Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog Numbers

So for January this blog had 6,804 visitors. Not bad! Most are from the U.S., with readers from every state but most of them in California, Texas and Florida. So hello to all American readers!

Actual country by country numbers this month are like this:

U.S. - 5,742
Canada - 717
U.K. - 88
Australia - 59
Germany - 27
Netherlands - 23
Denmark - 10
France - 9
New Zealand - 8
Mexico - 7
Spain - 6

...And so on down the list of countries. Interesting geography lesson to read my Google Analytics numbers.

What did people look at? Number one page is The Human Digestive System as Taught by a Plumber, followed by the Popcorn Playhouse piece from a long time ago.

Apparently there are a lot of Edmontonians (and ex-Edmontonians) out there who grew up with Popcorn Playhouse - just like me. Nostalgia hits hard I guess.

Thanks for visiting - y'all come back now...

Friday, January 29, 2010

WIN-dow Washing!

I love this!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rookie Requests

(Editors note: This column is printed using a half-inch offset wrench for column alignment).

It’s not easy being a rookie on a job site. Especially one that is as disorganized as this one.

In just three hours I had been asked for all sorts of things, none of which could be found let alone used by the people who needed them.

I first went hunting for a 6x9 inch hole saw. No luck – looked everywhere. There were no muffler bearings in the tool shed either. Same with the diesel spark plugs. I hunted for the soft-nose chisel, pre-fabricated post holes, and the spark bucket for the welders. Nada.

The truck needed blinker fluid according to the mechanic, and I hadn’t even gotten around to the piston return spring.

I was starting to get frustrated. The boss was going to kill me, I thought.

Someone must have misplaced the wire stretcher and lamp cutter. The mechanic needed a camshaft rotational dampener, and I never did find the reciprocating dingle arm for the framulator.

I used to think I was pretty handy with tools but this was a whole new world to me. It went on and on.

Striped paint, a carton of hinge bind, the light bulb repair kit, the sky hook, bubble level oil, a brass magnet, lightning bolts. This was a busy place and the guys were starting to lose patience with me. The boss was starting to get mad too – telling me to find these items or they would take all this wasted time off my first cheque. Yikes!

He told me to head up to the roof and look around for tomorrow’s newspaper and the four foot yardstick.

Later, I had to go to the airport for a bucket of prop wash and a box of grid squares. That was interesting because I was halfway there when the boss called again, cancelled that run, and sent me off to buy an air filter bypass kit. No one had any of those either, I discovered.

This was not good. When you start a new job you’ve got to do what the boss says if you’re going to get anywhere. You’ve got to be sharp and work hard. I was keen and I was trying – but that’s about all you could say.

Back at the shop I was putting fresh air in the tires (important in winter, according to the mechanic) when my radio crackled and the foreman told me to forget about the long weight and double sided transparencies and go pick up a box of mahogany welding rods and some stanchion remover. If they “had some phallopian tubes and frequency grease then put that on the purchase order as well,” he said. My notebook was getting full.

Off I went. In what was turning out to be a wildly unsuccessful day, I couldn’t find any of this stuff. I was getting frustrated, although the people I dealt with at the suppliers seemed friendly enough. They were always smiling – which was nice.

Then inspiration struck and I stepped on the gas. Back at the site I marched into the bosses’ office and started dropping tools on his desk.

Left handed screwdriver, some flight line from the airport, your Kenuter valve to drive a Johnson rod, glass hammer, box of enthusiasm and elbow grease, keys to the basement of this one storey building, and the snow tires for the wheel barrows! Does that about cover it?” I said, righteously.

He laughed. “Good job Crawford. You’ve done well. Come back tomorrow with a heavy duty clutch belt and you can get started in the office, once you blow out the telephone lines...”

They never let up in this business...

Friday, January 22, 2010

First Eyebrowectomy Performed!

Well this is indeed an amazing day!

My wonderful daughter just wandered into the office, causing me to gasp "What happened to your face?"

One and a half of her eyebrows were missing (was missing?). I didn't recall asking her to start the barbecue (my method of removing unwanted facial hair), so I asked what was going on?

After a brief yet intense interrogation it turns out she was just fiddling with her eyebrows (and by fiddling I guess I mean 'plucking') and some of each brow came out, causing a few blank spots.

Being a Master Father, I knew instantly what to do.

"Hi Honey," I said, calling my wife immediately at work. "What do I do in the following situation please...?"

Turns out she has some sort of pencil under her sink with which one can re-create an eyebrow. Who knew?

Up we raced to the ensuite, where we found a dark brown pencilly thing which certainly did not match the colour of my kids brow. Hmmmm.

"Try a little and blend it in" I thought.

Putting dots on and hoping to blend them together did not work. Same with long lines. I finally gave up and handed the pencil over to my 8-year old and said "Take over kid. I'm oughta here, and don't you ever tell the guys what I was just doing ya hear?"

My kid now appears to be in a permanent state of 'startle'. She has also undergone a dramatic highlighting of her facial features. She looks faaaabulous!!

Now I'm thinking of reducing some of the salt in my salt and pepper moustache. I'll let you know if it matches.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Olympic Economics

This column will appear in the Okanagan Business Examiner magazine in mid February. It will also be distributed in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics...

I’m getting excited about the Winter Olympics, and not just because of the free sawmill you get with every pair of tickets.

I’m also happy for the homeless people who will get new housing just as soon as the new appliances get unpacked at the Athletes Village.

Business people all over B.C. can’t wait for the zillions of tourist dollars about to fall from the sky like avalanches across the highway to Whistler.

Speaking as a business people myself, I must say I’m impressed with all the jobs that are now available. What a change from the past year, a year in which many of us acquired a taste for used dental floss soup. It’s nice to see the unemployment ranks shrinking, what with careers like ‘Portable Toilet Swabber’ and ‘Snowboarder Pants-Puller-Upper’.

Thousands of traffic control flaggers will be hired too, as will ambulance attendants who will be picking up the pieces of the former flaggers who get splatted by the foaming-at-the-mouth drivers trying to get somewhere in all the Godforsaken traffic shouting, “GET OUT OF MY WAY I HAVE A MEETING!!!” Ha-ha, I’m just kidding! Traffic will be flowing smoothly as always with no interruptions whatsoever, la de da!

You’ve no doubt seen by now the new advertisements used to promote our province to international visitors during the games. ‘Please Buy Some Lumber’ does have a certain ring to it doesn’t it? ‘Blue Wood is Good Wood’ did not test as well, according to government advertising officials. Same with ‘The Downtown East Side - Nothing to See Here, Move Along’.

While some people decry the cost of all this promotion, not to mention the cost of the games themselves, government spokespeople assure us all is well. “We took out a line of credit on the legislature so it’s all good,” they report. This financial strategy is similar to how we fight forest fires in this province, which is to pour vast amounts of money on them until it rains.

I also think there are business lessons to be learned from the sports themselves.

Figure skating, for example, is where scantily clad females are used to drill holes in the ice for hockey goal posts by spinning around and around.

Men enjoy watching the women in these events, mainly because they wear revealing outfits that may malfunction at any time, and also because many of them get hoisted up by their who-ha’s by their skating partners, which is always entertaining.

Actually, one lesson we can take from figure skating is the art of competition. This is a sport where panels of international judges snipe at each other with AK-47’s because one judge did not give high enough marks to another country’s competitor as planned six years earlier at the World Championships. Which is fair.

I have to admit I’m READY to admire this competitive AIM, if not the actual FIRE of the competitors, as the sport RELOADs for a new era of peace and harmony.

Figure skating (like AK-47 shooting) is a test of skill – just like business. You’ll see the competitors execute such daring maneuvers as your sour cow, triple rexall, klutz jumps, camels, spins, loops, 3-pointers, and forced plays-at-third because of the infield fly rule.

Think about it - skaters wear slinky clothing (marketing), execute daring pirouetteings and triple hoops (uh, engineering), spin until they barf (or ‘give feedback’, which is really public relations), win gold medals (achieve sales goals), and then retire to the Ice Capades circuit where they skate around in Panda Bear costumes for money (prostitution) (excuse me! Exit Strategy).

See? It’s all business.

So! It should be an exciting, profitable event. Have a great time!

And don’t forget about the lumber…

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kids Conversation #329

"Daaad! Dinner!"

My daughter summoning me from the living room. I was trying to do something in the office I think.

"OK!" I yell back.

"Dad! Dinner! Come and make it!"

At what age can small kids start boiling water and nuking meatballs?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Girls Hockey

I had a memory come back to me the other day, of a rather sordid part of my past which I had long forgotten.

Some friends and I had been playing pickup hockey at the local arena, late at night. Beer was involved.

After playing we all retreated to the dressing room where, again, beer was involved. So much beer was involved that some of us decided to put our skates back on and go back on the ice, in the empty building, naked.

When beer is involved, there is nothing wrong with this decision making I can assure you. Such logic has spawned great success with YouTube videos, the best of which seem to begin with the phrase "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Now I must pause here to explain something of the male anatomy. If one bends forward slightly at the waist, it is possible to 'hide' ones external bits betwixt ones legs, if you coyly keep your knees together.

If properly inebriated and possessed of a certain ability, it is also possible to skate while adopting such a posture.

Thus was born the girls hockey league to which I claim membership.

I also seem to recall the flash of a camera as we all lined up for a full frontal 'beauty' shot, and another one of our grotesque posteriors, bulging bits prominent.

The troubling thing about this memory is that I do not for the life of me remember who was there, who took the shot, or if my face is visible.

My deep and abiding suspicion is that these photographs will emerge on the internet just as I'm being sworn in as Federal Minister Responsible for Morality and Family Values or something.

Would the owner of these photographs please contact the author, who has a business proposition.

Thank you.

P.S. I had a disturbing time, as you can imagine, searching for a suitable photo to accompany this posting. I was ultimately unsuccessful, although I have accepted several interesting propositions from certain persons on the internet. Nevermind.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cell Shocked

I was walking down the street, watching people text as they furtively glanced around for any Cell Police. Lawless criminals were walking everywhere, talking on cell phones and texting – without hands-free devices.

Since the new law came in that prohibited walking while using your cellphone, everyone has gotten nervous.

You are supposed to use a wireless or handsfree device of some sort but hardly anyone does. We’ve all walked while talking or texting and gotten away with it before. Everyone just takes the chance they won’t be caught or cause an accident. Fools.

I sauntered around the corner and noticed the flashing lights. People lined up on the sidewalk. It was a Cell Checkstop. Or a Stopcell Checkup. Stopup SpellCheck? Something like that.

A guy in front of me stopped and turned to walk the other way, but there were Cell Cops behind us – they had anticipated runners. There was no where to go – no where to ditch his phone. Busted in mid-text.

Farther down the line I could just make out what was being said…

“Good afternoon Ma’am. Been doing any talking today?” the cop said.

“Well I had a few texts over lunch…,” she said, nervously.

“Ma’am, I have reasonable and probable grounds to believe you’ve been walking under the influence of a cell phone call. I’ll need to see your handset, earpiece and contract please,” he said in a bored voice.

“I think my hands-free device is in my purse somewhere, officer. I always use it. I just can’t seem to find it. It must have slipped off my ear!”

“Sure lady. We have an old saying in Cell law enforcement - ‘You do the air-time, you do the crime.’ Now let me see the history page on your telephone, please.” he said.

“Well I did make one quick call but that was inside a store I swear! I wasn’t walking!” she said, fumbling.

“Ma’am, we are here for your safety. Talking and walking at the same time causes people to bump into each other and drop packages, causing tens of dollars in damage every year. It’s a serious problem. The Provincial Government created our police force to battle this crime wave. So hand over the goods before I start jamming your data channel…”

There was a commotion further down the line. A young man was being hand-cuffed by the Cellies.

“That isn’t my phone I swear!” a kid said as he was taken into custody and thrown into the police car. “It’s not my phone! My Bluetooth is re-charging! It belongs to my girlfriend! Someone planted it on me! Honest! You’ve gotta believe me!”

“Cancel his texting plan and take him down to the Cell cells” the senior cell cop instructed. “Yea, I know that sounds ridiculous. We’re talking to management about it.”

Meanwhile, the lady in front continued… “Officer, I’m really, really sorry. I promise if you just give me a warning I won’t do it again! I can’t lose my cellphone – I need it for my job. Any more tickets and my daytime rates will go up like you wouldn’t believe…”

JUDGE: “I sentence you to lose one hour of Blackberry use per day for one whole week.”

CRIMINAL: “Nooooooooooooooo!!!”

When it was my turn the officer looked me squarely in the eye and said “Good afternoon sir. Been doing any calling today?”

“I had two brief calls about an hour ago, and I sent a text to my wife about 30 minutes ago – well before I started walking, sir.” I said.

“I’ll need to see your cell phone license and history list please sir,” he said, ever the cool professional.

“Everything seems to be in order sir. Have a good walk and remember to always use a hands-free device, or call a cab,” the officer said.

It sure feels good knowing that our Cell Police professionals are keeping our streets safe.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


My son and I have discovered that remote controlled helicopters make for excellent casserole coolers.

It takes some talent to handle all the thermal activity in the immediate vicinity over the food, but it can be done.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Draino Oh

“Ah, hello again Mr. Crawford. We've got your usual table over here. Just sit down and we’ll take care of you.”

“Thanks, Doctor.”

“So – what happened this time?”

“Well it’s a long story Doctor…”

“It always is… Nurse? Sutures please…”

“Well it all started with a plugged bathtub drain…

We let the kids use our big soaker tub from time to time, and something like a toy or possibly something disgusting made its way into the drain.

To get at the plug, I needed to get my head right down to the level of the drain in order to find the little screw thingy that I undo to open it up. Makes sense so far, yes?

Now on this particular occasion I was wearing my big bathrobe, which can be constricting. Being in my own home and in my own bathroom, I decided to shed this garment, such that I was now bent over the tub, head just above the drain, buck naked. My behind, legs and other accessories were outside the tub, kneeling on the floor.

Flashlight in one hand, small screwdriver in the other, I leaned into my task.

“Lidocaine 20cc…you’ll feel this a little…Please continue.”

It was at this point our fine and curious dog entered the bathroom. Seeing her large master bent over and possibly in some sort of distress, she decided to inquire within the confines of the master’s hind quarters to see if there was some way she could assist.

Now, for those who are not dog owners, let me just take a moment to explain that dog noses are wet and cold.

Having anything cold or wet suddenly thrust into ones naked posterior region without warning can cause a certain involuntary muscular contraction, namely the immediate straightening up of the spine in a lurching spasm, evocative of electrocution.

This convulsion thrust my head upwards and into the underside of the spigot, causing intense pain and a nicely rounded cut, which gushed blood in some volume.

“Nurse, just shave this area here. Make this bald spot larger... Do continue Mr. Crawford…”

Meanwhile my thumb, which had been biding its time inside the drain hole, became a victim of its owner’s sudden paroxysm and got cut, scraped, swollen, and stuck – all at the same time.

Bleeding profusely, almost unconscious from pain, I proceeded to yell for help. Being in a remote corner of the house, not to mention having my head down in a bathtub, no one was able to hear me, so I was forced to self-rescue.

“More gauze please Nurse. Carry on… I’m enjoying this one.”

To get my thumb unstuck I thought I would run some cold water down the drain, in the hope that it would reduce the swelling and release me from its evil clutches.

Reaching over with my unstuck hand, I was just able to hit a tap and get some water to flow. Directly onto my throbbing and bleeding head, which was still beneath the spigot.

I coughed and cursed and shrieked anew. My wife finally heard me and rendered assistance with Vaseline (don’t go there), between helpless bouts of laughter, picture taking, and other acts of cruelty.

The bottom line is – I fixed the drain, which everyone seems to have forgotten in all their laughing and pointing behaviour.

“OK, we’re about finished here Mr. Crawford. Come back in a week and we’ll take out your stitches. Before you go let me take a picture to add to our collection. This is your wall over here. Very impressive. See you next week. Or sooner.”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kids Conversation #327

As we walk into skating rink last night...

"Did you bring mitts?"


"Where are they - in your skate bag?"

"No - in the laundry room on the counter."

I had a sudden coughing fit and couldn't say anything after that...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Draconian Measures

Well it is past January 1st and we are all supposed to act grown-up when driving. I myself am practicing the art of sliding my cell phone down my sleeve upon sighting a police officer and pretending to scratch my head instead of talking. It’s all in the wrist action.

“Why no officer I don’t hear anything and I don’t have a ringing armpit, how absurd.”

Getting busted after February 1st could be interesting.

The law now clearly states that if you are caught talking on a cell phone while driving you will be executed in terrible ways, possibly involving pitchforks, and your remains will be stuck on a pole at the entrance to the city and tazed repeatedly by authorities while chanting, torch-waving crowds scream invective at your corpse.

I’m sorry – I’ve been reading about the Middle Ages lately and I got a little carried away there.

What I meant to say was that your corpse will be tazed only once at the gates of the city. My bad.

My eyelids are getting heavy…

“…For lo did the younge peoples and contractores and sellers of homes and many others use the fone devices while driving, and they didd then plow into the hind endes of the autos in fronte of them. Such crashes upset ye apple carts so to spill their goodes and wares and injure the occupantes and hinder the tax collecteth thereby and possibly involveth lawyers God forbidde amen.

“And so it came to pass that the ruler Gordone of Victoria did invoke a Lawe which stated that henceforth all citizenry woulde Nought speake into hande held devices whilste driving their powered automachines.

Foresooth it be further proclaimed that shoulde ye be founde typing of texte or Twitteringe or reading of the Holy FayceBookes while driving, yea verily wouldst thou be an idiote and dolte and hindquarter of a donkey and shouldst be pelted with stones verily.

The people did righteously say “Art there also lawes forsaking all doughnuttes and koffees and drinkes contained in bottles and lippstickes and combes for the brusching of the hairs whilst in my horseless carriage? Wouldst thou ban me from changing the numbers upon my wireless music boxe? Verily there are notte such lawes so buzze off!”

But the people didde sigh and line up at the Future Shoppes anyway because they are Canadian and sheepishe and they didde get new fones with Blueteeth things for the eares from the lande of Dorke, and cool touch screenes and kameras whiche would take naughty pictures of girlfriends and post them to their FayceBookes, blessed be they without passwords.

And Gordone of Victoria shall sende his sherriffs farr and wide to enforce his decrees, and collecteth the taxes (sorry – fynes) from those who commit peril upon the rodes and byways of the land, and they shall all live happily everafter with fewer dentes in their bumpers and fewer dents in the pedestrians and shoppes.

So sayeth The Gord.

I am so sorry - I must have nodded off there. Is that your cell phone ringing?

What’s that thing on the side of your head?

Friday, January 1, 2010

The New Year

At my personal board meeting this year, I passed only a couple of resolutions. “Allinfavouropposedcarried!”

My first and most important plan is to arrange my business affairs such that I can spend more time away from my family.

I mainly work from home you see, and I frequently have important business calls interrupted by small children loudly announcing that “the dog is scooting her bum across the carpet right in front of the couch Dad! Oh – you’re on the phone. Sorry.”

Working from home does present challenges. I usually dial into our head office and have reception patch me through to my clients so that, based on call display information, they believe I’m actually at the office and not, in fact, sitting in my bathrobe, unshaven and scratching myself.

I sound like I’m at work until the dog barks, or I flush, or some other such announcement spoils my clever ruse.

I have even boldly made business calls while small children sit beside me, playing away on some website, only to have the mute button on their computer somehow un-mute and emit fart sounds, just as I’m discussing last quarter’s balance sheet with the CEO of a company I am courting.

“Excuse me!” I say as I launch into a spastic, thrashing-about dance to hit the mute button, shove a kid out of the office, mop up my spilled coffee, and try to make a prescient comment about cash flow.

This recovery procedure involves a certain amount of coordination, something which will come in handy for my second resolution - putting on footwear that will give me some grip in the snow when I let the dog out.

I currently just wear slippers, which do not provide claw-like traction, I beg to inform you.

Yesterday, in fact, I did a rather spectacular vertical hurtle, plummeting from my usual lofty 6 foot 3 inch height to a much lower and horizontal one, in a scant hundredth of a second. I departed from perpendicularity with such speed that I did not even have time to say to myself “Careful dude, this is slippery.” I only got as far as “Ca…”

I’m not sure if it was the sudden appearance of me laying beside her, or the loud “Oof!” sound I made upon doing so, but the dog bolted away with remarkable speed for her age, despite her overwhelming desire to eat and contaminate the fresh snow.

One second I was standing, slowly creeping down the little hill towards the gate, the next I was laid out, gasping, legs splayed, bath robe agape and over my head such that neighbours were getting a horrified eyeful of my corporate inner workings.

Given the frequency of my arm-waving lurches on our little path of late, I’m sure my spouse will emerge into the inky blackness of a winter’s night sometime, and observe her rotund husband laid out on the snow, gasping for breath, exposing himself, pointing at his slippers which have been catapulted onto the roof of the neighbour’s house.

It being well nigh impossible to get up from such a position, I’ll probably just lay back and relax, fatalistically enjoying my fading view of the stars in the chill night air, as my enormous body succumbs to hypothermia, frostbite, and little bits of gravel which have been violently embedded in the musculature of my backside.

As I contemplate this quite possible and embarrassing fate, I wonder if there are such things as Slip-On Crampons – mountaineering traction gear for the housebound slob.

God forbid I should actually break down and shovel. Or actually use the lock on my office door at home.

That would require more resolutions, which are not on the agenda.