Wednesday, July 28, 2010


When we go to the beach, I really get into it.  I close my eyes and, listening to the waves crashing to shore, I’m transported to tropical locales like Hawaii or Tahiti or Fred’s Fake N’ Bake Tanning Emporium.  Surrounded by palm trees and the enchanting smell of fragrant flowers, or Febreeze South Pacific #6, I relax hugely. 

Such was the case recently on the beach in Penticton.  We had brought all our swim toys, and I was trying out our new big green inflatable chair, complete with headrest. 

It was heavenly.  It was nap time.  I thought I had put sunscreen on my face.

Off I went, splashing into the water, lying back in the chair.  Ahhhhhh.  I was instantly far, far away, lounging in a tropical pool, enjoying peeled grapes and drinks in coconut shells.  Knowing the attentive staff would alert me to any danger from sharks or predatory flip-flop salesmen, I fell asleep.    

The sun blazed.  My sleep deepened as the waves rocked me gently.   A small rivulet of drool dried and formed a crusty line across my cheek, reminiscent of a Prussian dueling scar.

I stayed close to shore at first, my loud snoring amusing my family who eventually tuned out the noise with the help of a change in wind direction.  This change in the breeze also steered me away from shore, my body and the large chair acting as an effective sail.

Head lolled back, mouth agape, eyeballs twitching REMily, I drifted out to lake.

Past the swim platform, beyond the line of white marker buoys, out I went into the commercial shipping lanes.  Well, the parasail boat and yahoos on jet ski lanes, anyway.

Boaters who sighted me consulted their nautical manuals, confused as to what a bright red-over-green marker buoy indicated.  I was a hazard to navigation they were unfamiliar with. 

Eventually, someone overcame the smell of burning flesh and approached.

“Hey Mister! Cough! Cough!” a young boater hailed, hand waving in front of him.  “You okay?  Wake up!”

I came to and, using my finely honed sense of self-awareness, determined something was amiss.  For one thing, my head was the size of a basketball.  I could barely open my eyes – my face had become ridiculously swollen from sunburn and imminent heatstroke. 
I looked up through puffy slits and thought how rare it was to see vultures circling in this region.  I pried them open further and saw several pleasure boats close by.

“Hewwo!” I said.  My mouth wasn’t working properly.  It too was swollen. 

 “I theem to be thuffering from inflation!” I quipped.  “My mouf feelth funny, and I fink I thunbunned my dung thumhow.  Thith doth not feel too goob.” 

“Do you hab any watta?” I croaked through parched, swollen lips. 

Covered in fire extinguisher powder from a helpful boater, I paddled slowly back to civilization, using the backwards heat stroke common to floaty-chair occupants.  My horrifying facial igneousness helped part the crowds of swimmers on my way back to the beach

Coming in to shore I could hear my wife as she hushed the kids.  “Don’t stare at the red Elephant Man,” she said.  “Some people are born that way...”

As I stumbled closer to our section of beach my wife looked alarmed.

“Please don’t hurt the children.  Oh!  It’s you, Dear!   What in the name of God happened to your head?”

You know, I don’t put much stock in the story of Ogopogo, the lake monster supposedly lurking in the deep water here.  But I have a pretty good idea how these legends get started. 

Please pass the aloe.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Before I get into trouble from my earlier kitten posting, here are some cuddly wabbits.


Cute Wabbit video here

Foreign Tongue

I didn’t speak the language and I was nervous.

Oh, I had taken some lessons and all, but I was not what you’d call fluent.  So I took my handy translation phrasebook with me to the computer store. 

The line-up was long and I wound through the cattle fencing slowly.  I tried to hear what people were saying but it was all geek to me.

When it was my turn I glanced at my phrase book, trying to remember how to start a conversation.  I then confidently approached the young man behind the counter.

“Hello to you, Mr. DOS System!  My computer is sick with the output diarrhea!  I am amorous for your charms!  Can you tell me how to print the hospital medicine taxi?” I asked.

“Ah – a new Windows user,” he said.  “You’ll have to reboot your PC and then install an anti-virus program.  You might also consider adding some more RAM…”

“Wait wait!  Please – I do not speak tech too well yet!  One moment...”

I looked in my phrase book to determine what he had just said. All I wanted to do was check my email.  I’m getting old and it is hard to just ‘pick up’ a new language like kids can.

“Ah!” I said.  “And after I RAM Windows I can Pong on my laptop?” I asked.

“Pong?  What is this Pong you ask please?” he said, confused. 

I consulted the book again.  “Would you like to come back to my blog with me?” I asked.  “I have a big screen, baby.  May I buy you a cell phone?”

That brought a strange look from the kid behind the counter – clearly I wasn’t getting through.

I tried other phrases.

“Oh your hard drive is so big!  Can you fix my network you big pink pomegranate?”

The person behind me in line then came forward with an offer to help.

“I speak fluent geek sir – perhaps I can assist,” the good Samaritan said.  “Let me see your book.”

“I see your problem right here.  This book is version 2.0 – they only speak in dialect 3.0 or higher here.  You’ll have to go online to find the program you need.  Use Google – it’s very helpful. Maybe you could get a newer phrase book too.”

I only understood a little of what he said. 

“Excuse me please?  I do not understand,” I said.  “What is this goggle you speak of?”

“Google.  Use Google to look on the internet to find a newer phrase book,” he said patiently.  “You need to speak the language and your book is out of date - its six months old.  They cannot help you here.  These people are young.  They don’t understand what you are saying.”

I thumbed furiously through my book.  I wanted to thank the man for his clarification.  “There is a gecko in my chassis!” I said.  “When is the next In/Out bus?  My, what lovely cabling you have.  Do not drink the software!”

“Sir, if you’re going to learn how to speak the geek dialect, you’re going to have to get something electronic for translating for you.  Books are analog – they don’t work anymore,” my translator said.

It was hopeless.  I was a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by people I could not understand.  No one could help me, and I felt terribly alone.

I wandered outside and approached a stranger…

“Excuse me, sir?  I wish to send an outlook to fondle my Aunt’s underwear.  Can you direct me to the post office toilet museum please?” 

He shook his head.  “I’m terribly sorry but I don’t speak geek,” he said.

This was going to be a long journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kitty Help

I was struggling to reach a roll of paper towels that was just out of my reach.  It was on a top shelf, I was stretched out to my full height, and I was short by maybe an inch.  Very frustrating.  I was going to have to go all the way out to the garage to get the step stool.  If only there was something I could stand on to get just a little bit higher...

It was then that one of the kittens made his presence known by mewling loudly at my feet.

I got an idea.

No - don't be sick - I would never be cruel to a kitten by using him as a step ladder.

What I did was grab the critter by his hind legs and fling him up to the paper towel roll, using his front claws as a grappling hook. 

There's a solution to every problem folks.  You've just got to be crafty.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cull Anytime

Canada Geese are becoming a problem.  Big honking crowds of the marauding though polite beasts, many of them Maple Leaf fans, are being targeted by civic governments keen on controlling the spread of goose doots, leprosy, mange, spam, and other liberal propaganda.  ‘Get the flock out’ seems to be the rallying cry.

Not so in our town.  I wish to commend civic leaders here for their ingenious solution to our goose problem.

Rather than hunting them with automatic weapons, grenades, flame throwers, tanks, and B-52 bombers, as suggested by more militant members of the public (me, actually), our civic officials have decided to cull the geese by giving them cell phones so they can text each other while flying.

“This gets the geese distracted, which in turn results in them plowing into buildings, their elegant ‘V’ formations becoming ‘____’ formations on the sidewalks below,” reports city spokesman William ‘Duck’ Bill.

In addition to these building-bashing initiatives, individual geese will also be targeted by police for operating a vehicle (themselves) while using an electronic device.  A spokesperson for the police says pursuing these avian criminals will help.  “We’re going to engage in a number of wild goose chases after the cell phones are deployed I’m sure, but we’ll try to minimize their impact on the community, while encouraging impacts on tall buildings,” said the spokesman.

“If the geese are using a proper wings-free device they will be allowed to proceed with their cull.  Call.  Sorry.”

The geese are fighting back, however.  Special interest groups within the goosing community are prodding the behinds of their elected representatives.

John Beake, a spokesgoose for the Flapping Carcass Aircraft Attack Local 212, announced they have recently hired an Ottawa lobbying firm in order to have some impact on this issue.

“We’ve got gaping mouths to feed, and we’re going to cause a flap let me tell you,” hissed Beake.  “We’re going to fly to Ottawa and waddle right up to Parliament and let our feelings be known all over the sidewalk.  We are determined to fly head-on into the face of adversity, and airplanes.  We are not ducking our responsibility.  We’ll get satisfaction, one way or the eidder.”  Within hours of making this statement, Beake was charged with discharging an unlicensed pun.

To date, culling the geese has met with mixed results.  Egg addling has lowered the population in some parks, while providing a much-needed boost for local addling firms. 

Meanwhile, hunters were recently allowed to shoot several geese in a nearby farmer’s field.  Unfortunately, several airliners were also brought down in the ensuing barrage. 

Investigators believe that Boeing 737’s, used as decoys for the geese, inadvertently lured several other jets into the field, where they were blasted without delay.  Post crashem analysis of the airliners has determined that the cause of crash was ‘ingestion of several thousand pieces of number 8 birdshot from 9000 shotguns’.   

No matter what plan is chosen for your local or long distance culling, something must be done about this feathered menace which is bringing us down.  Ankles are being nipped.  Droppings, which confusingly look like campaign literature or the tubes of dirt on your lawn after it gets aerated, cause needless, disgusting smears on your shoes, children and reputation. 

Something should be done about these illegal migrants befowling our cities.  In my opinion, they ought to be banished using strong legislation. 

If only there was a place they could go to that had wide open spaces, a warm climate suitable for breeding, and lots of uncut grass and untrimmed shrubs to nest in.  A place with a history of welcoming cross-border travelers .  A place that would make them part of the community, part of the family.

Maybe a place like…Arizona

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Play on Thirds

I was writing a column in my office (actually I was staring out the window, scratching) when I suddenly felt the presence of a third person in the room.  This was strange because there wasn’t a second person first. 

He stopped writing and looked around.  The hinky feeling continued so he got up and looked in the closet.  Not seeing a third person, I came out of the closet, slipped back into my chair, and continued to scratch out my column. 

Funny thing about third people – they come and go, I thought.  Sometimes they won’t appear for days, other times the writer will sit back, stare at the ceiling, and feel an omniscient presence in his work, he wrote.

In an attempt to deliberately confuse the reader, he continued writing this way until I decided to switch from my newspaper column to my one act play-on-words titled ‘A Play on Words.’  I felt that the play had started to sound like an English lesson in the use of third person omniscient writing style and needed some work, so when he switched back to myself I decided to knock it off for the day. 

Entering the living room, he noticed his wife was watching TV – a show he didn’t particularly enjoy.   

Knowing he would try to change the channel, she gave him a withering stare, as if to say “I’m watching American Idol and you can go downstairs if you want to watch hockey, Buster.”  The writer, on hearing this unspoken command, decided to switch back to first person, so I went to the kitchen for a snack, then downstairs to watch the hockey game. 

In a further attempt to confuse the reader, one then switched to speaking like royalty, where one speaks in what is, one supposes, the Third Person Blueblood or some such “La-De-Dah” language.  One tends to use this third person oneness until such time as it gets boring, then I switch back to first person and “get on with my life,” I said to himself.

As he continued writing the obscure essay about various writing voices in his head, hoping it was in some way illuminating or humourous, he discovered it was neither.  I stopped typing and stared at my screen.  It was as blank as his brain at the moment. 

‘To be continued…,” I wrote, not knowing if you use quotation marks around a thought you’ve just typed.

“Well, that was odd,” he thought.

“The End,” he wrote.

“Thank God,” all three voices thought.

“Well plop on you guys!” he thought back.  “Who are you anyway?” I wondered psychotically.

I stopped typing.  This was getting too weird. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Animal Behaviour

Here is how a desperate for material columnist works - he combines two recent posts into one delightful column!  Then it's off to the editor we go, tra la is the result:

Recent scientific studies into the behaviour of various animal species (Crawford, et al, 2010) have shown some interesting results.  Allow me to share some pre-publication insights into recent discoveries.

I read somewhere that it is a great time saver if you wash your pet by taking it into the shower with you.  This technique worked well with our dearly departed dog Lucy, so I figured I would try the same thing with one of our tiny, adorable, smelly kittens.

As a new cat owner I did not know that dog rules of thumb do not necessarily translate to cat ownership.  One of the things I learned pertains to a cat’s mental state when it becomes trapped in a confined space with water squirting upon it.  This mental state is commonly known as ‘psychotic.’ 

My experience with dogs in the shower had taught me that my caring and gentle touch was comforting to the animal as I held it in my loving arms.  These canine experiences produced droopy eyes and a sad look (the dog), not wild screeching, slashing, or using razor-sharp talons to climb tile walls, glass walls, or anything else nearby (the cat and me, respectively).  

I was somewhat taken aback by this. 

In the blink of an eye I had gone from loving and caring pet owner to slashed and profusely bleeding pile of shredded flesh, whimpering and gasping on the floor of the shower, in awe of the speed at which a young kitten can maneuver.  I was also stunned at how long it takes a bellowing human being, lapsing into shock (me) to open a shower door to effect the animals escape.

There are pluses and minuses to everything in life, however, and this experience is no different.

On the down side, I am unable to donate any blood products for the next several years, which is unfortunate since my next donation will earn me a nice certificate.

The plus side?  Greater knowledge of topical anesthetics, suturing techniques, and a free vasectomy.  So that’s nice.

More insight into animal behaviour has come from the equine arena.  My daughter had foolishly been promised a summer camp in which she would be able to interact with animals.  Since the cheaper hamster-riding class was booked up, I was now taking her to an expensive horse-riding school. 

When I dropped her off at the ranch we had some time to kill, so we wandered over to the coral or pen or whatever they call it, where I learned fairly quickly that it had an electrified fence. 

Never having been around horses much, let me also inform you that a horse is not an animal you want to shake a paw with.  Nor is it advisable to stand behind the horse and make humourous bear or coyote sound effects for the amusement of your offspring. 

Horses also have a keen sense of humour, which can include nudging people who are discretely relieving themselves behind a barn, such that the nudged person directs their stream onto electrified fences. 

These experiences have taught me many valuable lessons, and interacting with animals is a wonderful part of my life.  Just thinking of animals can be therapeutic to me. 

For instance, I think of cats whenever I light the barbecue.    

I also think of horses as the glue that can hold a family together. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup

Well everything went according to plan with the World Cup, except Spain won.

I woke up several times at important junctures (missed headers, yellow cards, the desire to go to the bathroom) and thus enjoyed my viewing experience very much.

My editor at the newspaper has asked me to write a column about the World Cup, so in timely fashion I'll rush that through to him in about 6 months.

When the editor asked me to write a World Cup column, I mistakenly thought he said ‘whirled cup’ and began reminiscing about a wild hockey celebration where I was drunkenly swinging my jockstrap over my head.  That was a Pee Wee championship to remember, let me tell you.

Alas I will now have to summon actual journalism skills, which I humbly submit are nonexistent, in order to fulfill this assignment.   I'll keep you posted.  I already figure I'll somehow compare the World Cup to my kids soccer games, but I'll work on it.  Stay tuned, he said redundantly.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kids Non-Sequirter Conversation #823

Kids, falling asleep in their communal bed at cabin, overheard by Dad while Dad was tending fire in vain attempt to warm up said cabin.

Kid #1 - "Wouldn't it be cool to fall down an endless cliff?"

Kid #2 - "But then we wouldn't have any food."

Dad scratches head over that one, shuffles off to bed, muttering about what strange children he is raising.

Lack of Updates Excuse #643

We were camping.  In a cabin.  It was great. 

We went to Beaver Lake for the long weekend, staying in a cabin I rather thoughtfully paid for last year - handy when you're broke.

Anyway, we are back, safe and smoky, and I promise I'll write something for here in the next while.  Or immediately.  Whatever.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


"Dad, when I grow up, I'd like to be a humour writer!"

"Son, you can't have both."