Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hanging there. Looking smug.

     Maybe you've seen them too? Just hanging there. Looking smug. Smirking. Knowing they make us uncomfortable. Knowing what’s coming even before we can fully sense it. Daring us to ignore them. A little wave here and a little wave there like that neighbourhood bully we couldn’t ever seem to shake. Putting us in our place. Sort of mocking us. And definitely multiplying. Not even afraid to jump. Red. Yellow. Orange. Maybe even green but a little mottled by a touch of frost. You know what I’m talking about right?
     Yup. Autumn leaves. They’re gathering like a group of rowdies and haters at a concert nobody wants to end but they’re just waiting to boo summer’s final performance.
     Although the sunshine and heat have faded somewhat, we must remember something though. Summer is tough. And sometimes she won’t leave without a fight or at least a lively encore. I like it when summer goes a little “gangsta” and spits out a few 25 degree days here and there. Despite her tenacity though, it’s inevitable. Summer will lose this battle. Always does.
     Therefore, I must change along with the season and adjust my attitude. That's why I made a list of fantastic fall things. So I won't hate autumn. And it worked. Kinda.
1. A lot less sweating.
2. Not looking chunky in your bathing suit anymore.
3. Dead insects.
4. Pickles.
5. And yeah, uh, I can’t think of anything else.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weird Word-of-the-Day Wednesday

      My wife just surprised me with this chocolate bar like two seconds ago. I like her. Therefore, today's weird word-of-the-day is chocoiste....

     After wasting a significant amount of time researching this word, I could not locate its definition. So, I'll make my own.
     To me is sounds like a Fa-rench noun. Fa-rench for someone who hoardes chocolate deep within the Louvre so at night he can surface and walk the parquet floors to write sweet cryptic messages for his long-missing lover but mostly for Dan Brown to research and write preposterous yet annoyingly absorbing books about. 
     Okay. Sugar high. Gotta go.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

300, 299, 298, 297....

     My friend Grant, a fellow CBC radio listener and fan, shared some very useful information with me about sleeplessness: forget adding sheep, cull them from the flock instead. More specifically, researchers have apparently determined that counting backwards from 300 will help insomnia sufferers. 
     At least I think this is what Grant said. (We were drinking margaritas.) He's a serious mathlete so he may have said counting backwards from 300 in threes. Before I could seek clarification though, the conversation veered another direction (a.k.a. more margaritas were consumed).
     So last night I had the uh, "fortunate opportunity" to test this theory. Unfortunately I wasted ten more sleepless minutes having a tense conversation with myself about whether to count backwards by threes or not. After determining I'm pretty much incapable of counting backwards by threes (and in lieu of punching myself in the head repeatedly), I began the simplified version: 300, 299, 298, 297, 264, 296....     
     It worked.
     The last number I recall was 219.
     Stop deleting sheep people. It's useless. Please share this valuable information with your peeps. And to all a good night.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Iceland is planning to deliver its electricity...

"Man will begin to recover the moment he takes art as seriously as physics, chemistry or money." ~Ernst Levy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Late Night Beeping

Flashback to the night before Halloween, 1998.  My two year old son was on antibiotics because he had just been diagnosed with pneumonia and we couldn't figure out how he got so sick. Odd. I spent most of that night writing on my computer downstairs in our old farmhouse and actually fell asleep in front of it. Again, odd. Later, when I woke up, I dragged myself upstairs to check my son then I went to bed. Early Halloween morning, my wife woke me to tell me that our carbon monoxide detector beeped. I could barely get out of bed. I felt like I had the worst hangover ever. Responders found a crack in our furnace. We were slowly, silently being poisoned as our basement filled with odorless gas. No wonder my son was sick. I shudder to think....

Cut to last Saturday: our carbon monxide detector beeped at around 6:30 a.m. Immediately we were out of bed. We woke our children. We checked our pets. The windows were already open but we opened the doors too. Why would it beep though? We hadn't used our furnace for months. All it could be was the hot water heater, right? Everyone felt fine but we called a plumber who called the gas guy who called us. (I really admire people who do this for a living.) Both of them hurried over, checked our house from top to bottom. No carbon monoxide, no natural gas leak. We were advised to get a new carbon monoxide detector which we promptly did. The gas guy said call me at any time of the day or night if this happens again. He told us we can also call 911. (Again, admiration and respect. I wanted to hug the guy.)

Cut to Sunday night at 3:30 a.m. The carbon monoxide detector beeps. All precautions repeated. The new detector has a display indicating several things: the type of gas and the quanitity. It reads zero. Our kids and pets feel fine. Odd. Something doesn't make sense. We reset it but it still indicated zero. With the door open, I sat beside the detector and re-read the manual. I reset it again. I waited. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. 4:30 a.m. Nothing. I unplugged the detector, took it upstairs and plugged it in just above a furnace vent. It read zero. Nothing. Nothing. 5:00 a.m. Then suddenly: beep. Odd. The beeping wasn't coming from the detector! The beeping was still downstairs! Confused, I unplugged the detector and went downstairs to find the beeping and that's when it beeped again. Did it beep in my hand? Worried, my daughter got up again and wandered into the hallway.Was it the battery backup? WTH???!!! Was the house on fire? WTH???!!! I had to go wake my wife. She ran downstairs with me. Beep. What the hell is beeping???!!! We looked around. And then we looked up. The smoke detector read "low battery."

I guess anybody could forgive us for being gun-shy about carbon monoxide considering what we went through the first time. Still though, I'm a little embarrassed. I think I might keep this information from our plumber and the gas guy. If you're reading this though and you don't have a carbon monoxide detector, GET ONE NOW! It will save your life! And *avoiding eye-contact, chewing on lip* while your're at it, maybe, uh, check the, uh, batteries in your smoke detectors.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Canadian Superhero

     Yup. Just call me Mike Holmes, a.k.a. the archetype for general contractors and pretty much a Canadian superhero. I fixed the hole in my roof today and it only took seven hours. (Nod to the wife and son.) And it was even Friday the 13th! And I think I actually did a good job. Seriously. If you knew me, you'd swear someone hijacked my blog, someone with skills. As I always say when it comes to any handy-man task, "I can draw it, design it, and describe it; I just can't do it." But this time, I did it!
     Well, I think I did. It hasn't rained yet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weird Word-of-the-Day Wednesday

In honour of a little discussion I had with my bank today, today's weird word is "amortization." Apparently this word refers to the "process by which your loan principal decreases over the life of your loan." Like with a mortgage. Well...
I experienced some amortization fun-and-games today. Somehow, my last mortgage payment was magically paid despite no evidence of an automatic deduction from my account which is how my mortgage has been paid for the last ten years. Hmm. Could it be a mistake perhaps, especially considering that my bank just switched to a new computer system? Hmm.
Despite nothing deducted from my account, bank staff repeatedly assured me that my mortgage payment has been made. Thoughts in my head during this conversation: Um, by who then? Did Oprah give away random mortgage payments on her show today? Am I like your one millionth customer?
Here's the kicker: I can't prove I didn't make my payment. Talking to a bank about an error they made is like talking to people who work in airports (or maybe Lindsay Lohan I bet). One thing I am sure of though: when the bank discovers their mistake only one person will be responsible: me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Read the Signs

          My sister-in-law Holly invited us on two hikes to visit waterfalls local to where she lives. When hiking in grizzly bear country (a.k.a Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada), one should be prepared.
And one should also read the signs carefully. We didn't have any bear spray though. Oh well. No big whoop, eh? Yet as I gazed at this sign I couldn't help thinking this is just like the opening scene of an episode of I Shouldn't be Alive.
          Despite our unpreparedness, the Muskeg Falls were terrific, small but mighty. My niece and daughter moved forward for a closer look, a little too close maybe? Nevertheless, there were no bear encounters, thankfully.

          Later during the weekend, Holly invited us to hike to Twin Falls but en route she was paged to her job at the hospital so she suggested we go on without her. No problem, right? Along with my wife and four kids (hers & ours), we confidently set off seeking adventure, exercise and beauty in the Rocky Mountains. My son and I could probably handle this hike into unknown territory considering that between us we had two years of Junior Forest Warden experience. We're practically boy scouts! After all, we whittled a paddle we've never used, but it looks cool hanging in the shed. And my son recently taught me how to start a ATV. What could go wrong?
          With little difficulty, we found the entrance sign, merely glanced at it and headed up the hill packing plenty of enthusiasm but again no bear spray. Holly told us it would be a quick half a kilometer jaunt. Something seemed wrong though. Was it the sky spitting raindrops? Was it the gunfire we heard somewhere across the ravine? Was it the giant ribcage of a deer/elk/moose/missing person (?) next to the trail?  Was it the plastic grocery bag hanging from the tree that "marked" the trail? I remember thinking, could that contain human remains?
          But of course we ignored our instincts and plodded onward next to a deep, washed-out ravine that sagged at the edges. The word "trail" does not suffice. There was not much marked or beaten about this path. It was more like the impression of a path and as my wife noted with silent consternation, it was completely loaded with many, many varieties of berries. While I imagined where they might find our bodies after we were all axe-murdered she apparently wondered how many bears were currently eating all the delicious berries up the trail around the next bend?
          We were too busy to really discuss our fears with each other though. I was attempting to prevent our 9-year-old niece from careening into the ravine as she trekked ahead of me in her flip-flops. Meanwhile, she was trying to prevent our 8-year-old nephew from jumping into the ravine with curiosity and excitement. (Who knows where our kids were for most of it?) Over a kilometer into the wild we finally decided we were not on the right trail (duh) and convinced the kids to return to the vehicle and although we did not suggest it, we were glad they made as much noise as possible en route back to safety. Other than one chipmunk and the as yet undetermined carcass and bones near the beginning of the "well marked trail," we did not encounter any animals, more specifically, bears.
          Ironically, on our way out, we then resolved to actually read the map/sign at the Twin Falls entrance. Well there's the lesson: read the signs. Why? Look to the bottom right of the photo below. Although some jackass tried to rip the sign off, it does indeed read: Twin Falls Trail Closed. And the fine print below it? Caution: may be unstable when wet.
          Since we never did find the falls, I now like to refer to Twin Falls as the Imaginary Falls or perhaps The-place-where-we-likely-would-have-died-and-no-one-would've-ever-found-our-bodies-if-we-had-continued-onward-along-the-Godforsaken-closed-to-tourists-Twin-Falls-Trail-for-a-mere-five-minutes-more Falls.
          It is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to die there.
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