I suggest you all do the same.  We’ve all earned some ZZZZZZs.   😀

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I Don’t Give A Shit

Bedpan

Mr. Smith was in the hospital for the first time in his life and in traction.  He hit the call bell and yelled out loud enough for everybody on the hall to hear.  “Hey, Nurse!  I gotta shit”

Flustered, she came flying in the room.  Mr. Smith!  Don’t talk like that!  You’re gonna get everybody on this floor upset.  They can hear you all up and down the hall.  When you need the bedpan, just hit the call bell and say ‘#2.″  I’ll know what you need and come take care of you.”

A few minutes later Mr. Jones was admitted.  As soon as he was settled in bed, he realized he had a problem.  “Hey, Buddy.  I’m about to mess myself up here.  How do I get some help?”

Mr. Smith knew the ropes and was glad to help out.  “No problem.  I know exactly what to do.”  He got on the call bell and yelled out loud and clear, “Hey, Nurse!  Mr. Jones has gotta shit and he ain’t got a number yet!”

***
Why did the lawyer cross the road?
To get to the car accident on the other side.

***

It’s not the hop, skip and jump between twin beds that’s tiring.
It’s the long drag back.

***

A group from Chicago spent a weekend gambling in
Las Vegas. One of the men on that trip won $100,000.

He didn’t want anyone to know about it, so he
decided not to return with the others, but took
a later plane home — arriving back 3 a.m.

He immediately went out to the backyard of his
house, dug a hole and planted the money in it.
The following morning he walked outside and found
only an empty hole. He noticed footsteps leading
from the hole to the house next door, which was
owned by a deaf-mute. On the same street lived a
professor who understood sign language and was a
friend of the deaf man. Grabbing his pistol, the
enraged man went to awaken the professor and
dragged him to the deaf man’s house.

‘You tell this guy that if he doesn’t give me
back my $100,000 I’m going to kill him!’ he
screamed at the professor.

The professor conveyed the message to his friend,
and his friend replied in sign language, ‘I hid
it in my backyard, underneath the cherry tree.’

The professor turned to the man with the gun and
said, ‘He’s not going to tell you. He said he’d rather die first.’

***

Two Newfies are walking down the street.  One of them is carrying a cloth bag.  The other one says, “Have you got fish in that bag?”  “Yup.”  “If I can guess how many fish are in that bag, can I have one?”  “If you can guess how many fish I got in this here bag, you can have ‘em both.”

***

A woman goes to her doctor and says, “Doctor, my husband has developed a penchant for anal sex, so I came to you for advice.”  Ok, let’s see…does it hurt you?  Hmm… a little.  Do you like it?  Hmm… well, yes.  Then, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t do it.  If you take care about not getting pregnant.  Getting pregnant?  I didn’t know you could get pregnant in that way.  Of course you can.  Where do you think lawyers come from?

Storm-Stayed

airport blower

 

 

 

 

 

On my Digging In – Digging Out post about heavy snowfalls, I got a comment from a fellow writer who used to truck produce from the ferry dock, to the other side of Newfoundland, a large island-province off Canada’s east coast.  It is affectionately known to its residents as ‘The Rock.’

He told of a time when he and several other truckers were stranded for three days at a truck stop, when 125 inches (That’s 10+ feet!) of snow fell, accompanied by high winds.  I admitted that Ontario’s weather problems were often puny, compared to Newfoundland’s.

My familiarity with all things “Newfie” has been gained both online, and by association with many ex-pats, now working up here, but he apparently felt it was from personal experience.  The following is an explanatory email.

If, by your comment, “Ha, you’ve been, I see.” you mean to The Rock, the answer is no.  My financial, and the wife’s medical, restrictions make that nearly impossible.  However, there are almost as many Newfies up here, as there are left down there.  I worked for four years in the Hespeler section of Cambridge, ON, where the population is about half Portuguese, and half Newfie.  Drive down the street and yell, “Hey Joe (Joao), and all construction stops. Every second Newfie is named Sean or Shawn, and that includes the women.

At my auto-parts plant, there were 2 dozen Newfies for 200 employees, including four from Bell Island.  Add my online friends…. and I’d like to add you as one.  Would you wish to admit where you’re currently parked, so that I can overwork my map program?

At the risk of clogging your email, I have a snowing/driving story I wish to share.  In my Location, Location, Location post, I wrote of Kitchener being just far enough from three Great Lakes to miss ‘a lot’ of snow.  Also, it’s mildly hilly, cutting the wind and preventing a lot of drifting.  Just to our west, it soon becomes flatter, and drifting can be serious.  If the Ontario Provincial Police shut down Southern Ontario’s main artery, Highway 401, it’s almost always just past Kitchener.

A brother-in-law drove for years for Koch Transport.  His run was from Kitchener, 70 Km to St Mary’s, and back each day.  He (and wife) were taking two weeks holidays, and going to Hawaii, flying out on a Saturday morning.  On the Friday, he made his run, and got back to Stratford, where he found police blocking the road to Kitchener.  They waved him into a strip mall with two other big-rigs, and a half-dozen cars.

He left it running, and climbed down to talk to the others.  One of the car drivers asked what he was going to do.  He replied, “I’m going to wait until there’s an accident, and the cops leave, and then I’m going to move that barricade and make a run for it.  I’ve got to get home.  I have a flight out tomorrow.”  The guy replied, “I’m going on a trip tomorrow too.  Can we follow you guys?”

And so, they convoyed out, with the semis breaking trail, and the cars following.  With the trucks leading, the driving really wasn’t all that bad, and they all soon got back home safely.  The next morning, as he was boarding the plane to Hawaii, he ran into Mr. Sedan-Driver again, on the same flight.

 

Archon

 

 

Newfound Friendliness

newfoundland-map

 

 

<-  Ted’s house!

 

 

 

Monday Feb 16, 2015 was a statutory holiday in Ontario, called Family Day.  It’s relatively new, but long overdue.  Finally, something to get us from Christmas/New Years, through to Easter.  On Tuesday the 17th I went to my favorite nearby supermarket to pick up a copy of the Toronto Sun.

Dear Lord, have people forgotten how to shop ahead??  The store was only closed for one day.  I almost had to bring my own parking space.  Quite often I make 25¢ or 50¢ by neatening up the parking lot, putting away carts with quarters in them.  Not that day!  No carts in either of the cart corrals, but people lurking near them.  No carts in the entryway either, so I grabbed a basket.

Most of the shoppers were white-, or blue-haired.  Do they not remember back in the ‘80s, before we had Sunday opening?  Was toilet paper being rationed, or was there a sale on Polident and Depends?

This place was stuffed – just crammed with shoppers.  Folks were bumping into each other and edging carts past.  It was so full, that people going up the aisles could inhale, while those going down the aisles exhaled.

Besides the paper, I also wanted a small bag of fine sugar, and two dozen eggs.  With the help of a little fairy-dust, and my fancy dancing slippers, I circumnavigated the store in less than three minutes, and only got groped once.  Then I got around to the checkouts….backed up like an old guy eating cheese.  The waits were so long, I hope no-one ‘checked out’ before they checked out.

I headed for the express lane.  It was so busy that they had two of them open.  I entered the first line, and was ninth or tenth.  The curve of the lines put me beside a lady about my age, third from the front, in line number two.  Looking in my basket, she saw only the eggs, and insisted that I get in line in front of her.  I mentioned the paper and the sugar.  “Go ahead, go ahead!”  I don’t know what the nine or ten people behind her thought, but I snuggled in quickly, before anyone objected.

Her thoughtful niceness, along with her strong accent, suggested that she was from Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost, island province, and just full of kind, helpful people.  When I asked, she confirmed my suspicion.  Then I got nosy and asked specifically where she was from.  “Stephenville.”  Newfoundlanders are generally open, friendly people.  They don’t mind when you ask questions and engage them in casual conversation.

I said, “Oh, I’ve got a blog-friend from Stephenville.”  I don’t think she quite caught, or grasped, the blog-friend’ concept, and seemed to think that I’d driven 1700 miles and taken a two-hour ferry ride, to drink ‘screech’ (high-alcohol, reclaimed rum).  The Rock, as it’s known, is a bit behind, technologically.  They didn’t get World-Standard 60 Hz electricity until the late 1950s, and their Internet is a large ball of twine and several empty tin cans.

To give credence to the rumor that “every Newfie knows every other Newfie”, she asked who he was.  “I might knows ‘im.”  I explained that “he” was Ted White from SightsNBytes, a highly proficient and entertaining writer.  “I knows a lotta Whites, but I don’t t’ink I knows a Ted White.”  Ted has explained that, in Newfoundland, or at least in his home town of Stephenville, (Pop. 6193) there are as many, or more, of ‘his’ Whites, as there are of ‘my’ Smiths.  His family inflated the numbers by changing their French name, LeBlanc, to the English, White.

My Newfie tour-guide, whose married name was Green, went on to tell me that, “D’ere’s even a street called Whites Avenue.  Fer a coupla blocks, d’ere’s nuttin’ but Whites, an’ d’ey’s all related ta each udder.”  Ted’s bunch are not related to that lot, because his group ate croissants and snails, before they sailed west to eat cod tongues and mussels.

This 60ish woman has been in Ontario for 20 years, but hasn’t lost that ‘Down Home’ sound and style of speech, because she spent her formative years, and more, down home on The Rock.  I find these speakers a delight to be around, much like the ”y’all” Southern speakers.  They are the salt of the Earth, possibly because they live surrounded by the salty ocean.  They would give the shirt off their back to a perfect stranger, if he needed it – or go next door and borrow one from the neighbor.

I would have loved to have partaken of more of her friendly sociability.  Because she put me ahead of herself, and several other shoppers, I was soon through the checkout and free to proceed with my errands.  Thanks Mrs. Green!  You were a delight.   😀

Rocky Birthday

 

newfoundland-map

<- (See Ted?  Over there!)

 

The rocky birthday isn’t mine. That will occur on the weekend, and you’ll be able to hear about it without even turning your computers on.  With all my abilities, I couldn’t organize an orgasm in a bordello, but, I kinda, sorta, wanna organize a Happy Birthday party for a blog-buddy of mine.

I would like everybody who visits this site, today, Sept. 17th, or even over the next couple of days, to click on http://sightsnbytes.wordpress.com/ and wish my friend Ted a happy birthday.  He may need some cheering up, because today he turns 51, and joins me on the wrong side of the half century mark.  I wouldn’t mind if you mentioned this post.

The rocky reference isn’t just about birthday numbers. Ted lives on Newfoundland, our easternmost province.  It juts out into the cold North Atlantic, like Canada’s ass hanging over the edge of a bed.  Its residents lovingly refer to it as “The Rock.”  Fortunately, Ted lives on the western coast area, where you’re slightly less likely to find an iceberg in your back yard bay.

Like many of us, Ted has worked at a variety of jobs, to support himself, and now, a new wife, and a stepson he cherishes, and seems to be making a great father to. He’s worked at jobs he liked, but didn’t pay great, and he’s worked at jobs he was overqualified for, didn’t like, and which didn’t pay great.  He recently published a post about them, and about going back to university as a mature student to better himself.

He’s finally obtained a job he likes and which allows him to support the wife and young’un in the style they all deserve. Things are simpler and slower on The Rock.  Used to life in urban areas where you can walk to work, he’s now dismayed at the prospect of a 45 minute commute.

His retraining was in Information Technology, I T.  He has graciously helped me, and others, with problems here on WordPress.  The pictures like the map at the top, which I now sprinkle throughout my posts, are there because he told the wife and me how. He explained it to the wife, and, a year later, she finally got it through to me.

Ted and his Rock are a little removed from the usual hustle and bustle of “civilization.” The well-written posts on his site are bucolic, and often about life at a slower pace.  They limn the fascinating life and times – the friends, and family, and neighbors – of a most interesting writer.

I suggest you visit, and sign up for a rewarding ride. Don’t forget to wish him a Happy Birthday!  I won’t.

Happy Birthday, from the old fart, ARCHON

Birthday Cake(I didn’t know which you liked more, so I got you a chocolate one.)

Enthusiasm

cmsaward1

 

Since there’s never enough blog awards to go around, one of our number has graciously created yet another one to be shared.  Cordelia’s Mom felt that there should be a badge to acknowledge visits and comments (to her site), so she produced the Enthusiasm Award.  Only posting for about six months, she’s obviously more computer-savvy than me.  I only things I’ve created are chaos and confusion.

She and I both use a “That’s Life” tag regularly.  Whenever I check WordPress to “See what others are writing about,” I often find the most recent of her cute posts.  If you’ve still got a bit of free time, and don’t mind explaining to the nice officer what you’re doing, peering over the blog-fence, click on the link above and possibly be entranced and entertained.

Talk about no good deed going unpunished….  I would occasionally drop in and leave some erudite comments.  The next thing I know, she’s gone all Fatal Attraction on me and I’m on “A List!”  “Also known as – known to police – may be unarmed and dumber than advertised – known associates, Tickle Me Elmo and Bart Simpson.”

Her inspiration for this award was a comment she received on an early post, within five minutes of putting it up.  I’ve never had one that quickly.  I did get a response within fifteen minutes one night, from one of my semi-regulars.  While I am often up (and sometimes posting) at unreasonable hours, he is afflicted with a medical condition similar to the wife’s Fibromyalgia.  The only reason I got a quick response was because he couldn’t sleep.  After reading my stuff, he quickly dozed off.

About two years ago, I received the similar Readers Appreciation Award, for making too free with my opinions.  Taking inspiration from Cordelia’s Mom, I am not notifying any of my victims.  Those who show up here, find their name garishly displayed, and wish to partake of a tiny slice of the Fifteen Minutes of Fame – grab a copy, and go Do Unto Others.  Those who just took the blue pill and woke up here, are also welcome to indulge – don’t say I didn’t warn you.  It would be nice if you also linked back to her site, and told her what you’ve done.

Randomly listed, here are a few visitors who still take the time to make this site enjoyable.

BrainRants – Who has moved beyond the event horizon to use his intensive training in PowerPoint, to make the Free World safe.

John Erickson @ Windy City Wonderer – Now that I’ve bragged about you, come out of hibernation and take a bow.

BenzeKnees – With more ailments than even my wife, she still has time to tell me what she thinks.

Always a Redhead – How can you not respect a woman who loves guns and knives?

Ted @ SightsNBytes – Even busy getting (re)married, he wants me to row out to his Rock, for some cod tongues and screech.

1Jaded1 – Moved to Erickson’s Windy City, and is now living in Al Capone’s empty vault.

Jim Wheeler – If you want someone to explain what *erudite* means, Jim’s your man.

Notes to Ponder – Has to push her comments uphill, all the way from the Left Coast, but still regularly shows up.

White Lady in the Hood – Just a (Very!) honorable mention.  She’s a bit busy right now for posting or commenting, although, occasionally I feel a nice warm “Like.”

Let the niceness begin!

 

 

Seinfeld Re-Run

Being another collection of unrelated thoughts which carom and rattle around inside my vacant skull.  Think of this as mental spring-cleaning, which it would be, if this were spring.  This is fall.  By the time I post this, I will have overnight become 68 years old, and that fact should be obvious.

I recently, righteously, slagged four female Canadian singers.  I ran out of space and energy before I could include a fifth.  I give you the, famous in her own mind, even when she’s out of it, Nelly Furtado.  Like the others, Nelly is a decent singer and performer.  Unlike Shania Twain, she doesn’t have a long history of verbal malaprops.  She managed to do it all in one TV interview.

This one occurred just as she was breaking out.  She was booked on a meet-the-artist show on MuchMusic, Canada’s we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-American MTV, alternative.  For a half an hour she unwittingly proved herself to be an up-and-coming Canadian racist.  Everything she bragged about herself, was because she was Portuguese, not Portuguese-Canadian, just Portuguese.

She was born in British Columbia.  Her first big song, I’m Like a Bird, contains the line, “I’m like a bird.  I don’t know where my home is.”  I think it fitting that, the only bird which doesn’t know where its home is, is a cuckoo.  The same pair of robins flew back from Florida, and nested in my porch for five or six years. Apparently, she also doesn’t know where the National Geographic Channel is.

She claimed to be a great song-writer because she was Portuguese.  I don’t know what that says about Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot or Buffy Saint-Marie, who have Jewish, English and Cree heritage, respectively.  She lauded herself about her high morals because she was Portuguese, and I almost choked.  I’ve watched Portuguese girls coming home from Catholic school on the bus.  The only thing sluttier, might be some Romanian girls.  The only thing they don’t show is restraint.

I’d even forgive the Portuguese references if her parents had been born there, but they weren’t.  They come from the Azores Islands, which are to Portugal, what Newfoundland is to Canada, only more so.  Further out in the ocean, more isolated, more ignored, poorer, less literate, if it weren’t for the fact that several airlines use the big island for trans-Atlantic fuelling, they’d be eating jelly-fish and smoking seaweed.

There was another blogger, whose site was also called Archons Den.  He was a Filipino who posted on BlogSpot.  He was big into electronics, posting about Smartphones, iPods, expensive car stereos and big-screen TVs.  He may have gone bankrupt.  I haven’t seen a new post in almost a year.  Archon is also the name given to a yearly science-fiction conference in Kansas City.  I believe this year is number 37.

Booksellers like Chapters have a current book for sale, titled “Archon.”  It’s sort of an H E Ellis’, Reapers With Issues, crossed with 50 Shades of Grey.  A book titled, “The Archon”, is a children’s story about a trek to seek peace with the Rain Queen.  I’m honored, in a vague way, but I think I’ll skip them both.

The niece who ate Ex-Lax, but only drank Javex once, went with her parents and siblings for a weekend visit with her other grandparents on their farm.  Out of her clothes and into a nightgown, the six-year-old wanted to know what was in the coffee-pot protruding over the edge of the stove.  She pulled it down on her left shoulder, and the boiling coffee was held like a sponge by the flannelette nightie.  By the time the adults pulled it off the screaming child, she had been burned so badly that she developed a quarter-inch thick mass of scar tissue from the base of her neck to her vaccination mark.

Mr. Automotive Q&A published another duh-mb letter this week.  The writer wanted him to help, because he had bought a used car from a dealer.  He gave the salesman a cheque, which had been cashed.  The day he bought the car, he needed to do some running around, so he got them to let him take the car out.  He was to return it, and they were to do a safety on it.  When he brought it back, the dealership refused to safety his car, and he wanted the columnist to pressure them into it.  That’s his story, and it sounds straightforward.

Mr. Q&A did some phoning, and quickly found out that:  He left the dealer’s lot at about noon on a Friday.  He was supposed to return the car before end of workday.  Closing time came, no car.  Monday came and went, no car!  Tuesday came and went, no car!!  On Wednesday, the dealer plate and its holder were hanging on the dealer’s front door when they opened for business.  That was early in April!  Now, early in September, he wants them to do all the work necessary to pass a government test, and of course, they demurred.

In Q&A’s response, he told the guy that the dealer was willing to do the rear brakes, which should have been fixed five months ago, along with several other minor repairs.  They would not replace the windshield which was not cracked when he took possession, nor the right headlight, which was working when he left.  Since he drove 3800 kilometers after he left, they would also not replace the alternator or the windshield wipers.  They would do the emission testing, but he would have to pay for any parts needed to get the car to pass.

The dealer admitted that they should never have let him off the lot, and should have notified the Ontario Transport Ministry when the car did not return.  Mr Q&A, and the rest of us, assume he was driving for five months with illegal licence plates, not registered to the car.  Also, since the vehicle was not in his name, he drove for the five months without the legally required insurance.  Q&A gave him one week from the date of the column printing to get all this stuff done, because, as a licensed mechanic, he is legally bound to inform the ministry, if he has knowledge of non-compliance.

This all happened in Southwestern Ontario, but I’ll bet you drove past a car today, driven by a yahoo like this.  Scary as hell, isn’t it?