Friday, June 29, 2012

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• A cook on an Australian submarine can earn $187,000 per year.

• Canadians are among the most positive in assessing the current economic situation in their country, ranking 6th behind Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Sweden, and China, according to Ipsos Reid. Healthcare continues to occupy top spot in Canadians’ issue concerns.

• If you are tired of the hassle of flying commercial airlines, you can charter a light jet for as little as $114,000 for 25 hours.

• A Vermont deli is imposing a $3 fine for yapping on one's cell phone while trying to order at the counter.

• When you sneeze, air and particles travel through the nostrils at speeds of more than 100 mph. During this time, all bodily functions stop, including your heart, contributing to the impossibility of keeping one's eyes open during a sneeze.

• Guys give bigger and more frequent tips to waitresses wearing red T-shirts.
 How about that?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A democratic determination

[Thanks to Libby for sending this along.]

A Scottish Soldier, in full dress uniform, marches into a pharmacy.

Very carefully he opens his sporran and pulls out a neatly folded cotton bandana, unfolds it to reveal a smaller silk square handkerchief, which he also unfolds, to reveal a condom. The condom has a number of patches on it.

The pharmacist holds it up and eyes it critically.

"How much to repair it?,' The Scot asks the pharmacist.

"Six pence," says the pharmacist.

"How much for a new one?"

"Ten pence," says the pharmacist.

The Scot painstakingly folds the condom into the silk square handkerchief and the cotton bandana, replaces it carefully in his sporran, and marches out the door, shoulders back and kilt swinging. A moment or two later the pharmacist hears a great shout go up outside, followed by an even greater shout.

The Scottish soldier marches back into the pharmacy, and addresses the pharmacist, this time with a grin on his face.

"The regiment has taken a vote," he says. ”We'll have a new one."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Medical progress

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Checking in, or checking out?

A Toronto couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel, and found that there was a computer in his room. Sending an email to his wife, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address and, without realizing his error, sent it off.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a woman had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

Her son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now to send emails to loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

 P. S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!!
 [Author unknown]

Monday, June 25, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• 22.3% of cheating wives drive Hondas

• The Regina, Saskatchewan, Humane Society has a Reading to Dogs volunteer program.

• An international survey about the internet found that Australians don’t trust the information they find there; Americans find it hard to use; the Spanish find it ugly; the Chinese find it slow; and the Germans give its information quality a low rating.

• The hamburgers in ads look way better than the ones you are actually served because Food Stylists spiff them up for the camera.

• The U.S. presidential limo has a top speed of just 60 miles per hour, and averages just 8 miles per gallon, because it weighs 6,350 kg., making it 2.5 times as heavy as the huge Rolls Royce Phantom.

• Not to put too fine a point on it, wine tasting is, well, bullshit.
How about that?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Customary conversations

Canada Border Services Agency won't be eavesdropping on our conversations just yet. Apparently, they need to clear away some regulatory snags before they install those super-sensitive listening devices at border crossings.

So, they'll be missing this kind of chatter in the meantime:
"Okay, let me do the talking. The last time we came through here, you stammered and yammered and they pulled the back seat out of the car looking for stuff."

"Man, I'm all bound up wearing these three pairs of jeans, and I need to pee real bad."

"Nobody say nuttin'! My uncle spent three hours here in 1948 just for saying, "Please hurry up."

"Declare the socks you bought, and maybe they won't notice the lawn mower."

"Hey Mom, should I put some bird seed in my shorts for the budgies?"

"The limit for a day trip is what now, $3000?"

"Oh boy, those clams are startin' to smell."

"I know you're car sick sweetie, but you can't barf 'til we get back to Canada.

"Do ya hafta declare beer if you're drinkin' it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

War in the geraniums

The annual war against the voles is underway.

My wife, Pat, wages these battles every year in the flower gardens around our house. She takes justifiable pride in her gardening, and ensures that there is always something blooming as the summer progresses.

Voles are small rodents, a bit larger than a mouse, that burrow in gardens and dine on your flowers and bulbs. Unlike their larger cousins, the moles, they leave no piles of dirt at the entrance to their tunnels, and therefore are are hard to spot.

A few years ago, when the voles initially invaded, Pat tried some commercial rodent repellents off the shelf at the garden store, with no effect whatsoever. In fact, she was pretty sure these just improved the plant eaters' appetites.

The following year, she went high tech, with solar-powered gizmos that emitted high pitched tones intended to drive the voles off. Uh-uh. Apparently these things were set to the aphrodisiac frequency, because the vole population exploded.

This was followed by the year of the coyote urine pellets. The thinking here was that the voles would scram when they sensed a predator in the neighbourhood.


This year, it's coffee grounds. Yep, after the morning coffee has been brewed, the grounds are deposited in the entrances to the vole tunnels.

So far, it seems to be working. Pat figures that, as coffee is an appetite suppressant, the little guys are just not chowing down with their usual gusto.

Or maybe they're all revved up and crashing into each other in those tunnels.

Or maybe they're just plotting a big offensive for the Delphinium season.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sociable by design

[Thanks to Libby for this.]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Putting the fun back in politics

It's been quite a while since Canadian politics were more interesting than those in the U.S., but they are now.

The Americans have two presidential candidates who, other than their skin colour, look a lot like each other.

The major accomplishment of the incumbent, a national healthcare system, was actually modeled on his adversary's implementation at the state level. Both are cool, expensively-tailored, technocrats with an air of detachment and a preference for reason over passion.

Sure they criticize each other viciously, but one suspects that both would govern in much the same, centrist, manner. Plus their hands are tied by the U.S. fiscal pickle that puts deficit reduction front and centre no matter who's in charge.

Now look at Canada.

The Tories expected they'd be duking it out with the NDP's new not-Jack guy, Tom Mulcair, and the Liberals' old baggage-laden warrior, Bob Rae. No worries there, mate. Just let the two pale pink guys squabble for the support of the left-leaners, and (Bob's-your-uncle-no-pun-intended) there's another four years at 24 Sussex safely in the bag. Let the Harper agenda roll!

But no-o-o-o.

Rae takes a hike, and now it's a whole new ball game.

Trudeau The Younger is now re-cogitating his previous rejection of a leadership run, as many desperate Liberals look to the old brand as their last hope.

Another election cycle and the party could disappear entirely unless the hemorrhaging is stopped now. Think Kim Campbell, 1993, when the Progressive Conservative party went poof. Like bankruptcy, it happens a little bit at a time, and then all at once.

Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star says Justin is mocked as an intellectual lightweight, "Yet as far as I can see, he seems no stupider than anyone else."

Hardly high praise, but not a knockout factor.

Speaking of which, Justin seems to have inherited his dad's flair for the dramatic, having brawled his way to a third-round TKO victory over Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau back in March.

My wife attended a community youth-oriented event where he spoke, and reported that he was "an amazing speaker, had charisma up the ying-yang, and really connected with the young audience." I should note that she is a lifelong Liberal and (Pierre) Trudeau admirer, so you can discount her testimony to the extent you think appropriate.

If he were to broadly engage young voters, who now stay away from the polls in droves and prefer vehicles other than party politics to effect change, that could be a game changer.

Personally, after a brief bout of Trudeaumania, I never was a fan of his dad, but I won't lay the disappointments of 40 years ago on the son.

So, whole new ball game. Stay tuned. It will be interesting.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On the job training

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On the trail with Henry

This morning, I want to take you back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, 1961 to be exact. It was my sweetheart's sixteenth birthday, and I generously offered to pony up for whatever she wanted to do to celebrate the occasion.

It turned out that horseback riding was her choice of activities, so at the appointed time we turned up at a nearby establishment that offered that sort of thing.

I'll note here that she was already an accomplished rider, while yours truly was not of the equestrian persuasion. Growing up on a farm, I had been around horses, but they were the big, plodding fellas that pulled haywagons and sleighs. Good natured and dependable, they were unfamiliar with the more sporting gaits. So, I had never been on a horse in my life and, until this particular day, had seen no reason to do so.

Anyway, the trail guide at the "ranch" sized up the group of folks who had signed up for the day's ride, and decided to put me on Henry, the largest of the horses in the stable.

With the moment of truth fast approaching, the wheels were spinning in my head, and the plan I came up with was to just keep everything slow and easy. I figured that, as long as I could keep Henry walking, I'd be fine and maybe I wouldn't wind up looking like a real greenhorn in front of my gal.

So, to cut to the chase, so to speak, we mounted up and headed out on the trail, with Henry and me bringing up the rear.

My plan worked pretty well for a while, and I was kinda gettin' into the rhythm of it until the trail guide stepped up the pace. As the rest of the group trotted away from us, I could tell that Henry wanted to hang with the herd, but I kept him on a tight rein. The tension between us rose as we lagged farther and farther behind the other riders, but I still thought I might pull this off.

But then the group started to canter, and my troubles began. The canter, as I now know, is a three-beat gait. I never could waltz, and now I learned that I couldn't canter either, as Henry took off in an effort to catch his pals.

I sensed that I was in trouble when my feet came out of the stirrups, which apparently is a no-no among horsemen. The rest of the group had now disappeared around a bend that circled a grove of trees. Henry was galloping now, and he determined that the shortest route was a straight line, which took us directly through those trees.

Tree limbs were coming at me thick and fast, as I tried desperately to stay in the saddle. I grasped the saddle horn with one hand, while raising the other to to protect my face, and I dropped the reins. Meanwhile, the sound and fury of it all had reached the ears of my trailmates, and they had gathered in a clearing on the other side of the grove, curious about this ruckus in the forest.

Henry and I suddenly shot out at full gallop in front of them, whereupon he stopped absolutely dead in his tracks, and I hurtled off over his head, landing with a thump on the ground in the centre of a circle of riders who were choking back laughter.

The trail guide said that he thought it best for me to just lead Henry back to the barn. Both Henry and I were okay with that.

I swore off horses.

And I married that girl.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trunk Monkey: Pediatric Edition

Monday, June 11, 2012

Can you smell me now?

[Found on Funny or Die]

Friday, June 8, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
 • The latest internet scam threatens people with death. Yep, these eMail messages claim that the sender has been paid to kill you but he will cancel the contract if you pay him a large sum of money. And you were worried about someone getting your Facebook password.

 • Canadians say that 59% of the responsibility for ensuring they have a financially secure retirement lies with themselves. They see the rest of the pie being shared among the government (19%), their employer (10%), another family member (8%) or their financial advisor (5%), according to the quarterly RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index conducted by Ipsos Reid.

• A prestigious group of scientists from around the world is warning of a planet-wide tipping point. “The data suggests that there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life, including, for example, fisheries, agriculture, forest products and clean water. This could happen within just a few generations.”

• A 1967 RAND Corporation forecast predicted that 21st century housewives would be able to choose between robots or trained apes for cleaning, gardening, and chauffeuring chores.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

When you wake up in the morning

I have a good pal who is a good man.

He wouldn't want me to mention his name, so I won't.

He is a modest man, a generous man, a gentleman in the true sense of that often misused word.

Over our quarter century of friendship, he has jumped in time and time again when someone needed help or a problem needed solving.

He does it because it's the right thing to do, and others aren't doing it. Many, perhaps most, of these acts are known only to him and the recipients. His style is to do it quietly and privately. But he's also capable of stepping up and rallying people to get things done, in his community or in some faraway place.

Small things, and big things. Helping someone over a rough spot, organizing a town clean-up day, or heading off to New Orleans or Sri Lanka to pitch in for victims of hurricanes and tsunamis. Always hands-on work, on his own dime.

We live in a cynical age of self-promotion and self-centredness. Many think volunteers are chumps, working for nothing. Many give nothing back to their communities, opting only to take. Many turn a blind eye to social problems, saying it's the government's job to take care of those.

When done at all, good deeds are often performed in the hope that they will be noticed, and perhaps rewarded.  My friend wants no reward.

His friends are encouraged to be better people by the example he sets for us.

His outlook on life is simple. "When you wake up in the morning, you can either stay in bed and dream, or get up and pursue your dreams."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mom returns to work

[Thanks to Mary-Martha for sending this along.]


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rules of life

[The thoughts expressed below have been attributed to an address by Bill Gates to high school students, and to others, but they actually originated in a piece by Charles Sykes that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on September 19, 1996. Might be some good advice here for your young'uns.] 
  1. Life is not fair - get used to it!
  2. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. 
  3. You will not make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both. 
  4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. 
  5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity. 
  6. If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault; so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them. 
  7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. 
  8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. 
  9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you "find yourself". Do that on your own time. 
  10. Television and video games are not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs. 
  11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• You're safer on a porn website than on an education site, according to Symantec's new security threat report.

• Older folk are interested in food with strong flavours, plenty of spices, etc. This is probably because the average 30-year-old has 245 tastebuds on each of the tongue's sensory bumps, but the average 70-year-old has just 88, requiring more stimulation.

• While past generations had small, tight social networks—family, close friends, neighbors, churches, and so on, the new "networked individualism" is oriented around looser networks that are our on-demand support systems. So says a new book titled Networked: The New Social Operating System.

• Lady Gaga now has 25 million Twitter followers, the first person to achieve that dizzying height. They are all breathlessly awaiting her next 140-character utterance. Tweet on!
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.