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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Legacy of the Laundry Ninja

I am a Laundry Ninja.  I really am.  I've developed my Laundry Ninja skills through years of practice.  Being a Laundry Ninja takes time and effort.  There are rigorous tests one must go through to become qualified enough to be one with the Order of the Folded Shirt.

The trials begin at an early age with a test of strength.  Long before the convenience of technology, a.k.a the dryer, there was "THE LINE".  At roughly 6 feet in height and 25+ feet in length, this deadly piece of wire (or rope) taught young Ninjas the art of jumping and dodging.  The goal was easy enough; to successfully hang the clothes on the line.  The premise, while simple at first glance, offered numerous dangers for the inexperienced student. To begin with there were the "clothes pins of a thousand pinched fingers".  Small wooden daggers with a spring loaded clip.  Not only could these weapons splinter, but the snap back effect could take off a finger nail in a heartbeat.
They also made for cool earrings and elastic-fired projectiles

  Along with the daggers, young ninjas in training had to be extra vigilant to avoid "The Wheel".  This metal monstrosity had the ability to snag clothing, pinch flesh and crack skulls (if one should choose to not pay close enough attention to their surroundings). 

I still quiver in fear

The last danger they had to face was the "1000 Ton Laundry Basket Haul".  Never truly satisfied until the deed was complete, many Ninja Masters (my Mom) would make the young student carry completed loads miles and miles (across the backyard) up mountainous terrain ("Take the clothes to your room and put them away") while avoiding deadly trips and perils ("Don't step on the cat or trip on your toys").  Stronger of body, the young Ninja would become.
If the young Ninja survives these early trials, they would eventually move on to the trials of the mind.  While Ninja Masters would initially teach the students the proper method, eventually they would be tasked with solving the most complex puzzles on their own.  Why do fitted sheets need to get folded if they're just going back on the bed?  Where did the missing sock disappear to? How exactly do you fold a Bra?  Many a Ninja has yielded to these tasks after days of aimless folding and refolding.

Finally, the Ninja moves on to their last test.  The Trial of multi-tasking.  In this last challenge, students would be forced to figure out how to sort white clothes from colours while measuring the proper amount of soap, cleaning out pockets for loose change, lipstick, gum and figuring out just what the hell each setting on the infernal machine known as "The Washer" actually meant.  Too much soap would lead to catastrophic consequences.  Not enough, and the stink of eternal skid marked undies would shame the Ninja for life.

I look back on my trials fondly, as they are what shaped me into the Laundry Ninja I am today.  In a heartbeat, I can sort clothes into piles before the family even knows the clothes are missing.  I can throw folded socks over 1000 feet with the accuracy of a Shuriken.  I can wield shirt hangers like the blade of a Ninjato; slicing through the piles of laundry like the bodies of my enemies.

Now, it is my time to train my Young Ninjas in the art of Laundry; so the Legacy of the Laundry Ninja may live on!
Not Really an Ninja but still likes to pretend

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Horror! THE HORROR! The Green Bin!!!!!!!

I have watched my wife give birth to our son through C-Section.  I have watched my wife give birth to our daughter through "that other area".  I have changed diapers that I firmly believe were worn by Horses rather than children.  I have cleaned urine, feces and vomit from every conceivable nook and cranny known to man, but I have never witnessed anything as terrifying as......THE GREEN BIN.....

The Horror!  THE HORROR!  The Green Bin!!!!!!!

I have seen the face of evil...and it is green.

I had the dubious pleasure of adding the last batch of food/waste to the bin the night before garbage day.  It had been unbelievably hot that week.  A heat dome as they called it (dumbest name ever) was covering like a billion square miles over North America.  So, crazy heat and humidity plus rotting food equals perfect breeding ground for....wait for it......MAGGOTS.  Thousands of them!  On the lid, in the bin, crawling on the handle....The Horror!  THE HORROR!  The Green Bin!!!!!!!

As a grown man, I've thrown up only a handful of times.  Luckily, my iron-clad stomach held it's ground.  Retching averted.  Score one for the Can-eh-dian Kid!

I kinda looked like this
Now, I get that the maggots play an important part in the ecological cycle or circle or whatever, but there's a line.  Opening the Green Bin onto a scene that's straight out of an episode of CSI is enough to turn any man's stomach.  I also understand that by using a Green Bin, I'm supposed to be helping Mother Earth by reducing waste  by approximately "I have no f'ing idea" percent (eat your heart out Al Gore), but I believe I'm being truly counter-productive every time I need to clean it out.  Between the water I use to hose it out, the bleach solution I use to disinfect it and the military air strike I call in to Napalm the surrounding area , I just might be defeating the 'purpose' of the bin.

I'm pretty sure the experts didn't intend for the mantra to be "Reduce, Reuse and Retch", but the Green Bin may be the perfect re branding opportunity.

you just gotta fight your way through

Liberally borrowed and worth the read!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Can-eh-dian Kid

I nick named my blog post "The Can-eh-dian Kid" to be tongue in cheek; an homage to my heritage.  To reference the world-renowned dialect that makes us the country of envy and the country of ridicule.  How do you spell Canada with only 3 letters?  C, eh? N, eh?  D, eh?  I wanted this blog to showcase where I've come from, where I am currently and where I hope to spend the rest of my natural life.

Too much coffee makes you see things
Last night, I re-watched a movie that really struck a nerve in me the first time I saw it.  It's called One Week with Joshua Jackson.  I first saw this movie back in 2009 when I was on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to L.A.  I was going 'home' after going Home.  It had been my first trip back to Canada in just over a year and I was beyond homesick.  Not specifically for my family (Mom, Dad, Sis) although it was awesome to see them, but for the Country itself.  That first sip of Tim Horton's coffee was like liquid crack.  The green open space of North Toronto (I know that may seem hard to believe; green space) was such a welcome change from the Urban Concrete Jungle I was flying back into.

Anyways, the film talks about a guy who is diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer.  He's given a 10% chance to live, but only if he starts radical treatment immediately.  Opting for the more 'rational option', he buys a Motorcycle and travels cross-country with no real rhyme or reason.  Just a goal to get to the coast. The defining moment?  Rolling up the rim on a Tim Horton's Cup and getting the following message (watch the clip):

 Throughout the trip, he stops at iconic locations that help makes this Country the quirky, beautiful land that it is.  The Big Nickel, The World's Biggest Dinosaur, The World's Largest Smoking Pipe, the Gardiner Expressway (this last one I would push in front of a moving bus if it were a person, I hate it that much).  But the use of these interesting yet often tacky landmarks was a great way of showcasing some of the more unique things that make up this great land.

Needless to say, the first time I watched the film, I had a hard time not blubbering a little. 
The Can-eh-dian Kid, far from home, headed west to face his destiny.  Cliched, I know.  But it rang true at the time.  And no, I don't have Stage 4 Terminal Cancer, but thanks for asking.

You see, I think that so many of us take this place for granted.  We bitch about taxes, gas prices, food costs, the Government, Immigration laws, the Stanley Cup, Winter, Summer, Construction.  But deep down, we live in one of the greatest Countries on this planet.  Trust me.  I know.  I've lived outside of Canada and travelled fairly extensively to less fortunate places.  I think that we sometimes forget how cool it is to truly be part of a great Nation.  Despite our flaws (AND EVERY COUNTRY HAS THEM), we should count our lucky stars.

So, besides plugging a movie and hoping to get some middleman fees for doing so, I really wanted to get people to open their eyes and soak in the culture.  To breath deep the air that makes this environment so pristine.  To smile a little wider today when you step outside and think, I live in a free country that so many other people would die (and have died trying) to get into.

Be proud of your heritage.  Don't wait until you're thousands of miles away before you truly appreciate what's right in your back yard.  'To strive, to seek, to find and not yield.'-Ulysses


Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm cheating on you Facebook

I'm cheating on you Facebook.

 I really don't know how else to say it but to come right out and say it.  I think we need Couples' Counselling.  You see, I'm just not that attracted to you anymore.  I've you over the years.  While some were subtle; small cosmetic changes like highlights here, the occasional nip/tuck there, it was the weight gain that really became the 'elephant in the room' so to speak.  You can't hide the weight of 750 million users.  You just can't.

One of my finer moments
  I know, I know.  I haven't been Mr. Universe exactly.  We usually see each other when I'm eating, or drinking or both.  I know you have damning evidence of me at my worst; fall down drunk and making stupid "I bet this will look so freakin' funny tomorrow' face pictures.  I get it.  But I'm trying to be classy about this.

I noticed you changed your face again.  Added this new 'chat' feature.  It looks do I say this?  Umm....  You have so much shit on your face now I imagine you need to use a paint brush to apply it.  Sorry...just being honest.  I mean, you can put lipstick on a pig but......

While we're on the topic, let's talk about you and your 'chatty nature'.  You're a regular chatty Cathy aren't you?  But GOD!  You are soooooo boring!!  You only talk about 'Farmville this' & 'The Weather is soooo blah, blah, blah that'. You're dull.  9 times out of 10, you only talk about things worth a marginal amount of my interest.  "You have a new game? Oh, that's nice dear.  You recommend this product?  Oh, that's nice dear.  How many of my friends 'like' this?  Oh ya.  That's nice dear."   ***YAWN***

I'm cheating on you Facebook.

I'm seeing someone behind your back. She's called Google +.  We're still in the 'exploration phase'.  I mean, things are tentative, but exciting.  We hang out with the same circle of friends.  Have similar interests, and she knows about all my local haunts like Gmail and  I have to admit, I'm not as comfortable with her as you....we have a history, but I have to admit.  She's got a tight interface and smooth curves.

There is another though.  We've been together for a bit now.  Her name is Twitter.  I know I know.  She sounds flighty but she's pretty cool.  She doesn't say much, but she knows a ton about so many topics.  And her friends are pretty hip.  Always talking politcs, entertainment, and 'what's happening' right now.  She knows people and she's going places.  She makes me feel young again.

I know this might sound a little harsh, but I think we can work something out.  I think we should be able to see other social networks/people.  I still always come back to you.  We have history.  But I'm sure, much like me, you have other people you'd like to focus on.  So, for now, let's just enjoy each other's company with no expectations of rekindling the romance.  I think we both know...the light is fading.

You'll be fine.  You have 749 Million other friends that you can draw upon in your time of need.  You're a survivor....a fighter.  You'll thrive on this and move on like nothing happened.

Take care.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Smart like a dumptruck

This is a dump truck
 I love my boy.  I truly do.  But he can be a challenge most days and the occasional royal terror on other days.  In truth, it's not his fault.  He can't control least that's what we believe.  You see, my boy has (what many would consider) a far-end spectrum case of Aspergers syndrome.  What, pray tell is Asperger's?  Well dear reader, I'm glad you asked.

  The first thing I will state is that this is not a blog about Aspergers.  There are far worthier writers out there with much more experience in this field that cover that topic.  Instead, I'll just comment on it from our little neck of the woods. So....what is it?  Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show slight to significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

While the boy hasn't been formally diagnosed (we're in the process) he does demonstrate virtually every sign and symptom on the 'Asperger's checklist'.  This includes the repetitive behaviours including eye rolling, throat clearing and my personal favourite, the jumping chicken.  It's kind of hard to explain but close your eyes and imagine a kid flapping their arms like a chicken while quickly hopping into the air one time.  Amusing the first time you see it.  A little off the 600th time though.

The biggest challenge The Boy faces is the inability to connect on a social level with kids his own age.  You see, in his world, everything is black and white.  Shades of grey do not exist.  For example, if things aren't being  done the right way, then they are wrong.  Not needing improvement; simply wrong.  Now, couple that fact with the fact that The Boy has no inner monologue.  Meaning, he says what's on his mind and asks questions that most of us would only ask behind closed doors in the privacy of our own homes i.e. "If she's so fat, why would she eat another slice of cake Daddy?"  You'd be amazed at how quickly you can inflict brain damage to yourself by simply smacking the heel of your hand against your forehead repetitively.

  This last trait is the deal killer for him making a lot of friends.  In plain speak, The Boy can come across as an asshole.  Kids don't always like being told their wrong.  Especially by another kid.  But, as I said's not his fault.

Now let's talk about the positives.  He is unbelievably social.  With anyone.  At anytime.  He will never be short on things to talk about because (much like his Dad) he can speak for hours on end about everything and nothing.  I sense the future trimmings of a politician in his near future or perhaps a Trainer? *wink, wink*  He likes to interact in every social situation available to him.  This includes asking questions during guided tours at museums (Yes...he's THAT kid!).  He volunteers for talent shows even though he's not able/willing to practice a talent until the last possible second before the show.  For the record...he's extremely talented at singing which helps him save face in the long run.

 Lastly, he eats books.  What I mean by that is that he can devour a 300+ page book in about a day.  He's 10.  It's impressive to say the least.  Thank God library books are free.  Otherwise, I'd need to start selling bodily fluids to cover the spread.  At first I thought he was simply glossing over details and getting the gist of most books until he was able to recite specific details, plot lines and character traits back to me without even batting an eyelash.  Scary...but impressive.  He's not like that with most other elements of his life, but at times, he's able to recall events/details that happened to him as young as 3 years old.

 Please understand that it is part of the natural order of things for parents to traumatize their children.  It happens.  But when you have a kid that can remember the time when he-was-3-and-you-didn't-let-him-have-chocolate-milk-and-you-were-a-mean-daddy-because-I-wanted-chocolate-milk-and.....yeah.  You get the point.  He remembers.

So, what does this have to do with the title of the post Smart like a Dump truck.  Assuming you've stuck with my rant this far, I'll tell you.  A Dump truck is a wonderfully complex piece of machinery.  It has multiple moving parts and requires a lot of care and maintenance to keep it in good working order.  It has one or two practical functions which include either carrying or dumping.  It doesn't try and do more than it can because it can't do more than it's made to do.  You wouldn't ask a dump truck to do a three point turn on a one way street...because it can't.  You wouldn't ask a dump truck to stop being a dump truck.  It's awkward and obvious and difficult to maintain.  But if utilized properly; if allowed to do the one or two things it does extremely well, it becomes an essential part of the construction crew.  They can't operate without it....try as they might. 

My Boy is like that dump truck.  Horribly awkward at times but so essential to our family.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Welcome to the Kingdom of 'Ish' An older post but worth reposting.

It dawned on me the other day that even though we supposedly hear/speak over 100,000 words a day on average, most of what we hear never truly sticks.  More importantly, a good percentage of that communicative ebb and flow is simply white noise; lacking substance, interest or conviction.  How much of that information do we actually process, understand and retain?  40%?  60%?  More?  I suppose it differs depending on the individual, type of communication, the side of the bed you woke up on, etc.

I thought to myself, ‘Self, what am I doing to ensure my words have substance and my message is clear?  More specifically, what are my colleagues doing to ensure their messages resound in me?’  That’s when something struck me.  Something so simple, yet so critical to communication strategies that it astounded me how many of us were doing it.

I first noticed it in a meeting a few days ago.  Those three little letters that while meaningless on their own, change the entire meaning of a word when added to the end; ‘…ISH’.  As in ‘Soon-ish’ and ‘Now-ish’.  This 3 letter interloper had the power to change specific, definitive responses into the proverbial Magic 8 Ball’s ‘Outlook not so clear’ response.  This had to be one of the most powerful suffixes in the English language.  These 3 letters, used at the right time, could turn a hard commitment into a fluid, wishy-washy outcome.

I scanned the room quickly.  Did others catch it?  Was anyone else hearing this?  Question: “When can I expect to see the sales appointment  proposal on my desk?”  Answer:  “Soonish.”  Awesome.  Commitment diverted…at least for a few more hours.

I was excited to begin using this like a pro. I made a few practice runs at it but then a cold truth crept up on me.  If I started using this in my communications….would I have the strength to scale it back before it became such an ingrained habit that I could never make any solid commitments?  Management 101 tells us to be direct in our communications.  How then had this little 3 letter suffix become the norm in many of our conversations?  We were becoming the Kings and Queens of the Kingdom of “Ish”!

This diversionary suffix has always been present in our society and is growing in popularity amongst today’s youth.  Don’t believe me?  Go check out the Facebook group ‘Adding "ish" onto the end of a word when describing something’ with 800,000 plus members.  The use of vague or non-committal statements has been referenced in pop culture for the last 50 or so years.

Take Isaac Asimov’s classic work ‘Foundation’.  In it, the character Lord Dorwin comes to give the people of the world of Terminus reassurance that the Empire is doing all it can to ensure continuity amongst its subjects.  But for all his promises and commitments, the Mayor of Terminus isn’t buying it.  So he records Lord Dorwin and then analyzes everything that was said during his visit.

“When Houk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications—in short all the goo and dribble—he found he had nothing left. Everything canceled out. Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn't say one @$#%^ thing, and said it so that you never noticed.

As people, we tend to slip into the vagueness void when communicating with the people we know and feel comfortable with.  When the deadline clock is not truly ticking, when we don’t have the sense of impending commitments looming over us, we let details slide ever so slightly as most people do and as recipients of these messages, we tend to simply accept them.  But when the details matter, when requirements must be met, when detailed communication is the only choice, the Kingdom of “Ish” must be laid low.

How does this relate to you Mr. & Mrs. Reader?  Well, I’ll tell you.  If I’m not mistaken, you’ve visited the Kingdom of “Ish” before.  Some of you may even have a summer home there you frequent it so often.  If you rely too heavily on this deviant little suffix in your internal communications, you may quickly find it also creeping into your business communications; your communications with your Clients and your Customers.  While the Kingdom of “Ish” has many loyal subjects, your Clients may not be amongst them.

Take time to really listen to how you commit to a task, project or request.  Are you owning it?  Committing to a date, time or goal?  Don’t lead your Customers into the allegorical Kingdom of “Ish”.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals, I'm a vegetarian because I HATE vegetables. P.S. I'm not a vegetarian.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm destined to remain portly.  How do I know this?  Well, while watching t.v. tonight I found myself getting progressively hungrier.  This is due to a combination of factors:

  1. I like food....a lot
  2. I have started eating a lot more vegetables at work as a method to cut back on my snacks
  3. Food is advertised at all hours on every channel.
    1. Sub-Note:  I could control item number 3 if I just stayed away from the Food Network.  I'm like a junkie always coming back for another fix.  Diners, Drivers and Dives....EVIL.  Especially when watching at 11 pm.
My main concern/issue/1st world problem is with Vegetables.  Those wonderful little things that come from the good green garden and farmer's fields and eventually onto our dinner plates.  Steam them, boil them, serve 'em raw.  I don't care.  I hate them.  They "insist" upon themselves.  "Oooohhh....I'm so good for you fatty."  "If you want to be healthy, you have to eat me."  Bite me veggies.  Just bite me.

  If they were covered in chocolate or tasted like bacon, I might have less of a problem eating them.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the taste of most of them  (I'm eyeballing you asparagus.  Mr. "I make your pee smell funny.") but this food group has always been an afterthought for me rather than a main course.  In other words, I don't go out my way to eat them.

I shouldn't complain.  My wife is an amazing cook and can make even P.S.O.T. (Pig Sh*t on Toast) taste like a porterhouse steak.  She has a magic to her cooking so even veggies take on a certain culinary charm.  But now that I'm consciously trying to watch what I eat, vegetables have become a chore.

I suppose that it's inevitable.  As long as my stomach is the first thing to enter a room, I will need to take strides to cull my gastronomical longings.  So for now I must remind myself to put down the cupcake and pick up the carrot *shudders**

Limbering Up and Breaking it in!

So...I'm about to dive into the terrifying world of Blogging!  Insert requisite ominous music!  Truth be told, I'm not sure if I have anything worthy to say let alone am worthy enough to have people read it. we are.  Well, here I am.  You may not be here at all.  Deep, I know.

 I suppose I should start off by telling you a little bit about me, my life, the fam, etc.  First and foremost, I'm a fat kid.  I've always been a fat kid  in some way, shape or form. But I'm not just fat, I'm big. 6 ft tall, have size 14 feet and rock a 56'' suit jacket.  Call it big boned, large for my age or just not disciplined enough to stop at 1 helping of dessert.    In any case, I'm a fat kid.  I may reference this fact from time to time in my posts as it plays a large (pun totally intended) part of my day to day life.  For example, finding clothes that fit, attempting to exercise, or just simply finding joy in the fact that I'll always have a job playing Santa at the local mall; I'll probably comment/blog about it all.

  I grew up in a typical nuclear family; meaning the radiation severely altered our personalities.  I had a pretty happy childhood for all intents and purposes even though I grew up surrounded by mental illness (someone else's not mine).  It made life exciting!  More about that in a later post.

I met the love of my life when I was 13 years old.  Now in my mid 30's, my wife has been in my life longer than most of my friends have.  She is my best friend and confidant.  I know this because there are days that we probably could push each other in front of a moving bus, but moments later are laughing it off over a cup of coffee or a bag of chips.  I'm fat remember?

We have two 'wonderful' children; 10 and almost 7.  I have scores of words to share about both my wife and kids, but at a later time.  I'm not sure that written text can do our familial unit justice.

While I am writing these blog entries primarily for me, I hope that those of you that care to stop by and follow along find some solace or humour in these words.  If not....keep surfing folks.  The world wide web is a wild and wonderful place.