Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fruitcake Anyone?

Okay, it's time for me to step up to the plate and defend an easy target that keeps getting bashed unjustly at this time of year. Yes, I'm talking about Christmas Fruitcake. Fruitcake is the butt of more jokes at this time of year than tofu. I don't know whose Christmas Cake all these complaining people are eating, but the Missus makes a damn fine fruitcake and I'm pretty sure she hasn't got some secret that nobody else is in on. I say, lay off the fruitcake.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crispy or Original Recipe?

Okay, time for a real controversy. Enough of this lightweight stuff. An alert reader, Lisa, has identified an alarming new product. Alarming because it is sure to lead to much marital strife. She is concerned that her husband actually approves of the latest in brownie pans. See it here:


Lisa says:

"I was horrified. What a wretched contraption. Everyone knows that the lovely, soft, gooey inside pieces are where it's at. Who wants a hard crispy overcooked outside edge? That's the bottom of the barrel (or the sides, as the case may be). If there was an invention that rendered all bread slices as crusts, who would want such a thing? Maybe 1% of the population? The crazy 1%, that is."

I leave this one open for discussion.

Speaking of crispy overcooked edges, one of my favourite such stories is of a teacher I worked with who decided to be really keen and bake some bread with his elementary class. Well, teaching in elementary can really demand your full attention and sometimes you can forget about things such as the bread you put in the oven awhile back. He remembered it all right when the fire alarm went off and the school was evacuated. Now that was some hard crispy bread.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How Do You Know?

What do Swine Flu shots, global warming, and 9-11 have in common? You can find plenty of people who fall passionately on either side of the great divide that each issue has. And that's annoying. How does Joe Regular Guy know the truth when everyone on both sides claims to be telling the truth and says everyone on the other side is lying.

I've been thinking about this lots lately, but it is my blog topic tonight because of a recent debate that hijacked my Facebook status update. Two friends, regular readers of the blog I might add, got into it over the flu shots. Both were able to send me links to strengthen their positions. The same happens if you talk about global warming. People I know and respect fall on both sides of the issue and can send me plenty of links. I'm drowning in links, but it doesn't bring me any closer to knowing what the truth is.

Perhaps there is a way to know which links to believe and which ones are bogus, but it is not something that Joe Regular Guy can figure out, so these debates must be getting mired in misinformation. We've got more access to information than ever before, but we can't know what's good information and what isn't. So until someone comes up with a better way here is how I decide what's what. Not based on the truth, since who knows what that is, but on the probabilities of the truth. And I'm open to changing my mind on any of these if someone can present a convincing argument (and by that I most definitely don't mean a link to someone's expert opinion on what the truth is) that I've got the probabilities wrong. It is quite likely I could end up being wrong on all three of these issues, and that's what's so damn annoying.

Let's start with the Swine Flu shots. Why would the people who are saying to get a shot be saying so if it wasn't safe? There are two reasons I can think of. To make money for the company that makes the shots or because if lots of people get the shots the benefits to all are greater than the risks to the individual. It seems incredibly unlikely that all the shot advocates are in the drug company's pocket so I'll rule that out. If it's the latter then I don't feel too bad getting a shot because I'm a team player and I'll take one for the team. More likely it seems to me that the shot advocates are telling us to get a shot because it is good for us both as individuals and a society to be inoculated against the flu. It makes the most sense. And the kicker is that the Calgary Flames were first in line to get the shots. Why would an NHL team risk their high priced talent on something that is as risky as the anti-shot people would have you believe. It doesn't make sense. I'm trusting the Flames on this one, so I got my shot.
Yeah! We got our shots and now we're all going to die!

Next up, global warming. Global warming advocates have made a pretty convincing argument, but they could be wrong. What I find strange is that the people saying they are wrong seem to be in fields other than climatology. So the experts on climate are pretty much in agreement, but it is others that say they are wrong. That tips the scales in favour of global warming being a real problem, but it does not mean the naysayers are wrong. I am sure at some point in history all the experts in a certain field believed one thing and were proven wrong by others who weren't in the field, but it would seem to be less likely than the experts being correct.

Another point is that although naysayers could be right, if the naysayers are wrong and we continue to do nothing about the amount of CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere then we're really going to have a big problem. The costs of doing something don't seem to be that great when compared to risk of doing nothing. Not only that, but what is the motivation for these climate experts to be telling us this if it isn't the truth? I can't see one. On the other hand there is plenty of motivation for the climate change skeptics. Who wants to risk their high standard of living by maybe having to pay more carbon tax? So this one breaks down for me as: experts with no apparent hidden agenda vs non-experts with plenty of possibilities of a hidden agenda. Put me down as in favour of starting to do something to reduce emissions.

Lastly lets look at the 9-11 thing. Was it an inside job? Again if you watch a YouTube video you can see some pretty convincing stuff. The question is, do I believe it is likely that a consipracy of that magnitude is possible. The answer is no, it does not seem likely that it could be pulled off without someone finding out. So for now I'm not buying it. Now if the Calgary Flames tell me that the U.S. government attacked it's own people then I'll have to rethink things.

Whew, I'm exhausted. Next post I'm going back to talking about tube socks or stir sticks.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Confused About Somethings, But I Am About One Thing

Wow, it's been far too long since Little Jackie Showers regaled you all with anything. So here goes. Stay with me on this one, because it's a little odd.

Lately I've heard or read some stories about transgendered people. I'm no expert, but what I've come to understand that to mean is a person who feels they are one gender, but physically they are another. For example, a man who as always felt that he is a women (in the psychological sense I suppose). Not something I could relate to. Or so I thought.

It occurred to me today when I heard a comedian referring to the usual high school stereotypes such as the nerd, the academics, the class clowns and the jocks that maybe on some level I could relate. You see when I was in high school I didn't really fit neatly into any category, but if I was anything I was an academic. I was good at school. The thing is what I wanted to be good at and what I felt I was inside was an athlete. The only problem is my body was letting me down. I was transcategoried.

I've moved on because fortunately once you get out of high school there are leagues for those who aren't good enough to make teams in high school. In fact there are pretty low talent leagues out there where an academic can feel downright jockish. I once crushed a grand slam home run in a Baptist Church softball game. And there was another time when I hit a game winning home run in the staff vs student softball game when I was a student teacher at a middle school. I'm still a clumsy bookish fellow next to the real athletes, but put me in the right talent pool and I'm an Olympian.

I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere. And before anybody writes in to complain, I'm not saying all Baptists are poor softball players, just that this particular game wasn't exactly being played at a high level. Now, the Lutherans on the other hand, have no game whatsoever.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?

I turned 46 recently. Yes, that's annoying but I'll get over it. I did get to thinking though that there are little things in life that I miss from my past. And I'm not someone who believes that the past was the good old days. Have you seen how clear instant replay is today? Wow!

I miss our weekly pick-up flag football games. I don't miss the three days it took to recover, which is essentially why I stopped playing, but I sure do miss the strategy and camaraderie of the contests. As you know by now if you're a regular reader, I miss tube socks. However I am confident the tube sock will be back unlike my football career.

I miss Johnny Carson. I miss Howard Cosell. I miss Howie Meeker. I miss Wheaties. I miss Match Game and Battle of the Network Stars.

I miss when my feet didn't hurt in the morning. I miss being able to eat Haagen-Daaz without needing to follow it up with an hour in the bathroom. I miss being able to run without having to be careful not to pull a muscle.

I miss when children's sports each had their own season and kids could play several sports a year. I miss cream filled long johns although I'm sure there is a bakery somewhere that has them. I miss the sound of World War Three on Halloween. I miss the Pop Shoppe.

I miss when safety didn't come first. I miss expecting to wait for a ferry. I miss when it wasn't the government's fault. I miss when you only had to brush and not floss. And I miss when the Olympics were a good thing and being a homer was not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who Let the Dogs In?

I'll begin by admitting right off the bat that I am not what you would call a "dog person". That is to say, I don't have a dog, I am not interested in getting a dog and I really don't understand what's so great about having a dog. Dogs are okay and all, but I don't really want to hang out with them.

The thing that's bothering me today is I've noticed dogs more and more in places that you never used to see dogs. Inside places. Places like the hotel I was in the last two nights or on the passenger deck of the ferry. People take them into stores when they are shopping and even into coffee shops or bakeries. These are places I'm sure that you would not have seen a dog ten years ago. Maybe even five years ago. How did this happen?

Forget whether dogs being in these places is okay or not, that's not really the point. The point is who let the dogs in? Who decided it was okay for people to bring their dogs into places where they didn't use to go? Was there a discussion of this that I missed out on? Was it just social convention before, because I was under the impression that there were rules about where you could take a dog.

I'm a little worried that the horses might be out of the barn on this or is it the cat is out of the bag? Anyhow, maybe we better have a discussion about this before the snake people get any ideas.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Don`t Let a Little Snow Get in the Way

I was planning to watch the baseball play-off game tonight, but it has been postponed because of snow in Colorado. That`s right, a snow-out. I imagine it would be pretty hard to play baseball in the snow and admit I have not tried it, but I have played sports in some less than ideal weather. Football is particularly good for this as the sport practically embraces bad conditions.

We used to play our weekly pick-up flag football games in all kinds of weather. The most memorable such game was probably the time we played about three days after a six inch snowfall. The night before the game it rained and when we got to the field there was a layer of snow with pools of water sitting on top. We still laced them up. It was fun, but pretty stupid. Not too smart to run around in ice water for 90 minutes.

One time I played basketball outside during a rainstorm. It makes a big difference to the game of basketball when nobody can count on traction and the ball is slippery. You wouldn`t catch Dwight Stone trying that (that`s a 1976 Olympics reference for you kids out there). Anyhow the basketball game was probably similar to the style of play you would see at an over 70`s Masters basketball tournament. Slow and methodical. As I remember it my team beat a much more talented team that day. We were better mudders. When you are slow like me you don`t mind when the conditions slow everyone else down.

My favourite bad weather sports story comes from my days in youth soccer. Our team travelled to Vancouver for a game (several hours by ferry and car) and when we got to the field it was pouring rain and much of the field was underwater. Many areas between the sandbars were ankle deep. Since we had travelled so far and this was before the days of winter field closures, we went ahead with the game. Needless to say, I had a pretty good game that day, but the real story is about a fellow named Mike.

Mike was a decent player, but he was always complaining to me that he was jinxed and could not score a goal. He said this often, and while it was true he wasn`t scoring at all that season, I didn`t buy into his jinx theory. In this rain-soaked game he got the ball just outside the 18 yard box and the goalie started to come out to challenge him. He chipped a beautiful shot over the oncoming goalie and right towards the middle of the net for a sure goal. It sailed through the air and came down right on the goal line, splat! It landed in a puddle and just spun there on the goal line as the goalie scrambled back and jumped on it. The jinx was intact.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Slow Down Big Boys

The large SUV is a common sight on our roads. I'm not talking about your regular size SUV that is even more common. I'm talking about the huge ones. Now I have no issue with you or anyone else deciding that the humongous SUV is the vehicle that is right for you. It does make me a little curious, but certainly not annoyed.

Here is what does annoy me. People driving humongous SUV's very fast and aggressively. The things are like damn tanks and it seems so unfair to be driving one with such confidence. A confidence I suspect is borne from the fact they are driving something that is tanklike in nature. So what we've got here is people driving fast because they know that if they hit anything they'll be perfectly fine. What about who they hit? Scary stuff.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bring Back the Tube Sock!

It is unfortunate that we are all slaves to fashion. Now, I'm sure there some of you out there who A) believe you are above such things and wear what you want and/or B) have seen the way I dress and wonder who I am kidding to think I know or have anything to do whatsoever with fashion. I am here to convince you otherwise.

When I mean slaves to fashion I am speaking in the broadest possible sense. I'm not speaking of the latest styles or trends, no I'm just referring to the basics of what's allowed and what is the object of scorn and derision. Take the whole male shorts thing. Men's shorts used to be well above the knee, but if there so much as an inch of bare leg above the kneecap now then my oh my are the critics going to pile on. Now at first I thought this wasn't so much fashion as people coming to the realization that a man's leg is not something we want to look at, but this is not that case. It is merely fashion! And I bet even those of you who think you aren't slaves to fashion are wearing your shorts at the "appropriate" length.

Here is how I know this shorts thing is all about fashion. At the same time that people are clamoring for the male thigh to be covered up, people will also hoot in derision if you wear long socks. Where's the consistency in that? To be consistent, we should all be in favour of the the tube sock and not these sissy little ankle socks that all the gents are wearing these days. So it's not about what looks good it's just about what is in fashion. We're showing the same amount of leg today as we used to back in the tube sock and short shorts era. It's just a different section of the leg. And I'm not buying that the male calf is sooooooo much more attractive than the lower have of the male thigh.

Check out these shorts and tube socks:

There have been plenty of good clothing items that have gone the way of the Dodo bird because of fashion. Take rugby pants for instance. They were comfortable, looked fine, and could be used for both casual and active wear. Why did we get rid of them? Fashion. I'm sure everyone out there has a favourite clothing item that has fallen victim to this scourge known as fashion.
Send in your comments about what you have been quietly rueing fashion for.

Meahwhile the fedora is making a comeback. What's up with that?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You Get What You Pay For

Okay, here's something that I think everyone (maybe even thrifty Dan) can get on board with. What's the deal on one-ply toilet paper? It not only sucks, but it's stupid. That's the short version of my rant for you kids out there who don't want an in depth analysis. Next I'll break it down for the rest of you, as in give you the details, not break apart as one-ply likes to do.

First: why it sucks. You all know why it sucks. It doesn't work. Enough said, we don't need to get into the messy details.

Second: why it is stupid. It is stupid because the intent of one-ply is to save money. I know some of you might think there is some evil conspiracy, but really it is just about the money. What makes this cost saver stupid is that nobody is crazy enough to just use a few squares of one-ply (in other words use the same number of squares of one-ply as we would use of two-ply). No, we have to pull out a much longer amount and fold it over multiple times. So we end up using twice as many squares and the amount of toilet paper used is the same.

No cost saving there and to top it all off it takes more time to execute the one-ply multiple-folding maneuver than the homestyle two-ply method. And time is money baby! So if you're making your employees use one-ply on their bathroom breaks to save money then the laugh is on you Ebeneezer.

Speaking of saving money, you've got to wonder about the cheap knock-offs of Kraft Dinner. Essentially Kraft Dinner is the poster child for cheap meals. It's like a buck a box. How big is the profit margin on this stuff that some other company figures they'll skimp a little on quality and undercut Kraft and make a killing? I know that's not an anecdote, but it'll have to do for this time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Just the Stan Smiths?

Hello everyone, sorry for the long time between posts. I was shocked to see it was getting close to two weeks since the last one. The dog days of summer I guess. Hard to be annoyed when the sun is shining and there's plenty to do. Unless you want to buy a pair of running shoes. Then there can be a problem.

A lot of the running shoes out there today are definitely not middle-age guy running shoes. In my case I like to wear cross trainers, since I am such a multi-sport athlete. In fact in one recent 24 hour period I used my cross trainers to play ping-pong, golf, and tennis. Beat that! But I digress. The point of this blog is to do with the buying of shoes and not my athletic prowess. There are hundreds of different cross-trainer models out there, but as I said, only some of them will do for the middle-aged guy. As in not too flashy, hip or space-age looking.

Over the years when I have found a model that I like and my current pair starts to wear out I'll go back and buy the same shoes again. I have found two annoying things about this process. First of all is that the shoe companies, apparently in an effort to keep the retail prices up by limiting competition, have pulled the following little sneaky trick. They only give certain models to certain retailers. So I can't shop the sales for my model, I just have to buy it at the regular price from the one store that carries it or wait for that retailer to put it on sale. Secondly, and most importantly, shoe companies in an apparent effort to stay current or something, discontinue models of shoes all the time. Unless your favourite is the Stan Smith, you can be out of luck the next time you go to buy a pair of runners. And that my friends is annoying.

Who the heck was this Stan Smith guy anyway? I'm going to have to look that up.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Everyone Stay Focussed Until We Get to the Other Side

Today as I was driving along I had the radio tuned to a station from the nearby big city. The inevitable big city traffic report came on and there were accidents on two of the city's bridges. One of my faithful Bloglodites had recently mentioned how annoying the phenomenon of rush hour bridge accidents is. He couldn't understand how this seemed to happen so frequently. It does make one wonder.

Are there really more accidents on the bridges during rush hour than other places during rush hour or is it just that it's more noticeable because it messes things up so bad? Also, why are there accidents on a bridge during rush hour? Isn't everybody just basically following the person in front of them? I don't personally drive in the big city rush hour, so I don't know what's going on for sure, but let me speculate. People aren't paying attention and they are running into the back end of the person in front of them or maybe... wait for it... maybe they are TAILGATING. And to clarify, I mean they are driving really close to the car in front of them and not that they are partying on the bridge. The only other reason I can think of is perhaps they have accidents when changing lanes. Likely changing lanes to try to gain some small time advantage.

Basically these bridge accidents in a lot of cases must be the result of undue care and attention and/or impatience. You people out there getting into accidents on the bridge need to try to be more team players. Let's get everybody safely over the bridge so we don't mess up the traffic for everybody. Stay focussed people! until you get to the other side. Then you can get into your accident.

I have one anecdote about a bridge accident. One time while traveling along the Pacific Coast of Washington State with the family we decided to cross the Columbia River to make a quick visit to Astoria on the Oregon side of the river. This required using a rather long bridge over the mouth of the Columbia. We were heading across the bridge and saw that traffic was backed up ahead (because of an accident it turned out). We decided we would turn around rather than wait. The kids were disappointed as they had hoped to say they had been to Oregon if only for a short visit. Before turning around I noticed that just ahead was the welcome to Oregon sign, so I drove under the sign before turning around and heading back to Washington. The kids got to cross Oregon off the list of states they had visited after all.

Friday, August 7, 2009

One More Use for Arrowroot Cookies

Tailgating annoys me. It annoys me a lot. Mostly because it is unnecessary and it is dangerous. Like many bad driving habits the problem is that it can be done without consequence thousands of times, but if something unexpected happens then look out!

Some of you out there might be tailgaters. Do you tailgate with the hope of intimidating the person to speed up or move out of the way? If so, I suppose that might explain it. Otherwise it's pretty damn stupid since you can't get there any faster just be being right up close to somebody. In my experience though there are a lot of tailgaters who don't actually seem to be in a hurry, they just drive that way. Up close and personal. I don't like it.

One time the Missus and I were traveling down the highway and this guy was right on our tail. It was only a two lane highway, so there was no passing lane. The Missus was driving and our infant son was in the back seat. I was feeling annoyed and protective, so I took one of our son's Arrowroot cookies and held it on the roof of our car. Then I let go. I didn't throw the cookie, I just let it go. The guy was so close behind us the cookie either hit or narrowly missed hitting the front of his car. If he'd been more than 30 feet behind us it would have fallen harmlessly to the pavement, but no, it was right in his grill.

He got even at us by passing us when we came to a two lane section and giving us the finger. And that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep it to the Bathroom Stalls

Hey Kids, it's time to talk about graffiti. I don't understand graffiti. Yes, I know what it is and that the word comes from Italian and originally referred to cave drawings. What I don't understand is why is there so much of it? Is the act of doing graffiti really popular or is there a small group of people doing a whole lot of graffiti? Let's break it down!

If graffiti is a really popular pastime with lots of artists then the obvious question is why is it so popular? However there is no accounting for popularity as I've already documented on my post about tattoos and is also demonstrated by the footwear known as Crocs. Having said this though, I can't recall knowing anyone (even in my youth) who was big into or even dabbled in graffiti, so I must conclude that graffiti is down largely by a small group. Further evidence of this is the apparent skill with which most graffiti is done.

So, this brings me to the question of why spend so much time on graffiti? Why would this become someone's passion? I suppose it might be fun, but it is such an unfair form of fun and that is what makes it so annoying. Near my house there is a large wall painted white that in recent years has become the canvas for at least one spray painter. The business that owns the wall periodically repaints it white only to have the graffiti return. It must be obvious to the graffiti person or people that this must be annoying to the guy with the can of white paint, yet they persist.

Graffiti on a forlorn, unkept, and under-appreciated surface is one thing, but constantly spoiling someone else's idea of what they want their property to look like is mean, rude and annoying. I don't get it.

At the same time I am a big fan of the scrawlings on bathroom stalls, if they are funny. These provide a service to those of us who like to read while we sit. My favourite of all time is still one of the stalls in the basement of the UVic library that I affectionately knew as the Howie Meeker stall. Someone had drawn a sketch of hockey analyst Howie Meeker and put one of his typical expressions next to it (He can't hit the ocean from a pier) and others had added their favourite Meekerisms on their visits to the stall.
Such gems as: "Can't shoot, can't skate, but he's got a heart as big as the whole outdoors," or "He went around the defence like a hoop around a barrel." The list was about ten long. Apparently the custodians liked it too as it seemed to outlast the other graffiti.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holding Me Over a Bank Machine

Okay, here's something that's not just annoying, it's damn unfair. As you all know, bank machines, or automated tellers, charge you a fee to extract money. I'm okay with this as the machine is providing me with a service. It's convenient not to have to look for my bank and just go to the nearest machine. All fine and dandy.

Now you may have also noticed that these machines don't all charge the same fee. Generally in my experience the fee is $1.50. Occasionally it is $1.75 or $1.25, but far and away the most common fee going at a bank machine is $1.50. Once I used a machine at Costco and it was only 75 cents. Those Costco guys are always undercutting the little guy. Now here comes the crux of the matter (I've always wanted to use that expression).

I have experienced a rather nasty strategy being used in some places with bank machines. These places are usually somewhere that has few choices for getting cash. A captive banking audience. The most recent was inside the gates of Playland, a Vancouver amusement park. I didn't have any cash when arriving at the park, but thought, no problem there will be a bank machine. We paid to get in and there was the machine. I put in my card and the fee at this machine was $2.75. Give me a break.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Special Offer? I Don't Think So.

The baked potato dominated in the steak accompaniment poll. Keep looking for polls when you check out A and A. I find them so much fun. Now onto the next post...

You want to know what really bugs me? Of course you do! Special offers, that ain't special. Or at least they don't live up to their billing. Case in point. Recently at a mini-golf course the score card had an advertisement on it that had "Kids Eat Free" in big letters taking up the top quarter of the add. The name of the restaurant was also prominent. Then in small type I found the following: "Only available 5-6 pm on Wednesdays".

Now, if you're going to have some kind of special offer to attract customers then don't be pulling something like this. Either make it weekdays or something other than one hour a week. I feel offers like this are mostly just to get people to mistakenly come to the restaurant with their kids in tow at some time other than that measly one hour window and then find out that they can't get the deal, but now that they are there they might as well stay. It's cheesy.

The same goes for a lot of those two for one offers out there that come with all kinds of restrictions in the fine print. If you don't want to offer two for one then don't do it. And don't get me started on the "starting at 66.99 type promos". Has anyone ever got the starting price on one of those deals?

Then of course there is the old change of ownership ploy. You're all excited about your coupon or two for one offer or maybe your free game of mini-golf you earned by getting a hole-in-one your last time out and they tell you that they aren't honouring the offer because it was made by the previous ownership. Their right I suppose, but not exactly the way to get off to a good start with your clientele.

Friday, July 17, 2009

That's One Hot Potato!

Hey, I've brought back the poll to the A & A blog. Please vote so I get some sense of how many are paying attention out there.

Today's post may not be the consensus feeling of my readers. It's about the expectations people have of their servers (waiter or waitress in pre-politically correct speak). I don't understand why so many people feel their server has to live up to high expectations, and that when they don't, that they are open to rude behaviour. This doesn't seem to be the case with other jobs. Servers take it on the chin if they are perceived to be doing a poor job.

I say treat them and those working in other service jobs like fast food or even those troublesome cashiers, that are always asking me about my weekend, with a little respect, and when possible, tip well. These are generally speaking not high paying jobs and they are under the pressure of performing for each customer. We should all be so unlucky.

A friend who I was out for dinner with recently told me the story of his career as a waiter. He was working for a steakhouse in the upper mid-range of restaurants. He had worked his way up to waiter after a few months at the establishment and thought he was getting his big break. One night things weren't going so well and one gentleman was being particularly annoying.

The annoying gentleman was being condescending in my friends opinion and generally being rude and treating him like dirt. He and his female companion both ordered the same meal, but the man asked for a baked potato, while the woman wanted rice. When my friend brought the meals to the table he placed them backwards with the potato in front of the woman. He started to walk away and the man called him back. "Boy, I ordered the baked potato," said he.

My friend the waiter came back and apologized. He then picked up the baked potato from the woman's plate and put it on the man's and then grabbed the pile of rice on his plate and put it on hers. "There you go," he said. He turned and walked to the back of the restaurant, through the kitchen, out the back door and drove home.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stop Telling Me What to Do

I went to a B.C. Lions game on Friday night. Canadian Football League action for those of you from other parts of the planet. That's football North American style, not soccer. The game was fine and enjoyable, but there was something very annoying to report. And I don't believe this is an isolated incident.

The stadium was less than half full, but it was a large crowd of 26,000. This crowd was happy to get up and get excited when it saw fit and that's the way it should be. However, the public address announcer kept coming on at times that he saw fit to try and exhort the crowd to "make some noise". His pleas were augmented by loud music and electronic signs that also encouraged the crowd. I find it condescending to me as a sports fan that I'm being told when to cheer. In this case it was usually to make it loud in the stadium on a key defensive play to make things more difficult for the visiting Tiger Cats of Hamilton.

Any football fan worth his or her salt or pepper knows that you're supposed to make noise to help out your defense. Sometimes as a fan you feel inspired to do this and at other times maybe you're not quite ready to put your heart and soul into it. Let me decide, Mr. Public Address Announcer, because you are not the boss of me.

In other news...

Have any of you other males out there noticed the evolution of the urinal that has taken place. It occurred to me when I was in a restaurant last week that had dividers between the urinals to provide more privacy. This is becoming more and more common. I'm not here to pass judgement on it, I'm just pointing out the phenomenon. On the other end of the scale if you go into a much older bathroom such as the one in the basement of the Fish House in Vancouver's Stanley Park then you're just peeing against a wall that drains into a trough. There are no separations between the users at all. You are all in it together.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Rant - Parking Lot Edition

I was walking through a parking lot this week and an older lady went on a rant and there I was, stuck being her lone audience member. It didn't matter that I didn't engage her in conversation. She was on a roll.

It all began because someone backing out of a parking space didn't see her and I suppose there was a near collision. She then proceeded to tell me that it happens almost every time she is in that parking lot and that nobody looks out of their back windows anymore. That she was going to begin taking down license plates so she could phone them into the police and that if she ever gets hit she is going to sue for a million dollars.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that it might be easier to actually watch out for cars that are backing out of spaces and not walk behind them than it would be to stop to take down the license plate and call the police. In fact I could have pointed out to her that the cars have these convenient reverse lights that let you know if a car is going to back out. I could have also said that I walk through that parking lot all the time and not once have I come close to being hit by a reversing car.

The Missus tried to suggest that perhaps this woman was slow afoot and couldn't get out of the way fast enough. If you were thinking likewise, then let me say for the record, that she had no trouble keeping up with me as she ranted on about these idiot drivers on our way across the parking lot.

Bottom line, as I've said before, is that as a pedestrian you've got to have your eyes open and not expect the cars to be seeing you. So stop annoying me with your rants you oblivious-whining- overtalkative parking lot strollers. You annoy me. Hah!

An unrelated story this week to share with you. Once at my school there was a raffle being held for a big stuffed bear. The students had purchased tickets and could put them in the draw bucket during the week. The bear had been donated by a family to raise money for the school and on the day of the raffle the principal had one of the children from this family do the draw. The kid reaches into the bucket and pulls out a ticket and hands it to the principal. It's a little bit crumpled up (it may have been a lot crumpled up, but I can't quite recall the extent) and it has the kids name on it. He won his own bear! The principal's theory was that the kid had his ticket crumpled up in his hand and when he reached into the bucket he didn't actually take a ticket out, but just handed the principal the one that was already in his hand. Nice.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In my neighbourhood there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC as the kids say. I am not annoyed by the presence of the KFC. Just heading that one off at the pass if you thought that was where I was going. In fact, I quite enjoy the nightly aroma as it wafts through the neighbourhood. Not to mention the glow of the bucket on the cold winter nights. It's quite festive.

No, what annoys me is not the KFC, but the customers. Not all of the customers, just some of them. I must admit that I do not know if the behaviours I am going to rant against are exclusive to KFC clientele. Please send in your own evidence if you know of such goings on in other locations.

So here's the deal. At this particular KFC, there is no parking (legal anyway) right by the actual entrance (in fact now that I think about it, this KFC doesn't even have a handicapped parking space). There is plenty of parking out behind the restaurant. The distance from these spots to the door is 60-100 feet or for you youngsters out there it is about 25 metres. The area right around the chicken outlet clearly has "no parking" marked on the ground and in some spots on the walls, yet many of the customers park in these no parking areas to go in to get their chicken. The thought of walking an extra 25 metres is just too much, which given the contents of a KFC dinner makes this crime of laziness all the worse.

To top matters off, some of these lazy people (and I've seen that they can walk without any noticeable limps or other pain) also leave the car idling. And not because it is cold out! Call me crazy, but that's annoying.

I don't often patronize the local KFC, but when I do it is often to make a very small purchase. If I'm making mash potatoes for dinner, I'll sometimes run over to the KFC and purchase a small gravy for me and the missus. The kids don't like gravy, so the small individual gravy that is about a buck, does the trick. That's my entire order. Usually gets a chuckle or at least a grin from the KFC employees. I think I might be known to them as "Gravy Man".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let's Be Sensible with the Parking

     Okay, here is something that has bugged me for a long time and will probably get me in trouble with some people.  Handicapped parking.  No, I don't find the concept of handicapped parking annoying, but I do find the way it is put into practice to be terribly frustrating.  

     Now to be clear, there are places where such spaces make sense.  My local grocery store has a few spots up close and that makes plenty of sense.  However, sometimes it is silly.  There's a rec centre in town that because of its large parking lot (at least I surmise that there is some kind of ratio rule) has ten handicap spots.  They are all together and they are almost always empty.  And to top it off they are a long walk from the door.  That's right, because the closest spots to the front door are around the side of the building.  Anyone who can make it to the door from those spots can make it from anywhere in the parking lot.

     Have I ever told you about the time I backed out of the garage as a teenager with the car door open.  Almost took the darn thing off.  Then a few months later I did it again.  Cost quite a bit to fix it.  Now that was truly a handicapped parking space.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plastic - It's Your Turn

     Plastic is a great product.  Nowadays it is hard to imagine how we survived without things like computers, gas barbecues and of course plastic.  Unfortunately with the plastic and maybe even the barbecues, I have a sneaking suspicion we aren't surviving as long as we could.  So today on A&A my friends it is time to take aim at plastic.

     Plastic has its place, but my fear is that plastic is leaking into our food and poisoning us.  I don't have any research to back this up (although alert readers can probably dig something up as there seems to lots of hints being made), but it is my gut instinct.  Even if I'm wrong, I do think I'm right that plastic changes the taste of things and changes it for the worse.  So here is what annoys me.  More and more liquids can only be bought in plastic.  It started with the milk, then moved onto Coke, and now.... wait for it... it has struck my beloved HP sauce.  HP sauce is now only being sold in plastic, at least at my local stores.  

     I have tried to avoid plastics as much as possible by using alternatives.  I switched to a metal water bottle. I switched to the 26 ounce rum when the mickeys went plastic.  I only buy the salad dressings sold in glass bottles.  I even buy the more expensive small glass ketchups rather than save money with the bigger plastic ones.  What's the alternative for HP sauce?  There is none.  How can I enjoy my sausages with anything but HP?  This plastic thing has officially gone from worrisome to annoying.  

Today's anecdote comes from my days long ago in the grocery business...

     Some of you may not be aware that back in university I worked at a local Safeway.  I was a lowly clerk taking care of buggies, bagging, and bottles.  Back in the day (the good old days) the pop was still sold in glass 750 ml bottles rather than today's plastic "torpedoes".  When these glass bottles were returned we would load them into empty banana boxes and pull them in a wagon to the back for shipping elsewhere.

     I had two of these banana boxes stacked on top on each other and was heading to the back when the load shifted and the top box fell.  I may have inadvertently have aided the dreadful advance of the plastic container.  As I stood there staring at the mound of broken glass that I had caused, the assistant manager came around the corner and gave me a very dry, "Way to go Jack," and walked away.  "Can we get a dry clean-up on aisle six, please."

P.S. - For more interesting stories from the grocery store, I recommend the cashier blog that I have added to my links list.  "Be Kind to Your Cashier".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Okay Lads - Put Down the Pipes

A lot of people are annoyed by the bagpipes. Everyone likes to poke fun at this fine Scottish instrument. Plenty of jokes about dead cats and the like. Or something like that. I've pretty much ignored these people over the years (one of which is the Missus) and figured them to be intolerant musical snobs who don't know how to appreciate the multicultural mosaic of instrumentation that lives on our fine planet. Until now...

Last Friday night, my son's baseball team which I proudly help coach, was playing a game in beautiful Duncan. The game took place in the shadow of the world's biggest hockey stick right by the highway, if you're familiar at all with Duncan (I know my readers from faraway might not be, but suffice it to say that it's a landmark). Behind our dugout and the backstop was a parking lot for the hockey arena to which said humongous hockey stick is attached. Early in the game, in this parking lot within a baseball throw (actually less than that even) of our game, a group of bagpipers began to practice.

Now we're not talking one set of pipes here, it was a whole marching band of them. I'd say at least ten guys. They were pumping out the volume and marching back and forth behind our game. It was quite surreal to look out onto the field and see the action being accompanied by one of the three songs written for the bagpipes. It was headache producing. I guess my tolerance for the bagpipes was just a little stronger than the masses, but I now know what the fuss is all about.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Recap Post

     Okay, it's time to catch up on a few annoyances from the past and see how things are going.  

This weekend I was down at the Oak Bay tea party, briefly.  Just wanted to have a Baron of Beef.  Anyhow, while I was down there I noticed that the Girl Guides were staffing the Tetley Tea Tent.  You could get a cup of tea and some of their cookies.  I resisted the temptation to check it out, but now I'm regretting that decision.  It would have been a perfect opportunity to learn a few things.

I would have first checked to see if when you got your cookies with your tea if you were forced to take both a chocolate and a vanilla or if you had your choice.  And if there was choice, just which flavour was being scooped up.  Alas, I have no proof for my vanilla is better campaign.  I also should have gone up to one of the Girl Guide leaders and had a word about the cookies.  Maybe they have more pull than the lowly sales girls that I've dealt with over the years.
Since my post on tattoos, I've noticed that they really are taking over the bodies of those born between I'd say about 1980 and 1990.  Figures that 80's kids would be so clued out in terms of fashion.
On the wasp front, I am happy to say that I not only seem to have killed off the buggers at my house, but I also went over and did in a nest at my mother's.  I'm now for hire, cheap! For twenty bucks I'll come kill your wasps too.  As for the rats, there has not been a return visit.  I did talk to a guy this week who had a rat come up his toilet.  A lot of people didn't believe me when I floated that theory about my rat, but he says it happened to him.  He tried to flush the rat, but it just stretched out its legs and watched the water go round and round.  

     I have had some regular readers suggest some annoyances to me recently and I will probably get around to tackling these in an upcoming post.  What I'd really like to my readers to send me is photos of annoying signs like the ones in my post, "Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign".  If you don't remember that one you can find it using the blog archive on the right.  It's under April.  Bye for now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bertuzzi, You Suck! ..... maybe....

     I promised more on Bertuzzi in my last post, so here goes.  I have always been annoyed by players who are seemingly blessed with talent and don't show any hustle or effort.  I'm not talking about the guys who are trying to look cool and nonchalant, although they annoy me too (there's another post for later).  I mean the guys who just seem lazy.
     It is so obvious with Bertuzzi (if you don't know he spends most of the time when he doesn't have the puck just cruising around like he's at a public 
skating session) that he has become a verb in my lexicon and many of the people I have used it on know exactly what I mean.  As in, "hey you, don't Bertuzzi it", used when someone is putting in a half-ass effort on something.
     Now sure, Bertuzzi became a public enemy after the Steve Moore incident, but I was off his bandwagon way before that.  In fact I can forgive him more for that stupid mistake than the rash of stupid penalties he was always taking, especially at crucial moments late in key games.  He drove me crazy long before he drove Steve Moore into a neck brace.  
     So, to sum up, I don't like Bertuzzi.  Wait, stop the presses.  I've softened on Todd recently.  During the play-offs this year (Bertuzzi is now in Calgary), Bert's coach, Mike Keenan, was blowing a gasket late in the game and wanted at the opposing coach.  I mean he was really losing it and was heading towards their bench.  Good old Todd was at the end of the Calgary bench and he put out his big arm and held Keenan back while quietly saying something to him.  The something he said seemed to calm Keenan down enough to keep him from doing something stupid.  I'm guessing it was something along the lines of, "Coach, it ain't worth it."  Anyhow, I liked Bertuzzi at that moment.  I'm now off the Bertuzzi sucks bandwagon.
     I might add though that the name Bertuzzi is one of the best names to speak in anger.

     My brother was in a downtown bar one night having a good time.  He has a very slight resemblance to Bertuzzi.  Some other patron who had probably had a few  beverages yelled across the bar at him, "Hey Bertuzzi, you suck!"  I wish I had been there.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shut-up you Homer!

     Homer fans are annoying.  Yes they are.  Sure they can be cute to watch as they lose all sense of reality and go berserk over a bang-bang play at first that they think the umpire has screwed their team on, but generally speaking they are annoying.  There are a number of examples other than screaming like an idiot over a close call that the other teams homer fan would have been screaming about if it had gone the other way (I hope I didn't lose anybody there).  I admit to borrowing these ideas liberally from recent readings on other blogs, but the inspiration comes from having recently attended a home game of the brand spanking new Victoria Seals baseball team.

     Another way the Homer Fan (henceforth the HF) annoys is with the "WE" factor.  This is when the HF refers to his team as "we".  As in, "we should have taken more three point shots last night".  The HF seems to mistakenly believe he/she is actually part of the team.  

     The HF annoys yet again by adopting into his heart players he couldn't stand if they were playing on another team.  Bertuzzi being a case in point.  I promise more on Bertuzzi in an upcoming blog, so if you don't know who Bertuzzi is stay tuned and if you do then prepare to nod your head in agreement.

     Last summer I spent some time at the Cape and in the Boston area.  Boston is probably has the most per capita homer fans in North America (well I can't really speak for the Mexicans, but in the U.S. and Canada).  They are so okay with homerism that they have a network there called the New England Sports Network that I took to calling the Homer Sports Network.  My god, it was awful.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bring on the Vanilla!

     This post I have a bone to pick with the Girl Guides.  No, I'm not concerned with their outdated fashion or their strange rituals.  The problem is the cookies.  

I'm a sucker for Girl Guide cookies and as an elementary teacher there is often a ready supply.  Smart sales girls have been known to hit me up for a half dozen boxes.  The thing is, I really only like the vanilla cookies.  

If you're not familiar with Girl Guide cookies (perhaps you've been living on Mars), they come with two rows of cookies.  One is vanilla and the other is chocolate.  Generally speaking I'm a chocolate guy, but not with these cookies.  The vanilla are scrumptious, while the chocolate are mildly disappointing.

For years now I have been asking my contacts in the Girl Guides to let the higher ups know that they should offer all vanilla packs.  I have gotten nowhere with these low level lackeys and remain annoyed at having to eat or give away half of the cookies in the box just to enjoy the ones I really want to eat.  If you're listening grand poobah of the Girl Guides, please, please, offer us the cookies we really crave.  And for god's sake, I don't mean those mint ones you've tried to foist upon us in recent years.  Bring on the vanilla!

     Speaking of cookies...  The missus has a weakness for cookies and when we were a young couple she didn't like me to buy cookies.  Now she is outvoted by our two teenage boys and there are plenty of cookies around.  But back in the day, I used to like to have a cookie every now and then, but if I did buy cookies she would eat most of them before I'd gotten the chance to enjoy many at my much slower rate of consumption.

     So what did Little Jackie Showers do?  I hid them in the kitchen drapes.  You could see them hanging up there above the sink if you looked up, but nobody every looks up.  Especially not the missus it turns out.  I was able to enjoy those Fudge'O's for the next three months.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Radar Said No and You Can Too!

     Tattoos are mildly annoying at times.  Sometimes they can be cute, sexy, or inoffensive.  Other times they score high on my Annoyance Meter (soon available in fine retail stores).  Why do they annoy you Gramps, you ask?  Well let me tell ya.

     First off the tattoo fad has been going on for awhile now, but not as long as the young people may think.  About 25 years ago the only people with tattoos were ex-Navy guys or bikers.  It was definitely not a cool thing to do.  Unless of course you thought being in a biker gang was cool.  Somewhere along the line most of these tattoos became old news and the young folks didn't know about them and tattoos became cutting edge fashion.  Now most youngsters are sporting them.  Even my younger brother has one and he's not so young.  

So what you say? Well, I remember the M.A.S.H. episode in which Radar wants to get a tattoo and he is talked out of it.  It was very educational and had plenty of good reasons why you shouldn't get a tattoo.  So there.

     What really bugs me about tattoos is not the odd little tattoo someone is sporting.  It's when the tattoos start to dominate the human canvas.  What's with covering oneself in the damn 
things.  It really looks silly to me and I'm sorry, annoying.  Beats those piercings though.

     I have no tattoo anecdotes other than I learned tonight that tattoo has three t's and not just two.  Who knew?  Good thing the spell check caught it for me.  Would have been two misspellings in a week!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's the Scoop on Scoops?

     More on the topic of ice cream tonight.  Might as well milk the topic while I'm on it.  Wouldn't want someone else to get the scoop on me when it comes to ice cream annoyances.  

My youngest son rightly pointed out to me after our weekend ice cream experience that a scoop is not a scoop and this can lead to confusion amongst the ice cream buying populace.  Shame, shame.  How is the customer supposed to get a handle on the ice cream quantity when a scoop is not a scoop.  Now, some ice cream places (mostly gelato or Baskin Robbins) actually mean a scoop when the say a scoop.  And that's a rip-off, which would explain why you don't see many Baskin Robbins around anymore.  You might not recall, but they used to weigh the cone to make sure they were giving just the right amount.  Talk about chintzy.

     So, I'm not complaining that ice cream joints mostly give more than a scoop when you order a scoop (in fact I'd estimate the average to be about three scoops to make a "scoop"), but maybe they should just call it small, medium, and large.  Or one ball of ice cream, two balls or three.  

     Enough about ice cream.  Spring is in the air and the flowers are all in bloom.  You know, I've lived in Victoria all my life.  What is Victoria's most famous attraction?  Why Butchard Gardens of course.  As a life-long Victorian, certainly I've been to Butchard Gardens. 
It only took till I was twenty-two to go the first time and that was because a friend of a friend was visiting from Quebec and wanted to see it.  Awww, flowers.  Who needs them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We All Scream for Ice Cream

It's the long weekend and I don't have to work tomorrow! And today I had ice cream. Not in a bowl at home, but out with family and friends at a cone place. On a hot day, the ice cream cone joint is always ahopping and this was no exception for us. We all enjoyed our ice cream experience, but it did get me to thinking...

We last dealt with the grocery store line-up and people weaseling their way into the express line. When it comes to line-ups, why is there no standard protocol? There's the grocery store guess-the-fastest-cashier method (also used at McDonalds and A&W). There's the bank line-up method in which there is one line and when a teller becomes available the next person in line gets helped (used by Wendy's and Tim Hortons). Meat fans will be familiar with the deli method of taking a number (not used by any fast food joints). Lastly there is the free-for-all method favoured strangely by ice cream counters. This is when it comes down to who catches the employee's attention first gets the attention first (also in use at Cob's bread).

Seems to me we should reach some consensus on this whole line-up thing and whenever possible use the methods that are clearly fairer and less annoying. I say we go with the bank method except where we need to view the product options carefully (the deli, butcher shop, or ice cream place for example) and in those cases we try and be civil and let the person who has been there longer than us get served before us. And boo the weasels who try and get the cone guy to scoop their cone before their turn.

Now a story about ice cream...

Most people get pretty excited about cone places that really pile it on the cone. Those where the definition of a single scoop is stretched to the breaking point. So it was with me, as I stopped for ice cream on the way home from work one day. I excitedly brought the cone back to my car and began the drive home on what was a very windy road.

Now the top of this cone was massive and the bottom was just one of those regular type ice cream cones that you can buy out of a box at the grocery store. About three corners into my trip it was a hard turn to the left. That was it for the cone as the gravitation forces snapped the top off and sent the ice cream portion flying to the floor on the passenger side and left me holding the empty bottom of the cone. Another lesson learned about greed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Boo to the Wienees

     One of my loyal readers tossed out this annoyance for me to run with (other requests are welcome).  The person in the grocery express lane who goes over the limit.  Bastards!  Or maybe wienees is a better term.  Where's the sense of fair play?  Where's the respect for your fellow shopper?  How selfish is this behaviour?  Or can some people just not count?

     For those of you who aren't sure what I'm talking about, let me explain.  Grocery stores have express tills where you can go if you have ten items or less (I know it should be "fewer", but the signs usually say less).  Sometimes it is twelve or some other number.  Some people get in line with more than ten.  Sure, maybe if you've got a couple over you just weren't sure until you laid them out on the till, but if you're way over then you're damn well cheating.  Most grocery stores are reluctant to call their customers on this.  I say, we start booing them.

     Speaking of grocery stores, at my local store they have one of those crab tanks.  I like looking at the crabs.  Sometimes one crab will be making a darn good effort to escape the tank. His claw will be hanging on to the upper edge of the tank wall and it seems he just might be able to pull himself up and over.  I often stand waiting to see if it can be done.  I haven't seen it yet, but some day...  Some day a crab will launch itself out and on to the freedom of the fish department floor!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Let's Have More News That's Fit to Print

    The news can sure be annoying.  I like to read the newspaper and try to do it every day.  I watch the CBC National quite often too.  Some of this news is well done, but there sure is a lot of crap.  Which part is the crap?  I'd say the overblown, sensationalized, and only scratch the surface stuff.  Election coverage is the most obvious culprit, but in B.C.'s current election the Swine Flu has been competing for the worst news coverage.

     I suppose the populace is to blame for such things.  If the superficial is what people watch then the superficial is what we'll get.  Or maybe the superficial is just cheaper to produce.  As I'm writing this I'm enjoying some nice pork chow mien.  Those pigs don's scare me.  At least not yet.  Same with SARS, killer bees, and earthquakes.  Crosswalks on the other hand I worry about.  

     Yes, we should be prepared for such problems as a flu epidemic and we should put resources into being prepared for it.  I'm not sure we need to report on it like it's some killer virus like those in the movies.  Let's keep a sense of perspective and a sense of how much news space should go to such a thing.  Maybe if more news effort was put into how to prepare for the pandemic than reporting on the panicdemic we'd all be better off.

     My flu anecdote...

     My father rarely missed work because of illness.  In fact he probably didn't miss any days most years.  One year though he caught a bad flew bug and was at home for a whole week.  My mother had a rare cure for his illness.  She went out and bought a color TV to replace our black and white.  The cure worked wonders and Dad was back on his feet in no time.  It's hard to believe that I was a black and white TV kid.  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, Please Shine Down on Me.

     I hate camping in the rain.  I like camping. Especially the part where I stare into the campfire and drift off into another dimension.  But if it is raining then camping is like prison.  I've tried the tarp thing and it doesn't work for me.  Just thought I'd share that little annoyance with you today.

     And before you start chirping in, you anti-campite bastards, I also find it annoying when people dump on the idea of camping.  That's right, no smores for you!

     One time when the kids were young, me and the missus went on a camping trip on the Sunshine Coast.  On the last night of the trip we were heading into a campground in Powell River.  It started to rain just when we arrived.  We got the tent up fairly quickly and the family disappeared inside as I began putting up the tarp.  

     It started to rain really heavily about this time.  I mean it was coming down in a sheet and I was battling with the tarp and getting soaked to the skin.  After a few minutes of this I announced I was giving up and we bugged out and left the tent behind to weather the storm.  We drove into town and found a hotel room.  Soon the sun came out and we lucked out because there was a festival in town.  The Blackberry Festival.  A good time was had by all and we got a good nights sleep in the hotel that night.

     Oh, did I mention I don't like camping in a tent either...  The ground is kind of hard.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Never Leave on Today, What You Don't Want to Turn Off Tomorrow.

     Hey kids, how's it going?  I am happy to report that the Sunshine Breakfast poll is proving that the silent majority want their Sunshine Breakfast back.  I didn't get to have the Sunshine Breakfast on my recent ferry trip and had to settle for the buffet instead.  No annoyances to report from the buffet, but I can't say I was thrilled.  As for anecdotes, there was the chubby kid sitting next to me drinking a coke with his breakfast.  But on to new things...

    Here's something that has always annoyed me, but until recently I didn't really grasp just how much.  It is the habit of programs to show the audience whenever someone on the show says something funny.  It's like the comment or joke can't stand on its own two feet.  I have to be shown how other people think it is funny, just in case I need more reassurance that it is okay to laugh and that I should be finding the program highly amusing.

     This all came to a head for me when I was recently watching a self-help type DVD (yes, Little Jackie Showers was in need of some help) and the speaker on the program was making the odd cute aside and they'd always cut to the audience.  Funnily enough as the program wore on they cut to the audience at other times as well and I could tell that the audience, like me, was not quite buying what this guy was selling.    Now that was funny.

     Tonight's anecdote is from the world of barbecuing and is meant as a safety reminder at this time of year.  One night I was barbecuing and when I finished there were quite a bit of meaty bits left on the grill that had come off the main meat chunks when they had been removed from the BBQ (perhaps a little Olive oil would have helped).  I decided I would leave the barbecue on a little while to burn off these remnants and come back out and turn it off later.  Well later turned out the be the next morning when the missus happened by the barbecue.  It was pretty damn hot by then.  Thankfully it was only the barbecue that was hot and not the flaming wreck of my house.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Buzz Off You Pests!

     Wasps bug me.  I'm sure they serve some kind of useful purpose, but like the rats that I have ranted against in this blog previously, they don't need to be serving their purpose while using my house.  Every year wasps try to find a place to build a nest somewhere on my property.  And my property isn't very big.  

     I might put up with the nest attempts in the vegetation or even the garage, but when they find little holes in the house to sneak into to build nests in the walls that is downright uncalled for.  I had to spray one two nights ago and tonight there is no sign of the little buggers, but if experience tells me anything, they're not dead yet.  Maybe I'll get lucky this time, but I figure I have only won the battle and not yet the war.

     These little varmints are pretty impressive in their determination.  One year I sealed in a nest that was built in an outside wall with that really thick plastic sheeting and some duck tape.  I mean we're talking serious plastic here.  I banged on the wall and they all flew out in a rage only to be trapped inside the plastic.  Easy pickings to be squished by my barbecue flipper.  No sports equipment for the wasps (regular readers will recall my penchant for dealing with rats using sports equipment such as hockey sticks and ski poles).  I carried on this program of violent extermination for about a week.  Then after a couple of days off I came outside to find they had chewed through the plastic.  That's got to take some effort.

     Another time we had a wasp nest in a hole in an outside wall.  I wasn't too worried about it until we started to find wasps stranded and lost inside the house.  About a dozen a day.  I figured something was up and I looked in the closet and they had eaten a hole in the wood and were expanding their nest into the closet.  Yikes!!  No more mister nice guy after that.  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pining for the Lost Breakfast

Howdy folks. I'm traveling on the B.C. Ferries again this weekend and as usual this has inspired me in the blogular sense. Quite some time ago I was annoyed at a decision the good old ferry corporation made. I can't really blame them for the decision as they were a victim of a vicious smear campaign. Led by editorial cartoonist Raeside of the Times Colonist and various other pundits, the B.C. media perpetrated hate crimes against.... The Sunshine Breakfast!

Sure, in a visual sense the Sunshine Breakfast looked god awful, but who cares what it looks like if it tastes good and taste good it did. I'm not convinced that Raeside and his cronies in the media even dislike the SB as much as it was just a fun target to take shots at. Everyone likes to take shots at the ferries, especially back in the day. David Hahn (ferry CEO) was a wise man to ditch the SB. It was a symbolic separation from the old days of the B.C. Ferries and, combined with the change to serving White Spot fare, it convinced everyone that life was better aboard the boats.

I beg to differ. My research (quickly done I admit, but I'm sure nobody would be lying on the internet) tells me they sold 180,000 SB's a year. Somebody was eating all those SB's and that somebody wasn't just me. Those of us who like the Sunshine Breakfast have been deprived of this taste sensation because of optics, PR, and other marketing stuff. Dammit, I want my Sunshine Breakfast back.

B.C. Ferry story....

One time I was traveling on the ferry with the school. I had warned the students that I didn't want to hear, "Would the teacher in charge of the Sooke School group please report to the Chief Steward's office." Teachers don't like to hear that announcement because it isn't going to be something good. Well sure enough I hear the announcement and make my way to the Chief Steward's office expecting to find some student who has messed up.

When I get there it is not a problem with a student, but one of the supervising parents. Talk about a sticky situation. Turns out I even knew the Chief Steward. That probably helped save the situation. It was a big brouhaha over the rules in the buffet (say, maybe they got rid of the Sunshine Breakfast so more people would go to the buffet, since the best breakfast menu item in the cafeteria is now gone).

The parent had not paid for the buffet but had gone in with her child and said she wouldn't be eating (not a bad idea as the buffet is cheap for the kids). At the end of the meal there was something left on her daughter's plate. It was either a pineapple chunk or a chicken nugget, memory fails. The Buffet Police saw the transgression on the part of the mother and quickly pounced. She refused to pay for a full meal for eating one thing, but the Chief Steward explained to me that those were the rules. After all, where were they to draw the line against people trying to sneak free food, so they drew it at zero tolerance.

I managed to calm the situation down, but I don't remember the final outcome. I think the parent ended up bucking up once it became apparent that otherwise the school would be paying. So make sure you play by the rules in the buffet or you could be hauled down to the Cheif Stewards office and if Little Jackie Showers ain't there to bail you out then you could be walking the plank.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Kind of Question is That?

     If you haven't read my post of last week in which I posed some "annoying" questions then you might want to check that out.  It's the one about Dominos and Dole.  Anyhow, in that post I hoped to find some answers to these questions.  Alas I am left wondering about Joe Torre, Hawaiian pizza and women's shoe sizes.  However, an anonymous cashier was kind enough to satisfy my curiousity in regards to what cashiers think when they see what people are buying.  My thanks to the cashier who shall remain anonymous.  And to truly thank this cashier as well as assist any other grocery cashiers who are perusing my blog, I offer the following kindly suggestion:
     Don't ask the customer what they have planned for the weekend.  

     Where does this idea come from?  There are a few cashiers at my local store who will chuck this question at me.  I mean, I'm a 45 year old gentleman and I'm pretty sure these pre-thirty gals aren't really interested in what I've got planned for the weekend.  Not to mention the fact that most weekends if I were to tell them the truth it would be embarrassing for me and either pathetically amusing to them or, if they are indeed sincere in their curiousity, it would be incredibly disappointing.  

     "Oh, I'm going to take these here groceries home and put them in the cupboards before I vacuum the house and clean the toilets.  Then I'm going to watch some golf, make some dinner and if I don't fall asleep early I'll watch a video with the missus."

     And if I do have some great plans for the weekend, I'm no plandropper so I'd undersell them anyway.  I plead with the cashiers of the nation to leave this question out of their witty repartee.  Oh yeah, and don't squeeze the cheese buns.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lake Cowichan - Home of the Hockey Pucks

     Hey it is Monday and that means A and A is still one day late.  Have no fear.  It is baseball season and so A and A is officially off its regular schedule.  You'll just have to check in now and then to see if there is a new post.  And if there isn't then check out all the funny comments by my loyal bloglodites.  This season I'm helping with both of my boy's teams and there is no telling what day of the week I've got time to post.

     I like pretty much all sports.  I love baseball season.  I've also become in the last few seasons a hockey fan again.  I like the new enforcement of the old rules that were not enforced for about a generation.  The hockey today is very exciting.  There is still something about hockey that annoys me.  Okay there are two things.  The first is Todd Bertuzzi, but I'll leave that till another time.  The other one is all the pushing that goes on after every whistle.  Why is this part of the game of hockey.  It seems so childish.  You don't see it in football to anywhere near the same degree.  It happens, but not after every pile up.  Hockey players seem to have this need to prove their toughness at every whistle.

     I do have an anecdote about this as well.  I used to referee football.  One year we went up to Lake Cowichan to do a game.  Lake Cowichan was a new team to the league and it was their first ever game.  The first play of the game after the kickoff was a running play.  There was a pileup at midfield and we referees blew our whistles to end the play.  A seemingly harmless regular run of the mill football play until the whistles went and then the Lake Cowichan team all started pushing and shoving.  We settled them down and got ready for the next play.  The same thing happens.  The whistles blow and then there is all this pushing and shoving.  I'd never seen that on the football field.  

     We stopped the game and had the coach of the new team come out on to the field.  We along with him explained that when the whistle blows you stop and go back to your huddle.  Things got better.  What was going on?  It turns out the Cowichan Lake team were all hockey players getting their first taste of football.  They didn't know any better.  The poor saps.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Have You Ever Wondered Where Dole Would Be Without Dominos?

     Holy Cow it's Thursday!  Wednesday snuck right past me.  It's time for another edition of A and A.  This time I'm going to share with you some annoying little questions that have been floating around in my head for some  time.  Feel free to add your own in the comments section.  Also, let me put a plug in for the new blog in my links section on the right.  The (Old) Sports Guy.  Now for those questions.

     When Joe Torre goes out to the mound to talk to the pitcher in front of 50,000 fans at Yankee or now Dodger stadium, does he only think about what he is going to say to the pitcher or does he think about the fact that 100,000 eyes are on him?  Does he wonder what people are thinking about him as he walks out there? Is he trying to walk a particular way, so people will think a certain thing about him?

     Do grocery store cashiers judge people by the food they are buying?  Do they label people granola crunchers, boring, lard asses or freaks as they are scanning the food?  

     What does Barack Obama think of himself?  How do you think his self esteem is?

     How come Hawaiian pizza is so popular?  I like it too, but how did pineapple manage to make such inroads into the pizza topping business.  No other fruit has been able to capture the taste buds of pizza lovers.  Who thought of this?  What would happen to the pineapple industry if Hawaiian pizza suddenly lost it's popularity?  What percentage of pineapple worldwide is used on pizza?

     Finally, why are women's shoe sizes different than men's?  Is it a width thing or is a seven actually a different length for men than women?  If so, why? Any shoe salesmen out there?


Baseball season is now underway.  My boys play their first games this weekend.  I umpired a game tonight.  The Blue Jays and Mariners are both off to a good start.  Ain't life grand.  Let me tell you about the time I tried to help out my little brother on the ball diamond.

     Back in my Little League days I was on the same team as my brother for one season.  We were in the majors division.  I was in my last year as a 12 year old, brother Don was a hot prospect of a nine year old (the youngest you could be in the "majors").  One game, well into the season, Don was called upon to pitch.  I was playing third base.  Up to the plate comes one of the league's biggest players and best hitters.  

The big hitter hits a pop-up that up until that time must have been the highest one I'd ever seen.  It was way up there.  My first thought was that I needed to help out my little brother (not that he needed help as he was probably better than me).  The ball looked to me like it was going to end up somewhere between us so I quickly called it.  I tracked the ball, but it was way up there like I said, and it was moving around.  

     Finally the ball returned to the earth and I dropped to my knees and made a desperate stab at the ball.  I missed.  I looked up and I was kneeling on the mound and Don was looking at me with a disgusted look that could best be summed up as "you bonehead, I could have caught that."  Next season I became an umpire.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gas and How I Struck Out a Professional Athlete

     Okay, my last post was about the manipulative pricing policies in the pizza industry.  Now it's time to talk about the ridiculousness of pricing in the gas industry.  And no, I'm not talking about overpricing, monopolies or any of that usual whining you hear about the price of gas.  I'm talking about how silly the price of gas is.  

     Why is gas priced to the tenth of a cent?  Today gas in my area is 96.9 cents per litre.  If it was 97 cents a litre then it would cost exactly five cents more to fill up a 50 litre tank than at 96.9 cents.  We are so obsessed with the price of gas and the big signs that it is displayed on that we're worrying about tenths of cents.  Most people could care less about a nickel, but for some reason 96.9 is better than 97.  Silly, silly, silly.  You don't see apples on sale for 78.6 cents a pound.  It would be pretty funny if you did though.  Why gas?

     Meanwhile people are driving out of their way sometimes to save a few cents a litre on gas.  If you save three cents a litre by going somewhere else, then on a 50 litre tank you save $1.50.  That's worthwhile if it is not out of your way, but let me ask you this.  Do you make a special effort to find your bank to withdraw money or do you just use a convenient cash machine and swallow the $1.50 charge?   We need to get over our obsession with the price of gas.

     Enough about gas, did I ever tell you about the time I struck out former Vancouver Canuck Greg Adams?  Mr. Adams was playing for the Bear Mountain slo-pitch team and we faced them in a tournament.  The field had a fence, which is unusual for slo-pitch, and the rule was that if you hit it over the fence it was a dead ball and was called a strike.  Given that our team was not known for its power we were quite happy with the rule.  Mr. Adams was a pretty big guy and probably pumped some iron in his time, so he was quite capable of hitting the ball over the fence.  In fact as it turns out it was difficult for him not to.

     The unlucky ex-Canuck hit the first pitch I threw him over the fence for strike one.  I grooved him another one and he hit that out as well.  Of course being a savvy veteran, Adams tried to take the third pitch to opposite field to keep it in the park.  No such luck for him and it was strike three as the ball sailed over the fence for the third time in as many pitches.  And that is how I struck out Greg Adams.  It's true and it happened in sports.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pizza, Get Your Piping Hot Pizza Here!

     Okay kids, today we're going to talk about pizza.  What's not to like about pizza?  It's delicious (most of the time) and it has all the food groups.  Yes, that makes it nutritious.  Don't try to tell me otherwise you health freaks.  Pizza is great.

     However....  I must admit that 2 for 1 pizza is getting under my skin.  It was kind of a cool idea when it first came out.  I remember back in the day when the 2 for 1 pizza places had two pies for the price of one anywhere else.  Being in my twenties at the time, quantity was important, so we went ga ga over 2 for 1 pizza.  But the gimmick is up.  Nowadays they still sell pizza as 2 for 1, in fact there are very few places that don't do their pricing as 2 for 1.  It's become the default position.  You have to scan the fine print or ask if you want to know how much it cost to buy one pizza.  I really don't think we're saving money on the 2 for 1 plan anymore.  Is this bothering anyone else out there?  

     I think the 2 for 1 pizza craze all came crashing down when someone tried to go with 3 for 1 pizza.  That's when the whole idea "jumped the shark" (putting some recent learning to use there my faithful readers).  Three for one?   Are you kidding me.  But I digress...  

     Why is pizza the only item that this 2 for 1 pricing scheme has taken over?  It's stupid and it is time to put an end to it before they start having 2 for 1 chicken chow mein.

     Anecdote for today:

     A very funny thing happened at Fenway Park with a slice of pizza once.  You really ought to see it on YouTube.  Here it is below.  This is after the event and the broadcasters are just returning from a commercial break when they've had time to figure out what happened.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Litter Bug Litter Bug Why Do You Litter?

     Cigarette butts.  What's the deal on smokers and their butts.  I suppose a cigarette butt is pretty small in the big picture.  Maybe it is even biodegradable.  I don't know for sure, but I do know that when one comes flying out of someone's car, that's annoying.  Maybe I need to chill.

     I have seen smokers take the whole ashtray and dump it one place.  Perhaps it is better if they throw their butts around one at a time.  Of course there are plenty of garbage cans around that you'd figure a person driving a car would happen by one at some point.  Ah, but we kick the smokers around enough as it is.

     This post's anecdote is about the vigilante response to littering:

    One time I was driving my car minding my own business with a friend of mine along.  We were pulling up to a red light with a number of other cars.  A passenger in another stopped car in front of us and in the other lane dropped a pop cup out the window.  My friend jumped out of the car, picked up the cup and threw it back in the open window.  I can't remember if there was still pop in the cup, but in the interest of a good story, let's say there was and it went all over the place.  Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

     Okay, this post is like taking candy from a baby.  It's a complaint that we've all heard before, but it bears repeating in this here forum.  Why?  Because I find it so damn annoying.

     Recently while travelling on one of our fine B.C. Ferries vessels I was up on the sun deck.  The sun deck had loads of aluminum benches to sit on and enjoy the sun.  On each bench was a sign that said, and I kid you not, "Do not leave children unattended on benches as injuries may result."  I may not have the words exactly right, but that is certainly close.

     I'm not sure if that is as bad as the "This beverage you are about to enjoy is very hot" labels on take out coffee cups (are the people who get coffee in the restaurant in a mug smarter and therefore don't need the helpful message?), but it's in the ballpark.  First of all, why are these benches more dangerous than the hundreds of other objects that unattended children can hurt themselves on?  Secondly, is this sign going to really change anyone's behaviour?  I don't know why, but these types of signs really bug me.

     Okay, I feel better now that I got that off my chest.  Time for a story...

     When I was a youngster of about ten, a friend of mine had one of those cool banana seat bikes with the three speed gearshift.  He let me borrow it and I was so enthralled with the gearshift that I was looking down at it for a little too long.  I ran right into the back of a parked car.  Now why wasn't there a damn sign on the gear shift saying to keep your eyes on the road.