Thursday, July 29, 2010

Buildings Deserve Better

Recently I was in a shopping plaza that included some "Tuscany" style condominiums. I was just thinking that it seemed a bit silly to design a place to look like a place in another part of the world when I took a closer look and noticed that the balconies were not balconies at all. They were just railings in front of windows. There wasn't even room to put a potted plant.

This got me thinking how silly it is to have a decorative balcony. I bet the people in Tuscany wouldn't put up with such crap. If you're not going to build the balcony then put something else there, who needs a fake balcony? In fact let me go on the record as being against anything fake for decorative purposes. The other chief offender I can think of is shutters (sorry Mom). Why do houses have fake shutters? It's been a long time since anyone actually used real shutters in this neck of the woods, so why do so many houses have fake shutters? Ridiculous.

I encourage you the reader to add to this short list of two such offences.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Somebody Save Us

A recent onslaught of news stories regarding animals in my local paper has gotten me a little concerned. It seems the animals are fighting back. Can this be? Here are the stories:

1. A camper sleeping in a lean-to wakes up face to face with a black bear. The bear proceeds to attack him and his screams alert his buddy in a near by tent. They manage to beat off the bear and get themselves to hospital for treatment. The one guy needs a skin graft to replace his missing scalp. Bear attacks on the island where I live just didn't happen until recently. There are two in recorded history. The other happened just last year when a man was cleaning some fish on his boat. A bear swam over to the dock where the boat was and climbed in the boat and proceeded to take on the surprised fisherman. He survived with injuries thanks to an army of nearby and courageous gaff wielding fellow anglers. This is a new phenomenon.

2. Off the coast of South Africa a whale leaps out of the water and lands on a sailing boat. Imagine being at the helm when that happens. A fluke mistake by the whale you say? Maybe not. What whale wouldn't know there was a boat near it?

3. A woman walking her dog in my city is chased by a female deer. She runs behind a pick-up truck for safety but the deer persists and whichever side of the pick-up she tries to go around the deer moves there to cut her off. Then the dog gets loose and the deer lays a butt kicking on it (apparently the domestic animals are not part of the international animal conspiracy).

The animal apologists always respond to these incidents by claiming that it is because we have moved into the animals territory and there is less and less room for them. Have these people ever gone for a drive in Canada? There's a heck of a lot of space out there with no humans in it, so explain to me why my city is inundated with deer. And it's not just here.

We've also got rabbits so thick at the local university that you can't walk in a straight line through the field in the middle of campus without stepping on one (sure they move out of the way at the last second, but they aren't very scared of us humans). And don't get me started on Canadian geese.

The real reason this is all happening is because we've gotten soft. The animals no longer fear us because we never do anything on an individual level to hurt them. Even the guy being attacked by the bear said that when he was able to get ahold of his knife he took it and hit the bear on the nose with the handle. He didn't stab the bear because that would be mean.

Now I'm not the guy to fix this problem because I'm a big softy too, but somebody needs to call in the army and put these animals back in their place, pronto.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I enjoyed one of the planet's greatest culinary inventions today. Mini-Donuts! Why aren't these delights more readily available is what I'm wondering. Heck, what other food has both the entertainment of the mini-donut machine as the donuts are being made and then the yummy taste of the fresh hot confectionary delight that is mini-donuts. I cannot stress this enough. Mini-Donuts are awesome.

This got me thinking about other products that are not available in sufficient numbers in keeping with their tastiness. I mean, french fries are everywhere and in most cases they aren't very good french fries. Same with hot dogs, burgers, and pizza. Yet, mini-donuts are only available in very special locations. What else are we missing out on?

Have you ever tried lime cookies? Have you had them often? Exactly! What's up with that? They are delicious yet you can't buy them anywhere. Pssst... I recently found some in Costco. How about good quality tea. We've had tea for centuries. You can buy good coffee in the grocery store, but the tea bags, well they are the equivalent of frozen french fries instead of fresh cut and deep fried potatoes.

Do you know they make Pineapple Crush in Hawaii, but not here. I mean it's artificial flavour isn't it and even if it's not, we get the pineapples here fresh or in cans so why can't we get it as a carbonated beverage? Let me assure you it is quite tasty. And what's the deal on fudge? Why is it mostly available in tacky tourist locations? It's pretty good stuff. Why is there no fudge display in the candy isle at the grocery store? Why doesn't fudge rate, but chocolate bars, jelly beans, and licorice do?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mr. Bug, Bug, Mr. Annoying Bug, Please Fly Away from Me.

I went camping this week and enjoyed the great outdoors. The great outdoors sure has a lot of bugs though. The price to pay I suppose, but they sure can be annoying. Particularly the mosquitoes. I tried using "Off" for the first time and it is true that this kept the bugs off of me. I don't think I got more than a couple bites, but it didn't keep them away from me. The damn mosquitoes just hovered around me with their incessant high pitched whining trying to figure out what to do.

The thing I don't understand is why if we humans are so enticing to the mosquitoes, why are the mosquitoes living out in the woods? Why aren't they in the big cities where they can get their fill of human blood? Or are humans out in the woods like bacon near a vegetarian. Not something that's part of their regular diet, but difficult to resist when placed in front of them?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What if We Just Tweeked this a Little?

I'm a big believer in modifying rules to improve a game. I think I developed this in my youth when I used to make up games, such as backyard baseball, and my brother would find loopholes in the rules and I'd have to make up new rules. From his perspective and anyone else who has played with me, I make up rules as I go along. But really any new rules are in response to perceived flaws in the game. I organized a very successful weekly pick-up flag football game in which we developed the rules over time and ended up with a pretty darn good set. Same with a mini-golf tournament I organize. Yeah, that's right, mini-golf.

In this context there are two things to know about me. Firstly, when I watch a sport or game, I am often thinking of ways it could be made better. Secondly, I don't understand the reasoning that says you can't mess with the rules of the game. So with this in mind you can imagine my frustration as I watch the World Cup. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying these contests. The problem is that if you ask me, there are a lot of things that could be done to make soccer better.

First off let's fix the obvious problem. The timing. What's with the delay tactics at the end of the game. Soccer, unlike most timed sports (basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse) does not use stop time. The clock just keeps running and if a team is ahead they can take their sweet time putting the ball in play. This seems ludicrous. Easy fix on this one. Soccer should use the Canadian Football League's approach. Use run time until the last five minutes (or three or six or whatever) and then go to stop time. While they are at it, they should ditch this whole injury time thing. Why can't the referee just stop the clock when there is an injury or delay of some kind like would happen in any other sport? It's not that difficult.

Fixing the timing would make the game more fair. Now we just need to give the offence a better chance to score. Open it right up. Who needs 1-0 games determined by some fluke play. This is where soccer should adopt hockey's blue line. Get rid of the attack-preventing offside rule and say that players are onside as long as the ball goes over the 25 yard line (or 35 or whatever) before they do. Now that would create some serious scoring opportunities.

Finally, I think something needs to be done about all the fouls. Not sure what to do here, but I think maybe the penalty for a trip or shin hack is not enough. Sure if you do it near your own goal a free kick against you can be costly, but in most cases it is no big deal. The ref gives out those cute yellow and red cards (a system that could be useful in other sports) if it is flagrant, but for the most part players are getting hacked down and there is no real price to pay for doing it. Perhaps players should foul out like in basketball or have to go to a penalty box like hockey. If it was up to me, a player would have to run one full lap of the field after a penalty before they could come back into play. That would be fun.

I can hear the purists cursing and howling at me. But to you I say two words. Forward Pass! Those used to be illegal in football you know.

This is my 19th post, so my goal of 52 for the year is in serious jeopardy. It's looking more like 40. Who knows, maybe there will be a rush of inspiration this summer. Feel free to email me your suggested topics (if you know me well enough to have my email).