Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best of SSIC: In Other Words, Reruns

It's time for the Holidays. It's also time for television show echoes. You know — reruns.

Television execs feel that it's their right to re-broadcast the same lousy crap that they crammed down our throats at the beginning of the TV season.

We here at Snow Shoveling In Canada have taken the position that this is a legitimate and time-honored practice that serves a purpose — namely, a way of saying "I don't have time for anything original to give you right now, so chew on this regurgitated tripe for the time being".

So with that in mind, we urge you know to have a second look at these SSIC classics:

If sports is your thing, you might enjoy this post summarizing the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

If you're into fashion, you might want to have a look at this post that takes a look at different beard styles.

For those who like "music", take a look at this post about the history of rap and hip hop.

Budding scientists may learn something from this post about a chewing gum experiment.

Finally, the refined among you may gather a little culture in the form of poetry from this post.

See you in the New Year for some new blog entries (they're actually just rehashed posts but cleverly disguised to look like something new. Hey, everyone does it!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cross Country Elbow Dislocating

My wife and I just recently enjoyed a cross country skiing excursion at our cottage just outside the hamlet of Minikin, Ontario. Much snow had fallen, and an enchanting wintry landscape gave us the promise of unsurpassed skiing ecstasy.

However, some dimwit had plowed the roads, and done a good job of it too. This is cottage country after all, and the roads are traditionally covered with enough snow to suffice for this particular sport. But gravelly patches and ice greeted us here and there.

On one particularly steep downhill lane, my wife saw what she thought was a nice powdery slope. Intrepid and eager, she swooshed off downhill. To her surprise and dismay, she found out about midway that the road was covered with a particularly nasty and unfriendly coating of ice. Standing and looking at her from the top of this small mountain, I saw this blur on skis quickly disappearing and shouting, “ %$#^*! It’s ice! AAAUUUGGGG!!!!” She fell with a barely audible “whump”. She lay there motionless in the snow in her green coat, looking like an abandoned evergreen that had fallen from the roof rack of a car on its way to become the Christmas centerpiece of someone’s home.

It took me a while to comprehend what had happened. At first I almost yelled out, “C’mon move! I wanna try it!” But after about three minutes, I realized that something might be terribly wrong. So I took off my skis and navigated my way down to my snow-crusted heap of a spouse.

It should be noted that I am known as a very perceptive man — a man of acumen, intuition, and insight. This was demonstrated now, as I looked down at the crumpled mass of humanity and asked, “Are you OK?”
“Nnnaarggh”, she articulated. “I think I broke something.”
Fearing the worst, I checked her skis but found to my delight that they were as good as new.
“I think I broke my arm or elbow", she elaborated. Luckily, I had remained silent about my concern over the skis.

With some cautious effort, I was able to take off her skis, stand her up, and escort her back to our cottage. It was a 20 minute drive to the nearest hospital. My wife howled and shrieked with pain for the entire journey. I considered rolling down her window to utilize her wailing as a siren. When we got to the emergency department, I immediately went to reception and had them admit me to check for ear damage. Once it was determined that I was OK, they had a look at my wife. The doctor took x-rays and discovered that she had a dislocated elbow.

The procedure then began to put my better half back together again. She was sedated first with morphine, and an anti-nauseant. Then they administered something from a syringe that almost put her completely into La La Land. I was asked if I wanted to stay and watch them contort my wife's arm back in place. "It would be my pleasure", I replied.

Although my wife was quite dazed and dopey, she managed to moan out, "AAAARRRRrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnhh......zzzzzzzzzz....." Her head then lolled to one side as the cast was applied to her arm. Thankfully, she remembers nothing of the procedure.

The cast is now off, but my wife's arm is equipped with a bionic-like contraption that makes her look rather menacing. So, I've decided not to complain about helping her out and doing all the household chores.

Guess who's cooking Christmas dinner.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If Guilty, We'll Make An Archetype Of Them

It’s official! Snow Shoveling In Canada is an international sensation!

We here at SSIC were doing a little blog maintenance work recently when we noticed (for the first time) a feature on this host site which allows bloggers to get a glimpse of how their work is doing viewer-wise. For instance, you can check how many views your blog has had in the past day, week, month, etc. Also, this nifty tool allows you to see how your blog was discovered (what search methods were used), and which countries your readers are from.

We had naively assumed that only Canadians and snow-susceptible Americans were our audience. Not so. South Korea, China, Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Germany, and India are listed as some of the countries that have been delighted and enlightened by this most important and indispensable source of information, news, and entertainment. We’ve gone viral! (not really, but allow us to get just a little excited. OK?)

We’ve been getting noticed on other web sites as well. On a recent Google search for “snow shoveling in Canada”,  we came across a site that specializes in landscaping products (including snow shovels). This is not the first time we’ve seen our blog listed on other sites. For example, a web site specializing in gum had our post about chewing gum included on their pages.

This should bring up an important caveat to all you bloggers out there. Be careful about certain key words you use. For example, if you use the phrase “penis size” in a post, you may find your good wholesome work listed on some site that advertises or advocates the usage of dubious pills, lascivious lotions, or dangerous stretching exercises. Uh, oh. Now we’ve done it.

Anyway, this landscaping company had listed on their site an excerpt from our post Word Twist and the Masters Trontmeuna. However, they did not print our words verbatim. What they printed (and I’m not making this up) was their own interpretation. Let’s go through it together:

What we said: The game is called Word Twist.
What they said we said: The trick is called head-agreement.

What we said: The objective of this game is to unscramble the letters you are given and to make up as many words as you can think of in a two-minute period.
What they said we said: The bias of this work is to decipher the letters you are given and until toady, as many words as you can more than one to two months of half-span.
SSIC Response: Their "translation" of our words is a complete fabrication. We are very particular about the facts we cite. We’ve double checked and a two-minute period is not equal to one to two months of half-span. Even if you are using the metric system, everyone knows that two minutes is four and one-quarter months of a full span (or one-half toady span).

What we said: For example, you may be given the letters b t c x a z q. From these of course you can make the words bat, cat, and tax.
What they said we said: For archetype, you can confirm the b t c x a z q letters. From the road, you can fill up the words bat, cat, and taxes.
SSIC Response: You cannot come up the word taxes or any other word for that matter unless you've been provided with all the letters necessary to spell that word. For archetype, you cannot spell the word bats if you haven’t been given an s. And it matters not if it’s done from the road or any other course.

What we said: If you’re very clever, you get bonus points for using all of the letters given to reveal a word.
What they said we said: If you are very clever, you get points by using the free for all letters included enjoy a brief conversation.
SSIC Response: We would never ever utter those words. Free-for-all letters (or wildcard characters as they are sometimes known) are not allowed in Word Twist. Having said that, we would like you to now enjoy a brief conversation.

What we said: I can’t think of a word that uses all the letters b, t, c, x, a, z, and q, but this is the dilemma I face virtually every time I play the stupid game.
What they said we said: I can not invent a head which uses all the letters b, t, c, x, z, and q, but this is the fix I look in every way I act exceeded the constraint audacity simple.
SSIC Response: I wish the people behind this web site could constrain their simple audacity. It is true that I cannot invent a head. That’s already been invented (and most heads are quite capable of using all the letters listed).

Their excerpt ignores the next three paragraphs, then goes on to interpret our description of the Masters golf tournament.

What we said: However, dollars mean nothing to the Masters champion.
What they said we said: However, there is poor dollar to defend the Masters
SSIC Response: They may have somehow thought that we said that Creflo A. Dollar was a champion of the Masters. We did not. And he is not. Neither is he poor.

What we said: No, the best thing about the Masters is you get to win a green jacket. Not at any other place or at any other time is it considered an honor to adorn a spinach-colored blazer, but this is the ultimate prize in this unparalleled athletic endeavor.
What they said we said: No, the feeling is unsurpassed in the Masters is sure to win a green jacket. Not at all other searches or any other body is considered an honor to decorate a blazer the color of spinach, but the fundamental unresolved in the Peerless athletics.
SSIC Response: We cannot argue with this. They figured out exactly what we were communicating here.

Finally, at blurb’s end, they say that we said, “The conqueror himself outside to keep the painting for one year....”  In fact, we said,  “The winner apparently gets to keep the coat for a year.” Although a coat of paint is not a painting or work of art, — no matter how well it’s been applied — it appears that this is what they thought we were talking about when we were referring to the Masters green jacket. Joseph's coat of many colors would really confuse them, and likely generate a translation of "the Sistine Chapel".

There it is — a discombobulated misconstruction and misrepresentation of our perspicacious discourse. We may have to consult our lawyers on this matter to see if this is a case of a willful, unmitigated, wrongful, malicious, fraudulent, libelous, transgressive, plagiaristic malefaction.

Let’s see them translate that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Chickens and Festivus

Snow shoveling is who I am. It’s my identity. It’s what I live for.

Not really. But I don’t mind shoveling. At the very least, it gives me something to blog about.

I recently made a few Facebook friends chuckle when I posted the following on my FB page:

♫ Oh, the weather outside is crappy
And I'm anything but happy
You know where those clouds can go
*%&$#@ snow, *%&$#@ snow, *%&$#@ snow. ♪

You could say that London has a lot of snow right now. The city is quickly becoming the world's largest igloo.

This is insane! I truly have nowhere to put the snow. The banks around the driveway and walkways are so high that our property is beginning to look like a walled city. I’m going to have to start building some snow turrets so I can see the rest of the neighborhood.

And it’s still coming down! If I hear “Let it Snow” or “Winter Wonderland” on the radio one more time, there’s going to be one less audio appliance around this household this holiday season.

Sheesh! I can’t wait for autumn to end!

But in all seriousness, I’ve never seen this much snow in Antler River at this time of year. And I’m no spring chicken. In fact, I’m a legitimate winter chicken.

Winter chickens, winter chickens,
Pecking in the snow.
Clucking through unlucky beaks,
“Where did that damn seed go?”

I think I might try that winter chicken recipe this year and have it instead of the standard turkey Christmas dinner. But I am hosting a rather large gathering, so I might have to cook it in a cauldron similar in size to the one the witches in Macbeth used.

Single, single, moil and mingle;
This mess tastes like that stuff on a shingle.

As I alluded to in my Facebook post, winter has not technically arrived. That doesn’t happen until the 21st. The first day of winter is known as the winter solstice. It is the shortest day of the year. Compare this to the summer solstice, which — as everyone knows —  is the tallest day of the year.

Ancient savage pagan heathen barbarians used to celebrate the solstice. They noticed that the sun had been getting progressively lower in the sky and more feeble each day since the tallest day of the year. Then, after the shortest day of the year, they noticed that the days started getting taller again. People were ecstatic that the sun didn't just fizzle out and die in a snow drift. It never occurred to them that the sun did the same routine every year. These were ignorant brutes who apparently needed help from aliens to build Stonehenge.

A Wikipedia article on the celebrations surrounding the winter solstice says in part, “Starvation was common in winter between January and April, also known as the famine months..." and  "The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.” I imagine the food wasn't missed all that much.

So whether your choice of celebration is Christmas, Burning of the Clocks, Festival of Lights, Festivus, Hanukkah, HumanLight, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, or Pongal; it's my wish that everyone enjoys the season. Rejoice in your own fashion (I mean party in your own way. I wasn't suggesting that you whoop it up over your clothes).
Oh, and a Happy Winter Chicken Day to all!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flashlight Up The Butt? So What?

A busy travel season is approaching, and warm Christmassy smiles will soon be wiped from the faces of countless travelers as they go through airport security on their way to holiday destinations.

Security surrounding air travel has increased on an exponential level equivalent to some of those graphs that Al Gore brandished in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth (which could be a good alternate title for this blog post). But way back when I was a youngster, airport security consisted of a semi-retiree asking “How are you?” as you made your way to the terminal gate. Really suspicious looking people may have been asked to present their boarding passes before they got on the plane.

But that was then. We live in the real world now. Fun and games are over kiddies. Long waits, long lines, grumpy faces, serious attitudes, scanners, and pat downs are the order of the day.

These new rules however are creating mobs of whiny protesters who obviously don't realize that these measures are for their own good. People say they don't want their clothes virtually stripped off by scanners nor do they wish to have anyone cop a feel of them as they exit the metal detectors.

A security man (though a fair sort)
Used to pat people down at the airport
Till the day he got slapped
'Cause he misjudged and tapped          
Where the skin is less tan and the hair short.

I realize that the images from those airport scanners are a form of erotica the like of which we've never seen before. Who wouldn’t get turned on by looking at those? I don’t know how the agent viewing them can keep from salivating all over himself. But that’s his problem, right?

As far as the pat downs go, I think I'd rather be the pattee than the patter. There are a LOT of people I'd prefer not to feel up. Besides, we can think of these hands-on episodes as a free massage! Have you seen the prices for a therapeutic massage these days? Just think of the airport as a mini spa. You get to take a few clothes and jewelry off. You take off those tight sweaty shoes. You get a little massage. Then you relax and have a seat in the sauna-like terminal while you read a magazine and wait for your flight. Ahhhh…..

I really think everyone should be required to fly naked. Nudists would have no problem with this, but the puritanical among us might complain. I remember I was once on a flight that had a squad of NFL cheerleaders on it, and... well... what was I saying? Oh...  yeah. Come on people! For the sake of security. Let's get with the program and implement this ASAP!

Another splendid idea is that everyone be required to swallow a pill-sized camera that quickly makes the voyage down the entire length of your alimentary canal — from entrance to exit; from stem to stern; from embark to disembark; from high to low; from hello to… well, you get the idea. However, this could take some time. It could create lines of humanity that would make the queues for Space Mountain or the opening of the latest Harry Potter movie look like the lineup outside a bar in Utah on Christmas Day.

Shall we please not gripe about the pat-downs and x-rays and interrogation. After all, it’s in the name of safety. Which would you prefer; getting a light feel from a security agent, or the considerably harder touch of a terrorist bomb?

Even if security measures were to become more severe in the near future, how could anyone possibly complain? Seriously, which would you prefer; being blown to smithereens, or stripping down to your birthday suit and being asked to bend over and touch your toes while a stranger shines a high-powered flashlight beam up your nether regions?

This should be an easy choice.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It Happened On A Feast Of Stephen

Greetings dear loyal reader. Once again snow shoveling season is upon us. A squall from Lake Huron hit Antler River last Sunday and did not let up until Wednesday. With the eagerness of the proverbial Canadian beaver, I grabbed my trusty shovel and headed out on seven separate occasions to clear away the accumulated flakes.

When all was said and done, we had about 100 cm of snow (for those of you who are not used to the metric system, this translates to roughly 47 ounces or 1.78 pounds per square inch). But you should have seen this winter wonderland! The snow was lying round about; deep, and crisp, and even.

For some reason, I’m reminded of that old Holiday song about a good king. You know — the one that begins, “Good King’s wench is lost. Look out...” That’s not really how it goes, but that could be a common Mondegreen.

Of course the good king in the familiar song is none other than His Royal Majesty King Wenceslas.

Here is the story of an incident that took place one winter evening which might give you some idea of the character of this "good" king.

Note: There are disturbing overtones of cannibalism in this legend — eating flesh, and a feast of Stephen. This story may not be suitable for small children and fussy eaters.

It seems that one night when the moon shone bright (though there was frost on the gruel), King Wenceslas took a break from his cold porridge and happened to espy a poor fellow in the snow gathering fuel. It’s not clear if the man was drilling for oil, mining coal, or collecting some wood. Suffice it to say, he needed to ignite something combustible in order to heat his humble abode.

The king was likely upset that some filthy commoner was out there scuzzying up his lovely blanket of virgin snow. So he yelled to his faithful sidekick Paige, “Hither Paige, and stand by me!”

Paige quickly hurried to the side of her crowned commander. He demanded that she tell him who in blazes was “yonder peasant” (the king always liked to use degrading terms for those he felt were below his station in life, which would include just about everyone). She informed him that the man lived a good league hence (about 1.879 kilometers per cubic hour for those used to the metric system), and that he lived right against the forest fence, underneath the mountain (presumably in a cave). Why a fence would extend into a mountain cave or tunnel is anyone’s guess, but it’s possible that this fence cordoned off the property of a saintly neighbour by the name of Agnes Fountain.

After getting the facts from Paige, the king demanded, “Bring me flesh, and bring me wine. Bring me pine logs hither. We shall bear them.”
So Paige and monarch forth they went togither to bear thither a feast of wine, flesh, and tasty pine logs.

En route to yonder wretched oaf, Paige complains that she is having a heart failure and can go on no longer. The icy king responds with a curt  “Mark my footsteps! Tread thou in them!” This, he alleged, would make her blood “freeze less coldly”. Well I’m no physicist, but frozen is frozen. If your blood freezes, it matters little if it freezes 10 or 100 times less  (that’s 6.89 or 73.47 times for those of you not used to the metric system).

Besides, Paige was a diminutive thing. The king was a large fellow with a stride like Yao Ming. His footprints were well in excess of five cubits apart (for those of you used to the metric system, well, you figure it out. I’ve never know what the heck a cubit was). In order to tread in that dinted snow, Paige must have looked like a little lord a-leaping.

Now all this about the king’s cold attitude and whether or not anyone engaged in cannibalism is definitely subject to interpretation. However, the fact that the king didn’t invite the peasant into his warm castle for a nice holiday meal is not.

It’s not as if yonder clodhopper was a long ways off. Paige could clearly identify him without visual aid, so he was probably within shouting distance. The king could have bellowed through the crispy moonlit night, “Hey, yonder dirtbag! Come hither for a bowl of frosty gruel and a nice warm plate of Stephen.”

There you have it. I hope this puts you in the holiday spirit. May your Christmas be merry, your New Year happy, and your oatmeal frost free.