Month: April 2010

The day Smiley came to town

We sat in the old Harmon Theater, anxiously awaiting to see and hear our musical hero play a concert here on the stage. Our little town did not For once, the old theater was packed tight, with people from 8 to 80, all excited. Talk in the town was that he was going to promote his new album, one compiled completely of picking tunes. The show was supposed to start at 8, but 8 O’clock came and went, and still no sign of the star attraction. A few locals sat and played a few tunes, but nobody seemed interested in even giving them a chance. Heck, we could hear those guys at any of the local bars in town on any given night. We came to see one man, and one man only.

After about 45 minutes of waiting, the crowd grew anxious and impatient. Suddenly, The room darkened, only to show one small spotlight following a figure of small stature to the stage. As he walked down the aisles, and toward the steps of the stage, he stumbled and almost fell over. I remember as the crowd let out an ‘Aww!”, as he staggered and stumbled to the stage. When it looked like he was going to fall over, a stage hand ran over and helped him to the stage. The neck of his guitar slammed hard into the corner of the stage door, and the crowd became worried that their hero may not last the entire show.

The crowd clapped with anticipation as he finally reached the bandstand. With a backup band made up of locals, he began to play his guitar. The once loud crowd quieted down to listen to him play their favorite songs. He started out with a sad song, which has always been his trademark. When he reached the middle of the song, he performed the chorus by picking it out on the guitar, and the crowd clapped loudly at this feat. He was voted the best instrumental guitar picker many times, and it was easy to see why. Before he reached the end of the song, he stumbled again, almost falling over the stage. People looked on in shock, as he picked himself up and attempted to regain his composure.

He managed to make it until the middle of the show, playing tunes that made tears appear in everyone’s eyes. He played songs like “Bringing Mary Home”, “Don’t Tell Jeannie I’m Blind”, and many other tear jerkers, and in between the sad songs, he made sure he cheered up the audience with a bluegrass number or an instrumental tune. Despite the fact that we paid for an hour show, and only got half an hour, we still respected the man, and his attempts to put on a show.

I heard that he stayed around town for a few weeks after the concert. He had some old acquaintances that had played in many of the bands he had in the many years he had been performing. We later heard that he had passed on within a few months of leaving town.  On the 8th of January, 1997, the world lost a legend. Smiley Bates, who had entertained his fans despite fighting a long battle with cancer, passed away.

I remember my dad sitting on the couch, picking out Smiley tunes on the guitar. He would listen to the many records Smiley had recorded, and teach himself some of the classics that Smiley played. The melodies still ring in my head today, almost 30 years afterwards, and I am fortunate that I can say that I heard and seen the man play his tunes, right here in Newfoundland.


Email, Spam, and an Endless Supply of Cialis

Lately, I’ve noticed that my email has become riddled with spam. A few years back, I would get an occasional email from a new life insurance company, or from an automaker looking to promote a new car; but more recently, I have been receiving offers to help my finances, to buy a better house, or to meet hot singles living in my city. Where are those companies getting my information? Is the Internet as safe as we all believe?

Things weren’t always this way. A few years ago, my trusty Hotmail account would safely protect me from such spam, but now, apparently, I am safe to open and order anything that comes into my in-box. Of course, we all know this isn’t true. Most of those companies are bogus, and seriously, would you really trust buying your meds from a company who makes you offers through spam? I for one would not.

This gets even scarier, as just a few days ago, I received spam offering me diabetic medications at a fraction of the cost that I am paying now. How did this company know I was a diabetic? Are they now spamming my medical records for personal medical  information? This may seem like a paranoid statement, but seriously, how would any internet-based company have knowledge of my medical condition?

Internet sites such as Facebook are continuously asking our permission to install applications that will share our personal data with companies, and yet, we continue to allow this go to on. An example of this is the Farmville application that is available on Facebook and MySpace. The game, with over 72 million users all over the world, first asks it’s new users to agree to submit their personal information to the application before being allowed to play the ‘Free’ game. The application promotes itself as  ‘Free’, but is it really? I think not. We, as consumers of the World Wide Web, or the “Information Superhighway’, have to become more aware of the threats that are involved with this service if we are going to protect our privacy. We are the ones who have to educate ourselves of the threat, because the ‘Spam’ blockers of yesterday are not doing the job.

By the way, I recently had to ditch an email address I have used since 1997,  an address that I have used on job applications,  that I gave out to my friends so that we may stay in touch, and that I have provided to the school that my son attends. I had to get a new email address because each day, I found myself receiving over 170 spam emails. I know that I provided this email address to Facebook, and even though I for one should have known better, I admit that for a short time,  I also used the Farmville application. Hey, they made it look like so much fun!

Hey, we all have to learn, sometimes the hard way!

Cher 2010

While watching the ACM awards last night…I’ve noticed that Cher must have passed away secretly, and the show’s producers didn’t want anyone to know. She was expected to make an appearance at the ACM’s, but instead, the  producers must have made a quick stop at the local wax museum, and visited the Cher exhibit. We were treated to something that closely resembled the Cher we all knew and loved from the early 90’s, but hey, we all age, and at some point, when we speak, our mouth should move. Her’s didn’t. I looked closely, to see if I could see where they hid the speaker, but they were clever enough to hide it well. Also, when we walk, our legs should also  move. Her’s didn’t. It was almost like she slid out like….like…like she was being wheeled out.  They were also pretty slick with the dolly they used to cart her out. They must have taken advantage of the black backdrop and some sort of special effects to pull off this masquerade. Leave it to showbusiness!

I used to be a fan of Cher, way back when she was with Sonny. When she made her first comeback, she was still hot, but after the second and third comebacks, things changed. I believe this was due to the numerous plastic surgeries she has undergone, to attempt to ‘stay young’. I remember back in the late 90’s, she was rumored to have had ‘Ass cheek implants’. Wow! the miracles of modern science can now give a person a plastic ass. I wonder how her life changed thanks to her plastic ass? …getting back to the blog, her whole body appeared to have been made from a high-tech plastic, or even worst, Wax. I hope the heat wasn’t turned too high, or we may have experienced meltdown. But seriously, did you notice?

Breakfast and Diabetes

Perhaps the most difficult meal for a diabetic has to be breakfast. I was raised on the classic eggs (even though I hated them) bacon and toast. Now, as a diabetic, I am urged to choose healthier alternatives. Of course, this not only sucks, it is also confusing. Do I eat a fried breakfast? Do I eat cereal? What in the hell can I eat that doesn’t kill me?

Nutritionists recommend a balanced breakfast. What does this mean? For the answers to those questions, I used Google. On most of the sites I found, they recommended a meal consisting of mostly grains such as Wheat or Barley. How do I use this information? Do I find the nearest farm, and share breakfast with the cow? That’s the gist of it. On the other hand, many of the ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals out there claim that they provide all the nutrients and vitamins necessary for a ‘balanced’ breakfast. Did you ever read the ingredients on these things?   All the ‘tasty’ ones are filled with sugar. I used to love Capt’n Crunch, but I seriously doubt that this cereal is recommended for diabetics. I used to eat Cheerios, but again, except for the whole grain variety, sugar is the main ingredient. Even the ‘healthy’ cereals are filled with sodium, which is equally bad for diabetics, and for everyone in general. About the healthiest thing in some of those cereals is the toy inside the box! Oh well, this morning, I said to hell with balanced, and had a good old breakfast from my childhood…Pancakes….Beans and weiners…and Turkey bacon…see, I am still eating a bit healthy. Turkey bacon is low in fats and carbohydrates.

People who don’t fully clear snow from their cars

It was snowing this morning. Yes, it is April 16, but for some reason, someone up there (in the heavens) thought it would be funny to cover the town with a blanket of wet sloppy snow. I am not laughing. Anyway, back to the pet peeve.  We were out this morning, doing some shopping, when this idiot came at us in full force, almost hit the two of us in our little black Chevy Cobalt. It turns out that this genius forgot to clean the snow from his car. There he drove, with an eyehole resembling that of a tank, only big enough for one eye, and at full rush, he maneuvered in and around us and a few other lucky motorists. For the love of God….it only takes a few minutes to clear snow (especially the sloppy wet stuff) from your windshield and back window. Oh, forgot, he didn’t have the back window cleared either…That’s it, another annoyance that I have to manage to live with…People..your cars are not TANKS! Clean the window off for heaven’s sake! That’s All!

Drivers who choose to light up and drive

Another of the things that drive me nuts are people who choose to smoke while they drive. C’mon, I know smoking may be addictive, but can you at least wait until you are stopped to smoke? Just watching drivers attempt to maneuver around a dangerous turn with a lit cigarette between their fingers gives me the willies.  It’s a wonder that they don’t singe their eyebrows with the glowing ember at the end of the smoke stick they so eloquently hold so dear. Health Canada is now warning drivers that health risks from smoking increase when you smoke in your car. This isn’t rocket science – imagine smoking in a closet with the doors closed. Smoking in a car is actually much worst than this, and some countries, including England, have made it illegal to smoke in a car, claiming that Health care costs are through the roof because of choices that smokers make while driving.

This silly habit is also a major distraction to drivers. That is why many provinces across the country are looking at legislation against smoking while driving. Now thought to be as distracting as texting or using a cell, it could be yet another reason for the number of deaths on our highways.

I remember when I was a kid, everyone smoked. Hell, you could buy candy cigerattes and pretend that you smoked just to be cool. I used to eat two packs of Popeye Smokes each day, until I got too many cavaties, and had to cut back!

My  reasons for the pet peeve are a little different than the above reasons. I still recall one day, my dad and I were going to town in his old Dodge Club Cab pickup. I was sitting in the extra cool seat in the back, the one that folded down in the corner. My dad stopped to pick up my cousin, who was hitching a ride to town. Now my cousin smoked like a trooper.  It was a hot day, and when he got in the truck, he opened his window. When he finished his smoke, he threw the butt, still afire, out the window. Unknown to me, the butt blew back into the truck, and into the cuff of my pants. The three of us wondered what the terrible smell was, until I noticed my leg was smoking. In no time at all, my pants leg was on fire (This was in the Polyester slacks days of the mid 70’s, and every one wore those cool pants) I had to strip my pants off and throw them out the window of the truck. The pants leg, now melting to the rest of the pants, landed in the back of the truck, where my dad used to haul firewood, and you know the rest. We had to pull over, and throw out the pants and the bits of wood that had caught fire. This incident could have been much worst, but thanks to lots of luck, my dad’s quick reflexes, and really cheap polyester pants, we all faired pretty well. Now you know why I hate seeing people smoking while they drive…

This just seen on Columbus Drive

Despite the windy weather, one man happened upon a Door with a ‘take me’ sign attached. As we drove by, we noticed this poor gentleman attempting to cross the busy road with his new found treasure. Despite his suffering, we had to laugh as he attempted to cross St. John’s busiest freeway carrying a large door, complete with knob. We expected him to take off as he wound and spun across the two lanes of bustling traffic. The guy should have purchased a lottery ticket, because apparently, luck followed him on this day….

On my shelf at the moment

Amongst all the important papers and journals, there sits a few novels and hardcover books I read during my breaks. There’s the 24 TV series based books that I purchased, and read in less than two days, a novel one of my students recommended, a few Stephen King books that frightened the hell out of me and gave me nightmares for a few weeks, an autobiography of an idiot, and one book that I read and I have to admit, that changed my mind about several things in this great world we live in.

The 24 novels, based on the TV series starring Keifer Sutherland, were a quick read. Reading those books taught me that the TV series is nothing more than superheros ducking bullets and diving through car crashes in death defying heroism. Since reading the novels, the TV series has not interested me like it used to. I guess after six or more seasons of blowing a guy up, killing his family, assasinating various presidents, multiple torture scenes, and endless and senseless violence, a person gets bored. The books are more of the same.

One of my students recommended I read Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein. Biggest mistake ever. What a bomber that was. Hands without bodies crawling around the floor like kittens, mutilated victims sticking out of bushes, without hearts or other organs, zombies walking around looking for body parts, and a ‘hero’ who was an experiment gone wrong. Add this to an ongoing murder case and a mad scientist named…you guessed it..Dr. Frankenstein, and you have the novel in hand. This was supposed to be a screenplay for an upcoming TV series, but got tossed when it was read. For some ungodly reason, Mr. Koontz thought that if it wasn’t good enough for TV, it would be great for a novel series…Boy, was he mistaken. There are several books in this series…I did NOT buy the others.

I also have a few Clive Cussler books on the shelf. Cussler’s hero, Dirk Pitt, is the star of the better books he has written. Although he is an unkillable hero, the action is intense, and the books are filled with adventure.  The Treasure of Khan, a book I picked up at Chapters for $9.99, was the best. It dealt with everythign from Genghis Khan to Mongolian history, to a greedy oil baron. Great read, and my introduction to the world of Clive Cussler. The second book on the shelf by Cussler is Arctic Drift, which is also interesting, but since it is written by an American, and based in Canada, it includes several references to dog sleds and igloos. Why is it that we, as Canadians, know so much about the United States, but they know so little about us? I, for one, do not own a dog sled, and even if I did, my dog is far to small to pull one around the backyard, let alone across the barren nothingness that the Americans believe is Canada.

A friend of mine recommended I read The Kite Runner. At the time, I was planning a bus trip across the island, and was too lazy to carry a book with me. So, I downloaded the audiobook copy of the book on my trusty Ipod. The author, Khaled Hosseini actually read the book to me. I was amazed by the book. Life changing is the only term I can find to describe the book. I swore that no other book would ever change how I thought about the Middle East…That was, however, until I read Mr. Hosseini’s newest title, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Whatta book. Whatta Read! The story of two young women and the cruel idoit of a husband they shared. Thats right, they were both married to the same guy at the same time. Apparently, that’s ok in this country. Anyway, not only were they subjected to violence and cruelity at the hands of this madman, they were subjected to the lack of respect that came with living in a country under Talaban rule. Up until I read this book, I used to wonder why our soldiers were over there fighting, but now, I cheer them on. Please read this book, and let me know what you thought.

I am a sucker for punishment, and because of that, I read the bio of William Shatner. Again, I found the book at Chapters, on sale (I am so cheap when it comes to good deals). The book was interesting enough, but geez..the guy is an idiot. I have always been a trekkie, but cmon…Kirk and Shat are like chalk and cheese. The book was funny at times, and I have to admit, from time to time, you had to like the guy, but his attitude often got the best of him, and of me too. Hope they don’t make a movie.

I also read the thickest book on the shelf, and it only took me four months. This was definitely “Bang for the Buck”, as I picked up Under the Dome, by Stephen King for just 25 buck at Walmart, while Chapters was still selling it for $40. The book was very interesting, despite over a thousand pages, and while my arms grew tired from carrying it around the office, my mind never grew bored or tired once. The story of a small southern US town that is virtually cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible glass dome, and how people react when this happens. The book, which actually took King over 30 years to write (and I felt guilty taking four months to read it), shows how we are sometimes followers to corrupt leaders, and how there are always a few heroes to risk their lives to stop them. I hear that King and Speilberg are planning a TV series based on the book. I can only hope that the series is better than previous stinkers that have been based on brilliant books.

That leaves one more book…The Lost Symbol, written by Dan ‘Lul somewhere in the book’ Brown. I have managed to read all his other books, and I must admit, I have struggled with boredom in most of them, except maybe, for the Davini Code, which was sheer genius. I am not saying that his books are boring, it is just that somewhere near the middle, his books get a little withdrawn. The Lost Symbol is no different, although in this case, Ole Lul Dan ran out of steam in the final few chapters of the book. Read the book, and stop when you get the answers you are looking for. That is the only advice I can give you. When the movie comes out,  go to the bathroom somewhere near the end and you will thorougly enjoy the show.

I have a collection of short stories by Stephen King, entitled Nightmares and Dreamscapes that I am reading now, and I am enjoying SOME of the stories. More on that later. Feel free to comment on those books, or some that you are reading and you would like to recommend.

Headfirst in the Books

I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to take part in one of my favorite activities…Reading. I have always had a love affair with books. As a child, I truly cherished my Little Golden Books. I carried them everywhere I went, and treasured each and every one of them. I would still have those books, if my younger brother would not have eaten them on me. Apparently he liked books too, but as a food item for his growing molars.

In the fifth grade, I had a teacher who also loved books, and of forcing her younger students to read. She gave us a booklist of over 200 titles, and being the type of person to act without fully reading and understanding instructions, I read 200 books in six months. No wonder I wear glasses now! And I didn’t read books aimed at fifth grade; instead, I found myself lost in books by George Orwell and Isaac Asimov.  My schoolmates laughed when they seen me read “Animal Farm”, and ‘Mouse on the Moon’, without realizing that these books were not the childhood books they were reading.

Through the years, I continued reading whenever I got a chance. this gave me a heads up when a blockbuster movie came out, as I probably read the novel version years before the movie was even thougth of. As a trekkie, I got lost in stories the TV and movie storylines could only dream of, as I read every Star Trek novel that came out. How many visits to the city did I make to buy an armful of books each month? I did not care to be called a nerd or loser, because in those books, I could be anything I wanted to be.

A book reader has such a blessed life. No matter what is going on around us, the book reader can delve deep into a story, and be swept away to universes far far away. The reader can gallop into the sunset with a good L’Amour novel, or sail along the river in a Twain classic. As a reader, the sky is the limit to where you can go.

For every popular TV series, there is a collection of novels loosely based on the TV plotlines. I have not only read all the Star Trek books, I have also kept up to date with the original V (as well as the newer versions of this story), Gunsmoke books, and even Little House books. Reading gives me such a great feeling, like a lifetime of experiences, without even leaving the room. I highly recommend reading.

Automatic Toilets *Warning, Bathroom type language

they have the dumbest thing here at work…automatic toilets. these things never work right. when I enter the stall, the damn thing automatically flushes twice. when I start lining the seat ( I do that here because you never know whose butt sits on the seat or where that butt was before it sat there) the toilet flushes another time. when I actually sit on the seat, it flushes again. when the job is finally done, it won’t flush! there I stand, waving my hand across the sensor light, hoping to set the flusher on, and nothing. only once I leave the bathroom, I hear a flushing sound in the distance…How far we have come, can’t even flush by ourselves. Equally annoying is the automatic soap dispenser. Ever since having this amazing convenience, I enter other bathrooms, and put my hand under the dispenser, waiting for non existent soap to magically appear. We are so lazy as a civilation.