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.