Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick-or-Treating. Not Just for Kids Anymore!

Halloween night is almost in the books. I'd say it was, but just ten minutes ago something exploded across the street and caused a lot of smoke. All's quiet for now.

I'm on the fence on this post's issue, but I'd love to hear what my readers think. Tonight we got a fair number of trick-or-treaters. I'm going to estimate we had about 25. The thing is of these I'd say only five were under 12 years of age and at least half appeared to be high school students. When did trick or treating become predominantly for teenagers? Is this just a thing in my neighbourhood or is it happening everywhere? Is it harmless fun or is it inappropriate? Should we smile and enjoy these happy teenagers or scowl and tell them to grow up? I don't know. We recently made fireworks a lot harder for kids to get their hands on during Halloween (it used to be a big thing here), so maybe they've replaced that more dangerous and destructive activity with trick-or-treating. If that's the case then I guess it's a good thing.

What I do know is that Halloween has undergone more evolution than any of our other festivities during my lifetime with the possible exception of Boxing Day. Boxing Day of course has gone from the day to recover from Christmas to the day to go out and spend all your Christmas money and that's a big shift, but can you really count Boxing Day as a festive occasion? Christmas has gotten more commercial, but that's just a continuing trend that people have been complaining about for 100 years or more. Easter and Thanksgiving seem pretty much the same as when I was a kid.

Halloween meanwhile has undergone considerable evolution besides just the teenagers-as-trick-or-treaters phenomenon outlined above. Today I went for a walk in the neighbourhood and was amazed at the number of houses that were decorated for Halloween. That used to be very rare when I was a kid, but now there are lots of houses that do it. That's okay, but I'm not joining in. The other thing is the sexualization of Halloween costumes. That was pretty much non-existent thirty years ago (or at least it was waaaayyyyyy more subtle). This seems pretty strange and you`ll be happy to know I`m not joining in on that either.

This is nothing like the witches I grew up with.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Have You Heard the One About the Lawyer...

There has been a lot of talk in these here parts about a corruption trial in our province of British Columbia. Two bureaucrats were investigated for corruption and were found guilty. As part of the plea bargain they only had to pay back the money they accepted and they didn't have to pay their legal fees. A lot of letters to the editor in our paper have expressed outrage that the $6 million in legal fees will have to be paid by the taxpayers.

You know what bugs me. It bugs me that it took seven years and $12 million dollars in legal fees to get to the point that you could get these guys to take a plea bargain. If it takes that much time and money to prove they are guilty you have to question if it is worth the fight. Why not just fire the guys and move on. The real crime here is a legal system that can milk the taxpayers for $18 million between the prosecution and the defence. If these lawyers are so good at their jobs that they deserve this kind of compensation then they should be able to prove their case in less than seven years.

Our province has recently changed the way it deals with drinking and driving. Instead of trying to prosecute drivers with breaking the law of drinking and driving, fines and impounding cars are the new way to penalize people caught with a high blood alcohol content. The driving force for this change is the time and cost involved in prosecuting such drivers. In this case the lawyers priced themselves out of the job. Maybe the government is on to something and should see where else they can do an end run around our over-priced justice system.

My, that's way too serious waters for Little Jackie Showers to be treading in. By the way, I know this one lawyer, Sue L. Her rates are very reasonable.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let Go of That Hand

By popular demand, or at least one person sort of implied I should, I have another sports topic. It has sports, but perhaps it is not so much a commentary on sports as on another of the problems with our society today. Nothing quite as annoying as when a cashier asks you if you have anything planned for the weekend (yes, it happened to me again today!!!!), but still a problem if you ask me.

I know what you're saying, "C'mon, Showers get on with it, what is your shirt all in a knot about now?" It's simple. Holding Hands Soccer. Yeah, that's right, soccer played while holding hands. I don't think it's officially known as Holding Hands Soccer, but it is definitely an outrage.

I accompanied a friend recently to his son's first soccer practice of the year. When we arrived the age group below my friend's son was on the field. These children were four and five year olds. They were having a little scrimmage, but much to my consternation the players were holding the hands of their parents. The parents would run along with the kid and the kid would play the game. A couple of problems here might immediately come to mind. What if your parent is slow afoot? You're at a serious disadvantage in this game compared to the players with perhaps younger, fleeter parents. "Damn it Dad, get the lead out, I'm trying to score a goal here." Secondly, what if one of the parents is a little too competitive and starts dragging his kid along behind him as he races down the field to get to the ball? The kid's all covered in mud and grass and bouncing along like a rag doll hanging off his pop's arm. Yet these obvious problems are not what I am here to take issue with.

The problem is, what the heck are kids doing holding their parents' hands while playing the game? It was explained to me that this was to teach them positioning and other fine elements of the game. C'mon. If the kids need someone holding their hands to play the game then they are clearly too young to be playing the game. At least at an "organized" level. Take your kid out and kick the ball around with him, sure, but don't drag him around by the hand to play a "real" game. Besides the beauty of little kids soccer even at the six and seven year old age group is the preferred strategy they use, which I like to call the beehive formation.

What are kids that young playing organized sports for anyway? It's because if they don't offer soccer to little kids then maybe one of the other sports offers a program for little kids and then they become hockey or rugby players instead. Soccer has to compete to keep the athletes coming to them because as I've already complained about in an earlier post, this has become the age of sports specialization (see today's Vancouver Sun for more on that) and once kids get into a sport it takes over their sporting lives and they don't get to try other things. If you don't get them first then you might not get them at all. Someone needs to step in and tell these sports to back off and let the kids reach a sensible age before slapping a uniform on them. That same someone needs to tell parents to give their head a shake and not sign up for Holding Hands Soccer.

And if you are one of those parents then let go of that hand and go kick the ball around with your kid. Then when you're done teach them how to hold a hockey stick and hit a baseball. Sure they might not make the pros in any one sport but they'll be really good in high school gym class while everyone else can only do one thing. Unless of course their parents show up to hold their hands.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Do You like your Kernels Burnt?

Are you like me when you step up to a microwave oven other than your own familiar one? Which button do you hit first. Some want you to put in the power level first, some the amount of time. Some want you to do who knows what. Can't we have a standard microwave operating procedure? Is that too much to ask? And trust me, you don't want to use that "popcorn" button, at least not for popcorn.

That's all I got. Anyone got a good microwave anecdote?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good Enough for Bronze

Sit right back kids and you'll hear a tale, a tale that follows nicely on my crushing rebuke of the International Swimming Federation (or whatever they call their cabal).

You see, back in the day, Little Jackie Showers was once in a competitive swim club. Okay, perhaps not that competitive, but we did race. I was in my elementary swim club in grade three and I competed in races. Being the strategic type, even at that young age, I had a strategy for success. I sussed up this whole swimming thing early on and concluded that there was no way I could be the fastest guy in the pool. Fastest at swimming fast that is, but swimming as I've already explained has a loophole where getting there fastest isn't the only criteria.

What I figured out was that if I worked hard on one of the "other" strokes then maybe I could get decent at it even if everyone could kick my butt in freestyle. In fact if I just put my energy into practicing one stroke and tanked it when racing in other events in the three other strokes then I just might have a chance. So I became a backstroke specialist. I couldn't swim worth crap, but I could do a pretty good backstroke.

Yes, sports fans, you know the 3rd best backstroker in the grade 3 class at Willows school in 1972. Amongst the boys that is. A field of at least a dozen and I was better than most of them.