Saturday, March 12, 2016

Chutes And Scoots

My wife and I recently returned from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. We stayed in the Puerto Plata area. The weather and the resort were lovely. We had a great time.

UNTIL I came down with a bad case of traveler's diarrhea.

This wretched affliction is know as Montezuma's Revenge to those who have contracted it in Mexico.

Interestingly, there is a well-known case of en masse Montezuma's Revenge. This happened to the U.S. Marines during the Mexican-American War. After returning from the battle of Chapultepec, dozens and dozens of toilets at the Marine base were in constant use due to the grim aftereffects. These rows of latrines are mentioned in the Marine Hymn — the notorious Halls of Montezuma.

In my case, I was running around like a distressed Marine for ten days. I was taking so much Imodium that I was considering putting the caplets in a Pez dispenser. I wonder if they make one with a head of Montezuma II?


At any rate, I was able to enjoy most of our vacation prior to dancing the Dominican Jitterbug. And although we did not take part in many excursions off the resort, we did try one adventure known as the Damajagua Cascades or 27 Waterfalls.

Damajagua, I believe, is a Spanish bastardization of the English utterance, "Damn, this is hogwash." Those words were spoken by many a turista en route to the summit of the cascades.

That was one tough climb!!! I believe our guides were some sort of Dominican Sherpas. I should have known we were in for a grueling ascent when I learned the name of our lead guide — Edmundo Hillario.

Another tip-off for me should have been the fact that I was quite visibly the oldest participant in our group. This is not an undertaking for seniors. In fact, Edmundo took one look at me, gave a small nervous cough, and then expressed to the group that we were only going to tackle 12 waterfalls.

Now I did not count how many waterfalls and cascades we actually slid down and how many cliffs we jumped off of, but I will say that sliding on your keester over the American Falls at Niagara would only be slightly more dangerous.

I do tend to exaggerate. Actually, I only suffered a small boo-boo on my right forearm, but my wife's thighs were black and blue after smacking the water during a wicked landing from a twenty-foot precipice jump. Twenty feet might not seem all that daunting to you, dear reader; but consider the fact that we had to aim for an area about the size of a kiddie pool that was surrounded by very mean and menacing rocky rocks.

I suspect my better half was not concentrating on the task at hand. Perhaps she jumped while contemplating the Pythagorean theorem. This would account for her hitting the water at the angle of a hypotenuse.

In addition to her thigh bruises, my wife suffered a muscle injury to her chest which gave her pain for several days afterward. I've selflessly offered to massage her chest area.

For my part, I had previously jumped off a similar cliff in Mexico, but that was several years ago. This time, I was prepared to show everyone how a 62 year old can do it. I had every intention of yelling out on my way down in my best Spanish, "Geronimoooooooo!!!" Instead, I found myself emitting this surprising uncontrollable guttural cry "Aaarrrgggguuuugggghhhhaugggggg!!!"


Mercifully, I landed nicely and made it through the rest of the falls unscathed. My wife wasn't faring as well and we found ourselves lagging behind. Edmundo and the other guides had given up on us at this point and I had to give my wife the ol' hands-on-butt boost to get her over one rock barrier. I was ready and willing to help a few of the other women in our group in much the same fashion, but there were no behinds behind us. Drat!

By the way, I should point out that my beautiful spouse is in very good physical condition. Her biggest problem — and it would be a considerable one in the case of this kind of activity — is that she does not have the sure-footedness of a mountain goat. On the contrary. When traversing rough terrain, my wife looks more like a newborn giraffe on ice skates in an earthquake.

However, we both completed the task eventually and returned to our resort and the relative calm of Caribbean waves incessantly smashing the beach. That night we were going to enjoy a meal at the resort's Mexican restaurant with two other couples. My wife was too sore to attend. I was too stupid to realize I had gastrointestinal problems already and should have begged off. I ate and drank and suffered terribly. When I returned to our room, my wife's eyes just about popped out when she saw my distended breadbasket. She said I looked like Tim Allen in his early transition stage in the movie The Santa Claus.


I eventually "gave birth" to all that was in me, but it took an excruciating week and a half to get back to normal.

And, if there's any justice, I may someday host a visitor from the Dominican or Mexico; preferably a descendant of Montezuma II. I will feed him or her a steady diet of poutine for an entire week.

We'll call the consequences of that "Champlain's Vengeance".

Saturday, February 6, 2016

O, To Go Togo

Prior to writing this particular blog post, had someone asked me "Where's Togo?", I would have responded — very Tarzan-like — "Toe go in sock, with other toes and rest of foot."

For reasons which will become apparent, I have now learned a little about Togo and its people.

Togo is a skinny strip of land in western Africa. It is bordered on the north by another west African country and on either side by yet more west African countries. The south is bordered by a west African body of water. Little else is known of its geography since it is in west Africa.

The people of Togo speak mainly French and the Gbe languages, A Gbe language is known for its tendency to drop vowels between consonant pairs that have no business being unvoweled. Incidentally, those who are proficient in Gbe are also very skilled at texting. Knw wht I mn? In contrast, the French use very few consonants and take an intolerably long time to text, I'm told.

I recently received an email from someone by the name of Jamie Scota. Mr. Scota claims to be an attorney from the Republic of Togo.

Mr. Scota wished to advise me that I am the beneficiary of an inheritance in the amount of fifteen million and eight-hundred thousand U.S. dollars. Now that's quite a sum for anyone; but if you were to convert that into Canadian dollars, that windfall would make me a virtual billionaire ($15,800,000 $USD multiplied by $CAD exchange rate and then converted to the metric system).

He asked that if I were "capable of handling this inheritance claim deal" that I should "kindly revert quickly" with my "positive and prompt feedback".

Therefore, I would like to use this blog post to publicly give my positive prompt feedback and kindly quick revertance:

Dear Mr. Scota,

Since I have no relatives or friends who are Togolinian, I mean Togorian, uh Togoin, that is to say citizens of Togo, I am surprised to learn that I have inherited such a large sum from someone in your fine country. I could, however, be mistaken and learn that gigantic inheritances in U.S. funds for Canadians are generally handled by lawyers from Togo.

Although I am pleased that someone has decided to bless me with such a fortune, I must decline since I am really not "capable of handling this inheritance claim deal", as you say.

Not that I don't like money, it's just that I do not wish to spoil my humble life of anonymity and modesty with such a prodigious quantity of jack.

And although I will not be venturing to Africa to pick up my inheritance, I would love to come visit you in your lovely country and maybe have a festive celebration. I've heard that those Togo parties are wild!

G. Thomas Boston, Esq.

AND, as I was composing THAT letter, ANOTHER email from Togo arrived! It reads:

With Due respect,
My name is Mr Richardson Lewis, I work with financial institution here in Lome Togo. My late client by name Mr. Ruslan who bear the same last name with you made a numbered time (fixed) deposit valued at (Five million five hundred thousand US dollars) at my branch. I need your assistance to stand in as his next of kin and claim this money.The process is simple. We will apply with your name as his next of kin. I will use my position in the bank to guarantee the successfull (sic) execution of this transaction. For more information please contact me. Thanks. 
Mr.Richardson Lewis

So, let me respond to THAT:

Thank you Mr. Lewis. It seems incredible that I would have TWO inheritances awaiting me in Togo, but as I stated earlier, not much is known of your country and perhaps EVERYONE in the Americas has a multi-million dollar inheritance or two awaiting them. Who knows? 

I am slightly puzzled by you assertion that my last name is Ruslan. Perhaps in one of the Gbe languages it comes out that way, but I'm surprised that it doesn't translate as Rsln or Bstn. 

Maybe I should rethink this. Perhaps you and Mr. Scota could advance me a few bucks so I can come and pick up my inheritance in style. Just send a cheque in care of Snow Shoveling In Canada. Two million, no make that three million, ought to do it for now. After a few Togo parties — for appropriate celebration — are completed, I will let you know when I can visit y'all.  
Thanks a lot!!!

G. Thomas Boston 


Togo! Togo! Togo!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mojito, Less Eat-o

Q.  What do you get when you cross a Canadian blogger with a Cuban resort?

A.  A much overdue blog post.

Oh Cuba; land of swaying palm trees, warm sunshine, turquoise waters, and dyspeptic turistas.

My wife and I just returned from a seven night stay at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria. Our choice for this hotel was based mainly on two factors; the mostly positive reviews on TripAdvisor, and the relatively low cost. Honestly, I believe the management at the Melia must read those good reviews and say, "What? Seriously?"
I swear there are people on TripAdvisor who would give a positive review to the Bates Motel.


Actually, the photo above just about illustrates what I might have looked like had I tried to survive more than a week on the food at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria. More about the food later.

We flew into Cuba on CanJet, which is my third favorite Enfield, Nova Scotia based airline.  CanJet — the airline that gets you there on time and then keeps your luggage nice and safe on the plane while you relax and have a seat on the edge of the baggage carousel for two hours.


When we reached the resort, we were greeted with music and champagne (well, not champagne, just some sort of cross between Thunderbird and diluted Aqua Velva). My wife did not finish her drink. I drank most of mine and saved a splash or two as I was in dire need of a good shave.

We arrived at our room. My heart sank, because, to be frank, it stank. It was dank and rank. Was this a prank? This was an alleged “junior suite” room with "elegance club" privileges. Our “view” was a wild, scrubby, brush area, that separates the hotel from the beach. I almost needed a machete just to sit on our veranda. After two days of enduring this room, we demanded to be moved elsewhere.

We were relocated to a second floor room in the same building, overlooking the walkway but at least this room was less humid and considerably cleaner. However, the patio door did not lock and the room door only unlocked after several swipes of our room key card. As well, the toilet only flushed every 15 to 20 minutes due to the fact that the tank filled as slowly as someone trying to draw a bath with a squirt gun. Speaking of bathtubs, this was where the shower was. Not a big deal ordinarily, but the sides of the tub were quite high. You had to practically be an Olympic hurdler to get in and out of it.

Oddly enough, we had no critters in our ground floor room, but we discovered a gecko and another (as yet unidentified and un-Googled) specimen. My wife commented that our original room was likely too creepy for the lizards.


The beach was lovely; nice, wide, clean, and with soft sand. In fact, the sand is so soft and so white, it almost felt as if I were back on our snow-covered Lake Huron beach (but with a temperature differential akin to Mercury vs. Pluto).

There are two large pools at the Melia. For two days though, we only had the use of one pool as first one, then the other was closed for maintenance. Word from management was that a flocking agent had been added to the pools to clarify the water. I've used flock in my own pool back in Antler River, and the particulate matter that sinks to the bottom is a greyish-white. The stuff at the bottom of these pools was suspiciously green. One worker vacuumed out the pools for what seemed to be 48 hours straight. He wanted to get the flock out of there. In fact, I believe most of us wanted to get the flock out of there. No signs were posted during the closures, so the pool guy had to constantly be on watch to shoo newcomers out of the pool. How dare they just jump in and frolic around in the water like they were on vacation or something?

We found the drinks to be fine, but inconsistent. Sometimes strong, other times weak. They were served in thimble-sized plastic cups. However, we did enjoy the mojitos (moe-hee-toe). I was hoping the sugar, mint, and lime juice in those was enough to sustain me in lieu of nutritious food.

Food glorious food
Hot sausage and mustard
While we're in the mood,

cold jelly and custard
Pease pudding and saveloys
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it boys

- from the musical Oliver!

I do believe that if any of those Dickensian guttersnipes had spent a week at our resort, they would have returned to their gruel at the workhouse and felt like Diamond Jim Brady or Orson Welles sitting down to a meal at The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York.

"Please, sir, I want some more. I just came back from the Melia Cayo Santa Maria and I am frightfully hungry."

Lunch at the pool "snack" bar consisted mostly of banana chips and underdone burgers. There were no french fries (no potatoes at all, as we later learned), but listed on the menu was — I kid you not —  fried starch. FRIED STARCH!!!  After seeing that, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some of the unidentifiable dishes at the main buffet were grilled lard and sautéed grease.

The resort ran out of cheese and we were offered pizza without it. We declined. Crackers and ketchup would have been a superior option. And I once made a bad decision to order a hot dog. The meat was a choice blend of sodium-chloride and mystery mush. Mushrooms and potatoes were other items that we could not get at various times.

"But fear not", I said to my griping grumbling gut! "The à la cartes are coming!"

Our first à la carte dinner was at the Mediterranean restaurant. One of the main course selections was "fresh fish and shellfish on potatoes". OK. Sounds interesting. Let's give it a try. The waiter brought our dishes out with shining platter covers. Oh boy, this looks good! He waited for just the right moment, and with a flourish, uncovered both plates simultaneously. He did it with such panache, you would swear he was serving up a dish for the Sultan of Brunei. We knew there were no french fries at the pool snack bar, but we were fully expecting the menu-listed tubers for our main course. We were served the fish and seafood (mussels, calamari, shrimp) sans spuds, and in a bowl of broth. It looked exactly like the seafood soup I had just ordered and did not finish due to the fact that there was a particularly unappetizing shrimp, replete with little legs, eyes, and what seemed like foot-long antennae which stuck out of the bowl. Ugh! Strike one of the three à la cartes.

Our second reservation was a late meal (8 PM) at the Japanese restaurant. This one I was really looking forward to. But after a few bites it started to get to us due to an overabundance of sauces. The chef, who I believe had a black belt in cooking utensils, splashed on soya, teriyaki, garlic, and (I think) Aqua Velva Cuban rum. There were many strange indeterminable flavors. We ate a little more than half of what was on our plates, but my stomach paid for it that night. I felt like I was suffering from Tokyo ptomaine toxicity. Strike two on the à la cartes.

Our final reservation was the Italian. I love Italian food and had worked up a good appetite for this meal. We started with a plate of oil and balsamic vinegar to dip our stale bread into. Then we were given our appetizers. My wife had some strange Gorgonzola salad with a few small items surrounding two wedges of cheese that tasted a lot like plain tofu. My appetizer was a standard bruschetta (which is excellent by the Melia standard). Next up was the minestrone zuppa. Strangest minestrone I’ve ever had. It consisted mainly of peas, carrots, and soggy croutons. I ate maybe half of it. Finally, the main course arrived. My wife ate most of her fish (a whitefish and salmon combo). I ordered the vegetable-stuffed cannelloni. One bite of this chewy, doughy, tasteless mess was enough for me. I had to retire to the buffet to get some pasta to satisfy my hunger. Strike three! À la cartes out!

By the way, the pasta cook at the buffet once gave me a disdainful look because I ordered rotini. In his opinion, it was fusilli. Believe me, it was rotini. And the stuff in the Italian restaurant was not cannelloni. It was crapolla.

The buffet had many trays of weird concoctions, with plumes of steam emanating from them which added to the illusion that I was a starving man damned to wander about in some sort of smorgasbord hell. I ate virtually nothing but pasta since everything else I tried I just could not finish. For breakfast, I ate only omelets and fried eggs. I would not touch the scrambled eggs, which my wife described as "chunky yellow soup." We were served Tangish "orange" juice and inconsistent coffee. Sometimes it was good, while at other times it had the look and consistency of used motor oil. Fruit choices consisted mainly of guava ("Would you care for some guava with your lava java?"), honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon that contained as many seeds as molecules.

On about the fourth or fifth day of these vile victuals, I was tempted to hunt down our room lizards and fry them up on the clothes iron for a nice hot reptile repast.

After last year's experience in Cuba, you would think that I had learned my lesson. Next year if I get the urge to escape the cold and snow, I'll buy a week's worth of food, crank the heat up to 25C, strip down to my shorts, and play my DVD of The Endless Summer over and over.

I might even post a glowing review of the whole experience on TripAdvisor.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Moose And Squirrel: Animals In The News

Editor's Note:
When I started writing this blog post, I had no intention whatsoever to write about Rocky and Bullwinkle. It is merely coincidence that two of the animals mentioned in these news stories just happen to be a moose and a squirrel.

Our first news item concerns the prairie dog, which is not a dog at all, but a rodent. They really should be called prairie rats but apparently their squeaky warning call sounded like a bark to the person who named them. Yeah right; the bark of a chihuahua with a lungful of helium.

We first found out about this "news" item from the CBC. Here are some excerpts:

Did that prairie dog just call you fat? Quite possibly.

...biologist Con Slobodchikoff described how he learned to understand what prairie dogs are saying to one another and discovered how eloquent they can be...

"They're able to describe the colour of clothes the humans are wearing, they're able to describe the size and shape of humans, even, amazingly, whether a human once appeared with a gun," Slobodchikoff said.

Also remarkable was the amount of information crammed into a single chirp lasting a 10th of a second.

"In one 10th of a second, they say 'Tall thin human wearing blue shirt walking slowly across the colony.'"

Slobodchikoff said he has been working with a computer scientist to develop a device that uses voice pattern recognition techniques and artificial intelligence to translate between human and animal speech.

"We could potentially have something maybe the size of a cellphone in five to 10 years where a dog would say, 'Woof' and the device would say. 'I want to eat chicken tonight" or a cat could say, 'Meow,' and the device would say, 'My litterbox is filthy, please clean it.'"

Or, much more likely, a dog's bark would be interpreted as, "If it would not terribly inconvenience you, kindly allow me go out. I want to roll in a rotting squirrel carcass."  A cat's meow will most likely come out as, "Why are you getting your knickers tied in a knot over me sharpening my claws on your furniture, you self-absorbed biped? You can expect a nice wet hairball on your white rug tomorrow morning."

I'm afraid further research by the team at SSIC will be required regarding these grandiose assertions of animal intelligence. However, if we discover that these claims are true, we may soon be seeing these items in the news:
  •     A prairie dog can recite the entire Gettysburg address in just two and one-half chirps.
  •     Wild horses have been know to stage operas — like La Traviata and Madame Butterfly — on the open plain. Some individual performances have been said to rival those of Luciano Pavarotti and Beverly Sills.
  •     A man in Brandon, Manitoba needed only one hour to teach his basset hound how to build a crystal radio. Within days, the dog was fixing every electronic item in the house and now works for the IT department at the local SPCA.
Alright, enough of that nonsense. On now to a serious news item concerning another member of the family sciuridae.

Again, we first learned of this story from the CBC. Excerpts from it are in italics. We've editorialized where we deemed it necessary.

A Winnipeg woman had to act fast after finding a furry home invader taking a bath in her toilet earlier this week.

Angela Campbell said she found a small squirrel floundering in her toilet early Wednesday morning after hearing a strange noise coming from the bathroom of her St. James-area home.

Campbell she was first woken up by her two dogs around 5 a.m. but couldn’t figure out what was bothering the pair until hours later when she heard “big splashing in the toilet.”

Not such an unusual sound, unless of course — as was the case here — there was nobody in the bathroom.

Campbell didn't know what she would find when she opened the lid of her toilet, so she carefully knocked on the sides of the bowl before lifting the lid.

A prudent practice whenever your find your toilet is making enough noise to wake up your dogs.

When she finally summoned the courage, she flipped the lid to find a small, drenched squirrel grasping the sides of her toilet bowl.

So Campbell did what any sensible Winnipegger would do — grabbed a pair of BBQ tongs from the kitchen and put the water-logged creature in her bathtub.

Only in Winnipeg do they use this method. In other Canadian cities and towns we use peanuts to lure waterlogged rodents out of our commodes. Then we carry them outside using a spatula.

“It was just filthy. I didn’t know how it could breathe because it stunk so bad,” said Campbell.

We here at SSIC do not wish to speculate on this particular element of the story.

So she gave it a quick bath before she tried to release it.

Sometimes I need a little inspiration for my "poetry". I call this piece Zest That Pest:

A Winnipeg woman was stressed
When she found in her toilet, a pest;
A squirrel that stunk
As bad as a skunk.
So she bathed it with water and Zest.

Campbell said she had no idea how the squirrel got in her toilet but said the city’s water and waste department was cleaning water mains on her street at the time.

So the squirrel ended up in her toilet by way of a reverse flush?

Or perhaps — if we are to believe the previous news item — this squirrel is an engineer working for the city's sewer and drainage department. He was likely inspecting the drainage system and was about to file his report when he was ignominiously snatched from his job by a pair of BBQ tongs.

I hope that woman has insurance. Those water engineer squirrels are a litigious bunch.

Finally, we move on to this story about a much more advanced member of the animal kingdom — the mighty Canadian Moose!

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has received 316 hectares of private land from a former top diplomat to promote cross-border moose love along the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick boundary.

The land conservation organization has been attempting to assemble a corridor of land on the Chignecto Isthmus between the two provinces as part of its so-called Moose Sex Project.

So if you ever find yourself wandering around in the Maritime Moose Sex Corridor, it would be a good idea to make yourself look as unmoose-like as possible.

This story also illustrates another way in which other mammals can be just like humans. When it comes to sex, they behave like animals.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

However, Red IS Canada's National Colour

The ever-vigilant CBC has provided us with an important story regarding a boy who was has been bullied for being Canadian.

From the article:

A 15-year-old boy in Upstate New York alleges that two of his teachers teased him so much about being Canadian that he became depressed, prompting his mother to pull him out of school.

“They’d say things like ‘Canada’s full of communists. They club baby seals. That my opinion doesn’t really matter because I’m a Canadian,’” Noah Kilpatrick said by phone from Watertown, N.Y.

When I first skimmed this article (I'm on an intellectual diet so I only digest skimmed words), I thought the instigators were the boy's classmates. But it was the teachers who were the culprits. You would think adults would know better, but then you look at the state of the world and... Oh well.

Nonetheless, we here at Snow Shoveling In Canada would like young Noah to know that we have his back. We are here to defend all Canadians from such insults, and to inform and educate others about our country.

First of all, we are not a bunch of communists. The last time I checked, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives were still the governing federal party in Canada. But — in all fairness to the pubescent and post-pubescent persecutors from Watertown — compared to the U.S. Republicans, our Tories are a bunch of pinko reactionaries. When you throw in the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois, and the NDP, Canada would seem to be virtually FULL of communists.

It is just a coincidence our intrepid RCMP have red uniforms, and that our flag is half red, and that one of Canada's national emblems, the beaver, is a notoriously social animal.

Nonetheless, if the Americans tease us enough, we are prepared to spread our socialist agenda like a red plague and contaminate the States with our Bolshevist ideology. That'll serve 'em right. BAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!!!

Now to this business of bashing little pinnipeds. Personally, I’ve never clubbed a baby seal. None of my friends or relatives have either, as far as I know. However, we have been known to quite frequently venture onto the ice and hammer the hell out of each other with sickle-like sticks. This practice is known as "Ice Hockey" and has been designated as Canada's official winter sport. Canada's official summer sport is Lacrosse, wherein we use an even heavier chunk of lumber to beat the maple syrup out of each other on the grass or concrete.

Come to think of it, that tyke might have done well to advise his American teachers and classmates of the Canadian penchant for using wooden objects to clobber people. They might have thought twice about picking on him.

Would-be bullies should also be aware that many Canadians like to wield smaller pieces of wood with chopping blades attached. These are the axes of the myriad of lumberjacks who populate our country. Attention Watertown educators and schoolchildren: Consider your next words to a Canadian carefully lest you receive a visit from a gang of angry Paul Bunyanesque loggers.






OK. Enough with the Canadian stereotypes. I must say goodbye for now. It's time to lock up the ol' igloo and head to work. Now where did I leave my axe?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mangled Mailboxes, Elevator Survival, and Schnauzers

I'd like to begin this post with some advice that I recently gave to a Facebook friend.

She was bemoaning the fact that her mailbox was the target of baseball bat wielding thugs. She asked, "What did my mailbox ever do to them?"

I replied, "It’s not what the mailbox did. It’s what it represents. You see, the average mailbox — even an empty one or one consisting of just junk mail — contains more information than is stored in the average vandal’s brain. The envious mailbox smasher, being naturally devoid of reason, feels that he/she must resort to physical means to destroy that which is a very real threat to their intelligence".

I know there are some Minikinites who will undoubtedly be enlightened by that message. The mailboxes around here are so rusty, weather-beaten, battered, and bashed that we have the expression, "As mangled as a Minikin mailbox".


And now, the "news":

Here’s an interesting item:

VIENNA - The Swedish manager of an Austrian hotel was trapped in a faulty elevator for four days before a bread delivery man heard his cries for help on Friday, police said.

The 58-year-old was in good physical condition after his ordeal in the spa town of Bad Gastein near Salzburg, police in the mountainous Austrian province said.

“He told police he had done a hunting course with survival training in the Swedish military, which stood him in good stead in this case,” a police statement said.

Before I get into the elevator survival business, I just want to mention the town that this allegedly took place in — Bad Gastein.

BAD GAStein??? In a spa town? I think it might be a good idea to change the town's name to Good Healthstein. Personally, I've always avoided spas when I have bad gas.

Anyway, after reading this article, I was puzzled because I wasn't sure how a hunting course with survival training would help someone stuck in an elevator. I've read a few survival guides and not once did I find a section on elevator emergencies.

How does one's knowledge of nutritious plants and roots come into play in such a situation? What difference does it make if you know how to build a lean-to when you are out of the elements and stuck in an enclosed 27 square foot room? Aside from Tarzan's tree vine, devices for up-and-down travel are rarely found in the woods or jungle.

It could all be an Internet hoax. Where would you find a hotel in Austria — or anywhere for that matter — that would be completely deserted for four days? This is supposedly a spa town full of tourists. But here we have no guests, no visitors, no maintenance workers, no vagrants or burglars; nothing except a solitary bread delivery man after four days! And why was the bread guy delivering his wares to an unoccupied or derelict building?

This all smells rather fishy. Could it be a publicity stunt pulled off by the “victim" in order to gain fame and fortune? He may be trying to sell a book.

Here are some examples of what that book — let’s call it Bjorn Bjorkerson’s Guide To Elevator Survival — might contain:

"Firstly, we will assume that you are not a complete doofus and have already pressed the alarm button and tried the elevator phone. Secondly, we must assume that you are not a tech savvy person and that you do not carry a cell phone. Thirdly, we will assume that you've already created a ruckus by yelling and screaming and pounding on the doors..."

"Go hunting for spiders hanging from webs in the corner of the elevator car. Track down fleas, ticks, and tiny microbes from your body..."

"If you know that your day will include some vertical traveling, wear edible clothing. Remember however that when help does arrive you may be naked — sated and in good health, but naked..."

"I learned in the Swedish military service that you MUST keep a Swiss Army Knife with you at all times, particularly if you plan to manage a multi-story hotel in Austria..."

"Use your Swiss Army Knife and unscrew that sign that says, “Maximum capacity not to exceed 16 persons”. Then, using the little saw blade, cut it into pieces to use as firewood (if you do not have a match or lighter, you will have to rub two pieces of the sign together to start your fire). Then, using the tiny screwdriver, unscrew or pry apart your watch. Now hold the watch back-plate with your knife's tweezers and heat over the flames. This makes a dandy little insect and spider frying pan..."

"Comb the floor for crumbs. The last passenger may have been eating a muffin, or a donut, or potato chips. Those brown stains you see down there could mean you’re stepping in some Kladdkaka. Lift your shoe and see what nourishing morsels you might uncover. Never underestimate the nutrition to be found on the floor of an elevator..."

"Sit very still and wait, wait, wait.  Ommmmmm...."

"Cry for help when the bread delivery man comes..."

Come to think of it, maybe there were people in the hotel. There may have been several operational elevators. No one would have noticed that one stuck lift contained a very calm, cool, Swede who might find a week’s stay in a broom closet to be a very agreeable experience.

Finally, here is a joke I thought some of you might enjoy. It’s a little racier than the usual wholesome fare found at SSIC, so I hope no one is offended.

A woman noticed that her dog (a Schnauzer) could hardly hear, so she took it to the veterinarian. The vet found that the problem was excessive hair in the dog's ears. He trimmed and cleaned both ears, and the dog could then hear fine.

The vet then proceeded to tell her that, if she wanted to keep this from recurring, she should go to the store and get a hair removal product and rub it in the dog's ears once a month.

The woman went to the local drug store and bought some "Nair" hair remover. At the register, the pharmacist told her, "If you're going to use this under your arms, don't use deodorant for a few days."

She replied, "I'm not using it under my arms."

The pharmacist said, "If you're using it on your legs, don't use body lotion for a couple of days."

She then said, "I'm not using it on my legs either. If you must know, I'm using it on my Schnauzer."

The pharmacist answered, "Well, stay off your bicycle for about a week".

Editor’s note:
This was only a joke. We do NOT recommend the use of any depilatory on any dog — be it Beagle, Poodle, Great Dane, Dalmatian, Labrador Retriever, etc.

Nor do we recommend its use on Schnauzers.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Won't Prance, Don't Ask Me

In case you haven't seen it yet, Prancercise has been making quite a stir on the Internet. It's the latest exercise fad. It comes courtesy of a perky free spirit by the name of Joanna Rohrback. Here is her video:

It looks like fun, but would I do it? Not on your sweet prancing life.

I'm pretty sure that most men would not want to try Prancercise. I'm not too sure ANY adult would, but it would be a rare man indeed that you would find Prancercising through the park.

What the fitness world needs is an exercise routine that men can feel comfortable with — no need for equipment; no need for spandex; no need for music; no need to be perky, or bouncy, or even happy.

So, with that in mind, Snow Shoveling In Canada proudly presents the latest and greatest exercise routine for men:


I was considering doing a video to demonstrate this intense workout. But since the Stancercise exercises do not really require much more than still photography for instruction (and since I don't have a decent video camera), I've decided to just post it here on this blog. And it's ALL FOR FREE

One aspect of Ms. Rohrback's video that has been getting a lot of attention is her white pants and a certain part of her anatomy that they cover (but don't really hide). I've decided to dispense with the idea of gaining similar attention by putting a kielbasa in my shorts and donning some tight white pants.

So let's begin. First we will start with this warm-up stance:

And hold... two... three... four...  and rest.

Now that you've caught your breath, let's try some advanced moves:

This "exercise" will take off the years,
when you pose like a model from Target or Sears

 "No pain, no gain"; we have no use for that platitude.
Instead we say, "Adopt a stance with some attitude".

If you are getting tired at this point, it might be a good idea to take a break. Remember to re-hydrate. I recommend beer.

Now, if you are ready to resume:

 In the dog days of summer, you'll never complain,
'cause you'll always be cool when you stand like John Wayne.

Your terrorist neighbors are sure to be nervous
when you bear the air of the Secret Service.

And finally my favorite:

Perspiration is fine for the cyclist or jogger
but I much prefer the sweat beads of a lager.

And hold... two... three... four... and rest.

Whew! Could anyone else go for a cold beer right now?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Canuck Shall Run Amok On Mars

I recently ran across a news item from Owen Sound. Owen Sound — the city whose motto is, “We are not amused by the Southern Ontario Elephant.”

The news was about a young fellow who would rather live on Mars than spend the rest of his life in Owen Sound. Here is an excerpt from the story:

OWEN SOUND, Ont. — Trevor Uitvlugt says he isn’t vying to go to Mars for fame or money.

The 22-year-old Star Trek fan from Bruce County, Ont. — one of about 3,000 Canadians who has applied so far to go on a one-way trip to Mars — says he is going to make a difference for mankind.

“I said in my application video that I would be more lonely dying here not making a difference, then there and maybe making a difference,” said Uitvlugt...

Trevor UITVLUGT??? That sounds suspiciously alien. It could be Klingon — which would explain his affinity for Star Trek. Or perhaps it is Martian in origin. Mr. Uitvlugt, like any good E.T. is just trying to return home.

The article goes on to state that Uitvlugt is a kung fu instructor and lifeguard at the Family Y.

So, despite what he says, this young man IS making a difference here on Earth. I hope he can somehow find some Martians who are in desperate need of self-defense and water-safety instruction.

During the early days of space flight, many American and Russian children dreamed of following in the zero-gravity footsteps of their astronaut and cosmonaut heroes. But these dreams were not limited to those countries alone. Many a Canadian child had similar aspirations.

“I want to be an astronaut when I grow up," said a typical ‘60s era Canadian tyke.
“But honey, Canada has no space program," came the usual discouragement from the pragmatic adult.
“No problem,” said the undaunted star-gazer. “I’ll hitch a ride with the Americans on one of their spacecraft.”

So the children became grownups and persisted in their ambitions. They approached the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for a chance to ride into that great star-dappled ocean of infinity.

“You know," said the directors at NASA, “we don’t want you just along for the ride, going “Oooooh, aaaaah” and “Look at those stars! COOL!”  We expect you to chip in and add something worthwhile to this mission.”
“We might be able to lend a hand," said the Canadians.
NASA’s firm reply was, “Well, we’re hoping you could provide more than just a hand.”

Thus was born the Canadarm.

The Canadarm made its debut in 1981, and was a very useful tool in space exploration. It was used to carry, retrieve, and maneuver various space stuff during various space missions (I hope I’m not being too technical here). If needed, the Canadarm could also be used to grab an incoming and unwelcome alien by the throat or to deliver an impressive mechanical punch to the creature’s gigantic, green, scaly, four-nostriled nose.

The Canadarm was finally retired in 2011 due to the worst case of tennis elbow in the entire Solar System.

The world is still waiting for other countries to do their part and develop a replacement. In the works are the San Marinose (the alien might turn the tables on this one), the Venezueleg, the Panamouth, and the Germaknee.

Meanwhile, Trevor Uitvlugt is well-advised to listen to Elton John's song Rocket Man, with Bernie Taupin's immortal lyrics:

"She packed my bags last night, pre-flight
Zero hour, nine a.m."
Do most astronauts have their gear readied by their spouses?

"And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then..." 
Must be Whip Whitaker at the controls of this spacecraft.

"Oh no, no, no, I'm a rocket man 
Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone..."
“Burning out one’s fuse” is a euphemism for lonesome, solitary space activities. I leave it to your imagination.

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids 
In fact it's cold as hell 
And there's no one there to raise them if you did."
I think the cold Martian air is affecting the Rocket Man’s logic: There is no one there to raise kids if you raise them there.

"And all this science, I don't understand"
We can just hear it now:
Rocket Man: Attention Ground Control. My craft is shaking like a can of paint in a hardware store.
Ground Control: You need to make some adjustment with the servo-amplifiers. Also, you may be looking at trouble with the nuclear pulse propulsion thrusters. Remember as well that electrostatic ion thrusters use the Coulomb force and accelerate the ions in the direction of the electric field, while electromagnetic ion thrusters use the Lorentz force to accelerate the ions.
Rocket Man: HUH?
Ground Control: Come on buddy. This isn't rocket science, um, I mean brain surgery.

"It's just my job five days a week..."
Does he go back home to Earth on weekends? Maybe he takes day trips to check out Saturn on Saturdays and has fun probing Uranus on Sundays.

Personally, I'd rather explore Owen Sound.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'll Have A Foot-Long Monkey Meat On Italian To Go

I thought you could buy a monkey meat sandwich at Subway.

Subway has had ads out (in Canada at least) that show some sort of breakfast superhero squad.


There’s an egg with an attitude ("The Awesome Ovum"?), a tomato (female, of course — perhaps “Toots the Tomato”) and some green fellow who might be known as “Phallic Vegetable Man”.

I’m pretty sure these superheroes represent the food that you can have on your sandwiches at Subway. The other member of the squad that I did not mention yet is a swaggering, helmeted monkey. He is the biggest of the group and appears to be the leader. Let’s call this super simian "One Tough Monkey".

Since you can get egg, tomato, and cucumber on your sandwiches, one can assume that you can also get monkey meat (if you so desire). I, for one, have no such desire. But I am curious, since there is no logical explanation, as to why the monkey is represented.  Could he just be a mascot? If so, why a monkey? In fact, I did a Google search and could not find one website that could explain this monkey business.

So, I recently walked into our nearest Subway and asked the girl behind the counter if they served monkey meat. She was courteous and professional, but her reply was a rather firm “No sir, we do not”. I thought I’d better not push it and ask her about the names of the anthropomorphized creatures from the Super Breakfast Squad.

While we’re on the subject of TV ads, I recently saw one that honestly, actually, believe-it-or-not was trying to get people to buy a washing machine cleaner. I think it was from the makers of Tide.

The woman in the commercial walks toward her laundry room and suddenly her face contorts into one of abject revulsion as she apparently smells this wretched putrid stench coming from her washing machine. She couldn’t have been more disgusted if a horde of sewer rats had committed mass suicide in her heating ducts.

Personally, I’ve NEVER washed my washing machine. If this woman came anywhere in the vicinity of our duds sudser, she would likely make a beeline to our washroom to call Ralph on the big white phone.

Now I may be wrong about this but don’t most people put a detergent directly into the washing machine when they do laundry? Does the washer not go through a cycle of sloshing and swishing around with warm sudsy soapy water for several minutes, going whoosha-wooka whoosha-wooka whoosha-wooka? Is not everything then put through a rinse cycle, which involves more sloshing and swishing — more whoosha-wooka whoosha-wooka whoosha-wooka? Does the machine not spin everything at the speed of a particle accelerator,  thereby ensuring that anything and everything but the clothes has been flung from the drum both prior to and after the rinse cycle?

I don't remember ever complaining, “I would do a load of laundry, but the washing machine is dirty” or “Honey, can we do something about this stinking washing machine? I’m afraid it will soil my used jock strap.”

Why doesn’t Tide market an additive to moisturize the water? Perhaps someone like the makers of Bounce could come up with a drying agent for your dryer. Crest could surely jump on the bandwagon and invent a toothbrush brush. Maybe GE could come up with a device to warm up your oven. There’s a whole untapped market out there!

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, I want to mention a scientific study in France that concludes men with guitars are sexy.  It is hard to argue against this, as the photo below illustrates:


Friday, May 10, 2013

Hey Anonymous, CAPTCHA This!

I always welcome comments on my posts. If nothing else, it proves to me that at least someone is reading my blog.

I moderate all comments lest I receive some accolade like “I hope you freeze to death, you ***********, *************, snow-shoveling, son-of-a-*****!”

As well, I have had the CAPTCHA option turned on, mainly because it seemed to stop the comments from one particularly pesky person by the name of Anonymous.

It is ironic that this person shares a name with the brilliant Anonymous who has given us so many sayings, songs, and poems. I believe the ancient Anonymous was some sort of Greek polymath and brother or sister to Aristomedes, but I could be wrong. I fear that the modern day Anonymous has only half the mental capacity of the modern day half-wit.

During the six months that I had CAPTCHA off, I received about 30 comments from Anonymous. Most of them were pretty much the same. Here are how the comments and my equally goofy replies would have appeared, had I posted them:

Hey very nice blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I'll bookmark your site and take the feeds also? I am glad to seek out a lot of helpful info right here in the post, we'd like develop more strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . . Feel free to surf my web-site...

    G. Thomas Boston
     I’m glad you’re glad to seek out all the helpful info I try to incorporate into my posts. Like me, you should develop more strategies on this regard. Glad I could share. I shall surf, but just the surface of your site.

Someone essentially lend a hand to make critically posts I'd state. This is the first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the research you made to create this particular post extraordinary. Great job! My webpage...

    G. Thomas Boston
    Someone essentially tendered spam to pass it off as a legit comment I’d state. How frequently have you frequented other blog sites for the first time to this point? Don’t be surprised with the research I made to create this particular extraordinary post; ‘tweren’t nuthin’.

WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for jacksonville impotence treatment center

    G. Thomas Boston
    Glad you found us. Unfortunately, very few people are aware that Snow Shoveling In Canada is just a front for the Jacksonville Impotence Treatment Center.                            

Here are a few more articulate comments from Anonymous:
  • I'm very pleased to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it 
  • Wow that was ѕtrange. I just wrote an verу long cοmment but аfter I сlіckeԁ ѕubmit my сomment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not wгіting аll that ovеr again.
  • Hi mаtes, how is all, and what you would like to say concerning this pіеce of writing, in my view іts trulу aweѕome іn favor of me. 
  • It's perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it! 
and my favorite:
  • Pretty element of content. I simply stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to say that I get actually loved account your weblog posts. Any way I will be subscribing for your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.
High praise indeed. And while I do appreciate the comments, I couldn't publish them due to the fact that Anonymous is trying to hawk something on his or her web site. Although, some of it is interesting:
  • make money online no scam (Oh, suuuuuuure!)
  • bathing suits juniors (If this person had truly read my blog, they would know that I’m soon to be more interested in diapers seniors)
  • back pain between shoulder blades (as opposed to upper back pain)
  • last minute wintersport weekend (now this one I should have investigated, being the snow-loving Canadian that I am)

I am in Canada
I am shoveling
I am snow
I am
I am
I am
I am Snow Shoveling In Canada

I always wanted to say that, just like all those cool people you see in so many TV commercials these days.

Anyway, CAPTCHA is an acronym. I think it stands for Can Anyone Perceive These Characters? Hahaha! Anyone?

Hold on. One of my editors has just informed me that CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

What kind of an acronym is that? There are too many words! The proper acronym for that would be CAPTTTTCAHA (pronounced capt-tititty-cah-ha). I don’t like acronyms that aren't succinct and to the point like NATO and SCUBA.

There once was a snorkeler from Cuba
Who thought he would one day try SCUBA
But raptures of the deep
Very nearly made him sleep
He somehow emerged in Aruba 

We might as well make up a new meaning for CAPTCHA. How about:

Curmudgeonly Advice: Please Tell Computer Hackers, spammers, automated software designers, and others of their ilk that you are tired of having to figure out those squiggly, distorted strange words and phrases, and that you no longer want to type them in just to prove you are not a ********* computer, and that if you ever get a hold of any these nerds-from-hell you will give them a swift kick in the lower binary region.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Boy, A Thracian, And An Airline Pilot Walk Into A Blog...

A friend recently inquired as to why I haven’t been blogging much lately. I said, “Who do you think I am? Leo ******* Tolstoy? In case you haven’t noticed, I've posted blog entries on everything from snow shoveling to sports, music, art, literature, poetry, holidays, travel, fashion, technology, animals and, literally, all kinds of topics from A to Z. My brain is tired!”

He responded. “Really? I've read your blog. It sure doesn't look as if you've overworked your brain on it.”

Well, he may be right. Even so, I just want to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to that friend who is currently in the hospital recovering from reconstructive nose surgery.

However, I have done some writing of late; I've reviewed some movies on the website Rotten Tomatoes.

I used to think being a film critic would have been the world’s greatest profession. Imagine, being paid to watch movies and expressing your opinion. Now I think it would be a nightmare! Can you imagine having to sit through three hours of a James Cameron supposed-epic, with music by John (The Big Schmaltzy) Williams, and possibly starring (we'll scrape the bottom of the barrel here) Adam Sandler, and in 3D? I’d rather be a Wal-Mart greeter in Antarctica. But, I suppose there could be worse jobs.

As a favor to you faithful readers, I've decided to post some of my reviews here so you don’t have to e-travel all the way over to the Rotten Tomatoes site.

HUGO (2011)
Hugo is directed by either Spielberg or Scorsese. I think it's Scorsese, but it felt like Spielberg. The film even had some John Williams-style BIG music, composed by Canadian Howard Shore. Yeah, that's right, the Canadian saxophone player from the Canadian band Lighthouse! (I had to get in some Canadian content there)

This fantasy is about a boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. Not since The Legend of 1900 have I heard of anything this screwy. Inside these walls are the guts of the station's clocks. The guts consist of cogs, gears, counterweights, pinions, springs, and - inexplicably - steam.

During the course of the film, we learn that Hugo is the dude that built C3PO (or some C3PO prototype). C3PO reveals to Hugo that the local old grump (played by Ben Kingsley) is in fact a forerunner to movie wizards like Spielsese or Scorberg.

Anyway, I saw this movie in regular old boring 2D at a local theatre which hasn't changed much since its days as a Nickelodeon. I didn't realize it was a 3D film until the scene where some pages with drawings go flying from the kids' hands and drift all over the screen. At first I was thinking, "What the hell is this all about? Am I supposed to be mesmerized by fluttering stationery?" Then I realized that this was intended to be seen in super-duper 3D. "Ahh," I thought, "Now I see. Ooooh, that would have been so cool to see all that paper flying around in 3D." We haven't witnessed anything like this in cinematic history since the famous bolo-bat scene in the 1953 film House of Wax.

Hugo does a lot of hiding and running, primarily from a train station cop played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen's character is an amalgam of Inspectors Javert and Clouseau. He and his trusty Doberman Pinscher cannot seem to track down the elusive boy who knows the station and its walls like the inner workings of an automaton. During one climactic scene, Hugo gives the Inspector the slip by doing a Harold Lloyd impression from a clock tower.

Once the Inspector catches up with Hugo, they have a talk. During the conversation, the little urchin makes the Inspector laugh. The Inspector tells him that he's funny. Hugo then says, "I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to ******' amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny? What the **** is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny!"

Wait a minute. I might me confused. That dialog might be from a different movie - a real Scorcese film.

Editor’s Note — Anyone who has read ALL my posts will recognize that part of an old blog entry was used in this review. Forgive me. As I said, my brain is tired.

In 1960, Stanley Kubrick released his colossal, towering, gargantuan, monumental, epic blockbuster SPARTACUS!!!! Okay, it isn't that spectacular, but it is a pretty dang good flick.

Spartacus stars Kirk Douglas as an impudent Thracian slave. Thracians, as depicted in the film, were a race of people known for a particular physical characteristic - they had chin dimples the size of walnuts.

Because Spartacus is such an uppity wisenheimer, he is sentenced to a life as a gladiator. Not that it's all bad. He gets to work out a lot and is "whipped" into incredible physical shape. Also, he receives occasional visits from another slave who also happens to be a tasty dish named Varinia (played as a genteel aristocrat by Jean Simmons).

Douglas does a fine job as the brooding gladiator. Other standouts include Charles Laughton as Gracchus; not to be confused with Crassus, a gourmet who likes both escargot and shellfish, played by Laurence Olivier. Peter Ustinov provides some Oscar-winning semi-comic relief as the sniveling sycophant Batiatus.

Another major character in the film is Antoninus, played by Tony Curtis. Tony (which is short for Antoninus) is a "singer" of "songs". His "songs" are just poems spoken in a Bronx accent.

During the course of the movie, Spartacus escapes from gladiator school and assembles a considerable army of fellow undergraduates. Spartacus is well-loved by his men, and this is illustrated in one particularly moving scene.

When the Romans capture Spartacus and his men, Crassus threatens to kill them all unless someone betrays their leader (who Crassus believes is a communist). Spartacus - in a heroic effort to spare his men - stands up to reveal himself, but Antoninus beats him to the punch. He jumps to his sandaled feet and yells out, "I'm Spartacus."
This sets off a chain reaction. Another guy stands up and shouts, "I'm Spartacus."
And another, "I'm Spartacus."
Another, "I'm Spartacus."
And so on.

The Romans were very frustrated by this, because now instead of one pesky Spartacus, they found that they had to deal with a whole slew of Spartaci.

Legend has it that this event spawned an entire generation of scofflaws. Whenever a centurion confronted a non-Roman for some infraction - say a speeding chariot - the inevitable happened:
"All right wise guy. Thirty days in the dungeon."

Anyway, this is a very good film that I highly recommend. And, if I may, I'd like to close out this "review" with one of Antoninus' "songs":

"When the blazing wind hangs low in the western sky
when the sun flies away to the mountain
when the "song" of the crow scares the locusts from the fields
and maidens sleep in the sea foam
at last at twilight time..."

Or something like that.

FLIGHT (2012)
Flight stars Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker, a pilot who can fly a passenger jet through the eye of a needle even though he's downed enough alcohol to put Haystacks Calhoun on his keester.

Whitaker is no stranger to other mind-altering substances. He apparently can drink ten gallons of 150 proof hooch, fall asleep, then get himself back on his feet by snorting several lines of cocaine. And with all those drugs swirling around in his liver, he can expertly maneuver a disabled airplane upside-down (to be clear, it's the airplane that's upside-down. Although the Whipster could likely fly it standing on his head). What a stud!

However this is a pretty good movie. You'll really enjoy it if you first dispose of your jaded negativity.

— — —

There you have it, two full reviews and one pathetic, measly, tepid critique.

But, before I go, I'd like to give a shout out to a fellow blogger who has a new book coming out. Congratulations Susan on the upcoming release of Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Purg-Odan Weight Loss Plan

I can't fit into a lot of my old clothes anymore. I feel like Humpty-Dumpty trying on a pair of pants tailored for Pinocchio.

Perhaps this restrictive diet I'm on will help. No collops of meat or dollops of ice cream for me. No siree!

I just finished a tasty lunch of apple juice and clear chicken broth and am I full! I couldn't eat another drop.

For the next couple of days, I am restricted to a diet of sodas, juices, broths, Jello, and Popsicles  This is in preparation for a colonoscopy. This isn't my first. In fact it will be the third time I've had the pleasure of this particular experience.

A little later today I will have to add something else to this already diverse diet — Purg-Odan. Doesn't that sound scrumptious?

I had to go to the local drug store to buy this purgative. I checked the shelves and saw an item in the household cleaning products aisle called 2000 Flushes. “Ah," I thought, "That must be similar to what I’m looking for. Some worker must have placed it in the wrong section of the store.”

Evidently I was wrong, but 2000 Flushes would be a great name for these industrial strength laxatives.

I had to ask a pharmacy technician if they had any Purg-Odan. They did, and, of course, it was a behind-the-counter-because-you-must-exercise-caution-using-this-and/or-no-one-wants-to-acknowledge-that-it-exists type of item. I asked for two boxes. She wanted to know if I really just wanted one box, since each box contains two packets. “No,” I said, “I need two boxes with two packets each.” I swear she winced at this. That didn't help my apprehension. But when I saw that the product was advertised as Orange Flavor, I said, “Mmmmm! Sounds yummy. I can hardly wait.”

I thought I should complete this blog entry AND PRONTO because when that Purg-Odan kicks in I’ll be spending most of my time in the Oval Office.

By the way, here are some photos from the Purg-Odan website:

Does it actually make real oranges?

This product must be for men only.

Tonight’s Dinner Menu:

Appetizer — Apple Juice
Main Course — Chicken Broth (the Soup-Du-Jour), Tea (no milk), and more Apple Juice
Dessert — Jello or Fruit-Juice Freezies

At 8PM it will be another dose of Purg-Ocrap followed by a “snack” of water or Gatorade.

And tomorrow morning, while still asleep in bed, I’ll be dreaming that I’m Fred Flintstone eating a big 'ol Brontosaurus Burger, only to wake up and face another day of fluid fare.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cut-Rate Cuba

Hello again dear reader.

If there is anyone who has been waiting with great anticipation for my next blog post, I do apologize for my absence. Likely, no one has noticed my non-presence anyway, but nonetheless, I have returned.

It has been another slow snow shoveling season. There is very little snow here in Minikin and the roads and sidewalks are as bare and dry as a naturist with a hangover.

So since I have nothing newsworthy on the topic of winter precipitation, I might as well tell you about our most recent trip to Cuba; that sunny and warm country of communism and American automobiles from the ‘50s.

My wife and I departed on Friday February 8th at 6:30 AM. A howling blizzard threatened to make us stay for at least one day at Toronto Pearson International Airport — not my idea of a winter getaway. But we did take off, and apparently just in time, for flight cancellations were the rule for the rest of that day.

Our destination was the resort island of Cayo Largo.

When we landed at Cayo Largo’s airport, I noticed a Cocker Spaniel having a nap in the late morning sun just off the airport tarmac. In Spanish speaking countries this is known as a siesta, which — if I can trust my knowledge of Spanish — is a combination of the words for yes (si) and this (esta). How this means “late morning nap” is beyond me. Only a Cuban Cocker Spaniel knows for sure.

Anyway, I thought, “How cute! This airport has a mascot.” But I was wrong. This was a serious working dog. In fact, there were several Cuban Cocker Spaniels which soon sprung into action and went to work. These weren’t garden variety house-adorning, lap-sitting, face-licking Cocker Spaniels. No siree! These were dope-sniffing Cocker Spaniels. I personally would think Bloodhounds, Bassett Hounds, and Beagles would be better suited for this kind of a job. But if I can rely on my knowledge of Spanish, Cocker Spaniel derives from the old Spanish meaning Coke-detecting Spaniard, or Spanish Cocaine Dog, or something like that, so these canines were well-suited for the task. They didn’t seem to find anything however. What would a Canadian be smuggling into Cuba anyway? Labbat Blue?

Woe betide those who try to smuggle Canadian beer past this beast!

Again, as in Mexico, we had to go through airport security with scanners, metal detectors, serious security agents et al. I still don’t understand this since we went through the same process on boarding the plane. Do the Cubans know something that Canadian security agents don’t? Did they think we were trying to smuggle pieces of metal that we ripped off of the plane’s body and wings to sell on Cuba’s thriving aluminum black market?

Anyway, after only a five minute ride from the airport we arrived at our resort, the Sol Pelicano. If my knowledge of Spanish is correct, I believe Sol Pelicano means Pelican of the Sun, or Sunny Pelican, or A Pelican named Sol, but I could be wrong on all accounts. It may translate as "one heckuva cheap, cut-rate, budget resort."

Much like the American automobiles in Havana, this place looked as if nothing had been done since the ‘50s. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a fine resort with empty fountains, an empty whirlpool spa, broken cobblestone pathways, crumbling sculptures, dried up gardens, dirty restrooms with faulty plumbing, and mysterious food choices. In short, a lovely and charming place.

All right, I’m being facetious. It really wasn’t all that bad, but it wasn’t all that great. However, I knew beforehand what we were in for since I read the reviews on TripAdvisor.

Keep in mind, when you visit Cuba, that you should not expect the amenities of the Waldorf-Astoria or even the Minikin Motor Court. Gear your expectations down to things like camping in the jungle or living out of your car for a week, and you will be delighted with your surroundings.

The food was a daily adventure. Most of the salads looked as if they were placed there by a Candid Camera type show to see if anyone would actually try them and then have their reactions filmed for the amusement of television audiences.

One restaurant had a vat of soup each day that was simply labelled “soup”. For all I know it could have been Cream of Iguana. In truth, I would have gladly tried some Cream of Iguana soup after a few days of the Pelicano’s cuisine.

By the end of the week, I was feeling less adventurous, and stuck with hard-boiled eggs and prunes for breakfast, white rice for lunch, and unadorned pasta for dinner.

Cayo Largo is an uninhabited island with long sandy beaches which sometimes disappear overnight depending on which way the wind blows. For us, the wind was mostly blowing directly into our faces at twice the velocity of exhaust from a jet engine. The water crashed onto shore, erasing the sandy beaches. So instead of white sand we had many miles of craggy rocks to walk on.

There was wildlife on our resort. We saw an abundance of stray cats who meowed around the buffet restaurant for scraps of food. It’s likely they never actually ate any, or else they wouldn’t have made such a fuss. I tried to pet some of them, but they ignored me even though I was saying in my best Spanish, “Aqui gato. Aqui. Gato, gato, gato.” Those dumb cats probably don’t even know there own language.

The other wildlife on the resort was an iguana the size of a Volkswagen. It would have made several vats of tasty soup. I didn’t need to call it, even though (if my knowledge of Spanish is reliable) I would have said, “Aqui Iguanatito. Aqui sopa ingrediente.” But this was a lazy lizard. I just reach out and petted his soft fur-less neck. He seemed to like it since he closed his eyes and looked quite content. Then again he was likely just happy I wasn’t going to make sopa out of him.

The ability to provide clean towels proved to be a real challenge for the resort. Clean beach towels were usually not available and our bathroom towels were, well, not necessarily something you would want to wipe your face with. My wife pointed out that one towel had, as she put it, “a rust spot, or...”.
I replied  “Or...” in an attempt to get her to elaborate, although I don’t think I really wanted her to finish her thought.

One of the best things about the trip was that we met some very nice people in Cuba; people from all over speaking a wide variety of languages. Most of them spoke their own lingo because they were not Spanish experts like me.

So in closing I would like to express gratitude, goodbyes, and thanks to our new-found Cuban friends. And I trust my Spanish is good enough to say, “Garcias und adieu kemosabes!”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Knowledge of Art is Sketchy

The good people at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland recently decided to induct the Beastie Boys into their august museum of music.

The fact that this gruesome group should be so honored prompted me to tweet,  "The Beastie Boys induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is worse than showcasing children's refrigerator door artwork in the Louvre". And it's true. My ears would not tolerate 15 seconds of Beastie Boys "music", but I would go to an art gallery to see children's paintings and drawings.

Actually, I think that children's art would be great to see in a museum or gallery. After all, most of their artistic abilities far surpass mine.

For example, here is my best drawing of a horse (and I'm not kidding. I drew several before deciding this was the best):

But you don't have to be an artist to appreciate art. A recent painting of Canada's intrepid leader, Stephen Harper, has been creating a bit of a stir. Here is a censored version of it:

Those who have seen the uncensored version know very well that the black dot is quite disproportionate to the (ahem) item that it is concealing. I wonder if the artist knows Mr. Harper intimately.

By the way, is there really a Tim Hortons out there where you can lie naked on a sofa while being served a piping hot double-double? If there is, I think it would be prudent to order something a bit cooler, like an iced coffee. 

The Harper painting is funny, but is it art? Methinks not. Art should make methink and youthink. It should make you stare in wonder. It should make you wonder why you're staring.

A good example of this is a work entitled Voice of Fire. This fine product of creative genius sits in Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada. Canadian taxpayers forked over 1.8 million smackeroos for this work by American artist Barnett Newman.

I've actually seen it in person. I'll say this much for it — it's big. It looks like an enormous flag. In fact, it looks like the artist took North Korea's flag, removed the white from it, broadened the blue stripes and hung it sideways.

Voice of Fire

Flag of North Korea

Actually, there were several of Mr. Newman’s paintings at the museum — all very flag-like. One must conclude that this artist loves the look of flags. Considering the generous payment he received from the Canadian government, he probably has several banners of the Maple Leaf hanging around his house. At least he should.

The brilliant philospher Alan Watts once said about modern art, "The paintings look as if they had been made with excrement or scraps from billboards, and the sculptures like mangled typewriters or charred lumber from a burned-down outhouse."

He further clarified his statement with, "This is not to be taken as a rejection of "modern art" in general, but only of that rather dominant aspect of it which claims that the artist should represent his time. And since this is the time of junkyards, billboards, and expensive slums, many artists—otherwise bereft of talent—make a name for themselves by the "tasteful" framing or pedestaling of objets trouvés from the city dump."

I respectfully disagree. Why back in the olden days, there were painters like Johannes Vermeer, who gave the world such junk as The Astronomer.

Vermeer's The Astronomer. Personally, I don't get it.

A couple of centuries later, Henri Rousseau presented his masterpiece The Sleeping Gypsy.

The Sleeping Gypsy

Although I like this painting, I must say that I always thought the gypsy looks quite stiff, as if rigor mortis has set in. Perhaps he's already dead. This would account for the lion's lack of interest in making a meal out of him. The big cat probably wanted fresh juicy gypsy, not gypsy jerky.

Thankfully, art evolved further. Many years later we had artists like Jackson Pollock. Pollock bristled at suggestions that his paintings were not art (ha ha! get it? bristled... brush...  you know... paintbrush... forget it).

I think I see an astronomer in there

So, if we revisit my crude likeness of a horse, all we need to do is add some colorful crayon strokes; give it a fancy name and, Viola! — modern art.

Horse in Transition: A Study in Crayon, Opus 12

That should be enough to earn me consideration for induction into some sort of artistic hall of fame, don't you think?