Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ginger Snaps

Holy cow, An actual post!

In the time since my last post, so much has happened. My uncle Albert Harris passed away from cancer. He was 59. My mother spent five weeks in the hospital with a kidney infection that led to septicemia. They're hopeful about her recovery. My boss who was supposed to leave for Poland, hasn't. She's got a lump in her throat which they'll be doing a biopsy on shortly.

Life has not gone according to plan.

In other news, soon after I shot my video of Frodo, I got some great footage of my friend's bulldog, Ginger. Well I've finally assembled it and am posting it here for your viewing pleasure.


Next Post: Spoils of War - a fantasy TBS Games Retrospective

Previous Post: Irony, Thy Name is Silence?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Irony, Thy Name Is Silence?

Oddly, the less frequently I post, the more visitors I get every week. I have no idea why. Also my page views have skyrocketed. The less I say, the more you read. Bizzarre.

I'm thinking with my new full-time job and my new hobby (see the post What I Really Want To Do Is Direct) I really should change this blog to a "once a week" footing. Daily is out of reach right now.

I'll try to post one humour story a week, most likely on Friday or early Monday morning. More videos will also be coming down the pipe, but they'll be a bonus on top of my weekly humour post.

So, here's what's new...


What I Really Want To Do Is Direct
This post will be of a video I shot today. I just got a lovely Panasonic GS80 Mini DV Camcorder and I thought that 'Frodo', my 10-year old english bull terrier would be the perfect first subject. (more...)

Btw, my posting was so erratic in August that I'm going to combine it with September for choosing the next "Post of the Month". It seems kind of silly to vote for "Post of the Month" when the month only has FIVE posts.

We Have a Winner!
"The Worst Smell Ever" has been voted, by you the readers, to be July's Post of the Month. Thanks to those who voted! (more...)

This Just In
"The Most Fascinating Thing I've Heard This Century"

Theoretical physicist and 2057 host Michio Kaku speculates on the future of civilization.

Quote - "The generation now alive, and our grandchildren, are the most important generations ever to walk the surface of the earth."(more...)

Don't miss these classic posts!

My personal favorite post:
Hot Coffee At Twenty Below

Reader's Favorite post for April:
Adventures In Cuba: People Are Funny When They're On Vacation

Reader's Favorite post for May:
The Top Five Fuhringer Family Fishing Trip Disasters

Reader's Favorite Post for June:
Sorry Buddy

The most read "This Just In" post:
Videos of Water Flash Freezing

Thanks! - T. D. Fuhringer

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What I Really Want To Do Is Direct

This post will be of a video I shot today. I just got a lovely Panasonic GS80 Mini DV Camcorder and I thought that 'Frodo', my 10-year old english bull terrier would be the perfect first subject.

I had to put it on YouTube since the software keeps failing to upload the video. -sigh- (It looks WAY better in it's original full resolution)

Please enjoy the video and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Previous Post: At Least I Didn't Burn the Place Down

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At Least I Didn't Burn the Place Down

So I survived my first day as Day Manager of Gino's Pizza. The young lady I wrote about earlier now has a healthy new baby boy named Aidan. The other young lady who worked for us also now has a beautiful baby girl named Madeleine. So one of the reasons I got to be Day Manager is because we lost two employees to pregnancy. Yay Babies!

The other reason is because the owner wants to semi-retire. Yay semi-retirement!

As I write this my feet are throbbing. (My old position as driver involved a tremendous amount of sitting.) This new position requires that I be constantly on my feet pretty much the whole day. My poor feet asked my why I am doing this to them and I had to remind them that now, a single weeks' wages will pay off my entire MasterCard balance at once. Yay more pay!

It's going pretty well. I haven't burned the place down, yet. My mistakes have been recoverable. I'm learning all the duties (many of which can't be explained, every day at a pizza shop has very different needs). Outgoing school orders, incoming food shipments, drink shipments, cheques to be written, customers to be served, pizza to be made, toppings to be prepared, dough to be prepared... the list is endless.

Once I'm up to speed the owner will be heading off to Poland for several months, and I'll be alone during the first two-thirds of my shift each day. That will be sweet. It's lot's of work, but with no one around to mess things up on me or give me a hard time, the stress level is very low.

Anyway I'll keep you all posted and I'll try to get back to 'the funny' as soon as possible.

Right now my feet have stolen my sense of humour.

Previous Story: Privacy? What's That?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Privacy? What's That?

During the same trip where my cousins and I almost had a close encounter with a bear, a few other things happened that are worth telling. Bear with me. (Terrible, I know.)

FYI: My grandparents regularly called all the small children in our family "édes" (pronounced 'ay-desh'). It means "sweet" in Hungarian. You need to know this. There will be a quiz later.

My grandparents lived in an old farmhouse made of granite. What can I say? It was Ontario and the builders used the materials they had on hand. For the record a stone house is really cool and comfortable in the summer but in the winter, without a woodstove, you can forget about having running water in your pipes. The foundation and basement were stone too. In fact, the basement, with it's cold dark stone, cobwebs, bad lighting and sump pump hole was pretty much a horror filmmaker's dream. I'd love to go back there with a camera and make one of those low-budget, creepy "There's Something in the Basement" summer slasher flicks.

But that's not the best part. The only way to get to the basement was through the bathroom.

I'll give you a moment to wrap your head around that concept.

To get to the stairs leading to the basement, you had to go through the bathroom and walk past the sink and toilet. It was like having an awesome secret passage in the bathroom. Only it wasn't a secret and it was actually incredibly inconvenient.

It wouldn't have been so bad if my grandparents weren't European peasants with no concept of privacy. I'm not sure there even is a word in Hungarian for 'private'. If there is, no one in my family ever used it. Why would you want to be alone? Are you doing something you're not supposed to? Then why not do it with family around? Why be hiding? So you're naked in the tub? We changed your diaper when you were a baby, we've seen you naked, it's not that exciting. Privacy? What's that?

So one time, my cousin Leilani went to the bathroom. She's sitting on the can with her panties around her ankles (we know this because she told us, we weren't actually IN the room... ok we were right outside snickering and hooting) minding her own business. James and I were watching from the dining room in fascinated horror as Grandpa shuffled over to the bathroom door, opened it, and marched right in without hesitation. He shuffled towards the stairs while Leilani covered herself with her arms and tried desperately to pretend she wasn't there.

As Grandpa got to the top of the stairs to go down, he turned, looked directly at her and with a friendly wave said, "Hi édes!" and then went downstairs.

After several minutes, Leilani came out of the bathroom. Her eyes were as big as dinner plates and her mouth was turned down in the most pathetic frown a little girl has ever worn. She hung her head.

Of course, we howled at her unmercifully.

After that, she always went out of her way to the upstairs bathroom. She figured Grandpa wouldn't go in there as often, since it only led to the attic.

Next Story: At Least I Didn't Burn the Place Down

Previous Story: What Are the Odds?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What Are the Odds?

So I was out doing window cleaning for George today. One of the jobs was "Jean's Flower Shop", a lovely easy job. But when I got there they were already open (they'd been open since 7 am... eep!) and there were approximately one billion people looking for a parking spot. Why?

Free roses. By the dozen.

So it was a madhouse. I worked around the people waiting in line for their free flowers the best I could. When the job was done, I was glad to get out of there. Got mom some free Sunflowers though.

So I was trying to get away from the nightmare and ended up going down the side streets to avoid the traffic. I decided to take a random side street to get down to the main street I needed.

Here's where the title of today's post comes in.

What are the odds that a wheelchair accessible school bus would happen to be blocking the one side street I turned down. Or that someone immediately pulled up behind me so I couldn't back out. Or that they were loading the entire Teen Special Olympic Basketball Team onto the school bus. One wheelchair at a time. Slowly and carefully.

Did I mention S L O W L Y ?

So I listened to 14 songs, 113 commercials, and read my owners manual, twice. Then I got out of the car and started a pick up game of Euchre (on the hood of my car) with Jerry, Tim and Tina, fellow travellers also waiting for the school bus to turn off it's lights so we could move. By the time Tim had won all my lunch money, the bus was half loaded.

Seriously. My life is like one of those low budget European art films where a bunch of strangers end up stuck together for some ridiculously impossible reason and end up either killing each other and/or falling in love.

What are the odds?

Next Story: Privacy? What's That?

Previous Story: That Bear Wants To Talk To You

Monday, August 20, 2007

That Bear Wants to Talk to You

I'm back from my relaxing vacation.

But not all my vacations have been relaxing. One time I went with my family up to a "cabins on the lake in the woods" vacation. No TV, no phones. No Internet. No cel phone service. Just south of Algonquin Park. Very peaceful.
The environment was peaceful anyway. My family... not so much.

Here's a picture of the area.

So one evening while the sun was setting we went for a walk down the road. Typical Northern Ontario crushed granite gravel road, bordered on both sides by birch and pine trees. We were on our way back and it was getting very dark. I'd gotten ahead of my family and was fooling around with some wood I'd found in the ditch. Suddenly Dad called out to me.

"Hey Teddy, that bear over there wants to talk to you."

I jumped out of that ditch so fast I'm amazed my socks and underwear didn't fly off.

High comedy. Thanks Dad. Scare me to death in the woods. Yeah, yeah you can stop laughing.

So one time I was staying up at my Grandparents house along with my cousins Leilani and James. They lived way out in the country in an area of red granite and pine forests. Much like the above picture.

We went for a walk down the road. I was the oldest so it was my job to protect the little ones. Right. The first thing I did when we got about half a kilometer down the road was start talking about bears. (Hey, I learned it from my dad.) Leilani and James got really nervous, bottom lips quivering, ready to cry. I was so mean.

We stopped and I said, "What's that noise? Over there in the woods! Shhh!" We all froze. Of course, I was making it up. There was nothing there. Or so I thought.

Suddenly there was a real noise in the woods. A kind of chuffing, snorting belch, very deep and growly. All three of us screamed and started running. We blasted across the field towards the house as fast as our little legs could take us, not looking back, shrieking in terror.

Partway across the field we heard a new noise. It was Grandpa, waving the cowbell to get our attention. He was shouting, "Children! Come back!" This struck us as odd behaviour for Grandpa but we were so scared we didn't care.

Then he tells us that he came looking for us because there was a bear in the woods. Some vacationer had been killed and the police had phoned the residents and warned them to keep kinds and animals inside until they tracked the bear down and killed it.

I don't think my cousins ever forgave me.


Next Story: What Are The Odds?

Previous Story: What's the Letter that Looks Like a Swiss Chalet?


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What's the Letter that Look Like a Swiss Chalet?

Today's title is my Dad's idea of high comedy. I swear. Go ahead, try to figure it out. I dare you.

He was trying to make a joke about not being able to read. Mom and I were making a lot of noise and joking is his clever way of telling us to shut up without actually saying it. So he says, "I can't read anymore. Somebody help me. What's the letter that looks like a Swiss Chalet?"

We stared at him for a minute and then mom made the shape of an 'A' with her arms. "You mean this one?", she replied sarcastically. "That would be an 'A'." I just shook my head.

Of course, Dad's jokes always have to include a reference to food or a bodily function. Otherwise it's just not funny. I have seen my father laugh out loud at the stupidest movies. Pauly Shore movies. Carrot Top movies. But Wallace and Gromit? Not even a smile. He came down while I watched Curse of the Were-Rabbit and ruined the movie for me by sitting there with a dour expression on his face. When it was over he said, "This is not funny. How is this a good movie?"


This is the same guy who watched me play Civilization IV on my PC for several hours then came over and said, "Why are you watching this crap? And by yourself? Why don't you do something real like come watch TV with us. We're watching Discovery Channel!"

Oh Boy. My Favorite. I guess leading the Mayan civilization from its humble beginnings to world dominance over six thousand years isn't going to teach me anything. I should go watch TV instead. I wouldn't want to miss yet another show about primates flinging their feces at each other and how much we can learn from it. What a tragic loss THAT would be.


Family. Can't live with 'em. Can't kill 'em.

And people wonder why watching model trains on a layout going around and around helps calm my nerves.

I need a vacation.

Next Story: That Bear Wants to Talk to You

Previous Story: When Model Railroading Goes Horribly Wrong

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Most Fascinating Thing I've Heard This Century

Theoretical physicist and 2057 host Michio Kaku speculates on the future of civilization.

YouTube Video

Quote - "The generation now alive, and our grandchildren, are the most important generations ever to walk the surface of the earth."


Previous News: Good Thing They Have Flippers Not Hands

Monday, August 6, 2007

When Model Railroading Goes Horribly Wrong

When I was little, I went to the store with my father and grandfather. When we got to the checkout counter I noticed grandpa was carrying a large, flat box. It looked to me like a train set. I said so. He told me, "No, it's a tool." I was pretty sure but I knew better than to argue. So we got home and eventually I was presented with a completed oval train track on a cut wooden frame, complete with an engine, boxcar and caboose. I was in little boy heaven.

Of course, it set in motion a train of events (I know, terrible) that would culminate in my brush with death during an ill-fated Model Railroading experience.

As I grew up, I became more and more interested in Model Railroading. Please note, this is not the same thing as "playing with toy trains", though that is considered by some to be an effective entry point for new aficionados. Check out this terrific Wikipedia entry on Model Railroading a.k.a. "Rail Transport Modelling".

Later on in life I convinced dad to spend some money on some serious Model Railroading equipment. He got me some HO scale track, cork roadbed, an MRC Train Control, and my first two model (as opposed to 'toy') road engines. One was a Burlington Northern GP38-2 and the other was a Canadian National F7. (The links have pictures.)

I was on cloud nine. I remember gleefully nailing cork roadbed to the ping pong table downstairs and running crazy track work everywhere. Seeing my locomotives in action for the first time was spellbinding. Here's a short YouTube Video of Model Trains running. Here's another video showing a model train operating at accurate scale speeds, with a working traffic signal light system! And if you have no life whatsoever, here's yet another video of the longest model railroad train I have ever seen, complete with terrific sound effects.

So I was running my engines down a stretch of track one time, and since I didn't have a camera handy, I used my eyes as a camera. I watched the trains from above, from track level, from in front, from behind, every angle I could think of. Of course, it didn't take me long to exhaust all the safe angles and start coming up with dangerous ones. I suddenly had a vision of watching the train from the track level, as though I were standing on the track. Brilliant!

I contorted my body so that my face was mashed against the track as hard as I could, and I got my head twisted around so I'd have a perfect view of the train as it came towards me. I grabbed the controller and got ready for action.

I'm sure you think you know where this is going, but really you don't. There are two pieces of information you need to know. Then all will be clear.

1) Model Railroad track flows with electricity.

2) I wear metal-rimmed glasses.

With my cheeks jammed against the track, the edge of my glasses ever so gently made contact with both rails, completing the circuit. There was a horrible flash, a very bad smell and I remember trying to scream but instead spitting and shrieking like a epileptic with Tourette's.

My experiment with camera angles was over. I slumped away in disgrace.

But I still love model trains.

P.S. Here's a silly video of Model Train Wrecks that has to be seen to be believed.

Next Story: What's the Letter that Looks Like a Swiss Chalet?

Previous Story: Ice Cream, We're Gonna Get Ice Cream

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Good Thing They Have Flippers and Not Hands

Ok, I just had to share this one...

The more we study dolphins, the brighter they turn out to be.

Quote - "At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans."

Ok... that's totally awesome. But wait, it gets better!

Quote - "Her cunning has not stopped there. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, she grabbed it, waited for the trainers and then gave it to them. It was a large bird and so the trainers gave her lots of fish. This seemed to give Kelly a new idea. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to lure the gulls, which she would catch to get even more fish. After mastering this lucrative strategy, she taught her calf, who taught other calves, and so gull-baiting has become a hot game among the dolphins."


Next News: The Most Fascinating Thing I've Heard This Century

Previous News: You Think You're Tough?

Ice Cream, We're Gonna Get Ice Cream!

The Ice Cream truck came down our street today.

This particular truck has been around off and on all summer. We know it's the same truck because of the song it plays. It's a slightly discordant music-box type tune, horribly repetitive and unnecessarily cheerful, yet oddly disturbing at the same time. It's like something that would be on the soundtrack if Stephen King were reading aloud from Cinderella.

(Bling-eee-blingetty Blingy-bling Buh-blingy-blingy Bling Bling!)

And keeps going and going and going. It's like "The Song That Never Ends", only less melodic. Or like "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" performed by Nine Inch Nails.

I know, horrifying.

So it was about 34 degrees Celsius out today, not including the dreaded humidity factor.

"That's right Jennifer, it's a sweltering 34 degrees out there today, but with the humidity, it's going to feel like the surface of the sun! Be sure to wear plenty of sunblock, ha ha ha!"

"Thanks Jim! Now here's Shemvit with a look at traffic!"

So mom and I were sitting quietly reading when suddenly we heard the first plaintive notes of the "Devil's Ice Cream Adventure" song. I had just enough time to look up and say, "Hey! It's the...", when the truck blasted by faster than the F22's from last week's Air Show. Keep in mind this is a side street. With two schools and a park. A posted school zone. This guy put Michael Schumacher to shame.

I'm not completely certain, but I think he really didn't want any customers today. I think he just wanted to finish his route, get home and get out of the heat as fast as possible. I guess I can't blame him though. It was miserable.

Of course, mom pointed out something else. He drives that thing all day. He probably just wants to get away from the horrible music.

(Bling-eee-blingetty Blingy-bling Buh-blingy-blingy Bling Bling!)


Next Story: When Model Railroading Goes Horribly Wrong

Previous Story: The Worst Thing I've Ever Tasted

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Vote For July's Post of the Month

It's time to vote for July's Post of the Month. Please leave a comment below and let me know which post was your favorite!

Here's a linked list of all July's posts for your convenience.

July 2007

It's Canada Day!
I Should Be Having a Rotten Day But I'm Happy
The Worst Smell Ever
The Great Timbit Incident
Window Cleaning: Great In Summer, Horrible In Winter
Kids Do the Funniest Things
Ignorance Is Bliss: Part One of Many
I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared
My Secret Identity
Running With Geniuses

Back to the Main Page

The Worst Thing I've Ever Tasted

Yesterday I wrote about being in the "Gifted" Program in school. Let me tell you what that was like and how it led to my most bizarre flavour experience.

In grade seven, Mr. Allen was the head of the program. He was good, but even the best teacher can only focus his attention on so many things at once. Especially when those things are a bunch of hyperactive nerds with wicked imaginations and no sense of propriety. Yeah, we were monsters.

So one time we had to do a really interesting science experiment. The experiment involved sense and observation. Ironically I ended up learning more about human nature and survival than I did about my senses. The way it worked was, one group would eliminate one of their senses. For example the subject would be blindfolded and then given beakers of liquid to smell and identify. Or the subject would be blindfolded and would wear noise cancelling headphones and then have to feel an object to identify it. Very cool.

So in my role as resident victim, I was the first to run The Gauntlet(tm). I was blindfolded and led into the utility closet by my fellow future Dr Mengele's. The first part of the test was the taste test. I was blindfolded and handed beakers of fluid to 'observe'. It was pretty easy. One was orange juice. Another was root beer. Fun stuff. So I got to the end of the taste test and all my compatriots knew it was the end of the taste test because they could read the instruction sheets. I was still BLINDFOLDED and could not read the instructions.

So they hand me a new beaker. It was supposed to be part of the smell test. Nobody bothered to tell me it was the beginning of the smell test. I thought it was still the taste test.


So I put the beaker to my lips and took a large slurp.

I recognized immediately that it was something very, very bad. It burned and froze and stung and hurt and tasted like fiery death. Somehow my instinct prevented me from swallowing. Good thing too. It was a beaker of Turpentine

Quote from Wikipedia - "Drinking turpentine is extremely dangerous and can be life threatening... Its vapor can burn the skin and eyes, damage the lungs and respiratory system, as well as the central nervous system when inhaled, and cause renal failure when ingested, among other things."


Everyone started screaming and I yanked off my blindfold and headed for the fountain to rinse out my mouth. One guy, I'm pretty sure it was Dave Morris said, "You idiot! You were supposed to smell it not taste it." To which I replied, "How was I supposed to know that?"

"It's on the sheet!" he screamed.

"Yoo-hoo!" I waved. "Blindfold!"

Gifted, my arse.

Next Story: Ice Cream, We're Gonna Get Ice Cream!

Previous Story: Running With Geniuses.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Running With Geniuses

I was sitting in the car with my cousin James, at the same Radio Shack parking lot where Dad did his drunken Ukrainian folk dancer routine. We were just sitting there, waiting for somebody at the bank I think. It was a warm day, so we had the windows down and we were watching the people coming and going from Tim Horton's. We were a couple of 'geniuses' with nothing to do but get ourselves into trouble.

For those who haven't met my cousin James, he's one of those people who will say or do anything just to see what kind of reaction he gets.


So he's looking out the window when this teenage boy starts running towards us from the far end of the parking lot.

James says, "Look at that guy. He runs like a retard!"

I look and see that the boy is in fact running rather oddly.

James loudly comments on this guys lack of running skill and again uses the word "retarded".

Then the boy gets close to us and it hit us.

"Oh my God." said James, "He is retarded."

The boy was in fact someone with disabilities, struggling his way across the parking lot despite his limitations.

"I'm going to hell." said James.

We started howling with laughter.

I was thinking about this story and I remembered that both James and I were in the "gifted" program in school. At the time we thought it meant we were awesome. We loved it. Eventually though we realized that it was really a special needs program. Many kids with higher intelligence or atypical academic skills have a hard time with social interactions. (For those of you who didn't understand my last sentence; we were nerds.)

So the gifted program was less of an opportunity for us to explore our "gifts" and more of a program to sublimate our unproductive behaviours into more useful pursuits.

I don't think it worked.

I'm still a nerd.

Next Story: The Worst Thing I've Ever Tasted

Previous Post: My Secret Identity

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Secret Identity

Every Superhero has a secret origin story.

As "The Startler"(tm), I am no different. When I was just a kid, mom wasn't as disabled as she is now and she had a good sense of humour. (Pain tends to dull one's sense of humour over time sadly.) We used to entertain ourselves my trying to scare or trick Dad in increasingly bizzarre ways.

One time we hid in Dad's closet, so when he came home from work he couldn't find us. Eventually he went to change his clothes and opened the closet. We yelled, "Boo!" He ignored us and changed his clothes.

So we tried harder.

We came up with the brilliant idea of Saran-Wrap. Over the toilet. That's right, we lifted the lid, discreetly sealed the bowl with transparent plastic wrap, and then put the lid down and walked away giggling.

Dad came in from work and charged towards the bathroom (YES!) intent on his mission. He closed the door, so mom and I sneaked up in the hallway and listened. We heard the sounds of someone using the toilet. Then we heard the flush. Then we heard the sounds of handwashing. He opened the door and looked at us like we were nuts.

"What're you guys doing out here?", he asked.

I bolted past him and checked out the toilet. The Saran Wrap was gone. I found it crumpled into a ball in the garbage. Turns out dad thought it was some kind of protective cover mom had put on the toilet while cleaning, so he just tore it off. Shows how much dad knows about bathroom cleaning. Yeesh.

Eventually one of us would let our guard down and the other would take horrible advantage. One time I went into the bathroom and did my thing. I had not idea that mom had staged herself outside the bathroom door, ready to scare me. I finished up and obliviously opened the door. She shoutet, "BOO!"

For reasons that I will never understand my response to the sudden threat was to dance like an epileptic monkey and scream, "YIN-YAA!"

Mom howled. For months.

To this day I just have to say, "Yin-yaa?" to her and she cracks a smile.

Next Story: Running With Geniuses

Previous Story: I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared

This morning I was reminded of the above immortal words from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was early and I got up from sleep to use the bathroom. You know how it is, you don't actually open your eyes, you just feel your way around the room since you don't want to turn the lights on and have your head explode. One of the two doors to the bathroom happens to open directly into my bedroom. So I went to the door, wearing only a sleepy smile, and started to open it, while still caught up in my dream about hot girls in Hawaii.

As the door swung open, a deep sepulchral voice boomed, "Yo Ho!" from the general direction of the toilet.

After I climbed down from the top of my bookcase I hurled a few choice insults at the demonic voice on the can. He started to chuckle. I realized it was my dad and mumbled, "S'not funny." He started laughing. I told him to stop laughing, so of course he laughed even harder.

What kind of demented psychopath says, "Yo Ho!" to warn someone that the bathroom is in use? I thought I'd suddenly stumbled into the lair of the Dread Pirate Roberts and he was about to send me to Davey Jones' Locker.

Believe me, you really do not want to frighten someone with an overactive imagination, like yours truly.

Oddly, just the day before my mom was sitting at the computer working on her lit blog and she was so deep in concentration she didn't notice that I'd come around to the other side of the room and was standing behind her on the right. I started to say, "Hey Ma..." and she screamed like the computer had suddenly turned into a snake. She was actually quite upset but I couldn't stop laughing at her.

Karma. She's a mean-spirited bitch that one.

I don't know why it keeps happening but I seem to startle people a lot. I'm fairly large and heavy and my friends can attest to the fact that I generally make a lot more noise than I'm entitled to, so you'd think people would hear me coming. We've got a girl who comes in to take care of the laundry and dusting and such since mom's disabled. I've started singing as I walk down the stairs so that by the time I get to the laundry room she knows I'm coming. The first few weeks I would walk in and say, "Julie, where's the..." and she'd jump like a rabbit.

Now when I walk into the laundry room, even though I'm singing for her benefit, she laughs at me. The nerve.

I get a superpower and instead of something cool like X-ray Vision(tm) or Super-Strength(tm) I get "Sneaky Startle!"(tm)

Great. I'll wear blue tights and a silly mask and walk around calling myself "The Startler"(tm).

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Eat your vegetables or "The Startler"(tm) will get you!

Next Story: My Secret Identity

Previous Story: Ignorance Is Bliss - Part One of Many

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ignorance Is Bliss: Part One of Many

Well I was going to write about how the human experience is built on ignorance but instead I have to share what is happening at this very moment.

The smell of aftershave is burning my lungs. It's my grandfather's aftershave. Problem is, he's DOWNSTAIRS and I'm UPSTAIRS and the air return and ducts downstairs are CLOSED OFF this time of year.

He's wearing so much aftershave it smells like someone broke open a can of "Off!" bug spray in here. He's heading out to visit his "Girlfriend" around the corner. I'm sure she'll appreciate having the lining of her sinuses and lungs burned off.

Holy crap he's outside the house now and I can still smell it. WOW.

Ok back to the subject of ignorance. I woke up this morning remembering a silly song they taught us in school. Here in Canada we learned...

"I'ze the bye that builds the boat,
I'ze the by that sails her!
I'ze the bye that catches the fish,
And takes 'em home to Liz-er!"

We learned about doing hard work and going home to eat a meal we earned ourselves. And we learned how to speak like a Newfie.

What did American schoolchildren learn?

"1814 took a little trip,
Along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Missisip!
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans,
And caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans."

They learned about war.

But wait, that's not he best part. It was a war essentially between Canada and the United States and we BOTH think we won. I am not kidding, check out the Wikipedia entry.

Quote - "The war had the effects of both uniting Canadians and also uniting Americans far more closely than either population had been prior to the war. Canadians remember the war as a victory by avoiding conquest, while Americans celebrated victory in a "second war for independence" personified in the hero of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson."


Man I didn't even get to the point about ignorance. As in, I wonder how many people realize that we once fought a war with the U.S. that both sides feel they won. Good thing there's so much of it that I can write about it again and again.

Man it still stinks in here, I'm going outside.

Next Story: I Soiled My Armour I Was So Scared

Previous Story: Kids Do the Funniest Things

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kids Do the Funniest Things

I spent a large part of the weekend with my cousin Leilani, her husband Greg and their two adorable kids. Avery is two years old, almost three and is the cutest little girl I have ever seen. Micah is one, nearing two and he's huge, built like a small truck. He is unusually friendly and smiles a lot. Together Avery and Micah are comedy gold. They love each other and they love to get into all kinds of trouble together.

Greg showed me pictures from the time Leilani left the room for just a minute with Micah safely strapped into his high chair and little Avery "watching" him while mommy was gone. When Leliani got back in the room, she found Micah had been painted with prunes. Avery was gently doling out spoonfuls of prune preserve onto Micah's head, who giggled and squealed with delight as though it was his favorite thing. The mess was awesome.

So on Sunday night Leilani says to Micah, "Tickle-Shark Uncle Teddy!" I waited, having no idea what was coming. Micah gave me a smile from across the room, put his two little hands together and made a swimming fish gesture, while singing "Doo-DOO, doo-DOO!" and slinking towards me. I started laughing even before he reached me. I made a big fuss when the "Tickle-Shark" arrived and proceeded to tickle my leg, since that was the highest part on me he could reach. Priceless.

At one point, my cousin James says to Micah, "Show us your belly!" So Micah calmy walks over to the couch where I'm sitting and lifts my shirt up, which started everyone into gales of laughter. Later Avery played "I'm the mommy, you're the baby" with James. He put his head on a cushion and pretended to sleep while Avery sang "Rockabye Baby". Of course her take on the lyrics was a little off, turning what should have been a short, harmless ditty into a marathon of gut-busting silliness.

I am trying to remember the story Leilani told me that I wanted to post about something Avery pulled recently but I was drinking Rusty Nails and my memory is foggy. Let me talk to my cousin(s) and I'll share it with you later. I still haven't fully recovered from the weekend, ha ha!


Next Story - Ignorance Is Bliss: Part One of Many

Previous Story: Window Cleaning - Great in Summer, Horrible in Winter

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Window Cleaning - Great In Summer, Horrible In Winter

Worked for George again this morning. Cleaning windows in the summer is actually kind of nice. You get fresh air, some sunshine. You hair gets natural highlights from the sun, the work is fairly easy and you can use lots of water since it's hot and your water evaporates fast. Lots of water makes it easier. Summer is great.

I would get my own contracts, except for one small thing.


Just for fun, George asked me to go with him one time in the dead of winter. Once.

My first clue should have been when we added antifreeze to our water. Half water with with detergent, half -40 antifreeze. Oh goody. So we get out to this crummy filthy restaurant, early in the morning when the sun is barely up and it's -25 real with a -35 windchill. Oh boy. George sends me around to do the front. I plunge my applicator into my bucket of antifreeze and hot water, but the applicator won't go in because A LAYER OF ICE HAS FORMED in the time since I'd left the truck.

I calmly broke the ice and got my applicator nice and wet. Keep in mind that I was not wearing gloves. It's very difficult to wear gloves and handle your equipment properly. Also, George has no feeling in his hands and thinks anyone who works with gloves on is a pansy. Since then I have ignored George's taunts and jeers and have bought myself a pair of the most awesome gloves ever created.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sealskinz.

But back then , I didn't have my Awesome Waterproof Gloves of Stupendous Glory. I just had my hands. My poor, sad, exposed hands.

So of course as I applied the water to the glass and it poured down onto my hand, the -35 windchill said, "idiot at seven o'clock!" and decided to give me a real thrashing. The cold was horrific. If you have ever been ice fishing and put your exposed hands into the water and then waved them around your head till they froze, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't done this, you can't understand.

I painfully and slowly worked my way across the front of the restaurant, my hands turning into lumps of ice, my feet slipping constantly on the skating rink that was the sidewalk, my very sweat dripping from my brow onto my glasses where it FROZE. I had to scrape the frost OFF MY GLASSES. Whee.

But the moment of true evil was yet to come. As I worked my way around the restaurant, I came to the final plate of glass. The window sat between the buildings in an area that hasn't seen sunlight since 1941. Somehow the cold had numbed my brain and it just didn't occur to that cleaning that plate might be a bad idea.

I made my first swipe my applicator and before I was finished the antifreeze on the glass had turned to slush. In the short time while I stood there stupidly, marveling at the emerging frost designs, my applicator FROZE AGAINST THE GLASS. I had to break it off. The solution on the glass froze solid every quickly, so I walked around to the other side, where the sun was and told George what had happened.

He laughed so hard he nearly split his pants. That George. Ha ha. What a kidder.

Next Story: Kids Do the Funniest Things

Previous Story: The Great Timbit Incident

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Great Timbit Incident

For those of you sad, silly boobs who've never experienced the joy of a fresh Timbit, this is a Timbit.

The chocolate glazed Timbit is currently the most awesome flavour, although the blueberry Timbit they made around here in the 90's was probably the closest thing to baked perfection I'm ever going to know. I hope there's a Tim Horton's somewhere that still makes those. Some place where the sun lights the glass up like fire and an angelic chorus thunders every time a new customer enters.

Blueberry. (sigh)

It happened when I was in high school, "The Great Timbit Incident" of '88 that is. Mr McCutcheoun took our geography class on a field trip all over the contryside to experience the glacial landforms left behind by the ice that once covered this area. It was actually cooler than it sounds.

So partway through the trip, we stopped at a Tim Horton's for a break. I felt generous, so I bought a huge box of Timbits and offered them to everyone. I'd always wanted a valid reason to buy the party-sized box of timbits and it was great.

We headed for the vans, a gaggle of noisy, sugar-hyped teenagers thrilled to be outside instead of trapped in the classroom. I excitedly bounced around, talking about something goofy and gesturing madly with both hands. Hands that were swinging the precious Timbit box.

Apparently the box didn't like the way it was being treated. Suddenly and spectacularly, the bottom of the box came apart. A hail of assorted Timbits launched into the air like mad missiles, dropping onto the pavement and rolling for freedom.

Horrified, I ran. I had to save them. That's when the screaming started. Somewhere in the back of my mind the screaming became more important than the escaping Timbits and I froze in confusion.

That's when the transport truck arrived. Horn wailing, a huge gasoline tanker truck from hell blasted across my path, obliterating the fleeing Timbits and spraying me with dust, dirt and mashed donut matter.

I wept quietly as I rescued the surviving Timbits from among the smashed bodies of their fallen brothers. I gently, reverently placed them back in the box where they could be safe once again.

Poor little Timbits.

The girls laughed and thought it was awfully gross when the guys ate the Timbits that had fallen on the ground. We knew better. It was a badge of courage.

We honoured the fallen by eating the survivors.

Next Story - Window Cleaning: Great In Summer, Horrible In Winter

Previous Story: The Worst Smell Ever

You Think You're Tough?

As Neal Stephenson wrote, "Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest ************ in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad."

Well these three guys win.

Boy, 5, Subdues Rabid Fox To Protect Family
"A 5-year-old boy grabbed a rabid fox by the neck and pinned it to the ground during a family cookout, protecting six other children until his stepfather could kill the animal."

Man Sucked Out Of Plane At 20,000 Feet Survives
"I was just sitting in my seat, chitchatting with the pilot and then there was this huge explosion, like this real loud popping sound," Fogg said on "Good Morning America." "I was immediately sucked to the right, right out the window."

With his legs and left arm inside the plane, Fogg fought to break free from the intense suction and 200-mph winds.

72 Year Old Ex Marine Beats Down Mugger
There are certain things in life one should learn at a young age. Don’t touch fire: it is hot and will burn you. Don’t dive in shallow water: it is not deep and you will break bones. Apparently someone didn’t learn another valuable lesson; don’t mess with a former marine, or you will likely get owned.

Enter 72-Year-Old Bill Barnes.

Next News: Good Thing They Have Flippers Not Hands

Previous News: We Don't Know What Ignited The Fire - Police Say

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Worst Smell Ever

If you have a weak stomach, leave now.

George regularly cleans the windows at KFC. For those of you from parts of the world where there is no KFC, it stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken and it's a fast-food restaurant that serves... well... fried chicken.

Interesting aside: KFC is the most popular Western fast-food chain in the People's Republic of China. Also KFC is so prevalent in Japan that many Japanese unknowingly consider it to be a Japanese Company. Most KFC stores located in predominantly Islamic countries prepare foods in accordance with halal guidelines. So it's not just a North American thing, it's international.

Oh yeah, apparently KFC products are the most popularly requested items for death row inmates' final meals.


So usually George cleans the KFC's in our area on Monday. But sometimes, due to holidays or exceptionally bad weather, the schedule gets changed. That's usually when I get called in to get things back on schedule. So one day he sent me to clean the windows both inside and outside of a KFC... on degreasing day.

I rang the bell and the manager let me in. (It's much easier to clean a restaurant before there are any customers inside.) As I went in, I couldn't help but notice the giant noisy tanker truck with the hoses, sitting behind the restaurant. The nice manager lady explained to me that it was degreasing day. She explained that they basically vacuum out the scum and grease that collect in the bottom of the chicken frier's. Apparently this has to be done regularly or the stuff will rot and then the chicken will get contaminated. Oh boy.

She was very serious and insisted that I listen carefully. So I listened, wondering what any of this had to do with me. I was just there to clean the windows. She explained to me that most people cannot stand to be inside during degreasing because the smell makes them sick. I laughed. She shook her head. She explained that it was not a laughing matter. Some employees actually throw up uncontrollably the first time they are present for a degreasing.


I said I'd go outside if it got too bad and went ahead and started cleaning. The degreaser guys started up their equipment and the air began to fill with rotting fried chicken and grease particulate. I calmly cleaned away, and when the smell hit me I thought "OH MY GOD!"... but I didn't barf. I was proud of myself. I kept cleaning.

The initial smell was a rose bouquet compared to the colossal stench when they exposed the lower, more rotten layers of filth. If death wore the worst cologne ever imagined and walked through a palliative care ward while vomiting and defecating, the odour would be a sad, pale imitation of the vile, putrid, festering unholiness that came out of those frier's.

It got so bad I started to black out. I had to run outside and put my head between my knees. Even outside the smell was horrific.

After that, I couldn't eat KFC for more than a year.

Now, I laugh at horrible smells. When others turn green I smile and take a long deep breath. I survived degreasing day. Everything else is a walk past the Macy's perfume counter.

Next Story: The Great Timbit Incident

Previous Story: I Should Be Having A Rotten Day But I'm Happy

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I Should Be Having a Rotten Day But I'm Happy

I had to get up at 5:30 this morning, to do some catch-up window work for George. Having to work on a day I was expecting to have off is usually enough to make me miserable. But today has been a descent into madness. Madness!

It started at 1:30 am when I had to get out of bed to call the police.

I wish to God I were making that up.

Some "how YOU doin'" construction worker left one of the excavation machines overnight in the schoolyard across from our house. Apparently they're tearing down some of the portables or something. Some good-for-nothing lackwit teenager who should have been at home in bed decided to vandalize said machine.

This all became evident when the horn / alarm on the machine went off. It was so loud that when I called the police dispatch room, the pleasant but bored dispatcher said, "Wow that's loud, I can hear that clearly over the phone!" Everyone wandered outside in trackpants and nighties to gaze at the noisy spectacle.

But wait, it gets better. Since it wasn't an actual emergency, the cops took their sweet time getting here. They took so long that the machine's battery died and the horn / alarm slowly dwindled until it sounded like a pathetic robot fart, if robots suffered from incontinence. Eventually it stopped, so I called the radio room back and told them the danger had passed. They were relieved, decided to cancel the call out, and went back to watching late night TV.

I went back to bed but was unable to sleep. ARGH.

So I got up at 5:30 and got started on the window cleaning jobs.

At 7:00, it started to rain. -sigh-

You might think that cleaning windows in the rain is impossible or at least, impractical, but let me tell you; with the proper training you can do ANYTHING in the rain. Well, maybe not Origami but pretty much anything else. I guess tailoring a wool suit in the rain would probably not work either. You know, the bad smell, the way the fabric turns itchy, the shrinkage.

Ok so maybe you can't do EVERYTHING in the rain, but you CAN clean windows.

Tomorrow I'll get into the HORRIFIC nightmare I experienced when I got to the KFC. I'll give you a hint. Two words.

Degreasing day.


P.S. Why am I happy? I just am. I could let it all get me down but instead... aw who am I kidding, I'm excited because Dad and I are going to see TRANSFORMERS this afternoon. Giant alien robots that disguise themselves as vehicles smashing each other to pieces and in the process, demolishing most of Los Angeles. YAY! It's pretty much the ultimate premise for a loud, summer action movie. I can't wait!

Next Story: The Worst Smell Ever

Previous Story: It's Canada Day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

It's Canada Day!

I woke up this morning and for some odd reason the first thing that came to my mind was how Canada is different from (read "better than") the United States. So in the spirit of fun, since it is the Canada Day long weekend, here are some of my half-baked insights.

We have Tim Horton's. Everywhere. Let me give you some current facts about Tim Horton's.

"Tim Hortons has supplanted McDonald's as Canada's largest food service operator; it has nearly twice as many Canadian outlets as McDonald's, and its system-wide sales surpassed those of McDonald's Canadian operations in 2002. The chain accounted for 22.6% of all fast food industry revenues in Canada in 2005. Tim Hortons commands 76% of the Canadian market for baked goods (based on the number of customers served) and holds 62% of the Canadian coffee market (compared to Starbucks, in the number two position, at 7%)."

Let's address that final statistic. Tim Hortons 62, Starbucks 7. Our coffee shop is also named after record-breaking NHL star Tim Horton who died tragically in an alcohol related car accident on Feb 21, 1974.

Starbucks is named after a Battlestar Galactica character with really bad hair.

On to celebrities. Canada has given the world comedians Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, and Dan Akroyd. America has given us Pauly Shore. Canada has given the world James Cameron, creator of The Terminator. America has given us director James Sargent, creator of Jaws 4: The Revenge, a film hailed as one of the worst films ever made. It also won the award for "Worst Special Effects" due to "Bruce", the painfully obvious small rubber shark model who roared. I am not making that up. In the movie the shark roars. Like some kind of aquatic lion.

Roars. Out loud. In the air.


Jack Bauer, America's darling anti-terrorist superhero? Played by Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland. His tremendously hot daughter Kim Bauer? Played by Canadian vixen Elisha Cuthbert.

But perhaps the most powerful and frightening evidence of Canada's superiority comes in the form of James Tiberius Kirk. That's right, Mr. "I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am." was brought to life by Canadian thespian William Shatner.

And for those who still aren't convinced. Two words.

Wayne Gretzky

Number 99... a.k.a "The Great One". The greatest hockey player who ever lived.

And the truly scary part? I haven't even scraped the surface.

Next Story: I Should Be Having a Rotten Day But I'm Happy

Previous Story: Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

Vote For June's Post of the Month

I know June didn't have as many posts as May or April did, but with Blogger locking Popular Fiction and my crazy schedule, things just got out of hand. I know there aren't many to choose from but please, post a comment and vote for your favorite story. Here's the complete list for your convenience.

P.S. I promise there will be more posting in July. Back on Schedule!

If Animals Could Talk It Would Be Scary
The Time I Almost Died
The Time I Almost Got Run Over by a Bus
Frodo and the Old Nazi
Excuse Me Sir, There's a Tree in Your Car
Sorry Buddy
Sometimes the Funny Just Isn't There
Roast Beef Is Not For Puppies
Even The Dog Won't Eat It
CIBC Lost My Bank Account
Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

Back to the Main Page

Friday, June 29, 2007

"We Don't Know What Ignited The Fire" Police Said

Texas cops... for the win.

Man Bursts Into Flames After Being Shot By A Taser Gun

Quote - 'Officers used the gun after the man had poured gasoline over himself.'

Quote - '"We don't know what ignited the fire," police said.'

You've gotta be kidding me.

Maybe next time they can "subdue the supsect by throwing lit matches at him in an effort to startle him." - (thanks to Mr. Fed for that great line)

This is the same state whose first female governor is reputed to have said "If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for Texas schoolchildren”


Next News: You Think You're Tough?

Previous News: The Best Thrill Ride Ever

Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

I remembered this story after reading this thread over at the Octopus Overlords gaming forums.

I Walked into Electronics Boutique back in 2003 (nearly a year after the game Dungeon Siege was released, by Microsoft... which means a very wide release, it's important) and was browsing the PC games section, which was much larger back then. The store was very busy and there was a guy standing right in front of me browsing the same shelf.

A clerk came over and asked the man if he needed help finding something. The man asked if they had any copies of "Dungeon Siege". The clerk replied...

"I've never heard of it. We don't carry it."

I said, "Excuse me" and without moving my feet, reached between the clerk and the man to the shelf, where I pulled out one of their six copies of Dungeon Siege. I handed it to the man and said, "There you go." He thanked me and asked me if it was good. I gave him a quick review. The game is pretty and has a great soundtrack by Jeremy Soule and it's easy to get into. On the down side it almost plays itself and it gets boring and repetitive quite quickly. He said that sounded exactly like the light couple of hours of entertainment he was looking for, thanked me again and went over to the counter to buy it.

The clerk looked at me and said...

"Can I help you find something?"

I turned and walked out of the store.

If you work in retail sales, let me give you a bit of advice. Nobody cares whether you've "heard of it" or not. If you don't know, say "Let me look it up on the computer." or something. Anything. We didn't come to the store to hear your vaunted opinions on whether something exists or not and whether it's worth buying or not. We came to buy something. So shut up and sell it to us.

I went into an MDG computer store last year, with their flyer in my hand and the sales people swore up and down that the flyer was a misprint. They they had the nerve to tell me (I built my last computer from parts and my first job was as a sales clerk at Compucentre) that the PC I was interested in could not be connected to the Internet.

What? No seriously, what? I can connect my left sock to the Internet with the right equipment. Are these people on drugs?

I got the manager's attention and asked him about the flyer special and told him what I wanted. He refused to look at the flyer and said...

"I've never heard of that. We don't have that."

I turned around and walked out of the store.

I don't shop at Electronics Boutique or MDG any more. It's the fault of the sales clerks. And these stores wonder why they're losing customers to online retailers? Yes, I bought my last PC online. And it was a wonderful experience.

Nobody told me I couldn't connect my PC to the Internet.
Next Story: It's Canada Day!

Previous Story: CIBC Lost My Bank Account

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CIBC Lost My Bank Account

This story is so far out there, I won't be offended if you don't believe it. It happened to me and I still don't believe it.

I used to have multiple accounts at CIBC back when I became the sole owner of my tax business. My last partner left amicably, leaving all the clients for me. I can't imagine why I thought that was a good thing. Especially considering the caliber of some of my clients.


I rest my case, Your Honour.

Anyway I had this one business account that I only used for depositing client cheques during the tax season. The account went dormant for six months of the year so I made arrangements with the nice lady who helped me set up the account. Normally an account that is dormant for that long is suspended and the customer is notified. We put a flag on the account indicating that it was not to be suspended due to inactivity. It worked fine for several years.

One year, at the beginning of tax season, I went in to the bank to check out my balances and get some cheques. This was just before online banking became the in thing, so I had to actually go into the bank. Yeah, the Stone Age, I know.

I handed the lady my ATM card for my personal account, we did our transactions and everything went smoothly. Then I handed the lady my ATM card for the business account and things turned south quickly.

"I'm sorry sir but there's no account attached to this card.", she told me, with a smile.

Must be a glitch in the card, I thought. So I pulled out a business cheque and handed it to her. She clicked some keys and entered the account information using the numbers on the cheque.

"I'm sorry sir but this account number is invalid.", she said, with a smile.

Not one to be put off so easily, I pulled out the original account sign-up paperwork which I conveniently kept in my tax bag. I handed it to her and she went to get the manager. Again, with a smile. After a very long discussion and a lot of computer wrangling, they both came over to me.

The manager said, "I'm sorry sir, but we have no record of you ever having a business account with CIBC, not at this or any other CIBC branch. Are you sure the account was here?"

Calmly, I handed her the business chequebook and showed here where it said "CIBC" on it and then I showed her that the account sign-up papers were official "CIBC" documents. I suggested that she contact the nice lady who had set up the account for me.

Eventually she came back and told me that the woman whose name was on the account paperwork no longer worked for CIBC and that her records were "unavailable". Since there was no record in their paperwork or in their computer of the account, it must not have existed. The paperwork and cheques I had were irrelevant. Was there anything I she could help me with before I left?

I asked if an investigation could be launched and she explained that without proof on their end that there had ever been an account, no investigation would be undertaken.

"Have a nice day, sir."

I was staggered.

I did the only thing I could think of to do. I went over to T.D. Canada Trust and opened a new account over there. On the up side, there hadn't been an real money in the account when it disappeared.

"CIBC... If We Lose Your Account, It's Not Our Fault!"


Next Story: Sales Clerks - Where Do They Get These Guys?

Previous Story: Even The Dog Won't Eat It

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Even The Dog Won't Eat It

Not long after the incident with the roast beef, Frodo had an experience that I'm usre he's never forgotten. I brought home some sushi for mom and I, and among the wonderful bits and goodies was some eel. Neither of us like eel. For some reason every sushi tray seems to include a piece of smelly eel. No one knows why. Not even Frodo.

He was dancing around the kitchen following the amazing smells coming off our sushi tray; tuna, salmon, wasabi, soy sauce. He was getting a little crazy. While I was trying to avoid him I accidentally dropped the container with the bits we didn't like in it. Included in those bits was a hunk of raw eel. The hunk of eel shot out of the little styrofoam container and landed on the floor right in front of Frodo, alias "Shop Vac". He inhaled the hunk of eel less than a second after it landed.

He froze, and then did something we have never seen him do before (or since). He spit it out. Keep in mind this is a creature that eats its own feces. He didn't spit out the tomato, the sock, the branch, the kleenex box or the eucalyptus leaves. We had to deal with the ugly aftermath of each one of those. Incredibly the tomato was the worst. It gave him the runs. Every ten minutes. For four days.

But the eel he spit out? You have to wonder what business we have eating something that even a dog won't eat.

Interestingly, Mom dropped one of her pills the other day. Frodo teleported from wherever he'd been hiding to the pill and gave it a sniff. I guess the smell of mouldly skunk and burning vomit was too much for him. He ran away from the awful smelling thing. (For those who think I am exaggerating the drug is called Cyclosporine and it's made from fungus.)

But you have to wonder. I mean, even the dog won't eat it?
Next Story: CIBC Lost My Bank Account

Previous Story: Roast Beef Is Not For Puppies

Monday, June 25, 2007

Roast Beef is Not For Puppies

I'll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on Frodo. Mom and I went out to the breeder in the country, to meet "puppy", an eight week old white Bull Terrier. The breeder told us that "puppy" was in the garage. She opened the door and I stepped in first. In the middle of the garage was a giant green bag of dog food. Sticking out of the hole in the top of the bag was a small white bum and a tail whipping back and forth. He'd found the mother lode.

The second thing Frodo did, after the breeder had pulled him out of the bag and set him on the garage floor, was pee indignantly. Then he wandered off to play with "Hammer", the breeder's massive German Shepherd. Hammer jumped in the pond. Frodo stood at the edge and glared at the water. Only after realizing that he couldn't reach Hammer without getting wet, did he turn his attention to us.

In those first moments, he made his priorities clear. Food, peeing, other dogs, then people. After 11 years his pattern hasn't changed. Neither has his taste in food.

His first experience with a roast beef was nearly his last. Dad pulled the juicy cross rib roast out of the roasting pan and set it reverently on the large cutting board on the counter. For some reason, Dad left the kitchen for a few seconds. When we went back in we heard a grief-stricken scream. I ran into the kitchen and saw that Frodo had pulled the entire roast off the cutting board and onto the floor and was digging in.

Dad doesn't usually charge. He's quite big and slow so charging isn't in his repertoire. But that day, he charged. His battle cry would have shamed a Scottish Warlord. Frodo looked up in terror and dropped the roast. Dad snarled something about killing and death and maiming and dogs of questionable parentage and breaking and smashing and beating. Frodo ran and hid under Mom's desk, out of reach.

It's hard watching a parent cry, but my dad wept as he solemnly carried the mangled roast beef to the trash. Later, when Frodo dared to show his face, my father explained loudly to him that "roast beef is not for puppies!" I would have laughed out loud if Dad hadn't been so upset.

Frodo has never stolen a roast beef again. I can't imagine why.
Next Story: Even The Dog Won't Eat It

Previous Post: Sometimes The Funny Just Isn't There

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sometimes the Funny Just Isn't There

I'm sitting here, looking at my cheat sheet of funny story material and none of it seems funny to me. A week ago half of these topics would have made me laugh out loud just thinking about them, but this week I just can't find the funny. It's like my imagination is broken or something.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have writer's block. I think writer's block is about as real as Santa Claus. Either you can write or you can't. If you can, it doesn't turn off. There's no handle on the creative faucet. I can write, I just don't find anything funny right now. I could go on all day about serious stuff right now, but the funny just isn't coming.

So one night a rabbi, a lawyer and a camel walk into a bar...

See? Imaginative, yes. Funny, no.

Off-topic: Last night I was talking to Dan of "Even the Fish Couldn't Stand the Smell" fame. He went fishing last week and he was reminiscing about our famous fishing trip together. He's a very big man now (he works in construction) and he told me how he was the biggest guy in the boat. This brought back memories of my dad in the boat, sitting near the outboard, the back end of the boat dangerously low in the water, the bow sticking up into the air.

I remember one morning when I'd refused to go out with Dan, James and my Dad in the boat because it was going to rain something fierce. They were mighty hunters who didn't fear a little rain. They went anyway. So of course, as soon as they were as far away from shore as they could get without leaving the Province, a monsoon started. I waited and watched. Soon their little boat appeared. My dad sat in his position at the back, the back end mere inches above the waterline. James and Dan sat miserably in the middle, bailing for dear life. The boat looked like a bathtub. The rain pounded down on them mercilessly. I stood, dry and warm in the cabin doorway and laughed at them the entire time.

I guess that day, the funny was there.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sorry Buddy

If I had to choose a phrase to describe my life until now, "Sorry buddy" would be the top contender.

Of course, those words were spoken by my father. Over and over again. The same guy who spilled paint all over himself and exposed himself in public and even rode a bronco during a funeral also had a singular talent for inadvertently maiming, smashing or otherwise incapacitating me. There were the times he backed up the car while I was only halfway inside. The times he closed the trunk/door/oven on my fingers. The times whacked me with a fishing rod/ladder/two-by-four.

Each of these occasions was followed by a, "sorry buddy."

One time we had far too many people staying in our house for some reason, so I ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor downstairs. Dad came through on his way to the laundry room and before I could shout, "No!" he stepped on my head. He stopped and looked down, just as I looked up. All I saw through the stars and tears was an expanse of blue underwear above my head. High comedy.

I think the best "sorry buddy" moment ever happened while we were finishing the basement. We were nailing up runners for the suspended ceiling, so dad was standing on a small stepladder. I stood behind the ladder and handed him tools and nails. We had a whole surgeon and medical team thing going on. He'd say, "nail" or "hammer" and I'd hand it to him. Eventually he stopped looking and just reached behind himself, knowing I'd be holding out the appropriate item. This worked well for a while, until he got confused.

I was standing behind him on the right. He thought I was standing behind him on the left. He reached for a clip with his left hand and threw the hammer down with his right. The arc of his throw put the hammer head squarely between my eyes.

There was a terrible ghastly noise in my head. When the noise stopped I realized I was lying on my back, on the floor. Dad looked around and saw me, realized what he'd done and said, "Oh! Sorry buddy."

Someday I'm going to have a little guy of my own. We'll be working together and I'll inadvertently injure him. He'll look up at me with tears forming in his eyes and before I can help myself, I'll turn to him and say, "sorry buddy."

Then my failure will be complete.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Excuse Me Sir, There's a Tree in Your Car

Given the tremendous amount of time I've spent at the mechanic's this past week, I thought a car story would be in order. For those who are wondering, there are problems with my rad, thermostat, muffler, flex hose, catalytic converter, motor mounts, steering pump and oh yes we mustn't forget... my head gasket. Jim got the car running again, after three new rads (At their expense, not mine. Thank goodness.) and he tells me the car could last two weeks or two years, there's no way to tell. I guess I'll just drive it into the ground ha ha. I only paid $2500 for it and I've gotten 3 years & 3 months so far, so I can't really complain.

But Dad can complain. Oh my can he ever complain. Way back in '87 Dad bought an 86' Caprice Classic Brougham with only 8000 km on it. It was a dealership runabout car so it was in very good condition. It weighed in at 3528 lbs. and was painted Battleship Grey. That's right, it was the M1 Abrams of luxury sedans. A veritable tank.

And I drove it like one.

We call the undeveloped area south of the city, "The Country" even though it's not true wilderness. It's mostly farmland and dirt roads though, so it feels like the country. I was out with the car, in "The Country" and I got to one of those roads that becomes impassable during wet weather. I figured I had nothing to fear. It hadn't rained in at least a week and I was driving a tank. No problem.

I got about 50 meters in before I realized I wasn't going to make it. Sighing, I put the Caprice in reverse and started churning dirt. Of course, the car was riding lower on the way back, thanks to the deep tire treads and the cars tremendous weight. So I scraped up quite a bit of mud and shrubbery into the undercarriage. I got out successfully and drove away, happy that I'd avoided a potential disaster.

Since Mom and Dad were leaving for Florida in a few days, I thought it best to make sure I put the car through a really thorough car wash before going home. The car was spic and span and Dad was happy that I'd been thoughtful enough to wash it for their trip.

After they arrived in Florida, I got a phone call. It was Dad. The Caprice had apparently started leaking transmission fluid so they'd stopped at a mechanic. While the car was up on the hoist, the mechanic came back and said the famous words, "Excuse me sir, there's a tree in your car." Apparently I had run over a sapling while backing out of the mess on that country road, and it had gotten caught in the undercarriage. The tree was removed, the transmission lines were repaired and everything was fine.

Dad however, was livid. I learned my lesson.

Actually a few years ago my cousin and I were driving his father's car out in the country and... I'm sure you can guess what happened.

Yeah, we took it to the car wash before bringing it home. This time, I checked for trees.
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Previous Story: Frodo and the Old Nazi

Monday, June 11, 2007

Frodo and the Old Nazi

I just have to share a little story about what happened last night. You need to know that my miserable 97 year old grandfather now lives with us and that my miserable 10 year old Bull Terrier Frodo hates him more than he hates the neighbor's cat. Frodo has a collection of stuffed animals that he carries from room to room and bumps us with, so that we'll play his favorite game. It's called "Pull." Yes, it's as simple as it sounds. What can I say, he's a Bull Terrier not a Border Collie. Sometimes if Frodo is feeling diplomatic or especially sorry for something, usually a garbage bag tearing or theft of food incident, he will leave one of his stuffed animals as a peace offering.

Last night, Dad and I were watching "24" when Grandpa wandered through on his way to bed. He closed his bedroom door. After a minute, the door opened and Grandpa hurled out one of Frodo's giant brown bears. Then he closed the door and went back to bed. We started laughing. Of course this was terribly inappropriate since several people had just died horribly during the episode of "24" we were watching. Somehow it made us laugh even harder.

Sometimes I wonder about our family, I really do.

Another time, my cousin James stopped by just as I was letting Frodo out to do his business and we ended up taking Frodo for a walk around the block. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring bags for collecting Frodo's poop. I hoped he wouldn't need to poop but he started giving off signs like he was about to hunker down and I shouted at him, "NO! No pooping!" He was determined though, so I forced him to hold it until we got over a sewer grate and I shouted, "Poop now! Poop now!" Frodo obliged, sending his little nuggets splashing into the storm sewer below.

For the next year, every time we walked over a sewer grate, Frodo had to stop and try to poop. After ten years we still can't train him to not bark when someone comes in the house, but after one incident, he was sewer trained. Go figure.

I can't wait 'till I have kids.
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Friday, June 8, 2007

The Time I Almost Got Run Over by a Bus

Ahh, high school.

Some of us lived far enough away from our school that we took the city bus every day. There'd be a whole gaggle of us noisy, rowdy kids waiting for the extra buses the city put on the route.

Actually that reminds me of one of the most offensive things I have ever seen a bus driver do. The bus was late, and I don't mean by five minutes. For some reason we'd waited almost half an hour for the bus to arrive. The bus driver was a lady I'd never seen before. At the first main street an elderly man got on the bus and used a transfer. The transfer ticket was expired by about two minutes. The bus driver told the man he'd have to pay cash, use a ticket or get off.

He refused. He claimed that he'd been waiting at least twenty minutes for the bus and that it was her problem because she was late. She snarled, "We run a ten minute bus service! Pay or get off!" Several of us came forward and told the bus lady that we rode that bus every day and she was in fact between twenty and thirty minutes late and that the gentleman was not trying to stiff her. She stopped the bus and screamed at us to sit down and shut up or she'd throw us off the bus.

We sat down and shut up. The gentleman decided to handle things diplomatically and paid cash for his fare. Problem solved. Or not. He sat up at the front and continued talking to the bus driver, insisting that she was being unreasonable and unprofessional. He asked her for her driver I.D. number.

She freaked. She stopped the bus, opened the door and screamed at him to get off the bus or she'd call the police and have him arrested for assault. Everyone else on the bus was too scared to do anything so we just sat quietly and waited. The gentleman picked up his cane and calmly got off the bus. We spent the rest of our bus ride in stunned silence.

We never saw that bus driver again. Thank goodness.

But I was going to tell you about the time I almost got run over by a bus.

The usual crew after school was waiting for the bus. Included in the crew was Sara Gale. I happened to be standing next to her and noticed that her lip looked different that it had the day before. I thought about it for a while until it hit me. Of course I was too stupid to keep it to myself. Just as the bus was coming I asked her loudly, "Hey, did you shave your upper lip?"

Oh boy.

The next thing I knew I was on my back in the middle of the road, my glasses were broken and the bus brakes were squealing. The bumper shadow stopped just over my head. Apparently she'd punched me right in face and sent me sprawling into the path of the "yellow peril".

For the record, it was my fault and I was entirely in the wrong and I deserved worse than I got.

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