Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Curious Sign #1

Seniors Crossing

Not your usual crossing sign, in fact the first I recall seeing. Much more attuned to school crossings as well as those for deer, moose, mountain sheep, elk, cattle and of course logging trucks. Maybe I've just sped by too fast to notice! Turned out I didn't have to worry about a bunch of retirees wandering aimlessly from curb to curb hell bent on using up their extra time. Perhaps it was only a small enclave. Never-the-less it did bring to mind a slew of questions.

Who is a senior? Would that be 55, 60, 65 or is 80 the new 60? Or don't ask!
Do you need ID to cross?
Is there a fine for misuse?
If somebody is underage can they obtain fake ID to prove they are over the age limit?
How much does it cost on the black-market?
Do seniors travel in herds?
Are they nocturnal or only mobile during the day?
Do Boy Scouts hang around ready to do a good deed?
If the pedestrians don't meet the seniors qualification do you have to yield the way?
Is there a full government bureaucratic department in charge of overseeing such venues?
Can you get training to be a seniors crossing guard?
Would it be better to have a cane in the sign?

Tried to follow the path thinking it led to either Palm Springs or Phoenix. My trusty bloodhound lost the scent Maybe old people odor is an urban myth
Reminds me of a joke. Why did the senior cross the road? Oops! Forgot the punch line.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Queenly Advice


Terrible to hear the bad news concerning Queen Lizzie's crumbling finances. Having to apply to  government ministers for a poverty handout to heat her homes seems an act of quiet desperation, not to mention pleading cap in hand before commoners certainly takes you another step down from being only accountable to God. However rather than simply harp about her situation, I decided to suggest possible ways to redeem her fall from absolute monarch and to restore her stiff upper lip.

1. Snuggle up closer to Phil on those cold stormy nights.

2. Have Charlie find green employment to help out Mommy.

3. Demolish a couple of older castles and sell the stone for really high class counter tops.

4. Move to warmer climes - Jamacia mon!

5. Sell off some of the crown jewels. Oops! That may have already occurred. Even the Tower exhibition makes passing reference to pasty items.

6. Try having a garage sale. All that antique bric-a-brac should bring in a few shillings or pence or whatever currency is currently in use. Table setups at Buckingham, Windsor, Balmoral etc. should keep the family warm and busy for quite a few weekends.

7. Grow some of those high return crops on royal properties, you know: mary jane, doda

8. Bring back beheading at the Tower and charge admission.

9. Start up a mail order peerage business.

10. Rent out rooms to immigrants. Just set up a kiosk at Heathrow. Charge heavy for the extras!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Kiss Me Coldly

Avoid kissing the snakes in the Okanagan. Yes,Really
Like riding a bike one never loses the ability to snaggle a snake.
Lightly tread on his tail and a quick pin to the ground with a finely tuned forked branch. Then a thumb and forefinger gently around his neck to hoist him to eye level view. A fine specimen of garter snake, close to 4 feet long hanging docilely, probably unsure how he ever got into this mess. Meanwhile, the group I was impressing were content to run a 100 meters in almost world  record time before goggling my catch from afar. While we possibly had eye contact, there were no allusions of mutual love. BTW. How does one go about sexing a snake? Would it be a proper before dinner conversation item? Even though not as dynamic - and lacking entirely the poisonous punch - as his rattler cousin (pictured), moving in close enough for a peck on the lips would inevitably cause me some pain. Once I startled a field mouse while picking up a bale of hay to toss up on the wagon. Little blighter neatly and swiftly lodged onto my middle finger and proceeded to hang on for dear life, refusing to be flung off or release his grip. Hard core persuasion with the tine of a pitchfork finally triggered a release mechanism, leaving me with  four blood gushing holes. But I survived. The mouse - well on with the rest of the story. My vain attempt to convince everybody that snake skin was dry to the touch and as far from slimy as you can get fell on deaf ears. The bravest of the bunch got within ten foot peering carefully with widened eyes. For this wriggler a happy ending as I plopped him on the ground and he slithered away at high speed disappearing under the first available log. And even with scientific explanations, I still marvel how they manage that side-winding, slithering method of travel.
Photo by Flickr user Mike Johnston used under Creative Common

Thursday, 16 September 2010

10! Blog Ideas


Blog Suggestion # 152 - Catch Their Attention with a Numbered List

Boy have I seen a lot of these. Ten, fifteen, twenty five and more ways to cook dandelions, smoke banana peels, redecorate your one room walk-up, buy a used stolen bike, organize your ten emails on four different accounts and, of course, write a blog (understand this will lead to a following in the hundreds of thousands within one week plus fame and fortune beyond your wildest expectations) with your eyes closed  and both hands wrapped around a beer. Problem appears to be a limited number of possible suggestions and a lot of déjà vu. One of my elementary school teachers mentioned that a productive method of obtaining story ideas was to "listen to people on the bus" and use their conversations as the basis for a composition. Pretty sure another teacher repeated the idea a few years later. With a little digging through the synapses I might even come up with a name and home room, although I might just nod off instead. As an experiment I just Googled "listen to people on the bus" and was presented in .21 seconds with about 187,000 results. Yikes! Change the words even slightly and I can imagine the returned pages mushrooming into the millions. With the constant crush of information who knows anymore whose blog said what and when. Pretty positive some writers may be recycling their old posts, not that I want to tackle the messy job of sorting through my recycle bin. BTW - if a blogger reuses his old material without a rewrite, is he/she guilty of plagiarism? 

All of which really got me to thinking - pardon me whilst I check my email - okay back again, (reminder: 15 ways to ignore the email sound while typing) about a productive blog with a daily schedule, solid information, a differing setup and simple to crank out. Then a scheme coalesced in my cranium sans any help from me. Take ten truly magnificent suggestions on how to find material for your blog, write them up with genuine concern for the readers, let them sing with excitement, ring the creative bells and create confidence. Once each of the ten are trimmed and polished, allow the power of math to take over before publishing. Now remember the whole post has to be different every day to maintain attention by the masses. Recall that factorial symbol up there in the title? Okay now you have 10 possible lead items to put in the #1 position, 9 items left for the #2 position, 8 items left for the #3 position............... See where this is going? Factorial 10 calculates out to 3,628,800 discrete ways to arrange those limited 10 items. Not a whole lot different and it may transcend the spirit of the blog god, but it still can be considered different output each and every day. Divide those millions by 5 and voilà 725,760 weeks, divide by 52 and ergo approximately 14,000 years. And your estate will garner income for fourteen millenniums.

Photo by Flickr user SergeyRod used under Creative Commons

Awesome Stones


At the Henge in Wiltshire

Catching up on part of the European jaunt. Getting the opportunity to visit Stonehenge was worth enduring: the lengthy bus trip, the dank medieval castle of the Windsors' and the tourist trap of Bath. A week late for the summer solstice so no magic sunrises, modern day druids or new age mysticism. Not quite as dramatic as expected. Of course having only experienced the site via film or television, I forgot the power of the camera to deceive. How else has Hollywood managed to portray Bogart (5' 8) or Cruise (5' 7) or a plethora of shorties as tall handsome leading men towering over their more statuesque leading ladies? Then again, I've never bothered to do any mind projections to imagine  pushing up close to 30 foot 50 ton boulders or dragging them from faraway sites. However, walk around the circle a couple of times and it begins to seep into the brain - no cranes, no bulldozers, no backhoes, no flatbed semis and likely not even decent crowbars. Not a bad engineering feat! I've never delved too deeply into all the theories purporting to explain the significance or use of the earlier works or the final  structure. Observatory, temple, meeting place, healing site or a combination may all be acceptable answers. Hard to subscribe to the Von Daniken notion of aliens beaming them from afar and planting them just to wow the locals. Even though built over a number of centuries, it is amazing the effort and expended by a Neolithic people - presumably not under duress - in creating a monument still mostly extant down through the ages. Too bad about the traffic noise, if anybody from the past was attempting to contact me the ring-tone got lost in the din. Still, to be on the safe side I purchased a trilithlon amulet to create a permanent link to the site.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Brain Drain



Read the above sentence quickly without at least scanning the full article and you might decide just to let your brain lay fallow for a few years to extend its awareness. My gosh! Using and exercising the brain will accelerate its journey to uselessness. Makes sense. That's what happens to all the vehicles I've owned. One minute they're glistening clean with an aromatic new car aroma and a scant few years later broken down, rusted and awaiting the final hook up ride to the wreckers. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time whatever lurks in my cranial cavity feels fine, just that last drink once in a while gives it a dull, achy, throbbing presence almost impossible to escape.  Once I buckled down to reading the article with focused attention I realized the acceleration can be confined to the far end so as to speak.

Let's assume one day in the future - say twenty years to the day - my brain will lose complete touch with the outside world, sort of like a door closing shut for the last time. So if I choose: to loll lazily on the couch munching goodies staring at the copious quantities of inane programming emanating from the LCD screen, to never visit the library or pick up a newspaper, to scream for the calculator to add up 2 digit numbers and over, and to abstain from all conversations requiring complete thoughts or logic; then I can expect the door to begin moving towards the locked position in about ten years, give or take a few days, as I commence a decade long process to obscurity. However, getting at the crosswords, Sudoku, reading and engaging in stimulating discussions would appear to delay for a number of years - be generous and say seven - the ability of the door to start swinging shut. Now the period of decline has been reduced to only three years even though the final closing remains the same. Obviously the next step is an attempt to shorten the withering away period even more. Best case scenario would be to have the door untouched and resting comfortably until that specific morning twenty years in the future when I could gracefully orate my goodbyes and final thoughts to the assembled crowds just in advance of the final slamming. Therefore, time to remove the sawdust and cotton batten holding my neurons in place and reason out just how many crosswords I have to complete to hit the twenty year mark unscathed!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Art Garburator

Okay, if you're expecting a drive-by pick up of that weird statue thing inherited from sweet auntie May or online plans for an under-sink eradicator of velvet paintings of Elvis, you will have to stumble about elsewhere on the web. At some point during an exhausting surfing session looking for nothing I chanced upon this amazing art website. MOBA - Museum of Bad Art - 'the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms'. Finally a group dedicated to the idea that not all art is good and deserves accolades. Many aspiring painters, sculptors and well-meaning dilettantes should have buried the crayons and modeling tools on graduation from kindergarten. Even talented artists miss the mark on many occasions. With almost 500 pieces in their collection MOBA has barely scratched the surface of the less than commendable art junk pile. At least the ability to have an online catalogue allows the world to view more than can be physically exhibited.

Having spent my fair share of time wandering through galleries and museums, I always have questions but generally agree that the vast majority of works deserve to be viewed. However, in the spirit of MOBA I do harbour doubts about why curators have supported particular artists and  nailed their works to the wall. To that end I nominate the accompanying picture (maybe his entire opus) to be included in a separate web based catalogue of bad art submitted by believers in MOBA.

Picture-3 (2)







Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptan

When I first cast eyes on this canvas I immediately assumed it was a humorous jab at the 'Pink Panther' movie series or a veto against the use of fibreglass insulation. Much to my chagrin the title ' MacMillan Bloedel Eco-System Destroyers and Their Preferred Weapons' made me aware it was simply a diatribe against all forms of logging. This particular canvas would definitely not be out of place walking through elementary school hallways. A passerby might even suggest with encouragement the young talent might possibly aspire to a career in art when he grows older. Maybe he is just a late bloomer.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Revisiting Visa





Time to bash Visa again! They're colossal - it won't hurt then. Besides, without telling anyone they packed up the public relations department together with their illustrious handbook, 'A Thousand and One Excuses Why We are Not at Fault' or is it 'A Thousand and One Ways We are Always Right', laid off all the two legged homo sapiens employees and located the new call center just north of south in Antarctica. Once a contract is hammered out and the local penguin population agrees to a three fish per day stipend, your complaint calls will be cordially received by a cacophony of clacking clucks and your whiny gripes will thence be deposited on a slippery slope and washed out to sea. 

I alluded in a previous post to their sneaky method of sending your monthly bill out a tad late in hopes of ensnaring everyone in their late payment scheme. It just so happens my Visa and MasterCard bills arrived the same day which allows me the opportunity to compare systems. MasterCard: statement date August 26, arrival date August 30, payment due date September 19. Visa: statement date August 17, arrival date August 30, payment due date September 7. All these dates are basically the same each month so having Visa blame it on the postal service is sour grapes on their part. Let us be gracious, allow three days for our postal buddies to pick up and transport our check to its destination and another full day for internal handling before the dreaded late payment guillotine descends. Under this scenario MasterCard allows me 15 days to sort out my previous months mess and remit my payment, while my Visa overseers permit me a scant three days to ponder the bill and hastily send my shekels off in the sometimes provided envelope. Should the bill arrive Friday, by the time I steam open the missive on Monday I'm already treading on the deadline. On a long weekend all hope is lost by Tuesday. A couple of years ago when I called the service center on another matter, I had the temerity to question the telephone representative about this delay in sending out bills. After waiting on hold for fifteen minutes - on their 1-800 dime - it finally occurred to me their answer was a total lack of interest in my question.

Ahh! I hear what you are about to tell me. Why not just have them email my bill monthly and electronically remove funds from my account? The simple answer. Much easier to deal with a problem on your bill before handing over the money. Once they have cash in hand Visa tends to have a lot less interest in your niggling problems and your next call may be met with a resounding cluck.