Wednesday, March 31, 2010
We are having sleepover parties for most of the school's male and female populations on Friday and Saturday.
The planning for these soirees is, I'm finding, comparable to the logistics trail of the D-Day landings.
I don't think I'm whining (yet), I'm just saying my wife and I might get some sleep by this Sunday. So enjoy your holiday weekend. Pity me.
I'll get around to writing something again someday.
I suspect I may have several columns worth of material by the time this is over...
Saturday, March 27, 2010
TV News Anchor: “A disturbance measuring 3.4 on the Crawford Annoyance Scale was reported in suburban
“The ‘toothpaste dribble on a clean shirt’ resulted in muttered cursing and a delayed meeting at an undisclosed company headquarters. No after-swears have been reported.”
“A toe-stub measuring 4.5 Crawfords was recorded in the area last year, with authorities deploying bags of frozen peas to affected area residents.”
“In other news…”
The Crawford Annoyance Scale is gaining popularity in the media, and is designed to quantify those petty vexations which can lead, occasionally, to violent homicide. Here is a handy guide:
A rating of one is given to incidents where the sugar spoon has lumps glommed all over it because someone didn’t wave the utensil around after having it steamed up by a hot beverage, or it being accidentally dipped it in the milk of their cereal without subsequently rinsing it off. Most frequent offenders are young children and doddering old relatives, neither of whom respond to verbal disciplinary reminders.
A two Crawford rating is associated with the appearance of black or white sock boogs on the carpet in the changing area of the bedroom. Sock boogs incite spouses to remind you that it’s your turn to vacuum this weekend, when what you had in mind was several naps and a good book. Exasperated gasping is often observed at this level.
Level three annoyances are the most common. Examples include remembering to empty the stinky leftovers out of the fridge just after hearing the garbage truck depart, or discovering a tiny amount of your favourite cereal left in the big box after fantasizing about the enormous bowlful you were going to consume. Short, colourful curse blasts are common at events of this size and duration.
Level four irritations are reserved for the Microsoft Word computer program. Persons observed shrieking at their computer, “I KNOW you’re not responding!” are experiencing a Level 4 event and should be avoided.
Level five readings are for persons stuck behind drivers who do not advance into intersections on green lights while turning left. Advancing into the intersection on a green light is perfectly legal, so come on, ease out, ease out, that’s it, ease out, then when the light turns yellow you execute your turn when safe to do so. Yes!! Well done!
Failing to advance into the intersection means lurching into your turn after the light turns yellow, which is illegal, and which is VERY ANNOYING to those people behind you who could have gone through the intersection if you knew some BASIC DRIVER TRAINING YOU MORON!! Voluble profanity, gesticulations frequent at this level, combined with exasperation measureable by seismic equipment.
Level six is extremely annoying and is confined to bathrooms. After cleansing your magnificent body in the shower, squeegeeing the walls, and drying various bits of yourself, you discover that you have forgotten to rinse a soapy armpit and are smearing soap goo around with your nice, clean towel. Forced to reverse the end-of-bathing ritual, you re-start the shower, suffer the brief cold squirt of water, rinse the offending area, then restart the process. This event usually occurs when running late, which also serves to amplify the magnitude of muttering and after-cursing.
Level seven is confined to the loading of dishwashers by members of the opposite spouse. There is the proper (my) way of loading the dishwasher, based on sound fluid dynamic principles and science, and there is some other way, which is all muddled up and much less efficient. You do not have to have so much space between the bowls, and don’t put the big cutting board on that side since it interferes with the spray whirly thingy. Put it on the other side, away from the cutlery. Just so.
Glass-shattering squeeks, produced by clenched teeth, have been recorded during these events, accompanied by powerful earth tremors. Relationships have been known to topple during annoyances of this magnitude. Very dangerous. Avoid regions where this activity is common.
Level eight disturbances have never been recorded, but are thought to occur while speaking with customer service representatives of the federal government.
Friday, March 26, 2010
A sneeze is one of the most voluble yet personal of the involuntary body functions – make sure each one is extra special.
Upon realizing a sneeze is imminent, proper sternutation requires blinking one’s eyes and twitching the nose. This behaviour is for dramatic effect, and also serves as a warning to others that a Great Event is about to unfold and observers should vacate the immediate area.
During this pre-sneeze period, overly dramatic mannerisms should be employed. Beyond the usual phraseology of “Hava!” or “Haba!” as one inhales, one must also dramatically express oneself, as in an opera role. Be expansive in your chest. Wave your arms about and draw attention to your twitching facial features. Shake your head from side to side as you utter your “havas” during inhalation. If the sneeze is not immediately forthcoming, twist up a piece of tissue and thrust it up your nostril.
At the height of your inhalation, squint with your eyes and cease all motion. This is the pause before the Great Storm which is about to erupt. It is a final warning to those nearby that something wondrous is about to be born. Be absolutely still, nose elevated slightly, arms aflutter, tissue in hand, teary eyes about to close in the final moments before the exultant discharge.
As to verbiage questions, many amateur sneezers still use the outdated Finnish technique of little or no utterance at all, merely letting fly with a constrained “ssssshhhhew!” or sudden “Issshhh!”sound. This technique is considered passé these days, though still popular with denture wearers.
The dangers associated with more extreme Silent Sneezers are to be noted. People trying to suppress all sound by holding their nose and forcing their sinuses up into their cerebrums can be a danger to themselves and those around them – particularly in theater settings. Earwax bullets shot into patrons on either side of the sneezer cause needless injury and were the impetus for the Stockholm Sneezing Protocols of 1959. These protocols thankfully eliminate the need for catcher’s mitts and the wearing of combat helmets at recitals.
Now, as with other full body orgasms, for a really high score one must volubly express oneself with proper nouns, expressed over three syllables. Japanese linguistics are prized by aficionados, with “HyyyyyASHi!” being most common.
Of Middle Eastern origin are the popular “BlewHABBa!” and “HaaBLAH-haaaaaa!” phrases. No matter what the opening blastword happens to be, a denouement consisting of some variation of “AH-haa!!” is best. A descending note at the finish is good, but for truly memorable scores, try adding a slight upward intonation at the end of your expulsion, as though asking a question. “HaaBLAhaaa?”
Violent shaking of the cranium following a good sneeze, with associated cheek and lip wobbling, is a must in social circles. It not only allows one to shake off any flecks of foam or spittle remaining in the facial region, it also gives one time to ‘reload’ as it were, and prepare the lungs for another violent episode.
Finally, a cautionary note about arm movements.
While it is assumed that one hand is occupied with a tissue or hanky, the other appendage will usually be violently thrust upward from the waist in a movement so blindingly fast that only high speed cameras are able to record it. This spastic motion, coming as it does with one’s eyes closed and one’s body violently pitching forward in contorted motion, can be cause for concern amongst passersby. More than one pedestrian has been rendered unconscious by the violent uppercut administered to the chin by a sneezing enthusiast.
Do take care.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
"Our readers are very interested in your job as a city street sweeper. First of all, what's your name?"
"John, what are the biggest challenges you face as a street sweeper?"
"Basketball hoops sticking out into the roadway, garbage cans, small children."
"Thanks for coming by."
Thursday, March 11, 2010
So I'm working on about 80 partial columns and ideas at the moment, all in various stages of perfection and Pulitzer-worthiness, so I thought I'd jot down a few of the things I'm working on.
People do that on blogs apparently.
Now in order to understand how I write a column, you must understand how my brain works. It's different, let me tell you.
What happens is I'll think up a stupid sentence or circumstance, or experience one (like bending over to pick up something on the floor in the kitchen and bashing my head into unconciousness on the granite countertop), and so I jot it down in my Ideas file on this laptop here.
As I let the idea bop around my head (or 'fester' as medical authorities describe it), I keep adding other, related bits of humour to the pile, until I have enough dumb stuff to mold into a column. Hopefully. Keeping things on theme with any kind of focus is extraordinarily challenging for a scatterbrain such as myself, but I get there occasionally.
So here are some bits and pieces floating around up there:
With all the controversy about airport scanners these days, no one has seen the positive side to this issue. Namely, using these scanners as health screening devices.
Overheard at the airport recently: "Would the passenger on Westjet Flight 243, seated in seat 12a, please see your doctor about that polyp..."
"We have reached our cruising altitude, would all passengers now please roll over onto their left side and take a deep breath. Hold it! Good. We'll now serve sandwiches..."
"Any passengers interested may now purchase headphones, or if you don't need sound for your viewing pleasure you can just tune in channel 9 for a picture of Mr. Baker's spleen."
"Did you swallow that ball bearing when you were a kid sir?"
"Passengers scheduled for a barium swallow, or 'airline coffee' as we humourously call it, please report to the first class lounge."
And so on...
Other columns being excreted soon will concern vacuum related humour and some stories about my sordid past (including a bear skin rug), an announcement regarding the Crawford Annoyance Scale (which is expected to rival the Richter scale in popularity), a column comparing curling to baseball (somehow) for my American readers, and I'm sure some more stuff I can't recall at the moment.
So sit back, relax, and hug yourself in delicious anticipation of the thrills and spills to soon follow. Don't touch that dial!!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Rabbit #1: “So – do you like this new piece of wood sticking out of my head?”
Rabbit #2: “Uh oh. Crawford is flying again. I’ll start packing… ”
Ah yes – the joys of flying ultralight aircraft. Wind in your face. Bugs in your teeth. Bits of propeller flying off in all directions. Such is the life of a flying instructor in these marvelous aircraft.
Ultralights, in the early 80’s, were a big thing in aviation. They were/are tons of fun, relatively safe (this statement is usually accompanied by a large asterisk), and I used to fly them a lot.
Since you weren’t allowed to call it a “joyride”, what we did was call it an Introductory Flight Lesson. We would hop into the plane with a prospective customer, fire up the engine, and take off into the wild blue yonder.
Due to the underpowered nature of these aircraft, takeoff would occur mainly due to curvature of the earth rather than aerodynamic forces.
On one of these flights I turned over the control stick to my prospective student – a young man keen on learning to fly. We were bird-like as we happily putted along in what appeared to be a motorized lawn chair.
Upon reaching our cruising altitude and before meal or beverage service could commence, a fairly large piece of the wooden propeller rudely decided to make its own travel arrangements, and departed the aircraft without my express, written permission.
Now, when something is spinning rapidly and it suddenly becomes unbalanced, a certain violent vibration sets in, which causes the remaining components of the spinning object to flounder. Owners of ceiling fans usually become experienced with this phenomenon when a child jumps on a bed and carelessly destroys the fixture by thrusting their head or arm into it, for example.
The vibration in our case was imparted from the propeller to the engine, which was situated just over my head. Being seated beneath a large, heavy, explosive steel object violently shaking from side to side, tearing itself from its mounting bolts, can be disconcerting.
As an experienced flying instructor reacting to an in-flight emergency, I uttered an exclamation (“Goodness gracious!” were my exact words I believe) and immediately took back control of the aircraft from my ‘student’ by breaking his terror-frozen fingers one at a time in order to remove them from the stick.
Throttling back, knowing we would not be able to return to our scheduled point of departure, I began looking around for a place to execute a non-airport landing, or ‘crash’ as we pilots call it. This was not easy since I was busy going through my emergency landing checklist, which mainly consisted of shrieking like a school girl.
I quickly briefed my passenger on emergency procedures. “Did you sign the waiver back there?” I yelled. “Yes!” he replied. “Good!” I said. “Prepare for landing!”
I may also have shouted “We’re gonna crash!” “Goodbye cruel world!” “I can see my house from here!” and other words to that effect.
The landing/crashing experience taught me that travelling in the same direction as the deep, ploughed furrows in a field would make a non-scheduled landing there much more comfortable. I’ll try to remember that next time.
As we rumbled along through the tall grain and across the furrows, my student shouted with joy “We made it!” “We’re not finished crashing yet!” I cried. “Drop the anchor!” Seconds later we stopped.
The silence which follows a successful crash landing is wonderful, and a feeling of joy permeated the air. An unfortunate smell also permeated the air and it wasn’t just leaking gasoline.
Following our landing, in true ‘Right Stuff’ fashion, I just trotted back to the airfield, got a new propeller and some other parts, replaced what needed replacing, and took off back to the airport from the dirt road we had almost reached during our ‘landing.’
My student did not avail himself of this return flight, despite my entreaties about it being safe. As I departed, I recall seeing him walking funny towards a farm building.
Pity – I was going to refund his lesson money. Go figure.