Saturday, 8 November 2008

Perspectives in a half a cup of coffee

So far this morning - morning being defined as the first half of my first coffee at 11am, Kim has been invited to the symphony with a friend and another friend is heading out looking for a Christmas tree. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

It's November 8th. Not even Remembrance Day yet. It's too early. At work we're busy getting the Gift Guides ready for print, along the main streets the lights are being strung on the trees, the leaves are falling, the wind is picking up, stores are starting to play Christmas elevator music, and the ads have begun. BUT IT'S TOO EARLY.

There are twelve days of Christmas - We all know that from the song. That of course is how we learn about these holidays, the commercialism of it all. Being that there are only twelve by my count the season should start on December 13th. IT'S TOO EARLY!

Last week was Hallowe'en, next week is the week of Remembrance, we still have to get through American Thanksgiving (in Canada we do this in early October). I'm not ready for Christmas yet. I look forward to the season, but not all the commercialism that comes with it and it seems that it starts earlier every year. With the economy in the toilet it seems that business is just trying to get the most out of the limited pool of cash out there. People this year will spend less. That's a fact. But with less money out there isn't it time we take advantage of the situation to get back to basics? Isn't a longer season commercialism going to have a negative effect on us by giving us more opportunity to realize we can't afford the things we want to give for Christmas?

Isn't this ridiculous?

I'm a cynic by nature, and it takes alot for me to see a positive spin on something. I'm all about Christmas day with the snow gently falling and the kids opening presents in the morning, and the carols playing, not to mention midnight mass. But I'm not all about blatant attempts at ripping my hard earned money from my pocket this early. I will shop for my family and friends and I will give what I can this year, but not yet. It's not cold enough and there's no snow.

In December I will begin to take notice, put coin in the Salvation Army kettles, pick my tree, pull out my ice skates, put up the lights, stock up on gift bags, etc. I will begin to rant about the reason for the season, and I will wish people Merry Christmas - even though it's not quite politically correct anymore. Screw that - December 25th is not called Holiday Day. It's frickin' Christmas Day. 

I will play carols and make snowmen. If someone buys me a sweater with snowflakes on it I may even think about wearing it. But not now. There's too many other things to think about now. My daughter's birthday is in three weeks. That's first. I'm also preparing my Remembrance Day post - it needs a lot of research and my hope is that it touches readers emotions - much more than a bunch of lights on trees at the beginning of November. 

Let's put things into perspective. Christmas should not last over two months. It should not overshadow the other important events that land in the run up. It should be about family and faith, it should be a happy time. It should be traditional. I plan on teaching my children the true meaning of the holiday - the birth of Christ, not the power of toys and trinkets. This year more than any other, it's the perfect message.


Thursday, 6 November 2008


My brother and I were comparing notes tonight about things in the basement that we need to deal with and haven't quite gotten around to yet. Then it dawned on me - that's where my father lives. 

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Nothing to see here, move along please

My daughter is standing behind me throwing a balloon in the air complaining there is nothing to do. Bad parents we are - Shut the TV off and now both kids are bored stupid. 

We have a house full of books, there are over 1000 on shelves behind me in the 'library'. Kim and I always wanted to have a room dedicated to reading, we chose not to have a dining room for that purpose. But there's nothing to read.

They're arguing upstairs now - yelling at each other. The older is telling the younger to zip it - she doesn't have the right to tell him what to do, or something like that, I'm only listening with half of one ear. I'm going up there in a minute and thumping heads. 

An argument is now in full blown shout mode. Kid yelling at us, us yelling at him - he's tired of reading books, none of his friends are home, blah blah blah. What did we do when we were young? We didn't have a room full of books to enjoy, We didn't have the internet, no PS2, no digital cable - I grew up with 3 channels and I was the remote control when my father wished it. We played. We used our imagination - drew pictures, played games, invented things, made up clubs, rode our bikes, played sports, got lost on long walks through the neighbourhood trying to find a new way to the park. We entertained ourselves in ways that today's kids just can't. Not even that they won't - they CAN'T. Their imaginations and innocence have been overshadowed and destroyed by modern conveniences. If I told my kids to go draw me a picture, they ask if they can use Photoshop. If I tell them to read a book they head for Google Books. Did I mention the shelves with 1000 books behind me?

This is ridiculous. He's sitting there complaining how bored he is. They think life is so rough on them when you crack down on their toys; their life falls apart without ipods, Nintendo, cell phones and the like. Wah wah. Cry me a frickin river. The other day I got fed up with the couch potato mentality and shut the TV off to kid's shows completely. So of course, they want to watch the shows online. Shit. The crap is there too, oh well, no computer now. Oldest got a comic book at hallowe'en. Remember comic books? Stories and artwork woven into a tapestry of colour and imagination. I wore mine out as a kid, even tried to redraw a bunch of them. I could draw as a kid - with get this - A PENCIL. Remember pencils? Those stick things with graphite in them and an eraser on the end that made cool shapes on paper. Now, paper only comes out of the printer after one uses Photoshop for something. Even writing is a chore - everything now has to be typed. That's fine for school and work, but kids can't write their own bloody names anymore. If they do it has to be with one of my work pens. Pencils are out. Little story - In the 60s NASA spend millions on developing a pen that would write in space. The Soviets used a frickin pencil. Don't believe me? Google it.

Remember lego? I used to spend hours in my room building things and playing with them until my eyes bled. When my son was growing up I would spend hours with him building cool models. He has tons of lego under his bed - one hell of a lot of money tied up in huge kits that provided all the creative incentive one could hope for. He even joined the lego robotics club at school. When do you think the last time the lego was pulled out? Right, TV. 'Nough said.

See.. I'm not so evil, the computer does have a purpose. Stupid useless facts that amuse us and make our lives easier. Not like the good old days where one had to remember these little stories from news clips and books. Now it's easy to google damn near anything. That's OK with me, I'm an information junkie. I admit that, and the kids are welcome to use this tool for their knowledge and amusement as well. But that does not include looking up cheat codes because they're stuck on their PS2 game!

I miss growing up around here. So much to explore, so much to do. We played. We were pirates, policemen, bad guys and good guys, girls had cooties and parents were the meanies who always yelled at us for missing our curfew, but fed whoever we brought home dinner. My friend and I got really good at having dinner at each other's houses within an hour of each other. We also played sports, rode bikes, built great snowforts, had snowball fights, we even played soccer in the snow. We went tobogganing, played baseball, chased girls - even the ones with cooties, and so much more. It was fun being a kid, and to think we did all that without unlimited TV, no internet, no electronic doo dads and gizmos. The best thing about being a kid was at the end of a long Saturday playing with my friends lost in our own imaginations was curling up in bed and having the half hour until lights out to read a book from the library that I would dream about having someday. 

The library that collects dust. The library with over 1000 books and nothing to read.

This blog is reflections on lost youth. This one actually is. 


The library in my home, we chose this in lieu of a dining room. This is about half the books here.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Good luck

To my American friends, good luck today and may the best man win. The world is watching.


Monday, 3 November 2008


I drove by a house on the way home from work that displayed a Canadian and American flag. The American flag was flying tall, relatively new. The Canadian flag was ripped, weather beaten and droopy. It looked like it should have been disposed of years ago. I live in Canada. I have pride. I fly my flag high and clean, following military rules like never letting it touch the ground, etc. etc.

It seemed to me today that this guy needed a knock on the door. For all I know he just hadn't gotten around to replacing it yet, but the visual says volumes. The same argument could be said if we lived across the creek in Detroit. It doesn't matter - Flags are symbols of pride in your nation whether by birthright or chosen home. Fly the damn flag properly or not at all. I would not have been at all offended to see just the US flag there. At least that way it is simply denoting the person's homeland and their pride therein. 

What I say today says US is great, Canada blows. No pride at all. Just malice toward the country he or she resides in. 

Just ranting.


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Blasphemy again

Is it blasphemy to refer to the apostles as the 12 apostrophes?
How about Paul in his letter to the Parentheses?

Jokes fly around this place all the time in reference to religion, I'm the only protestant in a house of catholics. It's just an invitation to me! I am a regular church goer - to the family catholic parish. The kids are being raised into the catholic church and I have not issue with that, and the ongoing references to my 'heathenistic' nature are diminishing, but still there. Making fun of it all is a must, not to mention great fun! I have long since promised Kim I wouldn't do or say anything that would permanently stain my children's faith. I have to this point, as hard as it has been given the tempting opportunities, maintained that promise. 

I saw a comic on TV today names 'Father Sean', I couldn't find anything on him to reference, maybe someone else can. He was wearing a collar and carrying a bible, reciting gospel passages and adding punch lines. Funny stuff if you have an open mind, there's the key. How many people these days do? 

Bill Maher does, Religulous proved that, I hated the movie but I admire Maher's ability to discuss religion's counterpoints to the likes of Vatican officials and crack pots alike. I'm really surprised that religious zealots around didn't raise the stink I saw coming with that flick. When shitheads protest funerals of fallen soldiers saying that their death were payback for a culture that condones homosexuality, surely Maher's film would raise an eyebrow? Nope.  Maybe they just ignored it, maybe they thought that because there was nothing homosexual about it they didn't see anything to complain about? 

My kids are safer to be open minded. They will be subjected to more opinions in their lives than just Maher's and western crackpots. Extremism, whether pro or anti religious is rampant and we walk a narrow path between them in our daily lives. The kids will have to decide for themselves which way to stray if they do at all. The faith community teaches many Christian values that are universal - love thy neighbour, peace on earth, stuff like that. Things that are common to all beliefs, even the lack of it. Even extremists belief in core beliefs that are commonplace in most world faiths. The problem is when these beliefs get distorted to one's own plan, using them to justify wacko ideas. Look up Mullah Omar

In a world where religious strife and division is becoming more and more of a problem, I have to back off with my own sarcastic ways just in case I inadvertently put a wrong idea in someone's mind, or piss off some right wing nut job. I have a very strong faith in God and the Christian church. Even catholic. (had to, you understand). My children and my wife do as well and that has served us well in our home and our faith community. 

I want to be able to let my son watch the comedian having fun with the bible, but is he ready for it yet? Are we as a society ready to let this guy make fun of the gospels? George Carlin did with great success, one of his best bits was to reduce the ten commandments to the necessary two. Funny stuff, but recorded in a simpler time. I think that in the process of opening our minds in this society we have inadvertently closed them instead. We have fallen victim to the politically correct movement again, which has run it's course and is now dying. Overkill. 

We're getting more and more afraid of pissing people off with our views. Religious extremists are doing it because they don't care who they piss off - it's their goal to piss people off. They think that if they make enough noise people will see things their way. Oh look, those people are protesting Johnny's funeral for a superficially stupid reason, Let's go hear them out! I don't think so. These people are doing what they believe is right and we are slamming them for it. Sound familiar? 

The only difference between me and them is the extreme views. Not the idea that I'm not afraid to express my views. We both do that, so does the Taliban. It's what we believe that counts. I want my kids to believe because they believe. Not because I made jokes. If anything, maybe having fun with it all makes it easier to take.  I have a friend who lists his religion as antagonist, even though his faith is strong. It's all in how open minded you want to be. 

I want my kids to enjoy their faith. I want them to live in a society where they profess their faith and can still smile and have fun. I'm glad they live in a society where this is possible, the question is how long will it be possible?

Now I'm off to read the Gospel According to Bif.