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Condoning Contador: Lance, Button-Fly’s, and the Unwritten Rules of Leftover Etiquette.

July 30, 2009 6 comments

I’ve recently encountered a gray area of etiquette, and I am seeking out the opinion of the people to help me resolve the issue in a comfortable manner.  So here goes.  When a person is invited over to another person’s house for dinner, drinks, or whatever, and the guest brings a dish (salad, main dish, dessert), or drinks, what is the protocol for the leftovers?  Does a person commit to donating everything they bring to a home once they step through the door, or does the bringer have the right to extract the remains of what they’ve brought to the home? Consider the following scenarios, and follow them up with a Stay or a Go, or a correctly corresponding reply in the comment section, if you feel so inclined:

1)      Guest brings a dish and it is half eaten.

2)      Guest brings a dish and it’s not eaten at all.

3)      Guest brings bottled drinks; is there a percentage or ratio rule of what is consumed to what can be taken back?  Can anything be taken back?  If out of 12, 11 are drunk, can the bringer take the one?  What if 6 are drank? What if only 1?  Do you donate the other 11? What about higher volumes?

4)      Guest brings a dessert, and also a full bucket of ice cream (ice cream is an accompaniment to the dessert).  Approximately 5 scoops are used.  Is the remainder of the bucket a gift?

5)      Guest brings a very expensive bottle of wine, which goes unopened. 

I await the popular opinion, and may adopt it as doctrine from here on in.  You have the power. 

                                                          ***

Is it wrong that I get an odd joy out of flicking bugs off of screen doors from the inside out (bug on one side of screen, me on the other, flicking it on its underbelly)?  I don’t step on bugs, but I do squash the odd spider or mosquito.  I like to think the flick is fairly harmless.  Most bugs can fly, and they always seem to land quite softly.  Ever seen an ant fall off a table and keep on going?  Can you imagine shrinking yourself to that size, and falling from that height?  I can’t say I’d bet on survival.

                                                           ***

There are very few more awkward moments in a man’s life than when he enters the men’s washroom, lines up to the urinal, goes for the unzip, and realizes he’s wearing a button fly.  Horrendous.  This unexpected scenario now requires a full belt unbuckling, and subsequent fly unbuttoning; meanwhile hoping that the washroom remains empty, and that no other dudes come in and see you struggling like a 1st  grader who needs the teacher to undo his top button so he can go, and then do it up again after he’s walked through the school back to his class with his pants undone.  Embarrassing seems to work as a descriptive term here. 

                                                           ***

Does anyone actually condone anything?  Everyone says that they don’t condone this or that (for example, “I don’t condone A-Roid’s drug use,” or “I don’t condone men wearing pink at any time”), but I’ve never actually heard a person say that they condone anything.  Why do we only use the word in a negative context? 

                                                          ***

So Lance Armstrong does not win the Tour de France for probably the first time ever since he’s entered it, and now he’s being berated by his “teammate” Alberto Contador, who says regarding Mr. Livestrong,

My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero… I have never admired him and never will.” 

Why all the animosity towards the man who beat brain, lung, and testicular cancer all at the same time, dated Sheryl Crow, and won the tour seven times?  Was the Spaniard tired of hiding in the shadow of the on again/off again retiree?  How many times does a guy have to win the Tour de France consecutively before he lets it go, anyways?  I know he’s been controversial as far as speculated drug use, and in general infuriating the French by being American and winning their event so many times, but could there be something actually worth not liking Lance for?  He’s such a hero on this side, without proper understanding of the other side’s arguments, I can’t say I condone these comments from the Contadorian one.  Ahh, crap, see?

Panic! at the Dentist: Regularly Scheduled Belittling Appointments.

July 26, 2009 3 comments

(originally posted July 18, 2006)

The Dentist I can’t stand.  Ok, maybe it’s not the dentist as much as it is the “Dental Hygenist,” who actually does all the scraping and prodding, and gives you all the “helpful”  little hints on how to be a better brusher.  The actual dentist does very little, similiar to a doctor.  What is it about being a dentist or a doctor that allows you to bestow all the actual work onto your nurses or hygenists?  One time I went in, I swear I had this lady give me a full demonstration on brushing techniques, like it was my first time in there; perhaps as if she herself had just invented the toothbrush, and was describing its revolutionary cleaning abilities to me.  She was hand-motioning the little brush circles to me and everything.  At the time, i’m sure I was at least 22 years old.  And of course, I don’t floss with any regularity.  That never goes over well.  It’s amazing the standard you feel like you’re not living up to when the dentist asks you questions like, “so have you been flossing?”, and you answer negatively, which illicits a reponse similiar to that when your parents say they’re not mad at you, they’re just disappointed.  Like their life and choice of career is so much better than mine, sticking their fingers in people’s mouth’s all day.  And of course, all these questions are being posed to you while you’re housing a mouthful of equipment that renders your responses into muffled jargles.  Who do these people think they are, asking you anything beyond a yes or no question?  Do they expect to recieve an audible response?  Is there some sort of blink-sign system i was not told about that i was supposed to learn?  I can’t tell you what my plans are for the rest of the day and the upcoming year with the suction tube halfway to my epiglottis, it’s just not possible.  So if i can remember just one time that i did use one of the 8 million unopened floss dispensers in my bathroom for something other than a MacGyver bomb, I will respond affirmative that I have been flossing since the last time i came in.  You know they’re gonna ask, and you feel like such a failure of a person if you have to say you haven’t been doing something so simple like flossing. 

The only other more demeaning moment is when they tell you that you have a cavity.  You feel like a dog that’s just being scolded for peeing on the carpet.  And they tell you in that voice that says their previous disappointment has only deepened, further wallowing you in a kiddie pool of your own shame.  Getting a filling might be one of the most torturous events I’ve ever experienced.  Someone please tell me how you’re expected to breathe with that giant rubber tarp and equally large cotton balls stuffed in your mouth, keep your jaw propped open, and just, “relax,” as they instruct you to do.  All this while they drill a mineshaft of a hole in your tooth and fill in back in with some substance that nothing will grow on.  It might be solid margarine for all i know.  Is this the point that modern dentistry has evolved to? 

And of course you’re lying down in the chair with that floodlight blinding you while the dentist’s giant head is hovering over you like an omnipresent Roman god.  With that light in your face, and the shadow around their head, it’s pretty tough to tell if the dentist even really has a body.  I mean think about it, you get ushered in the chair by the little helper lady, you’re always facing away from the door, your chair gets reclined, and you never actually see the dentist, because they always beetle out before you can collect yourself at the end of the appointment.  You don’t even get to see most of their face, since it’s always half covered with that little green mask.  The hands holding the tools could really be anything.  Believe me, no human could jab another human in the gums that many times and see their face grimace and twitch without thinking maybe that wasn’t a tooth they were grinding down.  And the scraping, ohthe scraping.  With that little hook that would be better fitted on a pirate; around the same size too.  Recently they invented these sound-wave devices that supposedly do the same work as the hook scraper.  Regardless, my dentist always finds the time to come back at the end and give me a good scratch coating with that rusty coat hanger of a tool. 

Oh, and how intimidating is the dental x-ray machine by the way?  I mean, first they throw this led vest on you (only on your lower body though, for some reason, your skull, brain, and entire central nervous system will be able to handle whatever radiation is shot at it apparently), and before you can finish your question as to what’s going on, there’s a gag in your mouth and a cannon of a device pointing right at your cheek.  Not to mention that everyone within twenty feet of you has fled, taken cover, and suddenly stopped communicating with you.  Even the radio and tv’s stop momentarily.  You’re trying hard not to choke on the film thing, because you feel like you might be executed if you do.  So you’re sitting there, cutting a bead of sweat that could dent the floor, you hear a high pitched “beep!” like someone pointed a fake gun at your head and a “Bang!” flag popped out and unfurled, and then it’s all over.  Everyone stops playing hide and seek, and then it’s on with the rest of the procedure. 

The only moment in the dentist appointment experience that will make all the suffering worth it, is that moment where you get the warm water rinse with the little squirt gun.  That one moment when the first drops of two heated hydrogen and one heated oxygen molecules hit your teeth are purely magical.  If that and the little no-cavity prize box didn’t exist, i would have no use for the dentist, or teeth for that matter.  Sure the box still contains the same prizes it did in 1987, but the off-chance that i could get a new bouncy ball or styrofoam plane for not having any cavities, is enough to make me schedule my next 6 month visit, and do it all again.

Sure Fire Ways NOT to Impress Your Father-in-Law.

July 24, 2009 2 comments

From a son-in-law’s point of view, there are certain events, happenings, and/or interactions with their potential father-in-law that are fairly defining of how the rest of his life could potentially play out.  One such incident occurred to me, the first time my now father-in-law, Dennis, lent me his truck.

 My now wife and I had been dating for a while, and I had worked my way into the good books to the point that Dennis made the conscious decision that I was worthy of this new truck-lending-level designation.  Definitely a big moment for me.  As he gave me the keys on that snowy, Saskatchewan winter afternoon, my face beamed appreciation and emitted kind words of thanks; while my brain fretted and kept repeating, “DON’T CRASH DON’T CRASH DON’T CRASH DON’T CRASH…”  We got into the truck, fastened our seatbelts snugly,  I checked all the mirrors multiple times, and headed into town, no problem.  We got done whatever it was we were doing in town, and then started home.  The drive had gone well, not a problem to be had, now all I gotta do is pull back in the driveway and… *BUMP* err…umm, what was that?  Why is the right front tire a foot lower than the rest of the tires????!!!!???

 Turns out that the snow had been dumping so heavily that day, that it had literally filled the ditch to a level point between the road and their property, and as I pulled into what I believed to be the driveway, my right front had committed a few steps too early.  So there we were, Karm and I, sitting in the truck, staring at each other, on my first borrowed truck trip, and I had just put it in the ditch.  Perfect.

 Suddenly, but not unexpectedly, who should come calmly strolling out of the house but Dennis himself.  Words cannot correctly describe the thoughts that must have been running through my brain.  I assume mostly fear and apologies.  He, of course, asked me what happened, and I ran down the story.  Suprisingly (and quite thankfully) he wasn’t angry, we concluded to begin the process of getting the truck out of said ditch.  So we’re doing the forward-reverse-forward-reverse rocking trick, the bouncing the front axles trick, pushing, pulling…all no good.  We tried putting wooden planks (that he happened to have laying against the garage, suspiciously) under the tires and driving on them.  No dice.  Also, it’s the middle of winter in Saskatchewan, we’re outside, running out of ideas, and it’s REALLY cold.

 The Dyck’s (folks in law) had invited some guests over to their house that day, who happened to arrive right in the middle of this debacle.  The man of that family (who likes to remind me of this incident repeatedly, to this day), saw our problem, asked the obligatory questions, and offered to try and help out.  So now there’s three of us reefing on this truck (a 4×4 Ford Explorer, and yes, we tried the 4×4 option, to no avail), and still we remained captive to the ditch.  If that wasn’t enough, another complete stranger to me (a neighbor) came rolling by on a tractor, saw the predicament, had a little chuckle to himself, and offered his services.  The tractor came in extremely handy, as we rigged a chain up to it, and after some further negotiation, finally removed the truck from the jaws of that  forsaken ditch.

 My day had started out so promising, I had managed to earn my to-be father-in-law’s trust enough for him to lend me his truck, and then proceeded to deposit it in a ditch, not somewhere that I could have called a tow-truck and covered the whole thing up, but right IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE for him, my to-be mother-in-law, the rest of the family, a visiting family whom I’d never met, and a neighbor (who I’d also not met) with a tractor who had to haul it out, all of to which I had to explain this very story to, and  who must’ve enjoyed hearing every second of it.  And surely in small town Saskatchewan, word of story-worthy events don’t get kept under wraps very long.

 I can see the humor now, but man, was I embarrassed.  I’ve really been blessed to have great in-laws; Dennis has never brought this incident up to me, and even let me borrow his vehicles again after that.  I knew that I had made some positive headway when I got the keys the time after this.  Dennis, if you’re reading this, thanks for not ever rubbing this one in, and for being an all-around good dude.  I know lots of sons-in-laws don’t have it as good as I do.

“Aces and Asses,” Volume 1. The Heroes and Zero’s of the recent Kelowna forest fires.

July 22, 2009 6 comments

Welcome to my first instalment of “Aces and Asses,” where I take some time to point out some top notch people (aces), and some that I currently don’t think so highly of (asses).

For the second time in six years, my hometown (Kelowna) has been subject to home evacuation level forest fires.  This time is was West Kelowna that was subjected to threat.  After learning how to deal with such a disaster in 2003, our city really pulled together and got through the worst of 2009’s version, which featured not one, not two, but THREE simultaneous forest fires; all in danger of connecting with each other and causing a single fire that could’ve enveloped our whole city, if it hadn’t been attended to promptly (inaccessibility for firemen, water bombing cut-offs at dark, overnight winds, and unrelenting summer heat all could’ve made that happen, luckily it never got to that point).

Kelowna Fire 2003

an actual picture of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003 (photo by Steve Devries, used by permission. http://www.sayvee.com )

Who I’d like to recognize as Aces are quite an easy selection: the Firemen. Ever since our society redefined the “hero” after September 11, the fireman has gotten a lot of spotlight. I believe they deserve every watt of it. The civil servants that work on a volunteer basis, are on call at all times, answering 4 am calls to rescue cats in trees, constantly training for that one big fire that no one hopes ever comes. When it inevitably does, the grounds crews lug around heavy, sweaty gear and equipment, into dangerous environments conducive of death on multiple levels, literally putting their lives on the line so that Johnny Bravo, driving a $100,000 car, looking out for number one, living in his million dollar home on the mountain, won’t lose his abode. Granted, there are many other very kind people and their homes that are saved too that are much more deserving of such service. The air crews drop water and fire retardant from planes and helicopters thousands of feet up in the air with pinpoint accuracy. And NONE of them go home until the job is done. Good on ya firemen, and thank you, you’re Aces in my books.

Now, onto the Asses. First off are the idiots who still haven’t figured out that lighting a campfire in the middle of a forest that has been subject to heat levels that have dried the trees out to resemble a matchstick factory, is a POOR idea. “Sure,” they say to themselves over a campfire, “we might cause a blaze that could burn down the ENTIRE forest, spread to a residential area, burn down homes, destroy or damage property, maybe kill people, and incur millions of dollars in fees for the crews to put it out, also put said fire crews in mortal danger, and possibly get fined ourselves if we’re caught, buuuut I really do need these marshmallows toasted.” Nice going morons, accidental or not, you guys can never repay the debt to society that you’ve generated by your ignorant and idiotic actions.

Second are those who have decided that a home evacuation epidemic is the ideal time to loot the homes of the evacuees. This is the absolute lowest level of humanity that I’m aware of. The selfishness, greed, and desensitization of the people who decided to do this is absolutely staggering and appalling. It really takes a special kind of individual to take advantage of people in this manner. Not only are the victims already homeless, but now when they return home, they will find themselves possession-less as well. I hope that if these people are caught, they are charged the same, if not more, than the people who started the fires in the first place. Despicable.

In a time where a community has really come together, shown it’s true colors and helped each other to overcome such distress, it’s just plain unfortunate to find out there are such lowly people are among us. But on a side much more worthy of attention, there are still some incredible, selfless people, who really show what it means to “love thy neighbour,” and to have real pride in one’s community. From the fireman on the front line, to the lady who goes around her neighbourhood and knocks on doors to make sure everyone knows there’s an emergency and to help them prepare, to the guy who gets out of his car and helps direct traffic for the thousands of cars trying to flee, there are still plenty of good people left around here.

The Great Gretzky Debacle: Meeting my hero, Wayne.

July 20, 2009 1 comment

I told this story in person the other day, so I decided to re-release it, ala Greatest Hits style.  As a wordpress special bonus, check out the photographic evidence to verify the story! Enjoy.

(originally posted February 18th, 2009)

August 19, 2005.

In preparation for the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team was having an “orientation camp(still not clear on what that meant, or why they didn’t just call it ‘practice’)” in my hometown of Kelowna BC.  The Executive Director for Team Canada at the time was none other than my boyhood (and if anyone was, I guess current as well) hero, Wayne Gretzky.

Now, let me help you to understand what I mean when I say “hero” here.  I mean from the age that I was aware Gretzky was really good at hockey and played for the LA Kings (circa 1990), I owned jerseys, hockey cards, posters, Halloween costumes, books, shoes, officially endorsed products and equipment, and attempted haircuts in likeness… I was a advertising field day for this man. 

It became my goal to come full circle, and meet my hero.

The tickets had sold out nearly immediately, without my inclusion in the possession or purchase of any of them.  I was working for the Okanagan Hockey School at the time, a school that boasts many NHL alumni as instructors and/or part owners.  They happened to have an in with the orientation camp, and were able to get some of the instructors free passes to the practices.  I immediately snapped 2 passes up to the sold out event.  After work, my brother and I zipped down to Prospera place to take our seats, my old Gretzky LA Kings jersey and Sharpie marker in tow.  We managed to catch the players just heading out onto the ice, so we decided to see if a few of them would autograph some stuff for us.  First out of the gate was Martin Brodeur, pretty much the best goaltender in the world at the time, and pretty high in the all-time record books.  When we asked him to sign, he shrugged us, and the other people standing by the gate, right off.  I didn’t think much of it, thinking, “well it’s just a practice, no big deal.  He’s got all that goalie gear on anyways, it’s probably going to be a huge hassle for him anyways. ”  Following up Brodeur were Ed Jovanovski, Todd Bertuzzi, and the other TWO goalies, Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo.  ALL of which put down their gloves and sticks, and signed stuff for a few minutes until everyone was content.  I decided to think less of Martin Brodeur after that moment.

After heading back to our ticketed seats, a friend who we had ended up sitting near advised me to look to my right.  Heeding the advice, I turned my head, and who would I see, but “The Great One,” himself.  Yes, by all modern calendars, I was 22 years old at the time, but in that moment, I was no more than 10 years old again.  Wayne.was.here.  And I could see him.  I could have thrown something at him if I wanted.  He was sitting in the stands, with his cronies (Kevin Lowe and company), taking notes or something.  Realizing the current environment was no place to make a scene, I decided to keep a watchful eye on his every move, as to not be eluded ( for those wondering, I do not enjoy being eluded).  The ice-session came to an end, and so did Wayne’s viewing.  I really had no ideas as to what to do.  They were sitting in a roped off area, and exited through the back.  Wayne was escaping, and my already small window of opportunity was closing.  I had nothing.  I accepted it, and decided to take off, at least being happy I saw him, however unfulfilled I was truly feeling.   As we made our way out, I took I noticed the “backstage” area, all roped off, with black curtains and everything.  People were surrounding the guard rails, hoping to catch a glimpse of their heros.  I also noticed people walking into the area with the same passes around their necks as ours; the only difference being theirs has “All Access” Sharpie marked on the bottom.  I looked around my neck at my pass.  I looked in my left hand containing a Sharpie marker.   I realized I had one shot at his.

My brother and I ducked behind a corner and I quickly scribbled “All Access” at the bottom of our passes, in the closest handwriting facsimile I could muster.  I managed to catch the attention of a lady heading in, and acted bewildered about the direction I was supposed to go, showing her my pass.  She took a look at it, at me, and said, “come on, I’ll take you in.”   My mouth said humble and appreciative things, and my mind stood in awe of what it had apparently just pulled off.  

normal pass + Sharpie = meet your hero.

normal pass + Sharpie = meet your hero.

I tried my best not to act like an idiot and to try to make it seem like I was supposed to be back there.  But it was tough.  Everyone was back there, Iginla, St. Louis, Lecavalier, Yzerman, Bertuzzi, Sakic, Heatley, Nash, Smyth… everyone.  It was incredible.  Part of my blend-in technique was to see what catering had to offer.   I noticed Ken Hitchcock at the table (cue the jokes), and decided to ask him how he could possibly narrow down this amount of talent to one team’s worth, over some veggies and dip.  He didn’t really give me a straight answer.  I asked Stevey Y how he liked Kelowna, to which he responded he wished he could live here.  He, Iginla, St. Louis, Smyth and Lecavalier all signed my hat, all with smiles on their faces, all classy guys. 

I found a place on the wall and decided just to hang out for a bit.  That’s when I was again advised to turn my head, this time to the left.  Wayne.  I was back in the hunt.  He was signing some sticks for some people.  He finished up and was heading our way.  I immediately started to draw up a mental game plan as to what my move was going to be, not that dis-similiar from the Mr. Bean episode were he meets the queen.  I didn’t want to go into a thing about telling him he was my hero for all these years, yada yada… one part because surely he hears that everyday, another because as aforementioned I was trying not to look like an idiot, and another simply because of time.  I was going to have mere moments to make contact.  I decided on the handshake and autograph request, hopefully with coherent speech.  Again, I knew I was only going to get one shot at this as well.  Wayne ducked into a hallway.  My heart sank momentarily, but then he came back out and was again headed in our direction.  My heart was functioning again.  This was it.  I was in range.  I made eye contact.  I remember at that moment thinking I pictured him being taller.  I stuck out my hand.  Suprisingly and incredibly, he returned the shake, I think a little bewildered himself.  I muttered, “Hi Wayne, can you sign my jersey?” or something of the likes.  He replied, “um…hold on,  I’ll be right back.”  I agreed to the terms and faded back into the wall, hoping to reconvene in the near future.  We waited.   And waited.  We hung out for a little while longer and started to get antsy.  I found Pat Quinn and asked him haphazardly if Wayne was still around.  Pat said Wayne took off.  My heart nearly broke into a million pieces.   

My brother and I took a de-briefing as to the events that had just taken place.  We snuck into somewhere we weren’t allowed.  We met the best hockey players in the world.  I saw Wayne Gretzky, shook his hand, said something to him, and he even replied with a partial sentence to me.  All in all, not a bad day.  I went home all smiles.  Sure Wayne blew me off, but I accomplished my goal and did meet my boyhood hero. 

And that’s how I met Wayne Gretzky. 

Ask my brother Rob if you don’t believe me.

Riddle me this, David Attenborough…

July 20, 2009 1 comment

I’ve recently gotten myself into watching the “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet” nature documentaries.  Incredible as they are, I’ve got a few points that I would like Super-Narrator, David Attenborough (who could captivate an audience of Dodo birds, given the chance) to elaborate on or provide answers for.    

A non-human’s life can be summed up in the following five words: 

         Eat, hump, and don’t die.

 If you’re ever not clear on what species you are, ask yourself what you need to do today.  If you can’t come up with any answers besides these three, chances are, you’re not human.  The only exceptions are the male, borderline Neanderthals that have consciously exchanged money for, and wear Ed Hardy and/or Affliction skull/rock t-shirts, in an attempt to complete step two in the set. 

Is it just me, or did Hammerhead sharks really draw the short straw on looks?  I don’t doubt God’s divine creation, but the Hammerhead really appears to have been the last shark created, and there just couldn’t have been enough normal shark parts left in the workshop.  Can you imagine trying to navigate underwater, having your eyeballs situated on either side of a coffee table that has been mounted on your neck?  These guys just gotta get picked on by the other sharks.  I’d imagine the suicide rate is staggering. 

If you weren’t aware, Killer Whales are actually murderers.  They are the only whale that will hunt, kill, and eat other whales, instead of the microscopic krill that all the other whales eat.  On a side note, how insane is it that the largest mammal on earth (whales) decided that to nourish themselves, and complete task three in our list, they will eat the smallest living organism that they can find in the ocean (krill)?  When God was handing out logic, these guys must’ve been in the can. 

Do you think fish ever choke?  All that swimming around with their mouths flopping open and shut, various small living and non-living things passing through their gills; nothing ever goes down the wrong tube?

Did centipedes and millipedes exist before the metric system?  If so, what were they called?  Are they relatives of the inchworm?  Do inchworms freeze at a seemingly arbitrary temperature like 32 degrees?  Do centipedes and millipedes just make more sense from a mathematical standpoint? 

More to come…

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